Staff Bios


Mary Brinkman
Mrs. Brinkman has been teaching for 37 years, 28 years at St. Thomas and 9 years at Immaculate Heart of Mary High School. She has a B.A. from Benedictine University and an M.S. from George Williams College. Prior to her role as Principal, she taught Health and Physical Education to all grade levels and was the Assistant Principal for the past 8 years. She also coordinates the yearly 8th grade trip to Washington, D.C.

“I am learning as much as I am leading as principal. I am blessed with a fantastic faculty, a brilliant School Board and FSA, encouraging parents, inquisitive students, supportive Friends of St. Thomas of Villanova School, and a pretty cool boss in Father Tom. I cannot be more excited to excel in this role as Principal!”

Laura Klotz
Assistant Principal
First Grade
Miss Klotz has been teaching at St. Thomas since 1985. She taught fourth grade for two years and has taught first grade for the remainder of the time. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Northern Illinois University and a Masters in Leadership and Instruction from Saint Xavier University. Miss Klotz is a unit leader. She works with the After School Care and Gift of Love programs and Catholic Schools Week.

“I love teaching First grade because First graders are so excited about learning. They want to read everything from the cereal box to street signs, and of course books. First graders have a lot to say and love writing and sharing their very good ideas. If they learn to love both reading books and writing stories, they will have this gift for life.”


Mrs. Jennifer Lazik
Mrs. Jennifer (Jennie) Lazik is the Preschool Coordinator and Preschool 4 teacher. She began teaching at St. Thomas in August 2015. She holds a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education and a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts focusing on painting and photography from North Park University in Chicago. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Special Education and LBS 1 certification from Northeastern Illinois University. Mrs. Lazik has taught at the Early Childhood level for the past ten years in Glenview, working in both public programs and private Christian Early Childhood programming. She has held leadership roles in Early Childhood and School Age programming for the past 15 years in Northfield and Glenview. Mrs. Lazik has also held leadership roles in ministry, working as a Missions director in Rutland Vermont and as a Missions trip and spiritual leader at North Park University having lead students on a ministry based trip to Santiago, Chile.


Emily Hookom
Ms. Hookom is new to St. Thomas in 2015. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in Special Education from the University of St. Francis, as well as a Master’s Degree in Teaching and Learning, with a concentration in Differentiated Instruction. Previously she taught full day Kindergarten at St. Bede School in Ingleside. Ms. Hookom also works with RtI, Mother’s Day Tea, Social Committee, Kindergarten Graduation, and Junior High dances.
“I love teaching kindergarten because students make so much progress throughout the school year. Some children come into kindergarten unable to read or write their own name and they leave my classroom in June being able to read and write multiple sentences.”


Celeste Kerr
Second Grade
Mrs. Kerr is new to St. Thomas in 2015. She has a BS in Elementary Education from the University of Maryland and previously taught in Cary Community Consolidated District 26. She assists with the Trivia Night fundraiser and the Christmas program.
“I’ve always had a strong affinity for teaching primary grades. I love to nurture young learners, particularly in the areas of reading and writing. In addition, second grade presents an exciting opportunity to assist students during a pivotal part of their faith journey, with First Reconciliation and First Communion.”


Jennifer Secedi
Third Grade
Mrs. Secedi has been teaching at St. Thomas of Villanova since 2008. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Illinois University and a Masters of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University. She assists with Catholic Schools Week and was a Student Council advisor for several years.

“In Third grade the students develop study skills and learn how to be more organized and responsible. The class is structured in a calm environment and organized with patience. It is said by many parents that this is the year the children turn into students.”


Liz Shepke
Fourth Grade
Mrs. Shepke started teaching at St.Thomas in 2012. She has a degree in Elementary Education from Eastern Illinois University and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University. She taught at St. Peter the Apostle in Itasca and Holy Ghost in Wooddale, IL before coming to St. Thomas.

“I enjoy teaching 4th grade because of the personalities that come from the students. It is a grade in which the kids really show who they are. It is also an enjoyable grade because the students are starting to gain independence and I enjoy helping them explore that.”


Jane Liquin
Fifth Grade
K-4 Music
Mrs. Liquin started at St. Thomas in 2012. She has a BFA in Theater and English Literature from Drake University, with a teaching certificate from Dominican University. She previously taught at St. Zachary School in Des Plaines. Mrs. Liquin also directs the school musicals and assists with the Christmas Program and weekly Mass music.

“St. Thomas has truly become my spiritual home away from home. I love teaching here because the students are so curious, excited about learning and faith-filled.”


Kathy McGarvey
6th Grade Homeroom
5th – 8th grade Science
Mrs. McGarvey started teaching at St. Thomas in 2013. She has over seven years of teaching experience in both public and Catholic schools at the high school and junior high level. She earned her BS in Biology and Education from Loyola University and is currently working on becoming a Catechist through the “Pillars” program from University of St Mary of the Lake. Mrs. McGarvey facilitates the 5th -8th Grade STV Science Fair (including preparation for the IJAS regional and state competitions), coordinates the STV Giving Garden, and coaches girls’ basketball. Not only is she a teacher here at St. Thomas, she is also a parent of three graduates and a current 5th grader.


Joe Olson
5th-8th Grade Social Studies, 8th Grade Homeroom & Religion
Mr. Olson has been Teaching at St. Thomas since 2014. He grew up in Chicago and attended Catholic grade school and high school. He has a degree in Business Economics from Benedictine University and spent many years in the banking industry until he decided to pursue a long-term desire to become an elementary school teacher. He entered the Masters in Education program at North Park University and earned endorsements in Middle School Social Studies, Mathematics and Business Management, and also became certified as a Learning Behavioral Specialist I instructor.

In his spare time has been a Board Member of the Chicago Youth Organization and a volunteer football coach. He enjoys camping and traveling with his wife and two large dogs, Tucker and Storm.


Stephanie Hardy
Assistant Principal
6th – 8th Grade Language Arts
7th Grade Homeroom
Mrs. Hardy has been teaching at St. Thomas since 2006. She previously taught at Gemini Jr. High in Niles and in Jacksonville, FL and Divernon, IL. She has a B.A. in Education and Spanish from Millikin University and a Masters of Education in Curriculum/Instruction from University of Phoenix. She coordinates the National Spanish Exam for grades 7 and 8 each Spring.

“I enjoy middle schoolers so much. They really evolve as writers and thinkers during these years.”


Kristen Wolf
6th-8th Grade Math
Mrs. Wolf has been at St. Thomas since 2013. She has a BA in Elementary Education with a concentration in Mathematics from DePaul University and recently completed her Master’s Degree in School Counseling from DePaul. She is a graduate of St. Viator High School and has taught in Schaumburg, at St. Benedict Preparatory School in Chicago and at Barrington High School.

“The middle school years are such a pivotal point of development academically, socially, and emotionally. I just enjoy being a positive part of that for my students!”


Angie Valis
Computer, Resource
Mrs. Valis has been teaching at St. Thomas since 1997. She previously taught at St. Anne’s in Barrington and was an L.D. aide at Winston Campus for one year. She has a B.A. in Elementary Education from Roosevelt University and a Learning Disabilities Endorsement from National-Louis University. She also assists with the Christmas Program, lunch duty, Terra Nova testing, Afterschool Daycare check-in, Technology Committee, PowerSchool Committee and RTI (Response To Intervention) Committee.


Mary Beth McNally
Mrs. McNally has the been the librarian at St. Thomas of Villanova School since 1991. She has a Master’s Degree in Library Science and is a member of both the American Library Association and the American Association of School Librarians. She organizes two book fairs each year, sponsors the Recess Reading Club, and assists with the Christmas Program and Afterschool Daycare check-in.

She has been a member of St. Thomas Parish since 1978.

The library has over 7,000 titles in its collection, which students can search using an automated library catalog program. Circulation is also automated. All library computers have internet access, allowing the students to use Palatine Public Library catalog resources, look up Lexile scores, and successfully research classroom assignments.


Meghan Newell
PS, 5th-8th Grade Music
Mrs. Newell has been teaching at St. Thomas since 2014. She previously taught at Westchester Middle School and Our Lady of the Wayside. She has a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice from The Crane School of Music.

“With middle school, I enjoy that they are independent and eager to learn.”