This is my eighth year as a teacher with St. Thomas the Apostle School. My first three years here were
teaching our preschoolers and I am very excited to be teaching kindergarten for a fifth year! I have been in Early Childhood Education for 14 years, coming to teaching young children after 20 years in consulting.
I hold a Master’s in Teaching in Elementary Education from North Park University.
I strive to create a welcoming classroom providing hands-on activities to spark creativity and curiosity, centered on our amazing God. I look forward to getting to know each child as the unique gift God has created.
I live in Crystal Lake with my husband, our children and our family dog. My older daughter is working on her doctorate at UNC Chapel Hill, my son just graduated from the University of Iowa and is working locally (living back at home for the time being) and our younger daughter is a junior at Prairie Ridge High School. I know first-hand how quickly these school years pass and intend to help create an environment for your child to learn and grow.
If you need to reach me for any reason, feel free to email me.
MRS. JULIE HOUGAS
First Grade Teacher
This is my first year teaching first grade after teaching kindergarten for two years at St. Thomas the Apostle School. I graduated from the University of Illinois (go Illini!) with an elementary education degree and received my Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from National-Louis University. My teaching experience includes 9 years at the primary level in Cary District 26 before my children were born. While staying at home with my girls, I was a substitute teacher, tutor and Religious Education teacher. Recently, I returned to teaching part time in District 47 and here at St. Thomas. I love being part of the St. Thomas school family, and I am excited to welcome your child into the family as well!
I live in Crystal Lake with my husband and two daughters, one entering high school and the other, middle school. Their sports, dance and other activities keep us busy, but we also enjoy spending time outdoors and playing games together. We have attended St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish for almost 20 years.
Kindergarten is a big year, filled with new experiences, learning, discovery, growth and excitement. I am thrilled to accompany your child on this wonderful journey!
MRS. GRETCHEN STRIEDL
Second Grade Teacher
This will be my tenth year teaching at St. Thomas. I am very excited to be teaching second grade again this year-it is such a privilege to be a part of this sacramental year!
I live in Lake in the Hills with my husband Mark and our children Max and Olivia. Max attends Miami of Ohio and Olivia attends Marian Central.
When I am not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading and gardening.
MRS. MOLLY UPDIKE
Third Grade Teacher
I have taught third grade for over five years. Third Grade is an exciting year filled with new routines, challenging work, standardized testing, exciting Field Trips, Team building skills, and, of course, a bit of fun!
For those of you that I haven’t met…I live in Crystal Lake with my husband, Mike, who does fundraising for the local sports teams. My daughter, Meaghan, is a graduate of St Mary’s University in Minnesota and will be completing a Service Year in Psychology, in Denver, CO this year. My son, Jack, will be continuing his education at Western Kentucky University.
After college I taught for 9 years in private school education, and then stayed home to raise my children. I, then, taught for 3 years in District 47 and came full circle 3 years ago, back to private education. The atmosphere of a Catholic school is what pulled me back.
I look forward to Third Grade, again, this year and am happy to be a part of the STS family. This is my home parish and I feel truly blessed to work with the amazing staff and wonderful families here at St Thomas School.
MRS. JILL HOWEN
Fourth Grade Teacher
I am thrilled to be your child’s fourth grade teacher! Prior to coming to St. Thomas, I was the fourth grade home room/intermediate language arts teacher at St. Peter School in Antioch, IL. I also taught in the public school system for several years.
I have a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Illinois State University with endorsements in language arts and social science. This past year, I completed over twenty continuing education hours in the areas of literacy and differentiated education.
My husband, Todd, and I have been married for just over twenty years. We are members of The Church of Holy Apostles in McHenry, IL. We have two daughters. Lauren is sixteen and Elizabeth is fourteen. They both attended St. Peter School with me and are now students at Woodstock North.
I’m looking forward to a wonderful year of learning and fun with your student. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
For classroom volunteers, I will be looking for two room parents to run our holiday parties, one or two to stuff our Friday folders, and possibly someone to help out with reading groups.
As I am interested in incorporating as many STEM activities into the classroom as possible, I’m always on the lookout for donations of Legos and other small blocks or building materials.
Thank you and God bless!
MRS. EILEEN GUZZETTA
Fifth Grade Teacher
I am very excited to be teaching 5th grade this year! I really love teaching here at St. Thomas! I have been working with children all of my life. I have directed summer camps for children up to 10 years old, I was involved in the Confirmation program at St. Mary’s in Huntley, I taught 4th grade CCD for ten years and I have directed and taught in many different preschool programs. I hold a BA in Social Science with an emphasis in Psychology and a minor in Physical Education. I also hold a post bachelor teaching certificate to teach K-9 in the State of Illinois.
I have always been passionate about my faith and am very happy to be working with so many wonderful people who share my values. I treasure the opportunity to teach children about Jesus during my work day. I have lived in Crystal Lake for five years with my husband and love it here!
MRS. BRIDGET RHODES
Fifth Grade Teacher
I am excited to be teaching 5th grade at St. Thomas School!
I graduated from NIU with a B.S. in elementary education. I have a minor in psychology and Jr. High endorsements in Language Arts and Social Science.
I taught 4th and 5th grade at St. Margaret Mary School in Algonquin for 6 years. I then stayed home to raise my beautiful children. I came back to teaching 4th grade at St Thomas in 2013 and was the 5th grade homeroom teacher last year.
St. Thomas is also the home parish that myself, my husband, and our children attend. I look forward to a wonderful year of working together to help your child have a successful and rewarding school year!
MRS. MAUREEN CARPENTER
Junior High Teacher
I attended Northern Illinois University receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Education, with certifications in Elementary and Special Education. I have successfully completed several graduate courses and have received a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction from National-Louis University. I currently possess State of Illinois certifications in Elementary, Secondary, and four areas of Special Education.
I began working at St. Thomas School in 1993. I spent several years teaching fourth grade, moving to the junior high level in 2003. I currently have a 6th grade homeroom and teach 6th and 7th grade religion, 6th grade literature and 7th grade English.
My husband Neal and I have been married for 39 years and have lived in the Crystal Lake area for 31 years.
We have three children—Anne, Elizabeth, and Patrick—all attended St. Thomas School.
Homework will be posted on the SchoolSpeak website.
MRS. GINA RUFFOLO
Junior High Teacher
I attended National Louis University receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. I currently possess a State of Illinois certification in Elementary Education with an endorsement in Mathematics and Social Science.
I began working at St. Thomas School in 1995-1997. I spent several years at home with my two boys, Joey and Anthony. I came back to St. Thomas in 2003 teaching 7th and 8th grade.
My husband and I have been married for 27 years and have lived in the Crystal Lake area for 27 years.
In addition to my assistant principal duties I also teach 5th and 8th grade math. I am looking forward to an exciting and successful school year.
Please feel free to contact me either by telephone or email. I check my voice and email messages after school. I will respond to your message as soon as possible.
MRS. KRIS SCHNELL
Junior High Teacher
After 10 years, it is so good to be back at St. Thomas the Apostle School. I am looking forward to teaching English to junior high classes.
I graduated from St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin in 1986 with a degree in Elementary Education. Later, I pursued my master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction and continue to enjoy seminars on Best Practice in the classroom.
My family is very important to me. I met my husband while we both attended St. Norbert. We have been married for 32 years and live in Lake in the Hills. Our children all attended and graduated from St. Thomas, Marian Central, and St. Norbert College. James, our eldest, and his wife live in Volo. They are expecting their first baby (and our first grandchild) in October. James works in our family’s business and Carrie, his wife, is a teacher, but will be staying home to raise their family. Emily, our daughter, is a Social Worker. She is the program director for Warming House Youth Center, in Wilmette. Peter, our youngest son, is a teacher as well. He teaches science to Junior High Students at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Madison.
In my spare time I enjoy several hobbies. First and most importantly, I will be spending lots of time with my new granddaughter. I also love to read, cook, travel, and spend time with
our family and friends.
I am looking forward to a each school year filled with excitement and learning.
MRS. MAUREEN BINGHAM
Junior High Teacher
I have been teaching at St. Thomas the Apostle School for over 15 years.. I teach math, social studies, and religion. I am very excited to be the eighth grade homeroom teacher again!
Before pursuing a teaching degree, I worked in the financial department of several large corporations. After volunteering in my son’s first grade classroom, I thought that a career in education was the perfect fit for me.
I have always loved school and am dedicated to lifelong learning. I have a BBA from the University of Notre Dame in Accounting and French. I also have an MBA from DePaul University in Marketing and International Business. I received a Masters of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University in 2006. I have a Middle School Endorsement in Math, Social Studies, Foreign Language and Business.
I live in Lake in the Hills with my husband of 33 years. My daughter graduated from The University of Chicago and is starting a high school teaching career in Chicago Public Schools. My son is an Admissions Coordinator for Loras College in Dubuque. Both of our children attended St. Thomas the Apostle School and Marian Central Catholic High School.
When I am not at school, I enjoy reading, music, Notre Dame Football, theater, and Chicago Blackhawks Hockey. I look forward to working with your son or daughter this year.
MRS. AMY WITTENBERG
Junior High Teacher
I attended University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and received my Bachelor's of Science Degree in Elementary Education and Special Education. I also attended Northern Illinois University and have completed several graduate classes in reading instruction and intervention. Prior to having my children, I taught in a resource classroom in Sussex, Wisconsin and Woodstock, Illinois.
I have lived in the Crystal Lake area with my husband, Brad for 23 years. We have two children, Hannah and Adam. Hannah will be a senior at Marquette University majoring in nursing, and Adam will be a junior at Indiana University majoring in computer science.
I love being a part of the St. Thomas community and look forward to another fabulous school year.
MR. GREG REIVA
Junior High Teacher
Science - Grades 6, 7, 8
Over the past 25 years I have been a father, husband, educator and scholar. My wife Heather and our son, Benjamin, have been the most important people in my life during the past quarter century. My son is a recent graduate of Illinois State University and my wife is an official court reporter with federal judges for the Western Federal Court District of Illinois in Rockford. We have lived in the Algonquin area for over 20 years and have been members of St. Mary Catholic Church in Huntley for this time period. Over these years, I have pursued my academic studies, in Education, to the highest level at Roosevelt University completing a doctoral program in Educational Leadership in 2007.
I have over 24 years of experience in the classroom teaching physics, chemistry, physical science and algebra. My goal is to continue to pursue my vocation as a teacher at St. Thomas the Apostle School. My wealth of experience and ability to create unique learning environments for students in the science classroom will be put to the test this year at St. Thomas the Apostle School. I welcome this new challenge and I am looking forward to an exciting, prosperous and spiritually fulfilling academic year!