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Highly Trained Childhood Teachers

It takes a big heart to shape little minds. Our teachers are highly trained in a variety of early childhood development modalities. Just as importantly, we require our teachers and aides to guide with warm, responsive care and total devotion to a secure learning environment. Our teachers understand that relationships experienced during the first five years of a child’s life have an enormous impact on future development; every caregiver, from our teachers to our administrators, honors the privilege to nurture our children with warmth and positivity.



Teaching a child how to think, not what to think



Setting the stage for developing future critical thinking skills



Modeling respect and helping children problem-solve


Our Team Members

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John Sears


John Sears is the founder and Director of Newport Children’s Academy, located in the Roscoe Village neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. In 2008, Sears opened his first preschool, and by 2014, under Sears’ direction, the school grew to accommodate two hundred children. Sears helped to design the school, drawing on an extensive family background that spans over five decades in child-care, preschool, after-school, and summer camp programs.

The Newport Children’s Academy building was carefully scouted and chosen by Sears to provide a solution to many of the issues facing parents in the Chicagoland area, such as long waiting lists for quality care, confined spaces, and unsafe locations. Sears was thrilled to source a self-contained location that offers safety, security, and ample learning space.

Sears is a licensed daycare director, holding certifications that include training programs approved by the Department of Children and Family Services. Sears is an advocate of lifelong learning. He remains current by continuing his education within the evolving field of Early Childcare Development. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in Speech Communication.

His main philosophy is that the most important aspect of the preschool experience is a child’s happiness. He hires teachers and staff who are genuinely enthusiastic about helping kids to grow and learn. “If the children light up when their teacher walks into the room, then we’re doing things right.”

Sears has been married since 2004. He and his wife Angela are proud parents of two children, ages five and seven.

Ashley Funkhouser

Director of Enrollment

Hello, Newport families and friends. My name is Ashley (Harris) Funkhouser, I am the Director of Enrollment at Newport Children’s Academy.  I grew up right here in Chicago. I currently live in Woodridge, IL with my husband Ryan and our son Collin.  I went to National Louis University and studied Early Childhood Education.  I was lucky enough to start working here at Newport before it was even open in 2016.  I began as a teacher, shortly after I became the Assistant Director and then moved to my current position.  As the Director of Enrollment I am I looking forward to interacting with all the children and families and getting to know everyone, a little more.  I will work hard to continue to welcome new families and help our Newport family grow.    During my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband Ryan, our son Collin and our two yorkies!

Abby Huster

Infant Program Director

Hello! My name is Abby Huster, and I am very excited to be a part of the Newport family. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and have always enjoyed working with kids. I graduated from Indiana University with a B.S. in Early Childhood education, then moved to Chicago in my final semester of college to be a part of an urban education program. This program allowed me to teach in CPS alongside a mentor teacher. After that, I became an infant teacher in Lincoln Park, I then helped open a two’s classroom and became the lead teacher for that room. I started at Newport June of 2017 and found myself drawn to working with infants once again!

Outside of the classroom, I love to cook and travel. So far I’ve been to Italy, France, Spain, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico! I can’t wait to get to know all of the Newport families and friends!

Raina Bucci

Toddler/Twos Program Director

My name is Raina Bucci. I began working at Newport at the end of 2016 while expecting my first child. Over the years my family has grown and so has our school community. I am delighted and honored to be part of such an amazing school. I earned my B.A. in religious studies at the University of Denver and have taken extensive course-work in Early Childhood Education since I began working in the field in 2014. I love working with toddlers and two year olds because their enthusiasm for new experiences matches my own! Watching children master skills and recognize their accomplishments is so rewarding. I am a certified yoga instructor, avid reader, and excellent tree climber. I enjoy cooking, hiking, dancing, and spending time outdoors with my family.

Christyne Sapp

Preschool Program Director

My name is Christyne Stephenson, and I have a passion for helping kids flourish in multiple domains. I initially set out for a career in mental health, receiving my Bachelor’s in Psychology at Loyola University Chicago, then continuing on for a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy at Kansas State University. Through my journey, I developed a love and energy for children, which led me to acquire certification in Play Therapy.

After graduation, I realized that I wanted to work with children in a deeper capacity and watch their development beyond the emotional realm. I decided to become a teacher and have loved every moment of connecting with each special child and helping them continue to grow not only intellectually, but emotionally and socially as well.

In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, crafting, playing board games, and hanging out with my husband James, our toddler Eloise, and our dog Tucker.

Caitlin Habley

Assistant Program Director

Hi, there! My name is Caitlin Habley, and I’ve been teaching preschool-aged children since 2013, when I completed my undergraduate degree at Western Michigan University. Since graduating from WMU, I have taken courses at Kendall College in Early Education. I am originally from the suburbs of Chicago; I moved to the city after my graduation in 2013. I have had the pleasure of working in two different early childcare centers prior to starting at NCA, and I am looking forward to continuing my teaching career here at Newport. Outside of teaching, I am all about being outdoors and in nature. I really enjoy running, playing beach volleyball, and being with my friends and my dog. My family is extremely important to me, and I love to get together with them at our cabin in Door County, Wisconsin as much as I can. I am so excited to meet all the families and children at Newport Children’s Academy!

Jessica Moctezuma

Infant Teacher

Hi, Newport Families! My name is Jessica Moctezuma and I’m from Chicago, IL. I joined Newport Children’s Academy two years ago and it has been a wonderful experience being part of this team. Prior to Newport I was working as a nanny in the suburbs. I began working with children in Chicago during my first semester of college in 2012. Since then, I have worked with infants – 8th grade. I believe that children are our future and I love building relationships with the families to help children reach their full potential. During my free time, I spend most of my time at home with my dog, plants and family. I love photography, traveling, digging through old vinyls and visiting museums.

Please feel free to ask any questions! I look forward to meeting all of you and watching your children reach new milestones!

Natalie Labes

Infant Teacher

Hello Newport Children’s Academy families! I began my journey at Newport a few months after I moved to Chicago in October 2019. I graduated from Oakland Community College with an associates degree in Early Childhood Education. I have over 7 years of experience in the field and I still learn something new everyday. I enjoy all ages because each age is so fun to learn with. In my free time I like to travel, ski, and be with my family and friends. I can’t wait to help foster growth and education here at Newport Children Academy!

Dennisse Quiridumbay

Infant Assistant Teacher

Hello Newport Families! My name is Dennisse Quiridumbay, I was born and raised in Chicago,IL.
Before embarking on this new journey with Newport, I was in the healthcare field. Shortly after graduating high school I joined the dental field as a dental assistant in several specialties such as orthodontics, oral surgery, general dentistry and pediatric dentistry. Driven by my passion to help others I transitioned from a dental assistant to patient coordinator. This allowed me to interact one on one with patients and help them. I took the plunge and joined a pediatric dental office, and it was there where I realized my passion wasn’t only helping others it was helping parents care for the oral health of their little ones. I authentically enjoyed going to work everyday knowing that I would help a two year old that was scared of a dental cleaning or a 11 year old that maybe ate too much chocolate and now had a cavity! I loved teaching them how to brush their teeth and floss and tell them the importance of it. It’s when I realized I wanted to do more than just teach young ones about their oral health I wanted to be part of their early development growth and hold their little hands as they learned new things, which is why I decided after 5 years to leave my established dental career and join the Newport family!
During my spare time I enjoy working out and traveling. I love spending time with my friends and family (that includes my 4 dogs!).
Thank you for allowing me to be part of your child’s life and a part of their growth. I look forward to meeting all of you and your little ones!

Elizabeth Lagunas

Infant Assistant Teacher

Hello, My name is Elizabeth Lagunas and I’m very happy to be an infant teacher at Newport! I love getting to meet and know new little friends. One of my favorite parts about working with kids is helping infants learn and develop skills in many different ways. Seeing them smile and enjoy themselves warms my heart. Each day they help me grow as an educator and caregiver. I can’t wait to watch your child grow, learn, and reach early milestones!

Kristin Wurm

Infant Teacher

Hi Newport families! My name is Kristin Wurm and I am thrilled to be joining the Newport community. I have been passionate about working with children since I was young, and have spent most of my life helping young children grow and develop. I spent many years as a nanny throughout high school and college and then worked with families creating and developing nutrition plans that worked for each parent and child. I recently moved to Chicago and have loved exploring the city. I have a knack for adventure and enjoy traveling, hiking, running, and spending time with family and friends. I look forward to meeting you all!

Risa Van Helden

Infant Assistant Teacher

Hi Newport families! I am so happy to have joined the infant team. After graduating from high school in Minnesota, I moved to Chicago to attend DePaul University in 2014. Since then, I have worked as a babysitter and nanny for many families across the city with children of all ages. I fell in love with the developing stages of toddlerhood as it is full of so many “firsts!” I especially enjoy building a long-term relationship with parents to be consistent in meeting their child’s unique needs. Watching children reach new milestones at their own pace is an absolute privilege. Outside of my passion for kids, I enjoy cooking, traveling, and spending time outdoors. I’m thrilled to be part of such a loving, respectful, and creative community!

Natalie Sumrall

Infant Assistant Teacher

Hello Newport Families!  I’m so excited to be joining the wonderful team here at NCA and to be getting the opportunity to learn about the children and the families here.  With my experiences in early childhood education centers and in my formal education, I have plenty of ways I like to engage with children, one of which relies on my degree in ASL interpreting and my minor in education.  My focus tends to go towards the growth of language, linguistic, and communication skills.  This means I’m always finding ways to engage in verbal and non-verbal communication to strengthen those particular skills!  I look forward to the rewards of watching the students grow in all ways as well as growing myself with the students and their families.

Olivia Rule

Infant Assistant Teacher

Hi Newport families!  I am so excited to be a part of the infant team here at Newport Children’s Academy.  I have always loved working with children and have been babysitting and nannying since I turned 12.  I love working with infants and toddlers because I get to help them as they begin to make their own decisions, form their own interests, and figure out who they are.  Every child is unique and has something different that they can teach me.  Outside of the classroom, I love to be outside, spend time with my friends and family, and find ways to be creative.  I am so happy to have joined this beautiful community and I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones!

Amanda Cox

Infant Assistant Teacher

Hi Newport families!  My name is Amanda and I am excited to be here.  I was born and raised in Chicago and have been babysitting for as long as I can remember.  I have experience with infants through elementary school and have also worked with kids with autism.  I enjoy working with children because of their outlook on the world:  it is so different than ours and I feel as if I have a lot to learn from that perspective.  I am currently a student at City Colleges looking to get a degree in psychology.  In my free time, I like to travel, try new foods, and play with my cat.  I look forward to meeting all the Newport families and children!

Emily Latz

Toddler Teacher

Hello, my name is Emily Latz! I graduated from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater with a B.A. in Social Work and a minor is Family, Health, and Disability Studies. I have been teaching toddlers here at Newport Children’s Academy since 2017. I have always loved working with children. I have previously worked in child welfare as a foster care caseworker, and I have also worked with children with Autism in a school setting as a paraprofessional. I enjoy working with toddlers specifically because toddlers are in a stage where they are learning so much. They hit so many milestones at this age. From verbal and social skills, to fine motor and gross motor skills. There is so much to teach them, and it is never boring. I love being able to see how much they’ve grown and learned from the time they enter my room to the time they leave!

Hope Landberg

Toddler Teacher

Hello Newport friends, I’m Hope, or Ms. Landberg! I’m an assistant teacher here, and a student at Harry Truman College where I’m pursuing an Associates Degree in Child Development. Prior to working here, I’ve babysat for various families and age groups for over ten years, starting early with 3 little brothers to help watch! Outside of classes I take care of my cat, spend time with loved ones, brew kombucha, go on runs, and practice an assortment of arts from plant-based cooking to mixed-media painting.

My biggest passion outside of artistic practices and early childhood care is yoga!  Yoga follows me off the mat into everyday life, including Newport. I practice Svādhyāya, or self-reflection, daily; believing every moment’s a learning experience, which I bring to class by helping children learn from their actions in a compassionate way. Patience and kindness are so important to helping kids grow, it lets them know they’re supported! I’m looking forward to integrating both mindfulness and yoga into the school day with your children!

Dominique McDade

Toddler Assistant Teacher

Hello All! My name is Dominique McDade and I am eager to meet and grow with the Newport community! I’ve lived in a suburb very close to Chicago for the majority of my life before settling into the city! I started my college career at Harold Washington College, studying biology and early childhood education. Now, I am finishing the program with plans to become a future pediatrician. I have a very large family and being the second oldest always meant I was taking care of my younger siblings. That became a huge part of my life and planted the seeds of my future. I’ve volunteered at elementary schools and have helped with many toddlers during my years in high school. Watching them learn and grow made me more passionate about my career choice! In my free time, I love doing yoga, reading fictional novels, learning how to cook new dishes, and watching my nine nieces and nephews!

Quinese Murphy

Toddler Teacher

Hello, Newport Children’s Academy families. I’m so excited to start this new journey. I was born in Chicago, Illinois, and I recently graduated from the University of Dubuque with my B.S. in Psychology. My hobbies are dancing and walking alone on the beach. My favorite quote is by B.F Skinner: “Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.” I am passionate about helping children reach their full potential. I can’t wait to meet each and every one of you. Welcome to the family!

Lauren Halloran

Toddler Teacher

Hello! My name is Lauren Halloran and I’m very excited to be teaching at Newport Children’s Academy! I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and moved to the city two years ago. Growing up I worked camps and cheerleading clinics which is where my passion for working with children began. The last 4 years I have been a nanny for two different families in Chicago. In my free time I enjoy trying different work out classes and going to as many Chicago sports games as I can. I can’t wait to work with and meet all the families at Newport!

Emma DeVries

Toddler Teacher

Hello Newport families!  My name is Emma DeVries and I am so excited to be a teacher here!  I grew up in the suburbs and moved downtown three years ago.  I have always enjoyed being around kids and watching them grow, which led me to this path.  Throughout my high school and college years, I have nannied and babysat for many different families.  I started working in early childhood last November and instantly fell in love with it!  I am currently studying graphic design at Columbia College Chicago and in my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, painting, and being outdoors!  I look forward to helping your children grow in every way!

Amber Forbes

Toddler Assistant Teacher

Hi! My name is Amber Forbes and I am so excited to be a part of the Newport Community! I was born and raised right here on the Northside of Chicago. I have always been a creative person which led me to get my Bachelor of Arts at Columbia College of Chicago. I love sharing my creativity, passion for teaching, and art skills with the infant room at Newport. I make it my mission for your little ones’ to learn different colors, explore their fine motor, and sensory skills with fun activities! Outside of work, I love to read, cook, go shopping, dining out for brunch with girlfriends, and finding something good to watch on Netflix. I look forward to meeting all the families and watching your child learn and grow!

Evangeline Rubio

Twos Teacher

Hello, my name is Evangeline Rubio! I am appreciative of the opportunity to teach at Newport Children’s Academy! I have a Bachelor of Science in Communicative Disorders with an emphasis in Speech-Language Pathology/Audiology from Northern Illinois University. I was a Behavioral Therapist for 2.5 years, am an advocate of all children and individuals with disabilities, and a reading/math tutor. My various academic and professional experiences have contributed to the characteristics I acquire as a teacher. I respect and admire all of the work done at Newport Children’s Academy and I appreciate that we share common professional interests of providing a safe environment for individualized instruction to each student. In my spare time, I enjoy going on walks with my dog, playing softball, cooking new recipes I find on Pinterest, and listening to podcasts!

I am so delighted to meet the Newport families and especially grateful to be part of the momentous journey of your child/children!

Kristen Mohr

Twos Assistant Teacher

Hello Newport families!  My name is Kristen Mohr and I am so excited to teach at Newport Children’s Academy.  I was originally born in China, but adopted when I was fourteen months old.  I grew up in the Chicagoland suburbs where I have been a nanny for the past six years for multiple families.  I also worked at a daycare in North Caroline with children ranging from one year to twelve years old. Ever since I was younger, I had always wanted to become a teacher.  I love being a part of helping a child develop and learn who they are as a person in this world.  I am in the process of receiving my BA in Elementary Education.  I look forward to teaching such young minds each and every day.  I love to learn new things and hope to teach your children the same love for learning.  I recently just moved to the city from the suburbs so I’m slowly learning the city life.  Outside of Newport, I love to travel and spend time with my Cavalier puppy, Theo!  I can’t wait to meet you all soon!

Yanira Trejo

Twos Teacher

Hello NCA Families! My name is Yanira Trejo. I graduated from Northern Illinois University with my Bachelor of Science degree in Communicative Disorders and Minor in Deaf Rehabilitation. I have been a part of Newport’s incredible staff since 2019 as a toddlers teacher. I enjoy working with this age as everyday is another day to celebrate all the little things in life. I love introducing new and exciting things and see how their faces light up.  My favorite things to do is arts and crafts in the classroom. Apologies in advance for any art stains, we love making masterpieces here.

I am very proud of every single little one that enters my classroom and I feel very lucky to be their teacher. I have loved every second being a part of your child’s journey here at Newport!

Ivette Carreño

Twos Teacher

Hello Newport families!  I am Ivette Carreno and I am very excited to start my journey at NCA.  I was born and raised in Chicago my whole life and I love it here.  I recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Spring 2021 with my Bachelor’s in Education.  Being with children and teaching them is what I love to do.  I also love to be with my two dogs, Coco and Coffee and go for long walks.  I am looking forward to meeting all the young ones and to get to know all about them!  Thank you and hope to meet you all soon!

Yolanda Rubio

Twos Assistant Teacher

Hello Newport Families! My name is Yolanda Rubio, I was born and raised in Chicago, IL. I am very excited to be joining the Newport team! I am currently a student at Northern Illinois University pursuing a degree in Nursing and my goal is to become a Pediatric or NICU Nurse. My hobbies include spending time with my family, traveling, and trying new coffee shops.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your child’s journey of growth and learning. I look forward to meeting all the Newport families!

Chestine Limbo

Twos/Threes Teacher

Hello Newport families! My name is Chestine Limbo and I’m thrilled to be teaching here at Newport Children’s Academy. Throughout high school I had my counselors telling me I’d make an excellent teacher and I never thought it was for me until I tried it. I now have two years of experience nannying and about four years of experience teaching in classrooms throughout the Chicago land area. I am also in the process of obtaining my BA in Early Childhood Education at National Louis. When I’m not teaching, I enjoy working out, attending dance classes, and hanging out with my Yorkipoo named Sawyer.

Learning through play is my approach in education because it keeps the child interested in grasping new concepts. I promise to make sure the children are having fun and have them excited to step foot in the classroom!

Jennifer Trejo-Muñoz

Twos/Threes Teacher

Hello Newport Families! I am delighted to introduce myself to you, My name is Jennifer Muñoz and I am extremely happy to be part of this wonderful community! I was born and raised in Chicago IL, but currently live in River Grove. I graduated in 2015 from Northeastern Illinois University. I enjoyed every early childhood course taken, preparing me with the knowledge needed to pursue this career that I have always wanted. I worked as a nanny for the past 11 years and enjoyed every second of it. Nothing makes me happier than sharing my knowledge with children and I will guide them every step of the way through their learning experience here. You will not believe how much FUN we will have in our classroom! On my free time I love taking long walks with my husband and attending his soccer games on the weekends. Traveling to El Salvador makes me the happiest as well! See you around, and remember our kids are the future of tomorrow!

Orla Joy

Assistant Teacher

Hello Newport families! My name is Orla Joy and I’m very excited to be working here. I’m currently a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago pursing a degree in bioengineering and mathematics. I was born and raised in Chicago and have been in childcare for close to nine years, as well as a children’s swim instructor for nearly two. Outside of the classroom I like to play water-polo and paint with friends.

Demetra Kolokotrones

Assistant Teacher

My name is Demetra Kolokotrones, I was born and raised in Chicago, IL.  I received my Bachelor’s degree in Developmental Psychology from DePaul University and my Master’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Social Sciences also from DePaul.  I am TEFL certified, and a licensed substitute teacher.  I have past experience as a youth mentor, a summer camp counselor, and conducting a therapeutic art group at a past job at MIND in Camden, London, UK.  I am currently a float teacher, working Part-time at Newport and waitressing on the weekends.  My hobbies include reading, painting, drawing, writing and most of all, travel!  I have been to twenty-six countries, and love to learn about different cultures and people.  I cannot wait to watch your children learn and grow, and meet all of you!

Ashanti Brown

Assistant Teacher

Hi everyone!  My name is Ashanti Brown and I am overly excited to be a part of the Newport family.  I was born and raised in Chicago where I started my college career at Harold Washington College, majoring in Biology and minoring in Spanish.  However, this fall, I will be transferring to UIC where I will be majoring in Pre-Veterinary Medicine.  I come from a large family that is growing every day, so I am very experienced and well-equipped for what it takes to work in childcare.  I have volunteered at my elementary school, helping with the preschoolers, and have also nannied for a friend.  When I am not working or focusing on my classes, I love to game and play with my kitten Donut.

Vickie Pang

Preschool Teacher

Hi everyone! My name is Vickie, and I am so honored to be a part of this flourishing community here at Newport Children’s Academy! I bring with me a love of children, music, creativity, community, art, and learning. I have earned my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, with minors in Sociology and Music, as well as a Master of Education: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. I also completed my 200 hour yoga teaching certification (and extensions) program at Core Power Yoga. I was born and raised in Chicago, and have taught and cared for children all over the Chicagoland area. I’ve worked in a wide array of educational environments, including Chicago Public Schools, private schools, youth nonprofit organizations, camps, and after school ministries. Prior to joining Newport, I served as the Music Specialist at another preschool in the city, where I was responsible for crafting and teaching music classes centered around monthly investigations and tailored for children ages 15 months to 5 years. I organized the school wide holiday pageant at both branches of the school, and performed and sang with my classes for the families. I am grateful to be at Newport, where I can share my love of music with children every single day. I believe in the importance of helping children to develop a love of learning that they can take with them for the rest of their lives. In my free time, I serve as the worship leader at my church in Naperville, and face paint and balloon twist at corporate events and kids’ birthday parties. I also enjoy juggling, traveling, and spending quality time with my friends, family, and two adorable kitties.

Jessica Althouse

Preschool Teacher

Hello, my name is Jessica Althouse! I am very happy to be a part of the team here at Newport Children’s Academy. I graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Classics and a minor in English. I have been working with children for many years, in the past as a City Year Americops member, as substitute teacher, and as a paraprofessional aide for a child with autism. I am a strong believer in the importance of helping children develop a love of learning and I believe that making the school environment a fun and engaging place to be is one of the best ways to do so.  In my spare time I enjoy reading, writing, traveling, and spending time with my friends and family

Sam Delgadillo

Preschool Teacher

Hello Newport families! My name is Samantha Delgadillo, better known as Ms. D by the students. I received my bachelors from DePaul’s College of Communications in June of 2017. Throughout college I would nanny full time in the summers and part time during the school year, giving me a total of two years of nannying experience. Through my experiences, I believe effective communication is key in early childhood and I strive to bring that into the classroom with both the students and the parents. While at DePaul, I also pursued a minor in creative writing and I believe everyone should express themselves creatively through whatever medium they choose. My goal is to give each student the tools necessary to feel comfortable with their interpersonal communications while creating a safe environment for each student to express themselves creatively. I’m thrilled to be a part of the NCA team and I look forward to meeting all the Newport friends and families!

Alexandra Kroncke

Preschool Teacher

Hello, my name is Alexandra Kroncke! I am so excited to be a part of the team here at Newport Children’s Academy. I graduated from Illinois State with a degree in Special Education and Human Education Services. I have spent the entirety of my career working with children. From being a nanny, a volunteer at The Special Olympics, camp counselor, paraprofessional, and teacher at a therapeutic day school- I have worked with children of all ages, sizes, and abilities.

Through all my experiences, I strive to give children the voice to express their thoughts and dreams and the social-emotional growth to enrich their lives daily. My goal is to give each student the tools and skills to feel comfortable in their own skin and have the linguistic capabilities to take on each day with strength and joy.

Taylor Baker

PreK Teacher

Hello! My name is Taylor Baker and I am very excited to be part of Newport Children’s Academy. In 2016, I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies and a Certification in Education and Education Services. In college, I worked at a care facility as an Assistant and Co-Lead Teacher for two summers and was a long-term nanny for a wonderful family. I have worked with children of various ages for many years, and one of my favorite experiences was being able to use my degree internationally in another country working with children from 3-18 many of whom had difficult personal lives. Recently I’ve worked as a Lead Teacher here at Newport for 3 years now and love the community that Newport Children’s Academy brings to its school. It has been a wonderful experience to watch children grow academically, socially and behavioral in my classroom each year. I am always excited to start a new school year and watch new students develop.


What I enjoy doing personally is cooking, reading, working out and I love many different music genres so concerts and shows are some of my favorite things to do. I also am a sports fan and love to watch Wisconsin football! I’m an avid traveler as well and have been to many countries in Europe.  I hope to continue to travel to more countries and experience more amazing adventures.

Taylor Carney

PreK Assistant Teacher

Hello there! My name is Taylor or (Ms. Carney),  and I am so thrilled to be joining the Newport team! I graduated with my BA in Communication Studies at California State University- Fullerton in 2016, and shortly after earned a 120 hour TEFL certification for teaching English. 

I have since traveled to 20 countries, volunteering in Nicaragua with children’s literacy groups, Poland in conversational English, and Peru as an ESL teacher. Most prominently, I lived and worked in Datong, Shanxi, China as an ESL Instructor teaching K-12 students for two years. I have sure learned a lot and have had so much fun!

My partner and I moved to Chicago this summer (2020) and I am so grateful to start my journey here at Newport. My love for teaching and encouraging children to dream big has only grown, and I aim to be a positive influence for the school. I appreciate structure and respect in the classroom all while learning and having fun. I believe communication is an important part in development and most importantly I want my new friends to feel that they have the WORLD in their hands!

Jasmine Neri

PreK Teacher

Hi Newport Families! My name is Jasmine Neri and I couldn’t be happier to be joining Newport Children’s Academy. I was born and raised in Chicago, IL. I graduated in 2018 with my Bachelors in Early Childhood, Special Education and English as a Second Language. Since then I have been working in preschool classrooms. I have always had a passion for education, early education especially. Outside of education, I love spending time with my family and 2 dogs. I also love baking, going running, and reading. 

Kelly Nugent

PreK Assistant Teacher

Hello Everyone!  My name is Kelly Nugent and I couldn’t be happier to begin 2019 as a member of the Newport Children’s Academy team. I am very grateful for the opportunity to work in such an amazing and supportive environment. As long as I can remember my greatest desire has been to work with children. My experience caring for children started in my teens and includes teaching Sunday school, being a camp counselor, and assisting a newborn photographer. I can’t think of anything more fulfilling than being a part of a child’s growth and education. It is a special feeling to invest in the life of a child and watch “the light go on.”  I look forward to continuing my education and earning certifications that will better equip me to serve the children here at Newport Children’s Academy. When I’m not at NCA, I enjoy camping and spending time with friends and family.  I am also an animal lover and enjoy the attentions of my best kitty, Nora.

Sarah Johnson

Assistant Teacher

Hello! My name is Sarah Johnson, and I am an assistant teacher here at Newport Children’s Academy. I am originally from the suburbs of Chicago, but now reside in Rogers Park here in the city. I am currently a rising senior at Loyola University Chicago where I am pursuing my degree in Social Work. I have a passion for working with kids and am excited to continue to work with children after I graduate with my MSW. I have many years of childcare experience, most notably working as an elementary tutor at a Chicago public school, and as a summer camp counselor for kids and teens with disabilities at a special recreation association. Outside of school, I enjoy exploring the city, music and singing, and volunteering at an animal shelter.

Cammi Casey

Assistant Teacher

Hi everyone!  My name is Cammi Casey (aka Ms. Casey).  I joined the Newport team July 2021 and am an assistant teacher and music teacher here.

Before joining the team at Newport, I worked as an assistant in a Kindergarten class at a Jewish school in Milwaukee.  I’ve also nannied and taught beginning piano lessons to kids since I was in high school.  I adore working with kids and I’m so excited to be here at Newport now!

I am from Oswego and I like to spend my free time with my friends, playing video games, watching anime, and reading/listening to audiobooks (especially Stephen King).

Juliet Montelongo

Assistant Teacher

Hi all!  I’m Juliet Montelongo and I am excited to be a part of the Newport community!  For the past ten years, I hav worked with youth of all ages from infants to preschoolers, and from Elementary aged kiddos to teens.  I studied Elementary Education at DePaul and am currently working towards a B.A.  To say the least, I am lucky to have had these great opportunities and feel that I am exceptionally experienced in the social-emotional growth and progressive learning of children, which is what I hope to bring with me at Newport.  Some of my interests include nature walks, picnics, traveling, and art!

Meredith Jambura

Assistant Teacher

Hello all!  My name is Meredith and I am very excited to be a part of the Newport community.  I am originally from the Milwaukee Wisconsin area and now reside in the North Center area of Chicago.  I am going into my senior year at Roosevelt University where I am majoring in elementary education.  I have been working with kids of all ages since high school and my love of working with kids came from volunteering and eventually working at an overnight summer came in my home state.  My most recent position before Newport was as an in-home tutor for a first grader as I helped her and her family navigate online learning during the pandemic.  Outside of work, I enjoy arts and crafts, yoga, and going for walks in nature.

Mattie Foley

Kindergarten Teacher

Hi my name is Miss. Foley! I have a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education from the University of Dayton and have been working in Early Childhood Education for the past few years, which I absolutely love. It’s amazing to watch the children learn and grow every day and I believe in facilitating that through genuine interactions and meaningful exploration and by providing the children with positive encouragement and support to explore the world around them. I can’t wait to watch your children flourish and please feel free to ask me any questions you might have!

Ali Wolfe

Kindergarten Teacher

Hi Newport families! My name is Miss Wolfe and I am super excited to officially join the team! I am a 2020 graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Elementary Education. I have a deep love for teaching and helping little minds expand and grow! In my free time, I love trying new restaurants and walking around the lakefront. I can’t wait to meet you all!