"Where learning and fun go hand in hand"
The integrity of any early childhood education program is measured in large part by the quality of its staff. Our Illinois state certified teachers and our assistants are highly qualified in early childhood growth and development. TOPS teachers provide frequent, positive, warm interactions with the children and regular communication with parents. Through the cooperative efforts of our entire team we facilitate a positive learning environment.
Mrs. Mary Walsh, Classroom Teacher, Room 31
Mrs. Walsh is beginning her nineth year teaching for the TOPS Pre-K program. Prior to teaching for TOPS she taught preschool in Lincolnwood for 6 years. Mrs. Walsh received her Bachelor's Degree and Teaching Certificate in Early Childhood Education from Northeastern Illinois University. She is currently working on her ELL Endorsement at National Louis University. She has worked with children most of her life as a home day care provider, camp counselor, and swimming instructor. Mrs. Walsh is a proud mother of four children and enjoying her two baby grandchildren. When she is not at school she enjoys spending time with her husband and family. She also enjoys reading, swimming, and sports.
Mrs. Ilene Stiernberg, Instructional Assistant, Room 31
Mrs. Stiernberg has a BFA and MA in Art Education from the University of Illinois and an MFA in Painting from Northern Illinois University. She was an Art teacher at Arlington High School for three years before becoming a free lance artist and mother.After raising her children, she returned to teaching at Madison as an aide in the special education classrooms for 8 years before moving into the exciting new role of preschool aide! In her free time she loves to listen to music, draw, and read.
Mrs. Katy Barth , Classroom Teacher, Room 33
Mrs. Barth attended National-Louis University and received her Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education and Psychology. She also received her Masters in Language and Literacy from Roosevelt University. This is her 5th year teaching at TOPS Pre-K. Some of Mrs. Barth's hobbies are watching movies, reading, traveling, and dancing. During her free time she likes to spend time with her husband and one year old daughter, Ryleigh.
Mrs. Loretta Mathes , Instructional Assistant, Room 33
Mrs. Mathes is very happy to be a part of Madison School's TOPS Pre-K program. She has several years experience working with preschool children and enjoys it very much. Mrs. Mathes has an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education from Triton College and a Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education from Kendall College. This is her 3rd year at TOPS-Pre-K. She is the proud mother of 7 year old twin boys. Her hobbies include bike riding with her family and working out when she can.
Ms. Rachelli Berkowicz, Classroom Teacher, Room 32
Rachelli Berkowicz is both a regular education and a special education teacher in the preschool. Ms. Berkowicz received her B.S. in Special Education at Boston University and her M.S. at National Louis Universtiy in Early Childhood Educatin and ELL. This is Ms. Berkowicz's 5th year teaching and she enjoys cooking, traveling, and exercising.
Mrs. Simona Gallagher, Instructional Assistant, Room 32
Mrs. Gallagher has worked in school district 69 for the past 3 years. She began as a one on one aide at Edison Elementary and continued on at Lincoln Junior High. At Madison, she has assisted in the K/1st grade special education classroom and is currently assisting in TOPS. Mrs. Gallagher is attending Concordia University in pursuit of her teaching certificate and masters degree. In her spare time Mrs. Gallagher enjoys running, writing and traveling with her family. She is the mother of two boys, ages 12 and 16.
Ms. Elisa Leporini, Social Worker
This is Mrs. Leporini’s first year as the new full time preschool social worker/case coordinator. She has ten years of experience working with K-12 aged students with emotional/behavioral disorders in an alternative school setting. She is excited to work with children and their families in the early childhood program. Mrs. Leporini earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and a Master of Social Work degree from Aurora University. Mrs. Leporini is a mother of three: Luciene (15), Marco (4) and Leonardo (2). She enjoys Pilates, exercise boot camp, chocolate, gardening and spending time with her family.
Mrs. Ilene Ross, Speech/Language Pathologist
Mrs. Ross received her bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing science from the University of Illinois-Urbana and her master’s degree in speech pathology from The Pennsylvania State University-University Park. She is a member of the Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. Mrs. Ross holds a state of Illinois license to practice speech-language therapy. When Mrs. Ross is not attending workshops and conventions, she is out jogging through her neighborhood or visiting museums. She lives in Highland Park with her husband and two daughters.
Mrs. Tara Bristow, Resource Teacher
Mrs. Bristow is a new resource teacher for the TOPS program. She received her undergraduate degree in elementary education from the University of Iowa, and her masters in special education from Northeastern University. This is her 5th year teaching and she is excited to join the TOPS team. Mrs. Bristow lives in Chicago, and likes to spend time with her husband, Sam, and family & friends. She also enjoys cooking, reading, exercising.
Mrs. Beth Grodzin, Parent Services Coordinator
Mrs. Grodzin has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Illinois at Urbana--Champaign, and a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. She previously worked for five years as the social worker at a preschool for children with disabilities. She took a break from social work and spent eight years teaching Israeli folk dancing. This is Mrs. Grodzin's fifth year at TOPS Preschool. She enjoys working both with the parents and with the students. Beth is very busy at home with her husband Josh, and her two sons, Zev (9) and Asher (6).
Lincoln Junior High