Chris Comella

Principal

Chris Comella has served as Principal of Pilgrim Lutheran School since July 2013.  Mr. Comella has over 35 years of experience in professional education, both in the classroom and in administration.  Mr. Comella started his teaching career in private faith-based schools in Chicago in 1982; in 1999, he became an assistant principal and later a principal in Zion, Illinois, a small urban school district in Lake County.  Mr. Comella has a bachelor’s degree from Wabash College in English and Classical Greek and a master’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University in educational administration.  Mr. Comella has also studied at Concordia University Chicago, DePaul University, the University of Aberdeen (U.K.) and the Goethe Institut (Berlin).  Mr. Comella is an alumnus of the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program, having taught English in Wilhelm-Hoffmann-Gymnasium in St. Goarshausen (Germany) during the 1997-98 school year.  Currently, Mr. Comella serves on the Board of the Evangelical Lutheran Education Association (ELEA).

Kristian Johnson

Pastor

My family and I love it here at Pilgrim! I’ve been blessed to serve as Pastor here since November of 2012. Originally from Minnesota, I graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN as a Music Major and received my M. Div from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. Before coming to Pilgrim, I served as a youth minister on the north side of Chicago for five years, and have spent significant time learning and serving among Christians in Tanzania, East Africa and El Salvador, Central America. I served my first call as Pastor of First Lutheran Church/Iglesia Luterana Mi Salvador in Inglewood (Los Angeles) CA for six years, and helped the congregation triple in size and start a ministry in Spanish.

I am blessed with an amazing family! My wife is also an ordained Pastor in the ELCA named Pastor Anna-Kari Langseth-Johnson. We are blessed with three kids: my daughter Hope, son Emanuel, and son Xavier.

Halley Williams

Office Manager

“I love that my children are cared for by the staff and that they love going to school, “ says Halley Williams. She first came to the Pilgrim community when her son attended kindergarten. In 2015, she transitioned to be an integral part of the administrative team at Pilgrim.  She works half-time in the school office as communication and office manager.

Halley received a B.A. in Criminal Justice from the University of Miami and a Master of Social Work from Loyola University Chicago. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, she worked in community mental health in the Lakeview neighborhood for over 20 years.

Two years ago, Halley led the accreditation team, which is a massive study every 7 years that Pilgrim Lutheran School uses to re-examine and reevaluate our teaching practices and helps us set long range goals for the School.

When not in the office, Halley enjoys exercising and spending time with family and friends.

Arlene Calderone

Early Birds and Pilgrim After School (PAS)

Known to all as the driving force behind the Earlybird and Pilgrim After School programs, Arlene Calderone has worked tirelessly to provide a safe and welcoming environment for students of all ages.

Renee Stuedemann

Church Administrator

You’ve probably seen Renee Stuedemann’s friendly face if you’ve visited the Pilgrim Lutheran School office, although she actually works part-time developing weekly bulletins, announcements and other materials for the church. 

After graduating from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in education, Mrs. Stuedemann attended the Harrington Institute of Interior Design.  She subsequently enjoyed a lengthy and fulfilling career in corporate interior design and project management.  

Mrs. Stuedemann is enjoying the change of pace that her administrative role at Pilgrim brings.  She embodies the Pilgrim philosophy of faith development by volunteering on various church committees, hosting a women’s bible study in her home and taking part in the church’s annual El Salvador mission trip to feed the hungry, build homes and churches and deliver medical supplies.

Dave Emery

Facilities Manager

Dave Emery is our facilities manager and you might find him opening the door for school in the morning, or you might see him at lunch hour, or setting up for events at school.  He works behind the scenes to keep Pilgrim church and school operating smoothly.  Both of his 2 sons are Pilgrim graduates.

Meagan Mesirow

Social Worker

Ms. Mesirow spends her days meeting with students, teachers, and parents as another support service and spending time in the classrooms and places where the students at Pilgrim are social. Students might see her at lunch, recess, resource periods, and in their classrooms. Right now, she is working on meeting everyone and helping students and parents get organized and ready for the school year. She feels lucky to have found a job at such a welcoming place!

Ms. Mesirow began working with kids at a summer camp in Minnesota. She was a director there for multiple years and fell into a social work type of role helping kids, parents, and counselors through social and emotional issues. The elementary years are such an important age for learning how to make friends and navigate social situations. It is also important for kids at this age to start learning about emotional identification and self-care. She wanted to translate her work at camp into a school setting so she decided to become a school social worker!

Crystal Boice

Lunch

Crystal Boice ensures that Pilgrim students and staff has a hot meal option everyday. She uses fresh ingredients to make creative and delicious meals in Pilgrim’s kitchen, providing options for vegetarians, vegans, and those with food allergies. More information about the Hot Lunch Program at Pilgrim is available from Ms. Boice at lunch.pilgrimchicago.org