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.”

Julie Hamrin

Office Manager

Mrs. Julie Hamrin has her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from DePaul University, as well as an associate degree in Nursing from the College of DuPage. Prior to her 15-year career as a registered nurse, Mrs. Hamrin worked for 10 years in a corporate office in an administrative role. She believes God has used these two careers to prepare her for her position as Office Manager at Downers Grove Christian School. She is also an alumnus of Downers Grove Christian School, and she is thankful that her son currently attends here as well.

Mrs. Hamrin’s favorite Bible verse is Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 

Primary School Teachers

Kelly McCaig

Preschool two/three lead teacher

Mrs. McCaig has a degree in Special Education with an endorsement in Early Childhood Education from Northern Illinois University. She has experience as a resource teacher before choosing to stay home with her sons. She also has worked many years as a nanny in her home and has been involved in many children’s ministries at her church. Mrs. McCaig and her husband are alumni of Downers Grove Christian School and believe it is a wonderful blessing to have their sons attend the school. She feels it is a great privilege to teach at Downers Grove Christian School where God’s Word is so clearly taught and where students are shown God’s love each day. Some of Mrs. McCaig’s favorite Bible verses are Ephesians 3:16-20, especially verse 20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.”

Jenny Kusreau

Preschool Aide

Mrs. Kusreau has her certificate in Early Childhood Education from College of DuPage. She knew from a very young age that she wanted to work with young children. Before coming to Downers Grove Christian School, Mrs. Kusreau had a DCFS licensed home daycare for almost 20 years. She is also on the Children’s Ministry Leadership team at her church and has been involved with the nursery, preschool, and elementary ages. She finds such joy in watching a child make a discovery for the first time and loves having a hand in introducing preschoolers to the love of Jesus. Downers Grove Christian School has been like extended family to Mrs. Kusreau since her own children started attending in 2016 and she is very excited to be a part of the staff of the Downers Grove Christian School family. In her spare time she loves to go on family walks and explore the outdoors with her husband and three children. She also loves all things natural, vegetable gardens, and sitting on the beach. Her favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”, because she has seen in her own life, time and time again, that when she trusts in God, His will is perfect. Mrs. Kusreau enjoys sharing the love of Jesus with our youngest students!

Jennifer Haywood

Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

A graduate of Western Illinois University, Miss Haywood has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education. She has spent the past 20 years teaching students of all ages, including her favorite: four-year-old preschool. Miss Haywood enjoys reading and shares this passion with her students in hopes that they, too, will become strong readers. In addition to reading, Miss Haywood likes to scrapbook, sew, and do puzzles. One of her favorite Bible verses is Lamentations 3:24—“‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him.’” Miss Haywood is pleased to be a part of Downers Grove Christian School and looks forward to preparing her students to become life-long learners.

Sharon Nese

Pre-Kindergarten Aide

Mrs. Nese’s ministry at Downers Grove Christian School began over 25 years ago as the student lunchroom supervisor.   She joined our preschool staff 1999. Over the years, she has enjoyed helping in the school office, serving as the Resource teacher, and she also currently oversees the Creative Arts Team. A special note from Mrs. Nese: I have been blessed to be a part of our preschool program for the last 20 years. 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”.  My three children attended Downers Grove Christian School preschool through eighth grade and had a wonderful education that prepared them for high school and beyond. I love spending time with my family hiking, biking and I enjoy sports. 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.”

Jessica Crehan

Kindergarten Teacher

Mrs. Crehan graduated from Liberty University with her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education, with a minor in Biblical Studies. She was the Jr. and Sr. High Youth Director at her home church for 8 years, has worked in child care for 16 years, and is both honored and blessed to be a part of the Downers Grove Christian School teaching staff. From a young age Mrs. Crehan has known that the Lord called her to teach and is passionate about ministering to the hearts and minds of children in order that they might become all that the Lord has created them to be, for His glory. Some of her favorite personal interests are spending time with her family, growing to know the Lord’s ways and His voice, and anything Disney. Mrs. Crehan’s favorite Bible verse comes from learning that our plans, ways, desires, and timeline are nothing compared to the Lord’s plans, which are perfect; Matthew 6:33, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.”

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.”

Mrs. Melissa Istvanik

1st Grade Teacher

Mrs. Melissa Istvanik has a double major in Bible/Theology and a B.S. in Elementary Education from Clark Summit University.  She has held certification in Ohio and Louisiana.  She has 7 years of experience teaching ages Pre-Kindergarten to 3rd grade.  She has been married to her husband Dan for almost 21 years.    Mrs. Istvanik and her husband have had the opportunity to serve in family ministry for 22 years. They have two children.  Mrs. Istvanik loves to travel, spend time with her family and go to the beach.  Mrs. Istvanik is excited to work with first graders because of the excitement the students have when learning concepts for the first time.  One of her favorite Bible verses is Psalm 25:4-5, Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” 

Mrs. Sue Hravatic

2nd Grade Teacher

Mrs. Sue Hravatic has a passion for teaching! She knew from the age of seven that she wanted to be a teacher, and she has lived out that dream for over twenty-five years of teaching elementary school, fifteen of those years as a missionary teacher in Nairobi, Kenya. Mrs. Hravatic completed her undergraduate work at Alma College in Michigan with a BA in elementary education. She received her master’s degree in language arts from Eastern Michigan University. Mrs. Hravatic has three grown children and one son-in-law. She loves to take walks, ride bikes, swim and read a good book! One of her favorite Scripture passages is Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  

Sonia Ponce

3rd Grade Teacher

Miss Ponce has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi and holds a teaching license for grades K-9, as well as a reading endorsement. In the past she has taught 3rd grade as well as Spanish for grades 1st-5th. Miss Ponce has had a God-instilled passion and love for teaching since her childhood years and is excited to continue teaching 3rd grade students at Downers Grove Christian School. Her personal interests include crafts, sewing, stained-glass making, healthy eating, and essential oils. Miss Ponce’s life passage is Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Mr. Jon Hravatic

4th Grade Teacher
Mr. Jon Hravatic earned his BA degree from the University of Michigan and a MA degree from Eastern Michigan University. He has served in Christian schools for over thirty years. He taught fifteen of those years as a missionary teacher in Nairobi, Kenya. He delights to see his students thoroughly understand the basics and beyond of each subject that they are learning. He is looking forward to joining the staff and serving the families of Downers Grove Christian School. Mr. Hravatic’s favorite Bible verse is Psalm 86:11: “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.”

Paula Anderson

5th Grade Teacher

Mrs. Anderson began her education at Moody Bible Institute, studying Christian Education. She then received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from National Louis University in 1990. Mrs. Anderson has over 15 years of Christian school teaching experience at the junior high, preschool, and fifth grade levels. She considers it a great privilege to be in the classroom each day, leading and guiding her students. A Bible verse that is a good reminder in her Christian walk is Jonah 2:8, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”

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 in the public junior high sector. Ms. Newhall’s favorite Bible verse is Isaiah 26:3: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.

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.”

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.”

Specialty Teachers

Michael Svendsen

Music Teacher and Band Director

Mr. Svendsen has a B.A. in Music from Trinity International University and an M.Div. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is married to his wife, Hope, and they have one daughter, Aurora. Mr. Svendsen is passionate about music, theology, and education and he counts it a privilege to be on staff at DGCS.

Mr. Svendsen has served in several churches, musical groups, and ministries and he is excited to be in the Christian educational environment. His favorite 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.”

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.”

Jacqueline Kern

Academic Support

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.”

Isaac Soriano

Spanish/Computer Teacher
Mr. Isaac Soriano earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the Northern Illinois University. With roots in Morelos, Mexico, Isaac has a love for the Spanish language and culture and is excited to share this with the students. During his church worship service, Isaac helps run the live-stream and you can often find him making sure the tech runs smoothly . One of Mr. Soriano’s favorite Bible verses 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.”

Lisa Grane

Kindergarten Support Staff

Rachael Ryer

Preschool Support Staff
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