Dear Embers Parents:
I would like to thank you for warmly welcoming my family and me into your wonderful community. We have enjoyed meeting many of you on various occasions, including our Parent Association’s recent summer picnic, which was a great success thanks to our dynamic volunteers.
It’s been a pleasure getting better acquainted with this community. Despite having little connection to the region, Kristine and I chose to join you here for three reasons: (1) the strong families striving to live the Catholic faith, (2) the shared commitment to academic excellence, and (3) the emphasis on character formation. These three pillars set Embers, along with Northridge and Willows, apart from any other school I’ve stepped foot in.
For the better part of a decade, Lisa Hanretty and Terri Thursby led Embers through a period of tremendous growth, and I am grateful for their legacy at the school. As often happens, their departure from leadership proved a natural time for several other teachers to also transition to the next stages of their careers. We are sad to be losing these great teachers and staff: Frank Covington, Johnny Hastings, Mary Kay Hastings, Sharon Kestler, Carrie Nelson, Caleigh Reardon, Dana Wessel, and Lisa Zavacki. We wish them well in their future endeavors!
At the same time, we are excited about the strong team we have in place to serve our students this coming school year. We still have three roles open – and good candidates in process – but with most of next year’s team in place, I’d like to provide an update on the changes for next year.
New Administrative Appointments
Dean of Faculty: Pablo Boville. Pablo has been a lead educator since 2006, teaching math, science, Catholic religion, arts and language, and literature in various grades. He has a dual major in Humanities / Social Science and Education, with a concentration in grades 1-12, from the University of Zaragoza in Spain. During Pablo’s last six years in Spain, he served as Assistant Principal for almost 500 students, while maintaining his in-classroom teaching. Pablo is passionate about the personal and individual approach needed to reach every student. His dedication to Embers derives from the deep Catholic spirit that he sees present every day: in every activity and every teacher. He values Embers’ environment of profound joy and the spirit of service, where families seek growth in both human and spiritual virtues. As Dean, he will focus his time on mentoring and coaching our teachers, though he will also continue teaching Fifth Grade religion. What strikes me most in working with Pablo is his humble spirit of service, which will aid us all in making an Embers education personal for each individual child of God you entrust into our care.
Learning Specialist: Toni (Lakowski) Boville. As a parent at Embers Academy, Toni knows firsthand the crucial role that parents play in their children’s education, and as Learning Specialist, it is her priority to work with parents to provide the best possible learning experience for their kids. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in Business Administration and a concentration in Marketing and Management from Robert Morris University. She went on to receive a Masters in Education, graduating with high honors from DePaul University, obtained a Professional Educator License for grades K-9, and is currently working towards her endorsement as a Learning and Behavioral Specialist. An educator since 2005, Toni taught Kindergarten at Embers from 2018-2023. Her resume includes instruction in grades Preschool through 5th grade, in addition to various experiences in Special Education. During her time as a Special Education Paraprofessional in the public school system, she became proficient in providing administrative support to teachers and monitoring student development. The combination of these experiences has allowed Toni to have a profound understanding of students with disabilities and to develop a diverse set of successful teaching techniques to help both students and their families.
Director of Development: Lisa Hanretty. Lisa has been a devoted member of the Embers community since 2000, in both the role of parent – with eight children having graduated from Embers – and administrative staff, as former Head of School (2016-2023). As a parent at Embers, Lisa spearheaded the creation of the original parents club in 2002, and during her time as Head of School, she oversaw the formation of the current Embers Parents Association 2021. The EPA continues to be a thriving program which remains fundamental to our school’s identity. Lisa has a B.S. in Business Administration and Marketing from DePaul University. She served as Director of Development during the renovation and re-dedication of her home parish, St. Mary of the Angels Church. As Embers’ new Director of Development, she continues to be dedicated to the growth of Embers, while developing and cultivating the vision that was set forth by its founders.
New Faculty Appointments (in order of grade level)
Pre-K 3 Co-Teacher: Gloria Pedrinaci. Gloria received a degree in Primary Education from the University of Barcelona and an additional certification in Primary Education in English. Her international resume includes instruction as a primary English teacher in Barcelona, a preschool teacher in Dublin, and a preschool and primary teacher in Barcelona. She has also worked as a camp counselor in Fatima and Boston.
Kindergarten Teacher: Cassie Miller. After completing a B.A. in Psychology from St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Cassie began her teaching career as a Seton Teaching Fellow at Romero Academy at Resurrection in Cincinnati. In 2022, she joined Embers as a Preschool teacher and immediately felt a sense of community and support from both colleagues and families. Her time at Embers has allowed her to grow as a teacher each day, while she strives for Heaven alongside her students.
Second Grade Teacher: Emily Casaletto. Emily Casaletto holds a unique position among our Faculty, in that she is an Embers graduate! After leaving the halls of Embers, Emily earned a B.A. in Global Studies, followed by an M.A. in TESOL at Northwestern Illinois University. She was a featured speaker at TESOL International in 2023, at the Illinois Teaching and Bilingual Education (ITBE) conference in 2022 and 2023, and at the Northeastern Illinois University Student Research Symposium in 2021. While the nurturing environment at Embers has always appealed to Emily, her role as educator allows for a collaboration with parents to develop children of strong moral character. Her classroom is one of respect, where students can develop social skills, confidence, and overall character formation.
Third Grade Teacher: James Klatt. As a member of the United States Army Reserves, James knows a thing or two about the importance of leadership – a passion he ignites in his students as well. James earned his degree in Psychology from the University of Dallas, where he completed ROTC and was subsequently commissioned as an officer in the United States Armed Forces. After graduation, James worked at Brilla College Prep Elementary as a Seton Teaching Fellow in grades K-4. At Embers, James strives to incorporate Catholic values into education while creating a nurturing learning environment.
Fourth Grade Teacher: Deanne Roy. Deanne Roy has been an active member in the field of education since 1988, splitting her time between classroom instruction and school administration, formerly serving as a principal. She holds a B.A. from DePaul University and an M.A.T. in Elementary Education from National Louis University. Deanne deeply understands the value of Catholic education, having attended 16 years of Catholic schooling. As a teacher, she coaches her students to be self-directed, lifelong learners. Deanne believes in engaging students in the curriculum by making learning fun and relatable to their own lives and interests. Respect is a cornerstone in her classroom, allowing students to feel safe – both physically and mentally – and creating an environment where students grow in their faith and are excited to share their Catholic faith with others.
You can read their full bios on our website here.
We’re still in the process of filling the following roles: an additional preschool co-teacher or aide, a fourth grade teacher, and a fifth grade teacher (part- or full-time). We have an offer out on one position and several promising candidates for the others. I’ll provide an update once they are filled.
Priorities for the Coming Year
My primary priority is to continue what we all love about Embers: its focus on character, the Faith, and excellent academics – all led by great teachers.
As in any organization, there are always opportunities for growth. From day one, I’ve been learning from staff, faculty, parents, and students about what makes Embers great, as well as possible areas to target for future improvement. As a team, we are continuing a dialogue to solidify key priorities for the coming year, including discipline philosophy and some areas of the curriculum. I will share more details with you during Curriculum Night on September 21.
I hope you and your children enjoy the sunshine and God’s creation during the remainder of the summer, and I look forward to the hallways of the school being filled with their laughter and joy again this Fall.