Teen Learning Lab is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. It was incorporated in 2016.
Maria Galo is President of Teen Learning Lab of Greater Chicago Organization, and one of the founders. She lives with her family in Palatine, and has three children. Maria has been homeschooling since 2005 and homeschooled her two older sons all the way to college. Her daughter is homeschooling high school. Maria was a founding School Board member at Holy Family Catholic Academy in Inverness before starting to homeschool. She has designed and taught about two dozen homeschool classes, mostly through Home Schooling Gifted Students (HSGS) Friday Co-op as well as with small groups in the homeschooling community. She currently serves on the boards of HSGS and Chicago Gifted Community Center. She is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago, and a former Chicago Tribune assistant metro editor and staff reporter.
Noelle McWard lives in Chicago. “I came into homeschooling in a rather sudden and unplanned way. My son, who had been having recurring issues with bullying in elementary and middle school told his father and I, in the middle of 8th grade, that he could not go back. We agreed and thus began our homeschooling adventure. We have been homeschooling now for 3 years and my son is currently 17. It has been the answer that we had never before considered, and it is organizations like Teen Learning Lab that has made homeschooling possible for our family.
Professionally, I hold a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Chicago and am a psychotherapist in private practice. I am the owner of a group practice. I, and the other clinicians who work in the practice provide individual and couple’s therapy to adults. We also provide evaluations for undocumented immigrants who are seeking legal remedies to their immigration status. I have taught in the Graduate School of Social Work at Loyola University and provide professional development training to social workers and professional counselors in the areas of treating anxiety, and cultural competency.”
Rob Repp is a homeschooling parent from Lake Bluff, in Chicago’s north suburbs. He has helped educate his (now-teenaged) 2E-gifted daughter at home for several years. He has also been an instructor in various public settings, teaching vocational pre-press and printing skills, computer science, graphic design, photography, programming, and web development to children in high school and college. He has been a departmental board member at NIU, a guest lecturer at Columbia College, a professional trainer for several firms, and is currently the Network Administrator for Winnetka Public Schools. He has donated and installed wireless networking and computer systems to a few homeschooling programs in our area. His professional background includes many years in pre-press, a decade as a creative director, another decade in “new media” projects, and over 30 years in various kinds of computer engineering. He could use a nap.
Patricia Sprenger: I’m Patricia Sprenger, the mother of Matthew (15) and Arianna (14). Our family has been homeschooling for the past four years, and we have all learned quite a bit on this educational journey. I’ve enjoyed being the teacher/mentor/organizer of this ship, and love watching their spirits soar as their passions grow.
I’ve also run my own studio, Pure in Form Pilates Studio, since 2017. I’m certified in Pilates, Gyrotonic and GyroKineses and teach movement arts to a wide range of clientele. My skill base includes healing modalities such as brain balancing, Bal-A-Vis-X, cranial sacral therapy. After 20 years, I still find it most rewarding to help others find strength, confidence and healing through movement. I’ve learned that organizing the body allows not only physical health to flourish, but also mental, emotional and educational health to thrive. The strong connection between physical and emotional well-being has lead me to pursue a degree in Art Therapy, where I can facilitate whole person health to a deeper degree. I look forward to working with the TLL board, and creating new ideas for this upcoming year.
Former Board Members
Kristin Henikoff served as a founding board member, 2016-18. She is a non-practicing tax attorney. Her youngest child straddled the homeschool and public school worlds from 5th to 8th grades.
Lisa Stracks served as a founding board member, 2016-17. She received a B.A. from Calvin College and an M.A. from Northwestern University. She was an editor for more than 20 years and currently manages a medical practice. She homeschooled her daughter from second through eighth grade, and also homeschooled her son for two years in first and second grades. She continues to be amazed at how much her children enjoy learning and credits homeschooling for helping foster that joy of learning.
Lisa had been with TLL since the initial discussions began and joined the board at its inception. She serves as Secretary and also Registrar. She also serves in other volunteer capacities, having served on the board of HSGS for 1 1/2 years as well as raising funds for an urban outreach and tutoring mission in Chicago.
Brigid Dutton lives with her family in Libertyville and has 3 children. She has been homeschooling since 2011. Her two daughters are homeschooling high school, and her son is homeschooling middle school. For the past 7 years, Brigid has designed and taught several classes at AIM Home School Cooperative in Lake County. She has also co-chaired the event committee for this group and helped coordinate a Christmas program and project/performance expo each year. Brigid and her husband, Tom, are also adult leaders in the high school youth group at their parish in Libertyville. Brigid earned her BA at Illinois Wesleyan University and then received her MA in Teaching at National-Louis University. She taught Language Arts for 7th and 8th grade prior to having children and staying home with them.