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North Shore Country Day welcomed the following new faculty and staff members for the 2021-22 school year. 

Katia Adams of Evanston joins the North Shore Country Day community as a physical education teacher. She has a bachelor’s degree in recreation and sports management from Indiana State University. Previously, Katia worked as a P.E. teacher at the Science Academy of Chicago in Mount Prospect and the Islamic Foundation School in Villa Park. She’s also held multiple positions at the Skokie Park District, including camp director, recreation supervisor, and counselor for before- and after-school programs. She’s also coached varsity volleyball and soccer.

Andrew Block of Lake Forest comes to NSCD as an upper school math teacher and teaching fellow in the University of Pennsylvania Independent School Teaching Residency program. He graduated summa cum laude from DePaul University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in information technology. He previously worked as a data and analytics consultant, and spent several summers working as a camp counselor in nearby Northfield.

Jared Branahl of Wilmette joins North Shore as the upper and middle school Information and Media Literacy Librarian. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in mass communication from Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, ID, and a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Dominican University in River Forest. He previously worked as an Information Literacy Enrichment Teacher (ILET) at Frost Elementary in Mount Prospect, and as a language lab assistant at Niles North and Niles West high schools.

Bruce Braverman of Wilmette returns to NSCD as an interim middle school social studies teacher. After a 30-year law career, Bruce earned his Master of Science in secondary English from Northwestern University. Bruce has held a number of long-term substitute positions, including recent stints at NSCD covering upper school English and middle school social studies. 

Kim Diorio of Wilmette joins NSCD as an upper school English teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, a Master of Arts in literature from Northwestern University and a secondary education certificate in English and psychology from North Park University. She also spent a year abroad at Wadham College at Oxford University in England. She previously worked as an English teacher, faculty fellow and English department chair at Latin School of Chicago, where she also served as a SEED facilitator, leading workshops on diversity and inclusion.

Rob Drake of Pinole, CA, comes to NSCD as the new Director of Technology. He has a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, and a Master of Arts in critical and creative thinking from the University of Massachusetts Boston. He most recently worked as the director of technology at Helios School in Sunnyvale, CA, and before that as a curriculum developer at The Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Philadelphia. He is also the principal and founder of TechWorks Northwest in Seattle, where he consults in areas of technology integration, teacher training and professional development, and network planning, set-up, support and administration.

Jackie Haug of Evanston joins North Shore as a fourth grade teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Colorado and a Master of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University. She previously taught fourth and fifth grade and worked as an instructional coordinator at Baker Demonstration School in Wilmette. She also served as a long-term substitute at St. Athanasius School and for Winnetka District 36. She also taught English as a second language to children and adults in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Sophie Hay of Kilmacolm, Scotland, joins the NSCD community as a lower and middle school physical education assistant teacher and assistant varsity field hockey coach. She has a Bachelor of Science in physiology from the University of Aberdeen. She previously worked as a physiologist/health adviser at a medical clinic in Edinburgh. Before that, Sophie spent a number of summers in the United States working as a camp counselor, including four years with NSCD Summer Programs, and one summer as a residential teaching assistant at Northwestern University.

Jee “Ben” Heo of Schaumburg comes to NSCD as the first and second grade assistant teacher. He studied at the University of Illinois at Chicago and earned his bachelor’s degree from the Illinois Institute of Art. Previously, Ben taught first and second grade at the Korea POLY School in South Korea, and has also served as a Vacation Bible School teacher.

Janet Lord of Skokie returns to NSCD as a junior and senior kindergarten teacher after a year away. She attended Wesley College in Belize and earned an early childhood certificate from Oakton Community College. This is Janet’s 10th year in the early childhood program at North Shore. Previously, she taught for 16 years at A Joyful Noise Preschool in Kenilworth.

Stephanie McShane of Chicago comes to NSCD as a third grade teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a minor in education from the College of Wooster in Ohio and a Master of Science in early childhood education with a STEM endorsement from the Erikson Institute. She previously taught junior kindergarten at Sacred Heart School in Winnetka and preschool at the School of St. Mary in Lake Forest. She was also a long-term substitute for third grade at a Catholic school in Michigan. In addition to teaching, she also headed up a running club and coached track and field, and was a varsity athlete in college on the soccer and track teams.

Estevan Molina of Tempe, AZ, joins NSCD in a dual role, working both in Admissions and as an upper school social studies teacher. He has a Bachelor of Arts in criminology from The Ohio State University, a J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, and a Master of Arts in Teaching and mini MBA from Miami University in Ohio. He previously worked as a teaching assistant at Miami University and Northwestern University, and has experience with tutoring and as a camp counselor. He also coached wrestling and lacrosse.

Vimla Patel-O’Connor of Wilmette comes to North Shore as the lower school learning specialist. She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in learning disabilities at Northwestern University, and for the past 20 years, while raising a family, she has provided private tutoring to students with learning disabilities in grades 1 through 12. She has also worked as a special education teacher in Winnetka District 36, and as a case manager and instructional teacher for learning disabled students at The Cove School in Northbrook.

Ethan Rodehorst of Lawrence, KS, joins NSCD as a fifth grade teacher. He received his Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Kansas State University and a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from Augustana University. Previously, he worked as a middle school science teacher in Shawnee, KS, and as a third grade teacher in Topeka, KS. Ethan has also coached middle school basketball.

Brad Rose of Rockville, MD, comes to North Shore as the new middle school visual art teacher and visual art department head. After graduating cum laude from the Hawken School in Cleveland, Brad received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in animation from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Previously, he worked as a middle school art teacher at the Landon School in Bethesda, MD, where he also coached swimming, water polo and baseball. He also taught middle and high school art at Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg, FL.

Peter Strickland of Chicago joined the NSCD community in November 2020 as an upper school history teacher. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from Carleton College, a Master of Arts in history from Loyola University, and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Peter has a wealth of teaching experience in higher education, most recently at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and significant experience working with younger students as a swim coach and instructor, and as a study skills teacher in the Upward Bound program.  

Paaven Thaker of Brooklyn, NY, joins NSCD as a middle school science teacher. She received a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies and political science from Williams College, and a Master in Teaching from the Relay Graduate School of Education. She previously taught middle school science at Prospect Schools, Windsor Terrace Middle School, where she also served as science department head for a number of years. In addition, she worked as a K-12 science specialist, coordinating curriculum innovation and alignment among a network of two elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school, and developing science-specific professional development opportunities for teachers. 

Cristina Torres of Miami comes to North Shore as a senior kindergarten teacher. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Florida International University. Previously she worked as a junior kindergarten teacher and grade level coordinator at Gulliver Preparatory Schools in Florida, where she developed curriculum, created personalized professional development training and mentored team members. Before that, she taught first grade and worked as an assistant preschool teacher at Walt Disney Magnet School in Chicago.

Julie Tuten of Glenview joins NSCD as the lower school STEAM integrator. She received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Loyola University, a Master of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University and a Master of Science in educational technology from Northern Illinois University. She most recently served as the director of design and technology at St. Matthias Elementary School in Chicago, where she was responsible for writing and implementing a robust curriculum for K-8 students including robotics, computer science and artificial intelligence (AI), as well as supporting teachers with the integration of technology. Prior to that, she was the technology coordinator and CSAI teacher at QUEST Academy for Gifted Students in Palatine, and director of technology at several K-8 Catholic schools in Chicago and Winnetka.

Bijan Zojaji returns this year as a middle school math teacher and teaching fellow in the University of Pennsylvania Independent School Teaching Residency program. Bijan originally joined the NSCD community as a long-term substitute and Later Raiders teacher last fall after moving to Chicago from Miami. He is a recent graduate of Amherst College, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in both economics and philosophy. While at Amherst, he served as a Telementor for the Wilson Admission Office, working with low-income, first-generation high school seniors from underrepresented backgrounds and under-resourced schools. He previously taught elementary and middle school students through the Philosophy in Public Schools (PiPS) program at UMASS Amherst and the Miami Breakthrough Collaborative.

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Take 10 Play Festival

North Shore Country Day’s annual 10-minute play festival “Take 10” returned to the stage on April 13. For the first time in three years, students performed their original plays in front of a live audience with performances in the NSCD Auditorium.

All seven plays were written, produced and directed by students in the upper school directing class. Some were based on personal experience, observations and media events, while others stemmed from pure creativity. Once the scripts were finalized, the student directors held auditions, cast the roles and ran their own rehearsals.

Read More about Take 10 Play Festival