Meet Our New Elm Faculty for the 2018-19 School Year — Welcome!

Meet Our New Elm Faculty for the 2018-19 School Year — Welcome!

Our new Elm Middle School faculty members for 2018-19 are, from left, Rikki Valle and Rebecca Romano. (District 401 photo by Dave Porreca)

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

Rebecca RomanoYour 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

Rikki ValleYour 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.

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