Faculty Spotlight

Heather Giebel
PS-8 Music
Master of Music, New England Conservatory
Bachelor of Music, University of Massachusetts
Nine Years at Elgin Academy

Why are music and movement important components of a PS - 8 education?

I can't imagine music without movement. In the early years I add more movement in each class for students to learn to keep a steady beat. Less than 50% of adults can keep a beat and I want 100% of my students to be able to! Research shows a link between children who can keep a steady beat and linguistic development. Music and brain function are linked, so music helps children in all areas of development. Through music, they are exposed to instrumental sounds, historical periods, cultures, languages, emotions, inspirational composers, and performers... the list goes on. I wouldn't want any child to miss out on a musical education.


What has been your favorite musical memory at Elgin Academy so far?

My favorite memory each year is the Winter Program. I love the excitement that builds as the performance draws near. For some children, this is their first time performing on stage, so it is a monumental event! They must learn how to prepare as a musician. Not only do they practice and memorize, they learn to stand tall and proud, be focused, and feel a sense of accomplishment as the performance itself is the "reward." Even the youngest children work diligently for six weeks to prepare. As they line up backstage and wait for their entrance cue, their eyes light up with excitement and their smiles go from ear to ear.


How do you encourage kids to express themselves musically?

Music and movement fit together naturally, so in the early childhood program there are many opportunities for creative movement. As the children advance in their musical studies, they may do things like rewriting the words of a song, composing short melodies, creating ringtones, improvising rhythms, altering the section of a folk dance, or giving input regarding which song to work on. Students are also encouraged to share music they have been practicing outside of school. This results in impromptu performances!



Craig Pinson

Middle School Athletic Director
LS & MS PE Teacher
Bachelor of Science, Northern Illinois University
Master of Science, Ohio University

I really like teaching activities that students don’t get exposed to a lot.  You can go to any school in America and learn how to dribble a basketball in PE.  It takes a special kind of teacher to trust a kindergarten student with a floor hockey stick…

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Jennifer Brown

Lower School Administrative Assistant
Bachelor of Science, St. Louis University

"I enjoy knowing that I've helped someone, whether it's by completing a task, making sure information gets where it needs to go, or just listening. I get to do all of those every day."

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Julie Janik
Middle School Social Studies, Language Arts, and Theater
Master of Arts, National Louis University 
Master of Arts, Bowling Green State University Master of Music, University of Cincinnati
Bachelor of Music, University of Cincinnati 
"Middle school kids are a joy to teach. Their critical thinking skills and academic independence are just starting to blossom at this age, and they are contemplating topics and issues in new ways and at deeper levels."
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Elizabeth Stemn

Kindergarten Teacher
Bachelor of Arts, Minnesota State University-Moorhead

Kindergarteners find joy in the ordinary. It doesn't take much but a little encouragement and a smile to change a frown upside down or dry a tear.

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Jessica Brown

Middle School English
Bachelor of Arts, State University of New York-Cortland
Master of Science, Nazareth College
Master of Arts, DePaul University

"By teaching and guiding students through basic skills, they are better able to take control of their learning."

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Amy Maly

Early Childhood Teacher
Bachelor of Science, Illinois State University

"We can use our tools that we learned at a young age to celebrate success and work through challenges over the course of a lifetime."

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Doug Sept

Upper School Director & College Counselor
Bachelor of Science, University of Missouri
Master of Science, University of Kentucky

"There is a palpable sense of joy at Elgin Academy."

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Peggy Veltri

Middle School Language Arts and Social Studies
Bachelor of Journalism, University of Missouri
Master of Business Administration, Loyola University
Master of Arts in Teaching, National Louis University

"When we learn about things like the Silk Road in social studies, we don't just read about it, we take interactive journeys along it, trading as we go."

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Rick Williams

Director of Athletics and
Varsity Boys Head Basketball Coach
Bachelor of Arts, Judson University
Master of Science, Capella University

"By playing hard, having fun and getting better we let everyone know what it means to be a Hilltopper!"

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Heather Giebel

PS-8 Grade Music
Master of Music, New England Conservatory
Bachelor of Music, University of Massachusetts

"I wouldn't want any child to miss out on a musical education."

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Jim Kidston

Technology Director, Upper School Computer Science
Bachelor of Arts, University of Michigan
Master of Arts, University of Chicago
Master of Business Administration, University of Chicago

"My goal is to make myself unnecessary."

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Adeline Moon

4th Grade Teacher
Bachelor of Science at University of Illinois

"We have a Twitter page that allows the weekly student "Tweeter" to showcase what is going on in the classroom."

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