Lisa Caputo Love is a 2019-20 Teach Plus Illinois Senior Policy Fellow. Lisa is the 3rd and 5th grade special education inclusion co-teacher, the English language program coordinator, and leads the assessment team at Hawthorne Scholastic Academy in Chicago. She has previously worked as a general education teacher, multi-tiered systems of support coordinator, and program director for an educational charity called Saturday Place. Lisa was selected to be on Chicago Public School’s Teacher Advisory Council (2017-2018), where she tackled teacher recruitment and retention. In 2018, she was awarded Teacher of the Year for Chicago Foundation for Education. Lisa is a National Board Certified teacher. She graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a BS in Elementary Education and an MEd in Special Education from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and from American College of Education with an MEd in Educational Leadership.
Jacob Carlson is a 2019-20 Teach Plus Illinois Rural Teacher Leader. Jacob teaches English at Civic Memorial High School in Bethalto, Illinois, where he is also an instructional coach for the district. Jacob is a Teach Plus Policy Fellowship alum and joined the Golden Apple Teachers of Distinction in 2019 after becoming a finalist for the Distinguished Educators award. In 2016, he was part of an Illinois Association of State Teachers of the Year (ILSTOY) team whose submission of a state plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act was awarded a Top 12 National Finalist designation at the Agents for Learning competition. He is active in professional leadership roles through ILSTOY and the secondary English teacher preparation program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). He graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with a BS in English and an MA in English and American Literature.
Nidia Carranza is a 2019-20 Teach Plus Illinois Early Childhood Educator Policy Fellow. Nidia teaches bilingual-Spanish Pre-K in a blended classroom at Marvin Camras in Chicago’s Belmont-Cragin neighborhood, where she also teaches students coding during the after-school hours. She also organizes Know Your Rights canvasses, community clean-ups, and mentors students from the City Colleges of Chicago. Nidia graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a BA in Social Work and received her MSEd in Early Childhood Education from Dominican University.
Violeta Xochitl Cerna-Prado is a 2019-20 Teach Plus Change Agent Teacher Leader. Violeta is a 9th grade multicultural studies teacher at UIC College Prep in Chicago. Prior to teaching at the high school level, Violeta was a diverse learning teacher at Piccolo Elementary School. Violeta was a Teach Plus Illinois Policy Fellow for the 2018-2019 school year, advocating for the recruitment and retention of teachers of color. She serves as an academic director with Holy Family Scholarship Fund, where she provides socio-emotional and academic supports for students attending private high schools in Chicago and the surrounding area. Violeta serves on the local school council at Jungman Elementary School as a Community Representative. She earned a BA in Community Psychology from DePaul University and an MS in Special Education from Dominican University.
Bob Chikos is a 2019-20 Teach Plus Illinois Policy Fellow. Bob teaches special education reading, math, and pre-vocational classes at Crystal Lake Central High School, where he also coaches the speech team and serves as parliamentarian for the education association. Bob led the initiative to eliminate class rank in his district, assisted with reforming the school calendar, and helped establish the Distinguished Tiger graduation recognition program. Prior to teaching, Bob worked at Lambs Farm, a facility for adults with disabilities. While at Lambs Farm, Bob founded Quest, a day program of independent living classes. Bob earned his BA in History from East Tennessee State University and holds an MA in Special Education from Northeastern Illinois University, an MS in Literacy Education from Northern Illinois University, and an MA in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University.
Addie Cochrane is a 2019-20 Teach Plus Change Agent Teacher Leader. Addie teaches 4th grade at Polaris Charter Academy, where she is also a member of the instructional leadership team. She previously taught at KIPP Ascend Primary School, where she was a member of the instructional leadership team and served as the upper-school literacy chair. Addie earned a fellowship with the Action Research Leadership Institute in 2018, where she completed a year-long action research project. Addie has won multiple grants through the Chicago Foundation for Education, including the opportunity to lead a study group, and securing funding for supplies in her classroom. She was a member of the Inner-City Teaching Corps. She graduated with a BA in Political Science from DePaul University and her MSEd at Northwestern University.
Eric Combs is a 2019-20 Teach Plus Illinois ILSTOY Policy Fellow and the 2020 Illinois Teacher of the Year. Eric teaches 6th-8th grade band at the Richland County Middle School in Olney, Illinois. Under his direction, the RCMS band program was recognized twice by the US Congress as one of the top 100 “Best Communities for Music Education” award-winning schools in the United States. He is a 2019 winner of the WTHI-TV10 Golden Apple award and of the WSIU (National Public Radio) “One Region, All Neighbors” award. Eric s a regional council representative in the teacher’s union and serves as a delegate to the state Regional Assembly. He is an author of three music education books and maintains two blogs, a YouTube channel, the website www.banddirectorsshare.com, and several social media outlets that reach more than 5,000 educators. In 2019, Eric helped to raise funds to hire a full-time instrumental music instructor in the Impact Ministries International orphanage in Honduras. He holds a BA and an MA in Music Education from Eastern Illinois University.
Lucia Cruz teaches 11th grade Mathematics (Advanced Algebra with Trigonometry) at Gage Park High School. Lucia is a member of Gage Park High School’s Instructional Leadership Team and Continuous Improvement Work Plan Team. She also serves as the Mathematics Department Chair at Gage Park High School. During her time at Gage Park, Lucia has had the opportunity to teach all of the levels of mathematics offered. Lucia graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a BA in Secondary Education and Mathematics.
Joanna Dau is a 2019-20 Teach Plus Illinois Early Childhood Educator Policy Fellow. Joanna teaches an early childhood special education instructional classroom at the Crete-Monee Early Learning Center. Her classroom is a highly structured environment for children with developmental delays, speech/language delays, behavioral disorders, and physical incapacities. She serves on the school improvement team, supporting teachers to discuss and implement ways to analyze student data, maximize learning, strengthen parent involvement, and increase morale among the staff. Before coming to Crete, Joanna taught at a Reggio Emilia School in Naperville, IL. She graduated from Governors State University with a BA in Early Childhood Education and a Type-04 Teaching Certificate and her MA in General Education from Saint Xavier University.
Jessica Day is a 2019-20 Teach Plus Illinois Policy Fellow. Jessica teaches family and consumer sciences at O’Fallon Township High School. She has received awards including the Homerun for Character Award for service-learning endeavors, the MLK Legacy Club Educator Award, and the Changemaker Award through Rotary International. She sponsors the class of 2020 and the Interact Club, a community service-based organization. Jessica serves on the Illinois Federation of Teachers CTE/STEM committee, the Southwestern Illinois College’s Advisory Committee for both the Early Childhood Education and Culinary Arts departments, and is the Region V board member for IFACSTA (Illinois Family and Consumer Science Teacher Association). She graduated with a BS in Workforce Education from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and received her MPA from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in December 2019.