OUR TEACHERS

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Kindergarten- Mrs. Di Cecco

This is my tenth 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 seventh year! I have been in Early Childhood Education for 13 years, coming to teaching young children after 20 years in consulting. I received my Master’s of Teaching in Elementary Education from North Park University. 

I am a long-time resident of Crystal Lake with my husband, children, and our family dog. My oldest daughter is finishing her doctorate at UNC Chapel Hill, my son graduated from the University of Iowa and is working locally, and our younger daughter is starting at San Diego State University this fall. St. Thomas the Apostle is our home parish.

 

I know first-hand how quickly these school years pass and intend to help create an environment for your child to learn and grow. 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 and to partnering with you in your child’s education.

If you need to reach me for any reason, feel free to email me.

jdicecco@stthomascl.org

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First Grade-- Mrs. Hougas

This is my fourth year teaching 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. I love being part of the St. Thomas school family!

 

I live in Crystal Lake with my husband and our two teenage daughters. 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 20 years.

 

First grade is an exciting year where many foundational skills come together, resulting in lots of growth and learning. I am thrilled to accompany your child on this wonderful journey!  ​

jhougas@stthomascl.org

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Second Grade-- Mrs. Striedl

I received my degree for elementary education from Loras College and my masters degree in reading from Northern Illinois University. This is my 12th year teaching at STS and my 4th year teaching second grade. I love teaching 2nd grade! It is such a special year with the students receiving two sacraments: First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. I live in Lake in the Hills with my husband Mark and our two children Max and Olivia (both graduates of STS). Max is a junior at Miami of Ohio and Olivia is a senior at Marian Central. When I am not teaching, I enjoy reading, gardening, and spending time with my family.

gstriedl@stthomascl.org 

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Third Grade-- Mrs. Updike

I have taught here at STS for the past 5 years, 4 of those years in Third Grade. Third Grade is an exciting year filled with new routines, challenging work, standardized testing, exciting projects, Team building skills, and, of course, a bit of fun!   

I live in Crystal Lake with my husband, Mike, who owns a fundraising company. My daughter, Meaghan, is a graduate of St Mary’s University in Minnesota and now lives and works in Denver, CO. My son, Jack, will be continuing his education at Western Kentucky University this year, and will graduate in the spring.   

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 5 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. 

mupdike@stthomascl.org

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Fourth Grade-- Mrs. Rhodes

I am excited to be teaching fourth grade at St. Thomas School!
I graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science degree 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 love being a part of the STS family!
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!

brhodes@stthomascl.org

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Fifth Grade-- Mrs. Howen

I am so excited to be starting my sixth year teaching here at St. Thomas School.  I am especially looking forward to looping with my class from last year and helping them continue their education in fifth grade!

 

I have a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Illinois State University, majoring in elementary education with endorsements in language arts, social science, and music.  I have twenty years of teaching experience in both the public and Catholic school systems and this summer I was an online tutor for the Huntley school district.

 

My family and I are members of the Church of Holy Apostles in McHenry.  My husband, Todd and I have been married for 23 years.  Our older daughter, Lauren, is a recent high school graduate and will be studying fashion merchandising at Harper College.  Our youngest, Liz, will be a junior at Woodstock North this year.

 

Please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have and I look forward to a wonderful year with your children!

jhowen@stthomascl.org 

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Sixth Grade-- Mrs. Carpenter

I attended Northern Illinois University receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Education, with certifications in Elementary and Special Education. I also 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 grade English, literature, and religion; 7th grade English and religion; and 8th grade literature.

My husband Neal and I have been married for 41 years and have lived in the Crystal Lake area for 33 years.

We have three children—Anne, Elizabeth, and Patrick—all of whom attended St. Thomas School.

mcarpenter@stthomascl.org

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Seventh Grade-- Mrs. Wittenberg

This will be my ninth year teaching at St. Thomas the Apostle School.  I will be teaching literature, English and social studies.  I am very excited to be the seventh grade homeroom teacher!

 

I attended University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and received my Bachelors’ 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 27 years.  We have two children, Hannah and Adam.  Hannah graduated from Marquette University and is a nurse at Lutheran General Hospital.   Adam graduated from Indiana University and works as a software content developer for Duck Creek Technologies.

 

When I am not teaching I love reading, watching the sports (Go Packers!), traveling and shopping. I love being a part of the St. Thomas community and look forward to another fabulous school year.​

awittenberg@stthomascl.org

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Eighth Grade-- Mrs. Bingham

This is my sixteenth year teaching at St. Thomas the Apostle School. I teach 6th grade math and religion as well as 8th grade social studies, English and religion. I am very excited to be the 8th 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 Master 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 36 years. We have two grown children who 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.

mbingham@stthomascl.org