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. Gayle 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 is greatly excited to be in the Mother Child 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. Gordon joined the UCECP staff in 2015. She holds dual degrees in Elementary and Special Education from Vanderbilt University. Ms. Gordon has taught Early Childhood Special Ed in both Texas and Illinois.
“I enjoy celebrating the many milestones children reach as they develop and grow. Helping families connect with their children during these stages and appreciate the many facets of their children’s learning is rewarding.”
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.”
Kathryn Heine has a masters degree in Elementary and Special Education from Long Island University (CW Post). During the course of her ten-year teaching career, Kathryn has worked in a variety of educational settings including an all girls private school and a school for students, learning disabilities and private tutoring.
” My favorite thing about teaching is engaging in creative and innovative play, it truly makes life more joyful!”
Jen has been with the ECP for over 15 years. 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 for over 13 years. “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”
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.
As a former UCECP parent with two children who went from Mother Toddler all the way to Kinderboost, I am thrilled to be returning as a teacher in the 3’s program.
I can’t wait to meet the children and look forward to nurturing and helping them develop their curiosity, independence, love of learning and academic and social skills.
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. Schaefer holds a degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in middle school Language Arts. She joined the Union Early Childhood Education Program excited to use her degree and passion to improve 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.”
Mary Beth Wegner
Ms. Wegner has been a member of the UCECP team since 2007. She brings a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood from Illinois State University.
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.