Meet Our Staff

I work at Noble because the high expectations and the structures that are in place for our students and staff allows me to be successful as a practitioner. In addition, I work at Noble because there are dedicated staff members who work hard to ensure that students are provided with high quality education so they can be accepted into top-ranked universities.”   - Shika Rosario, Hansberry College Assistant Principal
 

Yashica Adams, Administrative Assistant

I was born and raised in Chicago once lived in San Antonio, Texas but moved back to Chicago where my heart is. I worked for a non-profit organization over 9 years advocating for homeless women transitioning into permanent housing. This gave me the drive to pursue a career in the field of administration over 6 years ago. It created a family environment with students while setting high expectations for their success. I received many certificates pertaining to mental health and management through Truman College. As a wife and mother of three in my spare time I love entertaining my family and making a mark in world. I share in the desire of many parents who want the best for their family. I am very optimistic to make everyone who enters Hansberry feel as though they have made the best choice for their children, because I am very NOBLE!!

Charles Alexander, Director of College Planning

Charles Alexander was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago, IL. Charles attended college at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (SIUC). While at SIUC he earned both his Bachelors and Masters degree in Speech Communication. Charles was greatly involved in many organizations on the campus of SIUC. He was the President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., SIUC chapter and he revitalized the Black Male Roundtable. Upon graduating from SIUC, he began working at Saint Xavier University as an Academic Advisor, Retention Coordinator and Communication Professor. In 2011, Charles founded a non-profit organization titled, “Speak HOPE”. Speak HOPE focuses on uplifting impoverished communities in the Chicagoland area by providing necessary resources. Additionally, Charles has a special interest in assisting the educational progression of underrepresented students and those that are marginalized in our society. He believes aiding students that need distinctive attention is a profession created for him. 

Lamitra Barnes-Cotman, Learning Specialist

I grew up on the Southside of Richmond, Virginia where I enjoyed performing in plays and hip-hop dance competitions with a local group. I left Richmond to pursue my passion for Theatre and Cultural Communication Studies at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. During the second semester of my Junior year, I developed a strong interest in the program Teach for America. I realized at that moment that education was something I was super passionate about. My passion for working with students developed through my three summer experience as an Intern Coordinator for Partnership for the Future in Richmond, VA. As I approached my senior year of college, I decided to apply for Teach For America where I was accepted as a 2014 Chicago Corps Member. In May 2014, I walked across the stage as a first-generation college student who received a full ride from James Madison University with a Bachelor or Arts Degree in Theatre. Before moving to Chicago in June 2014, I had only visited the Midwest once but I am excited to call this my new home! 

Destonie Williams-Bell, Executive Assistant 

I was born in Chicago partially raised in Detroit, and then later moved back to Chicago. I attended Moraine Valley Community College and graduated in 2009 with an Associates Degree in art. I continued on and graduated with Honors from Chicago State University with a Bachelors of Psychology.  I am an active member of The Kingdom of Christ Baptist Church.  I am excited about working with the Noble Family!

Sherman Benton, Culture Specialist 

I was born in the northern suburbs and raised in the southwestern suburbs of Chicago.  I grew up playing sports, which to this day is one thing that I have a passion for.  Junior high through college I played organized sports.  I was a member of the Morehouse College football team, where I also earned my B.A. in Business- Administration specializing in Marketing. Aside from working with the Noble Network, I am currently self studying, to become a Multi- media Artist. 

 Romey Bracey, 9th/10th Grade P.E.

I was born and raised in Chicago. I worked for CPS as A Special Ed Classroom assistant for 5 years. I also currently work as the 15u manager for the Chicago White Sox ACE Program. I have always wanted to be a Physical Education Teacher. I am very involved in athletics and physical wellness. I played Div 1 baseball at Southern University A&M college, where I was awarded 1st team all conference and won the conference Championship. I am very optimistic to make everyone who enters Hansberry feel as though they have made the best choice for their children, because I am very NOBLE!!

Al Brooks, Building Engineer 

 

Janelle Brown, Dean of Instruction 

After growing up in small towns west of Chicago, Janelle is excited to finally be living in the city and is thrilled to be joining the Hansberry team. She graduated from Taylor University in 2010 with majors in history and English literature, and then joined Teach for America to teach middle school ELA and social studies at an Indianapolis start-up charter school.  During her sojourn in Indianapolis, she also earned her Master of Arts in Teaching, ran (survived) a half-marathon, and adopted a six-pound Yorkie named Sadie, who may or may not occasionally try to eat her students’ homework. Janelle returned to Chicago in June, 2013, to serve as a Leadership for Educational Equity summer fellow at the Illinois State Board of Education.

Porscha Brown, Math Instructor

I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. I graduated from Morgan Park High School. While there, I was on the math team and played soccer. I graduated from MPHS in 2011 and also received the International Baccalureate Diploma. I left Chicago to major in Mathematics at the University of Iowa. My undergraduate activities included tutoring calculus, working at the library and volunteering at cultural events. I was initiated as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated in the fall semester of 2012. My hobbies include watching marathons of Law & Order and either crocheting or knitting.

Jamie Bryant,  11th English Instructor

I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. I earned a Bachelors Degree in English Literature from the University of Colorado at Denver. After graduating, I went on to get my teaching license and Masters Degree in Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Denver. In my free time I love playing music, reading, and traveling. I am very excited to be in Chicago to experience a new city and be a part of the Hansberry College Prep community!

Stella Cho, Math Instructor

Hello! I was born in Chicago and grew up in the northwest suburbs with my older brother. I love to travel, read, hike, and watch Blackhawks games. I attended Northwestern University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering. Shortly after, I joined the Peace Corps and spent twenty-seven months in northern Uganda as a volunteer teacher at a girls’ secondary school. Through my experiences working with Ugandan youth, I became passionate about education and youth development. After returning from my time abroad, I applied to graduate school, and I am currently completing my Master of Education degree at DePaul University College of Education. I am really looking forward to joining the Hansberry College Prep team in the work they are doing to bring more equality to schools in Chicago. 

Tiffany Vann-Cole, Dance Instructor 

Originally from Florida, I obtained my Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Juilliard School in 2004.  Upon graduating I went on to dance with such companies as, Ballet Memphis, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company II, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.  I was a member of the ballet faculty at Hyde Park School of dance, and during the last three years, I directed an after-school dance company for 9th-12th graders at a Chicago Public High School. In my spare time, I enjoy teaching and practicing both Pilates and Yoga.

Maria Cruz, History Instructor

I was born in Oceanside, CA and raised in Riviera Beach, FL. I attended Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University where I majored in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations. There, I worked with elementary and pre-kindergarten students in an enrichment program to inspire young minds. After I graduated, I returned to my hometown of Riviera Beach to teach AP World History to 9th and 10th grade, head a non-profit women’s organization, as well as coach the school step team. Outside the classroom, you can find me painting, reading a novel, or satiating my taste buds with worthy food indulgences.

Dwayne Dean, Culture Specialist

 

Katherin Duprey, IB Language Arts

Katherin was born and raised in Chicago. She was a part of the first graduating class at Rauner College Prep. Katherin attended Northeastern Illinois University where she received a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education. In her free time, she likes to watch Netflix marathons and spend time with her  family. Katherin is very excited to be joining the Hansberry community! She is looking forward to getting to know her students and colleagues as the year continues.  

Victoria DeFinis, College Counselor

 
I was born and raised by a very Italian family in northern NJ, about 45 minutes outside of NYC. I attended Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, where I majored in biology, studied abroad in Copenhagen, and participated in lots of events both on and off campus, such as Relay for Life and alternative spring break. I’ve always been blessed to have access to a great education and want every student to have that same opportunity, which is why I joined Teach for America. I taught Physics and Biology in Fort Worth, TX for two years and returned home to teach in Newark, where I’ve been for the past 3 years. I am so excited to begin a new chapter in Chicago can’t wait to get to know all of the students and staff at Hansberry!
 

Kristina Franchi, Spanish Instructor

Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Miss Franchi received her B.S. in Elementary Education with focus on middle school math in 2009 from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. During her college career she studied abroad at the Universidad de Deusto in Bilbao, Spain earning her a minor in Spanish Language. She also joined Sigma Kappa sorority and remains as an active volunteer as Advisory Board Chairman for Theta chapter. Miss Franchi just recently got accepted to the Teach for America program as a 2013 corps member. She begins her two year commitment on staff at Hansberry College Prep as a 9th grade Algebra teacher along with being assistant volleyball coach! 

Gabrielle Gazzola, Learning Specialist

Hi! My name is Gabe Gazzola. I grew up just outside the Twin Cities in Minnesota. I went to school at Gustavus Adolphus College where I majored in Psychology and minored in Coaching and Music with a piano performance emphasis. I am a part of the 2015 Teach For America corps. Some of my interests include music, swimming, and coloring. I am excited to join the Hansberry College Prep team!

Treva Geddes, Paraprofessional 

Treva Geddes is an Educator! Born and raised on the West Side of Chicago and having a special needs son helped her see a need to help. She graduated from Malcolm X College with an Associate in Arts Degree. Her plan is to return to school and obtain her Bachelor's Degree. Over the last 15 years Ms. Geddes has worked in the Chicago Public Schools, Alternative Schools and Charter Schools. She believes all students are capable of learning with the right support, love and guidance. Working with Diverse Learners and students with Autism gives her great joy. Ms. Geddes is encouraged and optimistic about being a member of the Hansberry College Prep Bengal Family.  #Each1Teach1. 

Delisa Greene, Physical Education Instructor 

Ms. Greene was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago, she received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Robert Morris University in Chicago, where she was also a 4 year student-athlete. After her completion, she began to coach high school basketball, working at the Chicago Park District and for many non-profit organizations across the city. This is where she learned that working with youth was something that she was truly passionate about. Since then, her passion for working with youth in the inner-city has continued to grow.  Sports and physical fitness have always been a big part of her life and she is excited about continuing to teach and coach students to healthier, more fit lifestyles. 

Erin Greer, History Instructor

 
Ms. Greer was born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan and is a very proud alumna of the University of Michigan where she earned her B.A. in Political Science and Spanish with a minor in Criminal Justice. During her time at U of M, Ms. Greer worked with students in Detroit Public Schools as a college prep tutor and led literature circles at a local juvenile detention facility. Before coming to Hansberry, Ms. Greer taught World History in Gary, Indiana as a Teach for America corps member where she helped kick-start her school’s Student Council. When she is not in her classroom, Ms. Greer enjoys trying out new recipes, running along the lake shore, and yelling at her TV while watching Chicago sports. Ms. Greer is proud to call Chicago home and could not be more excited to build the next generation of leaders as part of the Hansberry family next year!
 

Tracy Peterson-Haden, Bilingual Coordinator/Teacher at Large

I am a proud native of Kansas City, Missouri (go Chiefs and Royals!).  After graduating from St. Teresa’s Academy, I went on to the University of Missouri (go Tigers!) where I received bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration, International Relations and Spanish.  I began my professional career working as a financial planning associate at a well-respected wealth management firm in St. Louis, Missouri.  While I really enjoyed my work, I did not enjoy the cubicle lifestyle and left the company in August of 2013.  I always knew I wanted to teach so I enrolled in the MA Education program at University College Dublin in Dublin, Ireland.  I lived in Ireland for two years and was fortunate to travel extensively across Europe during this time.  Following my graduation, I taught Spanish I & II at my alma mater St.Teresa’s Academy.  This experience solidified my love of teaching young adults and I am so excited to continue that work at Hansberry.  I feel privileged to work in an environment focused on creating successful individuals and having colleagues so devoted to that goal.  In my spare time, you can find me running, traveling, reading or planning my wedding this December!

Christine Holthus, Learning Specialist

I grew up an hour Northwest of Chicago, in a suburb called Elgin and graduated from Burlington Central High School.  I then attended the University of Wisconsin-Parkside (Kenosha, WI) where I double-majored in History and Psychology, while also earning a Museum Studies Certificate. During my time at Parkside, I was also an NCAA Division II college athlete and played center field on the Softball team.  After graduating from Parkside, I continued my studies at Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI) where I earned a Master’s Degree in History. I am a 2015 Teach for America Chicago Corps Member and am very excited to start my teaching career at Hansberry College Prep!

Molly Hudson, Math Instructor

 
Molly Hudson graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary and Special Education. She is from Cazenovia, New York and is very excited to be working at Hansberry! Ms. Hudson believes that all of her students are capable of so much, and can experience growth in academics through hard work and dedication. Prior to working at Hansberry, Ms. Hudson worked with students in a small group setting on various math topics. She enjoys teaching math and helping her students realize their potential in the subject. In her spare time, Ms. Hudson enjoys reading and exploring new places. 

Francisco Huerta, History Instructor

My family immigrated from Mexico in 1992 and has lived in Chicago for twenty years. I grew up on the northwest side of Chicago where I still live today. I am an alum of Henry D. Lloyd Elementary, Pulaski Fine Arts Academy, Rauner College Prep, and on May 18th I will be an alum of Wabash College graduating Cum Laude. I would not be where I am today if it were not for the great support I received from my parents and Noble family. It is thanks to great education I received at Rauner College Prep that I was able to attend Wabash College on a full-ride scholarship. I am a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and was elected to serve two one year terms on my Chapter's executive board. At Wabash I was also a photographer for the school newspaper and a member of the Wabash College Sphinx Club (Junior-Senior Honor Society). I was an assistant soccer coach at the local Boys & Girls Club and a member of Psi Chi (International Honor Society in Psychology). I hope to spend the majority of my life in the education system helping kids fight for their dreams. I am a loyal individual who is always willing to lend a helping hand to those around me. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions!

Brandon Hughes, Dean of Operations 

Born and raised on the southside of Chicago.  A graduate of Leo High School, where I played Football and ran Track & Field. After graduation I attended Michigan State University and obtained my Bachelor's Degree in Kinesiology.  I have been working in the field of Education for the past 15 years as a Physical Education Teacher. The past 5 years I served as the Office and Operations Manager for a non-profit organization.

Tiffany Johnson, 9th Biology 

Hello there! The most influential people that I met during my academic career were the ones that looked like me! I grew up in the south suburbs where I attended Homewood-Flossmoor High School, then went off to Illinois State University where I got a Bachelors of Science in Biology. During my time there, I joined LS-AMP which was an organization that linked me with minorities in the STEM field and gave me scholarship and mentorship opportunities. My interest in teaching began in high school and carried me away to my favorite place, New York!  I taught 6th grade science to a group of brilliant boys in the beautiful neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy) Brooklyn. I moved back to Chicago to offer my experiences, knowledge, and guidance to scholars for not only a successful year in biology, but a fearless interest in the STEM fields.  I look forward to working with you! 

Lindsay Knight, History Instructor

Lindsay Knight is a 10th grade History Instructor and 9th grade Advisor. For the past year, Lindsay worked at the Center for Data Science and Public Policy, where she managed projects on social impact, civic analytics and workforce development. Prior to this work, she spent the five years at a youth-centric nonprofit (Blackstone Bicycle Works at Experimental Station) in Woodlawn. In this role, she founded and managed a multitude of initiatives—including a comprehensive college prep and career and vocational training—for the program. She is committed to figuring out how the intersection of theory and practice best fits together, and is particularly interested in the challenges posed to educational equity by structural racism, urban poverty, crime, food and housing insecurity. Concurrent to her non-profit work, Lindsay taught the history of social and political thought to college and graduate students at the University of Chicago. In her spare time, Lindsay races bikes competitively, is a mentor in the Institute of Politics’ Women in Public Service program, and a mentor with Chicago Scholars. She holds a BA, MA, and PhD in Political Science, all from the University of Chicago. 

Sarah Kohtala, 11th/12th Assistant Principal

Ms. Kohtala grew up in Duluth, Minnesota on the shores of Lake Superior.  After graduating from Denfeld High School, she attended Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where she studied History and Philosophy.  While attending Coe,  Ms. Kohtala studied abroad in both London, England and Florence, Italy, which ignited her love for travel.  After completing her baccalaureate degree, Ms. Kohtala entered the JET (Japanese Exchange and Teaching) Programme, and moved to Takaoka, Japan to teach English to high school students.  Upon her return from Japan, Ms. Kohtala became an Americorps/VISTA volunteer at North Kenwood-Oakland Charter School and ran their tutoring program.  This led her to seek a Masters Degree and teaching certification in Education through the Glenview/DePaul Clinical Model Teaching Program.  Upon earning her Masters Degree in Education, Ms. Kohtala became an urban educator and taught 6-8th grade ELA, History and Science at CICS Basil Charter School for four years.  Ms. Kohtala still loves to travel, and is also a professional DJ in her spare time.  

Sean Liston, Dean of Specialized Services                                                               

Mr. Liston grew up outside Chicago in Downers Grove, Illinois and graduated from Downers Grove South High School.  He then attended Indiana University in Bloomington, IN where he earned a dual degree in English and Secondary Education. While in college Mr. Liston also studied abroad in London, England. He joined Teach For America in Milwaukee, WI shortly after graduation where he taught as a Special Education teacher and pursued a Master’s degree in Urban Special Education.  Mr. Liston has long dreamed of coming back to Chicago and is supremely excited to be a member of Hansberry College Preparatory. In his free time Mr. Liston enjoys running, traveling, and being an avid follower of Chicago sports and Indiana University Men’s Basketball.

Victoria Luna, 9th/10th Assistant Dean of Culture

I am from Cicero, Illinois and graduated from J. Sterling Morton East High School. I attended Lewis University where I earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. While in college I was part of a cold case investigation team lead by a retired homicide detective. We investigated multiple homicides and the team was able to solve many old cases. I also worked as an intern with the Joliet Police Department during my last semester in college. During that time I rode with patrol officers as they responded to calls.  My background may be in security and loss prevention, but I am very excited to see where this new role takes me.

Jodimae Lyttle, Case Manager/Dean of Students/Athletic Director                                                            

Originally from Miami, Florida, I received my Bachelor’s degree in Family, Youth and Community Sciences from The University of Florida. Go Gators!  I went on to obtain my Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from East Carolina University, in Greenville, North Carolina.   After a year of working as an in-home family therapist, I joined the 2011 Teach for America Corps in New York City.  I taught Self-Contained Math, ELA, Science and Social Studies for 7th and 8th grade and two 8th grade Co-taught Math courses.   I also led the Step Enrichment Cluster for 6th-8th grade.  I absolutely love teaching and working with students and their families.  I am absolutely thrilled to join Hansberry College Prep in the fall and look forward to working hard with staff, families and students.

Shiree McGee, Paraprofessional

I am a Chicago native. I began my career in education in 1997 as a paraprofessional at Pace Elementary School. I left the educational field and went to Corporate America in pursuit of change. I was very successful but realized my true passion lies in education. I returned as a paraprofessional in 2010.  I have since had the roles of paraprofessional and teacher in private, public, and charter schools. I also work with children and teenagers in my spare time. I currently attend Grand Canyon University where I have completed my Associates Studies in Early Elementary and Special Education and I am currently pursuing my Bachelors. I absolutely love spending time with my family and friends having lots of fun! 

Chelsea Meiners, Spanish Instructor

I grew up in Rochelle, IL, which is about 2 hours west of Chicago. I then went to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee where I graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in 2011 in Human and Organizational Development and Spanish. After an internship with the Education Department at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce my junior year of college, I became interested in teaching and ensuring that all students receive an excellent education. I decided to apply to Teach for America and have spent the past two years teaching Spanish 1, 2 and International Baccalaureate at Hunters Lane High School in Nashville. While at Hunters Lane I also had the opportunity to coach the high school's colorguard squad, which is an activity I participated in during high school and college as well.

Bryson Naylor, 9th Algebra

Mr. Naylor was raised in South Florida before heading north to attend college at New York University.  After graduating with a B.A. in Politics and Spanish, Mr. Naylor made the journey to Los Angeles to join Teach For America's 2012 cohort.  He taught all subjects in Los Angeles, but mainly focused on middle school math and science.  During his time with TFA, Mr. Naylor also earned a Master's degree in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University.  He has recently moved to Chicago for a new adventure and is very excited to be joining the Hansberry family as a 9th grade Biology teacher!

Samantha Nidenberg,  IB Biology Instructor 

 
Growing up in Evanston, Illinois I always loved music and sports. In high school I played the trombone in 4 different musical groups, was on the water polo, volleyball and swim teams. I received my Bachelors degree from Wellesley College, where I discovered my love of teaching. After graduating I worked with teens developing leadership and community programming in the Boston area. Then I spent 4 years teaching at a Big Picture high school in Providence, Rhode Island. Where I worked with students to develop empirical, social, and quantitative reasoning, as well as real world learning skills.  I am very excited to return to the city I love and join the Hansberry College Prep team to learn and teach with both the staff and the students.
 

Kadara Owoye, 9th Algebra

I was born in Chicago and raised in the northwest suburb of Schaumburg. I graduated James B. Conant High School, where I was involved in cheerleading, student council and the math team. I attended the College of Business at the University of Illinois in Champaign – Urbana where I majored in Finance. GO ILLINI! During my four years on campus, I became a member of the business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, where I had the pleasure to serve on the executive board. As graduation began to quickly approach I realized that being in the classroom and serving students was a passion of mine. I became a 2015 Teach for America Corps Member in Dallas – Ft. Worth, where I taught Geometry and Algebra for two years in the community of West Dallas. I also had the pleasure of coaching Varsity Cheerleading. Aside from teaching I love to cook for my friends and family and I am always looking forward to my next Netflix binge!  I am happy to return to my hometown Chicago and I am extremely excited to become a part of the Hansberry College Prep family!

Herika J. Panduro, Assistant Dean of Operations

My name is Herika J. Panduro, I was born in Chicago and raised in Mexico. I came back to Chicago at 14 years old and on my return, I attended a private all-girls high school, which, at times, was a struggle, but I worked hard to overcome all obstacles. As time passed, I changed jobs and went to work as a Case Manager for Pilsen Little Village and Alternative Healthcare Services. These organizations were funded by the Chicago Aids Foundation and I oversaw a case load of 25 to 30 clients every month. In November 2004, I moved to Cicero and also worked for the town of Cicero. I worked for the Senior Services Department, assisting seniors with all kinds of home repairs and transportation.  Three years later, I was given the opportunity to oversee an entire department, a job I readily accepted. As the head of the Immigration Citizenship Department, I knew I could change thousands of people’s lives. I ran the department by myself for almost three years handling program registrations, budgets, teaching adults civics history, and advocating for clients at the Department of Homeland Security. This program grew to assist residents in many areas, all dealing with immigration issues. During this time, I was also going to school part-time to finish my education. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal/Social Justice. After working 11 years with the town of Cicero, I realized that in order to grow, I would need to leave this position. Through an intensive search for the perfect opportunity, I found Hansberry College Prep. This is a wonderful opportunity and I appreciate being a member of this work family. 

Maisia Reid, Paraprofessional 

Maisia was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. She attended college at The University of Missouri-Columbia (Go Tigers!). There she earned a Bachelors of Health Sciences degree. After graduation Maisia moved back home to do a year of service with City Year Chicago working with students at Schurz H.S. It was during this year her push to continue to work with youth grew. She then went on to work for a non-profit working to connect families to the proper resources for their children. She is excited to join the Hansberry family.

Tim Rials, Custodian 

 

Leah Rietveld, College Counselor

Leah is originally from suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from Ohio Wesleyan University and her M.A. in Biological and Social Psychology from University of Chicago. While studying and student teaching at University of Chicago, Leah fell in love with teaching and with Chicago. To be able to work with students and inspire a love of science and higher education, she earned her teaching certificate in secondary science education at Northwestern University through Chicago Teaching Fellows and then taught Chemistry and Environmental Science in Chicago Public Schools for three years. Leah then worked with a high school internship program for three years where she focused on counseling current interns and alumni of the program on college and career attainment.   She now lives in Chicago with her husband, Beagle, and two Bengal cats.  In her free time she enjoys running and completed the Chicago Marathon for the first time last fall. Leah is looking forward to helping the first graduates of Hansberry College Prep find their perfect college and career.

Tarshika Rosario, 9th/10th Assistant Principal

My name is Tarshika L. Rosario. I was born and raised in Chicago, IL. I am the oldest of four children and I graduated from South Shore-School of Technology as the class Valedictorian. I was accepted into twenty-one colleges and universities around the world but fell in love with Spelman College where I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree. At Spelman, I majored in International Studies and Spanish and I had the opportunity to travel all over the world including Africa, Spain, Costa Rica, and Dominican Republic for six months. After graduating from Spelman, I taught 9th-12th grade Spanish at Lighthouse College Prep Academy as a Teach for America 2011 corps member.  After having worked in Gary, Indiana as the Director of School Culture, I am ecstatic to be returning back to my hometown of Chicago working as the Dean of Discipline at Hansberry College Prep. In July of 2014, I will be graduating from Walden University with a Masters in Public Administration.  In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, reading, and spending time with family and friends. I look forward to bringing my skills to Hansberry to ensure there is always a strong culture of achievement.

Marlon Sanford, Choir/Piano

I was born and raised on the southside of Chicago and I am the biggest CUBS fan you will ever meet. I graduated from Leo High School where I played baseball and also ran track and cross country. I attended St. Xavier University where I had a double major of Music Education and Music Performance. The past 23 years, I have taught General Music and Driver Education. I am passionate about music and learning and because of this it's my desire to expose this generation to all genres of music. I am excited about my new beginning at HCP and look forward to working with scholars who yearn for knowledge.

Anna Santana, IB Mathematics

As a mother of four, I know how important it is to give our children a quality education.  I grew up in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, and live there for over 25 years. I went to an graduated from a small Catholic High School, and knew since freshman year I wanted to teach students who came from a similar situation. In 2008, I decided to go back to school and finish my degree in Secondary Mathematics Education at UIC.  I also have my Masters Degree in Secondary Education.  I have been teaching since 2011, and have not been happier!  I love teaching math and do not see myself ever doing anything else.  Hansberry is a place where students can obtain a high quality education with dedicated teachers; I am happy to have chosen Hansberry.  

Claire Schuette, Social Worker

I was born and raised in a small town in northern Illinois with my three younger sisters. I attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where I earned a dual degree in Spanish and Psychology. After graduation, I served as an AmeriCorps Community Service Fellow with a long-term preventative dropout program working with youth in Denver, and then moved to Chicago to work as a community organizer surrounding issues of college access and retention on the city’s West side. Recently, I earned my Master’s in Social Work from the University of Chicago. When I’m not “social-working,” I love to draw, read, and surround myself with positive people. I’m excited to be a part of the Hansberry community and look forward to a great year!

Sabrina Shelley, Manager of Student Recruitment

Sabrina is from Chicago but grew up in Bolingbrook, IL.  She attended Romeoville High School and earned a Bachelor's of Science degree from Chicago State University.  Sabrina has been involved in youth programming and development both as a volunteer and professionally in the Auburn Gresham community for 10 years.  Sabrina joined Hansberry College Prep as an Administrative Assistant for the 2013-2014 school year and was recently promoted to Manager of Student Recruitment.

Roland Smith, Dance and Physical Education Instructor

Born in Indianapolis, IN and graduate of Tennessee State University with a Bachelors in Commercial Music and Performance. Roland started his dance career in college both performing for regional and local theatre companies in the area. During his career he has been in off broadway productions of Dream Girls, Guys and Dolls and the Wiz just to name a few. Roland currently lives in the south community of Chicago where founded Spiritual Feet Dance Company where he has been working to generate affordable dance workshops for the community as well as create an additional opportunities for artist seeking for advancement in the industry. After just 3 years in the Chicago community his company has grown to service over 300 dancers through workshops and classes, has produced and up and coming dance company and has secured partnerships with the Chicago Park district and major churches in the Southside community.  Roland is honored to become apart of such a cohesive team and hopes to build both futures and family within the Noble Network.

Chantel Subaitis, Science Instructor

I was born and raised in the south suburbs of Chicago.  I attended Marquette University and earned my degree in Biomedical Sciences.  After college I moved to New Orleans and joined the HealthCorps to help rebuild part of the health care system in New Orleans.  During that time I became very interested in teaching so I moved back to the Chicagoland area and joined the Chicago Teaching Fellows.  I taught Biology at Harper for a year and then Integrated Science at Youth Connections Leadership Academy for three years.  I am very excited to be joining the Hansberry team this upcoming year. 

Ruth Tekeste, English Instructor

Ms. Tekeste was born in Chicago but moved to Lincolnwood (northwestern suburb) where she attended Niles West High School. She then completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she majored in Psychology and studied abroad in Japan and Singapore, igniting her love of travel. She started her career in education by joining Teach for America and teaching 9th and 10th grade English in Miami for two years, while also earning her Masters in Education at the University of Miami. Ms. Tekeste is happy to come back to her roots and teach in the city that drew her to education in the first place!

Tamika Thomas, Director of Pre-College Programming 

Tamika was born in Chicago and raised in Bolingbrook, IL.  She attended Bolingbrook High School where she was involved in cheerleading, student council, peer mediation and the National Honor Society.  She graduated high school with honors and attended Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan on an academic scholarship.  Throughout college she was involved in various Christian and business organizations and worked as a multicultural advisor where she helped minority students acclimate to college life and educated students on various areas of diversity.  Tamika graduated from Central Michigan University, Cum Laude, with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. 

For the last several years, Tamika has worked in the financial services industry at Northern Trust Bank where she held various positions in operations, management, client services, and financial planning/education.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, dancing, shopping, and travelling.  Tamika is looking forward to assisting the next generation of leaders to be successful in their future collegiate and professional endeavors.

Collis Underwood, Culture Specialist

He was born and raised in Chicago. Graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminology. Collis worked as a substitute and Gym teacher, out of college, until he went to the Chicago Police Department. Though he was highly decorated he wanted to challenge myself and try out the Federal government and become an agent. Life and circumstance caused him to leave and he has become an independent personal trainer. Now, he's here to help provided structure and a positive example. Hoping to be part of the reason a few kids' path is headed in the right direction. Collis enjoys working out, sports and playing with his son and daughter.

Tyler Walker, Resident Special Education Instructor 

Tyler Walker was born in Columbus Ohio and grew up in a small suburb on the northeast side. In high school his interests included track, football, band, choir, and theater. He matriculated to the University of Chicago in 2012, where he received general honors and a Bachelor’s Degree in history in 2016. Tyler is thrilled to be working with HCP and with the Relay Graduate School of Education to continue his education while getting the opportunity to work in a school that maintains high academic standards. He teaches 11th grade history of the Americas and 12th grade African American history. He and his roommate can be found performing music gigs all around Chicago. 

Kameshia Ward, Theory of Knowledge Instructor

From Jamaican roots I am a first generation American, born in Queens, NYC. Although raised in rich culture and diversity I decided to attend a Howard University in Washington, DC, a Historically Black College/University. Majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Pre-Law and minoring in Administration of Justice, I graduated in 2004 with my Bachelor of Arts. Upon graduation I moved to Chicago to serve as a Corps Member in City Year, an Americorps program allowing members to complete 1700 service learning hours within a 10 month period. It is in this program the seed of passion for education was planted. I spent some years working in both a legal and educational capacity and beginning my family. After a small break from the workforce, I have decided to plant seeds of encouragement, aspirations and success in the hearts and minds of our youth using education as the tool. I am proud to join the Hansberry family and be a part of greatness.

Becky Welch, Learning Specialist

Hello my name is Becky Welch. I have been living in California for the past seventeen years, but I am excited to be moving back home to the Mid-West.  I attended University of the Pacific, where I received my Education Specialist Credential.  For the past three years I have been teaching in San Francisco.  My experience teaching in San Francisco has cemented my interest and passion for urban education.  In my free time, I enjoy running and training for half-marathons.  I am also looking forward to exploring the city of  Chicago.  I am very excited to be joining the Hansberry team! 

LaShaun Williams, 11th/12th Assistant Dean of Culture

Ms. Williams was born and raised on the southside of Chicago. She graduated from Chicago Vocational Career Academy. She later attended Richard J. Daley College and obtained her Associates degree in Criminal Justice. Ms. Williams went on to attend Chicago State University to receive her B.A. In Criminal Justice. She later moved to Farmington, Missouri where she was offered a position as a Correctional Officer. Ms. Williams moved backed to Chicago where she was offered a position at Hansberry College Prep as a Culture Specialist.

Sabrina Williams, History and Reading Instructor

Sabrina was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She attended Pomona College and Stanford University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Africana Studies and a Master of Arts in Secondary Education, respectively. Last year, she was the Founding 8th/9th Grade Social Studies Teacher at Monument Lighthouse College Prep in Indianapolis, Indiana. Sabrina is excited to continue serving students from diverse backgrounds and experiences and hopes to be a great asset to the Hansberry team.

Tierra Willis, IB Psychology

 

Kristin Witcher, English Instructor

I was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio with dreams of living in a big city.  As a product of Toledo Public Schools and emerging from a family of teachers I was destined to have a career within an inner-city school district. I began my journey of becoming an educator in 2008 by moving to Columbus, Ohio to attend Ohio State University.  There I earned a bachelor’s degree in English Education and a Masters of Education in Secondary English. I visited Chicago several times during my collegiate career and declared that I would begin a new chapter of my life here upon graduation. I kept my promise and moved to Chicago in October of 2013.  Shortly after the move I obtained a position here at Hansberry College Prep. Aside from my love of students and education I also enjoy sports. I have played every sport that you can imagine, however my favorite sport is basketball and I have played organized basketball for the past 12 years.  I also enjoy cooking and spending time with my dearest friends and family!  I have fallen in love with the city of Chicago and I am so excited to be part of the Hansberry’s staff. I cannot wait to see what the newest chapter of my life has in store for me!

Erika Zocher, Teacher at Large 

Greetings! Originally from Branford, Connecticut, Erika made her way to the Midwest in 2011 to pursue a degree in geology. It was an amazing journey learning about the planet while exploring a new part of the country. She has grown to love this region for its lakes, culture, and community. Erika is very excited to be here in Chicago and especially to be joining the team at Hansberry. Most recently, she worked at the Museum of Science and Industry followed by Greenpeace. Before moving to Chicago, she completed her B.S. in environmental geoscience with an emphasis in geology and a minor in biology at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. She then studied Earth sciences at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire where she worked on geochemistry research. In addition to her passion for science and teaching, she also enjoys art, music, dance, and spending time in nature.