Walden Weekly

School News You Can Use!

August 7, 2020

Dear Walden Families,


Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year! I hope that you and your families enjoyed a wonderful summer filled with relaxation, laughter, adventures, and above all, health. As we prepare for what may be the most unique school year ever at Walden, we keep in mind the important lessons we learned last Spring; patience, flexibility, and hope. We remain patient and flexible as we navigate uncharted waters beginning a school year remotely. We also remain hopeful that at some point this school year we will be able to resume normalcy and allow children to fully return to school where the only protocols are to learn, grow, and show kindness to those around you.


Above all, I am thrilled to welcome you and your children to 20-21 school year and I remain confident that whatever comes our way, we stay the strong and close knit community that we have always been. I am here to help navigate us through any and all ups and downs and like I shared last Spring, we are in this together! Be in touch anytime and have a great week!


-Stephanie Strenger, Walden Principal

Class Placement Information - August 14

Class placement information is scheduled to be released to families on Aug. 14th at 8am through Family Access. Please be aware that placements were impacted by children that have chosen to work virtually for the semester. We have done the best we could to uphold original recommendations and input, however some situations were more challenging than others. We appreciate your understanding that placements this year needed to work around additional changes and factors.

Teacher Meet and Greet - August 19

Please save the date for this special outdoor event for students to meet their teacher in small groups, receive their 1:1 iPad or Chromebook, pick up their school supplies and materials bin with all of the items they will need to participate in remote learning. Details about the event's schedule will be shared next week, but we are happy to announce that our first day of school will be devoted to introducing our students to their teachers and ensuring that all students have the tools they need to successfully learn from home.

Welcome New Walden Staff!

Alissa Blanco, 3rd Grade Teacher

Hello! My name is Alissa Blanco and I am the new 3rd grade teacher at Walden! I completed my student teaching in a third grade classroom, so I am happy to be back! I grew up in Grayslake, IL and graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education. I am super excited to begin my teaching career in such an amazing community! Aside from teaching, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading, and crafting. I cannot wait to get to know each of my students and their families this upcoming school year. I look forward to a great year at Walden!

Meg Boyce, 5th Grade Teacher

Hi Walden Wildcats! My name is Meg Boyce and I am thrilled to be joining District 109! I grew up in Park Ridge and then attended DePaul University for my undergraduate degree where I majored in elementary education with a concentration in social science and minored in Spanish. I was in the honors program, wrote a thesis, and was able to live in London throughout my college experience! Since graduating, I’ve taught 5th grade for the last two years and am so excited to continue teaching 5th grade at Walden. I also am in the process of completing my ESL endorsement. Outside of teaching, I love spending time with my friends and family. I am an avid reader (especially mysteries!), a huge Bears fan, and enjoy playing tennis. I also enjoy running long distances and just completed my first marathon this past year! I have always prioritized travel and have been to almost all 50 states as well as many different countries around the world. When I’m home, my two guinea pigs, Sherlock & Watson keep me busy. I am so excited to meet my future fifth graders and get to know everyone in the Walden community!

Cassidy Ferguson, 5th Grade Teacher

Hello! My name is Cassidy Ferguson and I’m so excited to be joining the Walden Elementary community this school year! Some things to know about me include that I am a graduate from Bradley University, and have grown up in Park Ridge not more than 30 minutes from Walden. I also got married this summer to my college sweetheart in the midst of this crazy pandemic. My friends and family would describe me as bubbly, optimistic, and someone who loves to laugh. I am a huge fan of crafting in all forms, and most of the time Michael’s or Dollar tree can be considered my second home. Probably the most important thing to know about me is that I have an extreme love of all things pasta. I am so excited to be welcomed into this amazing community, and meet everyone. I know Walden is going to have an amazing and unique school year, that I cannot wait to be a part of!

Charlotte Graham, Music Teacher

My name is Charlotte Graham. I will be the new music teacher at Walden School! I am a recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where I received my Bachelor of Music Education degree. My favorite part about teaching music is meeting every student and watching them grow over the many years as their teacher! When I’m not at school, I enjoy being outside, cooking, and hanging out at home with my animals. I have two puppies, two rabbits, and a bird. I am looking forward to a spectacular year together!

Kaydi Pignatari, Resource Teacher

Hello! My name is Kaydi Pignatari and I am so excited to be a Resource Teacher at Walden this year! Last year was my first year in District 109 at Caruso Middle School. I’ve been teaching special education for 7 years. When I’m not working you can find me out to eat with friends, working on a crafting project, spending time with my family, or video chatting with my 2 year old niece who lives in Phoenix! I am a huge music fan and love to listen to live music. I also enjoy traveling and experiencing new places! I'm excited to be joining the Walden team!

Amy Rubin, Advanced Learning Specialist

Hi Walden! I am thrilled to be joining the Walden family as the Advanced Learning Specialist. I come to you as a teacher, leader, and learner. For the past 9 years, I have provided leadership as the Director for Learning and Growth in District 109. In this role, I supported administrators, teachers, and students to ensure delivery of differentiated instruction for all. Prior to taking this role, I served for two years as the Kipling Differentiation Coach. I have also worked in the Glenview and Arlington Heights School Districts. My husband Larry and I are the proud parents of 3 boys. I enjoy reading, exercising and watching my sons play hockey and baseball. I also enjoy visiting family in my hometown of Walla Walla, Washington.


Allison Schlueter, School Counselor

My name is Allison Schlueter (shloo-ter) and I am very excited to join Walden Elementary School this year! I grew up in Park Ridge, IL, and earned my bachelor’s degree in education from DePaul University. From there, I moved to China for two years, where I taught ESL at the high school and college level. I then received my master’s degree in School Counseling from The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA. For the past four years, I have worked as a school counselor in Joliet, IL. As you can probably tell, I love to travel and experience new things, as well as all things counseling, yoga, and family—especially my daughter, Piper. I am looking forward to meeting everyone and doing what I can to help make this a great school year!

Marianna Kurzydlo, Special Education Teaching Assistant

I live in Deerfield with my husband and three daughters. All three of my daughters are swimmers in the Big Ten. My oldest just graduated from Ohio State University, my middle daughter goes to Northwestern University, and my youngest will be attending University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign this Fall.

After getting a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Indiana University, I went to grad school at National Lewis University to study Psychology. I then worked as a School Psychologist in both Naperville and Round Lake before staying home with my children. Since 2013, I have worked at Kipling Elementary School as a Special Education Teacher Assistant. I look forward to meeting new teachers, students, and families at Walden this year!


Other Staffing Updates

Mrs. Jenny Castro who has spent the last few years teaching 3rd grade will now be moving up to 4th grade. Ms. Julie Caplan who has spent her last few years teaching 1st grade will now be moving to kindergarten. We wish Mrs. Castro and Ms. Caplan all the best in their new grades!

Upcoming Dates

  • Aug. 19 - Student/Teacher Meet and Greet & Device/Materials Pick-up
  • Aug. 20 - First full day of school!
  • Sept. 7 - Labor Day (No School)

Community Events

For additional events and opportunities in our community, please visit our community fliers page on our website at dps109.news/communityfliers.