B.S. The University of the Philippines; Ph.D. University of Illinois at Chicago
Year Appointed: 2000
A native of the Philippines, Dr. Baello completed his doctorate in Biophysical Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the spring of 2000. He was a teaching and research assistant at UIC and has published various articles and given several presentations in his field. He has also served as a volunteer instructor and advisor in programs for young people at Chicago’s Midtown Center.
Mr. Robert Barder ’93, LPC, AMFT, Director of Parent Enrichment, Counselor, English
B.A. Northwestern University; M.A. Northeastern Illinois University
Year Appointed: 2011
Robert Barder is a graduate of Northridge’s class of 1993. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and American Literature as well as a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Counseling. Bob worked in the non-profit sector for fifteen years at Misericordia Home, Lions Clubs International, and Midtown Educational Foundation before coming to Northridge. He has also taught for programs in Lithuania, México, and Spain. Bob is a Licensed Professional Counselor and an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist with clinical experience working with children, adults, couples, and families. With his interest in literature and psychology, he has taught courses at Northridge’s Parent University on Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina as well as a course entitled “Temperament Dynamics in Marriage and Family Life.” Bob and his wife, Julene, have four children.
Mr. Michael Burns ’93, Head of Middle School, Religion, History, Latin
B.A. University of Dallas; M.A.Ed. Lewis University
Year Appointed: 2000
Mr. Burns grew up on the north side of Chicago. He and his wife have five children. In his free time, he likes to spend time with his family, read classic literature, follow the Cubs, play cards and critique movies. He points to his heroes, his parents and St. John Paul II, as his inspirations.
B.A. Universidad Laica Vicente Rocafuerte; Business Administration (Gestión Empresarial), INDEG
Year Appointed: 2011
Mr. Chong has been an educator for over 25 years. He initiated his profession as an ESL teacher for the U.S.-Ecuadorian Binational Center and Benedict School in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Later, he joined the Centro Educativo Nuevo Mundo Bilingual, a prestigious International Baccalaureate school in Ecuador, where he was the head of the foreign language department. He was a member of the founding team of Unidad Educativa Torremar in Guayaquil, a school with the same philosophy and spiritual formation as Northridge Prep. He was the Head of Secondary School (grades 7th to 12th) until August 2007, when he was offered the opportunity to teach in the Union County Public Schools System of North Carolina. Mr. Chong is also a co-founder of Borealis Language Institute, a Spanish and English academy established in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2009. Hugo and his wife, Maria Eugenia, are the parents of three girls, current students at Embers and The Willows Academy.
Mr. Egle is a graduate of Maine East High School where he was an all state cross-country runner. An accomplished competitive runner, he is a Horton Physical Education award winner, a national championship masters runner, Chicago Area Runner of the Year three times and Chicago area masters runner of the year four times. Mike ran an astonishing 4:07 mile while in college! Mike and his wife have one son, Justin.
B.A. Princeton University; M.B.A. University of Notre Dame
Year Appointed: 2015
Niall grew up in Washington DC, the oldest of eight children, and attended The Heights School from grades three through twelve. In 2003 he graduated cum laude from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics. His senior thesis at Princeton focused on the role of “intrinsic value” in Aristotle’s definition of happiness. From 2003 to 2005 Mr. Fagan taught Latin and Religion to Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors at Cardinal Hayes, a large all-boys high school in the Bronx, NY. He then worked for a Chicago private equity group from 2005 to 2008, leading projects to improve companies they had acquired. He next earned an MBA at the University of Notre Dame, serving as the President of the Case Competition club and graduating magna cum laude in 2010. Upon graduation, Mr. Fagan joined the Leadership Development Program of Milwaukee based Harley-Davidson Motor Company, where he held various roles, including serving on a large retail strategy project and leading an initiative to design a new rider training program in Harley’s international dealers. He launched that program in China, South Africa and Mexico, and helped launch a new vehicle in the US. He was then promoted to the role of Director of Dealer Development, he was responsible for the company’s strategy for its 1300 dealerships in over 80 countries.
While living in Chicago, Mr. Fagan helped run high school seminars at the Sauganash Study Center, and later in Milwaukee he spent five years helping lead the Complete Man Series, a leadership program for high school men at Layton Study Center.
In 2015 Niall moved to Northridge as the Director of Admissions and was named Headmaster starting fall 2016.
B.A. Columbia University; M.A.Ed. University of Massachusetts, Amherst; M.L.A. University of Chicago
Year Appointed: 1993
Mr. Herman began teaching in Boston at the Boston Latin School. He then taught 3rd grade at The Heights, then middle school at an urban school in Washington. In addition, Mr. Herman taught at Clayton High School in Missouri, where he taught History and English. The last year before teaching at Northridge, he headed the English Department at an alternative school in suburban St. Louis. Mr. Herman currently coaches debate and sponsors the yearbook. He is a big fan of GK Chesterton and ultimate frisbee.
B.S. Loras College; M.A.Ed. Concordia University Chicago
Year Appointed: 1998
Mr. Hunt graduated from Northridge in 1988 and initially went on to St. Leo’s College in Florida where he played Baseball. After a year at St. Leo’s, he attended Loras College and graduated with a degree in Physical Education in 1993. Returning to the Chicago area he began teaching at St. Mary of the Angels, before joining the Northridge team in 1998. While teaching at St. Mary’s, Mr, Hunt also coached Varsity Baseball at the Latin School, where he was named conference Coach of the Year. He was named Varsity Baseball Coach of the Year in the Chicago Prep Conference three out of six years. In 2013 he received his Masters Degree from Concordia University in School Administration. Mr. Hunt and his wife Josette, have four children two of which attend Northridge and The Willows.
Mr. Jankowski graduated from Rockford College (now University) in December 2011 with a B.S. in Mathematics and a Secondary Education minor. He holds a middle school endorsement for both Mathematics and Social Science, but primarily focuses on teaching math. Mr. Jankowski played four years of college baseball at Rockford as a pitcher and has brought his knowledge and passion of athletics into Northridge. Mr. Jankowski was hired at Northridge in November 2012. He coaches during all three high school sports seasons. In the fall, Mr. Jankowski coaches the Varsity and Junior Varsity Golf teams. In the winter, he coaches the freshman basketball team. In the Spring, he assists Coach Hunt with the Varsity baseball team, specifically coaching the pitching staff. In his free time, Mr. Jankowski enjoys golfing, fishing, bowling, bass guitar, and trivia.
B.A. Columbia University; Ph.D. University of Notre Dame
Year Appointed: 1992
Dr. Kelliher is originally from New Jersey where he grew up rooting for the Yankees. After teaching at The Heights School in Maryland for six years, he earned his Ph.D. in American History at Notre Dame. He has taught at Northridge since 1992, with the exception of the two years he served as Principal of Kingswood Academy. He organizes summer Civil War trips for the school to Gettysburg, Antietam, and other places around Washington, D.C.
Mr. John Kestler, Mathematics, Headmaster Emeritus
Mr. Kestler has been in the teaching profession since 1973. Mr. Kestler was born and raised in Chicago. John has coached for many years at Northridge and was the first coach to bring a Northridge Cross Country team to the State Championship. He and his wife, Sharon, have been married for over 43 years and have raised seven children and eleven grandchildren.
Mr. Andrew Knapp is excited to share his enthusiasm for biology with the Northridge community. He hopes his students will form a strong foundation in the biological sciences and gain interest in further exploring the living world. Mr. Knapp graduated from Northridge in 2012. While a Northridge student, he was active in the National Honors Society, the Jazz and Pep Bands, and Cross Country. Previously, Mr. Knapp worked in the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center doing academic research. In addition, he has years of experience tutoring students in West Humboldt Park.
Mr. Joseph Lechner, Head of High School, History, Drama
B.S. Illinois State University; M.A.T. University of Chicago
Year Appointed: 1982
As a high school student at Maine North, Mr. Lechner was both captain of the gymnastics team and co-founder of the school’s drama club. While in college, he was elected a member of the student assembly and performed as an acrobat in a fraternity circus that raised money for charitable purposes. After earning his Master of Arts in Teaching in Social Sciences and History at the University of Chicago in 1979, Joe taught for three years at Palatine High School, where he founded the Advanced Placement course in History and served as the technical director for ten major school dramatic productions. Joe joined the Northridge faculty in 1982 and is a member of both the national and state Associations for Teachers of Social Science. Mr. Lechner and his wife, Diane, have seven children and two grandchildren and live in Deerfield.
B.A. University of Rochester; M.A. Fordham University; Ph.D. University of Chicago
Year Appointed: 2016
James Lothian has been a teacher since 1998. He has taught at the University of Chicago, where he earned his doctorate in history in 2006, at Indiana University, and at Binghamton University in NY. His research on the Catholic writers of 20th century Britain culminated in a 2009 book. Jim and his wife Sheila are St. John Cantius parishioners and live on the northwest side with their four children. He is delighted to join the Northridge faculty in the 2016-17 school year.
Mr. Emmett McGovern, Dean of Students, Head of Advisory
B.A. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota; M.A. Northeastern Illinois University; M.A. Concordia University Chicago
Year Appointed: 2016
Mr. McGovern is entering his 19th year as an educator. His first 18 years were at Saint Patrick High School, 2 years as a Business teacher and 16 years as a Counselor. The last 9 years he has been the Director of Student Services, as well as, an Assistant Basketball Coach. He and his wife, Colleen, are both lifetime Chicagoans, married for 32 years and are the parents of 4 children.
B.S., M.S. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; M.B.A. DePaul University
Year Appointed: 2010
Steve Omachi comes to Northridge from St. Benedict High School in Chicago, where he taught algebra, physics, pre-calculus and AP calculus for four years. There, he participated in a variety of school projects, including creation of a teacher mentoring program, and was named Teacher of the Year in 2009. Mr. Omachi has worked as a senior development engineer, project leader and financial analyst for International Truck and Engine Corporation and as an applications engineer at SoMat Corporation. State-certified to teach secondary school, Mr. Omachi is originally from the Chicagoland Area, and currently resides in Evanston.
John Powell is a graduate of Northridge Prep’s Class of 2007. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Studies and a Masters of Science degree in Education with a concentration in English from Northwestern University. John has been a coach at Northridge since 2012. He lives in Glenview with his wife, Mallory, and their dog, Roo.
Mr. Puhr was born and raised on the Northwest Side of Chicago. He graduated Summa Cum Laudefrom both Notre Dame College Prep and Dominican University, where he earned his B.A. in English and Secondary Education. He is currently pursuing his Master’s in Linguistics at Northeastern University. His academic interests include American and British literature, literary criticism, and applied linguistics. Mr. Puhr is also a head coach for Northridge’s middle school soccer team, which won second place in the City Suburban Catholic Conference during the 2015 season.
Diane joined Northridge’'s Business Office in 2010 after staying home for 30 years to care for her children. She became the full-time Business Manager in 2011. Prior to joining the administrative staff at Northridge, Diane volunteered in the school office at Embers Elementary for 3 years, served as the PTO Board Treasurer at both St. Stanislaus Middle School in Winona, MN and St. Luke Catholic Elementary School in Beavercreek, OH for a combined total of five years. Diane and her husband, Will, have three grown children and five grandchildren.
Robert Rey graduated in 2010 from Northridge where he was an All-State basketball player and one of 5 players in school history to score more than 1,000 career points. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in History with a concentration in Middle Eastern Studies as well as a minor in Business Economics from the University of Notre Dame in 2014. After graduating from Notre Dame, Mr. Rey joined Northridge as a History teacher and assistant Varsity Basketball coach. After two years of teaching, Mr. Rey moved into the role of Director of Admissions in 2016.
B.S. Northeastern Illinois University; M.A. Concordia University Chicago
Year Appointed: 2004
Will Rey has coached basketball for nearly 40 years at the high school and university levels. During his tenure as Northridge’s head coach, the varsity team has accumulated a 206-108 (.660) overall record and a 94-28 (.771) mark in conference games. In addition, Northridge teams have captured 5 IHSA Class AA Regional Championships, advanced to the state’s “Sweet 16” in 2009 and 2015, won 2 conference championships and 4 conference 2nd place finishes, and garnered 3 major holiday tournament championships. Coach Rey was voted Conference Coach-of-the-Year in 2007, 2008 and 2013, and IBCA District Coach-of-the-Year in 2009, 2014, and 2015. In addition, Coach Rey was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches’ Assn Hall-of-Fame in 2015, the Five-Star Basketball Hall-of-Fame in 2005, and was presented with Sports Faith International’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. He and his wife, Diane, have three grown children and 5 grandchildren.
Mr. Riccobono began his career as principal percussionist with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, while at the same time performing as a freelance jazz pianist and vibraphonist. As an educator, Mr. Riccobono served as the director of the Supplemental Program for Educational Skills (SPES), a program providing academic enrichment and character education for boys living in Boston’s inner city. Here he started an instrumental music program with a few donated instruments, teaching all the lessons and directing rehearsals. The music program eventually grew to over 100 students with three ensembles for different age-levels and professional musicians volunteering to help with lessons. The SPES jazz band made several tours, performing in cities such as Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago. Mr. Riccobono moved to the Bronx, NY to become director of the Crotona Center, a character education program for boys, and most recently worked at the Midtown Center in Chicago, assisting with volunteer training and teaching character during the summer program.
Mr. Richard Rodriguez, Latin, Spanish, Mathematics
B.A. Williams College; Affiliated B.A. University of Cambridge, UK; M.S.T., M.S. University of Illinois at Chicago
Year Appointed: 2015
Mr. Rodriguez holds degrees in Classics, Mathematics/Statistics, and Math Education. He has traveled extensively and has lived in Mexico, Spain, and England. In his spare time he enjoys weight training, writing poetry, dabbling in various languages, and exploring Gregorian chant.
B.A. Harvard College; M.D. Georgetown University School of Medicine
Year Appointed: 2015
Dr. Frederick A. (Sandy) Smith graduated from Harvard College with honors in Chemistry, received an M. D. degree from Georgetown University Medical School, and trained in Pathology at Georgetown University Hospital. He is board certified by the American College of Pathologists in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology (CAP). He worked at Lurie Children’s Hospital (formerly Children’s Memorial) as Director of Clinical Chemistry, Director of Laboratories and Director of Quality Improvement. He has authored a number of scholarly articles on laboratory medicine and quality management, and has taught extensively at Northwestern Medical School. He has served on the Quality Assurance Service Committee of the CAP, and also on the boards of directors of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, the Midtown Educational Foundation, and of several private companies.
Mr. Álvaro Vargas, Spanish, Religion
B.A. Loyola University Chicago; M.T.S. Harvard Divinity School
Year Appointed: 2016
Álvaro Vargas is beginning his teaching tenure at Northridge after graduating from Harvard Divinity School with a Masters in Theological Studies on May 2016. He is originally from Mexico and is the youngest of 12 children. He has lived in Chicago his whole life and has been involved with church programs like Charismatic Renewal and catechism, especially within the Latino community. He loves playing sports, mainly soccer and currently coaches his nephew's U12 soccer team. Alvaro is extremely excited to be part of such a vibrant Catholic school for men as Northridge.
B.S. University of Illinois-Chicago, M.A.Ed. University of Illinois at Chicago
Year Appointed: 2011
Mr. Gabriel Viego taught middle school mathematics and science in Chicago schools for ten years prior to joining Northridge. He has a B.S. and an M.A.Ed. from the University of Illinois-Chicago where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in mathematics education. His research interests revolve around the importance of mathematics, language, and culture in learning and include lesson study as a means to facilitate mathematics teachers’ professional growth. Gabriel has several publications, working papers and conference presentations as a result of this work. He has also served as program coordinator for several years with Midtown Center, an educational program for inner-city youth.
Mrs. Mary Ellen Wauck, Receptionist
B.A. Loyola University Chicago
Year Appointed: 1991
After graduating college, Mary Ellen worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago for ten years. After that she moved around for the next ten years with her husband, Mark, who is a retired FBI agent. They raised three sons, Martin, Stephen, and Joseph, all Northridge grads and a daughter, Monica, a Willows grad. Monica just presented the Waucks with their first grandchild.
Michele Whalen is married to Bill Whalen and has four children. Mrs. Whalen’s two daughters graduated from the Willows Academy, and her two sons graduated from Northridge. All four of her children are married and she is the proud grandmother to six grandchildren.
B.A. Pompeu Fabra University; Ph.D. Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
Year Appointed: 2015
After being ordained in 2008, Fr. Leo developed his ministry as a priest during 5 years at Aldovea High School (Madrid, Spain). In 2013 he moved to Berkeley, California. He has been involved in several programs for High School students, providing them with spiritual guidance and helping them to live their Catholic Faith as an integral part of their personality. He came to Northridge in the summer of 2015 and is always available especially for Sacramental Confession and Holy Mass.