Our Teachers

Charlotte with child

Charlotte Christiansen

Hi! My name is Charlotte Christiansen, CS teacher since 2013.  I am the Shakespeare’s Teacher, as well as, the Drama teacher here at Creative Scholars Preschool. I graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where I received my Bachelors in Fine Arts, Theatre Performance. After graduating, I performed with a national children’s theatre company, where I educated children on all aspects of the theatre. In between performing, I have worked in and out of school settings, with children ranging from 0 to 10 years of age and I have over 14 years of experience in early childhood education. I have always loved working with children and enjoy watching my students learn and grow! I live in Lincoln Square with my husband and sweet puppy, Lucy. When I am not teaching, I love to travel, spend time with family and friends and listen to music.


FC46FBD1-1Doniqua Jackson

My name is Doniqua Jackson and I am an assistant teacher at Creative Scholars.  I have been teaching for two and a half years.  I started out as a prek teacher and moved on to becoming a toddler teacher.  I graduated with my associate’s degree from Harold Washington College.  I now attend DePaul University, so that I can further my education in Early Childhood Education, where I will be obtaining my bachelors degree.  I love working with children and watching them grow, learn, experiment and explore.  I believe that working with children that are young in age helps me understand and communicate with them better.  In my free time, I like to study the Japanese language, read fantasy novels and Manga, listen to music, watch movies, attend conventions and fence.



Candice Martens

Hi all! My name is Candice Martens and I have been with Creative Scholars preschool since 2010 as a full-time teacher and I am currently now subbing as needed.  I worked with children in various capacities over the past 10 years. I have had the wonderful experience of being able to work in every room at Creative Scholars and I love how unique each one of our classrooms are. It’s an awesome experience to be able to share my passion for art and creativity with young minds as they learn and grow.  I grew up on the south side of Chicago and received my Bachelors Degree in Photography from Columbia College. I currently live in Humboldt Park with my fiancé, our dog and two cats. In my spare time I continue to work on my photography and am on a never ending search for the best noodle place in Chicago. “When you teach what you love, and share what you know, you open eyes, minds, hearts and should to unexplored worlds.”


Megan N with child

Megan Nimrod

Hi! My name is Megan Nimrod. I am happy to be part of the Creative Scholars team. I teach in the Mozarts classroom and love it! I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Arts and Sciences from John Carroll University in Ohio. Prior to beginning at Creative Scholars in February 2016, I taught at a school in the northern suburb of Glenview. There I worked with preschool children, pre-kindergarten children, and the school’s newest program, Transitional Kindergarten. Having the privilege to work with such a variety of ages, I have had a first-hand experience of the capabilities of children. I introduced science experiments, taught Spanish, created Sight Word Heroes and Vegetable Heroes, and formed many relationships. I truly believe that a good teacher is one that can adapt to any and every child’s needs.


Cara with child

Cara Olansky

Hello families! My name is Cara Olansky, CS teacher since 2009. I’m a Chicago transplant from Massachusetts and hold a BA in Theater Performance from Butler University where I also studied art history and creative writing. I relocated to Chicago in 2006, and after working a variety of jobs, I came to the realization that the education field is where I wanted to be. I earned my MS in Early Childhood Education from the Erikson Institute in 2016. While at Erikson, I focused my studies on the social and emotional development of 4 and 5 year olds, and spent my final year researching the ways implementing a socio-dramatic curriculum into the classroom can vastly improve young children’s problem solving and critical thinking skills, as well as their developing socialization and their understanding of self-concept and empathy. I put my research to use in the Amigos classroom, where I teach our 4 and 5 year olds. In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I also co-coordinate CS’s Visual Arts and Drama programs with my colleague, Charlotte, a teacher in the Shakespeares classroom. Together, we support the rest of the teaching staff in implementing creative movement and theater games, as well as experimentation with different art mediums related to real-life artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Kahlo, Pollack, Warhol, and O’Keeffe (just to name a few!) As a teacher, I strive to create a positive learning environment that values each child as an individual and honors their creativity and personal educational journey. I like to base my teaching philosophy on the idea that the greatest tool processed by the Human Race is our ability to imagine, and I am thrilled to be able to be a part of your child’s discoveries!



Allison Ristaino

Hi! My name is Allison Ristaino and I am a floating aide at Creative Scholars. I can usually be found working with the Picassos classroom and the Mozarts classroom. I received my bachelor’s degree from Smith College in 2014 as a Theater major with a concentration in writing. I have experience volunteering in a preschool for children with special needs in my hometown of Westwood, Massachusetts, and love to spend time with and care for my nephews who are two and five years old. In my spare time, I enjoy taking classes in improvisation and sketch comedy and performing in comedy shows. I also love to sing and do arts and crafts!



Cathy with child

Catherine Shumaker

My name is Cathy Shumaker, CS teacher since 2009. I am one of the teachers in the toddler classroom also known as the Picassos. My favorite perk about working with this age group besides the high-fives and hugs are getting to know each child and watching how they each make sense of the world around them. I have taught school/preschool for over fifteen years in Michigan, Maryland and Illinois. My degree is in Early Childhood Education from Hillsdale College in Michigan. I have four children ranging in ages from 10 to 20. My favorite place to visit is the beach/ocean and I love to swim. I am inspired by Walt Disney’s words, “Around here, we don’t look backwards for very long… We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” because I know that curiosity in how things work keep us engaged in learning.


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