Meet The Staff


Elizabeth Thasiah
9:00 Nursery School Teacher (First year at FTCNS)

Elizabeth received her B.A. in Sociology/ Anthropology from Denison University, where she specialized in the sociology of children, and holds a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Seminary. She is a licensed Musikgarden teacher and has been teaching music to preschool children in Chicago over the last three years. Elizabeth is an avid storyteller and enjoys bringing books to life through various voices. She has been doing so since she was 5 years of age, when she began acting in the children's public television program "Jack in the Jukebox". E lizabeth has previously worked as the Executive Director of multiple non- profit organizations dedicated to early years childhood and family well-being. While living in England, Elizabeth worked for the British government, authoring their county-wide play policy for insuring adequate provisions for children's play and health. Elizabeth is fascinated by the mental, physical, social and creative development of children. She realizes that children need to be listened to deeply, heard and fostered as they strive to make sense of the world and themselves within it.

Deadre Lorber
Pre-K and Literacy Class Teacher (Fourth year at FTCNS)

Deadre completed her B.A. from National College of Education (National-Louis University) and holds two IL teaching certificates, Elementary and Early Childhood Education. She has taught many children from PreK through 8th grade. Her experiences include teaching music to the whole school, developing integrated curriculum themes, teaching literature-based reading and writing, and differentiating instruction in order to reach each child. After teaching Chicago Public School children for more than twenty years and then leading workshops for parents of children PreK through 3rd grade, Deadre is happy to be part of this wonderful community of families. She tutors privately at the elementary school level and also has her own business. Deadre is the mother of two adult children.

Ellen Palmer
8:30 Nursery School and Mixed Age Class Teacher (Seventh year at FTCNS)

Ellen completed her B.A. in Sociology in 1987, and began building a career path weaving education, social work and literacy into a 3-strand commitment to teaching psychosocial skill development. She previously taught preschool for approximately 12 years, spent 5 years as the director of a Montessori after school program, worked throughout college as a direct care provider at a residential facility for disabled girls, served as a science museum educator for approximately 3 years, performed as a storyteller, and led poetry writing workshops for children and families. Ellen has enjoyed the diversity of working with children of all ages - from infants through highschoolers, and believes strongly in the mentoring role of adults in teaching children how to be true to themselves while belonging to and honoring their community and society.

Salena Miller
Young 3's, 8:30 Nursery School and Pre-K Class Teacher (Fifth year at FTCNS)

Salena graduated from National-Louis University with a Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Psychology (March 2006). She began working at Families Together Cooperative Nursery School in June of 2006. Her experience in childcare centers, however, goes back about 10 years. Prior to graduation she spent six years as a lead teacher at The State of Illinois Child Development Center located in downtown Chicago. She is also the mother of a growing eleven year old boy who attends Burley Elementary School. Within the classroom she believes in building a nurturing community where all children feel safe and welcome. With her experience, she plans to provide a curriculum based on play that is meaningful and relevant to the lives of the children.

Mary Tabatowski
Young 3's, 9:00 Nursery School and Mixed Age Class Teacher (Fourth year at FTCNS)
Assistant Education Director

Mary graduated from the University of Chicago in 2000 with an undergraduate degree in English and Italian literature. She had always been fascinated with how children learn, and this led her to find teaching jobs after college. She taught preschool for several years and then 3rd grade in a parochial school before returning to grad school at the Erikson Institute to get her Masters Degree and teaching certificate. This is Mary's fourth year at Families Together, and she's happy to be teaching 3 classes again this year. She is especially interested in exploring math and science with young children, and she has significant experience in implementing story dictation/dramatization programs in the classroom. In her spare time you can find her playing bluegrass music on her mandolin, singing, reading, and doing art projects at home.

Kate Brenner
Business Manager (Ninth year at FTCNS)

Kate is in her 9th year as the Business Manager for FTCNS. Kate manages the myriad of paperwork needed for students, adult volunteers and staff as well as scheduling the assisting parents in the classroom. She manages the admissions inquiries and process, tuition payments, and accounts payable and receivable. Kate has a B.A. in French and her previous work experience includes volunteer coordinator and marketing/PR at Twin Cities Public Television, 1 year as an English tutor in Brazil, and 10 years in marketing for a healthcare company. Kate's three girls attended Families Together so she comes to the position with experience as a co-op parent.

Chris Borud Porter
Education Director (Eighth year at FTCNS)

Chris is the Education Director and a former member of the teaching staff. She earned her Masters in Early Childhood Education from Ball State University and has a Bachelors from Indiana University. Chris has worked in early childhood for a number of years and been a teacher, an administrator as well as a college instructor. Formally, she was a research scientist and enjoys incorporating science learning and exploration into the preschool classroom. Christine's belief about early childhood education is that it should be a happy, engaging and hands-on experience for young children and that learning can and should happen through meaningful play. She firmly believes in focusing on the whole child including the development of social, emotional, physical, language, creative and cognitive skills as well as supporting independence and positive self-esteem. These are core values she brings to the school as the leader of the education staff.

Aimee Skinner
Administrative Director (Second year at FTCNS)

Aimee serves on the FTCNS staff as the Administrative Director. In this role, she works with the Board, teachers, and parent committees on matters relating to finance, technology, fundraising, property services, and other administrative areas. Aimee worked for several years as Associate Director at a non-profit and prior to that was a management consultant. Her volunteer experiences include grant-writing, fundraising, strategic planning, and event planning for schools and non-profit agencies. Aimee holds a Masters of Education (2007) and is a certified secondary mathematics teacher and enjoys the opportunity to combine her education and administration credentials in this position. She is also a former FTCNS parent and proud mom to 5-year old twins.