The Keith faculty is recruited nationally and internationally with advanced degrees in their respective fields, recognized success in education, and a commitment to being role models for young people. They are dedicated to life-long learning and continued professional growth. They use a broad repertoire of teaching techniques and technologies, enhancing students’ skills by integrating these approaches throughout the curriculum. Perhaps most importantly, Keith faculty are available to students and parents, before, during and after school. Celebration phone calls and emails, correspondence over weekends and direct access to a students’ daily progress through a NetClassroom application are just a few of the many ways we maintain strong teacher-student-parent relationships.
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Math Enrichment Specialist
B.A. from University of Illinois
M.B.A. from Northern Illinois University
After college, he completed USAF pilot training and flew the C-130 aircraft worldwide. Larry has worked in corporate America for many years, retiring in 2007. His love for connecting mathematics to daily applications attracted him to Keith. He has also served as an instructor in business courses at Rock Valley College for over 20 years. In his leisure time Larry enjoys reading, sports, and traveling.
B.S. from George Mason University in Laboratory Science
M.S. from George Mason University in Information Management
M.A.T. from Rockford College in Teaching
Faye’s son, Navid, graduated from Keith in 2011 as a National Merit Scholar and her son, Alex, attends Keith’s Middle School. Faye will again be co-teaching Grade 1 with Rhonda Hanley. In addition to bringing high expectations for academic and social learning, she hopes to create an engaged classroom for both students and parents. A graduate from George Mason University with a bachelor’s in Laboratory Science and a master’s in Information Management, Faye earned a second master’s degree in teaching from Rockford College. Prior to joining the Keith faculty, her classroom experience included teaching kindergarten through second grade students. She integrates her extensive business experiences into math and science instruction. Faye has worked as a senior systems analyst for commercial billing systems at MCI Telecommunications Corporation in Arlington, Virginia and the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C. She has also been a systems consultant for different projects at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x190
Elizabeth (Betty) Benoit
Middle and Upper School Resource
B.A. in Elementary Education from Central Michigan University
M.S. in Reading from Northern Illinois University
A veteran teacher with more than three decades of experience, Betty joined Keith from the Harlem School District where she taught fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. Betty thoroughly understands the importance of differentiating instruction to meet the specific learning needs of Keith students. Students consistently seek Betty’s support when needing guidance on study strategies and research skills. A native of Michigan, Betty earned her B.A. in Elementary Education from Central Michigan University and her M.S. from Northern Illinois University. She is currently a resident of Roscoe and has two daughters, Grace and Joy.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x191
Lower School Director
B.S. in Elementary Education and Special Education from Concordia University
M.A. in Education and Leadership from St. Xavier University
Mrs. Brahmstedt was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Award for 2014. For many years, Jan taught fifth grade at Keith. She now serves as the Lower School Director for students in grades kindergarten through fifth. Jan works in a supportive role to Lower School faculty members in designing strategies for compacting and accelerating a personalized curriculum. Her impressive teaching credentials well qualify her to serve as the lead teacher of the Lower School. Jan enjoys doing special projects involving youth and adult education at her church, and presenting topics at women’s and marriage retreats. Jan also likes boating, gardening, quilting, and spending time with her husband, four children, and extended family.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x177
Social Studies Department Chair
Middle and Upper School Social Studies and Economics Teacher
B.A. in History and Anthropology from Marquette University
The energetic Kristin Burns was the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Faculty Award. A graduate from Marquette University with degrees in History and Anthropology, Kristin teaches the middle school social studies courses and Lower School enrichment courses. In addition co-administers the Keith Facebook page, coaches the middle school scholastic and quiz bowl teams, and co-advises the Model UN delegation. Prior to joining the Keith faculty, she worked in other area school districts, and the Regional Alternative School for at risk youth. Kristin is a member of Phi Alpha Theta and the League of Women Voters. Outside of school, Mrs. Burns and her husband share a passion for dog rescue and rehabilitation, and they volunteer for local animal rescue organizations. She also enjoys cheering on the Milwaukee Brewers and the Green Bay Packers.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x175
Science Department Chair
B.S. in Biology-Ecology and B.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Geography from Minnesota State University, Mankato
M.A.T. from Rockford College
The recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Faculty Award and numerous Golden Apple nominations, David has extensive professional experience in addition to an impressive teaching resume. Before joining the Keith faculty, David worked on wetland and water quality policy for the National Wildlife Federation in Washington, DC, as a research assistant/temporary instructor at Iowa State University, as a lab technician for Baxter International, and as an environmental specialist for American Tower Corporation. At Keith, he is the Science Department Chair and teaches middle school science and math, senior year environmental science, and middle school math. David has been a guest instructor at Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens. Another contribution that he enjoys immensely, is coaching. Since 2002, David has coached various sports including volleyball, basketball, and soccer. David is married to Abigail, has a daughter, Emery, and a son, Tyler, who are both Keith School students. To view David’s web site, click here.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x121
Physical Education Department Chair
B.S. in Kinesiological Sciences with emphasis on Fitness Management from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
M.A. in Physical Education from Rockford University
Dan has used his athletic background and experience in fitness to help individuals achieve various health and wellness goals. He has taught personal training classes at College of DuPage. He started his Cougar tenure in January 2015. His passion for physical education includes teaching young children to move around and enjoy exercise and play while living a healthy lifestyle. In his spare time, Dan coaches several Keith athletic teams. Outside the gymnasium, Dan enjoys fishing and spending quality time with his wife and family.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x91
Third Grade and English Department Chair
B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Northern Illinois University
Illinois Teaching Certificate in Early Childhood Education
M.A. in Reading and Literature from Walden University
Allison joined the Lower School faculty in 2010 with more than 10 years of classroom and community education experience. She has a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Northern Illinois University and a M.A. in Reading and Literature through Walden University. Throughout her career, Allison has taught several different grade levels and is well-versed in designing creative lesson plans that accommodate multiple intelligences. In addition to working as a classroom teacher, Allison has also worked as an administrator at Argyle Preschool and at the Sylvan Learning Center.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x151
Dr. Debra Dimke
Head of School
M.S. in Educational Administration/Special Education from Northern Illinois
Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Western Illinois University
Dr. Debra Dimke was named the 16th Head of School at Keith in July of 2012. An outstanding educator and administrator for more than 34 years, Dr. Dimke oversees Keith’s curriculum, faculty, admissions, finances, development program and communications. She is a graduate from Northern Illinois University with a master’s degree in Educational Administration/Special Education. She earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Western Illinois University. Dr. Dimke has been an executive administrator for more than 16 years working in the Peoria School District, District U-46, and the Rockford School District. During her public school years, she was instrumental in establishing several new programs such as developing curricula for bilingual, gifted and special education students, implementing instructional management systems for principals and teachers, and improving college readiness initiatives. If the name Dimke sounds familiar, it’s for good reason. Dr. Dimke’s husband (Tim) is the Executive Director of the Rockford Park District. Their son, Derek, a former Keith School student graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in finance. In 2012, he finished his collegiate football career with the University of Illinois as the school’s all-time record holder in field goal accuracy. He is pursuing a career in the National Football League, but still is a frequent Keith visitor.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x114
Math Department Chair
B.S. in Mathematics from Northern Illinois University
Upon receiving his degree in mathematics from Northern Illinois University, Mr. Doherty began his teaching career at Belvidere High School where he taught Algebra, Algebra II, and Geometry. Mr. Doherty has extensive instructional expertise in providing an accelerated and differentiated curriculum for students who are gifted and talented. He is the math enrichment specialist serving students in grades 2, 3, 4, and 5. He believes he challenges the minds of the Lower School students so they develop reasoning, critical thinking, and problem solving skills through everyday connections. Mr. Doherty sees mathematical concepts everywhere on the Keith campus, and he is eager to teach through exploratory learning strategies that will deepen mathematical understanding. When he is not engaging the Lower School students in mathematical thinking, he teaches in the MS/US Mathematics Department.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x140
Middle and Upper School Spanish
B.A. in Spanish and French with Academic Commendation from the Univ. of Hawaii
M.A. and pre-doctoral work at the University of Wisconsin, Madison
Member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi
In addition to an extensive teaching background in foreign languages, Apryle has lived and studied in Spain and Mexico. She attended Pomona College, earned her B.A. in Spanish and French at the University of Hawaii, received an M.A. in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison as she began pre-doctoral work also at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received a post-Master’s certification in teaching from Michigan State University. Along with teaching middle and high school students, Apryle has also taught at Rockford College and worked with private businesses on diversity training and English as a Second Language. Apryle’s greatest joy is her family. She also enjoys gardening, reading history, music, entertaining her cats, and writing poetry.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x106
Scholastic Team Coach
A.A. from Rock Valley College
B.S. from Northern Illinois University in Mathematics
Brad joined Keith in 2012 after earning a Bachelor’s in Mathematics from Northern Illinois University. While attending Northern, he served as the assistant coach for the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) Scholastic Bowl Team. During Brad’s coaching tenure, the IMSA Team earned two IHSA Class AA State Championships and two top-25 finishes at the National Championship. At Keith, Brad enjoys designing lectures that integrate college-level mathematics, including combinatorics, real analysis, and group theory, into the Middle and Upper School courses. Brad was very instrumental in the impressive growth of Keith’s Upper School Scholastic Bowl Team. Brad, and Keith colleagues, led the Team to two top-five finishes in the State competition and their first appearance at the National Competition in 2014. Outside of school, Brad enjoys spending time with his wife and son, Jimmy, a Lower School student.
B.A in Elementary Education from University of Illinois
Kelly brings a lengthy resume of experience with past jobs in Chicago, South Beloit and Rockford. The Chicago native has taught junior kindergarten, kindergarten, second, and fourth grades as well as music. She has earned the honor of being the “most creative” Lower School faculty member. When visiting Kelly’s classroom, it becomes apparent that her thematic teaching quickly engages her students and their families. Kelly and her husband have two children. They enjoy traveling, hiking, the theater, and family time.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x109
Dr. Fred Hadley
Upper School Science and Math
B.A. Chemistry, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Ph.D. Physical Chemistry, Rice University, Houston, TX
Dr. Hadley has extensive teaching experience at all levels, starting with science education at the elementary level while in the Peace Corps (Philippines), college-level chemistry and physics for almost 40 years, and, most recently, high school science and math here at Keith. While in the collegiate environment, his research interests focused primarily on the kinetics (rates) and mechanisms of chemical reactions. He was the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching and Campus Leadership Award while at Rockford University. In addition to his teaching, he has been an active volunteer in the Rockford community, at Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful (KNIB), Habitat for Humanity, the IREAD program in our elementary schools, and Crusader Community Health. He has had long-time interests in woodworking, classical music, reading, and travel. Lately he has been developing, with the help of his wife, his culinary skills, a work in progress, to be sure.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x160
B.S. from Illinois State University
M.A. in Teaching from Aurora University
M.E.L. in Administration from Aurora University
Rhonda is a veteran teacher with experience educating students ranging from pre-kindergarten to masters-level students. She has worked as a first and second grade teacher, a media specialist, a technology trainer, and a coordinator of professional development. Rhonda joined the Keith faculty in 2005. In 2008, she was a Golden Apple Finalist and in 2012 she was the recipient of Keith’s Distinguished Faculty Award. Outside the classroom she enjoys reading, gardening, her grandchildren and traveling with her family.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x110
Middle School Physical Education and Math
B.S. in Exercise Science from Indiana University Bloomington
M.S. in Recreational Therapy from Indiana University Bloomington
Jordan attended Keith School for 15 years and graduated in 2008. She was a leading member of the 2007 Lady Cougars volleyball team, the first in school history to participate in the state finals. She went on to attend Indiana University, where she broke many volleyball records. She is the only player in IU volleyball history to record over 1500 kills and 1000 digs in her collegiate career. Jordan returned to Keith in the 2014-2015 school year. She quickly became a beloved assistant in the lower school classroom. She also assisted with the girls and boys volleyball programs. Jordan brings her energy to the classroom for the 2015-2016 school year as a co-teacher of the middle school physical education courses and a middle school math course.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x124
Leslie (Les) Haygood
Middle and Upper School French & Upper School Language and Composition
B.A. in English and French from Manchester University
Diplôme des études françaises from Université de Nancy II (Nancy, France)
M.A. in English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis
M.A. in French Literature from University of Notre Dame
Ph.D. course work and ABD status from University of Wisconsin-Madison
Les has taught all levels of French language, culture, and literature at the university level and has also taught middle school. He has taught at Notre Dame, UW-Madison, and Lawrence University. He has lived and studied abroad at several points during his career and has taught English at the Université d’Aix-Marseille in France. Les’ pedagogical approach to language teaching focuses on giving students proficiency in oral communication, grammar, written expression, and cultural understanding. As a medievalist, Les is active in the International Courtly Literature Society (ICLS) and the International Arthurian Society, North American Branch (IASNAB). Les is passionate about French cooking and baking and sharing his love for French cuisine with friends, colleagues, and students. He also enjoys reading, writing fiction and non-fiction, and spending time with his cats in his spare time.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x165
Middle School Language Arts Teacher
B.S. in Education from Central Michigan University
M.A. in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University
Certifications — (K-5, all subjects), (K-8, self contained classroom), (Grades 6-8, Language Arts – BX)
Kristine joined the Keith faculty in 2010 after spending two years working as the fifth grade teacher at Charlotte Country Day School. Her experience in education is global having worked at the Hong Kong International School from 2005 to 2008 and at the Thai-Chinese International School in Bangkok, Thailand from 2003 to 2005. Kristine started her career in Michigan working in both Kalamazoo and Mattawan. In her spare time she enjoys reading, running, spending time with her family, and pursuing professional development opportunities. In fact, during her 13-year career Kristine has completed more than 40 seminars, courses, and enrichment programs to benefit her work with students.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x189
Grade 2 Teacher
B.A. in Media Management from Columbia College
M.A. in Elementary Education from Rockford University
Mrs. Jennifer Hickey joined the faculty in 2014. Mrs. Hickey returned to the Rockford area after teaching for seven years at the Imagine Chancellor Charter School in Boynton Beach, Florida. While teaching first grade, Mrs. Hickey also served as the Primary Team leader, a faculty mentor, the Reading Club advisor, and Kiwanis Kids program sponsor. Her teaching philosophy includes learning through civic engagement. She hopes to involve her Keith students in service learning initiatives such as Operation Christmas Child, Thanksgiving Basket Building, and Angel Tree Adoption. Mrs. Hickey, and husband Jason, enjoy entertaining their Labrador puppy, Leo. In her leisure time, Mrs. Hickey also loves to cook, travel, — and of course, read!
Dr. Patrick Hogan
Middle and Upper School Latin and Spanish & Upper School Language and Composition
B.A. in Classics from Lawrence University
M.A. and Ph.D. in Classical Philology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Patrick has taught Latin and Ancient Greek at a number of colleges and universities in Michigan, including Hope College and Hillsdale College, and studied overseas in Rome and Athens. He is an active member in the American Philological Association and maintains an active research regimen focused on imperial Greek and Latin literature, especially works of grammar and philology. He enjoys composing his own Latin poems, some of which he has published, and memorizing Vergilian verse. Learning and teaching languages are his great passion – currently he is learning Hebrew in his free time.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x113
B.S. in Family and Child Studies from Northern Illinois University
M.A.T. in Elementary Education from National Louis University — Wheeling
Stephanie Johnson brings energy and excitement for learning to the entire Lower School campus. A day in our kindergarten classroom will foster lively conversation with all Keith families. She is an expert in developing integrated lessons that emphasize hands-on learning through the use of manipulative and sensory exploration. Stephanie grew up in Illinois and started her educational career at Jefferson Elementary School in Harvard, Illinois. When not planning interesting activities for her students, Stephanie enjoys time with her family.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x149
B.A. in Elementary Education from Lindenwood University
Mrs. Laura Kurich recently joined the Keith Lower School team and is teaching our Junior Kindergarten students. Laura is a graduate from Lindenwood University with a B.A. Degree in Elementary Education. Laura has been a swim instructor, and for many years was a Keith summer camp counselor. Outside of the classroom, Laura enjoys spending time with her family, reading a good book, and watching sports with her husband, Dan. Her passion for teaching is undeniably deep! She looks forward to developing an enthusiasm for learning with all her Keith students .
Dr. Ron Lee
Director of the Middle and Upper School
B.A. in Political Science from the University of Chicago
Ph.D.and M.A. in Political Science from Boston College
In May 2009, Dr. Lee was named Head of Middle and Upper School after teaching full-time at Keith Country Day School for seven years. He helped put Keith in the national spotlight when, in 2006, the College Board announced that Keith had the strongest Advanced Placement U.S. History course in the world among schools its size. In 2007, Dr. Lee’s AP European History course was rated strongest in the country among schools its size. Following his promotion to administration, Dr. Lee scaled back his teaching schedule and now teaches only AP courses in the Social Studies Department. Dr. Lee is also an adjunct associate professor at Rockford University, where he regularly teaches courses in political science and history. He has also taught at Boston College, Michigan State University, and Kenyon College. Dr. Lee has been published in the political science journal Polity and has edited and been a contributing writer for high school readers on government, the Constitution, American history, and world politics. His favorite activities outside of school are reading, watching sports, and spending time with his Olde English bulldog, RJ.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x174
Dr. Beth Lipton
Middle and Upper School Mathematics and Science
B.A. in Biochemistry from University of Iowa
Ph.D. in Biochemistry from University of Iowa
Dr. Lipton has an extensive research background in lipid metabolism in the setting of diabetes and atherosclerosis. Beth has tutored students in numerous math and science courses, has taught at Rock Valley College, and is currently in her eleventh year of teaching at Keith. She and her husband have three children, one of whom is a Keith graduate, and two others currently enrolled in the Upper School. In addition to her classroom work, Beth advises the Key Club. In her spare time Beth enjoys reading historical fiction, watching her children play volleyball, and spending time with her family.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x142
B.S. in Elementary Education from Rockford University
M.Ed Curriculum & Instruction; Reading Specialist; Concordia University, Portland
Mrs. Lozdoski joined the Keith faculty as the Grade 5 teacher in 2013. She has a B.S. in Elementary Education from Rockford University with additional teaching endorsements in language arts and business education. She earned a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Reading from Concordia University, Portland. She has extensive experience designing instructional programs that are personalized to the learning styles of her students. She has served on the faculties of Rockford Dance Company and Rockford University as a dance instructor, volunteered with the Girl Scouts, and is currently an enrichment tutor. She is also a Cougar Quest supervisor and the Upper School Yearbook Adviser. Her most recent project has been creating a not-for-profit organization for grief support. She enjoys reading, dancing, traveling, and family time.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x104
B.S. in Liberal Arts Cal State University
M.S. in Teaching and Learning Nova Southwestern University
Mrs. Lunnon brings a wealth of teaching experience to the Grade 4 classroom. Most recently, she was on the faculty of the North Boone School District where she has taught since 2007. She earned a Master’s Degree in Teaching and Learning for Reading from the Nova Southeastern University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Cal State University. Additionally, Mrs. Lunnon completed advanced education earning a gifted education certificate. Originally from California, Mrs. Lunnon taught fifth grade in the San Jacinto Unified School District for several years. She has also served as Executive Director of the California Southwest Boys and Girls Club. Mrs. Lunnon’s son, Edwin, is a Keith Middle School student.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x128
B.A. in Theater/Speech Communication and Elementary Education with Music Endorsements
Gloria brings over 20 years of teaching experience ranging from preschool through 12th grade in the areas of music, drama, and speech, and worked for five years as the vocal and music director of the Clock Tower Dinner Theatre. She has been a fixture at Keith theater as the vocal and music director for the last six years for the musicals and instrumental support for the plays. Her time at Keith will expand to Lower School performing arts as she continues her work on the mainstage for Middle School/Upper School productions.
B.A. in Spanish from Loras College
The multi-talented Mrs. Malavolti started her teaching career as a bilingual teacher in a dual language immersion program. As a published children’s author, Mrs. Malavolti shares her deep passion for literature and language with all the LS students. When visiting Mrs. Malavolti’s classrooms, students are always highly engaged in conversation–both in English and Spanish. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, and zumba fitness.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x132
Dr. Sherrilyn Martin
Middle and Upper School Latin and Ancient Greek
Chair of the Foreign Language Department
B.A. in ancient Greek from Wilson College
M.A. and Ph.D. in Classics from the University of Cincinnati
A year of Independent study at the University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Dr. Martin was the Illinois Latin Teacher of the Year in 1993, was a recipient of a Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Foreign Language Teaching in 2001, and was named a Claes Nobel Teacher of Distinction in 2007. She is active in the Rockford Society of the Archaeological Institute of America and enjoys traveling in the Mediterranean, reading murder mysteries, and eating chocolate. In addition to her work in the classroom, she is advisor to the Interact Club and coach of the Certamen Teams. She is currently in here 46th year as a faculty member.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x166
Upper School English Literature
B.A. in English Literature from Loyola University Chicago
M.Ed in Secondary Education from Loyola University Chicago
A 2008 graduate of Keith Country Day School, Mr. McGinnis has returned from a long sojourn in the big city to teach English Literature to our Upper School students. He received his training as an educator in the Chicago Public Schools, and has studied the paths of the editor and textual critic, focusing on the works of Shakespeare and the poets of the Middle Ages. In his spare time, he enjoys making music on his old piano, playing cards, and walking in the grey morning.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x149
Performing Arts Instructor
B.A. in Theatre from Western Illinois University
Mrs. Meyer has an intense passion for theatre, music, and singing, and a great appreciation for all art forms. Mrs. Meyer has been an Irene Ryan nominee eight times for outstanding performances, and was a top 16 Regional finalist three consecutive years at the American College Theatre Festival. She has been in more than 50 shows performing in Rockford, Chicago, and surrounding areas. She has been onstage locally at the former New American Theatre. In addition to her stage credits, Mrs. Meyer’s teaching experiences have included drama/music camps, outreach programs, summer programs, after-school drama instruction and acting classes at New American Theatre. She has been a regular consultant to the Rockford Arts Council and Boone County Arts Council where she consistently has been a featured artist. Mrs. Meyer not only loves to teach but also loves to learn, having just completed classes at Chicago’s Second City Training Center. Mrs. Meyer and her husband have three children, and a very happy golden retriever.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x101
B.S. in Elementary Education/Early Childhood from University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Ms. Emily Myers joined the Keith Lower School faculty in 2015. A graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with a B.S. degree in Elementary Education/Early Childhood, Emily contributes her skills in classroom management and SMART board technology. Her teaching philosophy includes incorporating differentiated instruction to meet the diverse needs of students, including those with disabilities and exceptionalities. Along with her passion for teaching, Emily has years of experience in coaching basketball at all different levels and age groups. In her spare time, she enjoys golfing locally with her grandparents, baking, and cheering on the Chicago Bears!
Phone: 815-399-8850 x176
Athletic Director and College Counseling Director
B.S. in Physical Education from Western Illinois University
M.A. in Education Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University
Rob leads all Keith faculty in their commitment to improving Keith programs. His student-focused leadership has pushed the creation of many after-school clubs and activities for students in all grade levels. Most evenings, Rob is on the campus coordinating athletic and co-curricular events. Prior to joining the Keith faculty, Rob taught for 10 years in the Rockford Public School system, and coached football at Guilford and East High Schools. Rob also coached baseball at East High School and wrestling at Belvidere High School. At Western Illinois University he was a four-year letterman in baseball in which he was named to the all-conference team his junior year and was team captain his senior year. Rob was a finalist for Teacher of the Year in 1997 and has been nominated for the Golden Apple Award nine times. is favorite activities are cooking, being an avid aquarist and watching his daughters Alexandria and Zoe play volleyball.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x134
Upper School History Teacher
B.A. in Political Science from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale
M.A.T. in Social Science and History from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale
Mr. Phoenix graduated from Keith Country Day School in 2007 and is joining the History Department. Prior to returning to Keith, James taught U.S. History and World History as a student teacher at Murphysboro High School in southern Illinois. Last year, James taught for the Regional Alternative School at Harlem High School. He looks forward to joining the faculty and contributing to the Keith School community. Outside of school, James enjoys reading, playing basketball, and visiting family.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x163
Middle and Upper School Theatre
Loyola University, Chicago
The Keith theater productions are absolutely emotionally engaging due to Jim’s ingenuity and creativity. Keith productions have been selected to perform at the annual Illinois High School Theater Festival many times. He has been an active artist in professional, educational, and community theatre for more than 40 years. As an actor, designer, stage manager, and director, he has been involved in more than 150 area productions. Before joining the faculty in 2005, he served as the associate producer of Chuck Hoenes Productions at the Clock Tower Dinner Theatre. From 2002 to 2006, he was a visiting theatre artist to second and fifth grades in the Rockford Public Schools and in 2006, he directed and designed the District 205 All-City Theatre production STARMITES at the Coronado Theater. He has been nominated twice for the Mayor’s Arts Award as an “individual artist” and as a “star educator”.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x170
Dr. Jennifer Rea
B.A. from Michigan State University in English Literature
B.A. from State University of New York at Stony Brook in Art History
M.A. from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in History/Irish Studies
Ph.D from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in English/Irish Studies
Jennifer is a beloved faculty member with all of our Middle/Upper School students. Her students frequently comment that her passion for literature is contagious and motivating. She confidently acknowledges that she will create excitement for reading literary selections in all courses. Jennifer and her husband have a daughter, Ella. A former Assistant Professor at Rockford College, Jennifer taught writing, advanced rhetoric and introduction to literature courses for the Regents since 2005. She has been published as both a poet and an author. Additionally, she is a member of the American Conference for Irish Studies, the Modern Language Association, and Children’s Books of Ireland.
Director of Student Engagement and Wellness
B.S. in Exercise Science and Health from University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh
M.A. in Physical Education from Rockford College
Rachel has influenced wellness and fitness programs across the campus. She started her Cougar tenure as a Lower School physical education teacher. In 2010, she joined the Middle/Upper School faculty to teach physical education and health. Rachel’s comprehensive knowledge of all Keith programs has served her well as she has held various administrative positions. She personally assists all new families with the enrollment and transition-to-Keith process. In her spare time, Rachel coaches several Keith athletic programs.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x135
Lower, Middle and Upper School Music
B.M. from Julliard School
Israeli cellist Iris Regev is a Julliard School graduate, having studied with Zara Nelsova and Harvey Shapiro. A member of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra since 2007, Ms. Regev was first prize winner of the Aldo Parisot Young Cellists’ Competition. She performed recitals and chamber music throughout the United States, Canada, Israel, Central and South America, and has collaborated with such artists as Pinchas Zukermann, Alisa Weilerstein, Sharon Kam, Julian Rachlin, and the American String Quartet. Ms. Regev served as Associate Principal Cellist of the Sao Paulo State Orchestra, in Brazil, and later was Associate Principal Cellist of the OSB Orchestra, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In the last few seasons, Ms. Regev has performed as soloist repeatedly with Israel’s Camerata Orchestra, Israel Chamber Orchestra, and others. A regular host of the Israel Philharmonic’s educational KeyNote concerts, Ms. Regev regularly volunteers in schools, presenting classical music to young audiences.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x184
Lower School Technology
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Rockford College
Master of Arts in Teaching from Rockford College
Mrs. Ellen Schubert is a lifelong learner who has a passion for academic excellence. Mrs. Schubert is a Rockford native who graduated as the valedictorian from Rockford East High School. After earning her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Rockford College, Mrs. Schubert decided to make Rockford her primary residence. Mrs. Schubert believes the role of instructional technology specialist best utilizes her business background with her educational training to engage students in 21st century learning skills and strategies. She enjoys working with teachers on developing applications for integrating technology standards into core academic subjects. In her leisure time, Mrs. Schubert enjoys spending time with her baby boy and husband, reading, and drinking coffee.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x154
Dr. Shaleen Shukla
Physics and Mathematics
B.Tech. (Hons.) from Indian Institute of Technology in Mechanical Engineering
M.S. and Ph.D. in Physics from Ohio University
Upon earning his doctorate in physics, Dr. Shukla taught at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. There he got involved in physics education research, which introduces novel methodologies to the physics classroom. The focus of these methodologies is to present physics concepts in a manner that can be intuitively comprehended by students. He has over eight years of experience in engaging students in active learning while teaching physics at universities including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and James Madison University. Dr. Shukla enjoys reading, camping, and spending time with his family.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x187
Choral Director in Middle and Upper School
B.A. in Music from Brigham Young University
M.A. in Music Education from Catholic University of America
Linda has been an integral member of the Performing Arts for several years. She has taught music in the Rockford area for more than 20 years. Linda has a master’s in Music Education from Catholic University and earned a B.A. from BYU. In addition to teaching, Linda has also been a soloist with the USAF Singing Sergeants, the Rockford Bach Chamber Singers,the Rock Valley College Community Chorale and the Rock Valley College Women’s Ensemble. In her leisure time, Linda is currently a distinguished member of the Elysian Voices, a professional choral group.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x122
Arts Degree from Concordia University
Mrs. Sombke, adopted at 12 years of age from South Korea, learned two languages simultaneously — English and Music. An accomplished pianist and violinist, she has extensive experience teaching music to students of all ages. After attending college, she taught English classes in Japan where she gained a deep appreciation of the Japanese culture. Mrs. Sombke has been an English as a Second Language teacher as she is familiar with Korean and Japanese languages. Her early childhood teaching experiences have included the Montessori Private Academy and in the City of Rockford’s Head Start program. Additionally, she has taught for many years at the Music Academy of Rockford where she has instructed “Music Together,” keyboarding, music theory, and directed the chamber orchestra. Mrs. Sombke integrates the philosophies of Suzuki, Orff, and Kodaly into her music curriculum. She enjoys directing the handbell choir, adult choir, and instrument ensemble at her church in Belvidere. In her spare time she reads, knits, quilts, and of course, enjoys spending time with her husband and four children.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x102
Lower and Middle School Art
Fine Arts and Ceramics Major at Rockford College
Robert has been a full-time artist in the Rockford area for 30 years, consistently earning awards at shows and exhibitions throughout the United States. In fact, he was asked by the Clinton administration to produce an ornament that is now in the Smithsonian for the White House Christmas tree. Robert’s artwork is in corporate collections in Tokyo, Moscow, Singapore, and many major cities in the United States. In addition to teaching at Keith, he currently conducts post graduate workshops throughout the Midwest and Hawaii. Robert has been featured in national magazine reviews and is known as one of the finest raku pottery artists in the country. Robert’s wife, Carol, is also a full-time artist. They both enjoy cooking and gardening at their 1840′s stone house in Roscoe.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x137
Middle and Upper School Art and Fine, Creative, and Performing Arts Chair
B.S. in Art Education from Bradley University
M.A.T. in Instructional Strategies from Rockford College
Lori is a past recipient of Keith’s Distinguished Faculty Award, has been recognized several times by Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, and is a multiple Golden Apple nominee. Prior to working for Keith, she taught at Harlem Middle School, Malta High School, and Kishwaukee College. In addition to teaching, she serves on the Secondary Education Advisory Committee at Rockford College. In February, 2005, Lori enjoyed working for artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude on “The Gates” in Central Park, New York City. She is a Master Gardener and enjoys volunteering at the Nicholas Conservatory, art in many forms, and spending time with her husband and Leo, the Bichon Frise.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x126
Middle and Upper School Instrumental Ensembles
Bachelor’s Degree from Shanghai Conservatory of Music, China
M.M. from Chicago Musical College, Roosevelt University
Suzuki Teaching Certificates from Chicago Suzuki Academy and
American Suzuki Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
Hui has been an instructor at Keith since 1998 and a faculty member and director of the Vivaldi Orchestra at the Rockford College Music Academy since 1992. He is also a guest instructor in violin and viola at Highland Community College. He played viola in the Chicago Civic Symphony Orchestra for several years and has been with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra since 1989. He is a member of the American Federation of Musicians and the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Inc. In his spare time he enjoys traveling.
B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Sign Language from the University of Rochester
M.S. in Childhood Education from the Warner School of Education and Human Development, University of Rochester
Mrs. Welt knew she had a passion for education and children starting at a young age when she declared in second grade that she wanted to be a teacher. Ever since, she has worked with children in a variety of settings and capacities. She started mentoring high-risk students while she was in middle school and high school, and went on to serve as a counselor in a summer program for the same population. While in college, she focused her psychology coursework on child development and worked as an after-school counselor for a research-based program, a volunteer in a self-contained classroom, a teacher’s aide in a preschool classroom, and a test evaluator for a national standardized test developer. After graduating from her master’s program, Mrs. Welt was a lead preschool teacher in St. Louis before coming to the Rockford area with her husband. She joined the Keith family in 2004, serving as a second grade teacher. She is excited to switch gears and work with students who are eligible for enrichment services. When she is not teaching, Mrs. Welt enjoys spending time with her own young boys and husband, crafting, and reading.
Phone: 815-399-8850 x115