PHOTO: New science teacher Christian Rosenzweig also has a musical side, which he displayed at the EPHS Open House (as pictured here). He's played in a broad range of bands, including jazz, classical, hip hop and heavy metal.
With the school year in full swing, you've probably noticed some new faces among the Elmwood Park High School faculty. We have 10 newcomers to EPHS, in fact — not including our first new principal since 2002, Mr. Douglas Wildes, about whom you can read here.
In case you haven't met them yet, scroll down for an introduction to our new faculty. They include two counselors, two art teachers, an English teacher, a science teacher, a Spanish teacher, a social worker, a speech-language pathologist and — let's not forget — a dean of students.
Welcome, everyone, to EPHS!
NEW FACULTY MEMBERS: Seated from left are Megan Davies, speech-language pathologist; Christian Rosenzweig, science teacher; Anthony Poro, counselor; Reiko Behlke, counselor; Laura Moser, social worker. Standing from left are Sarah Heflin, art teacher; Tara Davis, English teacher; Mary Palmer, art teacher; Maria Munoz, Spanish teacher; Brandon Pedersen, dean of students.
Reiko Behlke, Counselor
► Hometown & high school? Arlington Heights, Ill.; Buffalo Grove High School .
► Colleges & degrees? University of Iowa, bachelor's in psychology; Saint Xavier University, master's in school counseling .
► Years working in education? This will be my second year in education, but my first official year as a licensed school counselor.
► Previous jobs in education? I was a school counselor intern at James B. Conant High School during the 2016-17 school year.
► Your EPHS job? I am a school counselor substitute for Ms. Alison Till. As a school counselor, I provide support for students through individual and group counseling within three domains: academic, social/emotional and post-high school planning.
► Why education as a career? I chose education as a career because of my passion for helping students grow and reach their full potential. I love being a school counselor because I get to work with students one-on-one and in a group setting, focusing on topics like college and career planning and social/emotional issues.
► Why EPHS? Elmwood Park is a great community, and I wanted to be a part of a school that provided outstanding support and resources for their students to succeed.
► Your impression of EPHS so far? EPHS has been wonderful so far. The students and staff have been very welcoming, and I already feel like a part of the Tiger family!
► Your goal for this year? My goal is to provide the best support for our students at EPHS.
Megan Davies, Speech-Language Pathologist
► Hometown & high school? Wheaton, Ill.; Wheaton Warrenville South High School.
► Colleges & degrees? Elmhurst College, bachelor's in communication sciences & disorders; Saint Xavier University, master's in speech-language pathology.
► Years working in education? This is my first year working in education!
► Previous jobs in education? Although I just graduated from graduate school in May, I have experience treating individuals with speech, language and cognitive difficulties at Chicago Public Schools, Cook County special education cooperatives and rehabilitation centers in the Chicagoland area.
► Your EPHS job? I work as a speech-language pathologist, or SLP, at Elm Middle School and Elmwood Park High School. I work with students to improve their communication, which encompasses everything from accurately producing specific speech sounds to appropriately problem-solving complex social situations.
► Why education as a career? My younger brother was diagnosed with autism and a fluency disorder when we were kids. I became interested in working as a school speech-language pathologist through seeing and experiencing how tricky life can be when someone cannot clearly and easily express themselves to their family and peers. I feel that these students need strong advocates in the schools, and I hope I can be that for them!
► Why EPHS? I was attracted to Elm and EPHS because of the close-knit, caring atmosphere that they provide to students and staff. The entire District genuinely cares about each individual student and wants to see them succeed.
► Your impression of EPHS so far? So far, my favorite thing about Elm and EPHS is the students. I have been enjoying meeting all of them and getting to know their personal and academic goals and strengths! I'm very excited to get to know all of my students better as the year goes on.
► Your goal for this year? This year, my main goal is to learn from my students, students' families, and colleagues.
Tara Davis, English Teacher
► College & degree? Illinois State University, bachelor’s in English education.
► Years working in education? Three.
► Previous jobs in education? I taught English at Princeton High School and Oakwood High School.
► Your EPHS job? English teacher, substituting for Ms. Jamie Wendt.
► Miscellaneous info about yourself? My high school mascot was a pretzel.
Sarah Heflin, Art Teacher
► Hometown & high school? Downers Grove, Ill; Downers Grove North High School.
► Colleges & degrees? Northern Illinois University, bachelor's in education with a visual arts endorsement.
► Years working in education? Five.
► Previous jobs in education? I taught in Casablanca, Morocco, for three years. Last year I taught in Glen Ellyn and Burbank.
► Your EPHS job? I teach Art I.
► Why education as a career? Working with students to help them discover their unique gifts and giving them the tools and experiences to succeed in their future endeavors is what attracted me to education.
► Your impression of EPHS so far? The first thing I noticed about EPHS was how the staff appeared to function as a team in a collaborative, dedicated nature.
► Your goal for this year? I am looking forward to working on curriculum during my time at EPHS.
Laura Moser, Social Worker
► Hometown & high school? Wilmette, Ill.; New Trier High School.
► Colleges & degrees? University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, bachelor's in sociology with a minor in communication; University of Chicago's School of Social Service, master's in clinical social work. I also have my licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) degree.
► Years working in education? Five.
► Previous jobs in education? I interned as a social worker at New Trier High School. I then took a maternity-leave position as a social worker at Richard Ira Jones Middle School in Plainfield. Next, I worked as a social worker at Classroom Connection Therapeutic Day School and The North Shore Teen Center. During this time I was also a clinical program director at Clinical Connections. My most recent job was working as a social worker at an elementary and middle school within The LEARN Charter School Network.
► Your EPHS job? I am a liaison between the students, the school and the community. I assist students with mental health concerns, behavioral concerns, positive behavioral support, academic and classroom support, and consultation with teachers, parents and administrators. I also provide individual and group therapy.
► Why education as a career? I believe that education is the key to success. Education has always been a strong value of mine for this reason. Education prepares individuals for their futures and ultimately empowers them to work toward accomplishing their personal goals. It's imperative that students have social and emotional support to overcome obstacles throughout their educational careers, so that they can be fully present for learning.
► Why EPHS? There is a very strong community and sense of pride at EPHS. The students, community and staff are passionate about EPHS's values and mission. EPHS sets high standards for students to aspire to while also making an effort to reach each student on an individual level.
► Your impression of EPHS so far? EPHS is a diverse and welcoming school that has a positive school culture. The staff is very collaborative, supportive and interested in connecting with students. Also, there seems to be an extracurricular activity available for students with all interests to get involved.
► Your goal for this year? I would like to get to know the students and families of the EPHS community and provide them with social and emotional support as needed.
► Miscellaneous info about yourself? I am a huge animal lover, and I just adopted two sister cats this year!
Maria Munoz, Spanish Teacher
► Hometown & high school? Bensenville, Ill.; Fenton High School.
► College & degrees? Northeastern Illinois University, bachelor's in Spanish / secondary education.
► Years working in education? Three.
► Previous jobs in education? K-8 Spanish teacher; Spanish and English tutor.
► Your EPHS job? I teach Spanish II through Spanish IV Honors. I try to incorporate culture and real-life experiences into the lessons.
► Why education as a career? I get to share my joy for the Spanish language and Latino culture with my students every day. I am able to motivate students to enjoy their education and continue to invest in themselves and their future.
► Why EPHS? I was ready to take on a new age group. I enjoy working with older students and getting them excited about their future and all the possibilities that the upcoming years will bring.
► Your impression of EPHS so far? Everyone is very fun, approachable, helpful and excited to be here! Everyone works very hard at providing the best for the students.
► Miscellaneous info about yourself? I love to travel and most recently spent five weeks in Colombia for the summer.
Mary Palmer, Art Teacher
► Hometown & high school? Born in Evanston, raised in Golf and Glenview, Ill.; Glenbrook South High School graduate.
► Colleges & degrees? Elmhurst College, bachelor's in philosophy and fine art; Columbia College Chicago, master's in visual art education.
► Years working in education? This is my third year of teaching full time. I taught in Chicago Public Schools in Englewood and Old Town.
► Previous jobs in education? I taught for three years in visual arts-focused early childhood education and after-school programs in the South Loop, Evanston, Edgewater, Ravenswood and Lincoln Square.
► Your EPHS job? I teach visual art and sponsor Art Club. I teach Art I/II, 2-D Studio, 3-D Studio, 2-D AP and 3-D AP. I specialize in incorporating philosophical, social-emotional and social justice themes into an interdisciplinary project-based curriculum utilizing visual thinking strategies and studio habits of mind.
► Why education as a career? I am passionate about making a positive difference in the world by working with youth to facilitate their self-exploration and the development of their creative voice.
► Your impression of EPHS so far? I love working here. I love the teachers, administration, staff and students I work with. EPHS really feels like a family working together toward a common goal in a positive environment.
► Your goals for this year? To build relationships with my students and continue working toward becoming the most effective teacher I can be; to continue to develop my abilities in multiple mediums and knowledge base; to help create murals and art installations around the school.
► Miscellaneous info about yourself? I love gardening, nature, traveling, exploring, animals, museums, writing, music and building community.
Brandon Pedersen, Dean of Students
► Hometown & high school? Denison-Schleswig High School in western Iowa.
► Colleges & degrees? University of Iowa, bachelor's in secondary science education; Benedictine University, master's in leadership and administration.
► Years working in education? Twelve.
► Previous jobs in education? I taught biology, chemistry and earth science for six years at Elgin and West Chicago High Schools, and I have been a dean of students at Proviso East/West High Schools.
► Your EPHS job? I am serving as a dean of students. I will be dealing with student discipline and attendance, along with various other administrative functions around the building.
► Why education as a career? I love working with kids, and I love the subject of science.
► Your impression of EPHS so far? So far my experiences here at EPHS have been phenomenal. It is a privilege to work with such a great group of educators, students and community. I could not ask for more.
► Your goal for this year? To help and be a resource for our students, teachers, parents and community to be the very best school we can possibly be.
Anthony Poro, Counselor
► Hometown & high school? Elmwood Park, Ill.; Fenwick High School.
► Colleges & degrees? Benedictine University, bachelor's in English language and literature; Concordia University Chicago, master's in school counseling.
► Years working in education? Eight.
► Previous jobs in education? Teacher's aide and wrestling coach.
► Your EPHS job? I'm a guidance counselor, substituting for Ms. Paige Kozyra. I help students with their academic, social/emotional and college/career needs.
► Why education as a career? Working in education allows me to build relationships and to be a part of the community.
► Why EPHS? I wanted to be part of a staff and community that works toward student success.
► Your impression of EPHS so far? The students are great, and the staff has been helpful and welcoming.
► Your goal for this year? To help students achieve their goals in any way I can.
► Miscellaneous info about yourself? I met Mickey Mantle when I was 8 years old.
Christian Rosenzweig, Science Teacher
► Hometown & high school? Bartlett, Ill.; Bartlett High School.
► Colleges & degrees? Illinois State University, bachelor's in physics.
► Years working in education? Three.
► Previous jobs in education? Physics teacher and AVID tutor.
► Your EPHS job? At EPHS I am a chemistry and physics teacher.
► Why education as a career? I want to help students develop the mindset, skills and desire to make a better future for themselves, their friends and family, and their community.
► Your impression of EPHS so far? It's a great place to work. The other teachers and administrators are highly supportive of each other, and all of us share the common goal of doing what is best for our students. The students here come from many different cultures and traditions, and as a result I learn something new from them almost every day.
► Your goal for this year? My hope is that after this year we will see increased student enrollment in AP Science courses as well as increased student interest in entering STEM career paths.
► Miscellaneous info about yourself? I've played in a number of bands, ranging from classical to jazz to hip hop to heavy metal.