Teachers and Staff

The staff at HP Community is experienced and highly qualified, degreed professionals in early childhood education and related fields. Educated and experienced staff is the core of HP Community’s programs. They attend, present, and actively participate in continuing education programs on an ongoing basis, including national and international early childhood conferences in order to improve their understanding of child development and best practices for early childhood education.

Staff tenure ranges from 1 year to 40+ years of teaching experience. The average tenure for staff is 15 years, contributing significantly to the continuity and stability of our programs. Likewise, our center has been led by a mere four directors in its 60+ year history, a strong testimony to its strong and consistent value structure over time.

The teachers and staff are nurturing professionals who are passionate about what they do. At Community, your children are loved, well cared for and celebrated.


Lisa Adelmund

Executive Director
Lisa Adelmund has extensive experience as a teacher and center director. Mrs. Adelmund has her Type 04 IL Teaching Certificate as well as a Master’s in Public Administration focusing on non-profit organizational management. Her undergraduate work was completed at Luther College in history, museum methods and secondary education. Mrs. Adelmund’s professional experience surrounds children from working as a nanny and in-home provider to directorships at for-profit and non-profit centers. In 2014, Mrs. Adelmund became Executive Director of HP Community.

Paula Johnson

Assistant Director
Paula Johnson, Assistant Director, began working at HP Community in 2011 after graduating two children from the program and serving as a volunteer and substitute teacher for several years. Paula has a degree from Michigan State University and extensive volunteer experience in early childhood education and care through organizations such as Family Network and District 112.

School Social Worker

Nancy Bruski

Clinical Social Woker
Nancy Bruski is a clinical social worker with over 35 years of experience providing therapeutic services to young children and families, as well as teacher training, parent education, and mental health consulting. Her passion is to help parents and teachers become more psychologically sensitive to children. Nancy enhances parents’ and teachers’ skills through providing a philosophy of teaching/raising children, as well as providing specific intervention strategies that support the development of children’s social competence, responsibility, and self-esteem. She is a frequent presenter of workshops and consultation throughout the Chicago area and nationally. Parents and teachers often express their appreciation for her detailed and specific strategies that they can take back to their homes and classrooms and begin implementing right away.

Blue Room Teachers

Cecilai Vasquez

Cecilia Vasquez

Cecilia Vasquez joined HP Community in 2014 with many years of experience in home child care through the Highland Park/Highwood Home Child Care Association. She has a CDA and is certified in “Child Space”. She is a native Spanish speaker who grew up in Highland Park.

Betty Lara

Betty Lara joined HP Community in 2021 after teaching in Lake Forest for 3 years. She has an Associates in Early Childhood Education and is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Psychology at St. Augustine College.

Green Room Teachers

Karen Perez

Karen Perez, HP Community in 2017, after working at Bethany Early Childhood Learning Center for ten years with two year olds in a mixed age group setting. She graduated from Northeastern Illinois University and while at Northeastern IL University, volunteered at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Special Education program. She participated at Welles Therapeutic Recreation Group, interfacing with many special children and adults.

Yellow Room Teachers

Darcy Fitzsimmons

Darcy Fitzsimmons graduated from Tufts University in 2000 with a degree in Child Development and certification to teach Pre-K through 3rd grade. She has been at HP Community since 2000. Darcy is currently the lead teacher in the Yellow Room Preschool for All class.

Orange Room Teachers

Mary O'Day

Mary O’Day has a background in pediatric Occupational Therapy. She has a BA in Child Development and Early Childhood Education from National-Louis University. She has worked as a teacher and/or administrator in various settings over the last 40 years. She continues to read and learn about new research & developments in Early Childhood. She and her husband have a grown married daughter and three wonderful grandchildren that live in Highland Park.

Steve Leverick

Steve Leverick spent the first half of his 20-year teaching career teaching middle school and high school students with unique behavioral and emotional needs. Steve joined the staff in 2013 excited to extend his skills to a younger crowd as he works with preschool and kindergarten students.

Teacher's Assistants

Nita Patel

Nita Patel attended Gujarat University, in Ahmadabad, India. In America she followed her passion for working with children and began her teaching career. Soon after, she took an ECE evaluation to become a qualified early childhood teacher's assistant. After 14 years of working at Bethany early childhood learning center, Nita is looking forward to sharing her experience and skills with students at "Community."

Ingrid Valdez

Originally from Mexico, Ingrid came to the United States looking for more adventure and experiences in her life. She has a degree in Translation and Interpretation from Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León in Monterrey, Mexico. Ingrid is passionate about working with young children and she started her journey back in 2016 as an au pair in the US. Before joining HP Community she worked at Lake Forest Academy where she was in charge of student travel. Ingrid likes to cook, take care of her indoor plants, and work in the outdoor garden in her free time. She also enjoys long bike rides to Lake Michigan, and the beautiful nature preserves around her home.

Amy Garcia

Amy Garcia joined HP Community in 2020. She is pursuing a bachelor's degree at Lake Forest College.

Jaimie Savorgino

Aida Vahidova

Support Staff

Dominika Maysymiuk

Dominika Mysymiuk joined HP Community in 2020, Dominika works in the office, helping out in classrooms and the kitchen as needed.

Rachel Magnani

Rachel Magnani is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She also holds an associate’s degree in child care from Moraine Valley Community College. Rachel is married to Joe and has two children, Joey (23) and Samantha (20). She has been a part of Community since her own children attended. Rachel served on a parent board, was a substitute teacher, then a classroom teacher for 11 years. She is now working in the office.