Faculty

Bianchi, Judy
Physical Fitness and Montessori (Downstairs)

Judy Bianchi has been on staff at the Academy since 1999. She began as an aide for the Physical Fitness class and has emerged through the Academy programs. She has taught Physical Fitness, Downstairs Montessori and Upstairs Friday Montessori. She has also experienced the Creative Movement class. Judy is married and has three daughters. Her daughter Talia was a dancer at the Academy and Judy is now taking dance classes and yoga at the Academy as well. As a student Judy was a gymnast. She competed in many competitions and has performed many routines. Floor Exercise was her specialty. Judy has also learned the art of Rhythmic Gymnastics. Judy has taught teens Floor Exercise at summer camps at Maine East H.S. in Park Ridge. She also has volunteered at Whittier Elementary School as a classroom aide helping children better develop their reading skills and comprehension skills. Judy truly enjoys working with young children and is very happy and gratified to have the opportunity to work in all of the creative programs at the Academy. Judy now is a grandma of four and her grandson is attending the Academy A.R.T.S. program, with his sister soon to follow.

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Blackwell, Corey
Aide (Upstairs)

Corey Blackwell is a native of Massachusetts and a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University. Prior to moving to Chicago in 2007, Corey worked in sales and in 2004 founded Therapy Beauty Bar, a luxury beauty boutique located in Providence, R. I. She is married and has two children. Her daughter Easton is a recent graduate of the Academy. This will be Corey's first year working at the Academy.

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* Clemens, Stephanie
Director of the Academy of Movement & Music

Stephanie Clemens “founded” the Academy in 1971 in her Oak Park living room when she rolled up the rug and began giving dance lessons to neighborhood children. Since that time the Academy has grown into a real village Institution, home to approximately 900 students: 150 families in the A.R.T.S. preschool program, the rest in dance and music classes. Stephanie studied dance at Juilliard and took a B.A. in Physical Anthropology at U.C.L.A. where she did research on the evolution of the human locomotor system. Stephanie spends her time at the Academy teaching in the dance division and has developed the Introduction to Ballet program for preschool age children. She is the Artistic Director of MOMENTA, the Academy’s resident performing company. She has three grown sons, Jason and Justin Prost and JP Tenuta, all of whom have been students at the Academy. Her youngest son teaches ballet at the Academy.

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Enriquez, Jen
Upstairs Aide

Jen Enriquez graduated from Georgetown University (Washington, DC) and Georgetown Mason University School of Law (Arlington, Virginia). Jen and her family relocated from Arlington, Virginia to Illinois in September of 2011. Her two children, Helena and Luke, participated in the Academy A.R.T.S. preschool. She and her husband chose the Academy “because of the diversity of the school, the philosophy of incorporating arts into preschool and the beautiful facility.” Jen has been an attorney for 24 years, practicing part-time from home since 2008 when her first child was born. The first preschool Helena and Luke attended (in Virginia) was a cooperative preschool and Jen loved being in the classroom and involved in various education opportunities from the first day. Jen has always loved cooking and became even more interested and adventurous when Helena developed many food sensitivities and the family learned husband Tony was affected by these sensitivities as well. Jen was licensed as an Illinois attorney in June 2013 and has a small solo practice. Jen is also Director of Children's Formation at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Oak Park. Jen is passoniate about foreign language education and obtained a grant in 2013 to start a Spanish preschoolers program in her community. Other members of Jen’s family include two dachshunds, Willow and Felicia.

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Fahey, Maureen
Downstairs A.R.T.S. Director, Music

Maureen Fahey joined the Academy family as a floating aide in 2004 when her  two sons began attending preschool. In 2009 when her daughter started preschool she became the Practical Life teacher in the Art/Music/Montessori room. She enjoyed learning more about the Montessori Method and introducing the children to new ideas each week at the Practical Life table. Maureen loves the unique preschool experience that the A.R.T.S. program offers families in the community. She studied Family and Consumer Science at Eastern Illinois University and worked in management and customer relations after college. In her free time Maureen enjoys reading, yoga and spending time with her family especially outside in nature! Maureen lives in Oak Park with her husband and 3 children and is excited to begin her third year as Downstairs A.R.T.S. Director.

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Lucy Hunter-Bry
Downstairs Aide

Lucy Hunter-Bry grew up dancing and demonstrating at the Academy. She has choreographed for theater companies in the Oak Park area. Lucy volunteers at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and is attending Concordia University as a Pre-Art Therapy major. This is her sixth year working as an aide in the Downstairs A.R.T.S.

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McLane, Rebecca
Music (Upstairs)

Rebecca McLane taught at Pilgrim Community Nursery School for 25 years and this is her 2nd year at the Academy. She earned a BFA from the The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a MEd in Child Development from Erikson Institute in Chicago. She has also trained in the Musikgarten and Orff music education approaches. She sings with the Heritage Chorale, plays with the Oak Park Recorder Society, and is a founding member of Recorder Disorder. Rebecca has lived in Oak Park for 33 years with her husband Paul Jacobson and their two children, Anna and Evan. Paul taught music at Lincoln School in Oak Park. Evan is currently the music teacher at Hatch School, and has taught at several other District #97 schools. Anna teaches Wiggle Worms for special education at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.

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Mullen, Kaitlin
Downstairs Practical Life, Montessori

Kaitlin Mullen is back for her fourth consecutive year after a few years' hiatus. Kaitlin worked in the A.R.T.S. program for 3 years previously and is an Academy dance alumn. She is married now and the mother of Grace who is an A.R.T.S. alumn and attends ballet class at the Academy.

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Preston, Linda
Montessori Directress (Upstairs)

Linda Preston directed the Montessori environment in the Kinder A.R.T.S. program (predecessor to Upstairs A.R.T.S.) and taught in the Art/Music/ Montessori classroom in the A.R.T.S. program for 8 years, from the mid-80’s to the early 90’s. Linda’s son Elisha (35) spent a year in the Kinder A.R.T.S. program and now attends the “Everybody Can Dance” program on Sundays. He thinks of the Academy as home. Linda obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Education from Beloit College in 1967 and a second Bachelor’s in Judaic Studies in 1978. In 1985 she completed her Montessori training and received a Montessori Pre-Primary Certificate. After teaching at the Academy, Linda worked at the University of Illinois Circle Campus teaching adults with developmental disabilities. Linda received a Master of Arts from DePaul University in 2002. In addition to her duties in the Montessori section of Upstairs A.R.T.S., she works many hours advocating for her son, and helping people to sign up for healthcare coverage.

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Seiler, Julie
Downstairs Aide

Julie Seiler has had the good fortune to work Upstairs, as well as Downstairs. After graduating with a B.S. in Communications from Loyola University, she worked for many years in the dental/medical field. Her son , Richard, is an A.R.T.S. alumnus. This is Julie's eighth year at the Academy.

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Taub, Melissa
Creative Movement, Physical Fitness (Downstairs & Upstairs)

Melissa Taub graduated from Columbia College with a B.A. in film/video and also has a Travel Certificate from C.O.D. This is Melissa’s eighth year at the Academy. She started out as a floating aide in the Downstairs program, as well as a reading volunteer while her children attended the Academy. She worked in the Upstairs program as an aid in Art and Physical Fitness before moving to the Downstairs program. This will be her 3rd year teaching Creative Movement and Physical Fitness in the Upstairs program. Melissa has been in the Upstairs Friday snack area for the past 8 years. Melissa has spent four years in the Downstairs Physical Fitness room as an aide. This will be her first year teaching creative movement in the morning and her second in the afternoon Downstairs A.R.T.S. program. Melissa is also a classroom volunteer at Longfellow School and a RE volunteer at Third Unitarian Church in Chicago. Her two children, Jane and Max are A.R.T.S. alumni.

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Tazelaar, Ruth
Art (Downstairs)

Ruth Tazelaar has been married for forty-three years and is the mother of four children and grandmother of sixteen. When she became a mother, she chose to remain at home. Before coming to the Academy, for the last 36 years, she has helped raise many children as a home day care giver. She has also taught at Church schools, taught a dance class, cooking classes and has had a catering business. Through her life experiences and learning, Ruth feels she can teach much to the children at the Academy. She has been at the Academy for twenty two years, beginning as an aide and moving to the Creative Movement Room in Downstairs A.R.T.S. before becoming the art teacher. Ruth attended Triton College and Trinity Christian College.

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TeDesco, Caroline
Physical Fitness and Creative Movement (Downstairs)

Caroline TeDesco began her dance training at the Academy when she was 4 years old. She joined the Academy's resident dance company MOMENTA at age 10 and accompanied them on their first tour of Austria through Tanszomer in 2003. Caroline continued her training through the Milwaukee Ballet School, Ruth Page Dance Center, Lou Conte Dance Studio, River North Chicago and then on to Point Park University's Conservatory of the Performing Arts. Caroline began teaching dance and working as a teacher's aide in the Academy's A.R.T.S. program in the summer of 2005 and became a full time faculty member at the Academy in 2007. In the dance program Caroline has taught ballet, jazz and tap dance and is co-director of the junior ballet recital. In 2010 she was honored to receive the Orrin Kayan Award for excellence in teaching. In the A.R.T.S. program Caroline has worked as a hallway aide, Upstairs aide and teacher (Dance), Downstairs aide in the Creative Movement and Physical Fitness classes and has been teaching Physical Fitness in the afternoons since 2011. Caroline is excited to be teaching both Physical Fitness and Creative Movement this year! In addition to her experience at the Academy, Caroline has taught at the Dance Center of LaGrange and in Hatch Elementary School's after school program.

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Wachter, Anja Riis
Upstairs A.R.T.S. Director, Art, Literature, World Cultures

Anja Riis Wachter is orginally from Denmark. Anja studied construction and design before earning an MA in English Literature and Language, with a minor in History, from the University of Arhus, Denmark. Prior to moving to Chicago in 2003, she was an editor with an educational publishing company, a career she continued in Chicago while simultaneously operating her own design and dressmaking business. Anja lives in Oak Park with her husband, two daughters, and new puppy. She tries to stay active with running, yoga and taekwondo, she is on the board of directors of Pro Musica Youth Chorus, she chairs a couple of Mann School PTO committees, and she enjoys creating design and sewing projects whenever she finds the time. Anja started at the Academy as an aide, then Art Teacher, and is now thrilled to continue her Academy journey as Director of Upstairs A.R.T.S.

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