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CWS Welcomes New Faculty

As we start off a new school year in a new home, we also welcome several new Faculty & Staff members to our CWS team. We are excited for the energy, enthusiasm for the curriculum, and dedication to our students that each bring with them.

Be sure to give them a warm CWS welcome when you see them around campus!

Janna Stauffer / 6th Grade Teacher

Janna is an Illinois native who grew up loving nature, music, art, poetry and connecting them all to the world around her. She earned her Bachelors of Music from Northern Illinois University and her Masters of Music from Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As recent graduate of the Waldorf Institute of Southern California, she began teaching in 2016 at the Pasadena Waldorf School as an assistant in the 5th grade and is currently assisting the same class in their 6th grade year. She is very thrilled to take the current 5th grade into their middle school years and guide them with care, love and diligence as well as continue to instill a love of learning.

Dominick Talvacchio / High School Math Teacher

Dominick is delighted to become part of the inspiring, warm, and thriving CWS community. His interest in mathematics and its teaching has always revolved about an essentially human component which the discipline has tended to obscure, particularly in modern times, and particularly at the high school level. He is inspired to share the charming rigor of mathematical thinking with his students.

Dominick is returning to classroom teaching — and to Chicago — after twelve years of living in New York, where he developed a career as a visual artist and writer, while privately tutoring high school and college students in math and humanities fields. Dominick studied at the University of Chicago in an interdisciplinary Master’s Program in the Humanities. Prior to this, he attended Davidson College — alongside his friend Luke Goodwin — to pursue interests in mathematics, literature, and baseball. Between Davidson and U of C, he taught math and English for two years at St. Andrew’s School, Delaware, and after graduate school he taught those same subjects in a first tenure at the Chicago Waldorf School. Over the years he has contributed regularly to math textbooks and to item-writing projects for standardized math tests, and intends to use his experience there to help prepare CWS students for the demands of their college entrance exams.

Dominick maintains a personal commitment to mathematics through independent research and parts of his art practice. His own research interest is in the history and philosophy of mathematics. This past spring he spent time Greece, where he deepened his study of ancient Greek geometry that looks forward to bringing to the classroom, in particular in the block on Classical Geometric Constructions that is in store for the Tenth Grade. Dominick is passionate about mathematics, and believes that teaching it comes most alive in a setting such as the Waldorf School, where the discipline is valued for the right reasons.

Nick Novak / Computer Science

Nick is excited to be joining CWS and to begin developing and teaching the new computer science curriculum for the school. In addition to Computer Science, Nick will also be teaching additional science and math classes, and last but not least, advising our robotics club.  Nick is a Chicago native and attended Chicago public schools K-12, graduating from Lane Tech High School. He then attended the University of Illinois at Chicago where he spent time in a student run robotics club and tutoring engineering students. Nick graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, and a Computer Science minor. Recently, he developed a computer science curriculum for an after school enrichment program at a Chicago charter school. Nick has also been working as engineer for over 12 years, having worked for several start-ups, corporations, and as a contract engineer.  He has always had a deep interest in Waldorf education and biodynamics. Nick is looking forward to getting the 9th and 10th grade computer science tracks up and running. His goal is to have a full, 4-year computer science program developed that all CWS students will go through.

Jasmine Hasanbegovic / High School Science & Math Teacher

Jasmine will be teaching math and life sciences in the High School. Her academic background includes a B.A. in Mechanical Engineering, training as a grade school Waldorf teacher at Arcturus, and Waldorf Educational Support training in Extra Lesson with the Association of Healing Education in Ann Arbor. She is familiar with CWS and has served in a variety of capacities at the school over the past years. Jasmine is particularly excited to be teaching the incoming ninth grade Algebra track class, challenging and guiding them as they transition from Grade School to High School. She believes that the aim of the high school curriculum is first and foremost to channel positively the exuberant energy that students bring to the classroom. Her aim is to meet their growing interest in more concrete areas of knowledge and to provide them with opportunities for more independence in their work. Jasmine is also excited to be a part of the activities held on Hermit Island Marine Biology trip and looks forward to being a part of this vibrant community.

Shannon Kennedy / College Counselor

Shannon will be joining CWS as College Counselor, bringing with her a wide range of experience in education ranging from elementary teaching to college administration. Her academic background includes a Master of Science in Higher Education from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Penn State University in her home state of Pennsylvania. She has worked at Illinois Institute of Technology, Northwestern University and University of Illinois at Chicago in enrollment and advising roles. Shannon maintains a private college consulting practice and occasionally serves as an instructor at North Park University and a teaching assistant at Northwestern University in the Higher Education Masters programs at each. Teaching about higher education issues keeps her current on trends that impact colleges. She resides in Chicago with her husband and two daughters.

Amy Schillinger / Director of Student Services and School Counselor

Amy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Art Therapist, and is trained in EMDR, Mindfulness, Neurofeedback, and is completing her 200 hour yoga teacher training. She has over 15 years of experience working in different therapeutic settings. She is the Clinical Director and founder of Balance Stress Management & Therapy, a holistic and integrative mental health practice in Elgin and St. Charles which serves individuals, couples, children, and families that blends traditional counseling techniques with "alternative therapies" such as Occupational Therapy, Neurofeedback and QEEG brain mapping, Art Therapy, Reiki, and Yoga Therapy to help everyone get closer to their center. The practice motto is "Skills Over Pills" and uses a Mind, Body, and Spirit approach to wellness.  

Amy received her undergraduate degree from Alverno College in Milwaukee in Art Therapy. She worked in various placements, from a grief center for children, a non-public day school for high needs children, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on the Child Hematology Oncology and Transplant Unit, and finally in the County of Milwaukee Child and Adolescent Inpatient Services with adolescents in short-term high need residential (crisis) program. During graduate school, she worked as a behavioral specialist with children and families for Stanford at Children’s Health Council at a Charter School as their therapeutic program developer and then transitioned to a position as an Art Specialist at a level 14 locked residential facility for Children and Adolescents in another program development position. After graduation, Amy worked in a private practice setting.

Personally, she is a mother of three children, now attending CWS. Her journey here is both professional and personal. She fully believes in the power of Waldorf education and is excited to be here to help develop the Counseling and Academic Support Services Program. 

CJ Williams / Athletic Director & PE Teacher

Though CJ is not new to CWS, he will be stepping into a new role as Athletic Director this year. After teaching high school movement and gym here at CWS since 2015, CJ is excited to take on this leadership role within our Athletics program. He looks forward to overseeing the CWS athletic programming to ensure that our student athletes have everything they need and that their families are enjoying themselves. As the Grade and High School PE teacher, CJ believes in leading by example to show that physical activity is a very important aspect of our lives. His goal is to educate while encouraging CWS students to explore themselves to find those things that can provide consistent joy, as well as a healthy workout.

Ashley Marsico / High School Office Manager

Ashley has been a part of the Waldorf community since 2015, but is happy to announce her new role as High School Office Manager. In the past, Ashley worked in the Daisy Garden as an EC assistant, as well as volunteering with Ingrid Gomez to teach crochet. Ashley has a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language and Studies and had the incredible opportunity to live and study in Granada, Spain for two years. She has also completed 1.5 years of Arcturus Training. In her free time she is a fiber artist and teaches intro to crochet classes. Ashley looks forward to getting to know the high school students and is excited for the year ahead!