With the school year in full swing, you've probably noticed a few newcomers among the Elm Middle School faculty.
Besides our new principal, Ms. Rebecca Siegel, and our new assistant principal, Ms. Ashley Groeneveld — both of whom you've met through earlier articles — we have two faculty members: Ms. Rebecca Romano and Ms. Rikki Valle.
Ms. Romano, who grew up in nearby Oak Park, teaches 7th-grade social studies, and Ms. Valle is a 7th-grade special education resource teacher.
In case you haven't met them yet, here's an introduction to our new faculty in alphabetical order. Welcome to Elm!
Rebecca Romano, Social Studies Teacher
► Your hometown and high school? I was born in Atlanta but grew up in Oak Park. I graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School.
► College(s), major(s) and degree(s)? I earned a bachelor of arts in communications with a minor in English from the University of Tennessee at Martin. I went on to earn my master's in public relations from the School of Journalism at Ball State University. Most recently I earned my master's in teaching from National Louis in Chicago.
► Years of teaching experience? Four years.
► Previous teaching jobs? I taught from 2014 to 2017 at Roosevelt Middle School in River Forest. There, I taught U.S. history, reading, writing, language arts and academic support courses across three grade levels. I also coached girls volleyball and track & field. Last year, I worked at Forest Park Middle School in Forest Park and taught 6th-grade ELA. Before my teaching career, I worked in public relations and marketing for five years in Chicago.
► Your Elm job? I am excited to be teaching 7th-grade social studies this year!
► Why education as a career? I can't imagine a career that matters more.
► Why Elm? Having coached volleyball in the District for the last three years, I know how amazing the kids here are. I also know the District is making changes to accelerate student growth and move the District forward. It is exciting to teach in a place that is taking action to help students achieve more.
► Your impression of Elm so far? Love it! Everyone has been welcoming and helpful. I am thankful for the knowledgeable support the District is providing to new staff.
► Your goals for the year? My goals for this year are to invite my students to explore their world through different lenses. I will give them the tools to investigate big ideas and to develop their own essential questions. My goal is to help students become confident and independent learners in a productive and supportive learning community.
► Anything miscellaneous you'd like to share about yourself? I am the JV girls volleyball coach at Elmwood Park High School. I will also be developing our boys volleyball program during its debut at EPHS this year.
Rikki Valle, Special Education Resource Teacher
► Your hometown and high school? Elk Grove Village; Driscoll Catholic High School.
► College(s), major(s) and degree(s)? Roosevelt University in Chicago; bachelor's degree in special education; Learning Behavior Specialist 1 endorsement.
► Years of teaching experience? This year will be my seventh year teaching.
► Previous teaching jobs? Lincoln Middle School, Blackhawk Middle School and W.A. Johnson Elementary School.
► Your Elm job? 7th-grade special education resource teacher.
► Why education as a career? I love the learning process. There is nothing better than knowing that I can be a part of helping students reach their goals, gain confidence and achieve academic success.
► Why Elm? Elmwood Park is an amazing community. I have heard such wonderful things about the school district. When I saw that there was a teaching position available at Elm I was excited to apply. I'm very happy to be a part of Elm and the District 401 community.
► Your impression of Elm so far? AMAZING! Everyone has been very welcoming and supportive. The knowledge and drive of all administrators, teachers, staff and community members are infectious.
► Your goals for the year? I want all of my students to feel safe in the learning environment, to try new things, realize that it's OK to make mistakes, and to grow. I hope to see them build confidence as they reach their individual learning goals and to enjoy the learning process.
► Anything miscellaneous you'd like to share about yourself? Aside from teaching I have an athlete/coaching background. I am currently a fifth-degree black belt master instructor in Olympic Style Sport TaeKwonDo. I was on the United States National TaeKwonDo Team from 2001 to 2006. I have been coaching competitively for the past 13 years and was a member of the Regional National Team coaching staff from 2013 to 2016.