Midwest Academy Faculty, Staff, and Volunteers

Our #1 criteria for our staff is student engagement. Here’s why we are building a school.

Aileen Kelleher   Aileen Kelleher is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with training and experience using evidence-based therapies with children, adolescents and families. She is passionate about working with gifted and twice exceptional children because she grew up in a gifted household and saw the particular ways in which intelligent, talented people also struggled with emotional and behavioral difficulties. Aileen has made it her mission to be trained in effective, researched techniques that she tailors to individuals, families and groups. She believes in the transformative power of effective, compassionate therapy.  Aileen received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois. She also received a Certificate in Evidence-Based Practices with Children and Adolescents as a part of a specialized training program within the university. She interned at the Institute for Juvenile Research and recently worked as a therapist in a research-based program for youth in foster care with severe emotional and behavior disorders.

Aileen Kelleher

Aileen Kelleher is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with training and experience using evidence-based therapies with children, adolescents and families. She is passionate about working with gifted and twice exceptional children because she grew up in a gifted household and saw the particular ways in which intelligent, talented people also struggled with emotional and behavioral difficulties. Aileen has made it her mission to be trained in effective, researched techniques that she tailors to individuals, families and groups. She believes in the transformative power of effective, compassionate therapy.

Aileen received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois. She also received a Certificate in Evidence-Based Practices with Children and Adolescents as a part of a specialized training program within the university. She interned at the Institute for Juvenile Research and recently worked as a therapist in a research-based program for youth in foster care with severe emotional and behavior disorders.

Claudio Sansone   Claudio Sansone informs MAGE curriculum in Latin, Greek, and Mythology. He is a PhD Candidate in Comparative Literature and Classics at the University of Chicago. Previously, he has lived and studied in London, Rome, Dublin, and Athens. These experiences fostered his interest in education in a global context, particularly with respect to the the teaching of literature. His work aims to break down barriers between disciplines and to make the critical study of ancient literature a tool for thinking about the present.

Claudio Sansone

Claudio Sansone informs MAGE curriculum in Latin, Greek, and Mythology. He is a PhD Candidate in Comparative Literature and Classics at the University of Chicago. Previously, he has lived and studied in London, Rome, Dublin, and Athens. These experiences fostered his interest in education in a global context, particularly with respect to the the teaching of literature. His work aims to break down barriers between disciplines and to make the critical study of ancient literature a tool for thinking about the present.



Dahlia Tulett-Gross   Dahlia Tulett-Gross is the Co-Director of 65GRAND, a contemporary art gallery in Chicago, an independent curator, a tutor for college-aged art students, and a mom! She has a BFA in studio art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).

Dahlia Tulett-Gross

Dahlia Tulett-Gross is the Co-Director of 65GRAND, a contemporary art gallery in Chicago, an independent curator, a tutor for college-aged art students, and a mom! She has a BFA in studio art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).

 
Patryk Lipski   Patryk Lipski is one of our math circle and team instructors! He has been participating in math competitions since the second grade, and has attained awards and honors in multiple competitions, including three national titles in Math Kangaroo, state championships, and placing nationally in ARML. He continues to practice recreational mathematics at all levels, and has several years of private tutoring experience with gifted students. He is currently pursuing a Computer Science degree at DePaul University, though his other hobbies include amateur linguistics and botany.

Patryk Lipski

Patryk Lipski is one of our math circle and team instructors! He has been participating in math competitions since the second grade, and has attained awards and honors in multiple competitions, including three national titles in Math Kangaroo, state championships, and placing nationally in ARML. He continues to practice recreational mathematics at all levels, and has several years of private tutoring experience with gifted students. He is currently pursuing a Computer Science degree at DePaul University, though his other hobbies include amateur linguistics and botany.

Jonathan Damen   Jonathan Damen holds a BS in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Minnesota. He is passionate about inventing, building, and deconstructing. He has served as president of an improv club, as well as President of Material Advantage at U of M, where he facilitated building a 3D Delta Printer, led the Ceramic Mug Drop Competition, and designed material science demos. He has been tutoring in mathematics and science since his early days in high school, and hopes to one day be a high school teacher.

Jonathan Damen

Jonathan Damen holds a BS in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Minnesota. He is passionate about inventing, building, and deconstructing. He has served as president of an improv club, as well as President of Material Advantage at U of M, where he facilitated building a 3D Delta Printer, led the Ceramic Mug Drop Competition, and designed material science demos. He has been tutoring in mathematics and science since his early days in high school, and hopes to one day be a high school teacher.

Gregory Marx   Dr. Gregory Marx is a research mathematician in the areas of operator theory and operator algebras. He also has taught college-level single and multivariable calculus courses at Virginia Tech. He has been one of our fabulous math circle instructors. This is a unique opportunity for students to work with an advanced mathematician who can expand their thinking beyond the constraints of elementary mathematics.  Mathematics Instruction, Math Circle

Gregory Marx

Dr. Gregory Marx is a research mathematician in the areas of operator theory and operator algebras. He also has taught college-level single and multivariable calculus courses at Virginia Tech. He has been one of our fabulous math circle instructors. This is a unique opportunity for students to work with an advanced mathematician who can expand their thinking beyond the constraints of elementary mathematics.

Mathematics Instruction, Math Circle



 
Kathleen Soler   Kathleen Soler has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from DePaul University. She is a playworker in the forest on weekends with the Fraternal Forest and teaches classes at the Evanston Ecology Center. For fun, she hosts public entomology nights and runs the Singing Insects Monitoring Program, a community science effort for the Chicago region to map the sounds of orthoptera. She is a musician and apprentice in the arts of thrift.

Kathleen Soler

Kathleen Soler has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from DePaul University. She is a playworker in the forest on weekends with the Fraternal Forest and teaches classes at the Evanston Ecology Center. For fun, she hosts public entomology nights and runs the Singing Insects Monitoring Program, a community science effort for the Chicago region to map the sounds of orthoptera. She is a musician and apprentice in the arts of thrift.



Mila Rascon   Mila Rascon began studying dance at the age of 8. Her 1st audition at the Arie Crown Theatre for the Nutcracker landed her the role of party girl. She played the lead role, Clara, at the age of 11 and continued in various roles for a total of 9 years. After winning the Regional Dance Competition 2 years in a row at age 10 and 11, she was enrolled at the classical ballet studio, Ellis DuBoulay, taken over years later by Joffrey and was given a full scholarship till the age of 18. She went on to apprentice and dance with both Houston and Milwaukee Ballet till injuries cut her career short in her mid-twenties. She went on to study Holistic Medicine in San Diego, earning her Holistic Health Practitioner Certification, 2 Advanced yoga Certifications in LA County and her Esthetician License from Aveda Institute. She is a mother of 4 children, aged 19-9.

Mila Rascon

Mila Rascon began studying dance at the age of 8. Her 1st audition at the Arie Crown Theatre for the Nutcracker landed her the role of party girl. She played the lead role, Clara, at the age of 11 and continued in various roles for a total of 9 years. After winning the Regional Dance Competition 2 years in a row at age 10 and 11, she was enrolled at the classical ballet studio, Ellis DuBoulay, taken over years later by Joffrey and was given a full scholarship till the age of 18. She went on to apprentice and dance with both Houston and Milwaukee Ballet till injuries cut her career short in her mid-twenties. She went on to study Holistic Medicine in San Diego, earning her Holistic Health Practitioner Certification, 2 Advanced yoga Certifications in LA County and her Esthetician License from Aveda Institute. She is a mother of 4 children, aged 19-9.

Rad Turkin   Rad Turkin is a Chicago native who loves animals, surfing, nature, music and comedy, in that order. Rad believes that children learn best by doing and connecting with their natural environment, synthesizing their knowledge to problem solve and test solutions.  Rad has held a wide variety of professions, including construction, carpentry, math tutor, and media technician. Rad holds three different degrees: Anthropology, Communications Media and Theater, and a Masters in Mathematics and Secondary Education, with Middle School endorsements. Rad has spent 8 summers teaching outdoor and environmental education to 1000's of children in Chicago every summer. The calming and transformative effect it had on the kids was inspiring. Rad spent the last four school years teaching at many different CPS high schools in their selective enrollment programs, studying different curriculum. It was the final push Rad needed to begin work on a new curriculum. MAGE is trilled that Rad will be implementing this new curriculum this fall in our Outdoor Experimental Math Workshop!  Rad believes that children learn best outside of a traditional classroom environment, and is excited to be a part of the Midwest Academy for Gifted Education.

Rad Turkin

Rad Turkin is a Chicago native who loves animals, surfing, nature, music and comedy, in that order. Rad believes that children learn best by doing and connecting with their natural environment, synthesizing their knowledge to problem solve and test solutions.

Rad has held a wide variety of professions, including construction, carpentry, math tutor, and media technician. Rad holds three different degrees: Anthropology, Communications Media and Theater, and a Masters in Mathematics and Secondary Education, with Middle School endorsements. Rad has spent 8 summers teaching outdoor and environmental education to 1000's of children in Chicago every summer. The calming and transformative effect it had on the kids was inspiring. Rad spent the last four school years teaching at many different CPS high schools in their selective enrollment programs, studying different curriculum. It was the final push Rad needed to begin work on a new curriculum. MAGE is trilled that Rad will be implementing this new curriculum this fall in our Outdoor Experimental Math Workshop!

Rad believes that children learn best outside of a traditional classroom environment, and is excited to be a part of the Midwest Academy for Gifted Education.


 
Benjamin Packard   Benjamin Packard is currently employed as second-grade teacher in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from DePaul University in 2014, with a concentration in language arts. In 2019, he graduated from Olivet Nazarene University with a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction. As an elementary school student, Ben overcame his difficulty with reading by exploring his dad’s childhood comic book collection, which sparked his love of reading and storytelling. He takes this enthusiasm and brings it into the classroom, where he uses the often overlooked medium of comic books to educate his students in a variety of disciplines.  Benjamin has had the opportunity to travel to various comic book conventions across the U.S. to talk on panels about how he integrates these remarkable educational tools with students of all ages and ability levels. When he isn’t teaching, Benjamin enjoys cooking with his fiancée and going on walks with his three-legged corgi, Gigi.

Benjamin Packard

Benjamin Packard is currently employed as second-grade teacher in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from DePaul University in 2014, with a concentration in language arts. In 2019, he graduated from Olivet Nazarene University with a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction. As an elementary school student, Ben overcame his difficulty with reading by exploring his dad’s childhood comic book collection, which sparked his love of reading and storytelling. He takes this enthusiasm and brings it into the classroom, where he uses the often overlooked medium of comic books to educate his students in a variety of disciplines.

Benjamin has had the opportunity to travel to various comic book conventions across the U.S. to talk on panels about how he integrates these remarkable educational tools with students of all ages and ability levels. When he isn’t teaching, Benjamin enjoys cooking with his fiancée and going on walks with his three-legged corgi, Gigi.

Sisie Puntil-Wilcek   Sisie Puntil-Wilcek has been teaching since 1975. She has an undergraduate degree in Deaf/Hard of Hearing, an MSEd from National Louis iin LBS1, an MSEd degree as a reading specialist and English K - 12. She holds certifications in Elementary Education K-9, Early Childhood preK-K, Social Studies K-9, Supervision and Sign Language. She spent the first 19 years of her teaching career teaching deaf/hard of hearing students from primary to middle school. She spent the next 16 years teaching HS special education in a full inclusion HS, supporting students in Science, Algebra, Geometry, English, Government and U.S. History. She has also taught US History, Test Prep, and Study Skills.  After retiring from teaching after 35 years for public schools, she taught at CVCS, in both special ed and gen ed, and continued to stay active in teaching by being a substitute teacher. She also is a tutor for ‘On Location Education’, teaching student actors in major productions in the Chicagoland area.  She has been a college instructor for the last 9 years, teaching preschool education courses/ special ed. courses at Kendall College and National Louis University. She has been married for 43 years and has 3 grown children.  MAGE is lucky to have her teach our Tuesday language arts courses and sign language, including a first ever in Illinois - a single class that is exclusively for 2E in language arts!

Sisie Puntil-Wilcek

Sisie Puntil-Wilcek has been teaching since 1975. She has an undergraduate degree in Deaf/Hard of Hearing, an MSEd from National Louis iin LBS1, an MSEd degree as a reading specialist and English K - 12. She holds certifications in Elementary Education K-9, Early Childhood preK-K, Social Studies K-9, Supervision and Sign Language. She spent the first 19 years of her teaching career teaching deaf/hard of hearing students from primary to middle school. She spent the next 16 years teaching HS special education in a full inclusion HS, supporting students in Science, Algebra, Geometry, English, Government and U.S. History. She has also taught US History, Test Prep, and Study Skills.

After retiring from teaching after 35 years for public schools, she taught at CVCS, in both special ed and gen ed, and continued to stay active in teaching by being a substitute teacher. She also is a tutor for ‘On Location Education’, teaching student actors in major productions in the Chicagoland area.

She has been a college instructor for the last 9 years, teaching preschool education courses/ special ed. courses at Kendall College and National Louis University. She has been married for 43 years and has 3 grown children.

MAGE is lucky to have her teach our Tuesday language arts courses and sign language, including a first ever in Illinois - a single class that is exclusively for 2E in language arts!

Brad Savage   Brad Savage currently teaches Latin to students in preK through 12 at The Einstein Academy where he also serves as the Director of Student Activities. He is interested in integrating technology and language best practices into the classroom. He earned BAs in Classics and Political Science from The Ohio State University and an MA in Classics from the University of Washington. He currently serves on the Advisory Committee for the National Latin exam. Over the past few years, due to the generosity of various entities, including NEH and Vergilius, Brad has had the opportunities to further his studies in Classics and has enjoyed integrating his experiences into all levels of Latin!

Brad Savage

Brad Savage currently teaches Latin to students in preK through 12 at The Einstein Academy where he also serves as the Director of Student Activities. He is interested in integrating technology and language best practices into the classroom. He earned BAs in Classics and Political Science from The Ohio State University and an MA in Classics from the University of Washington. He currently serves on the Advisory Committee for the National Latin exam. Over the past few years, due to the generosity of various entities, including NEH and Vergilius, Brad has had the opportunities to further his studies in Classics and has enjoyed integrating his experiences into all levels of Latin!

 
Heather DeGeorge   Heather DeGeorge is not only teaching courses this term, but she is also one of the professional educators that sit on our Governing Board. You can read more about our Board  here .

Heather DeGeorge

Heather DeGeorge is not only teaching courses this term, but she is also one of the professional educators that sit on our Governing Board. You can read more about our Board here.

Meg Dedolph   Meg Dedolph is a traditional dance caller and a parent of a gifted child in the Chicago area. She calls regularly at the Chicago Barn Dance Company's contra dances and at other dance series, events and festivals in the region. She is the caller and co-organizer for a monthly all-ages community dance in Glen Ellyn, and has been a staff musician and caller at summer folk music camps in Tennessee and Maryland.

Meg Dedolph

Meg Dedolph is a traditional dance caller and a parent of a gifted child in the Chicago area. She calls regularly at the Chicago Barn Dance Company's contra dances and at other dance series, events and festivals in the region. She is the caller and co-organizer for a monthly all-ages community dance in Glen Ellyn, and has been a staff musician and caller at summer folk music camps in Tennessee and Maryland.