Jennifer Keldahl
Director of UCECP

(630) 590.6696

Jennifer joined the UCECP in 2004.  Prior to her position at the UCECP, her journey included being a first grade teacher for CPS and an Assistant Principal.  She also served as the Program Director and Regional Director for several urban preschools.  Jennifer has a Master’s Degree from Loyola University in Education Administration with state endorsements enabling her to be a principal and superintendent. “I value four core components to early childhood education:

  1. A well trained staff that values the power of childhood
  2. A beautiful and stimulating school/classroom environment
  3. A strong curriculum based in accountability and current research
  4. Parent partnerships in education


Sue Nunamaker
UCECP Administrative Coordinator and Pre-K Teacher
(630) 590.6697

Ms. Nunamaker has been in the field of early childhood education since 1992. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in ECE from Elmhurst College and is certified to teach Kindergarten – 3rd grade. 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.”

Jean Bergin – Ms. Bergin joined the UCECP staff in 2015. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Art and Design from Iowa State University, and a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from DePaul. “I enjoy working with young children and using my creative background to teach. I embrace young imaginations and encourage creative thinking. I enjoy every day I spend in the classroom.”


Gayle Borel – Gayle is a certified teacher with a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education with an endorsement in Early Childhood Special Education. Prior to joining the UCECP staff in 2004, Ms. Borel enjoyed a career in Public Relations and Professional Development as a Corporate Training Officer, and held many leadership positions with children’s ministries and Scouting. “My favorite aspect of teaching is witnessing the joy of discovery in a child’s eyes.”


Beth Bozeman – 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. “It is an honor to work with the UCECP. My life is enriched by the time spent with the families here.”

Dena Brockob – Ms. Brockob holds a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education from Southern Illinois University, a Masters degree in Education with a concentration in Elementary Reading and Literacy from Walden University and English as a Second Language Endorsement from Roosevelt University. She has been a First and Second grade classroom teacher. “I am thankful for the opportunity to work in a nurturing loving environment where children can learn and experience new challenges that will help build their confidence while they play.”


Gayle Bueser – 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. “It is amazing to watch the children grow and develop from room to room. There are also some wonderful friendships built here for the children as well as the families.”


Allie Cook – Ms. Cook joined the UCECP team in 2009. Allie is certified in Elementary Education with a Bachelor’s Degree from Western Michigan University. “Being a part of each student’s journey and watching how much they learn throughout a school year…that is my favorite part of being a teacher.”

Heather Gordon – Ms. Gordon joined the UCECP staff in 2015. She holds dual degrees in Elementary and Special Education from Vanderbilt University. In addition to teaching Early Childhood Special Ed in both Texas and Illinois, Heather worked as a Developmental Therapist for Early Intervention at Aspire Children’s Services. “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.”

Desiree Gurrola – 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.“Working my various positions at UCECP comes with different rewards everyday —whether it’s with our amazing teachers, the parents, or the wonderful inquisitive children — they make my heart smile!”


Jennifer Hickerson – 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 a part of many different programs at the UCECP. “I enjoy being a part of the discoveries my students make during their time in three’s preschool.”


Mary Juska – Ms. Juska has over 10 years of preschool teaching experience. During her tenure, she has taught in excess of 300 students. Ms. Juska graduated from Western Illinois University. “I strive to make every child feel how special they are and I truly enjoy teaching at the UCECP. I look forward to helping the children develop socially, emotionally and academically to ensure a successful transition into Kindergarten .”


Lizzie King – Lizzie first came to the UCECP as a parent. She became a teacher with the UCECP in 2010. Ms. King has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with an emphasis on child development. “I love the excite- ment for learning our preschoolers have, and I love fostering that enthusiasm with fun and compassion.”


Barb Kite – Barb was first introduced to the program as a parent. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Western Illinois University. Barb has taught for many years, including several years teaching Mother Child classes for park districts. She enjoys interacting with the children as they make new discoveries, create with art materials, sing together and interact with their peers.


Sara Koudelka 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. “I love to see when a child makes a first connection with a concept and the way their face lights up is so rewarding.”


Laura McBrien – Ms. McBrien has been in the field of early childhood education since 1999. She has a degree from Northeastern Illinois University. “I enjoy watching the smiles on the children’s faces as they gain a sense of accomplishment.”


Paula O’Neil – Paula has been in the field of early childhood education since 1994. Ms. O’Neil has a degree from College of DuPage. “My favorite aspect of teaching is seeing children grow and develop through hands-on learning.”


Nancy Parenti – Ms. Parenti has been with the UCECP since 2007. She brings with her years of preschool teaching experience and an Associate’s Degree and an education from the College of DuPage. “I feel like each day is a rewarding adventure with preschool children.”


Marta Quist – Marta joined the Mother Toddler team during the 2013-2014 school year as the Facilitator. “I believe in women/moms sharing their stories and challenges with one another. It is an educational opportunity as well as a self-reflective exercise.”


Beth Sauders – Beth has worked with children/families since 1997. She is a certified teacher and has a Master’s Degree in Family and Consumer Sciences. Before joining the UCECP in 2011, Ms. Sauders taught child development courses for four years at the high school level.

Nicole Schaefer – Ms. Schaefer holds a degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in middle school Language Arts. “After teaching 3rd-6th grade for several years, I am excited to be working in the 2’s program at UCECP! I love the curiosity and genuine joy for learning that takes place at this age. The UCECP does such a wonderful job cultivating this love for learning and turning our children into life-long learners.”


Micki Slezak – Micki has a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and has taught a variety of programs and classes in elementary education, early childhood, and special education. However, the heart of her teaching career has been here—at UCECP! She was first introduced to the programs as a parent and has been teaching at UCECP for more than 20 years. “Working with terrific twos and their marvelous moms is energizing and engaging. Not only are the children always learning and developing, but so am I. I loved the programs as a parent and I love them even more as a professional.”


Esther Thoele Ms. Thoele has been with the UCECP since 2011.  Ms. Esther Bachelor’s Degree from Purdue University and Associates Degrees in Fine Arts/Children’s Wear and Design from Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY). She teaches various community children’s art classes at Lake Katherine and local libraries. “I love seeing the world through a child’s eyes and the perspective they give us.”

Michelle Waters – Ms. Waters has volunteered her time working with children of diverse language. She has been a substitute teacher for preschool ages 2-5. Michelle has volunteered her creative skills in a number of Chicago public schools. “It amazes me to see young children progress through play. Their imagination takes off and naturally, they have the ability to extend their interest through the activities that are provided to them.”


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. “I enjoy offering them a variety of provocative materials that challenge their creativity and problem solving skills.”