Office & Administration
Shari Peterson – Principal
Mrs. Peterson has her B.S. in Elementary Education with a minor in Bible and a minor in Speech from Tennessee Temple University. She was the third grade teacher at Downers Grove Christian School for six years and the Discovery teacher at Downers Grove Christian School for five years. She also taught fourth grade for a few years and then became principal in 2015. Mrs. Peterson has been blessed to be a part of the ministry of Downers Grove Christian School for many years. She enjoys the privilege of working with teachers, students, and parents to offer a distinctly Christian education. Mrs. Peterson’s favorite Bible verses are Proverbs 3:5-6,”Trust in the Lord with your whole heart and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Contact her at email@example.com.
Patti Larson – Office Manager
Mrs. Larson has her Bachelor of Science from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. She has been a member of the office staff at Downers Grove Christian School since 1998. For the past decade she has been the Office Manager. Along with serving in an administrative role, Mrs. Larson enjoys the many opportunities to minister to and encourage students, parents and teachers. Mrs. Larson’s favorite Bible verse is Zephaniah 3:17, “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Primary School teachers
Cathy Gruenwald – Preschool Teacher
Mrs. Gruenwald has her BA in Elementary Education and MA in Early Childhood Education , both from Concordia University, Chicago. She taught kindergarten, 1st and 3rd grades for 9 years and then was blessed to be a stay at home mom for several years. She returned to full time teaching in 2010 at the preschool level. Mrs. Gruenwald’s goals for the preschool children are to learn how much Jesus loves them and to love to learn and be in school. Her favorite Bible verse is 1 John 4:9-10, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Contact her at email@example.com.
Sharon Nese – Preschool Aide
Mrs. Nese’s ministry began in January 1995 at Downers Grove Christian School supervising the students in the lunchroom where she served for 16 years. Over the past several years she has spent time assisting in the office and doing resource work with the students. Mrs. Nese has helped in our preschool room since September of 1999. She also currently oversees the Creative Arts Team that began in 2010. A special note from Mrs. Nese: I have been blessed to be a part of our preschool program. I am privileged to minister alongside a wonderful staff and great parents as we all work together to “train up a child in the way they should go”. I love studying and learning God’s Word. Some of my favorite Bible verses are Colossians 2:6-7 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught,and overflowing with thankfulness.” Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sharon Ryer – Kindergarten Teacher
Mrs. Ryer graduated from Judson University with a B.A. in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood. She had been teaching at the preschool level for ten years before coming to Downers Grove Christian School. She has been an aide in our kindergarten program since 2007. When she is not teaching, Mrs. Ryer enjoys making cards, scrapbooking, and watching movies. She is a wife and a mother of two grown children. A special note from Mrs. Ryer: I most enjoy getting to know the students and families and creating fun ways to help children learn. The best is when they are having so much fun that they don’t even realize they are learning. Contact her at email@example.com.
Barb Kennedy – Support Staff
Mrs. Kennedy graduated from College of DuPage with an A.A.S. in Early Childhood and holds a certificate in Child Development. She has 28 years of experience teaching preschool and kindergarten. She is currently the Children’s Ministry Director at her home church. She is also a wife and mother. When she is not working at Downers Grove Christian School, Mrs. Kennedy loves to spend time with her family. Her daughter keeps her busy with soccer, basketball, tap and horseback riding lessons! As a family they love to spend time outdoors as much as possible. The Brookfield Zoo is one of their favorite places to visit. She also enjoys photography, card making and bike riding when time allows. A special note from Mrs. Kennedy: I love fostering independence in children and helping them learn how to problem solve with their peers. I enjoy seeing the spark in children’s eyes when a new concept is learned and that I am able to teach the love of Jesus to the next generation of leaders! My favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Deborah Lynerd – 1st Grade Teacher
Mrs. Lynerd received her B.A. in Secondary Education and English from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois and holds a current Illinois teaching certificate. After graduation, she taught in Bucharest, Romania for two years at a school for missionary and local families. Returning home, she taught at various elementary and alternative schools in Chicago for the next four years. Most recently, she worked as an academic interventionist at a local elementary school. Mrs. Lynerd brings a love of teaching, a love of children, and a love of the Lord to her first grade classroom. One verse that brings her encouragement is “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicole Turek – 2nd Grade Teacher
Mrs. Turek received her Bachelor of Science in Education, with a minor in English, from Northern Illinois University in 1997. She previously has taught 3rd and 6th grade before coming to Downers Grove Christian School as the 2nd grade teacher. Mrs. Turek’s passion for teaching was influenced by the impact teachers had on her during her own personal education. In the classroom her desire is to instill a love for Christ and learning into her students. Although countless Bible verses speak to her heart, Proverbs 3:5-6 is a daily reminder to stay obedient to the Lord. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Contact her at email@example.com.
Chelsea Yorke – 3rd Grade Teacher
Mrs. Yorke received her B.A. in Elementary Education from Moody Bible Institute. She has felt the Lord’s leading to pursue education since she was a young child and is excited to serve at Downers Grove Christian School. Mrs. Yorke loves arts and crafts, playing and watching sports (The Bulls), and spending time with friends and family. A passage of scripture that is special to her heart is Psalm 73:23-24, “Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.” Contact her a firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wendy Fanella – 4th Grade Teacher
Since Mrs. Fanella was 4 years old she knew she wanted to be a teacher. After a year of trying other jobs she dedicated herself to getting her teaching degree. After attending NIU and graduating from North Central College with her K-9 elementary education degree, she gained her first teaching position. she worked at Schafer Elementary School In Lombard as a third grade teacher for 4 years, leaving to raise her family. Mrs. Fanella came to Downers Grove Christian School in 2005. A special note from Mrs. Fanella: I have been blessed to have taught the love of Jesus with my students. I love shopping, sports (Bears Football), traveling, and spending time with my kids. My life verse has changed over the years but Micah 6:8 is close to my heart, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Contact her at email@example.com.
Amy Puccillo – 5th Grade Teacher
Mrs. Puccillo received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Northeastern Illinois University in 1997. She has a Master’s Degree in Instruction and Curriculum from National Louis University which she received in 2001. Mrs. Puccillo has over two decades of elementary school teaching experience at the third and fourth grade levels. She has also taught Physical Education for three years. In addition, Mrs. Puccillo has served as a volunteer educator at CareNet of DuPage and she coached Aqua Fitness at Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center for ten years. Amy is the founder and director of Pure Style Ministry. She has a passion for mentoring and encouraging tween and teen girls to choose a lifestyle of modesty and purity according to God’s Word. Her favorite Bible verses are: Ephesians 4:32, “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Psalm 119:9, “How can a young person stay pure? By obeying Your Word.” Proverbs 4:23, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Junior High Teachers
Judy Newhall – Junior High Reading and Language Arts
Ms. Newhall majored in English and received her B.A. from Northern Illinois University. She received her Illinois teaching certificate from DePaul University. Ms. Newhall has been teaching Junior High Language Arts since 2006. Formerly, Ms. Newhall worked in Special Education for one year in the public junior high sector. Ms. Newhall’s favorite Bible verse is Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Contact her at email@example.com.
Leah Slagle – Junior High Math & Science
Mrs. Slagle received her B.A. and teaching certification from Trinity Christian College, and is excited to be part of the staff at Downers Grove Christian School. She loves spending time with her family, especially when it involves being surrounded by God’s creation or participating in sports. She feels that the best parts about teaching are when students are able to grasp concepts that were previously difficult for them, and when they become excited about learning. As she has seen God orchestrate His will in her life, her favorite verse has become Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pat Quinn – Junior High Bible & History
Mr. Quinn has his BA in History and English from Elmhurst College and an MS in Political Science from Governors State University. He has ministered in the Christian school classroom for forty years as a teacher, athletic director, coach, and drama director. A college professor told him, “There are many who love to teach, but only a few who love the ones they teach.” Through the years, he has tried to live out that quote. Mr. Quinn’s favorite Bible verse is I Chronicles 28:9, “Know thou the God of thy fathers and serve Him with a perfect heart and a willing mind.” Contact him at email@example.com.
Mark Andersen – Junior High Spanish & Band
Mr. Andersen received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education, with a minor and endorsement in Spanish from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He feels the Lord calling him to be at Downers Grove Christian School. He is excited to teach both Band and Spanish. Mr. Andersen is a professional musician who plays around the Chicagoland area with various musicians and groups. Other than playing music, he loves watching and supporting all of the Chicago sports teams and spending time with friends and family. Mr. Andersen’s favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kimberly Rogers – Music Teacher
Mrs. Rogers earned her degree in Christian Education from Lincoln Christian University. She has served in the areas of worship and children’s ministry since 1997 at the Christian Church of Clarendon Hills. Mrs. Rogers has a passion for music and guiding children through fun and meaningful worship. Mrs. Rogers has served as a volunteer at Downers Grove Christian School in the lunchroom, in JAM (Jesus and Motion) and as chapel coordinator. Mrs. Rogers grew up as a pastor’s kid and is now a pastor’s wife. So many favorite verses, but I absolutely love Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” The joy of the Lord is my strength!! Contact her at email@example.com.
Lisa Hiscocks – Art Teacher
Mrs. Hiscocks has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of North Texas. She is certified to teach pre-k through 12th grade art. She additionally holds a Generalist certificate for grades 4-8. Mrs. Hiscocks taught art in a public school in Texas for 8 years and previously was the creative arts director for a large church in Texas. She has three children and recently became a grandmother in August. Her oldest son, daughter-in-law, and new grandson will soon be returning to their mission field in Russia. Her middle son and youngest daughter live in Texas. Lisa and her husband have recently relocated from Texas. Her favorite Bible verse is John 15:16a, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last.” She is very excited to share her creativity with the students at Downers Grove Christian School. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karla Engbers – Physical Education
Mrs. Engbers earned her BA in Education from Trinity Christian College. She holds certification to teach K-12 Physical Education and K-9 Classroom. She has experience both as a classroom teacher and a physical education teacher. She enjoys working with students outside of the classroom as a coach and mentor. Mrs. Engbers and her husband enjoy spending time with their children and grand-children. They also enjoy taking road trips across the United States. Mrs. Engbers sings in her church choir and plays in the handbell choir. She is thankful that God has led her to teach at Downers Grove Christian School. A favorite Bible verse that she learned as a 4th grader is Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Contact her at email@example.com.
Wendy Pleva – Computer Teacher
Mrs. Pleva has her Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Human Resources from Trinity International University. Mrs. Pleva served as a substitute teacher at Downers Grove Christian School before becoming the computer teacher. She has been on staff since 2007. A special note from Mrs. Pleva: I enjoy the challenge of teaching students from preschool through junior high. I love how much I learn from my students. Their knowledge of technology and capacity to learn new concepts never ceases to amaze me! Mrs. Pleva’s favorite verse is Philippians 4:8-9: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me – everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jacqueline Kern – Discovery Teacher
Mrs. Kern has her B.S. in Elementary Education from Northern Illinois University and M.S. in Special Education from Governors State University. She has taught kindergarten thru sixth grades, including general and special education classes during the past twenty years. She feels it is a blessing to teach at a Christian school and see students not only grow academically, but spiritually in their relationship with the Lord. She believes all children are precious, valuable, capable to succeed, and become all that God created them to be.
Some of her favorite Bible verses that have been especially meaningful are in Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Contact her at email@example.com.