Jason Patera has been part of the Academy community for nearly 20 years, serving as a faculty member, Chair of the Music Department, Assistant Head of School, Principal, and now Head of School.
Director of Enrollment Management
Kitsana Salyphone brings over 15 years of independent school experience, including teaching, admission, diversity, communications, advancement and marketing.
Chair - Dance
Randy Duncan, a native Chicagoan, has the unique privilege to be a three-time recipient of Chicago’s prestigious Ruth Page Award for Outstanding Choreographer of the year. He teaches worldwide and for the past twenty-two years has been on the Academy faculty.
Chair - Visual Arts
Margy Stover has taught at The Academy since 2003 and has been Visual Arts Department Chair since 2008. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute and Master of Fine Arts from SUNY Buffalo.
Chair - Theatre
Ben Dicke holds a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Education from Sterling College. He has worked as a professional actor for twenty years in regional markets throughout the country.
Chair - Media Arts
Jessi Meliza has taught animation at The Academy since 2013 and was named Chair of the Department in the summer of 2017. She works in Chicago as an analogue and digital animator and has experience working in 16mm film production including both stop-motion animation and the DOS-controlled Oxberry animation stand for 2D filming.
Chair - Musical Theatre
Andrew Robinson earned his Bachelor of Arts in English and Religion from Rhodes College, his Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and his Master of Arts in Educational Theatre from New York University. he has been a creative associate with the Wagon Wheel Theatre for ten years where he has performed in and directed dozens of shows.
Chair - Music Department
Jazz vocalist Rose Colella currently performs regularly at Chicago's top jazz clubs and hotels, including The Jazz Showcase and The Green Mill, alongside the city's finest jazz musicians. Colella received her Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies from Roosevelt University in Chicago and owns the entertainment agency, Lola Bard Productions. She has been teaching jazz voice and piano at The Academy since 2006.
Chair - Science, Math, and Technology
Laura Stone earned her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and her Master of Science in Teaching Secondary Mathematics from University of Illinois, Chicago.
Chair - English
Nicholas Roux teaches philosophy and creative writing. He attended Kenyon College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in English, with concentrations in Creative Writing and Humane Studies, and served as a student associate for The Kenyon Review.
Dean of Students and Student Services Coordinator
Elizabeth Cunningham is the Dean of Students as well as the Student Services Coordinator. After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art and a Master of Education in Special Education at Loyola University, Elizabeth Cunningham spent over fifteen years working with adolescents and children in therapeutic day school programs and advocating for special needs students as a Due Process Hearing Officer for the state of Illinois.
Sarah Langford was a high school teacher for fifteen years and is now College Counselor at The Academy. Sarah attended the University of Missouri and holds a Master of Education from The University of Illinois (Chicago).
Patricia Rusk, musical director, pianist, arranger, and coach for both musical theatre and cabaret, has been performing professionally since age thirteen and teaching since age sixteen. She received a Bachelor of Arts with distinction from the Eastman School of Music and a Master of Arts from Northwestern University, with additional musical study at Villa Schifanoia, Florence, Italy.Patricia Rusk has been an integral part of The Academy since 1997.
Tim Tynan has been teaching history at The Academy since fall of 2000. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and English Literature from Loyola University of Chicago, as well as a Master of Arts in English Literature and an Illinois teaching certificate in Secondary Education from Northeastern Illinois University.
Anna earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in French Literature from the University of Illinois, Chicago, where she also taught before coming to the Academy.
Director of Finance & Operations
Jon brings to The Academy 15 years experience in arts administration. Prior to The Academy, Jon was the Managing Director of Next Theatre, and has served with Chicago Children’s Theatre, Circle Theatre and Chicago Public Art Group.
Director of Marketing & Communications
Tim joined the Academy in early 2016 after previously working in film and live music marketing.
Director of Development
Bringing over 15 years of development experience to The Chicago Academy for the Arts, Judith leads the development department’s vision and goals, and fosters relationships with individuals, foundations and corporations to advance the mission of The Academy. Judith joined the Academy in March 2016.
Lesley Skousen earned her PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her dissertation explored the cultural impact of legal history in reshaping power and authority during the English Reformation.
Mental Health Counselor
Lauren is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Illinois as well as a Nationally Certified Counselor. She brings years of clinical experience in working with teens and young adults in school, clinical, and collegiate settings.
Brenda Moore is a Chicago based visual artist represented by Linda Warren Projects. She has taught at The Academy since 2003.
Marketing & Communications Associate
Jennifer joined The Academy during the fall of 2015 after woking in various aspects of music and film. She earned a degree in Business and Entrepreneurship with a concentration in Music Business from Columbia College Chicago.
Registrar & Database Manager
David DePrez has served with enthusiasm for his subject matter at The Academy for nine years. He is a graduate of Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science in Botany, a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies, and a Bachelor of Science in Science Education.
Natalie Rast has been teaching ballet to aspiring artists for over 35 years. She has served as ballet mistress for Winifred Haun & Dancers and Zephyr Dance Ensemble, and has been an adjunct faculty member at Columbia College Chicago since 1988.
Laura Kaplan earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne, a teaching certificate in Secondary Mathematics from Eastern Michigan University, and a Master of Education from Michigan State University.
Jesse Langen is a guitarist who specializes in new music. He works with living composers regularly and premieres dozens of pieces every season. Equally comfortable on classical and electric guitar, he seeks to push both the technical boundaries and the conceptual functions of the instrument. He has taught at The Academy since 2002.
Chris Banaszak is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics with minors in Math and Music.
Casey Puccini began teaching cinematography and video production within the Media Arts Department in 2012.
Saren Nofs-Snyder is an accomplished, Jeff Nominated, Chicago based actress who teachers Acting in the Musical Theatre Department. She earned her BFA in Acting from the University of Utah, and her MFA in Acting and Directing from the University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC).
Deborah Goodman began her dance training at Northern Illinois University. She began teaching dance at The Academy in 2006. Goodman has served on the faculty of the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, New York University, Long Island University, The Connecticut Conservatory of the Performing Arts, and Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts.
Snezana Zabic has been teaching creative nonfiction and poetry at the Academy since 2015.
Liam O’Connor is a Chicago based visual artist who has taught at The Academy since the fall of 2015. He grew up on a small suburban island near San Francisco, and received his BA from Lewis & Clark College and his MFA in Sculpture + Expanded Practice from The Ohio State University.
Anthony Pinto joined the faculty at The Academy in the summer of 2016 from a charter school on Chicago's South Side. He has a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering and a Master of the Arts in Secondary Mathematics Education from the University of Pittsburgh. He teaches Algebra, Algebra 2, Discrete Math, and Honors Precalculus.
Christine Hoffman earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Master's in Literature from Northwestern University. She teaches Freshman English at the Academy.
Jake Hinkson is the author of several books, including the novels Hell On Church Street, The Posthumous Man, and No Tomorrow, the short story collection The Deepening Shade, and the essay collection The Blind Alley: Exploring Film Noir’s Forgotten Corners. He was a a guest lecturer at The Academy in early 2016 and later joined the faculty.
Patrick Simoniello began his professional career as a dancer with The Joffrey II Dancers in New York City in 1993. He was soon promoted to the main company of The Joffrey in 1994.
Seth woods has a PhD in Performance Research from the University of Huddersfield and began teaching cello at The Academy in 2016.
Olga Meyer graduated from Azerbajian State College in Baku and earned her Masters in Music from the State Conservatory. She taught and concertized before coming to the United States in 1981. She has been at The Academy since 1985.
Rachel Brown is an active chamber musician, soloist, orchestral performer, and educator. After three years as a regular member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, she is now the Associate Principal Second Violin of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra and also performs with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Rockford Symphony Orchestra, and Fort Wayne Philharmonic.
Jon earned his formal music education at the esteemed University of North Texas, where he studied with Lynn Seaton, Stefan Karlsson, and the legendary drummer Ed Soph. An extended workshop at the Banff Centre for the Arts afforded him the opportunity to work alongside Clarence Penn, Dave Douglas, and Jason Moran while developing his unique brand of drumming and composition.
A native of Gadsden , Alabama , Roderick Ferguson holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from Birmingham-Southern College (magna cum laude). Mr. Ferguson later earned a Master of Music Degree from the University of Houston where he studied with world-renowned concert artist Abbey Simon. His studies have also taken him to the Longy School of Music in Cambridge , MA and Northwestern University , where he undertook post-graduate study. He teaches piano at The Academy.
Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Mabel received piano performance degrees from Rice University and Northern Illinois University.
John Sims studied Jazz Performance and Economics at Arizona State University.
After earning his B.A. in classical percussion from Trinity College London as well as a B.A. in jazz studies from Newcastle College of Arts and Technology, Ray furthered his studies in the Netherlands where he lived and worked for several years, gaining a masters degree in classical percussion performance.
Peter Schwendener has been active on the Chicago jazz scene for over three decades. Besides performing, he teaches jazz and classical piano at his studio in Evanston, Illinois.
Doug Rosenberg is a member of the new generation of jazz musicians composing and improvising music for the next century.
Emily is a seasoned professional with multiple years of teaching experience at the Denver Center Theatre Academy. She holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from the University of Oklahoma.
Jonathan Alsberry is a dancer, educator, creator and coach. Born in Normal, IL he began dancing with his mother Lyndetta and went on to graduate from The Chicago Academy for the Arts where he has since been guest faculty and created over a dozen dances for the school and company.
Lauren earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and Latino Studies, and her Master of Arts degree in Secondary Education at the University of Michigan.
Christopher Hagenah attended University of California Santa Barbara, where he earned a Doctor of Philosophy in English.
Director of Strategic Initiatives
Prior to assuming the role of Director of Strategic Initiatives, Joseph (Joe) Hulbert worked as Director of Partnerships at The Academy since the fall of 2014. Joe has over a decade of experience working at the intersection of education and community arts through his work at both The Academy and the Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP), at Columbia College Chicago. In addition to work developing community-based programming for students, Joe taught for 4 years the Business and Entrepreneurship Department at Columbia College Chicago, specializing in new technology in arts management. His non-profit and higher education experience also includes teaching artistry, fundraising, cause-based marketing, online course creation & management, database development, and overall technology management. Before joining CCAP, Joe worked as a musician and educator in the internationally acclaimed ensemble Youngblood Brass Band, and also helped to develop their educational programming.