Faculty & Staff

We are pleased to introduce the members of the 2017-18 Faculty and Administrative Team. They guide the academic, spiritual, moral, and character formation of your children.   

Mrs. Hanretty (Head of School) earned a B.S. from DePaul University in Business Administration and Marketing. She has worked as a Consultant in employee benefits and served as Director of Development during the renovation and rededication of St. Mary of the Angels church. She and her husband have eight children with their six oldest children already graduated from Embers.

Mrs. Thursby (Assistant Head of School) holds a B.A. in English Literature and English Writing from
St. Mary’s College (Notre Dame); an MBA in Marketing Communications from DePaul University; and a M.Ed. in Instructional Leadership from the University of Illinois. Mrs. Thursby and her husband have four children.


Mrs. Dabe (Preschool Director: PK3 and PK4; Physical Education) holds a degree in Early Childhood Education from Elmhurst College.  Mrs. Dabe founded the Embers Preschool Program. She now offers a full-day, five-day option for both PK3 and PK4 classes. She also serves as gym instructor for Kindergarten through Fifth. She and her husband have two children. She loves to ride her bike and take walks with her dog. She also loves to exercise, read, and bake.

Mrs. Ullman (PreK Enrichment Program Coordinator) is a graduate of Catholic University of Ecuador and has extensive experience in Early Childhood education. She is a certified Level 1 catechist for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program and shares this gift with our PK students.

Ms. Cyran (Kindergarten) has an Elementary Education Degree from DePaul University and a Master’s Degree in Education with Endorsements from National Louis University. Ms. Cyran also teaches young students at a Polish language school and works with youth in a folklore dance group. She is a world traveler having visited Poland, France, Spain, Italy, Egypt, Dominican Republic and Mexico. Her next destination is Cuba! Her favorite book series is the Narnia series. 

Mrs. Brizzolara (Kindergarten Asst. Teacher) is a graduate of St. Xavier College, holds a Masters in Special Education and Early Childhood from Northeastern University. Prior to joining Embers, she taught at Prince of Peace, St. Paul of the Cross, and Our Lady of Ransom, for a total of 32 years of primary school experience. She loves to travel!

Mrs. Maso (1st Grade) Mrs. Maso graduated from National Louis University and has completed work towards a Masters as a Reading Specialist. She taught Kindergarten for 3 years and then was fortunate and blessed to be a stay at home mom for 14 years as she raised her 6 children! She enjoys time with her husband and family, reading, walking and yoga!

Mrs. Dutz (2nd Grade) earned a degree in Education from Marquette University and a Masters of Education from National Louis University. We are pleased to entrust our sacramental preparation for First Reconciliation and First Communion to her care. Mrs. Dutz is happily married and has a young daughter who keeps her busy. She loves sports, especially the Cubs and the Blackhawks! She also loves to read. 

Mrs. Smith (2nd Grade Co-Teacher) holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from North Central College and a Masters degree in Elementary Education from Roosevelt University. She works closely with Mrs. Dutz in the classroom and provides engaging Science lessons for our 2nd grade students. Mrs. Smith’s two children come to work with her each day and attend the Embers PK program.

Mrs. Black (3rd Grade) holds a degree in Education from Northeastern Illinois University with Endorsements in Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. She strives to foster in her students a love of God, kindness to others, and a desire to be life-long learners. Mrs. Black, who is an alum of The Willows Academy, has six children. She loves to read, travel, and spend time with her family.

Ms. Beccaloni (4th Grade) holds a Master of Education in Elementary Education from DePaul University and a Master of Arts in Theology from Loyola University of Chicago. She taught middle school Religion, including Confirmation prep class, at Sacred Heart parish school in Winnetka. Ms. Beccaloni has served as DRE at St. John Cantius parish for several years. Her favorite author is Charles Dickens, and all-time favorite movie is “Lord of the Rings.”

Mrs. Ledden (5th Grade) holds a Master’s degree from Marquette University in Psychology and Elementary Education. She also completed professional training in education from Northeastern Illinois University. Mrs. Ledden rejoined Embers last year, having been a faculty member at various times earlier in the school’s history. She is married and blessed with seven children; several are Embers alum. She loves spending time with her family, reading, and gardening.


Mrs. Walsh (Art) holds a BS in Education from DePaul University. She teaches Art to First through Fifth Grade here at Embers. After teaching for 10 years at The Willows Academy, she opened a pattern design business and she gives classes and lectures on color and design. Mrs. Walsh and her husband are the parents of two Sparks. Mrs. Walsh is an alum of The Willows Academy.

Mrs. Wessel (Learning Specialist) holds a M.A. in Teaching, with a Special Education Professional Educator License and a Learning Behavior Specialist Endorsement, from National Louis University.  Mrs. Wessel supports our classroom teachers in helping all of our students learn to the best of their abilities.

Ms. Brochu (Music) holds a Bachelor of Music degree and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign.  Mrs. Brochu is a graduate of The Willows Academy and has recently served as the Music Director for school productions there. In addition to teaching weekly Music classes to each grade, Ms. Brochu heads up the Embers Mass Choir and Drama Club.

Mrs. Fernandez (Spanish) teaches Spanish to our Fourth and Fifth Grade students. Mrs. Fernandez earned her Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies from Universidad Juarez, Durango, and did Masters work in International Commercial Law at the Instituto Técnico de Monterey. She has three children: one is an Embers alum; two are current students.

Mrs. Keller (Spanish) teaches our K-3 students. She is a graduate of the Universidad Autόnoma de Madrid and earned certification in Spanish Language Education from the Instituto Cervantes. She has also completed coursework from Cambridge University and Universidad La Rioja on teaching Spanish to children. Mrs. Keller is married and four of their six children are enrolled in Embers.


School Administrative Team

Mrs. Casaletto, School Office Manager

Mrs. Boland, Administrative Coordinator

Mrs. Brinckerhoff, Marketing & Communications