Principal Pilgrim Lutheran School

Chris Comella


Mr. 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. He started his teaching career in private faith-based schools in Chicago in 1982 and in 1999, he became an assistant principal and later a principal in Zion, IL.

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. He 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 in Germany.

Currently, Mr. Comella serves on the Board of the Evangelical Lutheran Education Association.

Pastor Pilgrim Lutheran School

Kristian Johnson


Pastor Johnson has been serving Pilgrim Lutheran Church and School since November 2012.

Originally from Minnesota, He graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN as a Music Major and received his M. Div from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago.

Before coming to Pilgrim, he served as a youth minister on the north side of Chicago for five years. He has spent significant time learning and serving among Christians in Tanzania, East Africa and El Salvador, Central America. He served his first call at First Lutheran Church/Iglesia Luterana Mi Salvador in Inglewood, CA. During his six years there, he helped the congregation triple in size and start a ministry in Spanish.

Pastor Johnson’s wife, Anna is also an ordained minister in the ELCA. They are blessed with three children, Hope, Emanuel, and Xavier.

Communication and Office Manager Pilgrim Lutheran School

Halley Williams

Office Manager

Halley Williams was first introduced to the Pilgrim community when her son attended kindergarten. In 2015, she transitioned into the administrative team. She works part-time in the school office as the Office Manager.

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

Two years ago, Halley led Pilgrim’s accreditation team. As the leader, she helped evaluate teaching practices and set long-term goals.

When not serving as the Office Manager, Halley enjoys exercising and spending time with family and friends.

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Heather Sexton

Communications Administrator

The 2021/22 school year marks Heather Sexton’s first year as Pilgrim’s Communications Administrator! As the Communications Administrator, Heather develops communications materials for Pilgrim Lutheran Church and School. She also oversees marketing activities and manages Pilgrim’s social media channels. She studied English and International Studies at Illinois Wesleyan University, and spent many years working in corporate public relations. 

Both of Heather’s sons, Will and Henry, are currently students at Pilgrim. Heather has enjoyed serving as a parent volunteer with both the church and school in various capacities over the years. She has served as the co-chair of the Marketing Committee and as a member of the Parish Life Committee. Heather also plans the annual PilgrimFest block party. 

In her free time, Heather loves exploring Chicago with her kids, taking photos, trying new restaurants, and being an extremely competitive member of her pub trivia team. 

Earlybird and After School Program Leader Pilgrim Lutheran School

Arlene Calderone

Early Birds and PAS Director

Arlene Calderone leads the Earlybird and After School programs. In this role, she hopes to provide a safe and welcoming environment to Pilgrim students.

Facilities Manager Pilgrim Lutheran School

Dave Emery

Facilities Manager

Dave Emery is happy to serve as Pilgrim’s Facilities Manager. He works behind the scenes to keep Pilgrim operating smoothly. Students often find him opening the door for school in the morning or setting up for events. He is the proud father of his two sons, both graduates of Pilgrim.

Pilgrim's Social Worker, Meagan Mesirow, reading a book to students

Meagan Mesirow

Social Worker

As Pilgrim Lutheran School’s social worker, Ms. Mesirow spends her days meeting with students, teachers, and parents as a support service. She works with students individually and in groups on expressing feelings, coping strategies, social skills, executive functioning, and more! She also works with diverse learners and helps teachers and parents navigate supports and accommodations. 

Ms. Mesirow teaches weekly social-emotional learning classes to students in the younger grades. She also hosts workshops to support the middle school students and teachers. Students will see her helping out during social times such as lunch, recess, and resource periods. She is there to help if students want to talk or need help navigating a problem. Ms. Mesirow loves the strong community at Pilgrim. As the social worker at Pilgrim Lutheran School, she encourages students, teachers, and parents to embrace the support system here.