Experienced and creative teachers make BASE Camp extra special for kids. We have a blend of beloved District 97 teachers and partnerships with expert community members who bring a passion for their subjects to every camp.

Builder Workshop

“Manny” Apostol teaches 8th grade science at Julian Middle School, where he also coaches the  volleyball team.

Experimentation Station, Tinker Time
Caroline Baker has taught kindergarten and first grade at Whittier Elementary School since 2007. She also taught first grade at Irving Elementary School in Oak Park before joining Whittier. Mrs. Baker has lived in Oak Park for over 20 years. She and her husband, Seth Baker, also a District 97 teacher, have three children, two cats, and one dog. Caroline has a bachelor’s degree in marketing, and earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from Concordia University. Mrs. Baker is looking forward to experiencing hands on science every day during BASE Camp!.
sethbaker SETH BAKER
Critter Science, LEGO Testers

Seth Baker has been teaching in District 97 since 1994. During his career, he has taught students from 3rd–8th-grade, and is currently a 5th-grade teacher at Irving Elementary School. He has participated in OPEF’s Science Alliance as a teacher partner since 1994 and began coordinating the Science Alliance program in 2005. A Golden Apple recipient, he has earned degrees in biology and education, as well as a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. He lives in Oak Park with his three children and wife, who also teaches in District 97.
Playground Physics, Junior Detectives
Sarah Becker has been working with children and families for over five years. Having spent time at the Museum of Science and Industry teaching children of all ages science and history at the U505 Submarine, she then went on to work at Northwestern University teaching for their Saturday Enrichment Program. Currently, Sarah is a 2nd grade teacher at Oriole Park School in Chicago, IL. She enjoys playing music and riding her bike.
marcbishopMARC BISHOP
VEX Robotics 
Marc Bishop worked in large international corporations as a product manager and engineer before deciding to pursue an interest in education.  He has served as a paraprofessional in District 97 since 2010 as well as an instructor to others in the district. He has an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, plus a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering degree from Northwestern University Technological Institute, and has completed graduate studies in education at Quincy University. Mr. Bishop is the head coach for the VEX Robotics Competitive Club at Brooks Middle School.
Coding with Ozobots,

Joel has been a teacher for 17 years, the first 10 of which he taught 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades in the New York City Public Schools. Currently he teaches 1st grade at GEMS World Academy – Chicago. He has a degree in elementary education (UW-Madison) and a master’s degree in special education (Fordham University). Joel and his partner’s two sons are students at Irving Elementary, here in Oak Park. He is passionate about diversity, nature, and working with kids. He’s always inspired by the way they innovate and construct understanding by using familiar things in brand new ways.
Storybook Engineering, Weather Science, Space Rangers

Jennifer Buckley (formerly Las) is a first grade teacher at William Beye Elementary School with a degree in Early Childhood Education from Indiana University and a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University. She has been a teacher for 8 years. She also graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School and is thrilled to be back in the neighborhood. She loves the Blackhawks, trying new foods and traveling as much as possible.
Kitchen Chemistry, Textile Engineering, SewEco
Angie Cataldo holds a M.Ed. in Teaching and Learning, and formerly taught English Literature in CPS and outside of Boston. Since moving to Oak Park in 2009, she has taught sewing through the Park District and privately. When she isn’t exploring with her three children, Angie enjoys reading, gardening and sewing fun things. She is looking forward to sharing her knowledge of textiles and kitchen science in BASE camp this summer!
Humans of Oak Park
A teacher for nine years, John Colucci believes BASE Camp epitomizes what’s best about teaching – helping students find their voice and connect with passionate teachers. John grew up in the area, graduated from OPRF High School, and has been teaching Language Arts at Julian Middle School for six years, where he also serves as a sponsor for the OPEF Spoken Word Club. He spent three years teaching English at Kenwood High School on Chicago’s southside. When he is not teaching, John volunteers as a docent at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio and also has his own art studio. He can’t wait to teach Humans of Oak Park and help campers uncover local stories that remind us we’re all more alike than different.
Urban Biker, Comics Creator
Guillermo Delgado is a community artist with a history of art creation and teaching since 1994. He shares his passion for art, literacy, and writing with children, college students, adults, and educators wherever he goes, engaging them in the creation of their own interdisciplinary work as well as helping to construct a curriculum that infuses the arts into the academic and civic engagement experience. A long-time artist with OPEF’s Art Start program, Guillermo has inspired hundreds of Oak Park students with his multi-disciplinary, community-oriented, hands-on projects. He is also a lecturer with Michigan State University’s Residential College in the Arts and Humanities.
Paper HeART

Karen Fogg is an elementary educator and graduate of Loyola University Chicago. She has taught for over 25 years in South Central Los Angeles, Chicago Public Schools, and currently in Oak Park, IL. She has been a 3-time finalist for the prestigious Golden Apple Award, international teacher leader for arts integration through an Illinois Arts Foundation grant, teacher’s union representative, and the director of her school’s drama club. She is also an avid traveler and volunteered at Salaam Baalak Trust, working with street boys in New Delhi where she taught theater, poetry, and creative movement. Karen is passionate about education, art, people, and life!
Good Guerilla Artist

Liita Forsyth is the owner of The Little Bits Workshop in River Forest. Prior to opening the workshop in 2010, she was an art director in the publishing industry designing books and magazines. She studied illustration at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. After working with kids at a summer camp in Russia in 2001, she realized how much she loved teaching kids how to create and it sparked the idea to open a workshop. Liita’s habit of collecting endless bits that seem useful, coupled with an insatiable desire to create, inspired the concept of The Little Bits Workshop where she teaches sewing, knitting, building, fiber and paper arts, book arts, assemblage and everything in between. Liita and her husband, Paul, have two children and live in River Forest.
Web Design

Jim Hayward has been teaching in District 97 since 1999. During his career, he has taught students in 4th and 5th grades and is currently a 5th-grade teacher at Horace Mann Elementary School. He has participated in OPEF’s Science Alliance as a teacher partner for many years. He has earned an undergraduate degree in elementary education, as well as a master’s degree in educational leadership. He has also taught education courses at the graduate level and courses in web design at a local community college. He has two children and a wife, and lives in the far northwestern suburbs.
Storybook Engineering, LEGO Pre-Engineering, Summer STEAM
Caitlin Heyman is currently a Special Education teacher at Beye School. Before coming to Beye she taught in Chicago Public Schools for 5 years. She graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Elementary Education and went on to receive a Masters In Special Education from Vanderbilt University and an additional certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders from the University of Kansas. She currently lives in Elmwood Park with her fiancé and her two dogs, Gibson and Paisley.
Paper HeART
Tye Johnson, a fifth grade teacher at William Beye Elementary School in the Oak Park Elementary School District 97, is a critically acclaimed artist with a studio in the world renowned Zhou B Art Center. Johnson received her bachelor’s degree in studio art/graphic design from Michigan State University and worked as a graphic designer/marketing specialist at the educational media company United Learning. She was instrumental in the start-up of their video streaming brand, now owned by Discovery Education. She holds a Masters of Art in Elementary Education from DePaul University and a Master of Science in Educational Media Design and Technology. Johnson is also a founder of paper heART, a Chicago-based social change and arts program for teens. The Paper heART model of teaching will be incorporated into her Art Around the World camp this summer!
Art Around the World
Kimberly Jones is the K-5 Visual Arts teacher at Holmes Elementary School. Before coming to Oak Park, Kimberly taught art in Iowa and Chicago as well as Athens, Greece, and Bangkok, Thailand. Her passport is full as her passion for art and adventure has taken her on explorations in over 30 countries. Kimberly earned her BA in Art Education at the University of Northern Iowa where metalsmithing was her emphasis. Current media she explores include painting, drawing and photography.
gretchenjunkerGRETCHEN JUNKER
VEX Robotics
Gretchen Junker proposed Geared Up to the Oak Park Education Foundation during our Call for Ideas to the community in 2008. Gretchen has a BA in Comparative History of Ideas from the University of Washington. “Geared Up shows kids that science (and school) can be fun,” she says. “Our family has always had an interest in how things work, and that curiosity has managed to fuel our day-to-day life. For me, Geared Up is a natural extension of what my 3 sons and I have already incorporated into our ongoing family dialogue.” Gretchen created, and is the head coach for, the two In-House Robotics Leagues at Brooks and Julian Middle Schools.
ISAIAH MAKAR (nee Jamael Clark)
Spoken Word
Isaiah Makar got his start in spoken word at Oak Park & River Forest High School. In 2012, Isaiah founded Impact Mākars, a spoken word organization at Northern Illinois University. Isaiah has a B.A. in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago where he conducted research on how poetry can enhance student engagement. Isaiah is the teaching artist for Spoken Word at Percy Julian Middle School where he co-designed the Spoken Word curriculum. He currently serves as the Spoken Word Coordinator for both Brooks and Julian Middle Schools.
Mindi Maneck has been the teacher librarian at Holmes Elementary School since 2011. Before coming to Oak Park, she worked as a library assistant and technology teacher in Winnetka where she also taught clay animation classes for the Winnetka District 36 summer program. Mindi has a bachelor’s degree in art history and studio art from the University of Vermont, and a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Pittsburgh. The clay animation class she’s teaching this year for BASE Camp is a perfect blend of the things she loves: arts and crafts and storytelling!
Middle School Building Manager

Paul Manus has been teaching 4th grade at Beye for 18 years. Teaching is his second career; he was a journalist before entering the classroom. Because of his writing background, he loves teaching kids how to research, write, and edit. In his spare time, Paul plays tennis, cares for Archie the cocker spaniel, and travels with his wife. His wife is a family physician in Oak Park, and between the two of them, they have taught and cared for hundreds of Oak Park children (some at the same time)! Paul has a bachelor’s degree from Beloit College and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.
John McDowell has been a math, science and technology teacher for 10 years. After spending two years as a National Technology Education Consultant for Pearson Education, John returned to the classroom. Currently, John is a 7th-grade science teacher at Brooks Middle School and is a Head VEX Robotics Coach. This is John’s second year with Base Camp. John lives in Chicago with his wife Anne and dog Dublin.
You Glow, Good Food, Homesteading
Sugar Beet Food Co-op Founder Cheryl Muñoz loves good food! From digging in the garden to touring vertical farms in abandoned warehouses, Cheryl is eager to share the lessons that are all around us in our urban agricultural environment. Cheryl is very excited about the possibilities for youth in the Good Food Movement as they work together to grow, cook and share meals. She has led workshops and farm tours that connect kids to good food. Cheryl lives on her little farmstead in Oak Park where her two young farm hands enjoy growing their own food and making delicious meals together.
LEGO Pre-Engineering, Coding with Ozobots, Coding Lab
After graduating from St. Ambrose University with a B.A. degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Psychology, Scott worked for a social service agency in Chicago for over 10 years. Scott went on to earn a Masters in Teaching and Learning from Concordia University and has been teaching 2nd grade at Longfellow Elementary School since 2004. He lives in Oak Park with his wife and two sons.

Extended Camp

Sandy Noel has taught physical education/health for 40+ years (many at Hatch!), and as co-chair of the District 97 Wellness Council was instrumental in changing the district’s lunch program. She teaches about the importance of nutrition and exercise for learning, memory and performance, and does it in an action-oriented way – everyone participates and has fun while learning. Sandy has received numerous teaching awards including Golden Apple, NASPE Teacher of the Year, USA Today Teacher Team, and the Action for Healthy Kids Healthy Hero award. She has served as the Co-chair of the Governor’s Council on Health and Physical Fitness, and now teaches at Concordia University.

Origami Movie Shorts

Katie Noonan is the teacher-librarian at Irving Elementary School. She has been teaching at Irving for 7 years. Before becoming a librarian, she taught 1st and 2nd grade in Chicago. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a HUGE Badger fan. You can always find her cheering on the football and basketball teams! She has her masters’ degree from the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign. Originally from Stevens Point, WI, but has lived in Chicago for 14 years. She has two nieces who are the loves of her life and keep her busy all the time! When she’s not teaching she enjoys reading, traveling, going to dinner with friends, watching sports or spending time with family.

Science around Us, Raise Your Voice

Maya Odim shares her knowledge of the arts and humanities through teaching and performance. As an artist she works both independently and collaboratively to host workshops, participate in exhibitions self publish writing, and smuggles movement work like dance into whatever she does. As a scientist, writer and dancer Maya has experience teaching in a range of spaces and in both English and Spanish. Her most recent work, Sinestesia, a group show, debuted in Guatemala City, Guatemala June 2016. Currently Maya is working collaboratively on an interpretation of a Langston Hughes poem Ask Yo Mama, debuting in Chicago December 2017. Maya holds a BA in American Studies from Wesleyan University Middletown, CT.
Frank Lloyd Wright

Marybeth Osowski is a museum educator with the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Classics from the University of King’s College and her Master of Arts in Museum and Artefact Studies from Durham University. She has worked with students in non-traditional learning environments such as museums. She is interested in history, art, and design and making those topics approachable and entertaining.
Story Quilts

With a B.A. degree in Interior Design and A.A.S. in Architectural Technology Pam worked in the field of architecture for many years but gravitated back to her love of fiber in the early 1990’s. Pam has a passion for combining traditional needle art and fiber techniques in unique and contemporary methods to create her own textile art. Pam has taught knitting, sewing, crocheting and felting for over 25 years to both adults and children with the goal of passing on not just the traditional techniques but the love of fiber and art.
Toy Factory
Anna Petrick earned her BFA in Early Childhood Education and Masters in Elementary Education from Dominican University. Anna grew up in Oak Park and currently lives in Forest Park with her husband, son, and dog. She’s been teaching since 2010. She currently teaches as a bilingual Spanish teacher in West Chicago. Anna loves the opportunity to ignite student’s interests in a variety of topics and provide them with the tools and support they need to succeed. She looks forward to making students’ inventive dreams a reality this summer at BASE Camp!
STEAM Connector

Tasia is a 7th grade Science teacher at Brooks Middle School. This is her second year at Brooks Middle School where she serves as one of the coaches for the VEX Robotics In-House League. She received her Masters in Pure Mathematics from DePaul University and is a STEM certified instructor through MSU-Wipro. She has presented twice at a CPS Tech Talk and won a trip to SXSWedu from her Tweets about innovation in the classroom. Tasia is passionate about teaching math and science and she loves integrating technology in her classroom. She works hard to ensure science is relevant, hands-on, and student-centered.
Lego Mindstorms
A former social worker, Richard Rollo started his Oak Park teaching career at Mann. He currently teaches 6th grade math at Julian Middle School. At the time this bio was created he was on paternity leave eagerly awaiting the birth of his twin children, which explains why we wrote it for him.
Hocus Focus, Maker Challenge
Vernon Robinson, a native Oak Parker, is a graphic designer and well known substitute teacher in District 97. As a graphic designer, Vernon has always relied on creative ideas to get the job done. As an educator, he has always creatively found a way to reach his students. In 2008, he decided to combine his experiences to inspire children to be creative, share ideas, problem-solve and “make” by designing artistic, fun and challenge-based programming.
Photo on 2-9-16 at 4.44 PMMOLLY SAKAMOTO
Origami Movie Shorts
Molly Sakamoto is a third-grade teacher at Irving Elementary School. Ms. Sakamoto moved to Chicago four years ago from Columbus, Ohio, where she taught first grade. Ms. Sakamoto has a Bachelor in Early Childhood Education from Miami University. She loves spending time with friends and family and has really enjoyed her time teaching in Oak Park. She plays tennis to stay active and is an avid NHL hockey follower. She currently resides in Lincoln Park.
Urban Biker
Peter started at OPEF in 2014 with the first Urban Biker camp. He is a certified group fitness instructor and a Spinning® Master Instructor for Mad Dogg Athletics teaching in Oak Park. Peter helps D97 physical education teachers with the third grade bicycle safety program. An active club rider, Peter enjoys sharing the joys of cycling with everyone.
Song Engineers
Since 2007, Andrew Seymour has been a music teacher at Percy Julian Middle School, where he has taught choir, piano, guitar, general music, and music technology. The award-winning Julian Choral Program has been recognized as one of the very best in Illinois, and includes nine choral ensembles averaging 200 students each year. Mr. Seymour incorporates music technology and songwriting projects in his classes, and loves to allow students to explore their own musical voice and limitless creativity.
Coding for Kids
Paula Spring is the Instructional Coach at Whittier Elementary School. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, a Master of Science in Education from Northwestern University and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Technology in Education from National Louis University. She first learned how to program using Scratch in 2008. She is excited to be working at BASE Camp again this summer, because she is always amazed at what the students create when programming. Ms. Spring lives in Oak Park with her husband, two daughters, dog, and cat.
Girl Writes
Nefret was born and raised in the East Coast state of Virginia! She has a BA in English from The College of William and Mary and a MA in Middle/Special Education from the University of Virginia. She just moved to Oak Park this past year and has been teaching 7th grade English/Language Arts at Brooks Middle School. She reads about one book per week, enjoys cooking, and hanging with her husband and three young children. Not to mention, she loves directing her creative energy to writing and is excited to be teaching Girl Writes this summer.
Theater of the Wild
Second City-trained actress Rhona Taylor has been a teacher at Pilgrim Community Nursery School for over 20 years. She has led theater workshops for children as an Artist-in-Residence for the City of Chicago, with the Park District of Oak Park, Village Players, Intuit Dance Studio, Triton College, the Oak Park Art League, After School Arts Program for District 97. Rhona also facilitates improv workshops at Maze Library and is a teaching artist with OPEF’s Art Start program. Rhona has recently received an Interdisciplinary Degree in Theater and Early Childhood Education at Columbia College.
REACH Sailing
Miranda Tucker is in her fourth year of teaching at Julian Middle School. She also spends her time as the co-yearbook sponsor, co-head coach of the Julian 6-7th grade volleyball team, and a coach of the VEX In-House League. She joins us from southern Illinois where she worked with educators in Title I schools who needed support in teaching and obtaining resources to better implement the current Illinois Science curriculum. She graduated from Southern Illinois University and holds a Master of Curriculum and Instruction as well as Science Education. She currently lives here in Oak Park with her pups and secretly cheers on the Green Bay Packers.
Mosaic Project
Tracy Van Duinen is a 20-year veteran teacher and international award-winning community-based artist. He has been teaching visual arts at Oak Park & River Forest High School since 2014. Through his work as a community artist, he’s helped urban teenagers develop a dialogue with their communities by creating large-scale multi-media murals around the country. His local work includes the underpasses of North Lake Shore Drive. Van Duinen has received several awards for his teaching including the distinguished Golden Apple Award.
Lift Off Aeronautics
VenHorst is an engineering teacher at OPRF High School. This is his third year teaching BASE Camp.
Rainforest Yoga
Kim Vulinovic has studied a variety of yoga styles for over 25 years. She is Certified YogaKids Teacher (CYKT) and holds the designation of Experienced 200-hour adult yoga teacher (ERYT) through Yoga Alliance. She began her business, YogaKids of Oak Park, in 2001 and teaches over 12 children’s classes, pre-school to teens, each week in the Oak Park area. YogaKids is based on Howard Gardener’s Multiple Intelligence Theory. In every class, music, stories and cooperative activities insure that each child is engaged and confident. Age-appropriate breathing techniques both calm and energize. Yoga poses strengthen and stretch the body. Verbal directions and movement that crosses the body’s mid-line create new brain pathways to learning and concentration. Since yoga is a non-competitive activity, self-esteem is naturally fostered. Both boys and girls enjoy the fun, friendship and focus that comes through yoga.
LEGO Engineering, Minecraft
Griffin Waterman grew up in Oak Park and is currently a fourth grade teacher in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Prior to moving to Madison with his wife and two cats in the summer of 2017 he spent four years as a teacher assistant at schools throughout District 97 and completed his student teaching at Irving Elementary. He has master’s degrees in both American history (Loyola University Chicago, 2012) and elementary education (Dominican University, 2017). Since 2014, Griffin has worked for the OPEF at BASE Camp and as a VEX Robotics Coach. He is looking forward to spending a few weeks back in Oak Park this summer to work with BASE Camp again.
LEGO Architects, LEGO Stop Motion 1/2
Ryan Winchell is a 1st-grade teacher at Longfellow Elementary School. A teacher since 2002, he’s been at District 97 since 2007. Ryan’s originally from East Lansing, Michigan, and graduated from Michigan State University (which is why he’s an avid Spartans and Detroit sports fan!). He has sons in kindergarten and first grade who both go to Longfellow. He loves building with LEGOs and working with kids. You’ll often find Ryan enjoying the outdoors, hiking at Morton Arboretum with his wife and boys, and taking advantage of Chicago’s fabulous summers!
LEGO Stop Motion
Emile Williams teaches third grade at Irving Elementary School.
Kinetic Contraptions
Salome Yigzaw is a second grade teacher at Holmes Elementary School. She has been teaching in Oak Park since 2009. Salome is very excited to be teaching BASE Camp for the sixth summer in a row and is looking forward to seeing the kids’ creations! In her free time, she likes to relax by watching movies and reading books.