The Keith faculty is recruited nationally and internationally with advanced degrees in their respective fields, recognized success in education, and a commitment to being role models for young people. They are dedicated to life-long learning and continued professional growth. They use a broad repertoire of teaching techniques and technologies, enhancing students’ skills by integrating these approaches throughout the curriculum. Perhaps most importantly, Keith faculty are available to students and parents, before, during and after school. Celebration phone calls and emails, correspondence over weekends and direct access to a students’ daily progress through a NetClassroom application are just a few of the many ways we maintain strong teacher-student-parent relationships.
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Math Enrichment Specialist
B.A. from University of Illinois
M.B.A. from Northern Illinois University
After college, he completed USAF pilot training and flew the C-130 aircraft worldwide. Larry has worked in corporate America for many years, retiring in 2007. His love for connecting mathematics to daily applications attracted him to Keith. He has also served as an instructor in business courses at Rock Valley College for over 20 years. In his leisure time Larry enjoys reading, sports, and traveling.
Renee Allen Lozdoski
Language Arts and Academic Support
B.S. in Elementary Education from Rockford University
M.Ed Curriculum & Instruction; Reading Specialist; Concordia University, Portland
Mrs. Allen Lozdoski joined the Keith faculty as the Grade 5 teacher in 2013. She currently serves as an Upper School Language Arts teacher and Lower School Academic Support teacher. She has a B.S. in Elementary Education from Rockford University with additional teaching endorsements in language arts and business education. She earned a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Reading from Concordia University, Portland. She has extensive experience designing instructional programs that are personalized to the learning styles of her students. She has served on the faculties of Rockford Dance Company and Rockford University as a dance instructor, volunteered with the Girl Scouts, and is currently an enrichment tutor. She is also a Cougar Quest supervisor and the Upper School Yearbook Advisor. Her most recent project has been creating a not-for-profit organization for grief support. She enjoys reading, dancing, traveling, and family time.
Middle and Upper School Language Arts
B.F.A. from Northern Illinois University
Certified Instructor, The Institute for Excellence in Writing
Melanie Anderson was highly-recruited to the faculty in 2015. She has tutored students in the community since 2000 and is excited to share her enthusiasm for thinking, writing, and communicating with Keith students next year. She believes good writers can distinguish themselves by communicating what they know and believe in effective ways. She inspires students to develop strong written communication skills to attract growth opportunities in personal, academic, and professional life. She considers it a privilege to help students make the transition from being consumers of academic knowledge in the classroom to becoming producers of new ideas and information.
B.S. from George Mason University in Laboratory Science
M.S. from George Mason University in Information Management
M.A.T. from Rockford College in Teaching
Faye’s son, Navid, graduated from Keith in 2011 as a National Merit Scholar and her son, Alex, has been a member of Keith’s nationally-ranked Quiz Bowl Team. In addition to bringing high expectations for academic and social learning, she hopes to create an engaged classroom for both students and parents. A graduate from George Mason University with a bachelor’s in Laboratory Science and a master’s in Information Management, Faye earned a second master’s degree in teaching from Rockford College. Prior to joining the Keith faculty, her classroom experience included teaching kindergarten through second grade students. She integrates her extensive business experiences into math and science instruction. Faye has worked as a senior systems analyst for commercial billing systems at MCI Telecommunications Corporation in Arlington, Virginia and the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C. She has also been a systems consultant for different projects at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
Middle School Mathematics and Language Arts
B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from Stetson University
J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law
M.A.T. from Rockford University
Mrs. Beckmann attended Stetson University in central Florida. During her time there, she completed two study abroad programs: one in Guanajuato, Mexico and the other in Madrid, Spain. After college, Mrs. Beckmann was awarded a full scholarship to attend law school at the University of Cincinnati, allowing her to return to her native Ohio. After many years as a successful attorney in Florida and Illinois, Mrs. Beckmann decided to change careers to pursue her true passion, teaching. She finished her Master of Arts in Teaching in December 2015. While she worked on her M.A.T., Mrs. Beckmann was a substitute elementary and middle school teacher for various local school districts. She is married and has three children. Mrs. Beckmann is thrilled to be joining the Keith Family this fall.
B.S. History from Northern Illinois Unviersity
Ashley is a graduate of Northern Illinois University where she received a Bachelor of Science in History with professional teaching certificates in history, geography, and middle school mathematics. Shortly after graduating, she moved to Texas where her husband is stationed with the U.S. Air Force. While in Texas, Ashley was employed at Vernon High School where she supported students with developing literacy skills, organizational strategies, and leadership development. Ashley believes the best way for students to learn is through engaging experiences that cause students to ask more questions. She thinks her strongest instructional expertise will be with younger children in the pre-kindergarten program. In the pre-kindergarten curriculum, she will utilize purposeful play strategies so students learn essential concepts, inquiry tools, and foundational academic concepts. She is most excited about working with the Keith early childhood team to continue designing and implementing exciting learning projects. In her spare time, Ashley enjoys playing board games, experimenting with arts and crafts, and playing with her cat, Captain Jack Harness.
Elizabeth (Betty) Benoit
Middle and Upper School Resource
B.A. in Elementary Education from Central Michigan University
M.S. in Reading from Northern Illinois University
A veteran teacher with more than three decades of experience, Betty joined Keith from the Harlem School District where she taught fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. Betty thoroughly understands the importance of differentiating instruction to meet the specific learning needs of Keith students. Students consistently seek Betty’s support when needing guidance on study strategies and research skills. A native of Michigan, Betty earned her B.A. in Elementary Education from Central Michigan University and her M.S. from Northern Illinois University. She is currently a resident of Roscoe and has two daughters, Grace and Joy.
Grade 1 Co-Teacher
B.S. in Human Development and Psychology from Rockford University
Ms. Bowes joined the Lower School team in 2012 as a Cougar Quest Teacher, and after her college graduation became the full-time teaching assistant in the Junior Kindergarten class. Katie is a graduate from Rockford University with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Human Development and a minor in Psychology. She has an obvious passion for teaching and working with children. Outside of the Keith family, Katie enjoys spending time with her large extended family, and being an evening caregiver for her 94-year-old grandmother. She is a huge sports fan, animal lover, and a Disney expert. Ask Katie about anything Disney! Katie is looking forward to motivating her students so they may reach their highest potential while instilling a love for school and learning.
B.S. in Elementary Education and Special Education from Concordia University
M.A. in Education and Leadership from St. Xavier University
Mrs. Brahmstedt was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Award for 2014. For many years, Jan taught fifth grade at Keith. Jan’s impressive teaching credentials well qualified her to serve as the lead teacher of the Lower School from 2013 thru 2016. Jan will be on a temporary leave from Keith as she pursues other career options, and will continue to serve in an advisory capacity. Jan enjoys doing special projects involving youth and adult education at her church, and presenting topics at women’s and marriage retreats. Jan also likes boating, gardening, quilting, and spending time with her husband, four children, and extended family.
Dr. Thompson Brandt
Middle and Upper School Director of the Wind Ensemble and Orchestra
Bachelor of Music Education, Drake University
Master of Science in Music Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Master of Science in Educational Administration, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Doctor of Philosophy in Music Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Post-Doctoral Diploma in Higher Educational Leadership, Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. Thompson Brandt, a native Chicagoan, joined the Keith faculty in 2016 as director of the wind ensemble and orchestra after having served in increasingly more responsible faculty and administrative positions at the secondary and college levels throughout his career.
For a period of twenty-five years, he conducted bands and orchestras at Carl Sandburg High School in the southwest suburbs of Chicago and at Jamestown College (now the University of Jamestown) in North Dakota where he was professor of music and associate dean of academic affairs. While he was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Brandt conducted the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Philharmonia Orchestra and was an assistant director in the department of bands. He has also been a guest conductor and clinician at the International Music Camp, Illinois Summer Youth Music, and the University of Wisconsin Music Clinic. Dr. Brandt is the author of six published books and over twenty scholarly articles, most of which unite the disciplines of music and American history.
More recently, Dr. Brandt served as dean of humanities, social sciences, and fine arts at Highland Community College, a consultant for the Higher Learning Commission, and as an adjunct professor at Sauk Valley College. He and his wife live in Freeport and are the parents of a daughter and a son who work and attend college in Wisconsin, respectively. Beyond the classroom and rehearsal hall, Dr. Brandt enjoys writing, golfing, walking, reading, and cheering for University of Wisconsin athletics and Chicago professional sports teams.
Social Studies Department Chair
Middle and Upper School Social Studies and Economics Teacher
B.A. in History and Anthropology from Marquette University
The energetic Kristin Burns was the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Faculty Award. A graduate from Marquette University with degrees in History and Anthropology, Kristin teaches the middle school social studies courses and Lower School enrichment courses. In addition co-administers the Keith Facebook page, coaches the middle school scholastic and quiz bowl teams, and co-advises the Model UN delegation. Prior to joining the Keith faculty, she worked in other area school districts, and the Regional Alternative School for at risk youth. Kristin is a member of Phi Alpha Theta and the League of Women Voters. Outside of school, Mrs. Burns and her husband share a passion for dog rescue and rehabilitation, and they volunteer for local animal rescue organizations. She also enjoys cheering on the Milwaukee Brewers and the Green Bay Packers.
Science Department Chair
B.S. in Biology-Ecology and B.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Geography from Minnesota State University, Mankato
M.A.T. from Rockford University
The recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Faculty Award and numerous Golden Apple nominations, David has extensive professional experience in addition to an impressive teaching resume. Before joining the Keith faculty, David worked on wetland and water quality policy for the National Wildlife Federation in Washington, DC, as a research assistant/temporary instructor at Iowa State University, as a lab technician for Baxter International, and as an environmental specialist for American Tower Corporation. At Keith, he is the Science Department Chair and teaches middle school science and math, senior year environmental science, and middle school math. David has been a guest instructor at Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens. Another contribution that he enjoys immensely, is coaching. Since 2002, David has coached various sports including volleyball, basketball, and soccer. David is married to Abigail, has a daughter, Emery, and a son, Tyler, who are both Keith School students. To view David’s web site, click here.
Lower School Co-Coordinator,
Third Grade Teacher and English Department Chair
B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Northern Illinois University
Illinois Teaching Certificate in Early Childhood Education
M.A. in Reading and Literature from Walden University
Allison joined the Lower School faculty in 2010 with more than 10 years of classroom and community education experience. She is the Co-Coordinator of all Lower School programs. She has a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Northern Illinois University and a M.A. in Reading and Literature through Walden University. Throughout her career, Allison has taught several different grade levels and is well-versed in designing creative lesson plans that accommodate multiple intelligences. In addition to working as a classroom teacher, Allison has also worked as an administrator at Argyle Preschool and at the Sylvan Learning Center.
Dr. Debra Dimke
Head of School
M.S. in Educational Administration/Special Education from Northern Illinois
Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Western Illinois University
Dr. Debra Dimke was named the 16th Head of School at Keith in July of 2012. An outstanding educator and administrator for more than 34 years, Dr. Dimke oversees Keith’s curriculum, faculty, admissions, finances, development program and communications. She is a graduate from Northern Illinois University with a master’s degree in Educational Administration/Special Education. She earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Western Illinois University. Dr. Dimke has been an executive administrator for more than 16 years working in the Peoria School District, District U-46, and the Rockford School District. During her public school years, she was instrumental in establishing several new programs such as developing curricula for bilingual, gifted and special education students, implementing instructional management systems for principals and teachers, and improving college readiness initiatives. If the name Dimke sounds familiar, it’s for good reason. Dr. Dimke’s husband (Tim) is the Executive Director of the Rockford Park District. Their son, Derek, a former Keith School student graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in finance. In 2012, he finished his collegiate football career with the University of Illinois as the school’s all-time record holder in field goal accuracy. He is pursuing a career in the National Football League, but still is a frequent Keith visitor.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x114
Math Department Chair
B.S. in Mathematics from Northern Illinois University
Upon receiving his degree in Mathematics Education from Northern Illinois University, Mr. Doherty began his teaching career at Belvidere High School where he taught Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry. Mr. Doherty has extensive instructional expertise in providing an accelerated and differentiated curriculum for students who are gifted and talented. He currently teaches Geometry, Algebra I, and Pre-Algebra while serving as the Math Department Chair. Mr. Doherty also serves as the Math Enrichment Specialist in grades 4 and 5. The primary objective of Math Enrichment is to challenge the minds of the Lower School students to develop reasoning, critical thinking, and problem solving skills through everyday connections.
Director of Student Services
B.A. in Sociology from Wooster College
M.S. in Instructional Technology from Eastern Connecticut University
Lindsey has over fourteen years of experience in college admissions and college counseling, having worked at Sweet Briar College (VA), Wittenberg University (OH), The College of Wooster (OH) and Beloit College (WI). She served as the director of college counseling at Maumee Valley Country Day School in Toledo, Ohio where she also coached women’s lacrosse and served on various board task force committees. Lindsey comes to Keith School from Beloit College where she was director of admissions. Her daughter, Alexandra will be joining the second grade class.
Middle and Upper School Spanish
B.A. in Spanish and French with Academic Commendation from the Univ. of Hawaii
M.A. and Pre-doctoral work at the University of Wisconsin, Madison
Member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi
In addition to an extensive teaching background in foreign languages, Apryle has lived and studied in Spain and Mexico. She attended Pomona College, earned her B.A. in Spanish and French at the University of Hawaii, received an M.A. in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison as she began pre-doctoral work also at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received a post-Master’s certification in teaching from Michigan State University. Along with teaching middle and high school students, Apryle has also taught at Rockford College and worked with private businesses on diversity training and English as a Second Language. Apryle’s greatest joy is her family. She also enjoys gardening, reading history, music, entertaining her cats, and writing poetry.
Scholastic Team Coach
A.A. from Rock Valley College
B.S. from Northern Illinois University in Mathematics
Brad joined Keith in 2012 after earning a Bachelor’s in Mathematics from Northern Illinois University. While attending Northern, he served as the assistant coach for the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) Scholastic Bowl Team. During Brad’s coaching tenure, the IMSA Team earned two IHSA Class AA State Championships and two top-25 finishes at the National Championship. At Keith, Brad enjoys designing lectures that integrate college-level mathematics, including combinatorics, real analysis, and group theory, into the Middle and Upper School courses. Brad was very instrumental in the impressive growth of Keith’s Upper School Scholastic Bowl Team. Brad, and Keith colleagues, led the Team to two top-five finishes in the State competition and their first appearance at the National Competition in 2014. Outside of school, Brad enjoys spending time with his wife and son, Jimmy, a Lower School student.
B.A in Elementary Education from University of Illinois
Kelly shares over twenty years of teaching experience with students, parents, and colleagues in the Keith community. She joined the Lower School faculty in 2007. A graduate of the University of Illinois-Chicago, she received a B.A. in Elementary Education with a concentration in music and a passion for children’s literature. Her lengthy resume includes past positions in Chicago, South Beloit, and the Rockford area as an early childhood educator: Pre-K3, Pre-K4, Kindergarten, and a classroom teacher: grades 2, 3, 4, and a general music teacher for students in all elementary grades. She currently serves as our lead teacher in the Junior Kindergarten program. When visiting Kelly’s classroom, it becomes apparent that her thematic cross-curricular lessons quickly engage students and their families, and she has earned the title “Most Creative Lower School Faculty Member”. Outside the classroom Kelly has taught piano and has worked with children in the dramatic arts. Kelly, and her husband, have two teenage children who are actively involved in competitive sports, dance, and theatrical communities. When time allows, she enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending time with her family.
Dr. Fred Hadley
Upper School Science and Math
B.A. Chemistry, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Ph.D. Physical Chemistry, Rice University, Houston, TX
Dr. Hadley has extensive teaching experience at all levels, starting with science education at the elementary level while in the Peace Corps (Philippines), college-level chemistry and physics for almost 40 years, and, most recently, high school science and math here at Keith. While in the collegiate environment, his research interests focused primarily on the kinetics (rates) and mechanisms of chemical reactions. He was the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching and Campus Leadership Award while at Rockford University. In addition to his teaching, he has been an active volunteer in the Rockford community, at Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful (KNIB), Habitat for Humanity, the IREAD program in our elementary schools, and Crusader Community Health. He has had long-time interests in woodworking, classical music, reading, and travel. Lately he has been developing, with the help of his wife, his culinary skills, a work in progress, to be sure.
B.S. from Illinois State University
M.A. in Teaching from Aurora University
M.E.L. in Administration from Aurora University
Rhonda is a veteran teacher with experience educating students ranging from pre-kindergarten to masters-level students. She has worked as a first and second grade teacher, a media specialist, a technology trainer, and a coordinator of professional development. Rhonda joined the Keith faculty in 2005. In 2008, she was a Golden Apple Finalist and in 2012 she was the recipient of Keith’s Distinguished Faculty Award. Outside the classroom she enjoys reading, gardening, her grandchildren and traveling with her family.
Upper School Mathematics
B.S. in Mathematics/Mathematics Education from Northern Illinois University
Prior to joining the faculty, Mr. Hatfield completed one year of teaching at Hononegah High School and two years at Danville High School in Danville, Illinois. From teaching credit recovery courses to AP Calculus, Mr. Hatfield has helped students from varying academic backgrounds successfully achieve in all levels of math coursework. He thoroughly enjoys teaching the highest levels of high school mathematics courses. Mr. Hatfield completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics Education from Northern Illinois University. He and his long-term partner, Samantha, are recent parents to son, Dakota. In his free time, Mr. Hatfield enjoys playing board games with his friends and family.
Middle School Physical Education and Math
B.S. in Exercise Science from Indiana University Bloomington
M.S. in Recreational Therapy from Indiana University Bloomington
Jordan attended Keith School for 15 years and graduated in 2008. She was a leading member of the 2007 Lady Cougars volleyball team, the first in school history to participate in the state finals. She went on to attend Indiana University, where she broke many volleyball records. She is the only player in IU volleyball history to record over 1500 kills and 1000 digs in her collegiate career. Jordan returned to Keith in the 2014-2015 school year. She quickly became a beloved assistant in the lower school classrooms. She also assisted with the girls and boys volleyball programs. Jordan brings her energy to the classroom as a co-teacher of middle school physical education courses and a middle school math course.
Leslie (Les) Haygood
Middle and Upper School French & Upper School Language and Composition
B.A. in English and French from Manchester University
Diplôme des études françaises from Université de Nancy II (Nancy, France)
M.A. in English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis
M.A. in French Literature from University of Notre Dame
Ph.D. course work and ABD status from University of Wisconsin-Madison
Les has taught all levels of French language, culture, and literature at the university level and has also taught middle school. He has taught at Notre Dame, UW-Madison, and Lawrence University. He has lived and studied abroad at several points during his career and has taught English at the Université d’Aix-Marseille in France. Les’ pedagogical approach to language teaching focuses on giving students proficiency in oral communication, grammar, written expression, and cultural understanding. As a medievalist, Les is active in the International Courtly Literature Society (ICLS) and the International Arthurian Society, North American Branch (IASNAB). Les is passionate about French cooking and baking and sharing his love for French cuisine with friends, colleagues, and students. He also enjoys reading, writing fiction and non-fiction, and spending time with his cats in his spare time.
Dr. Patrick Hogan
Middle and Upper School Latin and Spanish & Upper School Language and Composition
B.A. in Classics from Lawrence University
M.A. and Ph.D. in Classical Philology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Patrick has taught Latin and Ancient Greek at a number of colleges and universities in Michigan, including Hope College and Hillsdale College, and studied overseas in Rome and Athens. He is an active member in the American Philological Association and maintains an active research regimen focused on imperial Greek and Latin literature, especially works of grammar and philology. He enjoys composing his own Latin poems, some of which he has published, and memorizing Vergilian verse. Learning and teaching languages are his great passion – currently he is learning Hebrew in his free time.
Co-Coordinator of the Lower School and Kindergarten Teacher
B.S. in Family and Child Studies from Northern Illinois University
M.A.T. in Elementary Education from National Louis University — Wheeling
Stephanie Johnson brings energy and excitement for learning to the entire Lower School campus. She serves as Co-Coordinator of the Lower School. A day with Mrs. Johnson in our kindergarten classroom will foster lively conversation with all Keith students. She is an expert in developing integrated lessons that emphasize hands-on learning through the use of manipulative and sensory exploration. Stephanie grew up in Illinois and started her educational career at Jefferson Elementary School in Harvard, Illinois. When not planning interesting activities for her students, Stephanie enjoys time with her family.
B.A. in Elementary Education from Lindenwood University
Mrs. Laura Kurich recently joined the Keith Lower School team and is teaching our Junior Kindergarten students. Laura is a graduate from Lindenwood University with a B.A. Degree in Elementary Education. Laura has been a swim instructor, and for many years was a Keith summer camp counselor. Outside of the classroom, Laura enjoys spending time with her family, reading a good book, and watching sports with her husband, Dan. Her passion for teaching is undeniably deep! She looks forward to developing an enthusiasm for learning with all her Keith students .
Dr. Ron Lee
Director of the Middle and Upper School
B.A. in Political Science from the University of Chicago
Ph.D.and M.A. in Political Science from Boston College
In May 2009, Dr. Lee was named Director of Middle and Upper School after teaching full-time at Keith Country Day School for seven years. He helped put Keith in the national spotlight when, in 2006, the College Board announced that Keith had the strongest Advanced Placement U.S. History course in the world among schools its size. In 2007, Dr. Lee’s AP European History course was rated strongest in the country among schools its size. Following his promotion to administration, Dr. Lee scaled back his teaching schedule and now teaches only AP courses in the Social Studies Department. Dr. Lee is also an adjunct associate professor at Rockford University, where he regularly teaches courses in political science and history. He has also taught at Boston College, Michigan State University, and Kenyon College. Dr. Lee has been published in the political science journal Polity and has edited and been a contributing writer for high school readers on government, the Constitution, American history, and world politics. His favorite activities outside of school are reading, watching sports, and spending time with his Olde English bulldog, RJ.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x174
Dr. Beth Lipton
Middle and Upper School Mathematics and Science
B.A. in Biochemistry from University of Iowa
Ph.D. in Biochemistry from University of Iowa
Dr. Lipton has an extensive research background in lipid metabolism in the setting of diabetes and atherosclerosis. Beth has tutored students in numerous math and science courses, has taught at Rock Valley College, and is currently in her eleventh year of teaching at Keith. She and her husband have three children, one of whom is a Keith graduate, and two others currently enrolled in the Upper School. In addition to her classroom work, Beth advises the Key Club. In her spare time Beth enjoys reading historical fiction, watching her children play volleyball, and spending time with her family.
B.S. in Liberal Arts Cal State University
M.S. in Teaching and Learning Nova Southwestern University
Mrs. Lunnon brings a wealth of teaching experience to the Grade 4 classroom. Most recently, she was on the faculty of the North Boone School District where she has taught since 2007. She earned a Master’s Degree in Teaching and Learning for Reading from the Nova Southeastern University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Cal State University. Additionally, Mrs. Lunnon completed advanced education earning a gifted education certificate. Originally from California, Mrs. Lunnon taught fifth grade in the San Jacinto Unified School District for several years. She has also served as Executive Director of the California Southwest Boys and Girls Club. Mrs. Lunnon’s son, Edwin, is a Keith Middle School student.
B.A. in Theater/Speech Communication and Elementary Education with Music Endorsements
Gloria brings over 20 years of teaching experience ranging from preschool through 12th grade in the areas of music, drama, and speech, and worked for five years as the vocal and music director of the Clock Tower Dinner Theatre. She has been a fixture at Keith theater as the vocal and music director for the last six years for the musicals and instrumental support for the plays. Her time at Keith will expand to Lower School performing arts as she continues her work on the mainstage for Middle School/Upper School productions.
LS Spanish Advisor and After-School Tutor
B.A. in Spanish from Loras College
The multi-talented Mrs. Malavolti started her teaching career as a bilingual teacher in a dual language immersion program. As a published children’s author, Mrs. Malavolti shares her deep passion for literature and language with all the LS students. When visiting Mrs. Malavolti’s classrooms, students are always highly engaged in conversation–both in English and Spanish. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, and zumba fitness.
Dr. Sherrilyn Martin
Middle and Upper School Latin and Ancient Greek
Chair of the Foreign Language Department
B.A. in ancient Greek from Wilson College
M.A. and Ph.D. in Classics from the University of Cincinnati
A year of Independent study at the University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Dr. Martin was the Illinois Latin Teacher of the Year in 1993, was a recipient of a Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Foreign Language Teaching in 2001, and was named a Claes Nobel Teacher of Distinction in 2007. She is active in the Rockford Society of the Archaeological Institute of America and enjoys traveling in the Mediterranean, reading murder mysteries, and eating chocolate. In addition to her work in the classroom, she is advisor to the Interact Club and coach of the Certamen Teams. She is currently in here 47th year as a faculty member.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x166
Upper School English Literature
B.A. in English Literature from Loyola University Chicago
M.Ed in Secondary Education from Loyola University Chicago
A 2008 graduate of Keith Country Day School, Mr. McGinnis has returned from a long sojourn in the big city to teach English Literature to our Upper School students. He received his training as an educator in the Chicago Public Schools, and has studied the paths of the editor and textual critic, focusing on the works of Shakespeare and the poets of the Middle Ages. In his spare time, he enjoys making music on his old piano, playing cards, and walking in the grey morning.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x149
Grade 5 and Middle School Language Arts
B.S. from Rockford University
Elizabeth received a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with middle school endorsements from Rockford University. Since graduating, she has been working as a substitute teacher and long-term teacher at Poplar Grove Elementary School. Elizabeth’s primary goal is to push her students to the highest levels of academic excellence. She believes that educating a child is one of the greatest honors and responsibilities one can be given. She wants to give her students the tools to think critically and contribute to the world around them to truly develop their thriving young minds. She attempts to make academic work challenging through real world connections. A challenging work environment can be expected in her classroom. In her free time, she is an avid fitness advocate, and teaches classes at local fitness centers. She enjoys being active and takes as many classes as she can to improve personal talents and skills.
Mary McNamara Bernsten
Middle and Upper School Fine Arts
B.A. in Studio Art from Lawrence University
Continuing Ed from University of Wisconsin, Madison and Rockford University
Mary McNamara Bernsten is a working artist, small business owner, and art instructor. Most recently Mary served as Spectrum Progressive School’s Art Specialist and is currently Artist in Residence at the Rockford Art Museum. Mary founded I HEART ART, INC. with her mother and sister—a small business that has provided Summer Art Camps and year-round art workshops for children in Winnebago County for nearly ten years. Mary is founder and owner of 4hooligans — colorful textile product design for children and adults with images inspired by her children. In addition to making art and teaching art, Mary has served as a Forest Preserves of Winnebago County Commissioner for six years. Mary and her husband, Ben Bernsten, have four boys, two bunnies and a wildly affectionate dog. Mary enjoys her garden, practicing yoga and running around with her family.
Performing Arts Instructor
B.A. in Theatre from Western Illinois University
Mrs. Meyer has an intense passion for theatre, music, and singing, and a great appreciation for all art forms. Mrs. Meyer has been an Irene Ryan nominee eight times for outstanding performances, and was a top 16 Regional finalist three consecutive years at the American College Theatre Festival. She has been in more than 50 shows performing in Rockford, Chicago, and surrounding areas. She has been onstage locally at the former New American Theatre. In addition to her stage credits, Mrs. Meyer’s teaching experiences have included drama/music camps, outreach programs, summer programs, after-school drama instruction and acting classes at New American Theatre. She has been a regular consultant to the Rockford Arts Council and Boone County Arts Council where she consistently has been a featured artist. Mrs. Meyer not only loves to teach but also loves to learn, having just completed classes at Chicago’s Second City Training Center. Mrs. Meyer and her husband have three children, and a very happy golden retriever.
B.S. in Elementary Education from National Louis University
M.S. in Educational Leadership from Aurora University (In-Process)
Ms. Mount comes to the Keith community from the Crystal Lake area. Ms. Mount has been teaching various grade levels for five years. While in Arizona, Ms. Mount taught kindergarten in a charter school. She enjoys working with young learners, and Ms. Mount believes in a very child-centered classroom. She routinely invites visitors to the classroom to enrich the educational experiences of her students. She wants her students and parents to know that her favorite color is green, her favorite season is autumn, her favorite food is pizza, and her favorite grade is kindergarten.
B.S. in Elementary Education/Early Childhood from University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Ms. Emily Myers joined the Keith Lower School faculty in 2015. A graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with a B.S. degree in Elementary Education/Early Childhood. Emily believes she has strengths in building classroom spirit and engaging students with SMART board technology. Her teaching philosophy includes incorporating differentiated instruction to meet the diverse needs of students, including those with disabilities and exceptionalities. Along with her passion for teaching, Emily has years of experience in coaching basketball at all different levels and age groups. In her spare time, she enjoys golfing locally with her grandparents, baking, and cheering on the Chicago Bears!
Athletic Director and Student Advisor Director
B.S. in Physical Education from Western Illinois University
M.A. in Education Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University
Rob leads all Keith faculty in their commitment to improving Keith programs. His student-focused leadership has pushed the creation of many after-school clubs and activities for students in all grade levels. Most evenings, Rob is on the campus coordinating athletic and co-curricular events. Prior to joining the Keith faculty, Rob taught for 10 years in the Rockford Public School system, and coached football at Guilford and East High Schools. Rob also coached baseball at East High School and wrestling at Belvidere High School. At Western Illinois University he was a four-year letterman in baseball in which he was named to the all-conference team his junior year and was team captain his senior year. Rob was a finalist for Teacher of the Year in 1997 and has been nominated for the Golden Apple Award nine times. His favorite activities are cooking, being an avid aquarist and watching his daughters Alexandria and Zoe play volleyball.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x134
Middle School and Upper School Drama and Theatre
B.A. in Theatre from Columbia College Chicago
Erin’s love of theatre began 32 years ago when she was enrolled in the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) program here in Rockford. That education was the base for the fulfilling life she has built both on and off stage. While still attending college, she began a professional career with numerous theatre companies in Chicago. Since returning to the Rockford area in 2009, Erin has been keeping busy with the local theatre circuit as an actor, director, and fight choreographer. Regionally she has been seen on many stages including Artists’ Ensemble Theatre, Pec Playhouse, and (usual) Suspects.
When not on stage, she teaches acting and stage combat at Spotlight Youth Theatre and CAPA Rockford. Additionally, Erin creates summer performances for Artists’ Ensemble and Imagination Station with the Park District, directs theatre camps, hosts workshops, and choreographs fights wherever she is needed.
Upper School History Teacher
B.A. in Political Science from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale
M.A.T. in Social Science and History from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale
Mr. Phoenix graduated from Keith Country Day School in 2007 and is joining the History Department. Prior to returning to Keith, James taught U.S. History and World History as a student teacher at Murphysboro High School in southern Illinois. Last year, James taught for the Regional Alternative School at Harlem High School. He looks forward to joining the faculty and contributing to the Keith School community. Outside of school, James enjoys reading, playing basketball, and visiting family.
Loyola University, Chicago
Under the direction of Jim Radloff, Keith productions were selected to perform at the annual Illinois High School Theater Festival many times. Mr. Radloff officially retired in 2016, but will return to advise the Fine Arts Department. He has been an active artist in professional, educational, and community theatre for more than 40 years. As an actor, designer, stage manager, and director, he has been involved in more than 150 area productions. Before joining the faculty in 2005, he served as the associate producer of Chuck Hoenes Productions at the Clock Tower Dinner Theatre. From 2002 to 2006, he was a visiting theatre artist to second and fifth grades in the Rockford Public Schools and in 2006, he directed and designed the District 205 All-City Theatre production STARMITES at the Coronado Theater. He has been nominated twice for the Mayor’s Arts Award as an “individual artist” and as a “star educator”.
Lower School Spanish
B.A. in Psychology and Spanish from Northern Illinois University
Mr. Carlos Ramos joined the Keith faculty immediately after graduation from Northern Illinois University. Mr. Ramos earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in psychology and Spanish. Mr. Ramos is a native Spanish speaker born in Mexico. The oldest of seven children, Mr. Ramos understands the value of teaching students collaboration, facilitation, and mediation skills. His personal philosophy includes teaching children values and actions that help them to understand cultural and ethnic diversity. He is a familiar face to Keith families as he has served as Mrs. Golich’s Junior Kindergarten assistant while enrolled at Northern Illinois University. Mr. Ramos has volunteered as a tutor at La Voz Latina and the American Red Cross. When not continuing his collegiate education, Mr. Ramos enjoys playing sand and mud volleyball, comedy movies, and reading non-fiction books.
Dr. Jennifer Rea
B.A. from Michigan State University in English Literature
B.A. from State University of New York at Stony Brook in Art History
M.A. from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in History/Irish Studies
Ph.D from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in English/Irish Studies
Jennifer is a beloved faculty member with all of our Middle/Upper School students. Her students frequently comment that her passion for literature is contagious and motivating. She confidently acknowledges that she will create excitement for reading literary selections in all courses. Jennifer and her husband have a daughter, Ella. A former Assistant Professor at Rockford College, Jennifer taught writing, advanced rhetoric and introduction to literature courses for the Regents since 2005. She has been published as both a poet and an author. Additionally, she is a member of the American Conference for Irish Studies, the Modern Language Association, and Children’s Books of Ireland.
Director of Wellness and Student Engagement
B.S. in Exercise Science and Health from University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh
M.A.T. in Physical Education from Rockford College
Mrs. Rebsom influences wellness and fitness programs across the Keith campus. She is responsible for developing programs that create awareness, motivation and inspiration for a healthy and productive school lifestyle. She provides the tools that help students, faculty and staff adapt and maintain a well-rounded healthy lifestyle to ensure academic and personal success. In addition to these responsibilities, Mrs. Rebsom is responsible for student leadership and engagement, starting at the lower school. She also assists new families with enrollment and transition to Keith Country Day School.
Mrs. Rebsom started her Cougar tenure as a Lower School physical education teacher. In 2011, she joined the Middle/Upper School faculty to teach physical education and health. Mrs. Rebsom’s comprehensive knowledge of all Keith programs has served her well as she has held various administrative positions. In her spare time, Rachel enjoys reading, running, and spending time with her family. She also coaches several Keith athletic programs.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x135
Office Manager and Technology Advisor
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Rockford College
Master of Arts in Teaching from Rockford College
Mrs. Ellen Schubert is a lifelong learner who has a passion for academic excellence. Mrs. Schubert is a Rockford native who graduated as the valedictorian from Rockford East High School. After earning her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Rockford College, Mrs. Schubert decided to make Rockford her primary residence. Mrs. Schubert believes the role of instructional technology specialist best utilizes her business background with her educational training to engage students in 21st century learning skills and strategies. She enjoys advising teachers on developing applications for integrating technology standards into core academic subjects. In her leisure time, Mrs. Schubert enjoys spending time with her baby boy and husband, reading, and drinking coffee.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x118
Fine Arts Department Chair
Choral Director in Middle and Upper School
B.A. in Music from Brigham Young University
M.A. in Music Education from Catholic University of America
Linda has been an integral member of the Performing Arts department for several years. She has taught music in the Rockford area for more than 25 years, she is the Assistant Director of Rock Valley Children’s Choir and has been the choir director at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints for 25 years. Linda has a master’s in Music Education from Catholic University and earned a B.A. from BYU. In addition to teaching, Linda has also been a soloist with the USAF Singing Sergeants, the Rockford Bach Chamber Singers, the Rock Valley College Community Chorale and the Rock Valley College Women’s Ensemble.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x122
Arts Degree from Concordia University
Mrs. Sombke, adopted at 12 years of age from South Korea, learned two languages simultaneously — English and Music. An accomplished pianist and violinist, she has extensive experience teaching music to students of all ages. After attending college, she taught English classes in Japan where she gained a deep appreciation of the Japanese culture. Mrs. Sombke has been an English as a Second Language teacher as she is familiar with Korean and Japanese languages. Her early childhood teaching experiences have included the Montessori Private Academy and in the City of Rockford’s Head Start program. Additionally, she has taught for many years at the Music Academy of Rockford where she has instructed “Music Together,” keyboarding, music theory, and directed the chamber orchestra. Mrs. Sombke integrates the philosophies of Suzuki, Orff, and Kodaly into her music curriculum. She enjoys directing the handbell choir, adult choir, and instrument ensemble at her church in Belvidere. In her spare time she reads, knits, quilts, and of course, enjoys spending time with her husband and four children.
Lower and Middle School Art
Fine Arts and Ceramics Major at Rockford College
Robert has been a full-time artist in the Rockford area for 30 years, consistently earning awards at shows and exhibitions throughout the United States. In fact, he was asked by the Clinton administration to produce an ornament that is now in the Smithsonian for the White House Christmas tree. Robert’s artwork is in corporate collections in Tokyo, Moscow, Singapore, and many major cities in the United States. In addition to teaching at Keith, he currently conducts post graduate workshops throughout the Midwest and Hawaii. Robert has been featured in national magazine reviews and is known as one of the finest raku pottery artists in the country. Robert’s wife, Carol, is also a full-time artist. They both enjoy cooking and gardening at their 1840’s stone house in Roscoe.
Special Projects Advisor
B.S. in Art Education from Bradley University
M.A.T. in Instructional Strategies from Rockford College
Lori officially retired from full-time teaching in 2016. She will continue to share her expertise serving as Special Projects Advisor and coordinating new faculty mentorship. Lori is a past recipient of Keith’s Distinguished Faculty Award, has been recognized several times by Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, and is a multiple Golden Apple nominee. Prior to working for Keith, she taught at Harlem Middle School, Malta High School, and Kishwaukee College. In addition to teaching, she serves on the Secondary Education Advisory Committee at Rockford College. In February, 2005, Lori enjoyed working for artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude on “The Gates” in Central Park, New York City. She is a Master Gardener and enjoys volunteering at the Nicholas Conservatory, art in many forms, and spending time with her husband and Leo, the Bichon Frise.
Middle and Upper School Instrumental Ensembles
Bachelor’s Degree from Shanghai Conservatory of Music, China
M.M. from Chicago Musical College, Roosevelt University
Suzuki Teaching Certificates from Chicago Suzuki Academy and
American Suzuki Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
Hui has been an instructor at Keith since 1998 and a faculty member and director of the Vivaldi Orchestra at the Rockford College Music Academy since 1992. He is also a guest instructor in violin and viola at Highland Community College. He played viola in the Chicago Civic Symphony Orchestra for several years and has been with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra since 1989. He is a member of the American Federation of Musicians and the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Inc. In his spare time he enjoys traveling.
B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Sign Language from the University of Rochester
M.S. in Childhood Education from the Warner School of Education and Human Development, University of Rochester
Mrs. Welt knew she had a passion for education and children starting at a young age when she declared in second grade that she wanted to be a teacher. Ever since, she has worked with children in a variety of settings and capacities. She started mentoring high-risk students while she was in middle school and high school, and went on to serve as a counselor in a summer program for the same population. While in college, she focused her psychology coursework on child development and worked as an after-school counselor for a research-based program, a volunteer in a self-contained classroom, a teacher’s aide in a preschool classroom, and a test evaluator for a national standardized test developer. After graduating from her master’s program, Mrs. Welt was a lead preschool teacher in St. Louis before coming to the Rockford area with her husband. She joined the Keith family in 2004, serving as a second grade teacher. She is excited to switch gears and work with students who are eligible for enrichment services. When she is not teaching, Mrs. Welt enjoys spending time with her own young boys and husband, crafting, and reading.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x115