Our Teachers

Cathy Shumaker, Teacher

“Play is the work of childhood.”
Jean Piaget

Education and Experience in Early Childhood Care and Education
I attended Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Education with an endorsement in Early Childhood Education. While attending college I had practicums in preschool, a special needs classroom (with preschool aged children), kindergarten and elementary aged children. After these experiences I decided that I really enjoy working with young children. I obtained a job in Maryland at LaPetite Academy where I was employed for seven years. In those years I predominantly worked as a teacher with children from six weeks to kindergarten. I was promoted to assistant director and held this position until we moved to Chicago in 2001. I stayed home with our children over the next several of years until they were school aged. I then got a job at Creative Scholars when it opened and have been here ever since.

I Enjoy Working in Early Childhood Because…
I love working in early childhood because I can see how rapidly children develop and mature. You get to witness skills that weren’t previously attainable becoming second hand to them. I get to see more of the wonder and ah ha moments with young children.

Play’s Role in the Learning Process
Through play children develop their cognitive, social, emotional, motor and language skills. While children play they learn about the world around them. Playing is an important part of a child’s life. Playing by oneself and with other children is important for healthy development.

My Favorite Way to Play as a Child…
My favorite way to play when I was younger would probably be playing with the neighborhood children. We would play all sorts of running games like tag, red rover, and hide and seek. We would also build forts out of mud, leaves, sticks, snow, you name it we probably used it. Anything to do with playing outside was my favorite thing to do.

What do I do When I’m not at CSP?
When I am not working I like to spend time with my family baking, cooking, traveling, watching them compete in swimming and water polo meets and visiting family.

Karen Nelson, Teacher

“Don’t let your mind stop you from having a good time.”
Jason Mraz

Education and Experience in Early Childhood Care and Education
I have been in the field of early childhood education for almost 20 years. I graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences, with an emphasis in Child Development. I have spent most of time in the preschool aged classroom working in preschools in Peoria and Chicago.

I Enjoy Working in Early Childhood Because…
Working with preschoolers is fun!! I enjoy observing what the preschoolers are interested in and creating our class projects. It is always amazing to see their minds open up to new concepts. I also love watching a preschooler master a new skill. Their joy and excitement are contagious.

Play’s Role in the Learning Process
For preschoolers, play IS the learning process. Learning and play happen organically. They should be exploring, creating, questioning, experimenting, building, molding, coloring, getting messy, and pretending. Their minds and bodies are not meant to sit and listen to a lecture. They are meant to play.

My Favorite Way to Play as a Child…
When I was little, I loved playing with my sister. Our favorite game was school and I was always the teacher. I grew up on the northwest side of the city on a block full of children, so I spent tons of time outside. I enjoyed riding bikes, swimming, playing running bases, and creating neighborhood gymnastics meets.

What do I do When I’m not at CSP?
When I am not teaching preschool, I am usually hanging out with my husband, Erik and my spoiled pup, Miller. I can be found reading, getting coffee, training for half marathons, at yoga classes, and hanging with my family. When I am not Chicago, you can find me in DisneyWorld!!

Josselyn Delgado, Teacher

“Teach the children so it will not be necessary to teach the adults”
Abraham Lincoln

Education and Experience in Early Childhood Care and Education
I majored in Pyschology and minored in Leadership Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I completed an internship in a preschool setting while at the University of Illinois.

I Enjoy Working in Early Childhood Because…
I love that every day is a new adventure; there is no monotony in this field.

Play’s Role in the Learning Process
Play allows for children to put into practice certain concepts and/or ideas that they are learning. They are also able to begin to see why it is important to have certain rules and why certain behaviors are okay/not okay. It helps them to make connections and solidifies certain ideas and notions that they start to have about others and themselves. It is crucial because, not only is it fun, the children don’t even realize how much they are learning because they are enjoying themselves so much!

My Favorite Way to Play as a Child…
My favorite way to play as a child was engaging in fantasy or pretend play. I loved to teach my dolls and pretend that I was their teacher or doctor. This began to change once my sister was born and I then engaged in cooperative play since I had someone to truly teach and play alongside with.

What do I do When I’m not at CSP?
When I’m not at work, I enjoy watching movies and curling up with a good book in bed.

Karla C Vida Santiago, Teacher

“It takes a big heart to shape little minds.”
Unknown

Education and Experience in Early Childhood Care and Education
I’ve been working with children since a very young age. First I started with babysitting and over the years I found my real passion and joined a school 7 years ago. There, I worked to obtain my Child Development Associate Certificate.

I Enjoy Working in Early Childhood Because…
The feeling of accomplishment that one feels when the children respond to you in an emotional way because you have earned his trust is beyond words. As a mom, I look forward to being able to be the teacher that I want my kid to have and, since I know how important those first years are to determine the next 80 years of life, I push my self to be better with what I do.

Play’s Role in the Learning Process
Children learn on their own time. If you force them and do not make learning fun there is not going to be any motivation for them. So what better way to learn than playing and discovering things for themselves!

My Favorite Way to Play as a Child…
When I was a child my favorite way to play was free play in the streets and neighborhood with my friends.

What do I do When I’m not at CSP?
I like to spend time with family and we like to go to church, to the parks, to the beach, and anything fun!

Lydia Dorynek, Teacher

“There is in every child at every stage a new miracle of vigorous unfolding, which constitutes a new hope and a new responsibility for all.”
Erik Erikson

Education and Experience in Early Childhood Care and Education
I decided to study Early Childhood Education and Special Education because I always had an affinity for young children and because I enjoyed helping to teach my youngest sister, who has a rare disability called Prader-Willi Syndrome. After obtaining my BS from Vanderbilt, I taught at-risk preschool children for six years in State- and Federally-funded community centers. When I was promoted to Master Teacher I wanted to further my education and my reach in the field, and achieved an MS in Child Development and Administration from Erikson Institute in 2007. I have since bounced around within the field, trying to find the right fit, as a teacher, Director, Education Coordinator, Literacy Coach, and Program Consultant, in Head Start as well as private centers, serving children 0-5, and working with families and educators of diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. I have also just obtained an ESL/Bilingual Certificate after a year and a half of study at Erikson. After one week at Creative Scholars, I feel I have found my home!

I Enjoy Working in Early Childhood Because…
Early Childhood is when children’s brains are developing most rapidly and making the most connections, laying the foundation for life-long learning. It is fulfilling to be part of that development and to have an impact on a child’s and a family’s life. It is exciting to watch them discover new things or to apply and solidify what I have tried to teach. It is also rewarding just to be around children, as they are so full of life and joy. Children are so authentic in their emotions, their joys and frustrations, their expressions of love and affection.

Play’s Role in the Learning Process
First, play is fun and engages or comes from children’s interest, which leads to motivation, engagement in the learning process, concentration, and persistence. Second, very young children learn with their whole bodies, as their brains are making rapid connections between sensory input, movement, information and ideas, relationships, etc. Children literally construct knowledge by engaging with their environment, exploring and experimenting.

My Favorite Way to Play as a Child…
“House” or “School,” dressing up in mom’s old clothes, playing with my dolls and dollhouse, and writing plays with my brothers and performing them for our parents.

What do I do When I’m not at CSP?
I am a bookworm as well as a bit of a party girl. I enjoy reading- both for pleasure and for learning- doing crosswords and math puzzles, listening to a wide variety of music, watching football and MMA, and going to concerts and events with friends. My husband of 13 years is a dog walker, so I also get to hang out with a lot of dogs, including my baby, my heart- our 7 year old Italian/French Mastiff, Raider.

Madelyn Maldonado, Teacher

“Play is the work of childhood.”
Jean Piaget

Education and Experience in Early Childhood Care and Education
I’ve been working with children for over 20 years, ages birth to 6. I am currently attending Truman College to receive a degree in Early Childhood Education.

I Enjoy Working in Early Childhood Because…
I enjoy working in early childhood because I can implant a positive learning in children and help them explore and learn how the world works around them.

Play’s Role in the Learning Process
Play is important in learning because it helps children figure out how things work; not in one way, but in many ways. It teaches them to use their imagination and expand the ideas they create.

My Favorite Way to Play as a Child…
As a child I enjoyed using scraps to build something new.

What do I do When I’m not at CSP?
I enjoy exploring the city with family and friends.

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