Meet Our Community
  • Early Childhood Teachers

    We believe that learning takes place through child-centered opportunities and activities in an accepting environment.
    • Madlin Sada

      Madlin Sada

      Madlin Sada’s enjoyment of children shines through in her roles as associate director of Pilgrim After School (PAS) and teaching assistant in the afternoon pre-K classroom, where she works with Mrs. Bataneant. “I love playing and laughing with kids!” she declares.

      Born in Syria, Ms. Sada has lived in the United States for 21 years, and her entire family resides in Chicago.  After earning an associate’s degree in early childhood education from Northeastern University, Ms. Sada worked as a bookkeeper before joining the Pilgrim staff three years ago.

      One of Ms. Sada’s biggest hobbies is playing soccer, and she hopes to pass along her love for the game to her afternoon preschool students.

    • Arlene Calderone
      Early Birds and Pilgrim After School (PAS)

      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.

    • Suzi Bataneant
      Preschool Teacher

      Suzi Bataneant

      Preschool Teacher

      Suzi Bataneant teaches preschool at Pilgrim School. She received her BA in Early Childhood Education at Northeastern Illinois University, where she was also awarded the Department of Teacher Education Outstanding Student Award.

      She began working with children in her church’s Sunday school department where she discovered her love for teaching and working with young children. Mrs Bataneant believes that play is a child’s work and their gateway to learning about the world around them. Play really is hard work!

      In her spare time, Mrs. Bataneant loves trying new cuisines, exploring the city and spending time with her husband, Alin.

    • Polly Smith
      Co-teacher in the Pre-Kindergarten Room

      Polly Smith

      Co-teacher in the Pre-Kindergarten Room
      Mrs. Polly Smith is the new Co-Teacher for the AM Pre-K. She comes to us from Salem Christian School in Humboldt Park/Logan Square after 7 years of teaching Pre-K there. She received a BA in Youth Ministry from Moody Bible Institute and an MA in Education from North Park University, graduating both with high honors.
      Mrs. Smith has been involved in Early Childhood Education for over 10 years and has a passion for teaching young students and inspiring a love of life-long learning. She is excited to be a part of Pilgrim’s play-based program and see students grow and explore while having fun in the classroom!
      When not at school, Mrs. Smith enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with friends and her husband, Tom.
  • Grade School Teachers

    The average Pilgrim 8th grade achievement test score is consistently nearly three grade levels ahead of national norms.
    • Suzanne Stewart
      Art Teacher

      Suzanne Stewart

      Art Teacher

      Suzanne Stewart is the art teacher for all grades at Pilgrim Lutheran School. She enjoys enriching and expanding students art knowledge and skills while encouraging creativity and artistic expression. The students learn about elements and principles of art along with some art history.

      Mrs. Stewart received an Associate of Science degree in 3D Computer Animation from the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale. She has taught in the elementary department of Uptown Christian School for 14 years and is now teaching art to the high school at U.C.S. part time. For many years she has been on an art team at her church creating large artworks and installations. She has also taught workshops for children and adults at festivals and women’s events. Mrs. Stewart has recently had two solo art shows and her works can currently be seen at Baker Miller.

    • Karen Huelskoetter
      Music teacher- lower grades

      Karen Huelskoetter

      Music teacher- lower grades

      Karen Huelskoetter teaches music to the Pre-K through 3rd grade students.  She received a Bachelor of Science from Concordia University, and she also has done graduate work at Vandercook School of Music,  Orff Certification through DePaul University.  She is member of Chicago Area Orff Workshops (or CGAOSA).  She has taught in the primary classroom for 40 years, and 26 of those years were at Pilgrim. One of her teacher goals is to strive to weave music into all of the academic areas.  In her free time she enjoys quilting, piano playing and teaching, and gardening.  She and her husband Warren Gast, (retired principal from St James Lutheran school) both like to volunteer their time with children.

    • Andrew Yearick
      Spanish and Upper Grade Science

      Andrew Yearick

      Spanish and Upper Grade Science

      Andrew Yearick teaches Spanish for Preschool to 8th grade, reading for 2nd grade, and science for grades 7 and 8. He graduated with a degree in Education from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania with concentrations in Spanish and German. In the classroom, he is a strong proponent of creativity and adaptability: “Each class has a wide range of abilities and learning styles, so I try to vary the presentation of the material to reach all students. If they’re having fun, my job is easy.”

      Outside of the classroom, Andrew performs as a folk rock musician and is the frontman for a progressive rock band.

    • Paula Raabe
      Upper Grade Math/Science

      Paula Raabe

      Upper Grade Math/Science

      Paula Raabe has taught in Lutheran schools for more than 25 years. She considers her position as a faith nurturer and assistant in faith development a true vocation. Though she has taught in a range of grade levels and a variety of subject areas, math has always been a central focus of her teaching and learning. “Some people will boldly assert that ‘they aren’t very good at math’ or that they ‘don’t get math’. The truth is that everyone can learn the ideas of math, at some time in some way. Everyone may not like math, that’s ok, but everyone can learn about numbers and how they work in our lives and in our world.” With that challenge Mrs. Raabe works with middle school students, helping them to see the beauty and patterns of math, making connections to other areas of school and life in general. She also works as an adjunct in the math education department at National Louis University.

      Mrs. Raabe is married to another church professional, and a math teacher at that! She is the mother of three independent Christian women. In her spare time (a rarity during the school year), she enjoys walking, working outside and reading fiction.

    • Angela Cardo
      5th/6th Grade Teacher

      Angela Cardo

      5th/6th Grade Teacher

      My family started here 19 years ago when my daughters were enrolled in 2nd grade and Preschool. We were drawn to Pilgrim because my husband graduated from Pilgrim and his parents were church members. We wanted the same caring environment for our girls that my husband had experienced at Pilgrim.

      My first job at Pilgrim was 19 years ago as a lunchroom volunteer, and then as the lunchroom supervisor. After a few years I moved to the School Office Operations Manager. During this time I worked on my degree in education and, finally, I was lucky enough to be hired as a teacher. During all that time, our girls graduated from Pilgrim and in June 2014, our son graduated from Pilgrim, too. He now attends DePaul College Prep in all honors classes. I am proud to be part of two generations of my own Pilgrim family, and I am happy to share the gift of a Pilgrim education with the current generation of Pilgrim students.

    • Kathryn Gates
      2nd/3rd Grade Teacher

      Kathryn Gates

      2nd/3rd Grade Teacher

      Mrs. Kathryn Gates (formerly Allore) is in her 2nd year as Pilgrim’s 2/3 homeroom teacher. Mrs. Gates is a native of Michigan and has taught for two years at Trinity Lutheran School in Utica, Michigan. She holds a Bacherlor of Science degree from Eastern Michigan University, from which she graduated Magna Cum Laude. Mrs. Gates was a 2nd grade homeroom teacher, but also has experience teaching Kindergarten, 1st, and 4th grades. One of her greatest passions in teaching is using the workshop method for teaching, reading, and writing. Mrs. Gates has joined the Pilgrim congregation as part of her move to Chicago. She has a strong interest in coaching volleyball. Mrs. Gates’s colleagues describe her as being thorough and committed to her students. She is eager to learn and is always willing to adapt methods of teaching in order to meet individual student needs.

    • Shannon Andreen
      7th and 8th Grade Teacher

      Shannon Andreen

      7th and 8th Grade Teacher

      Shannon Andreen teaches 7th and 8th grade. “I love guiding the students to becoming independent thinkers who love to learn, and also helping them build strong relationships with our community.” In her years at Pilgrim, she has taught 5th-8th grade. Previously, she has taught in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Houston. During her five years in Houston Independent School District, she was the English Department Chair for three years and had the honor of winning Paul Revere’s “Teacher of the Year.”

      Mrs. Andreen attended Louisiana State University, where she earned a B.A. in Literature and later obtained her Secondary Education certification. She is married and has two children, Riley and Connor. Both attend and love Pilgrim. She enjoys entertaining, cooking, crafting, reading, and most of all spending time with family and friends.

    • Michael Auz
      Band teacher

      Michael Auz

      Band teacher

      Mr. Michael Auz is our new band teacher.  Pilgrim is partnering with Music Education Services in Elk Grove Village.  Mr. Auz has a degree in Music Education and has been teaching band in area schools such as Audubon and Agassiz for the last 5 years.

    • Kristen Stone
      1st/2nd Grade Teacher

      Kristen Stone

      1st/2nd Grade Teacher

      We welcome Ms. Kristen Stone as Pilgrim’s 1st/2nd Grade Homeroom Teacher. Ms. Stone has 20 years of teaching experience and understands the workshop process of teaching reading and writing, which Pilgrim uses successfully. She taught 1st grade for 7 years in Redford, Michigan;

      Pre-K for 3 years in Sanford, Florida, as well as 2 years in Redford, Michigan. Most recently has taught 1st grade at Agassiz Elementary and 2nd grade at Burley Elementary in the CPS system. She has also worked as a private educator. Ms. Stone is committed to weaving Christian values into her teaching and is an active member of her church. We are confident that she is a good fit for Pilgrim and will embody Academic Excellence with a Heart. Ms. Stone has a Bachelor of Arts from Wheaton College; a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Michigan-Dearborn; and a certificate for ESL teaching from the American College of Education.
    • Kathy Tighe
      4th/5th Grade Homeroom Teacher

      Kathy Tighe

      4th/5th Grade Homeroom Teacher

      Mrs. Tighe is our 4th and 5th grade homeroom teacher, and has taught at Pilgrim for more than ten years. “I try to instill a joy for inquiry in my students,” she says. “It’s really fun to teach fourth and fifth graders, because they are flexible and uninhibited thinkers. One of the best parts of my job is helping my students discover how to build their own reading lives, which I hope becomes a lifelong process for them.”

      Mrs. Tighe received a B.S. in Education from Northwestern University, where she also met her husband of over thirty-five years. They are the proud parents of a son, Joey, as well as a daughter, Anna, who attended Pilgrim from kindergarten to eighth grade. In her spare time, Mrs. Tighe enjoys reading, cooking, gardening, walking her dog, and more reading!

    • Beata Halter
      Kindergarten Teacher

      Beata Halter

      Kindergarten Teacher

      Beata Halter, our kindergarten teacher, has 30+ years of classroom experience. She has taught 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th grades as well, but is happiest teaching small children. “Young children are explorers and active learners,” she says. “I strive to discover their strengths and identify needs. My goal for each child is to enhance growth in their love of learning, love for themselves and others and their love for their Lord.”

      Mrs. Halter is married to a retired teacher, and has two sons: one teaches high school English in Iowa and the other is a starving comedian. Mrs. Halter enjoys a good game of bridge, crossword puzzles, and conversations.


    • Cheryl Kato

      Cheryl Kato

      Cheryl Kato, Early Childhood Teachers’ Aide

      Working with very young children is a labor of love for Cheryl Kato.  She experienced first hand Pilgrim’s commitment to academic excellence with a heart, when her son started kindergarten at the school in 1990.  

      For many years, Mrs. Kato, who holds bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education and recreation management from George Williams College, has worked as an aide alongside Mrs. Halter and Mr. Knuth.  She helps with projects, reads stories, plays games and explores the city on field trips.  “Everyday is different with kindergarteners!” declares Mrs. Kato – citing variety as one of the most enjoyable aspects of her job.   

      When she’s not in the classroom, Mrs. Kato might be behind the cash register.  Her family owned Frank’s Jewelry in Lakeview for 66 years, and currently operates the Midori gift shop at Ravenswood Fellowship Methodist Church.  Mrs. Kato also enjoys spending time with her husband Bob and their two sons Michael and Paul.