Nancy Nassr is our new Assistant Head of School. Nancy has been working in schools for well on two decades, having earned degrees from UIC and Columbia University. Most recently, she served as Associate Director/Assistant Principal at Chicago Quest charter school where she led technology integration and mentored teachers. Nancy is a progressive educator whose teaching philosophy is firmly rooted in issues of social justice and transformational education. For Nancy, teaching and learning are deeply personal—education is about constant self-reflection and growth; to learn is to be open, and to lead is to also follow. In her previous role, Nancy worked diligently to create unique pathways for student learning by using games and game-like learning principles to engage both students and teachers alike in design and inquiry-based thinking. Perhaps her most impactful work with teachers has been designing and leading professional development with a focus on creating contextualized learning spaces that generate powerful learning experiences for students. Nancy won us over with her friendly, empathetic approach, and her attention to building strong relationships. This summer Nancy is completing her Masters in Educational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University.

This position replaces the Director of Teaching and Learning. We reimagined the role as Ancona shifts focus from building curriculum to building family relationships and supporting teachers. Nancy will be an excellent ear for parents who want to share their thoughts about classroom experiences and the school’s approach to education.

Heather Black-Alexander is a new Head Teacher at Ancona this fall, leading a 3rd-4th classroom where she will work with longtime Ancona Assistant Teacher Scott Roberts. Heather comes from Chicago Public Schools’ A. N. Pritzker School as a 4th grade teacher specializing in math. Originally from Hyde Park, she studied in Virginia and Philadelphia. After receiving a Broadcast Journalism degree, she pursued her Master’s at Drexel University in the Science of Elementary Instruction. She went on to teach 11th and 12th Grade Psychology at an English-speaking school in Puerto Rico before moving back to Chicago, where, over the last eight years, she has taught primary and middle school grades. Heather is deeply collaborative; she recently worked with a librarian and 3rd grade gifted teacher to develop rich projects for her students, such as studying Aztec history for the school’s Festival of the Arts. She is thrilled to return to Hyde Park and to become a member of the Ancona family

Liz Garza is the new Assistant Teacher in Jenny Hempel’s 1st-2nd Grade class this fall. Liz has been an important member of Chicago’s high-flying Namaste charter school as a Dual Language Social-Emotional Learning Teaching Assistant with a focus in Art Therapy and Cultural Awareness. She has specific experience working with kids who need personalized attention in order to build stronger and more trusting relationships in the classroom. Liz has witnessed a rise in the academic progress of these students because of the trust they shared. She is excited by opportunities to apply her art therapy background, as well as her knowledge of peace circles, restorative justice, and conflict resolution in a progressive environment.

Chris Weber is Ancona’s first Outdoor Learning Educator. Chris will put our new garden to good use both as a learning space for children and a way to tie the community together. He will be implementing the curriculum that our faculty committee worked so hard on this year. Chris is an experienced horticultural educator who has held positions at the Lincoln Park Zoo, Alcott Elementary and the Cook County Forest Preserves. A former journalist, he has written about plants and agriculture for a wide variety of publications. His current favorite crops are potatoes and garlic. He lives near Ancona in Hyde Park.

Quierra Stuckey will be our new Executive Assistant to the Head of the School. After five years of working in Chicago Public Schools, Quierra is excited to join a school that takes a different approach to learning and fosters student’s individual talents. She graduated from DePaul University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration.

During her free time, Quierra enjoys spending time with her family, listening to music, swimming, and watching her beloved Chicago Bulls. She believes that laughter is the best medicine. Quierra looks forward to cultivating strong working relationships with all members of the Ancona School community.

Rachel Bomher is joining the Ancona community as our Learning Specialist. She received her undergraduate degree from Marquette University, double majoring in Elementary Education and History. After graduating in 2013, Rachel attended DePaul University where she attained her master’s degree in Special Education.  She has worked in several different elementary classrooms in and around the Chicago area and is passionate about serving as an advocate for students with special needs.  Rachel is looking forward to being a part of the Ancona family.