"Love is the spiritual essence of what we do. Technique is the manifestation of the preparation and investment as a result of the love."
— Wynton Marsalis
The following parents and teachers are the leaders of Blaine's Middle School Clubs. We are fortunate that they share their time, passion & expertise with our students.
Get to know them below. Click here to see their impact.
COMPUTER PROGRAMMING CLUB (SPRING 2014) CARLOS GONZALEZ, INFORMATION SYSTEMS MANAGER, TECHNO-GEEK, NETIZEN. I am also the President of Blaine's Bilingual Advisory Committee (BAC) and father of two Blaine students --2nd grade and Pre-K.
I was born and raised in Mexico City, where I got my Bachelor's in Science in Management Information Systems from Monterrey Tech in 1995. After graduation, I started working for Motorola as a Technical Project Manager. In 1997, I moved to San Francisco, CA during the .com Boom where I worked as a developer for a small startup company. In 1998, my former employer, Motorola, re-hired me and sent me to Fort Worth, TX where I worked for another 8.5 years in a variety of roles --systems development and support, systems testing, continuous improvement. In 1999 I attained my MBA in Technology Management from University of Dallas in Irving, TX.
I moved to Chicago in 2006 and worked for Ernst & Young as a business consultant, and since 2008 I've been working for Kraft Foods, now Mondelez International, as a Manager for the Information Systems function. I currently manage the Help Desk for all of retail sales for North America (US and Canada), supporting software, hardware and services for all 3000 sales reps and 1500 truck drivers from coast to coast. I have a team of 38 members scattered around the world: India, Mexico, IL, PA, IN and NJ.
I put myself through college by teaching English to Spanish-speaking students at a language school back in Mexico for 5 years. Also, for the longest time, I've been fascinated with technology, mainly computers and mobile devices. And now, with this After-School Tech Club, I have the chance to combine both things.
This Club will be great. We will learn the basics of programming and make computers do awesome things. Imagine creating something out of nothing. Yes, that's what coding helps you do! We will also talk about and explore mobile devices, the Internet, latest trends in technology and who knows what else.
HIP HOP DANCE CLUB (WINTER/SPRING) 2014: DAMON GREEN, PROFESSIONAL DANCER
Damon's dance education and training began at The Christine Rich Studio under the direction of Christine Rich. Green began his training in classical ballet and jazz in 1996, continuing with the Champaign Park District under Kimberly Burson from 1997-2002. Green furthered his education at Columbia College Chicago starting in 2003, where he was introduced to Modern/Contemporary, African and Vogue dance. Vogueing is currently Damon's specialty and he continues to explore and perform in this form, in its fusion with contemporary vocabulary, with choreographer, Associate Professor of Dance and recent Bessies Award winner, Darrell Jones. Damon maintains his presence in the contemporary dance world with The Seldoms, led by Artistic Director Carrie Hanson. Additionally, Damon has worked with choreographer and dance educator Paige Cunningham-Calderalla, fusing Contemporary Ballet and Vogueing in a piece called "One Careless Gesture Away from Destruction" in 2011. Green has traveled abroad, performing in Siberia and Taiwan and introduced Vogueing to Russian students as a master teacher at the Isadora International Festival of Contemporary Dance. Timeout Chicago rated him one of the "Top 10 Men of Dance" in 2010.
MATH CLUB (2013-14): Patrick Clancy, blaine math teacher
Did you know that 5 out of 4 people in the world struggle with fractions?
While I have only been here at Blaine for just over 5 years, I am Chicago through and through. I was born and raised on the northwest side, attending St. Priscilla Elementary School and Holy Cross High School. I went on to Northeastern Illinois University where I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education, with a minor in...wait for it....MATH! Last winter I completed a Master of Science degree in Middle School Mathematics Education at DePaul University. I feel fortunate that I came into contact with many teachers in school who instilled a love of math in me, and that is the primary reason I wanted to become a math teacher.
I am a self-professed math geek, and even though I'm a teacher, I am always trying to learn new and interesting factoids and "mathy" things in the world around me. I hope that through the Blaine Math Club, I can help facilitate a love of mathematics, logical reasoning and problem-solving in our students.
MEDIA CLUB (2013): Amy Derksen
Advertising Copywriter and Creative Director
Amy's been writing advertising and business communications for a long, long time—first for great firms such as Leo Burnett and The Martin Agency, then as a freelancer for the past 16 years. She loves the creativity, getting to know all about different industries and products, and figuring out what motivates people.
Amy wrote the first-ever Coca-Cola website, a lot of the early GEICO radio spots, and tons of junk mail that you've had the pleasure of throwing away. She has never, however, used subliminal messaging in any of her (go eat a cookie) work.
Her son, Graeme, is in second grade and is really, really annoyed he can't be in this amazing club.
MEDIA CLUB (2013-14): Rebecca Gitles Deutsch, Executive Producer, Live Meetings & Events, Video and Digital Media
Rebecca brings over 19 years of experience and passion to live meeting and media production. Delivering a memorable and effective audience experience is paramount to ensuring client satisfaction. She has a proven ability to quickly understand client objectives and translate them into an execution plan that will be delivered on time and on budget. Rebecca has served as Executive Producer at several leading Chicago-based communications agencies. Her diverse body of work includes national sales meetings, product launches, strategic communications campaigns, training programs, trade shows and video/digital media production. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois with an M.A. and B.A. in Communications and Advertising. She is fluent in Spanish and enjoys putting her Spanish speaking skills to work on overseas projects. She resides in Chicago with her husband and two children. Her interests include charity sport events where she can challenger her stamina along with her fundraising skills, yoga and working with budding media superstars at Blaine Elementary School.
GARDEN CLUB (2013-14): Nancy Ziegelmueller, teacher and gardener
I discovered my gardening passion when I owned my first house with a tiny yard in Chicago.
To design and cultivate a garden, and then watch it take shape as nature wants it to look, is one of my favorite things to experience. Gardens never turn out exactly how they are envisioned, and being able to adapt to that is what makes gardening fun!
Through a lot of reading, research, and experimentation, I grew to love working with the earth and plants. We moved to a house with a bigger yard and I put in perennial and vegetable gardens. Then I volunteered to create gardens at our church, Lake View Presbyterian, on the corner of Addison and Broadway. I also worked for a landscape design firm, MODE Landscaping, and learned even more about gardening! My appetite for knowledge about anything related to gardening continues to grow as fast as a sunflower in the summer. I look forward to giving some of this knowledge and excitement about gardening to members of the BOG Club.
I went to college at Trinity College, in Hartford, CT. I lived in New York City for a few years and loved every minute of it. Then I went back to school at Northwestern University to get my Masters in Teaching. I taught high school history for five years. Kids are fun to teach, especially when the subject matter is something that I love – like gardening!
WORDS IN MOTION (2013-2014): Pilar Audain Reed, Poet, Dancer, Artist, Teacher
Pilar Audain Reed, a Former Infectious Disease Epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control, was blessed with the opportunity to pursue her true passion, art & dance. Pilar’s experience as an interpretive dancer trails all the way back to high school, where she danced with Wato Seta West African Dance Ensemble. It was during this time that Pilar learned to blend her native West Indian dances with West African dance, also incorporating modern dance to create her own form of interpretive movement. Throughout her academic career at the University of Illinois, Pilar worked on the side teaching youth in Southern Illinois her many artforms. In 2000, Pilar became the feminine addition to Prince Saleem and the Jam Masters Quartet, where she provided interpretive dance, vocals and spoken word on weekend performances. She later had the honor of travelling the country doing the same with Vibe N’ Verse, a spoken word band founded by Performance Poet Reggie Gibson from the movie Love Jones. Pilar’s artistic talents have found notoriety on HGTV, 190 North, WGN and many other media outlets, and in 2009/10 she was chosen as a "Dove Girl" by the Dove/Unilever Real Women, Real Beauty Campaign for her contribution to the world of Art and movement. As a community advocate for women and children, Pilar enjoys public speaking and sharing her message of love & hope through spoken word & song. She is currently an Arts Education Vendor for Chicago Public Schools and a Creative Movement Instructor for The Joffrey Ballet. And most recently, has been named by the University of Illinois as a facilitator for this year's Leadership Symposium: "Changing the World One Woman at a Time."
FRENCH CLUB (Spring 2014): Ellen Nichols, French Teacher and Kindergarten Aide
My name is Ellen Nichols and I am very excited to co-sponsor French Club! I graduated from Ripon College with a degree in Elementary Education and French. Later, I pursued my love for language and teaching while earning a MA in French Literature and teaching French 101, 102 and 104 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Currently, I am a kindergarten assistant at Blaine Elementary School.
KNITTING CLUB (WINTER/SPRING 2014): LEE STEIN, COMMUNITY VOLUNTEER, MASSAGE THERAPIST, EDITOR, MUSICIAN AND AVID KNITTER: For as long as I've lived, I've had a passion for some form of visual arts. After earning a BFA in photography from the School of Art Institute of Chicago, the last twenty-ish years evolved from specializing in photography to graphic design and computerized typesetting. After having two children, a good friend said to me, "Lee, you need to learn how to knit." I scoffed, but she taught me, and now here I am, ten years later, still knitting.
I love the endless variety of textures that knitting creates, as well as the sound of knitting needles clicking. For me, looking at yarn is like a teenager's love of shopping or a 40-something music fan exploring stacks of vinyl records. Knitting is a calming, therapeutic exercise for me, and allows me to socialize with friends and meet other knitters. We learn from each other and are inspired by each other's works. I've knitted sweaters, hats, mittens, socks, dresses, washcloths, rugs, and curtains, and more. I can knit anywhere: in the park, on the train, watching tv, on the beach. The best thing about knitting is that it's portable, creating anytime, in any way I wish.
My hope is to teach students to knit. We'll start with the basics, learning a new stitch or two each week. We can learn how to read a pattern. Together we can make a scarf, then a hat, a purse, and so on.
In addition to being a mom and a knitter, I am the volunteer manager at the Irving Park Community Food Pantry, a part-time Massage Therapist, and Editor of the West Walker Civic Association Wire Newsletter. I also sing and play guitar and in a bluegrassy-gospel group called Holy Smokes. So while we knit, we will have lots of interesting things to discuss, which is half the fun of a group of people knitting together!
Materials: Please bring a ball of worsted weight yarn and a set of straight US#9 needles. These can be purchased at Joann for minimal cost.
DRAMA CLUB (2013-2014): Cynthia Cook de la Fuente, actress
When I stepped into the drama club I had volunteered to run, I felt like I had stepped into a time machine taking me back more years than I care to admit. Eager, excited, terrified, anxious, energetic faces looking at me reminding me of my own middle school experience. I had been involved in drama and music since I was 5, but in middle school, acting became forever part of my life. Theater helped me navigate growing up into adulthood as I grabbed onto different characters as situations arose. By the time I got to high school I was committed. I grew up about 30 minutes north of New York City and going downtown to see shows became the norm. Graduating High School I headed off to Northwestern University and immersed myself in theatre for 4 wonderful years. Classical Theatre, Musical Theatre, Drama and Comedy became my passion. After my graduation, I went back to NY and spent my time in Grease, Two Gentlemen of Verona, West Side Story, and many other wonderful productions. However, Chicago is a fantastic place to live and I eventually came back. I worked at The Court Theatre, The Bailiwick, Apple Tree Theatre, Halsted Theatre, Musical Repertory Theatre and many others, some of which no longer exist. Since my two wonderful children came into my life I have scaled down performing but for the past 9 years some friends and I get together once a year to do a full scale production of a Shakespeare play just for the joy of it. I am thrilled to come along side of the Blaine Drama Club and see those faces mirror the love I have for theatre.
PHOTOGRAPHY CLUB (spring 2014): Eileen Ryan, photographer and teacher
My name is Eileen Ryan and I am teaching a photography workshop. I have been a professional
photographer and exhibiting artist for over 20 years. I have photographed everyone from
Michael Jordan to the homeless person on the street. ~~ Photography is a wonderful tool, allowing the photographer and the viewer into worlds otherwise inaccessible. I have travelled the world with my camera, both photographing and exhibiting. Photography allows me to explore both myself and the world, making order of what I see and experience through the lens. ~~ I have a Master of Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute. I am the recipient of
numerous grants and have taught photography to children from the age of five to college and beyond. ~~ In our workshop at Blaine we will explore new ways of seeing ourselves and our community through the lens of a camera. Each student will create a body of work exploring self and place in the world. We will document our world through the tools of photography and creative writing.
~~ Bring your cameras, your stories and your words and be ready to share your creativity with our Blaine community. http://www.eileenryanphotography.com/
FRENCH CLUB (Spring 2014): April Allen Ljung, Francophile
Learning a foreign language has always been an important part of my life. I dabbled in different languages while in elementary and high school, and then began my French education as an undergraduate student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I was completely enamored with the beautiful French language and culture. I learned to speak and read the language, then took my obsession a step further with French film classes. After completing my BA in Political Science, I had the good fortune to live for a year in Antibes, a small town in the south of France. Few Americans lived there year-round. While living in Antibes, I was completely immersed in the language and culture. I regularly walked to the local outdoor market to speak with vendors and locals while buying our daily fresh produce and fish. This began my passion as a foodie. I learned all about eating well and cooking well through my fun adventures in France. My husband and I then moved to London where we lived for several years. While there, I completed my Masters degree in Art History at the University of London, England. We traveled throughout Europe, trying to visit as many French-speaking countries as possible. We returned to Chicago in 2000 to begin our family. We sought a French education for our three children here in Chicago. Our children are now fluent in French, after having attended the Lycee Francais de Chicago for several years. My children are now CPS students, and continue to pursue high level classes and opportunities in French language in our public school system, in addition to attending immersion summer camps in French-speaking cities like Montreal, Canada and Nice, France. As a co-sponsor of French Club at Blaine, I hope to inspire students to enjoy all the wonderful things that French language, culture, and food have to offer!
Baking & Pastry Club (2013-14): Julie Swift, patissiere
Julie Swift remembers the first cake she baked. It was a mix from Jiffy. She also remembers the second cake she made. It was a from scratch chocolate cake
that weighed about 10 lbs. Her family thought it was so funny they tried to cut it with a saw. But the moral of the story is there is as much to learn from baking failures as there is from the successes. Julie went to culinary school at Kendall College. She has worked at restaurants around Chicago. One is in Blaine’s front yard! Students in her club learn how to make delicious desserts to delight their families. We're just hoping they don't weigh 10 lbs!
ART CLUB (2013-14): Maria Guasso, artist and teacher
It all started with Mr. Deasy, my high school teacher who encouraged me to pursue my passion for the arts. So off I went to art school in Milwaukee and also attended the Parsons Paris School of Art and Design, where I explored painting and museum studies.
I’ve traveled throughout the Americas and Europe, finding inspiration throughout the world that heavily influenced me both as an artist and a teacher. I taught Spanish and Mexican arts/cultural studies to first through third graders in the Milwaukee Public School system. I also was the lead preschool teacher in a Park Ridge school. Fast forward ten years and I’m still teaching, as an art educator for students in preschool through 8th grade at over ten public and private schools throughout the north-side of Chicago. I also volunteer in several capacities as a city muralist, after-school workshop leader and as a committee member of OpenWall community art project for Alderman Ameya Pawar of the 47th Ward. In 2010, I founded ART*eology, an organization that allows urban youth to collaborate on art for the greater community to enjoy in public spaces.
My most inspired creation? Of course, that’s my daughter who is a seventh grader at Blaine, who participates (willingly!) in art club with me.
Students for Change (fall 2013): Carmel Eiger, Neonatal clinical nurse educator nurse researcher, nursing professor & community volunteer
I have always been fascinated with stories of people who discovered a problem, and worked to make changes to improve people’s lives, communities and even the world. As a nurse for over twenty years, I see daily how one person can impact the lives of so many. I went to college at Northern Illinois University, and received a Masters in Science degree at Rush University, which has prepared me to problem solve and make change happen. More importantly, my education and work experience allows me to help others make the change they want to see in the world. I currently work as a Neonatal Clinical Nurse Educator and Nurse Researcher at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago, and I am a Nursing Professor and North Park University. I also volunteer for the March of Dimes. While researching on ideas for the Students for Change club, I came across amazing examples of kids who have made a difference. From seven years to seventeen years old, there are numerous stories of inspirational kids who have helped build wells in Africa, raised money for people with disabilities to have service dogs, start a business recycling gently used Prom dresses, and developed anti-bullying campaigns. The inspiration is inspirational!
Yearbook Committee: Ms. Pagel, 7th & 8th grade TEACHERth and Ms. Campagna, 4th grade teacher
Ms. Pagel has taught Language Arts to 7th and 8th graders for 8 years at Blaine Elementary School. She has a Bachelor's degree in Human Development and Family Life from University of Kansas and a Master's degree in Education from DePaul University. In her spare time she enjoys reading, listening to music, dancing, and traveling to new places and meeting new people.
Ms. Campagna was on her school newspaper throughout her middle school and high school years, competing in journalism competitions on the weekends. She has taught 4th and 5th grade at Blaine school and this year will be her 3rd year as a yearbook sponsor.