Staff

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Kathy Olsen

Director

Kathy started her teaching career as a special education teacher at Cove School.  For the last thirty six years she has been involved in the early childhood field as both a teacher and a director.  Kathy served as a director for the last twenty four years.  Two of the schools, Tri-Con Child Care Center (Highland Park) and Wilmette Community Nursery School have been right here on the North Shore.  Educationally she attended both Northeastern Illinois University for her undergraduate work in Early Childhood and Special Education and National Louis University where she earned her MA in Education Therapy.  Kathy is currently certified in Early Childhood, Elementary Education and Special Education an emphasis in L.D.

Kathy grew up in Glenview and has spent the majority of her life in the suburbs of Chicago.  She has been married for over forty years and lives in Wauconda with her husband.  Kathy has two grown children, a son and a daughter, as well as four grandchildren.  They all live in the Chicago suburban area.  Both of her children and her daughter-in-law are teachers and she couldn’t be prouder of their career choices.

Kathy thoroughly enjoys working with young children and their families as well as a staff of early childhood teachers.  She says she can’t imagine going to work at a place that isn’t filled with young lives.  Kathy finds being in this environment makes her a better person.  She feels children seem to bring out the best in all of us.  Kathy states she is extremely proud to be Director of this wonderful school and very excited to be beginning her twelfth year in this capacity.

Emily

Emily Becker

A Class Assistant Teacher / C Class Assistant Teacher

It seems Emily was always destined to work with young children.  They have always been drawn to her and her to them.  In fact she is often referred to as the Pied Piper of Sumac Road.  Four years ago she had an opportunity to work at a preschool in Glencoe and realized this was truly what she was meant to do.  We are very happy that she is decided to continue her career here at Ravinia where she will begin her third year as the Assistant Teacher in the A and C classes.

Emily grew up in Highland Park and attended Highland Park Schools and graduated from Highland Park High School.  She still lives here, just down the street, with her husband Jeremy of 8 years.  Emily is a familiar face in the community and is always happy to lend a hand.  Emily continues to get lots of on the job training by living on a street that is filled with children that all want a playdate with her.

Emily was a dental assistant for several years before she found her passion in early childhood. She has attended classes at Oakton Community College and plans on working towards her teaching certificate.  She says she greatly enjoys the classes and likes the constant opportunity to apply what she is learning to the classroom.

Emily loves spending time with children and nurturing their wonderful creative talents.  She is creative herself and likes to share this with others.  She is very excited to be at the little blue school an environment she has always respected and admired.  In her free time she likes spending time with her family including her young nephew.  Her other interests include, painting, drawing and anything else creative.

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Cathy Cohen

B Class Teacher

Cathy came to Ravinia with a great deal of previous experience with young children both professionally and personally.  While living in Cincinnati she worked for ten years at a parent co-op that served children ranging from three months to thee years of age.  During her tenure there she was a student teacher, a teacher and the director.  Cathy has very fond memories of her time at the center and still keeps in touch with several of the families.  She then took time off from her career to raise her own four children.  Thirteen years ago wishing to return to the classroom her path led her to our school.  That certainly was good fortune for Ravinia and Cathy is now beginning her twelfth school year as a teacher of the three year olds.

Cathy was raised in Cincinnati and lived in Norfolk and Portland before settling in Deerfield.  While living in Cincinnati she attended the University of Cincinnati and received her BS in Elementary Education and Early Childhood.  She moved here with her husband and four children sixteen years ago for her husband’s job.  This is originally home for him and they have made it home for their four children.  They have all grown and she now has four adult children.  Luckily she can continue to enjoy and interact with the younger ones on a daily basis at our school.

Cathy loves working with young children and finds their spontaneity, honesty, sense of constant wonder and joy to be endlessly refreshing.  That combined with the fact that everyday has the potential to be different makes this job ideal for her.  When she isn’t working with our young children or caring for her own family she enjoys baking and golfing.

Jennifer-Drazner

Jennifer Drazner

Parent Child and W/F Two Can Class Teacher and T/Th Two Can Assistant Teacher

Jennifer has always enjoyed being with children and has managed to do so her entire adult life.  She received her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Preschool Education from Northeastern Illinois University.  She then worked at the Skokie Park District as a daycare teacher for several years until she had three children of her own to teach and care for.  As her children grew she subbed at B’nai Tikvah preschool, worked at a preschool camp for the Deerfield Park District, and then for nine years she was the lunch/recess supervisor at South Park School in Deerfield.  In addition to this she was a substitute teacher at both Deerfield Park District Preschool and Ravinia Nursery School.

Jennifer lives in Deerfield with her husband and three children.  Her youngest is starting his junior year at University of Wisconsin.  Both of her daughters are college graduates and one is a teacher as well.  Eight years ago after having enjoyed substituting for Ravinia she became a permanent part of our staff.  Jennifer began as the Two Can Teacher Assistant of our Wednesday/Friday class then for the following two years she was the Assistant Teacher in A class.  Now entering her ninth year here she is beginning her sixth year as the Teacher in the W/F Two’s and the Parent and Child Classes.  She says she is thrilled to be able to work with one of her favorite age groups, two year olds.  Jennifer has always felt a special connection with children and finds them not only adorable but truly amazing and delightful to be around.  In her free time she enjoys playing mahjongg, reading, knitting, playing with her dog, and spending time with her family.

Barbara

Barbara Eisenberg

T/Th & W/F Two Cans Assistant Teacher

Barbara has spent many years educationally and professionally in the field of education.   After earning her BA in Human Development from Kansas she began her career as an Early Childhood Teacher.  After three years of teaching she decided to pursue an advanced degree and went back to school at National Louis where she received her MA in Elementary Education.  Barbra then worked for eight years teaching third grade in the Chicago Public Schools.  For several years after that she was busy putting her skills to practical use raising her two children.  She spent a great deal of time volunteering and helping out in their school where she continued to enjoy working with young children.  This led her back to the classroom and this year Barbra will be beginning her third year at Ravinia as the assistant in both of our Two Can classrooms.

Barbra is originally from Wilmette but now lives in Highland Park with her husband and two children, a son and a daughter, who both attend Braeside School.  Barbra says she really likes being with the children and staff in our wonderful Two Can program.  She enjoys working with children because she loves being a part of their learning process.  We are very happy she has chosen Ravinia to be the place to do this.  In addition to spending time with her family and friends Barbra also likes reading and playing tennis.

 

Rebecca

Rebecca Levy

A Class Assistant Teacher

Rebecca knew she always wanted to work with children.  She began pursuing her passion at a young age by regularly babysitting and then later as a camp counselor for many years.  After receiving her BA in Psychology from the University of Colorado she returned home and pursued her Masters in Elementary Education at Nation Louis University.  Rebecca is an alum, attended preschool here at Ravinia and felt teaching here would be a wonderful next step in her teaching career.  We agree and feel lucky to have her return to our school where she will be beginning her first year as the A class assistant teacher.

Rebecca is originally from Long Island, but has lived in the Chicago land area for many years.  Rebecca attended local elementary schools as well as graduated from Highland Park High School.  She currently lives in Chicago with her young daughter but spends a great deal of time in Highland Park where her parents live.

Rebecca feels that early childhood education is what sets the students up for the rest of their lives, so starting them off on a positive note is very important.  She feels that is what we do at Ravinia and she would like to be part of this.  In her free time she enjoys running, reading and spending time with her family, particularly her daughter, and friends.

 

Lisa

Lisa Kleiman

B Class Assistant Teacher

Lisa comes to Ravinia with a variety of experiences and a strong desire to work with young children. She has a Bachelor’s in Journalism from the University of Missouri and worked in the creative area of corporate communications for ten years before focusing on raising her family. She recently completed her Early Childhood Certificate at Oakton Community College. In addition to pursuing her EC Certificate, Lisa also taught in early childhood classrooms at the JCC for three years.

Lisa grew up in St. Louis and moved to Chicago with her husband almost 30 years ago.  She has two sons and two daughters; her oldest daughter is a Speech Pathologist, her older son a recent college graduate, the younger daughter is a junior in college and he youngest son will be a freshman at DHS.  Raising her four children, as well as volunteering at Children’s Memorial Hospital and in the Deerfield schools, instilled in Lisa a passion for working in early childhood. Through one of her Oakton courses, she completed an affiliation at Ravinia. We feel very fortunate that her path led her to Ravinia and ultimately to joining our staff. She will be beginning her third year this fall as the Assistant Teacher in the B classroom.

Children put a smile on Lisa’s face every day. She loves their energy, curiosity and the sheer joy of childhood. She is committed to helping guide and encourages children to learn through exploring their world and interacting with each other. Lisa feels that every day is an opportunity to grow. She is very excited to be teaching at Ravinia and hopes to always be a positive influence on the children and families here. In her free time Lisa enjoys reading, practicing yoga and Pilates and spending time with her family and friends.  Her other interests include hiking, biking and playing Mahjong.

 

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Lauren Kritzman

Lauren is now beginning her fourth year at Ravinia as the Administrative Assistant.  She can be seen working with a variety of people in multiple capacities.  Lauren manages to assist the Board, the Staff and the parents as well as keeping our technology and media needs intact and up to date.  We are all certainly glad Lauren decided to join the staff three years ago and literally do not know what we would do without her.

Lauren grew up in Lincolnwood and graduated from Niles West High School. From there she went to University of Southern Florida where she majored in Political Science and History.  She worked for several years in the jewelry wholesale business as a gemologist.  Lauren then spent many years taking care of her family which included three children, one son and two daughters.

Lauren has lived in Deerfield for the last 19 years with her husband and three children.  The older two are now off at college; her son is in graduate school and her daughter a sophomore at Syracuse. Her youngest, who attended Ravinia Nursery School, is now in fourth grade at Kipling School.

Lauren likes spending time with her family and friends.  She also enjoys exercise, particularly yoga, cooking and reading.

Kim-Littman

Kim Littman

Tuesday/Thursday Two Cans and C Class Teacher

Kim, as the mother of four girls, has spent many years interacting with children in a very realistic practical way.  Twelve years ago she put all of her wonderful instincts and her on the job training to good use and became our T/Th Two Can teacher.  It was a wonderful match and she is now in her thirteenth year with us at Ravinia.  Five years ago she also added working in the C class in the afternoon with our four year olds.  This will be her sixth year doing that as well.  She is an artist by background and her formal training was in art from The Art Institute of Chicago.   Kim has also attended Oakton Community College where she has taken classes in Early Childhood Education.

Kim lives in Highland Park with her husband where they have lived for over twenty years and raised their four daughters.  Their older two daughters live and work in Chicago, while the third is now living and working in New York.  Her youngest will be a sophomore at Northwestern this fall so although Kim is still very busy life has definitely slowed down a bit in her day to day mom responsibilities.

Kim loves working with children and finds them to be very inspirational and feels she learns something from them everyday.  It seems very mutual and we are fortunate to have her here to teach our youngest and oldest population.  In her free time Kim enjoys painting, drawing, reading, exercising and walking her dogs.

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Stacey Merel

D Class Assistant Teacher

It seems Stacy always knew she wanted to be involved with children and has been for many years.  After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Kansas University she continued on and received her Master’s in Elementary Education from National Louis University.  Stacy taught elementary age children for the next seven years in the Chicago Public Schools.  Then two young children and a move to Highland Park brought her to substituting in the Highland Park District for the past several years.  Three years ago when her younger daughter attended RNS she became familiar with our school and now is beginning her third year on staff as the D class Assistant Teacher.  We are very happy that her journey has led her to working in our school.

Stacy is originally from Northbrook but now lives in Highland Park with her husband and two daughters who both attend Sherwood School.  She likes being with young children because not only is it fun but she feels she is always learning something new from them.  Stacy loves children’s honesty, creativity and endless energy.  She finds helping children to learn is very rewarding.  She is very excited to be a part of RNS and looking forward to another amazing year. In addition to spending time with her family and friends Stacy also likes reading, traveling and being outdoors.

 

Lynn Miller

Lynn Miller

Music Teacher

Lynn has always enjoyed music and being with children and it seems has managed to do so her entire life.  She received her B.S. in Music from the University of Illinois.  Lynn then worked as a school music/band teacher for the next five years.  Realizing her enjoyment when working with the young children lead her to Deerfield Community Nursery School where she was both the music teacher for over thirty years, and also a classroom teacher for the past twelve.   Wanting to continue being with young children and music Lynn is now beginning her third year at Ravinia.  In is now hard to remember Ravinia without Mrs. Miller’s musical Tuesdays.  We are all very glad she has chosen to share her considerable talents with our young musicians and singers.

Lynn lives in Lake Bluff with her husband.  She has lived in the area her entire life even a graduate of Deerfield High School.  Lynn has two grown daughters both living in Chicago; one is a teacher as well.   She says children make her smile and she loves being with them to watch their eyes sparkle with excitement, wonder, and curiosity.  Lynn feels she has the “best job possible”.  In her free time she enjoys her family, reading, cooking, dancing and walking her dog.

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Lynn Richman

B Class Assistant Teacher

Lynn has spent many years working with children and families in varied capacities.  She received her B.S. in Child Development and Family Relations from the University of Arizona, from there she went on to Boston University to earn her Master’s Degree in Social Work.  Lynn then worked for ten years as a medical social worker until she had two children of her own to teach and care for.  As her children grew she spent time volunteering in her children’s schools.  Lynn has also been very actively involved in her community.

Lynn is originally from Los Angeles, but after completing her MSW she settled in the Chicago land area and began working.  She lives in Glencoe with her husband and two daughters.  Her oldest daughter will be a senior this year at Vanderbilt and her younger daughter is beginning her sophomore year at the University of Michigan.    This will be Lynn’s tenth year of working at Ravinia as an Assistant Teacher in the morning Preschool program.  Lynn says she has loved working with young children since she was a child herself and really likes being part of Ravinia.  She goes on to say that children make her laugh and smile and she loves their eagerness to learn and try new things.  Lynn believes that her love of children and previous social work background are positive assets to working with preschoolers.  We agree and are very fortunate to have Lynn and her positive attitude be part of our staff and the children’s lives.   In her free time she likes spending time with her family, friends and her dog Oscar. Her other interests include playing Canasta, cooking, traveling, and seeing movies.

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Amy Micari

D Class Teacher

Amy came to Ravinia with a great deal of previous experience working with young children in a variety of settings involving both private and public schools.  She received her BA in Elementary Education from Northeastern Illinois University with an additional 18 hours of graduate study in reading.  Then for the next fifteen years she taught children in various schools with age groups ranging from preschool and kindergarten to second grade.  Amy found she really enjoyed the younger children and wanted to continue to work with them in a preschool setting.  Were very happy that this led her to Ravinia where she will be beginning her first year here working with our four year olds in the D classroom.

Amy grew up in Glenview, later moved to Chicago, and then ten years ago she and her husband settled in Highland Park.  They have continued to live here happily with their nine year old daughter who attends Sherwood School.  Amy has always been an active member of the community and a regular volunteer at Sherwood.

Amy loves working with young children and loves to see their excitement when experiencing new things.  One of the things Amy feels is a good activity for young children to experience is yoga, so much so that she recently got certified to teach children’s yoga. When she isn’t working with our young children or caring for her own family including her recently adopted dog, she enjoys gardening and traveling.

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Barby Salk

A Class Assistant Teacher

Barby didn’t originally begin her career life as an educator, but did seem destined to find her way to the classroom.  After getting an MBA from Northwestern she worked in advertising and marketing.  Even then she was drawn to kid friendly accounts like Keebler cookies and Kraft Mac and Cheese.  Her desire to work with children, led her to begin working as a kindergarten Sunday school teacher eleven years ago.  This helped her to decide to make a career move five years ago.  Barby began by teaching a lunch program at Deerfield Community Nursery School, taking Early Childhood classes at Oakton and then becoming a classroom teacher at Deerfield Community.  From there she decided to join the staff at Ravinia and is now beginning her fourth year in A class.

Barby grew up in Highland Park and currently lives in Deerfield with her husband.  She has three daughters who her and her husband raised in Deerfield.  Her two younger children are away at school one is in her fourth year of college and the other in her third year of medical school.  Barby’s older daughter is happily married and lives in Pittsburgh.  Three years ago when her last child went to college she felt it was the perfect time to make the transition to Ravinia Nursery School.  She has many little friends now to temporarily fill the gap when her daughters are away.

Barby enjoys seeing children grow and learn emotionally, intellectually and socially.  She views this as a true joy and says children always put a smile on her face.   In addition to spending time with her family and friends Barby enjoys walking, swimming, gardening, traveling and reading.

Dana

Dana Valfer

W/F Two Can Assistant Teacher

Dana has always loved working with young children and knew that was what she was meant to do.  After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Family Studies from University of Arizona she continued on and received her Master’s in Elementary Education from National Louis University.  Dana then taught second and third grade for the next eight years in the Chicago Public Schools.  Following that for the next several years she was busy using her education and skills to care for and raise her own three children.  As her children grew she always spent time in their classrooms and schools as a very active volunteer. With her children getting older last year she felt it was time to go back into the classroom part time. She will now be beginning her third year at RNS as the W/F Two Can Assistant Teacher.   It seems to be a great fit and we are happy that she has chosen Ravinia as the place to  return to working with children again.

Dana is originally from Northbrook but now lives in Deerfield with her husband and three children.  She has two sons at DHS, one is a Freshman and one a Junior, her daughter is in 6th grade at Shepard.  She likes working with young children because they are so genuine and honest.  It fascinates her to watch them learn new things and feel such a sense of accomplishment.  Dana notes they explore the world with such a yearning to learn and she enjoys being part of that process.  She is very excited to be working at Ravinia with our little ones. In addition to spending time with her family and friends Dana also likes reading, running and baking.

 

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Julie Walzer

D Class Teacher

Julie has been involved with children, both professionally and personally for many years.  After receiving her B.S. in Elementary Education from Indiana University she went on to teach kindergarten for four years in the Chicago Public Schools.  For several years after that she was busy putting her skills to practical use raising her three children. As they got older she decided to return to the classroom and spent six years teaching preschool and enrichment classes in two different preschools in the Glencoe area.

Julie is originally from Glencoe but now lives in Highland Park with her husband and three children, two sons and a daughter.  Her daughter will be a sophomore at Highland Park High School and one son is a college graduate and the other is away at college.  Julie’s daughter and nieces attended RNS so she is very familiar with the Little Blue School.  Julie joined Ravinia two years ago as an assistant in the A class, then last fall she moved to the afternoon D class.  Julie is beginning her second year as a teacher in D class.  She truly enjoys this age and is very excited to be teaching our PreK children.

Julie loves teaching preschool aged children because they are so excited and fascinated by the world.  She is very eager to help guide and nurture them through the school year. In addition to spending time with her family and friends Julie also likes reading and exercise.

Alison

Alison Wendt

C Class Assistant Teacher

Alison wanted to work with children for as long as she can remember.  She began pursuing her career in high school working as a camp counselor then went on to work at a day care center while she attended college.  After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from University of Arizona she continued on and received her Master’s in Elementary Education from National Louis University.  Alison taught elementary age children for the next seventeen years in the Chicago Public Schools.  When her daughter began elementary school she subbed in the Highland Park School District.   Her daughter is a graduate of RNS so Alison is very familiar with our school as a parent and liked the experience for both her and her daughter.  When her daughter entered first grade Alison thought it would be a good time to go back to work on a regular schedule and now is beginning her third year on staff as the C class Assistant Teacher.  This year Alison is also going to expand her skill set by being an assistant Teacher in the T/Th Two Can class.  We are very glad Alison decided to add the younger children to her repertoire.

Alison grew up in Highland Park then moved to Chicago after she graduated from college.  A few years ago she returned to Highland Park where she now lives with her daughter who attends Sherwood School.  She likes being with young children and feels they are both fun and energizing.  Alison finds that even after many years of teaching she continues to enjoy the children and is always learning or observing something new.  She is very happy to be a part of RNS and looking forward to her third year of working with Ravinia children and parents.  In addition to spending time with her daughter, family and friends Alison also likes walking, shopping and spending time with animals, particularly dogs.