Meet Our Staff

Kristin Novy, Principal

Kristin has served schools in multiple Chicago neighborhoods over the past thirteen years as a teacher, literacy coach and Resident Principal and now Principal. As an instructional leader serving culturally and linguistically diverse student populations, she became a leader in creating curriculum and assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards at the district level. As a literacy coach, she served a pivotal role in increasing student achievement by coaching teachers, implementing balanced literacy, and working with families to create a culture of high expectations and a love of reading and learning. She has created strong leadership teams at two schools that used data to develop and monitor student progress, resulting in outstanding student growth and more invested staff. She also developed literacy outreach programs at multiple schools to support and invest families in their children’s education. Kristin holds a B.A. in Journalism from Indiana University, an M.A. in Teaching from Dominican University, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University, and earned her school leadership licensure from DePaul University. She achieved National Board Certification in 2009. Now in her fourth year as principal of Christopher House Elementary, Kristin is proud to be leading the development of an outstanding whole-child focused school that prepares children for success and happiness in life.

Elizabeth Cruz, Office Manager

Elizabeth is currently working on her B.A in Human Resources Development at Northeastern Illinois University. She worked in an elementary school on the Southwest side of Chicago prior to coming to Christopher House this summer 2015, where she worked as an office assistant and teacher assistant for six years. She is happy to be working at Christopher House, where she has the privilege of seeing many scholars from kindergarten through fifth grade on a daily basis.

Laura Petrini, Diverse Learners’ Manager

Laura received a dual bachelors degree in Special Education and Elementary Education from Lewis University in Romeoville, IL. Ever since she was young, she knew she wanted to be a teacher. Laura has taught Special Education for the past four years at a Chicago Public Elementary school in Bridgeport, IL. She believes that parents and teachers are partners in the child’s education. She is an advocate for her students and their families. She ensures all of her parents understand the special education process such as IEPs, their rights and the services available to them. Laura is currently working towards her masters in Curriculum and Instruction with an endorsement in ESL. Laura has experience working with students with Autism, Social Emotional concerns, Learning Disabilities and Developmental Delays. She recently became certified with Wilson Reading program and is able to support students who are struggling with their reading skills.

Shaylana Frey, Student Support Specialist

Shaylana grew up watching her mother work as a kindergarten teacher at the elementary school she attended. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts from The University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her first job out of college was working as a recruiter, first in Chicago and then, subsequently, in New York City. But, after 3 years she decided to go back to school and pursue her dream of following in the footsteps of her mother and becoming a teacher. She earned a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Fordham University and after 3 years of teaching kindergarten in Harlem, New York, she found her home here in Chicago and at Christopher House.

Annie Dilion, STEAM Specialist

Working with children is something Annie has been motivated to do since having a series of teachers in elementary school that offered a supporting and fun learning environment. She earned her Bachelors of Arts degree and Elementary Education teaching certificate from the University of Iowa. After graduating, she spent a year as a teacher’s assistant followed by two years of teaching fourth grade at the top performing charter school in the city of Chicago. She recently completed her ESL endorsement from National Louis University.

Lauren Harrington, Kindergarten Teacher/Emergent Learning Coordinator

Lauren graduated from DePaul University with her B.A. in Secondary Education and a concentration in History. Upon graduation, she joined the Teach for America Program and continues to work toward closing the achievement gap. Lauren initially taught early childhood for two years at a preschool on Chicago’s Southwest Side while earning a second teaching certificate in early childhood education from Dominican University. By the time her commitment to Teach for America had ended, she had fallen in love with teaching at the primary grade level. Lauren then chose to continue her work as a preschool teacher at a Northwest side community center, Onward Neighborhood House in the Belmont-Cragin Neighborhood. Lauren moved on from preschool to teach Kindergarten for Chicago’s top performing charter school, CICS Irving Park. She is proud to be a founding teacher at Christopher House.

Michelle Correa, Senior ELL Coordinator

Michelle’s love for teaching started when she began substitute teaching in her hometown of Waukegan where she worked for 3 years prior to coming to Christopher House. Her motivation quickly helped her in starting her teaching career in both ELL education and general education. Michelle’s Colombian heritage has strongly influenced her passion in being an activist for her Latino community.

Mollie Martin, Kindergarten Teacher

After spending 4 years teaching preschool at a Catholic school on the north side of Chicago, Mollie was so excited for the opportunity to being teaching Kindergarten at Christopher House. When she was in Kindergarten, she began saying that she would be a Kindergarten teacher someday, and now she is! She has a wide variety of teaching experiences from teaching Kindergarten in Mexico to working in a therapeutic day school in Northbrook. Getting to know the students and watching them grow throughout the year is one of the top reasons why she loves teaching. She is so excited to continue to learn from her students as she teaches them!

Heather Shawaluk, 1st Grade Teacher

Heather graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Early Childhood Education. As a Junior and Senior in college she was fortunate enough to complete her student teaching at two different Christopher House locations. Upon completing her degree she was honored to be asked to officially join the Christopher House family as a First Grade teacher. She is excited to bring her knowledge of Reggio- Inspired learning to a primary setting.

Molly Henderson, 1st Grade Teacher

As an English Language Learner teacher, Molly believes children succeed when they are placed in a nurturing and engaging classroom environment. Her passion for teaching ELL students began in high school, where she would travel as far as Central America to teach children. Upon returning, she became an English language instructor for adults at Centro Romero in Chicago. She earned a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from National Louis University as well as an endorsement to teach English as a Second Language. Molly previously taught preschool through 3rd grade students at The Frances Xavier Warde School in Chicago. She is delighted to be a part of the Christopher House community.

Kelsey Nelson, Primary Diverse Learner Resource Teacher

After volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club over spring break in college, Kelsey realized her passion for being a teacher and educating young students. After earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from Arizona State University, Kelsey joined Teach for America and moved to Chicago, IL to teach preschool. She taught Head Start on the south side of Chicago for one year before making her way to Christopher House. While teaching Head Start for two years, Kelsey earned her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Johns Hopkins University. She is excited to transition from the preschool to the Elementary School as the Inclusion Diverse Learner Teacher!

Lia Czarnik, ELL Coordinator/Teacher

Lia grew up in a bicultural family speaking both Spanish and English, and that sparked her interest in world culture and language. She received her degree in Bilingual Elementary Education at Illinois State University.  In college, she spent most of her time working and living with International Students. She spent the next 3 years in France, learning French and then becoming an English and Spanish teacher. She came back to the U.S. and became a bilingual 5th teacher, followed by a Spanish and art teacher. She hopes to continue to build more connections between students, families, and co-workers to mutually see the value of education, culture, and language.

Annie Leibold, Intermediate Diverse Learner Resource Teacher

Annie has always had a passion to make a difference in the lives of others. She found her love for teaching at the University of Dayton, where she graduated with a Bachelors in Special Education for grades K-12 with mild to moderate disabilities. She taught preschoolers in Old Town for 3 years, and is excited for this new experience to work at Christopher House as an inclusion teacher. She enjoys working with students in multiple grade levels and getting to know all of the faculty, family, and community.

Kelly Rivera, Diverse Learner Inclusion Teacher

Kelly Rivera began her love of teaching as a Special Education Paraprofessional with the Special Education District of Lake County in northern Illinois. She received her Master’s Degree in Teaching from National Louis University. She then got a job working as a Special Education Resource Teacher and then a self-contained classroom teacher for students with Autism. After working in the northern suburbs for two years, she began working at Christopher House Elementary in the middle of September of 2016. She works with the Diverse Learners students from grades Kindergarten to 3rd grade. After her first year of working at Christopher House, she cannot wait to start her second year.

Jennifer LeFevre, Paraprofessional

Jennifer LeFevre comes to us from the beautiful state of Hawaii. Born and raised in Chicago, she moved to Hawaii to attend the University of Hawaii at Hilo, where she earned her B.S. in Marine Science. Growing up, she knew she wanted to combine her love for the ocean with her love of helping children. This desire helped her earn a spot as a trainee with CMORE (Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education), where she conducted research and spent time teaching science to kids with behavioral disorders in after school programs throughout the Big Island.  After graduation and a  short NOAA research cruise, she volunteered as a youth leader for kids with behavioral disorders.  She greatly enjoys serving scholars at CH.

Somone Mccollough, Paraprofessional

Somone studied early childhood and also majored in psychology at the University of Phoenix . She has enjoyed working as a Recreation Leader with grade school children for the Chicago Park District, as a toddler and preschool assisting teacher at several childcare facilities and more recent as a special education paraprofessional at an elementary school. Recently, she obtained her ELS certification and plans to continue working toward her PEL certification.  Working with children was always something she wanted to do as youth, while having admiration for her teachers who were able to break down what seemed to be a difficult subject into a fun learning experience and the entire class would become involved. That’s why to this day she believes any child can achieve success in and outside of the class when they are in a fun, informative and motivating environment. She is excited about being able to help implement this type of environment here to the students at Christopher House along with the current values that it upholds.

Myra Salgado, Paraprofessional

Myra earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Communication and Disorders from the University of Morelos in Mexico. She has worked in Chicago Public Schools serving as a Special Education Assistant. She enjoys learning about about speech and language disorders, as well as other research to support her students. She likes to do volunteer work for people with special needs in agencies like the Anixter Center.

Endora Turner, Paraprofessional

Endora is currently a paraprofessional in a 1st grade classroom.  Endora has been working as a paraprofessional for fifteen plus years. She has many years of experience working with children in all walks of life. Along with her experiences, she has a B.A in Criminal Justice and a minor in Social Science. Endora truly finds it a pleasure to work with people, especially children.

Michael Carreira, Music Teacher

Michael is a musician and educator who has taught for almost fifteen years in several New York City and Oakland, CA public schools. His teaching interest include percussion music from around the world, an updated take on the Orff method, and the great songs from American blues and folk traditions. He holds degrees in music from Boston University and Mills College. Michael is new to Chicago and is excited to get to know the city and the community at Christopher House.

Brian Haran, Physical Education Teacher

Brian grew up on the south side of Chicago in the Scottsdale neighborhood.  He has previously worked in the Pilsen area in special education at the high school level.  He has a passion for physical activity and sports and has been able to play overseas for the past several years after a successful collegiate athletic career.

 Lisa Rackauskas, 2nd Grade Teacher

Lisa graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education form Trinity Christian College. She comes to us with several middle school endorsements and an endorsement in ESL/ELL. For as long as she can remember, Lisa has always wanted to be a teacher. “I think education is important for our children to be successful in life. I believe knowledge is power. I believe in this so much, that I will always continue to take classes to empower my mind.” Lisa hopes to instill this belief in students so that they start thinking about going to college and gain the power of knowledge and succeed.

 Jordan Reece, 2nd Grade Teacher

Jordan Reece earned her BA at the University of Chicago, where she double-majored in English and Gender Studies. While at the University of Chicago Jordan taught in a local after school tutoring program; during that time she formed lasting relationships with students and families, and witnessed firsthand the powerful effect that home-school collaboration has on children’s learning. Although she grew up in a family of teachers, it was this experience of working with families in Hyde Park that led her to the classroom. Upon graduating Jordan joined the Urban Teacher Education Program at the University of Chicago, where she earned her MAT in August 2014. Jordan is strongly committed to teaching children to be creative, critical, empathetic thinkers. She is thrilled to work with Christopher House families, scholars, and staff as we continue this work together.

Mallory Namoff, 3rd Grade Teacher

Mallory has lived in Chicago, Illinois for the past 4 years. She attended college downtown at Columbia College where she earned her Bachelors in Early Childhood Education. At Columbia, Mallory learned the importance of collaboration, reflective practice, and the importance of the whole child image. Mallory will be earning her ESL endorsement in 2018 so she can serve as an active participant helping the Latin American culture represented at Christopher House. Mallory is excited to work in an environment that truly values their students, families, and staff.

Julia Corsini, 3rd Grade Teacher

I graduated from Miami University of Ohio where I earned my degree in early childhood education. Teaching and working with children has been a passion of mine since I was young. I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of school settings with many different types of students. These experiences have helped me realize the importance of creating a nurturing, positive and encouraging classroom where all students are valued and excited about learning. I am thrilled to be working at Christopher House!

Veronica Johnson, 4th Grade Teacher

Veronica received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Michigan in 2011. Always knowing she wanted to pursue a career in education she earned her Master of Arts in Teaching specializing in Elementary Education from Brown University in 2013. Before coming to Christopher House she spent three years teaching 5th grade –  one year in Charlotte, NC and two years in Providence, RI.  Veronica has always had a love for learning and hopes to instill that same passion in her fourth grade scholars. She believes a classroom runs best by fostering a welcoming and nurturing environment where all children know they are respected, appreciated, and capable of greatness. She is thrilled to be a part of the staff at CHES and for the opportunity to work with the amazing scholars every day!

Kailyn Gebner, 4th Grade Teacher

Kailyn graduated from Carthage College with a B.A. in Elementary and Special Education. During college, she spent her time doubling as a collegiate athlete and a dedicated student. Kailyn’s passion for teaching and life-long learning drives her to create an engaging and thought provoking classroom. She is very excited to be a part of the Christopher House team and looks forward to continuing her own education very soon.

Michelle Morrison, 5th Grade Teacher

Michelle graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in accounting, and a couple of years later, realized she wanted to be a teacher! She graduated from Northwestern University with a master’s in Elementary Education in June of 2017, and during her time at Northwestern, she taught many different types of learners. From this experience stems her passion for differentiation, student choice, and teaching based on each student’s unique needs.  She is very excited to join the team at Christopher House and meet this year’s 5th graders!

Julie Cunningham, 5th Grade Teacher