Getting to Know...

Our Newest Paraprofessionals


We would like to welcome our newest paraprofessionals and give everyone a chance to get to know them better. Please read on to learn more about your newest co-workers.
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Mrs. Beata Dering - Pre-K

Mrs. Dering is currently working with the Pre-K children in room 118. She graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Child Studies. Mrs. Dering went back to school to receive her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education with an endorsement in ESL and Special Education. Before coming to Kennedy, she worked as a Pre-K teacher in Chicago. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, especially her daughter and husband. Mrs. Dering loves to travel, go to the park, watch movies, and take their big lovable Labrador on walks. She is very excited to be part of the Kennedy team!

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Mr. David Donegan - 2nd Grade

Mr. Donegan grew up in Detroit, Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor's degree in communications in 1992. He moved to Chicago shortly after and began a career in public relations and creative marketing. He has worked in both corporate and non-profit settings specializing in product placement, public education and crisis management. When his children were born, he took time off to be a full time parent and local resource for his children's' school. He was a founding member of an educational foundation that raised money to grant teachers money for "extras" in their classrooms. Mr. Donegan also started a working garden for a kindergarten and developed classwork that went with it. He is happy to be here at Kennedy as a paraprofessional working between rooms 104 and 106 helping children with reading and math.
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Ms. Danuta (Dana) Fitol - Pre-K and Kindergarten

Ms. Fitol goes by Ms. Dana and works with Ashley Zolt and Beata Dering in the special education preschool in the morning. In the afternoon, she works with kindergarten. Ms. Fitol graduated from Triton College last spring with an Associates Degree in Arts. She is going back in the fall for her Bachelors in psychology or social work. Some of her hobbies include traveling, gaming, and cooking. Some fun facts about her are: she has a pet bearded dragon named Xena, she was born in Poland and arrived when she was two years old, and lastly she grew up in the District 81 community. Some teachers and school administrators recognized her when she attended the holiday party. She looks forward to continuing her work at Kennedy School.
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Mr. Luis Gomez - SLBC

Mr. Gomez grew up in Guatemala City Guatemala before moving to Chicago IL. After completing eight years of military service in the US Navy after high school, Luis received his Associates at Triton College in River Grove, IL. He is currently attending Northeastern University in Chicago to receive his BA in Special Education. In his free time, Mr. Gomez coaches basketball with friends in the City of Chicago. He is working with Mrs. Elliott in room 116, and is proud to be part of the Kennedy School Family.
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Mrs. Ofelia Golden - Kindergarten

Mrs. Golden, grew up in the far Northside of Chicago; she graduated from Concordia University with a Bachelors in Business Management. She has worked for Resurrection Heath Care and Rush Oak Park Hospital for 18yrs, in a variety of departments and positions. From Human Resources, Billing, Maternity Ward, Legal and Physician Practices. She loves children and is looking forward in working with the Kindergarten classes, primarily in rooms 130, 131, and 132, as a paraprofessional.

She has four young children so she is very busy with their sports activities and homework. She loves to take her kids to the waterpark, zoo, museums and amusement parks. In the little time she has she loves to run.

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Mrs. Linda Jennings - 1st Grade

Mrs. Jennings is very happy to be joining the Kennedy School staff this year as a 1st grade paraprofessional. She has been a paraprofessional in pre-school and kindergarten and has taught primary grades from kindergarten to third grade. Mrs. Jennings graduated from Loyola University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education. She is very excited to be working with the students in Rooms 100 and 110 in reading and math and hopes to pass along to them her "love of learning."

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Mr. Brian Key - SLC

Mr. Key was born and raised in Lake Bluff, IL. He joins Kennedy after working the last 15years, in a hospital setting, as a Recreation Therapist. He earned his B.S. degree from Wisconsin-La Crosse in 1997. Wanting to move into school education, he went back to school, earning his M.Ed. in school counseling from DePaul University in 2008. Before coming to Kennedy, he was substituting at New Trier High School. Mr. Key is thrilled to be a part of the Kennedy family. He is learning, on a daily basis, from the staff and students in Amanda Peterson’s room. When not at work, Mr. Key is watching movies, reading or helping his wife tire out their dog, Bella.

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Ms. Erin Moza - Kindergarten

Ms. Moza grew up in Chicago, IL and has been working with children for the past ten years. Having previously worked at a daycare, she is eager to bring her experiences into the kindergarten classrooms and is excited to be a part of the Kennedy team. She will be primarily working with rooms 127 and 115 for the 2015-2016 school year. When she's not at school, she enjoys reading and spending time with her family. Erin is also a graduate
of the University of Phoenix, where she received a Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration.
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Ms. Michelle Nelson - Kindergarten

Ms. Nelson grew up in Des Plaines and went to Maine East High School. She graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a bachelors in early childhood and a type 4 teaching certificate. Ms. Nelson has always had a passion for teaching and couldn't see her self in any other role than a teacher. Ms. Nelson has taught Pre-K and Kindergarten in Park Ridge and CPS, and she is very excited to be a part of the Kennedy team working with rooms 128 and 129. Aside from teaching she loves music and spends most of her free time at concerts. "Music Heals the Soul" She also loves scrapbooking, traveling, fashion, cupcakes, and the theatre. Ms. Nelson is a huge Chicago sports team fan and loves going to Blackhawks games to cheer on her favorite team. Go Hawks!!! Ms. Nelson volunteers at various organizations such as STAAR, and Feed My Starving Children. She is also very happy to have a new addition to her family, a new kitten named Twinkie!

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Ms. Yessica Paz Garcia - SLBC

Ms. Paz Garcia is a new SLBC paraprofessional working in room 116. She's planning on going to school to become a special education teacher. In the mean time she feels fortunate to be able to work with these wonderful children and gain experience in the field that she's going into. Having a toddler of her own has taught her patience with children and having empathy with the parents of the kids. Ms. Paz Garcia feels lucky to have been put on an amazing team that wants nothing but the best and success for the children. Aside from being a paraprofessional some of you may recognize her from Kidz Klub because she worked in that program for almost two years. Her professional life aside, she has a beautiful family that she spends her free time with. She hopes to build a trusting relationship with the children and you.

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Ms. Justine Samuels - Pre-K

Ms. Samuels is excited about her first year as a paraprofessional at Kennedy
School in room 134 with Ms. Carlson. She graduated from Andrews University with a bachelor's degree in Psychology. She's always worked with children, this being her eighth year, so you can see she loves children. Her favorite color is purple and she loves to snack on chocolate chip cookies.