GCHS welcomes nine new teachers for the 2021-2022 school year

Meet a few of the new teachers below and get a glimpse into who they are outside the classroom.

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Photo provided by Unsplash

Hayley Breines, A&E Editor

New teachers are expected every year, but this year has added many new members into the Central teaching family. Meet some of the new teachers below!

Nicholas Custodio

Numeracy interventionist & geometry

Photo provided by Nicholas Custodio

What are you most excited about this year?

I’m excited to get to know the students of GCHS and hope to make a positive academic impact on their lives.

What drew you to Central specifically? 

The people, the community, and the excitement of switching things up in my life really drew me into work at Grayslake Central.

Why did you initially want to be a teacher?

I wanted to build relationships with students and help them be better learners.
Where were you before you started at Central?
I taught at McHenry High School.
What was your favorite thing to do or watch during quarantine?

I absolutely loved relaxing with my wife and our cute little puppy dog, Milo. We enjoyed working out in our garage gym, ordering Uber eats on the reg, and also binge-watching anything and everything while holding Milo’s favorite bone to chew on.

What is a fun fact about yourself you want your students to know?

This might be controversial, but…I love Kanye West.

Photo provided by Lexis Foerch

Lexis Foerch

Algebra & geometry
What are you most excited about this year?
Seeing students in person!

What drew you to Central specifically?

The students and staff here are the BEST. Also, I really connected with our philosophy of making learning “R.E.A.L.” to students.

Why did you initially want to be a teacher? 

I wanted to become a teacher because I wanted to help others learn and grow–not just in math, but also in their personal lives. I have had many teachers that have changed my life, and I hope to follow in their footsteps by leaving an impact on our future generations of wonderful students!

Where were you before you started at Central?

I taught at Grayslake North previously.

What was your favorite thing to do or watch during quarantine?

I loved baking! Brownies, cookies, pies, you name it!

What is a fun fact about yourself you want your students to know?

I want students to know that I love games (board games, video games, etc.), so I help sponsor Gamer’s Club here! Please join us!

 

Photo provided by Robert Engebretson

Robert Engebretson

German language
What are you most excited about this year? 

Preparing my students for the AP Test.

What drew you to Central specifically?

[It’s in a] good school district [and] close to where I live.

Why did you initially want to be a teacher? 

I enjoy teaching the language, working with students, [and] coaching.

Where were you before you started at Central? 

I was at Oak Creek High School in WI.

What was your favorite thing to do or watch during quarantine?
I liked watching “Celebrity Watch Party” on Fox.
What is a fun fact about yourself you want your students to know?

I wanted to be a cartoonist when I was in High School.

 

Photo provided by Justin Somerville

Justin Somerville

Biology & Earth Science

What are you most excited about this year?

I’m excited to learn more about and from Central students and staff.

What drew you to Central specifically?

My wife and I bought a house in Wauconda after spending the last 10 years in Chicago. I worked at one of the top schools in Chicago and needed a new place to call home, so thankfully there was a position at a top school close to me.
Why did you initially want to be a teacher?
At my core, I believe that teaching is the most important profession. There is no other occupation where you can foster a love of knowledge and a drive for life long success.
Where were you before you started at Central?
I was at Noble Street College Prep in Chicago.
What was your favorite thing to do or watch during quarantine?
I started a Gaming Club and a Comic Book Club at my previous school while we were remote learning. During a year and a half of most cameras off and limited student interaction in Zoom classes, they were the best parts of my week.
What is a fun fact about yourself you want your students to know?
I can play guitar, drums, and harmonica, build a gaming PC and love all things Star Wars and Marvel.
Photo provided by Kelly Martinez

Kelly Martinez

Spanish Language

What are you most excited about this year?

Seeing everyone in person and being in school.
What drew you to Central specifically? 
Central really focuses on preparing students for successful futures, and I wanted to be a part of a school that focuses on preparing and helping students achieve their best selves.
Why did you initially want to be a teacher? 
I always loved and was curious to learn as much as I could about the Spanish language and culture and all the different places that spoke Spanish. I also love to travel, communicate, and help others learn how to communicate with people from different cultures and backgrounds.
What was your favorite thing to do or watch during quarantine?
My favorite thing to do was learning how to cook. I am really good at making French onion soup now!
What is a fun fact about yourself you want your students to know?
One of my ancestors was a famous painter in Ecuador.

Lauren Penny

Photo provided by Lauren Penny

English & English language resource

What are you most excited about this year?

I’m incredibly excited to work with students in person.

Why did you initially want to be a teacher?

I am passionate about working with young people and helping them to discover their talents and interests.
Where were you before you started at Central? 
I taught at McHenry High School-West Campus for eight years.
What was your favorite thing to do or watch during quarantine?
I loved watching La Casa de Papel/Money Heist.
What is a fun fact about yourself you want your students to know?
I’m part of a kettlebell sport competition team.
Photo by Nina Cavender

Nina Cavender

English, journalism, & broadcast journalism
What are you most excited about this year?
To get to know my students and my colleagues!
What drew you to Central specifically?
GCHS’s culture of kindness is what really attracted me. I want to work in a place where everyone is respected and appreciated, and Central is where that’s at!
Why did you initially want to be a teacher?
I wanted to be an English teacher because of my love of reading, writing, and literature – what’s better than passing that passion on to generations of students? Nothing!
Where were you before you started at Central? 
I graduated from the University of Missouri in 2019 and have been teaching English in D214 till I came to Grayslake.
What was your favorite thing to do or watch during quarantine?
I rewatched all of Schitt’s Creek, Parks and Rec, and Mindhunter. I also adopted a dog, so spending time with him was my favorite thing to do!
What is a fun fact about yourself you want your students to know?
That I LOVE music. If you see me around, stop me and tell me who or what your favorite music is! I am always looking to expand my Spotify playlists.

Zach Geller

Photo provided by Zach Geller
Concert Band, Symphonic Band Honors, Wind Ensemble Honors, & Guitar
What drew you to Central specifically? 
I grew up and now live in Buffalo Grove, and many of my close friends are Band Directors in neighboring schools. My familiarity with the area in combination with the history of excellence in music education at GCHS made this a very desirable position.
Why did you initially want to be a teacher? 
I had some defining moments in high school that have had a lasting impact on my career path. I was one of the drum majors of my high school marching band, and had multiple opportunities to teach and conduct the band. During that experience, I gained an affinity for helping others achieve success, and seeing how the success of each band member impacted the excellence of the program. As I became more involved in various musical ensemble (jazz band, orchestra, musical pit orchestra, etc.), I quickly figured out that teaching and music were two driving forces in my life, which is why I decided to study Music Education.
Where were you before you started at Central
Prior to teaching at Central I was the band director at Streamwood High School in School District U-46 for 8 years, and prior to that I was the middle school band director at Riverview Middle School in Plymouth, Wisconsin for 3 years.
What was your favorite thing to do or watch during quarantine?
If there is one positive to take away from being quarantined and/or remote teaching for a year, it was the ability to spend significant time with my family. As a band director, we are at school very late, so I often do not get to see my kids for a few days (since they go to bed before I get home). During remote teaching, I was able to see them nearly every day and spend some much needed family time with my, now, 5 year old son and 1.5 year old daughter.
What is a fun fact about yourself you want your students to know?
I was president of my high school juggling club…..2 years straight!

Jake O’Hara

Photo provided by Jake O’Hara

English 

What are you most excited for this year?

Being back in the building!

What drew you to Central specifically?

The school size and culture.
Why did you initially want to be a teacher?
I love helping people grow and achieve their goals, especially when it comes to reading, writing, and creative expression.
What was your favorite thing to do or watch during quarantine?
I model and paint miniatures.
What is a fun fact about yourself you want your students to know?
I love sports and tabletop gaming.