Meet Our Crew
Jacquelyn is a founding crew member of EMSA. She started her career in education in 2014 as a Special Education Teacher. Since then she has held the positions of Special Education Teacher, Multilingual Teacher, Dean of Student Culture, and Assistant Principal prior to her current role. She holds master’s degrees in Curriculum & Instruction and Educational Administration. Jacquelyn prides herself on building confidence in students, both academically and social/emotionally.
Director of Language and Equity Programs
Sarah Said is the Director of Language and Equity programs at the Elgin Math and Science Academy. Having worked with Multilingual learners in the capacity of teacher, curriculum coordinator, dean and director, Sarah has 17 years of experience to share with the crew. In her role, Sarah leads and supports the Multilingual program as well as supports EMSA’s JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) frameworks, Title Grants, and the Fine Arts Program. Sarah has been awarded the 40 under 40 Arab Americans in 2020. She is published internationally in Education Week, Confianza, The Teaching Channel, and Learning for Justice. Sarah recently served as an EL Education Community Coach for Open Up Resources and as a consultant for EL Education.
Director of Special Education
In 1992, Matthew graduated from Columbia College, Chicago, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in English/Creative Writing. His interest in working with the special education population began when, for three years, he worked with a Behavioral Specialist to write and implement behavior programs for adults with disabilities. Matthew received his Learning Behavior Specialist Teaching certification from Elmhurst College in 2000. For the last 21 years, he has worked at both public and private schools as a special educator in Illinois, Arizona, and Oregon. Matthew received the Oak Park Special Education Association’s SEAStar award for outstanding middle school teaching. In 2005, Matthew received his Master of Education in Special Education from the University of Illinois in Chicago. Most recently, Matthew taught English and was the Head of the Special Education Department in Dubai, UAE. He has also taught science and math teaching methods to preservice special educators at Aurora University. He is currently enrolled at Northern Illinois University’s doctoral program in Curriculum and Instruction while simultaneously taking classes towards his Director of Special Education endorsement. This is his first year as Director of Special Education in America.
Lauren Beavers is a founding crew member of EMSA. Lauren began her career in education delivering targeted reading interventions to kindergarten through second graders. She has taught both third and first grade prior to her transition into her current role. She holds a master’s degree in Differentiated Instruction and is concluding her degree as a Reading Specialist. Lauren prides herself on differentiating instruction, building strong relationships, nurturing social-emotional development, and creating a successful learning environment that nurtures the whole child.
Speech and Language Pathologist
Mycaleen got her Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and went on to Northern Illinois University for her Masters of Art in Speech-Language Pathology. With a deep interest in the pediatric and school-aged population, Mycaleen is dedicated to providing individualized, academic and functionally focused speech and language therapies at Elgin Math and Science Academy.
Special Education Teacher
Samantha is joining EMSA, during its fourth year, as a Special education Teacher. Previously she has served as the Special Education Coordinator at a Kindergarten-8th Grade School in Tennessee. Samantha is ecstatic to move back to Illinois to be closer to family! Samantha loves working with students to help them achieve great things and accomplish their goals. She is excited to meet each and every one of you!
Special Education Teacher
Hello! My name is Michelle Gaston and I have been teaching children with disabilities at St. Louis Public Schools for six years. I was born in Illinois and have lived in Missouri for 32 years after the marriage of my husband Tom. I attended college in St. Charles, Missouri at Lindenwood University, where I earned a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Elementary Education. I have four certifications from the state of Illinois making me highly qualified to teach the crew.
Andrea joined EMSA during its second year as a 3rd grade TA. The following year she accepted a position as Kindergarten Lead Teacher. Andrea began her teaching career in 2001 as an Associate Kindergarten Teacher at Baker Demonstration School. Since then, she has taught in a variety of schools, predominantly as an Early Childhood Montessori Teacher. She loves teaching students of all ages, but has always found early childhood to be her educational sweet spot. Andrea believes there is something uniquely special about young learners just beginning school and strives to nurture a true love of learning in each of her students.
Kindergarten Teacher Assistant
Meggi joined EMSA during its third year. She has been a substitute teacher in PreK – 6th grade since 2009. She especially enjoys helping young students grow their love of learning through discovery in the classroom and outdoors.
Kindergarten Teacher Assistant
Sarah Miller is a founding crew member of EMSA. She started out in a 3rd grade classroom before moving her current role as a Teacher’s Assistant in Kindergarten. Sarah is an Alumni of Judson College, Elgin, where she is an active member of the community. She prides herself on building strong relationships with students, families, and the community, and creating a nurturing and joyful classroom environment.
1st Grade Teacher
Amanda joined EMSA and started her career in education during the 202) school year. She knew that first grade was for her after student teaching in a first grade classroom. Amanda prides herself on helping her students to grow academically, socially and emotionally. She focuses on meeting each of her students’ needs. in and out of the classroom, to help her students grow into the best version of themselves.
2nd Grade Teacher
Lina is a founding crew member of EMSA but started in January. She started her career in education in 2002 as a 5th grade Teacher in the Chicago Public School system. She also taught Kindergarten for 6 years in a private school. She joined EMSA as the instructional coach but missed her love for teaching in the classroom setting. Since then she has transitioned to 2nd grade for the past 3 years. Lina prides herself on making the classroom setting a safe and fun space where students feel comfortable to grow and challenge themselves.
3rd Grade Teacher
Chad is a founding crew member of EMSA. He started his career in education in 2009 as a 3rd grade teacher. He has also taught 5th and 6th grade along the way. Chad prides himself on building strong relationships and a supportive crew where each student encourages themselves and others in the crew to persevere toward and accomplish their individual and crew goals.
3rd Grade Teacher
Sarah started her career in education at EMSA as a founding crew member! She found her sweet spot in third grade right away and enjoys this special age where she can build relationships and instill a love for learning. She had her first experience at an EL Education mentor school during her student teaching and was instantly inspired by the focus on active learning and character growth to promote student achievement. Sarah prides herself on creating a Crew where all members feel supported and motivated to achieve more than they thought possible.
3rd Grade Teacher Assistant
Veronica joined EMSA last year as a music teacher. In the middle of the year, she started helping in 3rd grade as a TA. Veronica loved it so much, she accepted a permanent position as a TA in 3rd grade. She loves helping students of all ages, but has found early childhood to be her passion. Veronica began teaching music as a private instructor in 2016, and currently owns her own music school, Voice with Vee.
5th Grade Teacher
Amanda joins EMSA as a 5th grade teacher after teaching refugee students from around the world in Atlanta, GA. Amanda has experience teaching elementary, middle, and high school students, but 5th grade is one of her favorite grades! With bachelor’s degrees in education and environmental science, she is excited about exploring EMSA’s outdoor resources with students. During her studies earning her Masters of Divinity degree, Amanda cultivated a trauma-informed and justice/equity/diversity/inclusion driven approach to working with people and organizations. She loves building a community of learning and belonging with her students.
6th Grade Social Studies and ELA Teacher
Tina is a dedicated and passionate educational leader and qualified teacher with 10 years of field experience in elementary and middle school classrooms as well as various leadership roles. She holds a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction and a second Masters in School Leadership. This is her first year with EMSA and looks forward to bringing her passion and experience for a wonderful journey ahead with the crew.