Zion Lutheran Early Childhood Education Center

Meet the Staff

Photo of Peggy Farrell
Peggy Farrell

The environment created by this new facility and the enthusiasm of the teachers makes Zion Lutheran ECEC a wonderful place to be. I have a loving husband and three adult children. My family is a source of joy in my life. I started my career as a Medical Technologist, but after years of volunteering in my children’s school activities, I pursued a Master Degree in Teaching Early Childhood at Concordia University. My experiences are in public and private education settings along with private school administrative positions. My passions are creating places for young children to grow and develop, and working with others in building a positive educational community.

Photo of Leslie Sokolis
Leslie Sokolis
Administrative Assistant

I am a mother, with two active boys.  I live in Western Springs with my husband, Bill who grew up in Darien.  I lived in Chicago until I was 10 year-old when my parents moved us to what I thought was country living in the southwest suburb of Frankfort.
I received an Associates in Science degree with GPA Honors from College of DuPage in 1998. After graduating, I worked for Buddy’s Place, a children’s bereavement program, as an Administrative Assistant until my first child was born.  I feel blessed and honored to be working with the children who attend Zion Lutheran ECEC and their talented staff.

Photo of Janet Helin
Janet Helin
Food Co-ordinator

I joined the Zion ECEC team in the fall of 2010 after a 30 year career in public education.  I live in Western Springs with my husband, and we have two pre-school aged grandsons.  I have enjoyed the camaraderie of the Zion staff and the delight of serving lunch and snacks to God’s little people.

Photo of Debbie Berg
Debbie Berg

I am looking forward to beginning this new year with your child.  I live in Hinsdale and have three children.  My husband works for Gexpro and is a Finance Manager. I hold a B.A. in Early Childhood Education with a minor in psychology.  I have been in teaching for over 20 years.  I taught for 11 years at Zion before getting married and starting a family.  While at Zion, I taught 4 year-olds and Kindergarten.  I also have taught 3 year-olds in various Lutheran schools.

Photo of Beth Giammarino
Beth Giammarino

I have been teaching at Zion since 2003. My work experiences include teaching first and second grade as well as Kindergarten and Preschool. I graduated from Concordia University with a specialty in Early Childhood Education and Special Education. My husband and I have three daughters and we enjoy spending time together. I love working with children and feel very fortunate to have a job that keeps me smiling all day!

Photo of Rebecca Kowalski
Rebecca Kowalski

My name is Becca Kowalski. I come from a large extended family and I’m the second born child of four. My siblings and I have been very blessed with two wonderful parents who brought us into the Lutheran Church and Faith by providing us with Christ-centered education, which helped us become Christian participants in our home, church, school, and community. Having been raised a Lutheran my entire life, I look forward to giving back to the Lutheran Church in my career teaching here at Zion. I graduated from Concordia University Chicago in 2007 with a major in Early Childhood Education. As part of my early childhood education major, I was placed in a preschool and first grade classroom at Saint Peter Lutheran School in Schaumburg for my professional semester of student teaching. After graduation I was a full time substitute teacher at the Christopher Center at Concordia University. During the summer months for the past several years, I worked as a camp counselor for my village’s park district.

Photo of Cathy Kupisch
Cathy Kupisch

I live in Downers Grove and have two children. Our daughter, Megan is attending graduate school and our son, Andrew is a junior at Augustana College. My husband has also made education his career and is a guidance counselor at Downers Grove North High School. I hold a degree in Elementary Education with an area of concentration in Child Care and Development from Northern Illinois University. I am a former first grade teacher in the public school setting and have been teaching preschool for many years. I enjoy spending time with my family and being a part of your child’s preschool experience.

Photo of Jennie Schmidt
Jennie Schmidt

I am very excited and blessed to be a part of the Zion family!  I am originally from the St. Louis area and currently live in Lombard with my husband, Eric.  I graduated from Fontbonne University with a degree in Early Childhood, and from John Brown University with my Masters in Ministry, with a focus in Leadership and Ethics.  I taught two years of preschool in Skokie, before moving back to the St. Louis area for another year of teaching.  I am looking forward to getting to know all the families here at Zion.

Photo of Sherrie Smith
Sherrie Smith

I come to Zion with many years of experience with children. My degree is from Concordia, River Forest and I have taught in Lutheran Elementary Schools and Preschools. My husband Bruce and I have 3 children. Our oldest daughter is a student at Concordia and we have a son and daughter in high school. I have had the privilege of doing mission work with God children in other countries, most recently Nigeria. Now I am looking forward to sharing the joy of the Lord with the families of Zion.

Photo of Adriana Carrig
Adriana Carrig
Teacher Assistant

My name is Adriana Carrig, I have a bachelor’s degree in art with an emphasis in psychology. I have three boys and I attend Trinity Lutheran in Burr Ridge, where we are members. I love working with children and making a positive difference in their lives.

Photo of Megan Chlada
Megan Chlada
Teacher Assistant

I am a mother of 4 wonderful young adults. My husband Tom and I live in Willowbrook . I have coached my kids in baseball and basketball and I have spent many hours volunteering at all the different schools my kids attended. I truly love being in the classroom with these precious children. It is a great joy watching them grow and learn. We get to have fun singing, reading, making art and enjoying all the learning tools in the classroom. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling whenever I get the chance.

Photo of Sara Dahms
Sara Dahms
Teacher Assistant

My name is Sara Dahms, I have a master’s degree and teaching license with endorsements in school counseling, elementary, Spanish, language arts, and social science; as well as completed courses in early childhood education. I use several of these specializations in the various schools/university at which I work part-time. My husband teaches in special education, and I have two sons. In my spare time I enjoy attending my son’s activities, reading, and walking in nature. I strive to remain open to God’s guidance for serving and enjoy working with the children and staff at Zion.

Photo of Michelle Fischer
Michelle Fischer
Teacher Assistant

I am excited to work, or should I say play, with the young children at the ECEC. I live in Hinsdale with my family. We attend Zion Lutheran Church. My girls went to Zion Preschool and we loved it! It is my joy to spend my time and energy benefiting children in the community. My experience comes from volunteering at church with Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, in the community by leading Girl Scouts, coaching soccer and basketball, and most of all just being active with my children.

Photo of Agnes Herrold
Agnes Herrold
Teacher Assistant

I was born and raised in Poland where I received my Early Childhood Education degree at Vocational Medical College. After graduation, I worked at a Polish hospital as a childcare teacher and pediatric assistant. I came to the US in 1991 and have since married and raised two children of my own in Hinsdale. Before accepting a position at Zion, I worked at Monroe School in the Elementary District 181. I am excited to be part of the Zion ECEC family and I look forward to working with the wonderful children that attend this amazing educational center!

Photo of Marilyn Riggs
Marilyn Riggs
Teacher Assistant

My name is Marilyn Riggs, I live in Downers Grove with my husband. I have three grown children. I used to work for D181 mostly in kindergarten. I love working with your kids and love Zion.

Photo of Shannon Sanew
Shannon Sanew
Teacher Assistant

I’m so excited to be working at Zion Lutheran ECEC. I’m a member of Zion Lutheran Church since childhood so I feel privileged to be able to serve children in this ministry. I am a mother of an active young child who attends Zion ECEC, so I get to see the school from the staff and parent perspective. I live in Glen Ellyn, IL with my husband, son and our overgrown 65 lb. lapdog Archer. I previously worked as a graphic designer and have made a career switch to learning and taking classes in Early Childhood. I like to keep myself versed in the arts and freelance design and I sing in two church groups. I love getting to interact with and help see children grow in their education and faith.

Photo of Lourdes Suarez
Lourdes Suarez
Teacher Assistant

My name is Lourdes Suarez; I am married, live in Villa Park and grew up in Cicero. My husband and I are growing our family. I have an Early Childhood Degree from COD and I am the director for the Sunday School Department at the church where my husband is a Pastor.

Photo of Tracey Wolf
Tracey Wolf
Teacher Assistant

I’m Tracey Wolf. I live with my husband and two children in LaGrange Highlands. We are a creative family. My husband is a carpenter and I have a candy business. My children love to play. I’ve always been involved in my children’s activities and school. This has given me a desire to work with children and I’m glad to be here with the children at Zion. The qualities I bring into the classroom, besides love, are energy and creativity.