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.
Co-Chair - Humanities
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.
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 - Science, Math, and Technology
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.
Co-Chair - Humanities
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.
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.
Dean of Students and Student Services Coordinator
Elizabeth Cunningham is the Dean of Students as well as the Student Services Coordinator. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art and a Master of Education in Special Education at Loyola University.
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.
Chris Arnold has been involved in arts education for 14 years. His career started at The Chicago Academy for the Arts as Chair of the Theatre Department, as well as teaching English.
He just completed five years teaching Speech & Drama Teacher at Deerpath Middle School in Lake Forest, IL.
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 Development
Elizabeth Vivas joined The Academy in October 2018 as the Director of Development. Elizabeth brings 10 years of experience in education and fundraising. She is passionate about education equity and how art can unite a community and help people find their voice.
Director of Marketing & Communications
Tim joined the Academy in early 2016 after previously working in film and live music marketing.
Mental Health Counselor
Dinah Hudson is a recent graduate from Adler University with a MA degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She holds many titles including counselor, mentor, and activist.
Brenda Moore is a Chicago based visual artist represented by Linda Warren Projects. She has taught at The Academy since 2003.
Registrar & Database Manager
Kimberly began working part-time as The Academy’s Registrar in 2009, simultaneously teaching English as a Second Language at City Colleges of Chicago.
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.
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.
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 teaches 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.
Buck has been working as the Technical Director/Production Manager for The Chicago Academy for the Arts since 2004. He is a Member of the Illinois Theatre Association and the CAA representative to the USITT.
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.
Mary Caraway is originally from San Antonio, Texas but moved to Chicago in 1969. She worked for a men's clothing company for 37 years, and volunteered for the community group Forever Free. She joined The Academy in 2012.
Robert joined The Academy in 2014. Prior to taking the role of Facilities Manager, he worked as a baker at the Archdiocese of Chicago for 27 years.
Henry Feliciano has over 30 years of experience in facilities, most notably with Verizon. Henry joined The Academy in 2014.
Van Jackson is originally from Mississippi. He graduated from Chicago State University before working at Standard Oil and US Steel. He joined The Academy in 2013.
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.
Christopher Hagenah attended University of California Santa Barbara, where he earned a Doctor of Philosophy in English.
Rita Dawod has a degree in Physics from DePaul University where she published her work on Physics Education Research. She also has a Master of the Arts in Secondary Science Education from National Louis University.
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.
Melissa Metelits became a faculty member in 2018 and teaches Algebra II, Precalculus, AP Calculus BC, and AP Computer Science. She has taught and tutored a variety of subjects in Philadelphia, her home town, and in Chicago.
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.
Kelli Harrington earned both Bachelors and Masters degrees in Vocal Performance from Northwestern University.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A native of Naperville, Illinois, Jack Murray began training in classical piano at the age of four. For the past four years, Jack has led an impressive career in the audio industry. Before joining the faculty at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, Jack was involved in numerous recording, live sound, and televised productions during which he worked alongside local stars, national touring acts, and seasoned music legends.
Doug Rosenberg is a member of the new generation of jazz musicians composing and improvising music for the next century.
Andrew Bukowinski grew up in Oklahoma, where he began playing cello in the public school system and quickly grew attached to it. He earned his Bachelor of Music, summa cum laude from Arizona State University, and his Master of Music with distinction from DePaul University.
Katie Ernst is a bassist, vocalist, and educator from Naperville, IL. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media and a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. Ms. Ernst has performed at jazz festivals throughout the country including the Chicago Jazz Festival, Rochester International Jazz Festival, and Hyde Park Jazz Festival.
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.
Alex Cassidy joined The Academy in 2018, and earned their Bachelors in Science Education from the University of Florida. Alex comes to The Academy from Wellsprings Friends School in Eugene, OR.
Mary Kettering joined the Humanities Department in 2018. She holds a degree in political science and history from the University of Montana, where she also earned her teaching certification. She earned her Masters of Philosophy in Women and Gender Studies from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.