Mission & Philosophy

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Embers Academy is a private, independent school, rooted in the Catholic faith, serving grades pre-kindergarten through fifth. Embers is committed to the pursuit of academic excellence and character formation and works in partnership with parents, who are the primary educators of their children.  Embers sees each student as a child of God and a gift from God and helps them to acquire knowledge, develop skills, and practice moral behavior.


Home of the ‘Sparks’!

Embers is a private, independent elementary school serving grades PK3 through 5th. Embers offers a program of foundational academics and early character formation.

At Embers, our mission is to partner with you to nurture your child to be a competent and responsible young person who lives by Christian moral principles..

Embers parents share a common vision of who they would like their child to be as a young adult and beyond. Our parents come to Embers from Chicago and 23 northern, western, and northwestern suburbs like Park Ridge, Mt. Prospect, Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Roselle, and Mundelein, to name a few. In our student population, you will find a healthy racial and socio-economic mix. You will feel very supported in your parenting by both the school and your new friends at Embers.

I invite you to explore our website to discover the unique educational experience provided at Embers, and then, come for a school visit! Embers is fun and it’s a place where it is easy to make friends and Spark Joy! The ‘Sparks’ are looking forward to welcoming you and your family.

Bright and Cheerful Learning Environment

Your child will experience a bright and cheerful learning environment at Embers. Class sizes are small to ensure that your child receives personal attention. The faculty and staff, motivated by the passion they have for the school’s mission, imbue the school days with a positive spirit of optimism and joy which are essential components of a happy childhood.

Preserving your Child’s Innocence

We support you in preserving your child’s innocence, being very careful in our selection of content that is taught. The textbooks, novels, and occasional films all feature the type of role models, tones of voice, and wholesome behavior that you would want to see in your child. We defer to you, the parents, to be the ones to first answer your child’s big questions. Embers is a safe and nurturing place in which to learn and grow.

Foundational Academic Skills

The foundational academic skills that your child will acquire at Embers will be the basis of future academic success. The reading, writing and math programs are effective and time-tested. Embers enjoys consistent high scores in annual standardized testing.

The Catholic Faith

The Catholic faith is shared by the witness of the teachers and staff, as well as taught by the use of a premier catechetical program. This faith formation fosters the growth of your child’s natural piety and a relationship with Christ.

Rich Virtues Program

Knowing that the elementary years is the time when your child is most receptive to acquiring good habits and modeling good behavior, Embers implements a rich Virtues Program. This proven approach captures the imagination and provides many good role models to imitate while on the path to developing into the young man or woman whom God intends for them to become. Our great teachers use every opportunity to weave virtue into the school day. Home-to-school communication unites you with Embers in this key aspect of your child’s character development.

Statement of Educational Philosophy

  • Embers Academy regards parents as the primary educators of the children whom God has entrusted to them. School administration and faculty welcome the privilege of partnering with parents in their noble quest to form their children to become competent, responsible men and women who live by Christian principles.
  • Embers nurtures the total formation of each child. Embers intentionally acts holistically to cultivate a focus on academics and character development, the latter achieved through a thoughtful virtues education program that spans all grades. This focus on virtue emboldens students to practice moral behavior.
  • Academically, the measure of success for Embers’ educational program is clear: helping our students find joy in learning – and using it as a way to glorify God — is our ultimate goal.
  • An integral part of the formation of the child is spiritual in nature. As an academic subject, Religion is taught in faithfulness to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.
  • At Embers, children grow in the confidence that they are children of God, and come to appreciate themselves and others as gifts from God.
  • Inspired by the spirit of Vatican II, Embers emphasizes that lay persons are called to holiness through the fulfillment of their ordinary work while remaining immersed in the world.
  • Embers Academy is committed to the truth and merit of this educational philosophy, accepting it as a guide for current efforts and inspiration for future work.


Embers Academy is governed by an independent, self-perpetuating Board of Trustees. As the title implies, the Board holds in trust the future of the school. The Board determines the school philosophy and mission; sets broad policies; is responsible for the fiduciary well-being of the school and its long-term health; and hires the Head of School. The Board is not involved in the day-to-day operation of the school. The current Board President is Mr. Thomas E. Carter.

The Head of School executes and administers Board-approved school policies; solicits funds for the school in conjunction with the Board; oversees the school’s finances; directs the school’s external operations, such as marketing and admissions; is responsible for all school personnel and all academic and extracurricular programs; is the final authority in all matters of discipline; and assesses the effectiveness of the operations and programs of the school. Mrs. Lisa Hanretty is the Head of School. Assistant Head of School, Mrs. Therese Thursby, is responsible for day-to-day school operations. 

Embers’ Faculty teach, coach, counsel, supervise, and care about the students; work in partnership with parents; advocate and promote the school; work collegially with the Head of School, Assistant Head of School, and fellow teachers; and seek continuous growth,  both professionally and spiritually. 

What People Are Saying


I just feel so much happiness when I hear these comments and feel very proud to be part of the Embers school family, both as a parent and as a teacher. All the effort invested in our students at Embers does so much good!!

Embers Parent and Teacher

Yesterday at Northridge Prep, Mr. Burns, middle school history teacher, told my husband and me how well prepared the boys are. They excel in their writing skills. He asked his students to do some research and some of the boys did not have a clue about what to do. But he told us that the Embers boys immediately responded: “Oh, we know… Embers taught us what it is and how to do it.

Embers Alum Parent

Embers girls are well prepared for 6th grade and are especially nice and welcoming to other students. You can tell what girls come from Embers because they know how to include everyone in the group.

Mrs. Robin Huntington
Dean of the Middle School

What wonderful fifth graders you have at Embers! They were terrific in the classroom – very eager to participate. I was very impressed with them, and I look forward to having them next year! Keep up the good work!”

Middle School Faculty