Lindsay Taylor - Preschool Teacher
Hi, I am Lindsay Taylor. I am excited to be joining the Cambridge Lakes Preschool team this year! I am a recent graduated of Northern Illinois University, with my bachelors’ degree in early childhood education, with a special education approval. During my studies, I also obtained a special education endorsement through third grade and a fine arts minor. This is my first year teaching, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with the children and families in my community.
I moved to Pingree Grove in November and live in the Cambridge Lakes community. I was lucky enough to be a part of the Cambridge Lakes family during one of my clinicals in a third grade classroom. My journey with education goes back 5 years. I was a teacher assistant in a Montessori school for three years. That is where my aspiration to become a teacher was confirmed. During my studies, I was a nanny for a family of three boys and most recently, I was a lead teacher for an extended school year preschool program in Naperville. All my past experiences have made me become a well rounded and competent teacher.
I believe the purpose of education is to create functional members of society that support the values and beliefs and of our nation and instill a community of independent and collaborative thinkers, while nurturing noble morals and values. I believe early childhood education devotes much of the curriculum to nurturing and developing student’s ideals.
I believe the role of the teacher is to see each child as an individual and embrace and encourage their potential and diversity. The teacher needs to be an active participant in maintaining a classroom community. We as educators need to create a learning environment that is peaceful, engaging, promotes creative play and critical thinking. Teachers must be educators as well as ‘educarers’, they must be someone the students, as well as the families can trust. I believe building a quality relationship with the families is just as important as building one with your students. Working with the families to collaboratively support the values of a peaceful community inside and outside the classroom is what I will strive for as an educator.
I want to be the kind of educator that inspires her students to better themselves, while allowing the students to inspire me to better myself day by day. Teaching is a fulltime job that does not end when you leave the classroom. I will always be learning and looking for new ways to engage my students and myself. If we intend to create a brighter future for our students, we must help them not only understand where they came from, and how they got to where they are now, but also have the responsibility to help them understand where they are headed. I look forward to a great first year here at Cambridge Lakes Preschool!
Nicole McCord - Preschool Teacher
My name is Nicole McCord and I will be joining the preschool team full time this year. I join the team with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. After working in the charter school and gaining experience across all grade levels, I found that my passion lies in the early childhood years. In spring of 2009 I began pursing my master’s degree and certification in early childhood education.
This summer I spent the month of August in Ypsilanti, Michigan at the High/Scope curriculum headquarters. There I was trained on the High/Scope methodology and how to implement it into the classroom. My philosophy of education aligns with the high scope philosophy. I believe that children are active learners who learn best when they are pursuing their own interests. I believe that children and teachers are partners in learning. It will be my role to support and challenge the children. I look forward to working with families as a team to ensure that your children are motivated to learn and laying the foundation for their future learning.
In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and listening to country music. I am also an avid traveler. I spent a month traveling in Europe after I received my college degree. In addition to this, I spend time each year at my grandfather’s home in the Bahamas. I was immersed in the Bahamian culture at a young age. Due these experiences, I have a strong passion and interest in marine life.
Laura Strus - Preschool Teacher
My name is Laura Strus. As a May 2008 graduate of Eastern Illinois University, I just recently received my Early Childhood Teaching Certificate. I am very excited and eager to begin my educational career here at Cambridge Lakes Preschool! I come to you with over five years experience working with children of all ages at Kinder Care Day Care Center. Throughout my college career I have had multiple opportunities to teach in various school settings. I recently finished student teaching in Kindergarten and 2nd Grades in the Lake Zurich School District. All of my previous experiences have allowed me to expand my foundation and make me a competent leader.
I believe that the early childhood years are such crucial years for learning. One of my goals is to instill in your preschooler the desire and love of learning. I want my students to become life long learners both inside and outside of the classroom. I believe that each and every child is an individual who is different and learns differently. My goal is to help your preschooler to use their abilities to excel to his/her potential.
It is my goal to use my experience, enthusiasm, and creativity to make a positive contribution as a Preschool Teacher here at Cambridge Lakes Preschool. I look forward to meeting and working with you and your preschooler to help meet all your child’s needs.
Lisa Hansen - Preschool Teacher
Hello, my name is Lisa Hansen and I am very excited to join the Cambridge Lakes Preschool Program. I join the team with a BS in Early Childhood (special education approval) from Northern Illinois University, with over 12 years of experience working with young children.
I believe that young children are unique individuals, who learn through play and daily interactions with trusted adults and the environment. As an early childhood educator I want to provide my students with a nurturing, dynamic environment where they can engage in active learning and enhance their development through play and exploration. I want to encourage growth in all areas of development through enriching experiences and help your children to become creative thinkers, problem solvers, self-confident, independent learners.
Throughout the year I look forward to getting to know you and your child as we work together to support your child’s development, nurture their love for learning and help them reach their highest potential.
Beth Straka - Preschool Teacher
Hello, my name is Beth Straka and I teach preschool at Cambridge Lakes Preschool. My passion for creating confident, lifelong learners led me to a career in teaching. I graduated from Roosevelt University with a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education (special education approval).
I have been part of the preschool team since June 2007. I have taught in both the full day preschool and in the half day Preschool for All programs. As a member of the preschool team, I have completed about 130 hours of High/Scope training.
Before joining the Cambridge Lakes Preschool team, I worked with young children ranging in age from six weeks to ten years old. Working with these children, I learned that the optimal learning setting for young children is safe, comfortable, stable, and exciting. Children should look forward to new and exciting hands-on activities everyday.
I am married and have a daughter named Brooke. We have lived in the Cambridge Lakes Community since the summer of 2007.
I know that you and your family play an important role in your child’s learning, so I look forward to working with you to meet your child’s needs.
Whitney Bieber - Preschool Teacher
Hi! My name is Whitney Bieber and I am a recent 2010 graduate from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education. I completed my student teaching experience at Cambridge Lakes last spring and was fortunate enough to spend time teaching in both the preschool and 1st grade. During that time, I grew to be a more confident teacher while learning about the Cambridge Lakes community and building relationships with the amazing staff.
After graduation, I was extremely lucky to be given the opportunity to join the Cambridge Lakes Preschool team. With the help of my mentor and now co-teacher Beth Straka, I have learned HighScope methodology and believe it's an effective way to teach young children. HighScope helps children to gain independence, self confidence, socialization with peers and early academic skills.
I have always believed in viewing each child as an individual and tailoring curriculum to their interests and academic needs. Just as HighScope uses children's interests to guide curriculum, it has been my experience that children learn best when they are interested in the subject they are learning. I believe that all core academics can be taught by incorporating children's interests. In order to intertwine children's interests with academics, the teacher must be creative and willing to try new things. Even as a new teacher, I believe I possess both of those qualities.
Throughout my education and experience with children, I have learned the importance of building relationships with my students' families. When I think back to my own schooling career, the activities that stand out the most involved my family. Whether it was an "All About Me" project, a field trip my mother attended or sitting at the kitchen table working on homework with older brother, my family had a great impact on my education. This year, I hope to come up with new ways to involve families in the Cambridge Lakes preschool community.
I feel privileged to have the opportunity to be a part of the Cambridge Lakes Preschool as I begin my career in teaching. I'm looking forward to an exciting year with my new preschool students!
Tiffany Schumacher - Director & Preschool Teacher
Words cannot express my excitement for working with your preschool children at Cambridge Lakes Preschool. For the second time in my career, I will have the opportunity to assist in the ground zero approach to opening a school. Before joining Cambridge Lakes Preschool, I worked as a teacher for the all day mixed age at Good Shepherd Lutheran School in Elgin--the Preschool, Elementary and Junior High I attended as a student.
Everyone asks what made me decide to become a teacher. Originally, I dreamed of becoming a custody lawyer. However, when my mom asked me to think about my passion I realized I enjoyed working with very young children. So, I switched my career focus to Early Childhood Education, where my true passion lies.
I strongly feel that Early Childhood is a powerful time in a child’s life. During this time, children change and develop daily. As an Early Childhood teacher, I take great pride and responsibility in the growth and development of each young child in my care. I understand this maybe the first time you entrust your children in a school, so I must make sure you remain informed about your child’s development.
Each child is a unique individual that brings knowledge, gifts and a love for learning to my classroom. I feel my job is to be consistent, a positive role model, use different instructional styles to deliver lessons, promote meaningful discussions and produce creative centers and hands on experiences in order to foster learning.
I first learned about High/Scope in my early childhood classes at Northern Illinois University. I then experienced its practical application while I student taught at Garfield Elementary in Elgin. There, I used High/Scope to plan a number of weekly activities. At Good Shepherd, I utilized the High/Scope methodology to create my daily schedule and lesson plans.
At Cambridge Lakes Preschool, I will use many approaches to instruction in order to reach all the children in my classroom. I will listen closely to your child’s interests and from this understanding equip the room and my lessons with materials that will broaden their understanding and skill level.
Dana Pederson - Assistant Director & Admissions
Hello, my name is Dana Pederson, and it is my pleasure to introduce myself as executive assistant to Dr. Diane Schael, Preschool Director.
I am excited to return to the workforce after having the privilege of being at home with my children during their formative years. It is wonderful to see my own son thriving and having enjoyable experiences in the positive learning environment offered by our preschool program here at Cambridge Lakes!
My extensive administrative background spans fourteen cumulative years. I was formerly employed by Hewitt Associates LLC, a leading benefits consulting firm in Lincolnshire, IL, for eight years. There I served as an executive assistant and unit manager.
I am thrilled to be part of such an enriching early education program and look forward to meeting all of our preschool families!