Staff

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PRIMARY GRADES

Ms. Cynthia Potter |PreK Teacher
Email: potter@saoc.org
This is Cynthia’s tenth year teaching. She attended Maranatha Baptist University where she graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education.  With over her 10 years of teaching experience, she has taught kindergarten as well as being in a 1:1 special needs classroom. In her spare time, she enjoys painting, spending time with her nieces and nephew, and exploring new cities.

Mrs. Deena Habbal | Teacher’s Aide
Email: habbal@saoc.org
Deena has been working in the field of education for three years. She graduated from Benedictine University in 2013. Since graduating, she has taught English in Turkey and Sweden. Before joining the SAOC team, she was working at a democratic school in a suburb outside of Chicago. She loves traveling, cats, and trying out new recipes!

Ms. Danielle Fazio | Kindergarten Teacher | SAC Events and School Activities Coordinator
Email: fazio@saoc.org
This will be Ms. Danielle’s 13th year teaching and she is thrilled to be teaching here at the Science Academy. She coordinates many events throughout the school year including the Trek for Tech, Fall Fest, Haunted Hallway, school spirit week, and our STEAM Carnival Fundraising Gala. She is thrilled to be the events and activities coordinator. Her goal for all events is to help build a greater sense of school community, assist in attracting public attention and getting SAC noticed, and to blow off some STEAM, one event at a time!. She is a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University, with a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education, a minor in history, and holds a Type 04 teaching certificate. In her free time she enjoys spending time with friends and family and cooking.

Mrs. Amy Silvers | 1st Grade Teacher | Class Website
Email: silvers@saoc.org
This is Ms. Levine’s fourth year teaching 1st grade at Science Academy of Chicago and she is very excited to begin another school year!  Ms. Levine attended the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and then went on to DePaul University where she received her Master’s degree in Elementary Education. In her free time, she enjoys baking, bike riding, and spending time with family and friends.

Mrs. Jessica Renko | 2nd Grade Teacher | Class Website
Email: renko@saoc.org
Jessica Renko enjoys teaching second grade 2nd grade at SAC. She graduated from DePaul University with a degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Communication; she is also endorsed in Language Arts. Jessica is the mother of a toddler and loves taking her daughter to different parks, classes, and museums to explore.

Mrs. Stephanie Alba | 3rd Grade Teacher| Class Website
Email: alba@saoc.org
Mrs. Alba has been in the field of education for almost 10 years. She loves teaching 3rd grade. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from Iowa State University and completed her Master’s in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix. Stephanie enjoys spending time with family and friends as well as reading, watching movies, and crafting.

Mr. Hassan Ali Uslu | Primary Grade Science
Email: uslu@saoc.org
Hasan Ali Uslu is our primary grades science teacher, this is his sixth year teaching. He graduated from Kastamonu University in Turkey with a Bachelors in Science. He enjoys reading, poetry, basketball and spending his spare time volunteering.

UPPER GRADES TEACHER

Mrs. Meral Aycicek | Mathematics Teacher
Email: meral@saoc.org
Mrs. Meral is one of the mathematics teacher at SAC. She has over 20 years of teaching experience. Mrs. Meral strongly believes that every child can master mathematics. She implements hands on mathematical activities so that her students are able to understand the importance of math and how mathematics work in the real world. Her goal is to teach every student at a level they are comfortably challenged at. Mrs. Meral graduated from Ataturk University in 1996 and her love of teaching has only grown stronger.

Mrs. Hasna Akbas | Mathematics Teacher
Email: akbas@saoc.org
Mrs. Akbas graduated from Yildiz Technical University in Turkey with a major in Mathematics. She received her Master’s Degree from the University of Reno, Nevada in 2012.  Mrs. Akbas teaches 5th, 7th, 8th grade math as well as Geometry to differentiated group of students. She believes that math shouldn’t be the reason students change their future dreams. She encourages her students to try their best, enjoy the success of learning math, while understanding the wonderful logic behind it. She is a mother of two boys. She enjoys reading, writing and organizing social events in her free time.

Mrs. Carla Zielke | 4th, 5th & 8th Grade Language Arts Teacher
Email: zielke@saoc.org
Mrs.  Zielke teaches fourth, fifth and eighth grade language arts.  She graduated from UW-Eau Claire with a dual major in elementary and special education and has endorsements in ESL, special education, and social science.  Mrs. Zielke has ten years of teaching experience in both public and private schools.  Mrs. Zielke has taught and worked with students from preschool to 8th grade.  She is married and has two children, both of whom are graduates of private schools.  In her free time, she enjoys working out, going to plays, and reading.

Ms. Charlotte Owens | 6th-8th Grade Language Arts Teacher
Email: owens@saoc.org
Ms. Owens joined SAC to teach sixth, seventh, and eight grade Language Arts. She just moved here from Nashville, Tennessee, where she taught 5th grade reading at STEM Preparatory Academy as a Teach for America corps member. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology  from Amherst College and a Master’s degree in English Language Learning from Lipscomb University. Ms. Owens loves books, dogs, sports, art, and cooking/eating gluten-free meals.

Mr. Zeferino Martinez | Social Studies
Mr. Martinez is the social studies teacher for 4th-8th grade students.  He attended Lewis University and graduated with a degree in secondary education and history.  Furthermore, he graduated with highest honors and was awarded the senior departmental award for history.  He believes it is important to help guide each and every student in practicing and mastering a skill.  Overtime, his goal is to build the students’ confidence in their self so that they will in-turn need less guidance and master their skill.  He enjoys playing guitar and running in his free time. 

Mr. Ismet Uzun |  Science Teacher
Email: uzun@saoc.org
Mr. Uzun has been teaching science since 1999 in many parts of the world, Thailand, Tanzania, and Myanmar is a few of the wonderful places he taught in. He graduated from Gazi University in Ankara, Turkey with a Bachelors in Chemistry. He has dedicated his life to helping students improve both their academic and social skills so that they can live up to the standards of the contemporary world.

SPECIALS TEACHER

Ms. Kelsey Chelberg | Music Teacher
Email: chelberg@saoc.org
Ms. Chelberg graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education. Her primary instruments are viola and violin. Currently, she plays with the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra of Dekalb. She has been teaching private lessons for 5 years and is certified in Book 1 of the Suzuki Method. Ms. Chelberg is excited to begin her teaching career at SAC!
Mrs. Anna Hartman | Spanish & ESL Teacher
Email: hartman@saoc.org
Mrs. Hartman teaches beginning and intermediate Spanish and ESL to the students of SAC.  She is happy to be starting her first year at SAC after spending 3 years teaching Spanish and ESL in Chicago.  She also taught ESL while living in Madrid and Cordoba, Spain for 5 years. She holds a M.A. in bilingual education and ESL from DePaul University. She has traveled extensively throughout Europe and Northern Africa.  She believes she is lucky to have had the opportunity to teach students of such diverse backgrounds and to watch them develop their abilities to express themselves en español and enhance their English language literacy in ESL.

Mrs. Muyesser Korkmaz | Turkish and Character Education Teacher
Email: korkmaz@saoc.org
Mrs. Korkmaz has been teaching Character Education and Turkish for seven years at the Science Academy of Chicago. She graduated from Roosevelt University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and with a minor in Education. Mrs. Korkmaz loves teaching and hopes that each one of her students are inspired to be the best they can be. She enjoys teaching the values of character education while encouraging the students to take their responsibilities for their actions. She hopes they become good citizens with high morals and values. She believes that the teachings of morals, ethics ,and character traits are invaluable. Mrs. Korkmaz is married and has two children, she loves reading and spending time with family and friends.

Mrs. Mayur Himanshu | Computer Science Teacher Grades 3rd – 8th | IT Coordinator
Email: himanshu@saoc.org
Mrs. Himanshu is the Computer Technology teacher for the 3rd-7th grade students. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science & Engineering from Cambridge Institute of Technology and a Master’s degree in Information Technology from Amity University. She loves teaching and is excited to work at the Science Academy. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her family.

https://csclass2017.wordpress.com

Ms. Allison Johnson | Art
Email: johnson@saoc.org
Ms. Johnson is the Visual Arts Teacher.  She has been teaching children and adults since 2008 when she received her Art Teacher Certificate at the K-12 level.  Ms. Johnson has a Masters degree in Art Education from Northern Illinois University.  She has been an artist her whole life and has studied Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design extensively.  She is excited to facilitate learning through art for all of the students at SAC. 

https://msjohnsonartstudio.wordpress.com/

Mrs. Ayla Eldek | Physical Education Teacher
Email: eldek@saoc.org
Mrs. Eldek is the Physical Education teacher. She began teaching physical education in 1994. Mrs. Eldek recieved her bachelor’s degree from Marmara University in Istanbul, Turkey. She loves all sports and is a black belt Judo Master. She also offers many after school activities promoting healthy lifestyles for our youth. Mrs. Eldek is married and has two children, she loves cooking for her family and friends.

ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF

Mr. Mustafa Yazici | Superintendent
Email: yazici@saoc.org
Mr. Yazici has worked as a teacher/administrator for almost twenty years and spent the past few years as the executive director of a non-profit organization: TAS, INC.. He graduated in 1994 from Marmara University in Turkey with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. He has a wide spectrum of varied school experience from public, private, parochial to charter schools. This is his first year as the director of Science Academy of Chicago.
Mr. Yazici’s role in leadership began as a young child. Many years of guidance and beautiful words from loving family members are something he holds close to his heart. His favorite saying from his father is; “Mustafa, you have two choices in life, one act foolish and hopefully someone will take care of you or you can work hard and become intelligent and be capable of sharing your knowledge with many who seek guidance, be a giver not a taker.” Mr. Yazici living by the words of his father, found himself helping friends and family members in all aspects of life. He believes that the very best definition of a Leader is someone that has accepted to become a “Servant Leader.” As an educational leader he has always been the one who has jumped in and assisted all and with any work that is needed to get the job done. Mr. Yazici is a firm believer in team work. Servant leaders serve others and expect team work, while enjoying the fruits of their labor.
Mr. Yazici has been married for twenty years and has three loving children, a daughter and two sons. They mean the world to him. Some of his favorite hobbies are playing soccer, chess, reading, and most importantly spending quality time with his family.

Mrs. Brianna Bartucci | Principal
Email: bartucci@saoc.org
Mrs. Brianna Bartucci has worked in the field of education for almost nine years. This is her first year serving as Director of Science Academy of Chicago and has taught English Language Arts to fourth through eighth grades at SAC for four years. Mrs. Bartucci graduated from DePaul University’s School of Education with a degree in Secondary Education with a content area of English. She holds an ISBE Type 09 certificate and endorsements in Middle School Education and High School English grades 9-12. She is currently completing a degree in Educational Leadership with a teacher leader endorsement for the K-12 specialty area. In addition to administrating and teaching, she is an active member of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) that provides educational resources such as best-practices, classroom proved strategies and research-based lessons that work with students.  Furthermore, Mrs. Bartucci was an active one-on-one tutor specializing in the mastery of writing and vocabulary practice. Mrs. Bartucci believes that the goal of any academic program is the development of life-long learners who are equipped to solve problems with flexible critical thinking skills and the knowledge of how to seek out resources to develop interests and talents. She has a strong passion for education and establishing an engaging, fun yet challenging environment. Mrs. Bartucci encourages students to think critically and develop independent, social, and emotional skills in order to make positive improvements both in and outside of the classroom environment. Mrs. Bartucci is also an advocate for the creative arts, in relation to creative writing in genres such as poetry, drama, fiction and memoir writing. Outside of school, Mrs. Bartucci loves cooking, traveling, training her dogs, and spending time with family.

Mrs. Kathryn Spillner | Academic Coordinator
Email: spillner@saoc.org
Mrs. Spillner has had a 30-year career in education, first as an English teacher, then as a school counselor and later as an administrator. The last 10 years of her career in public education were spent as the Director of the Student Services Department of a large suburban high school. Her department was made up of counselors, social workers, school psychologists, college and career advisers, deans of students, a community resource officer from the local police dept., the school nurse and the registrar of academic records – all the individuals who provide services to students outside of the classroom. It was an invigorating and rewarding environment in a school of 2,000 students with over 150 faculty and staff. Mrs. Spillner has many interests including travel, reading, cooking, sewing, and gardening.  Her greatest joy comes from spending time with her family, which includes five beautiful grandchildren, she has one grandson and four grand-daughters.

Mrs. Selvi Arifi | Administrative Assistant
Email: selvi@saoc.org
Ms. Selvi has been in the administrative field since 2000. She began her journey at SAC in 2005. Mrs. Selvi loves working in the education field surrounded by children. She is a proud mother of three and adores spending every moment she can with her children.

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