Meet Our New John Mills Faculty

Meet Our New John Mills Faculty

PHOTO: The new John Mills faculty members for 2017-18 are, from left, Paige Pfeifer, Vanessa Acosta, Alyssa Makropoulos, Kristen Kazuk, Brittany Lewis, Lauren Feiereisel and Jacqueline Farrell.

With the school year in full swing, you've probably noticed a few new faces among the John Mills Elementary School faculty.

We have seven teachers, in fact, who are new to our school, although one of them — Ms. Kristen Kazuk — is a veteran of District 401's Elm Middle School.

In case you haven't met them yet, here's an introduction to our new teachers in alphabetical order. Welcome to John Mills!

Ms. Vanessa Acosta, EL Resource Teacher

Vanessa Acosta portrait shot► Hometown & high school? Palatine, Ill.; Maine West H.S.

Colleges & degrees? Concordia University, bachelor's in exercise science; University of Phoenix, master's in education and ELL.

Years of teaching experience? Three.

Previous teaching jobs? I taught 3rd grade in Des Plaines at Orchard Place Elementary.

Difference between resource teachers and classroom teachers? The difference is that resource teachers don't have a set classroom. We are pushing in and co-teaching with homeroom teachers of different grade levels. So we get to work with a wide variety of students!

Why teach? I enjoy interacting and teaching students from different cultures and backgrounds. I love engaging and finding fun new ways to make learning exciting for children. There is no better feeling when a student has the "aha" moment! 

Why Mills? I wanted to expand my teaching experience. Being in the classroom was amazing, but I wanted to see what the teaching perspective would be like from a resource position.

Your impression of Mills so far? Everyone is welcoming and so helpful. I look forward to collaborating with the teachers and staff in the building!

Your goal for the year? To inspire students to find their own way to love learning.

Miscellaneous info? I am going into my fourth year coaching girls track and field at Maine West High School. I also coached girls basketball there for seven years.

Ms. Jacqueline Farrell, Special Education Teacher

Jacqueline Farrell portrait shotHometown & high school? Mt. Prospect, Ill.; John Hersey H.S.

College & degree? Eastern Illinois University, bachelor's in special education.

Years of teaching experience? Ten.

Previous teaching jobs? Chicago Public Schools and Aspira Charter School.

Why teach? I love working with children, and I especially love helping students achieve their goals.

Why Mills? I recently moved to Elmwood Park and had the opportunity to work in the same neighborhood in which I live.

Your impression of Mills so far? John Mills is a warm and inviting place.

Your classroom goals for the year? Helping my students reach their full potential.

Ms. Lauren Feiereisel, 5th-Grade Math & Science Teacher

Lauren Feiereisel portrait shotHometown & high school? Park Ridge, Ill.; Maine South H.S.

College & degrees? Monmouth College, bachelor's in elementary education with a history minor.

Years of teaching experience? This is my first year teaching!

Previous teaching jobs? I have not had any previous teaching jobs, but I have coached basketball and worked as a 1-on-1 aide for a  nonprofit organization called MNASR.

Why teach? I teach because I want students to understand that you don't have to be born smart. I want my students to understand that through hard work and a growth mindset they are taking a step in the right direction to reach their goals. If they work hard in a classroom every day they will see success. I also want my students to know that I believe in them.

Why Mills? I have heard great things about this school district. I was told that District 401 is supportive and is a wonderful place for me to bring my skills into a classroom. Once I heard there was an opening I knew that I had to jump on it.

Your impression of Mills so far? Everyone at John Mills is very helpful and supportive. Through this big transition, I have had many sources to ask questions or lend a helping hand.

Your classroom goals for the year? To make sure that each one of my students feels supported in my classroom, and to make sure that each day every student takes a step forward to reach their target for that day, week, month, no matter how small forward that step is.

Ms. Kristen Kazuk, Special Education Teacher

Kristen Kazuk portrait shotHometown & high school? LaGrange, Ill.; Lyons Township H.S.

Colleges & degrees? University of Illinois at Chicago, bachelor's in fine arts; Northeastern Illinois University, bachelor's in elementary education and master's in behavioral disorders/ special education.

Years of teaching experience? Twenty-plus years.

Previous teaching jobs? Therapeutic Day; Gemini Junior High School; Elm Middle School.

Why teach? I love learning.

Why Mills? EPCUSD 401 is a wonderful school district!

Your impression of Mills so far? Mills is truly kind.

Your classroom goals for the year? Learn, have fun and be the best people we can be!

Miscellaneous info? I have two children in middle school.

Ms. Brittany Lewis, 3rd-Grade Teacher

Brittany Lewis portrait shotHometown & high school? Hillside, Ill.; Proviso West H.S.

College & degrees? Elmhurst College, bachelor’s in elementary education with a minor in reading education; I have endorsements in reading education/ language arts/ middle school and will complete my ELL endorsement in December 2017.

Years of teaching experience? Two.

Previous teaching jobs? Reading paraprofessional in Bensenville School District 2.

Why teach? It has been my passion since I was a little girl. I find it extremely rewarding that I teach children how to read.

Why Mills? The students, staff and community are friendly and helpful.

Your impression of Mills so far? Mills has been everything I wanted to find in a school home. The students are smart, friendly and problem solvers, and the staff has been extremely helpful.

Your classroom goal for the year? To make it a fun and engaging learning class. I want students to want to come to class and find learning enjoyable.

Ms. Alyssa Makropoulos, EL Bilingual Spanish Teacher

Alyssa Makropoulos portrait shotHometown & high school? Naperville, Ill.; Neuqua Valley, H.S.

College & degrees? University of Iowa, bachelor's in elementary education with a minor in Spanish.

Years of teacher experience? This will be my fourth year teaching.

Previous teaching job? I was a 2nd-grade teacher at a public charter school in Los Angeles, Calif.; it was not a bilingual classroom.

Why teach? I love teaching because I love watching students grow as learners! It's great to watch them progress throughout the year. I also love getting to know each and every one of them, as they are all different. I love creating relationships with my students.

Why Mills? I chose Mills because I was given the opportunity to work with students in different grade levels. I get to assist them in becoming more proficient in English but still use their native language in the classroom as well.

Impression of Mills so far? Everyone is very friendly and welcoming!

Classroom goals for the year? Build relationships with all my students as well as my co-teachers, and help students progress and learn as much as possible in my new role!

Miscellaneous info? I just moved to Chicago after living in Los Angeles for a few years.

Ms. Paige Pfeifer, 4th-Grade Math & Science Teacher

Paige Pfeifer portrait shotHometown & high school? Dwight, Ill.; Dwight Township H.S.

College & degrees? Elmhurst College, bachelor's in elementary education with a minor in psychology.

Years of teaching experience? This is my fourth year as a teacher.

Previous teaching jobs? I have taught in Pontiac District 429 and Keeneyville (Hanover Park) District 20.

Why teach? I had many teachers who had made an impact on my life, and I wanted to do the same.

Why Mills? I chose to apply for the position at Mills because I believe in what they stand for. 

Your impression of Mills so far? Mills is a warm and inviting place where both the staff and the students have made me feel welcome.

Your classroom goal for this year? My goal is to lead all of my students to become good, wholesome people.

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