Middle School Academics
At St. Benedict Preparatory School (SBPS), our faith-centered environment offers students the opportunity to excel in academics, fosters the development of character and a sense of community responsibility, and supports their spiritual development. We challenge our students to meet high standards for academic excellence with a rigorous college prep curriculum delivered with the most current educational philosophies and the latest technologies. Our commitment to inclusive education ensures every student has the opportunity to learn and grow.
With a unique trimester schedule, students can more fully take advantage of our well-rounded, liberal arts program using current web-based resources and technologies. Our innovative approach to curriculum integrates essential 21st century skills like innovation, creativity, critical thinking, leadership and effective communication across the curriculum, and innovative programs such as the Protégé Internship, our unique House system and experiential learning opportunities.
Andrew Galus, M.Ed, Andy Galus is an award winning teacher with many years of experience in the Archdiocese of Chicago. He has served in various teaching and administration positions in various schools of the Archdiocese. Galus earned both his B.A. and Master from Loyola University in Chicago. He firmly believes in working with the entire school community to ensure students receive the best possible educational and formational experience. He and his wife Peggy, a St. Benedict Alumna, enjoy spending time with family, especially their children, Anthony and Andrea, both of whom attended St. Benedict School.
Ashley Muñoz teaches 6th and 8th English Language Arts and 7th grade Creative Writing. Ms. Muñoz attended Northeastern Illinois University, where she earned a Bachelor of the Arts in Secondary Education/English with a Middle School Endorsement. During her first year of teaching, she attended Loyola University to achieve an ESL Certification. Ms. Muñoz's expertise is in essay writing and revision.
She taught in the Chicago Public School system for 6 years, which offered her exposure to a range of students who learn differently and come from different backgrounds. Ms. Muñoz says "The opportunity to work at St. Benedict is a real blessing because I can share my love of literature and teaching expertise, as well as share my great love for our Lord Jesus Christ. I hope that this school will be my home for many years to come."
Her primary motivation in becoming a teacher was to enact change. "I wanted to foster a love of reading and writing in my students, as well a thirst for learning," she said. "I am moved by those moments when you show a child something for the first time, and they do not know how to do it. With patience and perseverance, they learn what to do. The look on their face when they get it is the exact reason I became a teacher."
Zora Voynovich is a lifelong Chicagoan who loves embracing and exploring the city's rich diversity. A graduate of DePaul University, she holds her bachelor's degree in Mathematics and History and her Master’s of Education in Teaching and Learning Mathematics. This is her fifth year at St. Benedict and she is excited to be teaching Introduction to Math Concepts, Algebra, and Communications while also serving as the Math Curriculum Chair. Additionally, Ms. Voynovich is eagerly sharing in the 8th graders' year as one of their homeroom teachers and Agora: Washington DC team members. She enjoys fostering a love of learning and community with her students.
Meghan Harte is a 6th and 7th grade math teacher. Her passion for math education in a Catholic setting has been a constant throughout her career. Ms. Harte attended Catholic grade school and high school and went on to study middle-childhood education at John Carroll University in Cleveland.
She previously taught Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Honors Algebra 2 at a Catholic High School.
Ms. Harte is excited to continue her faith-filled journey at St. Benedict Prep and "see her students deepen their love for math through understanding the 'why' behind the skills!," she said.
Cassidy Luciano is a sixth grade science teacher. Ms. Luciano joined us after teaching in public schools on Chicago's South Side. She is originally from Easton, Pennsylvania and went to college in Washington D.C, where she earned a BA in Elementary Education with a focus in Literature. She taught all grade levels there and many different types of schools. "I also had the opportunity to study abroad in Rome during my college experience," she said.
Ms. Luciano moved to Chicago in 2017, and joined St. Ben's as a parishioner. "Since then, I have been a volunteer track coach and taught in the Religious Ed program. After seeing the sense of community here at St. Ben's over the last two years, I decided to apply for a teaching position. I am excited to get to know the families and students this school serves, and I look forward to an awesome school year!"
Susan Balmes teaches science, forensics, and geometry for grades 7 and 8. She attended Catholic schools grades K-12, and received her undergraduate degree from Southern Illinois University, where she specialized in both Art and Science. After briefly managing a regional educational agency, she went back to school at DePaul University for her Master’s in Education. “I’m so blessed to be part of the St. Benedict Preparatory team! After teaching in private schools for 21 years, my favorite part is working with middle school students. They really enjoy getting deeper into solving problems and engaging in project-based learning.” In her spare time, Sue enjoys cooking, spending time boating and fishing in northern Wisconsin, and playing strategy games.
Ashley Koerner graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in middle school education and a minor in social studies. Since this is her first official year teaching, Ms. Koerner is "a little bit nervous, but I have the blessing of knowing a lot of the St. Ben's faculty and staff." (She served as a student teacher in the middle school social studies program last year.)
"I couldn't be more excited to call St. Ben's my permanent home," she said. "I'm looking forward to seeing my returning students and meet the new ones!"
Ms. Koerner chose a career in teaching to make a positive impact on the world. "Sometimes I was the student in the classroom who learned 'a little differently' than most, so I want to be the advocate for all types of learners in my inclusive classroom."
Stephen Stare graduated from St. Patrick High School in Chicago and then Illinois State University. He spent four years working at Union Ridge in Harwood Heights and before that, was employed at Brookfield Zoo as a Zookeeper. “My previous experience as an educator has prepared me to encourage students to think critically and challenge their notions on matters relating to social studies and civics. I am excited to educate the next generation of responsible, informed citizens. My love of history and my inspiration for teaching came from a teacher that I was lucky enough to have in high school. I hope to inspire students' love of history in the same way here at St. Ben’s.” Mr. Stare enjoys reading, travelling, the Cubs, and spending time with his puppy, Finley.
Kathleen Deehan grew up in Millburn, New Jersey, then attended Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where she earned her Master's in Elementary Pk-4 and Special Education Pk-8. She lived in Madison, Wisconsin after graduating and taught Pre-K downtown. She is in her second year at St. Ben's as Inclusion Facilitator for grades 6-8 and 12. She enjoys cooking, riding her bike, and spending time with family.
Title One Services
Nicolette Parra, Catapult 6-8
Jean Hybinette holds a B.S.B.E. from DePaul University and has participated in many continuing education programs over the years. As an alumna of St. Benedict Prep, she is especially committed to providing the students with the education and skills they need upon graduation and instilling in them the inspiration to achieve their goals and aspirations. She has received numerous awards for her work, including Teacher of the Year, and is a member of the St. Benedict Hall of Fame.
Erico Ramirez is our Spanish instructor and serves as the PK-8 World Language Curriculum Chair. Erico is of Mexican descent and is originally from San Antonio, Texas, where he studied Spanish and Journalism at the University of the Incarnate Word. He is currently a graduate student of World Language Education at DePaul University. In his free time, Erico serves the Secondary School community as “DJ Rico."
Victoria Hayes is our French language teacher. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in French Studies from the University of North Florida, and has studied with a partnering university in Strasbourg, France. Ms. Hayes completed her student teaching for grades PK-12 studies at St. Johns Country Day School in Florida. She recently fulfilled her lifelong dream of moving to Chicago. Ms. Hayes belongs to Old St. Patrick's Catholic Church and is an active volunteer in her parish. "I enjoy sharing my passion for the French language and world cultures instructing St. Ben’s students in French and inspiring young minds, while acting as a mentor and fostering students’ spiritual and interpersonal growth,” she said.
Yvonne Grabe-Liddell is the founder of Yvonne Dance Academy, which has grown from a one-room studio at St. Benedict Preparatory School to a family of nearly 200 dancers within the North Center community. Yvonne’s Dance Academy exists to educate and inspire children in a loving, safe, and nurturing manner.
In 2006, Ms. Grabe-Liddell completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Developmental Psychology and Social Sciences at DePaul University in Chicago. While at DePaul, she danced as a “Demonette” for the DePaul University Dance Team.
Upon graduation, Grabe-Liddell joined St. Benedict Prep and has been on staff since, including serving some time as a third grade teacher and language arts teacher.
Pauline Pietras, teaches grades 7-8 dance. She began as a rhythmic gymnast at age six. While receiving early ballet training through the Elite Sports Complex in Downers Grove, she also performed with her Polish-community performing-arts group for over seven years.
Throughout high school, she completed Resurrection High School’s Fine Arts Dance Program and eventually became captain and a lead choreographer in their Orchesis Dance Company. In college at the University of Illinois, Ms. Pietras danced courtside as a “Dancing Flame”, and competed nationally through the Universal Dance Association.
After graduating with her BA in Secondary Education in English, Ms. Paulina joined the YDA family and the St. Benedict Preparatory School community. She continues to be an active member of the professional Chicago dance community, as an 11th generation member of Chicago’s BOOM CRACK DANCE COMPANY.
Jacqualyn Stancin completed her Master's degree in Art Education in 2007 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has worked over the past 12 years as an art educator in different settings. During the last 8 years Mrs. Stancin has served as the art teacher at St. Benedict Preparatory School, helping to grow the passion and appreciation of art among her elementary students through thematic and hands-on learning. As an alumni of St. Benedict High School, she enjoys working creatively with St. Benedict Prep families serving grades 2nd through 12th this school year.
Hannah Thompson feels very blessed to continue her path as a music educator at St. Benedict Preparatory School in her eighth year of teaching. Her degrees include a Bachelor's of Music from Chicago College of Performing Arts and a Master’s in Vocal Performance from North Park University. Along with performing private vocal recitals around Chicago, Hannah is also a certified Orff-Schulwerk music teacher exposing her students to a highly creative and student-centered music education. She encourages and establishes a joyous love for music in her students.
Anna Piotrowski was born and raised in Traverse City, MI and started playing the violin at age 5. She pursued her passion for music in college by earning a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance degree from the University of Michigan, and a Master of Music in Violin Performance degree from DePaul University. She is also a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago (the Chicago Symphony’s training orchestra) and maintains an active freelance career and private lesson studio as well. When not teaching or performing, Ms. Piotrowski enjoys being outdoors and attending concerts.
Amanda Genge is a St. Benedict alumnus, having attended from preschool all the way through high school.
Ms. Genge graduated from Carthage College with a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Sports Science and Education with a Minor in Health. She also played D3 basketball there.
She joined our faculty in 2015 and is currently teaching grades 5 through 8 Physical Education. Ms. Genge also coaches many of our sports teams, including basketball and volleyball.
Lisa Wiederkehr is in her third year as the librarian at St. Benedict. Before that, she was a librarian at St. Matthias School and also at Sulzer Regional Library. She has an undergraduate degree in Political Science from St. Joseph's College and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Dominican University. She loves to spend her free time with her husband, daughter, who is a senior here at St. Benedict, and her two kitties, Dipper and Mabel. She is a huge fan of the Chicago Blackhawks, enjoys traveling and being outdoors, and of course, loves to read!
Upper School Support Staff
Kathy Moore, Receptionist, School Registar/Attendance
Heather Perez, School Nurse