Faculty & Staff

Home » About » Faculty & Staff

 

We are pleased to introduce the members of our Faculty and Administrative Team. They guide the academic, spiritual, moral, and character formation of your children.

Administrative Team

Lisa Hanretty

Lisa Hanretty

Head of School

Mrs. Hanretty holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Marketing from DePaul University. She worked as a Consultant in Employee Benefits and served as Director of Development during the renovation and rededication of St. Mary of the Angels Church. Mrs. Hanretty and her husband have eight children who have attended Embers, Willows, and Northridge. They enjoy their residence in Arlington Heights. Mrs. Hanretty enjoys spending time with her family, long walks and loves a good game of scrabble

Terri Thursby

Terri Thursby

Assistant Head of School

Mrs. Thursby holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Writing from St. Mary’s College (Notre Dame); an MBA in Marketing Communications from DePaul University; and an M.Ed. in Instructional Leadership from the University of Illinois-Chicago. She is currently enrolled in the Program for Inclusive Education at Notre Dame. Mrs. Thursby and her husband live in Park Ridge and have four children, all of whom attended Willows and Northridge. In addition to being an avid reader, she enjoys long bike rides with her husband.

Sylvia Casaletto

Sylvia Casaletto

School Office Manager

Mrs. Casaletto has been keeping the Embers office running smoothly for over 15 years. Her warm and helpful nature is beloved by students, parents, and faculty. She is the engine and energy from which Embers operates. Mrs. Casaletto and her husband live in Chicago and have two grown children. When not at Embers, she likes to travel, listen to music and spend time with her family.

Natalie Donado

Natalie Donado

School Office Secretary

Mrs. Donado manages the front desk in the Embers office — which translates to mean that she is “Jack-of-all-trades”! There isn’t anything she doesn’t lend her professional attitude and skills to address all the many needs on a daily (and hourly) basis. Mrs. Donado earned a B.S. in Business Administration and a minor in Spanish. Mrs. Donado and her husband live in Park Ridge and have three children, all of whom attended Embers. As an avid reader, she enjoys time at the library, bird watching, and spending time with her family and Cocoa, her dog.

Karen Reardon

Karen Reardon

School Registrar

Mrs. Reardon holds a B.A. in Business and Marketing from Miami University (OH), with a minor in English. She has extensive experience working in the academic community providing administrative support at two local parish school offices. She is thrilled to enter her second year at Embers! Mrs. Reardon has four daughters and enjoys reading, gardening, biking, and cooking.

Angela Flood

Angela Flood

Admissions Associate

Mrs. Flood joins Embers as an Admissions Associate. She has 10 years of experience as an Administrative and Office Manager and also worked at her neighborhood public school providing classroom resource support. Mrs. Flood most recently served as Parent Coordinator liaison at Northridge Prep for the past three years. She and her husband have seven children and seven grandchildren.

Christina Williams

Christina Williams

Parent Advisory Director

Mrs. Williams joins the office staff part-time as the Parent Advisory Director and will oversee the Embers Parent Association. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from Miami University (OH) and an M.B.A and Certificate in Non-Profit Management from North Park University. Mrs. Williams has spent over eight years working for various independent schools and non-profit organizations in the areas of admissions, operations, and analytics. She and her husband have three children all of whom are Embers Sparks!

Lelia Harig

Lelia Harig

Business Office Manager

Mrs. Harig heads up the Embers Business Office and also coordinates many of our marketing efforts. She and her husband are founders of the Fire Foundation, an organization that seeks to provide inclusive education at Catholic elementary schools. Mrs. Harig is a graduate of St. Mary’s College (Notre Dame) and has five children.

Faculty

Toni Lakowski

Toni Lakowski

Kindergarten Teacher

Mrs. Lakowski is entering her fourth year as a teacher at Embers and has four young boys, two of them of who are Embers Sparks. She holds a Masters in Elementary Education from DePaul University and has 15 years of experience teaching young children. Teaching and working with children is her passion and brings her great joy. She believes that every child is a unique person, and strives to teach the whole child, respecting each one’s individuality.

Lilian Mikan

Lilian Mikan

Kindergarten Teacher

Mrs. Mikan joins Embers this year as a Kindergarten teacher. She has a degree in Early Childhood Education with a minor in teaching English as a Second Language. Mrs. Mikan brings to the classroom her strong love for teaching young children and her innovative ways of inspiring a love of learning. She and her husband live in Wilmette and have four children, one of whom is an Embers Spark.

Julie Donovan

Julie Donovan

1st Grade Teacher

Mrs. Donovan is entering her second year at Embers as a 1st-grade teacher. She is a proud Willows graduate! She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education with an endorsement in Birth-3rd Grade from the University of Dayton. This year marks her 13th year as an educator, with nine years teaching 1st grade. Mrs. Donovan and her husband and daughter Molly, live in Arlington Heights. They enjoy bike riding, reading, and cooking together!

Mary Grace Noteman

Mary Grace Noteman

1st Grade Teacher

Ms. Noteman is a graduate of St. Mary’s College (Notre Dame) with a degree in Elementary Education and a licensure in Reading intervention. She joins our faculty as a 1st grade teacher and brings to Embers her creative ways of differentiated learning. While at St. Mary’s Ms. Noteman was involved with the Student Activities Board, served as Notre Dame Club Field Hockey rep and was a member of the Education Club. She is excited to partner with Mrs. Donovan to foster a love of learning in our 1st grade Sparks!

Jennifer Potempa

Jennifer Potempa

2nd Grade Teacher

This year marks Mrs. Potempa’s second year as a member of the Embers team. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Marquette University and has worked in a variety of environments. She has experience in Case Management for a Christian shelter serving displaced families and most recently as a Teachers’ Aid in a dedicated Special Education program. Mrs. Potempa married her high school sweetheart and has four children. She enjoys photography, sewing, and exploring the beauty of God’s creation.

Lisa Zavacki

Lisa Zavacki

2nd Grade Teacher

Ms. Zavacki returns for her fourth year at Embers. She is a graduate of DePaul University with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in Social Sciences. Prior to her time at Embers, Ms. Zavacki taught in other area Catholic schools. She is always ready to engage all her 2nd-grade Sharks!

Sara Black

Sara Black

3rd Grade Teacher

Mrs. Black holds degrees in both Middle School Education and Elementary Education with endorsements in Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. She attended the Willows, married an alum of Northridge, and has six children who have attended Northridge and Willows. Coming from a long line of educators, she believes it is a true honor when parents entrust their children’s education to her. Outside of Embers, she loves to garden, travel, and spend time with her family, especially her grandchildren.

Frank Covington

Frank Covington

4th Grade Teacher

After receiving a Bachelors of Music from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mr. Covington worked in the music industry and the corporate world for 16 years. He decided to go back to school to obtain an Elementary teaching certificate from Texas A&M University. For 24 years, Mr. Covington has taught 2nd through 5th grades in the Archdiocese of Chicago schools. This is Mr. Covington’s second year at Embers. He lives in Oak Park with his wife and they are parishioners at St. John Vianney in Northlake.

Carrie Nelson

Carrie Nelson

4th Grade Teacher

After being a stay-at-home mother for several years, Mrs. Nelson is thrilled to be back at Embers, a school she has been a part of since 1999. She is an Illinois certified teacher (PEL) with a B.A. in Elementary Education and an M.A. in Education, Curriculum & Instruction. She is also a Level 1 Teacher in Spiritual, Theological, and Ministerial Formation through the Archdiocese of Chicago. Mrs. Nelson believes that helping others is very important which is reflected in her time volunteering in the community in various ways.

Pablo Boville

Pablo Boville

5th Grade Teacher

Mr. Boville joins the Embers team this year as a 5th Grade teacher. He comes to us from Spain where he spent 13 years teaching. Mr. Boville graduated from the University of Zaragoza earning a degree in Primary Education and Bachelor of Humanity Science. He brings to Embers his passion for nurturing students to excel not only in academics but more importantly in the human and spiritual aspects of their development.

Sarah Ptacek

Sarah Ptacek

5th Grade Teacher

This is Mrs. Ptacek’s fourth year at Embers, but her sixteenth year of teaching. She earned her Bachelor’s at Benedictine University and attended National Louis University for her Masters degree. Mrs. Ptacek is a mother of two boys who are also Embers Sparks. She and her husband love to spend time outside with their boys!

Preschool

Mary Kay Hastings

Mary Kay Hastings

Preschool Co-Teacher (PK3)

Mrs. Hastings is the mother of six children and is a grandmother of ten. She has 20 years of experience teaching in the Preschool setting and believes that children need love, understanding, patience and, most of all, FUN in a structured setting, where every day is a new opportunity for their minds and souls to grow in grace. Some of her favorite things in life include children, camping, singing, dogs, the ocean, and adventures.

Kristine del Rosario

Kristine del Rosario

Preschool Co-Teacher (PK3)

Mrs. del Rosario is the mother of three children, all of whom are Embers Sparks. She loves spending time with her family, attending Latin Mass, dancing, and being outdoors. She holds a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University. Mrs. del Rosario has 18 years of teaching experience in both the Preschool and Kindergarten settings and believes in helping children learn how to get along with others, become passionate about learning, and grow in independence.

Tammy Dabe

Tammy Dabe

Preschool Teacher (PK4)

Mrs. Dabe is in her 18th year of teaching Preschool at Embers, and is looking forward to making this the best year yet! Mrs. Dabe holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary/Early Childhood Education from Elmhurst College. She is excited every day to come to work and watch your children grow and learn! Mrs. Dabe has been married to her husband, John, for 27 years and they have two grown children. She enjoys reading and doing anything outdoors.

Suzy Ullman

Suzy Ullman

Preschool Teacher (PK4)

Mrs. Ullman is delighted to start her fifth year teaching Preschool at Embers. She is a certified Level 1 catechist for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program and is excited to bring Catechesis of the Good Shepherd to the young children of Embers to help in their faith formation. Mrs. Ullman and her husband have three daughters, all of them current or past Willows Academy Eagles. Outside of Embers she enjoys spending time with family, traveling (especially to Ecuador where she is from), cooking, and playing with her 23-year-old parrot.

Aides and Assistants

Carol Brizzolara

Carol Brizzolara

Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

Mrs. Brizzolara, fondly known as ‘Mrs. B’, recalls wanting to be an elementary teacher since the 2nd grade when receiving her own small chalkboard as a gift from her parents. Her seasoned career began teaching in the Archdiocese until her son Mark was born. She eventually returned to the classroom and later became Preschool Director. While substituting at Embers during her retirement, she realized how much she enjoyed being with Embers’ Kindergarten Sparks. Retirement will just have to wait! Mrs. B. has the unique opportunity to be able to teach some of her previous students’ children who now attend Embers Academy! She enjoys reading, traveling everywhere possible, and gardening.

Maria Wlodkowska

Maria Wlodkowska

Classroom Aide (PK4)

Mrs. Wlodkowska embarks on her second year at Embers. She has many years of experience working with young children in a preschool setting. Mrs. Wlodkowska is very devoted to her growing family including her five grandchildren.

Ann Sodaro

Ann Sodaro

Classroom Aide (Kindergarten)

Ann Sodaro has 16 years of experience teaching young children in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program and has also worked as a teacher in several other area Catholic schools. Ann is married with three grown children and enjoys knitting, biking, and caring for her new dog ‘Clover’.

Jeanne Dardis Henschell

Jeanne Dardis Henschell

Teacher Support (Kindergarten - 5th Grade)

Mrs. Henschell is a native of New Orleans, LA and the seventh of ten children. She graduated with a BA in Elementary Education from the University of Dallas and proceeded to teach at private Catholic schools in Atlanta, GA for several years. Mrs. Henschell has taught elementary grades, as well as middle school and high school Theology. She and her husband Scott have four children, with three being current Embers Sparks. We are very happy she is joining the Embers team this year.

Margaret Coyle

Margaret Coyle

Teacher Support (Kindergarten - 5th Grade)

Mrs. Coyle is a certified elementary school teacher and experienced professional writer. She enjoys working with children to help them grow and learn and enjoys bringing faith into her teaching. Mrs. Coyle is married with four children and enjoys biking, reading, and spending time with family.

Terese Dysart

Terese Dysart

Teacher Support (Kindergarten - 5th Grade)

Mrs. Dysart earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Marquette University and has many years of teaching children at various grade levels. Mrs. Dysart is also a certified catechist for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program. She enjoys spending time with her husband and three grown children and is an active parishioner at Mary, Seat of Wisdom in Park Ridge.

Specialty Staff

Meredith Carpenter

Meredith Carpenter

Spanish Teacher

Señora Carpenter is very excited to begin her fourth year of teaching Spanish to the Kindergarten and 1st grade. Señora Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Language and International Studies, with a minor in Philosophy, from Gannon University in Erie, PA. She was blessed to work in a grammar school, La Escuela Morelos, in Chihuahua, Mexico, for 13 months while serving as a Catholic lay volunteer with the Canossian Daughters of Charity. Señora Carpenter and her husband have two sons – an Embers alum and a current student. She and her family enjoy music, family walks with their dog, golf, camping, board games, and backyard baseball.

Brenda Fernandez

Brenda Fernandez

Classroom Aide (PK4) and Spanish Teacher

Mrs. Fernandez is in her ninth year as the 3rd and 4th grade Spanish Teacher and her seventh year as a Preschool Aide in Mrs. Dabe’s classroom. She is the mother of three children: two are Embers alum and one is a current student. Her favorite hobbies are arts and crafts. Working with kids in the classrooms is one of her major inspirations.

Rob Sadlowski

Rob Sadlowski

Music and P.E. Teacher

Mr. Sadlowski is happy to be returning for his third year as Music and Band Director at Embers Academy. He also keeps our Spark fit and healthy as our P.E. teacher. Mr. Sadlowski draws from a vast history in various fields of Fine Arts education and performance as a vocalist, instrumentalist, theatrical actor, choir director, and cantor for the Catholic Church to energetically inspire love and spiritual joy for music and the arts. When not teaching, singing, or performing on stage, Mr. Sadlowski can usually be found at home watching Marvel Movies with his 12-year old son Joshua.

Sharon Kestler

Sharon Kestler

Advanced Math (4th & 5th Grade)

Mrs. Kestler has been an integral part of five private schools in the Chicagoland area. She has taught at Lexington College in Chicago; Kingswood Academy for seven years; Embers for ten years; and Willows Academy for three years. Mrs. Kestler is happy to be back at Embers and has been teaching Advanced Math for the last five years. Mrs. Kestler and her husband, John Kestler, (Math teacher of 30 years at Northridge Prep), have seven children and 15 beautiful grandchildren.

Denise Wasserman

Denise Wasserman

Art Teacher

Mrs. Wasserman returns for her fourth year at Embers. She holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Mrs. Wasserman has 12 years of experience teaching in the classroom and another 12 homeschooling her own children. Some of her favorite things are family bike rides, the Rocky Mountains, campfires with guitars, and a good book. She and her husband have two daughters and live in Northbrook.

Dana Wessel

Dana Wessel

Learning Specialist

This year marks Mrs. Wessel’s fifth year as Embers’ Learning Specialist. She earned a Bachelor’s degree at Bradley University and her Masters in Teaching (MAT) at National Louis University. Mrs. Wessel and her husband have lived in Park Ridge for over 30 years and have three grown children. On her days off, she enjoys hiking, gardening, and hanging out with their dog, Ziggy!