Head of School

Jeremy Mann

Jeremy is the Director of Programming and Development for the Center for Pastor Theologians, an organization based in Oak Park, IL resourcing pastors writing academic theology. Jeremy is an endowed Ph.D. student in Christian theology at Wheaton College Graduate School; he also serves on the advisory board of the Illinois School Project, a ministry promoting evangelism in Illinois public high schools. Jeremy has an M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, an M.A. in special education with an emphasis in urban education from Loyola Marymount University, and a B.A. in philosophy and great books from Biola University. He has studied and participated in funded academic conference workshops in England, Germany, Poland, Israel, Wales, Quebec, Utah, New York, Michigan, and Indiana.

Jeremy spent four years after college working in education reform, teaching special education in Los Angeles, and training teachers and serving as a summer school principal for Teach For America in Chicago. Jeremy also worked in the office of the Los Angeles City Council President (now mayor), Eric Garcetti. During his time at the CPT Jeremy has helped increase operating budget of the organization fourfold, written more than $450,000 worth of grants, and helped launch a national conference and indexed academic journal. He lives in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago with his wife Erin, a nurse practitioner at Lawndale Christian Health Center, and their young son and daughter.

1st Grade Teacher

Mary Nussbaum

Mary grew up in Wheaton, Illinois, a suburb west of Chicago. After graduating from Wheaton College with a degree in elementary education Mary moved to Indianapolis to teach at Christian classical school, The Oaks Academy. Mary taught at the Oaks Academy for 4 years, serving for one year as an instructional assistant, two years as a first grade teacher, and one year as a second grade teacher. During Mary’s time teaching at the Oaks Academy her education continued by being immersed in classical curriculum and Charlotte Mason’s philosophies. Teaching at the Oaks Academy introduced Mary to a style and philosophy of teaching that she had not known existed.

Mary is excited to join The Field School and teach at a school where children are valued for who they are, not what they are becoming, where they are known and loved, and are fed with ideas that are true, beautiful and good. Mary is excited to be back in the city she loves and to educate first graders about the world around them and the God who created it!

Kindergarten Teacher

Brian Williams

Brian first came to the Chicago area from his home town of Albuquerque, New Mexico in order to attend Wheaton College, where he graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature and also worked for the B.R.I.D.G.E. program, a college preparatory program for low-income and minority high school students in Chicago. After graduating, he taught for two years with Teach For America in Chicago, and since completing that program continued to teach kindergarten at his placement school, a charter school in the West Town neighborhood where he worked with low-income Hispanic and African-American children. During his tenure there, he co-founded a bilingual advisory group to support Spanish-speaking families, led collaboration with an associated Headstart program to improve school readiness, and served on the Academics Subcommittee during a major school-wide restructuring process. He earned his M.A. in Teaching at Dominican University, along with certifications in bilingual and ESL education. He is a deeply committed member of Grace Church of DuPage in Warrenville, where he teaches kindergarten Sunday school and co-leads a discipleship group.

Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

Angela Merrick

Angela Merrick is in her seventh year of teaching. She has taught various grade levels from Kindergarten through 6th grade. She graduated with a B.S. in Elementary Education from Grace College. She and her husband are both natives of Chicago and have lived and served on the west side of Chicago for 16 years. She resides in the Austin neighborhood and has a heart for teaching, serving, and growing in her community. She is a member of Legacy Christian Fellowship a group of house churches that meets all across Chicago in various neighborhoods. At Legacy Christian Fellowship, she helps to teach children during Sunday School. She has been married nearly 10 years to DeShaun Merrick and they have two children Isaiah and Aria, who both attend The Field School.

Dean of Instruction

Daniel Hill

After graduating from Hampton University, Daniel spent two years in Houston’s Third Ward at KIPP Liberation College Prep, where he taught 5th grade English Language Arts and 8th grade science. While teaching at KIPP, Daniel chaired the English Language Arts department, created and edited the school’s first literary magazine, and organized annual Light Up the Mic nights. During their year in his class, Daniel’s English Language Arts 5th graders improved their reading by an average of 1.9 grade levels, advancing from the lowest to highest performing in the district. Daniel has his Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, with an emphasis in Intercultural Ministry. While studying to obtain his Th.M., he worked part-time as the Young Adult Ministry Director at Bethel Church of Houston in Houston, TX. He currently lives in Wheaton, IL and is pursuing a Ph.D. in theology at Wheaton College Graduate School.

Dean of Community Life

Annie Houghton

Annie has been on staff with Young Life for 15 years speaking, developing and fundraising. Annie is currently a regional consultant for Young Life on spiritual formation and professional development. She graduated from the University of Illinois summa cum laude with a B.A. in Child and Adolescent Development. Annie has worked with Latino undocumented workers in Champaign as well as with Peacebuilders, a program promoting racial reconciliation for Chicago youth sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church. She is married to Jon and has four kids, 1.5 years old to 10 years old. They recently moved to Oak Park from Indianapolis where their kids attended the Oaks Academy.

Director of Operations

Patricia Ritsman

After moving to Chicago to be a visiting student at Wheaton College, focusing on Urban Policy, Patricia has been interested in urban institutions and the communities they impact. In January 2011 she received a B.A. in Economics from Calvin College and stayed in Chicago to complete an extended internship at the Metropolitan Planning Council, researching tax and transportation. She later worked in cancer research regulatory affairs at the University of Chicago. Most recently, Patricia was a Compliance Associate at Performance Trust Capital Partners, LLC, a Chicago-based broker-dealer, where she worked for four years monitoring trading and internal controls. In 2016 she left her job to be home with her young son and keeps connected to her city and neighborhood through her church and local non-profits. She spent many years as a mentor to teen mothers in the Albany Park, Avondale and Logan Square neighborhoods and just completed a three-year term on the deacon board at Covenant Presbyterian Church, where she was the finance committee chair, helping to manage a one million-dollar-plus budget. Patricia and her husband Matt were a part of The Field School founding team. They live in Avondale with their children Willem and Cornelia.

Board of Directors

Jens Shroyer, Chair

Jens is a Vice President at Performance Trust Capital Partners, a Chicago-based research & trading firm serving primarily small and mid-size community banks. At Performance Trust, Jens focuses on client education and internal corporate strategy. During his 10 year tenure, Performance Trust has grown from around 90 to over 250 employees. Jens graduated Magna Cum Laude with an English and Economics degree from Wheaton College, a Christian liberal arts college in Wheaton, IL. Jens and his wife Kara Shroyer are long-time members of Covenant Presbyterian church in Bucktown, and they serve & support Breakthrough Urban Ministries and By the Hand on Chicago's south & west sides. Kara is an author/novelist by trade, and teaches writing classes to 8-12 year olds in Garfield Park. Kara went to primary & high school in Marseilles, France, experiencing first-hand the benefits of a more classically-oriented education. Jens and Kara are both passionate about education and the life of the mind.

Jaemey Bush

Jaemey was born and raised in Chicago and Glenview. She has lived on the west side of Chicago for the past 9 years with her husband and two children. She earned a BA in Spanish Literature at Colorado College, and an MA in Intercultural Studies and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Wheaton College. She has taught teens at Glenbrook South High School, refugees at World Relief, and immigrants at College of DuPage. She currently teaches an adult ESL class for a family literacy program at Our Lady of Tepeyac Headstart in Little Village. Jaemey has served on the local school council at a Chicago Public School in her neighborhood for 3 years as an elected parent member. She manages real estate part-time, but for the past 9 years, has primarily been a full-time mom. Her family has hosted about a dozen children whose families were in crisis through the organization, Safe Families. She is an active member of New Life Community Church and has a heart for justice and peace in the city of Chicago. Jaemey is passionate about education and grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the vision and mission of The Field School.

Reginald Champagne

Reggie is Senior Counsel for Beam Suntory Inc., advising its teams and executives across the globe on a broad range of strategic and transactional matters. He studied Sociology at The Pennsylvania State University before receiving both a JD and an LL.M. from Boston University School of Law. Reggie's love for the intersection of education and history includes teaching undergraduate and graduate classes in Sociology and Finance at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. As a guardian of history, Reggie has served on the Board of Directors of the Museum of African American History of Boston & Nantucket since 2011. Reggie and his wife, Leigh, live in Glen Ellyn with their three children, and serve at Highpoint Church in Naperville.

Dana Cooper

Dana has 20 years of experience growing and leading independent, Christ-centered schools in Cincinnati and Indianapolis, serving as chief advancement officer and assistant head of school. She joined both institutions in their start-up years, taking responsibility for refining branding and communicating mission and vision to community leaders, donors, parents and students, faculty and staff. Dana has a B.A. in liberal arts and a M.Ed. in in educational administration from Xavier University. She and her husband are the parents of two adult children educated in one of those Christ-centered schools, now both married and parents of three homeschooled children and four pets.

Daisey Dowell

Daisey is a pediatrician at Lawndale Christian Health Center. She completed her medical school training at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. She then completed her Pediatric Residency at the Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago. Daisey Dowell has served disadvantaged children and their families nearly all of her life, and believes strongly in education. Prior to attending medical school, she served as a high school science teacher for Chicago Public Schools for 8 years. It was through this experience that she developed a love for writing curriculum and creating activities to enhance learning. She has a special interest in child advocacy, and education related problems. She is board certified in Pediatrics, and has worked at LCHC since 2006 where she currently serves as a primary care physician and Medical Director for the LCHC Homan Square site. Daisey is the adoring wife of Jasper Dowell, the proud mother of their two adult children, and has lived in the Austin community for over 30 years.

Jonathan Kelly

Jon Kelley is the senior pastor of Harvest Chicago West, a church he planted on Chicago’s West Side. Today Harvest is 1/3 African American, 1/3 Latino, and 1/3 White. Jon spent most of his teens in and out of juvenile detention centers and trying not to get killed in the streets. At the age of 19 he landed in prison for his role in a shooting that left a young man dead. It was in his prison cell that he received a copy of God's word and began reading. After reading from Matthew to Hebrews, Jon's eyes were opened. He was immediately gripped by his sin and his need for salvation in Christ. He gave his life to Christ in his prison cell. Expecting to spend the rest of his life in prison, Jon was shown mercy and received a 6-20 year sentence. After serving 6 years, Jon was released and began attending Christian Stronghold Baptist Church in West Philadelphia. It was there that he meet his wife and best friend, Danielle, while serving in youth ministry. In 2011 Jon moved to Chicago to attend Moody Bible Institute where he studied Systematic Theology. He is the proud father of one son.

Kathryn Miller

Kathryn is a Family Physician working in Pediatrics at Lawndale Christian Health Center. She is the wife of Bruce Miller, CEO of LCHC. They have lived and raised their three children in the Lawndale neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago for the past 19 years. Kathryn has a special interest in literacy and the effects of trauma on the brain development of young children. She is currently collaborating with the Thirty Million Words project at the University of Chicago on a research project studying educational methods for parents in the pediatric office visit setting to improve early childhood literacy. Kathryn graduated from Stanford University with a BA in Human Biology, and completed her MD at the University of Washington. She helped develop and lead a parent education program at LCHC, known as Baby Scholars, focusing on early childhood brain development and literacy. She also volunteers as a mentor to a teen mom through the Teen Mother Choices program.

Matt Ritsman

Matt has worked in the advertising industry for ten years as an art director and web developer. He currently works for DigitasLBI as a Senior Creative Engineer. Matt graduated from Wheaton College in 2007 with a B.A., double majoring in Visual Art and Interpersonal Communications. He is actively involved at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood, leading small groups, helping to plan retreats and volunteering with mercy ministries. Matt is a co-founder and board member of the Shade Partnership Fund, a philanthropic group focused on funding and partnering with non-profits in the fields of education, teacher training and children’s development. He lives in the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago with his wife Patricia and their children Willem and Cornelia. Matt and Patricia were part of The Field School founding team and are passionate about finding ways to cultivate Christian community in Chicago.

Gerald Smith

Pastor Gerald W. Smith was born in Utica, NY to God-fearing parents who guided him to salvation at the age of six. His life’s vision includes investing in young men, building bridges, strengthening and restoring families and starting and multiplying churches that do the same. Happily married to his wife Dorean, blessed with two children (Kinyata and Miles) and 4 grandchildren (Kiara, Isaiah, Kaleb, and Kingston). He received a degree in Youth Ministry from Liberty University, trained as a Nuethetic counselor with Biblical Counseling Center and graduated from Devos Urban Leadership in 2003. He is a fourth generation pastor who served as a licensed and ordained pastor for 22 years. Those twenty years have been with a church plant in Chicago, New Hope Bible Church (17 years), church plant in Richmond, Va., New Israel Baptist Church (2 Years) and now planting with New Life. He is a lover of Jesus and wants to encourage others to do the same.

Katie Wilson

Katie Wilson is a stay-at-home-mother to seven children. She is also the senior pastor’s wife at Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, IL. She has a B.A. from Wheaton College in literature and secondary education. Katie taught middle school English at a Christian school in Minneapolis; she also helped lead the college group at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Katie has taught English camps in both Thailand and Kazakhstan. She began her masters in theology at Wheaton College and then moved to Cambridge, England, where she worked as a florist while her husband completed his Ph.D. in New Testament. After moving back to the U.S., Katie attended Harrington School of Design in Chicago before adopting four children from Ethiopia. She currently lives in Oak Park, homeschools, and serves actively at Calvary with both the women’s and mercy ministries.

Advisory Board

Michael Emerson

Provost of North Park University and author of Divided by Faith

Heather Dill

President of the Templeton Foundation

Andrew Hart

CEO of The Oaks Academy in Indianapolis

David Dillon

Founder and Principal of Dillon Kane Group

Joel Hamernick

Executive Director of Sunshine Gospel Ministries in Woodlawn

James Brooks

Pastor of Harmony Community Church

Bruce Miller

CEO of Lawndale Christian Health Center

James Borishade

Executive Director of Circle Urban Ministries