Meet Our Teachers

Gia Babbo (Hobbs) teaches high school science and math at CVCS for students with special needs. She very much enjoys working with the exceptional students and families at CVCS.  Gia earned her bachelor's degree in Creative Writing from Loyola University Chicago, her Master’s Degree in Secondary Education at National-Louis University, as well as a Master’s Degree in Special Education and Learning Behavior Specialist certification from University of Illinois at Chicago.  She holds two Illinois teaching certificates for secondary education and special education and is now entering her 8th year as a teacher.

Kary (Muller) Batchelder is the 4th–6th grade special education teacher. She loves working with students of all skill levels, and being able to witness them master new skills. Kary has a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), and a master’s degree in Exceptional Student Education from St. Leo’s University in Florida. Prior to coming to CVCS, she taught for 10 years in the state of Florida.. She is now beginning her 3rd year at CVCS.

Nadjea Butler-Wilson is the 4th grade teacher at CVCS. This is her very first year at CVCS! She is so excited to start this new adventure as a hybrid teacher, teaching both in the classroom and virtually. Although she is new to the school, she is definitely not new to teaching. This school year is her 11th year as an elementary educator. For 9 of those years she taught third grade. This gives her a HUGE advantage going into 4th as she has great insight on what students should already know. Her expertise will allow her to develop students’ skills at an optimal pace toward mastery of 4th grade learning objectives.  Additionally, she is a graduate of UIC and a Golden Apple Scholar. She has had many experiences as a mentor teacher for teacher candidates from the university and the Golden Apple Foundation. These experiences have fueled her desire to continue teaching and learning with our students’ best interests in mind.

Angela Castro teaches third grade at CVCS. This is her eighth year teaching at CVCS.  She received a degree in early childhood education from Kennedy King College, and in elementary education from Saint Xavier University.  She also received an additional certification in early childhood education from Kendall College. Ms. Castro has worked with children for 20 years. She chose to work for CVCS because it is a place to teach and learn many skills, and to be involved in working collaboratively with families on a consistent basis to ensure that children are successful in all areas of life.

Michele Claeson—I am Mrs. Michèle Claeson. I work at the Chicago Virtual Charter School as the Middle School ASP Math Teacher as well as the Middle School ASP Homeroom Teacher.
The 2016–17 school year marks my fifth year on staff at CVCS, and my fourth year as a teacher. I have also worked at CVCS with the high school as a Paraprofessional, and before that as a substitute teacher. I was the Learning Coach for my daughter while she was in attendance at CVCS from 6th through 8th grades. I graduated from Purdue University in 1996 with a major in Psychology. I received my teaching degree from Governors State University in 2010. Prior to that, I worked with Special Education Preschool and Kindergarten children in the southwest suburbs, as well as with high school students in an alternative setting. I firmly believe in the model of our school and am looking forward to a productive school year.

Annie Dahl is the second grade teacher at CVCS. She began her relationship with the school as a Learning Coach to her four children which fuels her passion for supporting families who choose to be a part of the CVCS family. Her true passion is developing strong relationships with her students, and the families she supports, which leads to success for all.  Annie received her bachelor’s degree from Valparaiso University and her Master’s degree in education from St. Xavier University.  She looks forward to a successful fourth year at CVCS, and twelfth year of teaching young minds.

 

Katrina (Darin) Capola is beginning her 8th year teaching at CVCS.  Ms. Capola is the General Academic Support Program Teacher, where she provides math support to students in Kindergarten–2nd grades.  Ms. Capola graduated from Michigan State University in 2002 with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education.  In May she will also be receiving a Master's Degree in Special Education from Concordia University.  Ms. Capola looks forward in continuing to develop relationships with the students and families at CVCS and watching her students learn, grow and achieve.

Erica Folk teaches Middle School Special Education.  She earned a two Bachelor's Degrees (Electronic Engineering Technology and Information Technology) from DeVry University.  She earned her first Master’s Degree in Information Technology Management from Keller Graduate School of Management.  She then went on to earn two Master’s Degrees in the field of education from Saint Xavier University and American College of Education.  She started teaching at CVCS in February of 2013 and has had the pleasure of working as a Special Education Inclusion Teacher, Case Manager, Self-Contained Special Educator, and Learning Coach.  She has been teaching for a total of 14 years.  Knowing the teacher side and family side of Education, Erica is very passionate about developing the whole child.  She believes children are more than test scores, and everyone has great strengths.

Diane Garratt is the Kindergarten teacher at CVCS. Diane was a Learning Coach for eight years and loved it! She was the PTO President of CVCS for two years until she started working for the school four years ago. Before that time, Diane worked for Chicago Public Schools where she taught different grade levels including First and Second Grades and worked as a Reading Teacher. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from Roosevelt University and Master of Science in Public Services Management from DePaul University. Her certification is in Elementary and Early Childhood Teaching. 

Christine Giltner is the K–12 School Social Worker and K–5 Counselor. She loves that CVCS offers a unique educational opportunity to students of Chicago and that she gets to be a part of it. This is her sixth year at CVCS. Christine graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor'sr's degree in liberal arts, and University of Illinois at Chicago with her Master's in Social Work. She continued her education and became a License Clinical Social Worker.

Julia Hacholski teaches Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra 2 at CVCS.  She can't believe that this is her seventh year at CVCS. She loves working for a school that combines traditional classroom instruction with online learning. She received her degree in math secondary education from The University of Iowa and can't wait to spread her love and excitement of math to the students.

Don Hoener is a Diverse Learner Instructor who co-teaches High School English Language Arts and Social Studies. I also teach Small Group History and English classes. I have a Masters in Special Education from Quincy University. I am starting my 10th year as a Special Education teacher. I am a career changer who owned a Marketing Consulting company for over 18 years. I love working with students from various backgrounds and cultures. This is my 3rd year at CVCS and I continue to learn from the students and outstanding staff. I have a Marketing Degree from NIU … GO HUSKIES!!!!!! I also have an MBA from Loyola University. As Muhammad Ali once said "He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."

Christine Holda is the HS science teacher here at CVCS. This is her 17th year of teaching and her 2nd exciting year here in this hybrid model. Christine earned her Bachelor's degree from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; majoring in Chemistry and Education and minoring in Physics. Christine also has her Master's degree in Teacher Leadership from Roosevelt University as well as 45+ that degree. Christine has worked at the HS and college level and enjoys this unique model of engaging students in an academic environment.

Kate Jones is the Family Support Liaison. She is excited to be part of a progressive hybrid education environment, and enjoys interacting with her students in the Learning Center and virtually. Kate looks forward to helping high school students achieve academic success as they prepare for important educational milestones. She has a bachelor's degree in art from Michigan State University and minored in psychology and classics.

Amanda Koziol teaches High School English. She graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary English Education and her Reading Endorsement. She received a Master's degree from National Louis University in Curriculum and Instruction. She has been with CVCS since 2014 and has enjoyed the roles of Paraprofessional, Middle School ASP ELA teacher, and teaching High School English. She absolutely loves living downtown Chicago, visiting family and friends in Indiana, and teaching at CVCS!

Mr. David Léon has been the Operations Assistant Mgr. with Chicago Virtual Charter School since 2012, he joined our team as the Enrollment Advisor for Chicago Virtual Charter School back in 2009, prior to joining the CVCS family, he had 7 years of experience as an Assistant Manager. He attended Collège Rosemont in Montréal, Qc for general studies. He is trilingual and a Public Notary commissioned by the State of Illinois for our school.
Phone Number: 312.267.4486 ext. 594
Fax Number: 312.268.5120
Email Address: Dleon@chicagovcs.org

Heather Malloy is an Academic Support Team mathematics teacher for grades three through five. This is her seventh year at CVCS. She loves being part of the CVCS team and its unique education model. Heather graduated from The University of Iowa with a bachelor's degree in art, and received her K–12 certification from Chicago State University.  She is looking forward to helping students find their love for math!

Marcus Mangum is a Diverse Learner Instructor that co-teaches high school Reading, Math, Social Studies, and Science. Marcus is starting his 2nd full year at CVCS. Marcus loves the hybrid model of interpersonal instruction and virtual instruction. He states, “This is Heaven compared to where I have been.” Marcus earned his Bachelor's of Arts Degree in English from the illustrious University of Iowa. While at Iowa, Marcus was a member of the Hawkeye wrestling team, winning 4 Big Ten team conference titles and 2 NCAA National Team Championships. Having taught education for 9 years, Marcus earned his Masters of Teaching Degree at National Louis University and Masters in School Leadership at Concordia University Chicago. 

Gail Marshall is looking forward to her sixth year at CVCS as the eighth grade virtual teacher. Gail strongly believes that the CVCS model allows her to support whole families, which provides her students with unique and cutting-edge educational opportunities. Gail is passionate about teaching and its possibilities, and can provide real world experiences that help students, colleagues, and administrators work toward a common goal: quality education for all. Gail graduated from the Secondary Teaching and Learning Program at DePaul University with a master's degree in 2011.

Samantha Marvin is the first grade teacher at CVCS. This is her first full year teaching at CVCS. She started off teaching Kindergarten and has currently transitioned into the first grade position. Samantha received her bachelor's degree in elementary education from Aurora University and is currently finishing up and endorsement to become a Learning Behavioral Specialist. She has taught for a total of 4 years and absolutely loves what she does. She looks forward to working with a diverse population of students and their families.

Lisa Mazza is the High School Reading Academic Support Teacher. She earned a BA and MA in English from DePaul University, as well as an MEd in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from University of Texas. She has taught middle school and high school English, as well college English blended courses. After starting a career in teaching, she took time off to raise a family while also working as a freelance writer on reading instructional materials and assessment. She holds several teaching certificates and endorsements, including Middle School Language Arts endorsement and High School English certification. 

Wayne Peterson is a special education teacher for elementary K–5.  This is starting my second year at CVCS.  He has received his Illinois K–9 teaching certification from National-Louis University in 1994.  Wayne has his Masters in Elementary and Middle, Masters in Teaching Science at Northern Illinois University 2010, and his Special educational endorsement from National-Louis University in 2012.  He moved to the Chicago area fifteen years ago.  He is married and has two middle-age daughters.  Wayne considers it a privilege to be a team player at CVCS teaching children to learn the life skills so they can become a positive citizen and to make a difference in their lives and others.

Kiana Philip earned her undergraduate degree in Special Education and a Masters as a Reading Specialist.  She began teaching in 2006 as a High School English teacher at a private therapeutic day school until 2015 when she joined the team at CVCS.  Mrs. Philip works as a Special Education teacher in the kindergarten–third grade classrooms, and also coaches Girls on the Run, a program that inspires girls to dream big and get the best from themselves.

Sisie Puntil-Wilcek (Ms. PW) is the middle school ELA ASP teacher. She looks forward to working with the students at the learning center, in Class Connect sessions and helping them improve their reading, writing, and language skills. Sisie received an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin in deaf education and has two master's degrees—one in special education and one as a reading specialist.  This is Sisie’s 42 year teaching and 7th year at CVCS.

Sheila Rawat is an Academic Support Team reading teacher for third through fifth grade. This is Sheila's seventh year at CVCS. She is a certified elementary teacher in Illinois and has diverse teaching experience at three nonprofit organizations in India working with underprivileged children. Sheila completed her bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and her master's degree at National-Louis. She is excited about continuing to make a difference in the lives of students in the city of Chicago.

Jenny Riley is the sixth grade teacher at CVCS. This is Jenny’s 5th year at CVCS. For the past four years she has been the virtual teacher and this year marks a transition to being the hybrid teacher for 6th grade. She is very excited to be able to teach her students face to face as well as support them virtually. Prior to CVCS, she taught high school English in the Near West suburbs and coached boys' and girls' high school swimming. Jenny has a Master of Arts in Teaching from Dominican University. Jenny has become fascinated with growth mindset, perseverance, grit, and how the brain grows from making mistakes. She enjoys talking to students about these ideas in her classroom and hopes to inspire all students to adopt perseverance and grit in their daily lives.

Jennifer Roberts is the Reading Interventionist. This is her tenth year at CVCS, and she has 21 years of experience in education. Jennifer has a bachelor's degree from DePaul University in Elementary Education,and a graduate degree in Reading Specialty from Northeastern Illinois University. She looks forward to working with new and returning families, and is a support for families with children on the ASD scale.. Jennifer is the parent of a former CVCS student.

Lisa Spooner is the English Language Learner Teacher at Chicago Virtual Charter School. Ms. Spooner holds a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University in Urban Studies, a master’s degree in Elementary Education from North Park University, and is a certified Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL International). Ms. Spooner supports our linguistically and culturally diverse students to thrive in their academic environment.

Karen Syverson is thrilled to teach Advanced Learner classes. She strongly believes that informed parental involvement is essential to creating a positive educational experience for children. This belief drew her to CVCS when it first opened, and it continues to inspire her. She has taught for more than 20 years in public schools and private schools, and homeschooled her own two children. Karen holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Blackburn University, a master’s degree in elementary education from National Louis University, and a master's degree in gifted education from Northeastern Illinois University.

Alisa Swain is a CVCS Paraprofessional Educator for K–8 grade. She has a strong, extensive background in education with years of experience recruiting adults to complete their Undergraduate and Master's degrees online while providing them academic support in their studies to complete the rigorous program.  Alisa is elated to be a part of the CVCS family going on her 6th year with 5 of those years in Special Education with successfully developing flourishing students in their academics.  She has a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Robert Morris University, and a Master's Degree in Business Administration in Human Resource Management from Roosevelt University.  Alisa also holds numerous certificates in Special Education.

Melvin Taylor teaches middle school Special education  at CVCS.  He has earned a Master's degree in Education Administration and also a masters in Special education. This will be Melvin’s third year teaching at CVCS and 16th year in education. I absolutely love teaching at CVCS and having an affect on young minds. In his spare time Melvin coach’s different sports teams and loves to sing in the choir at church. "Let us pick up our books and our pens," I said. They are our most powerful weapons. "One child, one teacher and one book can change the world."  Malala Yousafini

Julie Tognoni is the Fifth-Grade teacher. She is beginning her second year at CVCS and her eighteenth year of teaching. Upon moving back to Chicago in 2015, Julie taught in both the private and public sector of Las Vegas, Nevada in grades K–8. During this time, she worked as a lead teacher, literacy/technology specialist, grade level and achievement task force chair, the A+ team coordinator for the new school planning committee and led professional development initiatives for school faculty. Julie was awarded with the Distinguished Star award from Clark County School District in 2005. She is married and has a daughter named Gianna. Julie completed her master's degree in technology education with Lesley University. She grew up in Chicago and attended the University of Illinois earning her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.
Julie has been teaching fifth grade for the past eight years and is devoted to helping students reach their full potential by establishing habits of self-directed learning and hard work.  

Angie Tucker is the learning coach resource and support teacher at CVCS. For eight years, she taught first and second grades in a growing school district near Indianapolis, Indiana. She also provided assistance to classroom teachers as an English as a Second Language instructor and worked with individual students in kindergarten through fourth grade to help them learn English. Angie has also been an educational consultant for Chicago Public Schools, providing staff and parents with professional development in special education and ISAT courses. Angie attended Butler University in Indianapolis.

Sue Vasilic teaches high school history and social studies at CVCS, including a capstone Senior Seminar Course. She especially loves working with a very talented Student Council. Sue earned her bachelor's degree in teaching history from University of Illinois at Chicago and is working toward her master's degree in curriculum adaptation at Northeastern Illinois University. She holds two Illinois teaching certificates for secondary education and special education and is now entering her tenth year as a teacher. She looks forward to an exciting year of teaching and learning, especially in such a forward-thinking and innovative school with dedicated families.

Elizabeth (Betsy) Wilcek is the Special Education Case Manager at CVCS. Betsy is starting her 3rd year at CVCS and her 9th year teaching. Ms. Wilcek helps support the special education department and diverse learners, as well as the English Language Learner department, and students who may have academic or behavioral challenges within the Multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) program. Ms. Wilcek earned her bachelor's degree from Ball State University in Severe and Profound Special Education. She earned her Master’s degree in Educational Technology from the University Missouri. In addition, she earned an endorsement in English Language Instruction from Newman University. I love my time at CVCS and enjoy working with all the students, teachers, and families to find success for our students. I am a sports fan, having played Division 1 soccer at Ball State, and continue my love of sports by playing softball. I love to read though, I don’t have a favorite author or book. My goal is to read a book a week and I love talking books with anyone who will engage me.