Meet our Instructors

All Park Ridge Preschool staff members are certified in CPR, AED, and First Aid. Teachers must also maintain 15 hours of in-service in early childhood every year.

Molly Jacobsen

Molly has been with the Park Ridge Park District Preschool since 2013, and in 2016 took over the role as the Preschool Director. She received a bachelor's degree in speech and language pathology in 2008 from Towson University in Maryland. Molly’s background includes experience working with military families, adults with developmental disabilities, homeless youth, as well as children. She is also an avid volunteer with numerous organizations around Park Ridge. Molly has a philosophy of helping children develop and learn through play, exploration, and social interaction.

Brooke Plofsky

Brooke joined us in 2016 as our Assistant Supervisor for Preschool/Early Childhood. She received a bachelor's degree in early childhood education from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in reading from National Louis University. Prior to parks and recreation, Brooke taught in the primary grades and then supervised college students at National Louis University’s College of Elementary Education. In addition to supervising daily operations and preschool staff, Brooke is often seen teaching and helping out in the classrooms. She is married with two daughters, twin boys, and a sweet dog, Maggie Moo.

Marcy Calkins

Marcy is a lead teacher in our 3-year-old program. She holds a bachelor's degree from Dominican University and has been with the Park Ridge Park District Preschool Program since 2001. Marcy seeks to create a warm and welcoming environment for the children to learn and grow.

Laura Capellani

Laura is a lead teacher in our 4-year-old program. She has worked for the Park Ridge Park District Preschool Program since 1997. She has a degree in early childhood education from Triton College and over 25 years of experience in the field working at various preschools and day care centers. She tries to make her classroom environment a place where children are free to socialize, learn and express themselves.

Lindsay Coker

Lindsay works as a lead teacher in our 2-year-old program. Lindsay earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from The University of Tennessee. She is the proud mother of a son and daughter, who have helped harbor her career of young children. She is so excited to be working with this age group and hopes to make her classroom a fun, exciting, positive place to learn and grow.

Deborah Defenbaugh

Deb is an assistant in our the 3-year-old program and also teaches our Art Creations enrichment class on Thursdays. She has been with the Park Ridge Park District Preschool Program since 2003. Deb studied Fine Arts at the Academy of Art in Chicago and holds an associate’s degree in art - liberal arts. She has also achieved certification with honors in early childhood education from Oakton Community College. Deb believes in providing a safe, nurturing environment where learning is fun.

Jillian Dorrans

Jillian joined our staff as a lead teacher in our 4-year-old program in 2018. She holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from Northern Illinois University. She has worked with young children and individuals with special needs for over 10 years and feels very blessed to have worked with so many wonderful families. She has a passion for teaching young minds and working in the classroom!

Mary Ann Doulas

Mary Ann is a lead teacher in our 4-year-old program. Mary Ann has worked with the Park District since 2001 in our Early Childhood, Enrichment, and Summer Camp programs. She believes that young children learn differently than their elementary-age counterparts, and hands-on exploration is best for preschool education. Her goal is to inspire and influence a love of learning through play, exploration, and discovery of the world.

Emily Griffin

Emily joined our preschool team in Fall 2018. She worked in our summer camp program for 6 years, 3 of those years as the Camp Site Coordinator for Early Explorers Camp. Emily recently earned her undergraduate degree in visual arts from the University of Dayton, and she enjoys working with preschool aged children. Her passion is teaching kids the skills they need for kindergarten. As a Park Ridge native, she is excited to be working in her hometown!

Marta Judge

Marta is a lead teacher in our 4-year-old program. She has 10 plus years of experience in the early childhood education field. She holds a teaching degree from Catholic University in Lublin, Poland and a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University. She believes that every child is unique and learns at his/her own pace. Marta strives to create a classroom environment with plenty of learning, exploration, and socialization. She is a mother of two boys and understands the importance of educating young children from both the parent and teacher’s perspective.

Sue Kachiroubis

Susan joined the Preschool team in 2016 as an assistant in our 4-year-old program. Over the past 16 years, Sue has been fortunate enough to work with the children of Park Ridge in multiple capacities and areas. She was involved in the lunch program at Carpenter Grammar School, taught catechism classes for five years at Saint Paul of the Cross, was a volunteer mom for Maine South Cheerleading, and is the mother of four honor roll student athletes at Maine South High School (two of which now attend Illinois State University). She loves mentoring and coaching children. 

Susan Kiem

Susan is a lead teacher in our 3-year-old program. She has worked for the Park Ridge Park District Preschool Program since 1999. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Susan strives to create a warm, secure, nurturing classroom with a strong emphasis on socialization skills, where the children learn that school is a fun and wonderful place.

Brandee Kopta-Tavano

Brandee is an assistant in our 4-year-old program. She joined our team in 2017. Brandee holds a bachelor's degree in pscychology from Northwestern University. Brandee and her husband, along with their son, all share a love of music. She believes in providing structure, along with compassion, for her students so they are ready to learn and enjoy coming to school.

Jennifer Neswold

Jen is a lead teacher in our 3-year-old program. She joined the preschool staff in 2016. Jen has a degree in elementary education from the University of Iowa and a master's degree in reading instruction from Northeastern University. Her three children attended the Park Ridge Park District Preschool. She continues the tradition of the program by creating a positive, fun, and safe learning environment for children to grow.

Carla Paestch

Carla is a lead teacher for the 3-year-old program. She joined the Park Ridge Park District as a Camp Site Coordinator in May 2015. Carla attended DePaul University, where she studied early childhood education and psychology. Both of her children attended the Park Ridge Park District Preschool. Carla looks forward to making preschool a fun and exciting experience for our program's 3-year-olds!

Denise Parcell

Denise is a lead teacher for our 4-year-old program. She has worked for the Park Ridge Park District since 2012 in the Preschool, Enrichment, and Early Childhood programs. Denise graduated from Roosevelt University with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and endorsements in history and early childhood. Denise strives to create and maintain a safe and fun classroom where the kids are excited to come to school to learn and play. Her classroom is a place where they can express themselves, build friendships, and gain a of love of school, learning, and self-confidence.

Michelle Romanek

Michelle is a lead teacher in our 4-year-old program. She holds a teaching degree from National-Louis University and has taught kindergarten in the past. Michelle strives to provide a safe and nurturing structured classroom where children are encouraged to learn through curiosity, positive socialization, and fun exploration.

Susan Schroeder

Susan works as a teacher in our 3-year-old program. She joined our preschool staff in Winter 2019. She has an associate’s degree in early childhood education from Oakton Community College, plus two years of education at Roosevelt University. Susan’s teaching style is creative, energetic, and flexible, which fosters children’s individual learning style in a balance to explore, be challenged, and be successful through play.

Laura Sclafani

Laura works as a lead teacher in our 2-year-old program. She joined the Park Ridge Park District Preschool in 2016. She earned a master's degree in special education from Roosevelt University in 2003. Her two children attended the 3 and 4-year-old preschool at the Park District. Laura loves children and takes great pleasure in being a part of their developmental process both socially and academically.

Antonella Silvio

Antonella works as an assistant teacher in our 3-year-old program. She has been with the Park Ridge Park District since 2016 and has worked in our Preschool, Enrichment, and Playtime Pals classes. Antonella graduated from Dominican University in January 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. She strives to create a happy, positive, and safe learning environment as the children learn through play.

Vikki Spiteri

Vikki is an assistant teacher in our 4-year-old program. She has a master’s degree in teaching from National-Louis University and has earned two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Iowa in psychology and sociology. Her two children both attended the Park Ridge Park District Preschool, and she wants to create the same positive and engaging environment that her children had here while inspiring kids to love learning!

Ann Tatlock

Ann is an assistant in our 3-year-old program and has also worked with the 2-year-olds. She has been with the Park Ridge Park District Preschool Program since 2002. She graduated from Mundelein College with a degree in foods and nutrition.

Pat Zouras

Pat is an assistant teacher in our 4-year-old program. Pat has worked with the Park Ridge Park District early childhood classes since 2002.  She believes that children are curious and learn through play and hands-on experiences.