Meet Our Staff

Kristin Novy, Principal

Kristin has served schools in multiple Chicago neighborhoods over the past fourteen 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 Pietrini, 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.

Shay Frey, Student Support Manager

Shay 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.

Veronica Johnson, Personalized Learning Specialist 

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!

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.

Molly Henderson, ELL 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.

Elizabeth Pardo, ELL Teacher 

Micaela Kahan, Student Support Specialist

Micaela knew she wanted to be a teacher since she attended Elementary School.  She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology with a concentration in Gender Studies from Ithaca College in central New York.  Upon graduation, she went straight to graduate school and earned her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Depaul University in Chicago while working full time at a restaurant.  She completed her student teaching at Bell Elementary and went on to teach a multi age 1st and 2nd grade classroom on the Southside of Chicago for two years at a private school.  From there, she got a job at a Chicago Public School in Lawndale as a 1st grade teacher.  Most recently, she worked as a math and reading specialist for Kindergarten through 8th graders, providing extra support in certain subject areas at a school in the Midway area of Chicago.  She is beyond excited to start her journey at the Christopher House and become apart of the family.

Kallen Molnar, Kindergarten Teacher

Kallen Molnar has always known she wanted to pursue a career with children and help them learn and grow. Her passion for education led her to earn her Masters Degree in elementary education from Oakland University in Michigan. After teaching elementary school students in the suburbs of Detroit she decided to move to Chicago where she joined the Christopher House team, initially working with our early childhood children as well as working as a floater teacher in our elementary school. Having had the opportunity to work with a variety of students and grades has helped her to be able to create an engaging and nurturing classroom and learning environment for students. She is delighted to be a part of our community and continue her work with our Christopher House scholars, families and staff.

Kelsey Nelson, Kindergarten

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!

Heather Shawaluk, Kindergarten 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.

Jennifer LeFevre, Scheduling Coordinator 

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.

 Annie Leibold, Intermediate Diverse Learner  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 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.

Jeremy Drazner, Diverse Learner Teacher 

Aftin Phyfe, Diverse Learner Teacher 

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.

Katie Wartella, Paraprofessional

Matthew Thompson, Paraprofessional

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.

Kira Silverstein, Creative Movement Teacher

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.

Maureen Flynn, 1st Grade Teacher 

Loren Myers, 1st Grade Teacher 

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.

Jennifer Fullone, 2nd Grade Teacher


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!

Jordan Reece, 4th 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.

Lauren Adejumo, 4th Grade Teacher

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!

Emily Timmer, 5th Grade Teacher

Madison Engel, 6th Grade Teacher

Madison graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature in 2013, and more recently, completed her Master’s Degree in the Science of Education at Northwestern University. Throughout her time as an educator, she has been committed to cultivating innovative learning practices in the classroom that foster equitable learning practices for all students.

 Ramon Goggins, 6th Grade Teacher