Staff

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PRIMARY GRADES
Ms. Cynthia Potter |PreK-3 Teacher
Email: potter@saoc.org
This is Cynthia’s ninth 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 9 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.

Ms. Danielle Fazio | Junior Kindergarten Teacher | SAC Events and School Activities Coordinator
Email: fazio@saoc.org
This will be Ms. Danielle’s 12th year teaching and she is thrilled to be teaching her 3rd year at Science Academy. Shes very excited to take a new role as the Pre-4 teacher and cannot wait to watch her students blossom! Last year she coordinated many events throughout the school year including the Fall Fest, Haunted Hallway, school spirit week, and our STEAM Carnival Fundraising Gala. She is thrilled to be the events and activities coordinator again this year. her goal for the 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. Victoria | Teacher’s Aide
Email: victoria@saoc.org
Mrs. Victoria graduated from the University of Ukraine with a Bachelors in Accounting. She has spent over 20 years in the education field. She loves spending time with children and in our school atmosphere. Mrs. Victoria strongly believes in the importance of a great education. She loves reading, her dog, A.J. but most importantly spending time with her family and grandson, James.

Mrs. Zorin Daramjee | Kindergarten Teacher
Email: zorin@saoc.org
This is Mrs. Zorin’s 13th year teaching and working with children! She has always wanted to work with children ever since she was a little girl. This is her 6th year teaching at the Science Academy of Chicago. She graduated from Northeastern Illinois University. She is currently in the process of finishing up her Masters in Education. She loves teaching and is very passionate about inspiring young minds. She loves teaching her students to think outside the box and absolutely loves watching them flourish in reading, math, science, and even cooking. She believes it is a wonderful blessing to watch her students continue to blossom throughout their years here at the Science Academy of Chicago. She believes that SAC has always had an outstanding mission and has always put the children’s well-being first. She is looking forward to another rewarding and exciting year at the Science Academy of Chicago!A few of her favorite quotes: “Tell me and I’ll forget, Teach me and I’ll remember, Include me and I’ll learn. “The more that you read, the more things you will know, the more that you learn, the more places you’ll GO! Dr. Seuss.

Mrs. Amy Levine | 1st Grade Teacher | Class Website
Email: levine@saoc.org
This is Ms. Levine’s third 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 joined SAC a year ago to teach second grade. 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 8 years. She is excited to be moving from 2nd grade to be the 3rd grade teacher. 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.

UPPER GRADES TEACHER

Mrs. Meral Ayciek | Mathematics Teacher
Email: meral@saoc.org
Mrs. Meral teaches 4th and 6th grade math as well as Algebra 1. Mrs. Meral has 20 years of teaching experience and believes that every child can master mathematics. She implements differentiation methods 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. Brianna Bartucci | 6th-8th Grade Language Arts Teacher
Email: bartucci@saoc.org
Mrs. Bartucci has taught Language Arts at SAOC for the past four years. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from DePaul University with a degree in English and Secondary Education. She has endorsements in middle school teaching and is continuing her graduate studies in ESL.  Mrs. Bartucci is a native Chicagoan, enjoys traveling, and loves baking cupcakes!  This year, Ms. Bartucci will be sponsoring SAOC’s very own Newspaper Club.

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.

Mrs. Halime Cavus | Math Teacher for 5th Grade, Pre-Algebra and Geometry
Email: cavus@saoc.org
Mrs. Cavus is one of the Math teacher at Science Academy of Chicago, and has taught many different math subjects for seven years. She believes life is like Math. There is always some problems and people have to find the way to get the solution. Also, she is the person who believes in education that is a crucial service to help people in the world. Kids are the future and they need more guide. Mrs. Cavus feels lucky being part of the education. In 1996, she graduated from Blacksea Technical University which was one of the most popular universities at Blacksea Region in Turkey. She worked as a Math teacher in several private courses, and had taught many different math subjects for eleven years. She has many students who has become doctor, lawyer, teacher, engineer, and etc. She is so happy to share her experience at SAC. She is the mother of two kids and enjoys reading and stamp collecting.

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. 

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!

Mr. Paul Lakofka | Spanish Teacher

Email: lakofka@saoc.org

Mr. Lakofka teaches beginning and intermediate Spanish to the students of SAC.  He is happy to be starting his third year at SAC after spending ten years in four public and one charter school in Chicago, Brooklyn, and Queens.  He holds a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame, a M.A. from National-Louis University, has studied abroad in Madrid and London, and has travelled extensively throughout Latin America and Europe.  He believes he 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.

Mrs. Muyesser Korkmaz | Turkish and Character Education Teacher
Email: korkmaz@saoc.org
Mrs. Korkmaz has been teaching Character Education and Turkish for six 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 to encourage the students to take their responsibilities for their actions ,and hopes they become good citizens with high moral 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.

Mr. Aslan Saltas | Computer Science Teacher Grades 3rd – 8th | IT Coordinator
Email: saltas@saoc.org
Mr. Saltas has been teaching for 14 years and loves sharing his knowledge. He attended Anadolu University in Turkey and received his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Education & Instructional Technologies.  He currently is pursuing his Masters Degree in Networking.  He believes that computer science is a crucial part of education and enjoys watching his students excel.  He has upgraded SAC’s computer curriculum to assist students in becoming proficient in advanced features of computers. He also mentors advanced engineering clubs such as FTC Robotics, Future City , Underwater Robotics, and FLL Robotics.  He enjoys watching movies, swimming, hiking, traveling and being with family and friends. He is married and has two kids.

www.myclass2014.wordpress.com

Ms. Allison Johnson | Art
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/

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

ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF

Mr. Mustafa Yazici, Director
Email: yazici@saoc.org
Mr. Yazici has worked as a teacher/administrator for almost twenty years and spent the past two 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.

Mr. Akif Camizi, Assistant Director
Email: akif@saoc.org
Mr. Akif has been in the field of education since 2007. He graduated from METU -one of top five universities in Turkey, with a Physics Degree. He studied the importance of demonstration and experiments in education during his college years and now is applying that knowledge here at SAC. He has a great passion for teaching science, he enjoys guiding the next generation of future scientist. He believes that every student can develop a passion for science and will learn to enjoy applying the knowledge gained to their daily lives. He and his lovely wife have a toddler and love playing soccer.

Mrs. Selvi Arifi, Administrative Assistant
Email: selvi@saoc.org
Ms. Selvi  fell in love with SAC the moment her children began their first moments here many years ago. She has been working and volunteering in the education field for over 17 years. She quickly developed a deep passion for her SAC colleagues, students and families. She is a proud mother of three and adores spending every moment she can with her children.

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 ranging in age from 5 years to 10 months, she has one grandson and four grand-daughters.

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