Meet the Team
Richard is an experienced programs manager with a coaching and youth counseling background.
Alma Montes de Oca
Spanish Preschool Instructor
Mandarin Preschool Instructor
Shuheng is a Mandarin instructor and curriculum developer. She was born and raised in Xi’an, China, a modern city with over 3,000 years of history. Chicago became her hometown after moving here a couple of years ago.
Prior to Academia, Shuheng taught and developed a K-8 Mandarin program in Wisconsin for three years. She also has experience teaching adults and college students in the Chicago area and is currently a doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Shuheng encourages interactive, communicative cultural understanding and interest-driven learning, and loves bringing technologies and multimedia to her classes.
Preschool Support & Early Childhood Coordinator
While originally from Chicago, Dolly has resided in Berwyn for the past five years. She has worked with all ages of children including infants and preschoolers for over twenty-one years. Ms. Dolly has worked as a site director at Sunny Days Kids Academy, where she was employed for over fourteen years. Dolly has an associate degree in Early Childhood Education from Morton College. She states that she enjoys working with children as they are our future.
Music Instructor/Spanish Preschool Substitute
Professional Educators License Learning Behavioral Specialist type 1 pre-K to 21
Endorsed English as a Second Language teacher
Erin is a veteran Special Education teacher with fifteen years’ experience teaching in the Chicago Public Schools. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Bradley University and ESL endorsement from the University of Illinois, she taught in the northwest side of the city. She has worked with the Low Incidences Disability Cluster Program for the past eight years as well.
Erin helped create and administer the After-Schools Minor Science Club program through the Museum of Science and Industry. Additionally, she is the site coordinator for the Young Athletes Special Olympics Program with 140 students, and was the head coach for youth athletes in the Special Olympics for many years.
Currently, Erin is an After-School Team Lead at Academia.
Taneisha is an After-School Coordinator at Academia. She is originally from Boston, MA, and currently resides in the Chicago area. She has several years of experience working with children from pre-school through the elementary years. Taneisha previously worked with an after-school program where she assisted in the planning and implementation of activities.
Qi is a native of China and currently resides in the Chicago area. Before moving to the Chicago area, she lived and worked in Kobe, Japan, for three years where she learned to speak and write Japanese. Qi has experience teaching both adults and children in a small group environment and believes that “A different language is a different vision of life.” She obtained her Master’s degree in Bilingual/Bicultural Education from Columbia University. Qi also trained to teach an immersion program in the New York City public school system.
Qi also supports the after-school team as a coordinator.
Chryssa PapacostaGreek Instructor Chryssa is a native of Greece and now resides in the Chicago area. She currently teaches Greek Language and Culture with an emphasis on the “Ellinomatheia” test (Certificate of Attainment in Modern Greek), of which she is a certified examiner. As a teacher of Greek (Modern and Ancient), Chryssa has had the opportunity to instruct students in secondary educational settings in Greece. For ten years, she was also an adjunct lecturer and field supervisor of teacher training programs at the University of Athens, Greece. Chryssa earned her Bachelor’s degree in History, Archeology, and Greek Language teaching. Her graduate studies were focused on Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education.
Erin Marie Higgins
Erin is an educator with twelve years of classroom teaching experience in all levels of French. Erin is fully credentialed in K-12 French in both IL and CA. She currently teaches French at Proviso Math and Science Academy in the International Baccalaureate program.
Erin received her BA in French from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and spent a year studying abroad in Montpellier, France, at the Université de Montpellier. She has a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and a Doctorate of Education from UCLA.
Erin has spent the past year working on a project for the University of California creating online courses in French.
Guadalupe Dominguez was born and raised in Chicago and is mother to five children. She is currently a student at Trinity Christian College. Guadalupe’s major is Elementary Education with a science minor and ESL/Bilingual Endorsement. She has worked with preschool children, and tutors children ages 3-15.
Guadalupe is proud of her Mexican heritage, and being a Bilingual/Spanish teacher will enable her to instill the importance of self-value and culture in her students. She wants her students to look forward to learning and understanding that making mistakes is okay.
Guadalupe wants her students to become curious risk-takers and to connect their experiences to their lessons. Mostly, she wants her students to feel safe and loved, and is eager to support them.
ACADEMIA SUPPORT TEAM
Christian CastilloHuman Resources and Training Christian is a native of Belize and currently resides in the Chicago area. He transports children to and from local schools to Academia, and can often be found playing board games and reading to the children during the afterschool program. Christian is an excellent cook and in his spare time loves to prepare food from his native Belize. He also enjoys taking his children for nature walks at Thatcher Woods. Christian speaks Belizean Creole, a pidgin language of Belize.
Customer Services Manager
Andria is a native of Belize who grew up in Oak Park and now resides in Champaign.
Andria supports the Academia staff with billing, HR, and customer service. Andria graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a degree in Anthropology and a minor in Greek Studies.
Kaycee LindemanCurriculum Advisor Kaycee is a Curriculum Advisor at Academia. She is also a clinical assistant professor at Illinois State University. Before moving to higher education, Kaycee taught for Chicago Public Schools, primarily as a special education teacher but also in general education, ESL, and bilingual education. She holds Master’s degrees in both Curriculum and Instruction from the American College of Education, and Educational Leadership and Linguistics from the University of Illinois.