Brian Verwolf, Head of School
Email Brian Verwolf
Mr. Verwolf’s leadership at Deer Creek is informed by his experience as a teacher, a coach, and a father. His interests include school leadership, professional development of teachers, and encouraging a growth mindset in education so that students and teachers are equipped for a changing world. Consequently, he says, “I am passionate about creating an environment where students gain confidence in their unique strengths as Christ’s ambassadors.”
• Athletic Director
• K–8 PE Instructor
• Middle School Language Arts Teacher
Ms. Behn was born and raised in Crete, IL, and is a proud Deer Creek graduate. “Deer Creek allowed me to flourish as a whole person,” she says. “Nothing brings me more joy than to be able to be a part of a community that shaped me into the person I am today.”
Ms. Behn returned to the Deer Creek family after teaching Middle School PE for two years at Tipton Middle School in Indiana.
Kelsey Bevan, Third-Grade Teacher
Mrs. Bevan loves being surrounded by children—probably because she grew up surrounded by five siblings! She brings energy and passion to her work, and she considers herself blessed to be making a difference at a school that expects its students to make a difference in the world.
Mr. Gerald Blackmon, Science/Math/Tech
Mr. Blackmon brings to Deer Creek a variety of teaching experience, Educational Consultant certification, Professional Development training, Administrative experience, and Academic Advisory skills. He has a B.S. with a specialization in Middle School Language Arts and two Masters—in Administration (University of Alabama) and in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment (Walden University). His passion for lifelong learning serves as a model for students and fellow teachers alike. Mr. Blackmon has been in church ministry for 24 years, serving as a Youth Pastor, Bible Teacher, Pastor, Minister of Music, and more. He lives in Wheaton, Illinois, with his wife and three children.
Director of Development
Email Steve Blom
“I love Deer Creek because it is filled with passionate and talented followers of Christ,” says Steve. “Students, teachers, parents, staff, and Board are committed to really working together in our shared mission to help students grow in Academics, Faith, and Character for Kingdom service.” As Deer Creek’s Director of Development, Steve gets to share that mission with people who are interested in supporting it—and he gets to share the results of people’s gifts and prayers. Steve and his wife Sally live in Sauk Village with their three children. They are members of Emmanuel Christian Reformed Church in Sauk Village where Steve has served as an Elder and Junior High teacher.
Kim Brunson, K4 Teacher
Mrs. Brunson is our Pre-K4 lead teacher. She graduated from Prairie State College with a degree in Early Childhood Education and comes to us with experience in teaching 3- and 4-year-olds. She is a former children’s librarian and therefore has a passion for reading as well as caring for children. Mrs. Brunson has also taught Sunday School and is excited to share with students her love for Christ.
• Fifth-Grade Teacher
• Middle School Language Arts Teacher
Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Ms. Deur is a huge fan of Michigan sport teams, especially the Red Wings, Tigers, and Lions! As a result, she brings similar fanaticism to the subjects she teaches and the students she interacts with. With the Deer Creek vision statement as a team motto, she cheers her students to academic success and equips them for victory in life.
Carol Dooley, Kindergarten Assistant Teacher
Mrs. Dooley loves young children, and she has a warm, caring interaction with them. Her experience in Early Childhood Education enables her to create a positive learning environment where students flourish. And her no-nonsense approach helps promote higher-level thinking skills in children starting at a very early age.
In addition to managing the administrative details that keep Deer Creek running and growing, Mrs. Esparza-Saxon is involved in the Extended Care program at Deer Creek. The Extended Care program is for students who need to arrive at school before classes start, and/or wait at school after classes have ended. Mrs. Esparza-Saxon turns this time into an opportunity to create a safe, nurturing environment where kids can make progress on their homework or simply spend time socializing after the school day.
Ileana Lindahl, Spanish Teacher
Señora Lindahl came to Deer Creek by way of Panama, where she was born and raised. She moved to the United States after marrying Steve (Esteban), who was in the U.S. Army. As a family, they have lived and traveled across the U.S., as well as in Bolivia, Colombia, Panama, Mexico, Ecuador, and Peru. Señora Lindahl is passionate about opening the doors to the Latino world for our students by sharing, showing, and practicing its culture and language.
Jalisa Miller, K-8 Art Teacher
In 2013, Ms. Miller graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago with a degree in Graphic Design. She has used that degree in the paint party business she owns, in audio/visual work for her church, and in various teaching roles. She has a variety of experiences working with K–8 students, and she has a knack for inspiring creativity in others. She says, “To me art is an expression of God’s creation. Everywhere we look, we can see God’s creativity.” Mrs. Miller and her husband Thomas were married in 2017 and live in Wheaton, Illinois.
• Bible Teacher
• Music Teacher
• Director of Spiritual Life
Mrs. Miller believes she was born to serve God’s people unselfishly with the gifts and talents God blessed her with, hence she inspires others to discover their own gifts and calling. She brings a variety of experience and a long list of credentials to the Deer Creek family. We are excited to be partnering with her to equip students for their roles in the broader community.
Mrs. Mosel has a long history with Deer Creek in a variety of roles, including parent of two alumni and treasurer of the Parent Teacher Fellowship. She joined the staff in 2010.
Nanci Natale, Fourth-Grade Teacher
Mrs. Natale and her husband were both raised in Catholic homes, and as young parents they felt something tugging at their hearts that made them thirst for a deeper relationship with God. Their two children attended Deer Creek at the time, so the entire family became immersed in a Christian environment. They learned to read the Bible, pray, and talk with other Christians about spiritual things. Consequently, their relationship with God grew deeper. Gradually they accepted Jesus as their Savior. That experience gives Mrs. Natale a special appreciation for how intentional Deer Creek is about fulfilling its vision. She believes that teaching is a God-given gift and a calling, and she is excited to be able to use that gift within the Deer Creek family.
Kendra Oprondek, First-Grade Teacher
BA in Psychology, MA in Elementary Education, Jewish upbringing, conversion to Christianity—Mrs. Oprondek’s diversity of background and experience make her classroom a naturally interesting place to be. She taught Elementary Reading for several years in a public school setting before joining the Deer Creek faculty in 2006.
K4 Teacher Aide
Renee Rodriguez, K3 Aide and Extended Care Director
Mrs. Rodriguez has taught preschool and second grade in recent years, and she has led an after-school program for kids. She is currently earning her BA in Early Childhood Education and a Certificate in Counseling. Mrs. Rodriguez loves watching children develop their imagination and their love for learning, and she loves to grow alongside them as they deepen their personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Email Linda Salazar
Mrs. Salazar first came to Deer Creek as a parent in 1986 and then joined the staff in 1992. Her experience as a parent informs her work in the office, and her unique perspective helps make all our systems more efficient. Born and raised in Chicago Heights, she met her high school sweetheart Desi while attending Bloom High School. Desi and Linda have been married 37 years. “Being part of the team at Deer Creek is a huge blessing in my life,” she says, “and I am very thankful to be a part of His special ministry here.”
LaTrece Thomas, K3 Lead Teacher
Mrs. Thomas has been serving in early child development for over 20 years, most of that time as a licensed childcare provider in her own home in Park Forest. While homeschooling her three children, Mrs. Thomas earned her BA in Early Childhood Administration, minoring in Entrepreneurship. She went on to earn a Masters in Education with a focus in Family and Community Services, and teaching as a profession naturally fell into place.
Mrs. Amber Trethewey, Support Services Coordinator
Mrs. Trethewey’s 10 years of teaching experience and her passion for helping kids meet their God-given potential have equipped her for Support Services at Deer Creek. In this new role, Amber will connect with each student, parent, and staff member this year, helping to develop our budding Support Services program. Mrs. Trethewey and her husband Rick live in Homewood, Illinois.
Ms. VanRegenmorter claims Psalm 118:34 as a favorite Bible verse:
“This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
While living out that verse, she makes her classroom a place of joy, and she teaches her students to multiply that joy as they interact with others.
Robin Von Thaden, Kindergarten Teacher
With an MS in Reading and more than 10 years of classroom experience, Mrs. Von Thaden is well equipped to give her students not only basic reading skills but also a love of words and ideas. Her classroom atmosphere is a testament to her sense of hospitality, and students learn early to welcome differences.
Julie Wroughton, History and Math Teacher
Mrs. Wroughton first came to Deer Creek as our part-time librarian in 1995. In 2005, she added teaching middle school math to her responsibilities. From 2010–2014, she served as our principal. Today, she works part-time as a history teacher and athletic director. She has enjoyed being part of the Deer Creek family for many years as a parent as well, and her two sons are Deer Creek alumni.