Meet the dedicated staff
at the Union Early
Jennifer joined the UCECP in 2004. Prior to her position at the UCECP, her journey included being a first grade teacher, an Assistant Principal and Preschool Program Director.
I value four core components to early childhood education:
- A well developed staff that values the power of childhood
- A beautiful and stimulating school/classroom environment
- A strong curriculum based in accountability and current research
- Parent partnerships in education
Admin Coordinator & Pre-K Teacher
Ms. Nunamaker has been in the field of early childhood education since 1992. Sue was the only early childhood education major in 2004 that received the Thaskala Award from Elmhurst College.
I look forward to challenging this very special age group.
LEADERS IN THE FIELD OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
Our director supports the faculty and families of the program, and oversees curriculum, instruction, and parish/community involvement. The faculty of the UCECP is comprised of highly educated teachers who exceed the DCFS standards for education. Our faculty stays abreast of research findings in early childhood by attending professional development courses throughout the year. This commitment allows us to apply the latest brain research and cutting edge practice to inspire, refresh and renew our methods.
The UCECP has offered professional development programs to educators across Illinois and faculty members have served as consultants to assist schools in curriculum development. Our faculty proudly develops and presents their work at various early childhood conferences both at the local and national levels. This level of commitment and loyalty is what sets the UCECP faculty apart from other programs.
Mother Child Facilitator
Beth joined the ECP in 2002 and has taught in the Mother Toddler, Mother Child and Three’s Preschool programs and currently serves the UCECP as the Mother Child Facilitator.
Cyndi joined the UCECP staff in 2016 as a part-time 4’s teacher. Cyndi also periodically substitutes in the early learning lab, 2’s, 3’s, mother-toddler and mother-child programs. She is a former UCECP parent herself, and has volunteered in her own children’s elementary school classrooms in a variety of capacities.
“Working at UCECP brings such joy to my life seeing the smiles on the children’ faces every day. I love watching them learn and discover things.”
Gayle has been with the UCECP since 1995. She has a Child Care Associate’s degree from Morianne Valley. Ms. Bueser has spent several years working with toddlers at the UCECP and her knowledge in the phases of development help support her work with toddlers.
I have been teaching preschool since I took dual credit child care classes in high school. After graduation I went to Eastern Illinois University where I minored in family and consumer sciences. When I left Eastern I was offered a job teaching pre-k 3&4 with Stickney Township.
Monica joined the UCECP program in the fall of 2016 as a substitute. She has 13 years of experience working with children. She loves being a part of an early childhood education program that helps spark a love for learning. This year she will be returning as a 3’s teacher and is excited to be working in the Mother Toddler Program.
“My goal when teaching the children is to inspire them to be involved, ask questions, and grow a deep passion for learning.”
Ms. Cook joined the UCECP team in 2009. Allie holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Western Michigan University with endorsements in Science and English. She worked in the public school system as a K-5 substitute and para-educator, prior to joining the UCECP in the 3’s and 4’s programs.
Ms. Gurrola joined UCECP in 2014. She has nearly thirty years of experience raising her own children, providing daycare from home as well as being an active parent with many school programs.
I am so excited to be a part of the two-year-old program at UCECP. I have a BA degree in Organzational Communications from North Central College. Prior to being a stay at home mom to my four children, I was a therapeutic riding instructor for children with disabilities at the Hanson Center in Burr Ridge. I also helped run summer camps at the YMCA in Downers Grove.
” I’m looking forward to a fun year of exploring and learning.”
Jen has been at the UCECP since 2003. She holds a degree in Recreation and several years of experience with elementary school-aged children. Ms. Hickerson has been an important part of many different programs at the UCECP.
Mary has been with ECP on and off since 2005. “I am so excited to be back teaching the four year olds and looking forward to getting them ready for kindergarten.”
Carissa joined the UCECP as facilitator in 2017, and as a parent in 2005. She has a degree in communications and political science from Miami University and a professional background in group moderating and consumer insight in the marketing and advertising industry.
“They may forget what you said, but the’ll always remember how you made them feel”
Sarah Kelley has a masters degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Literacy from Michigan State University. She is excited to join the Mother Child team after participating in the program last year.
Ms. Koudelka joined in the UCECP in 2012. Previously she had worked at the UCECP as a substitute teacher. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and has been working with children for 9 years.
Ms. McBrien has been in the field of early childhood education since 1999. She has a degree from Northeastern Illinois University and enjoys every second of working with young children.
Paula has been in the field of early childhood education since 1994. Ms. O’Neil has a degree from College of DuPage and is grateful every day for being able to enrich children’s lives.
Ms. Szafarczyk is thrilled to join the Mother/Toddler team after participating in the program with all three of her children. She has a Bachelors Degree from Loyola University Chicago and brings with her years of childcare and volunteer experiences with many schools and local organizations.
“I love watching the programs of UCECP spark a joy and passion for learning in the hearts of our young children.”
Ms. Laurel joined UCECP in 2016. This will be her second year as the Toddler teacher in the Early Learning Lab. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in family and child studies with an emphasis on Family and Individual Development and a Master’s Degree in the Higher Education with an emphasis in Student Affairs from Northern Illinois University.
“I really love this amazing program does for our children and what they learn through play and different experiences. It is such an amazing way to learn and become the children of the future.”
My name is Jennifer Zappas and I am so excited to work with your children this year in 4’s Pre-Kindergarten at UCECP! As their teacher it is my goal to challenge their minds and to inspire them to be passionate about learning.
UCECP: Union Church Hinsdale
137 S. Garfield Ave.
Hinsdale, IL 60521