Meet the Staff

 Rebecca Gonzalez - Lead Teacher and Director


 Rebecca Gonzalez has spent her teaching career in preschool classrooms and loves the innocence of children and their pure passion and joy of learning. What keeps her happily coming back year after year is a genuine love of watching children discover, learn, and interact with one another, while knowing that teachers have the ability to touch many lives of children and adults at the same time in different ways. 

Rebecca received her Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from DePaul University, her Master’s in Child Development from the renowned Erikson Institute, and her ESL Endorsement from National Louis University. She is also a proud National Board Certified Teacher. Before opening up Bucktown Academy, Rebecca taught at Burr Elementary for six years after spending six years teaching in the tuition-based Preschool program at Oscar Mayer. Her teaching philosophy is that children learn through play within a structured, academically-focused environment, and her dedication to this philosophy is clearly demonstrated in her loving yet organized classroom.

After twelve years of teaching in the Chicago Public School system, Rebecca decided to follow her life-long dream of opening up her own preschool, where children have a safe place to learn without the stress of high-stakes assessments and developmentally inappropriate practices. In the fall of 2014, this dream came true when Bucktown Academy opened its doors.  

When Rebecca is not teaching, she spends time with her adorable son and her CPS-teacher husband, practices yoga, enjoys running, reading, and traveling. She’s also passionate about animals and cares for two adopted cats of her own.

Lily Culver - Lead Teacher  


Lily Culver has always enjoyed working with children and knew she wanted to be a teacher from a young age. She graduated from Illinois State University with a B.A. in Early Childhood Education and has her Type 04 Certification in Early Childhood. Her experience includes working as a summer counselor, a teacher’s assistant in summer school, and many years of nannying for two wonderful boys. Lily has spent the past three years teaching at Bucktown Academy. She loves the sense of community, and closely working with children of all developmental levels. In her free time, she likes to travel, be outdoors, and read. 

Stephanie Guaman - Classroom Assistant


Stephanie Guaman has always been passionate about working with children. Her passion began when she started volunteering at the daycare center she attended as a child. Since then, Stephanie has made it her goal to educate, inspire, and motivate all the children she encounters. Stephanie graduated from Dominican University with a B.A. in English with a concentration in Literature. She is looking forward to pursuing her Master's in Early Childhood Education at Northeastern Illinois Univeristy in 2019.  In her free time, Stephanie enjoys exploring the city, reading, and writing. 

Emily Heck - Classroom Assistant


Emily Heck is so excited to be joining the Bucktown Academy community! Originally from Madison, WI, Emily relocated to Chicago in 2017 after graduating from Oberlin College in Ohio with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Education. She has worked with young children in many capacities including babysitting, camp counseling, literacy and math tutoring, teaching movement classes and assisting in a pre-k classroom during college. Emily spent the last year teaching first grade in Chicago and is excited about returning to early childhood education. She is passionate about working with young people in creative ways that allow children's voices, curiosities and passions to be nurtured!

Rachel Hilbert - Substitute Teacher/Volunteer


Rachel Hilbert has always loved working with children. After starting out as a children's choir director, she took a brief break after completing her B.A. at Oxford University to pursue a career in research science. She soon realized that working with preschool children was her true calling and began nannying full-time. Rachel has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Erikson Institute and recently started teaching at Hibbard Elementary School. 

Esther Garces - Substitute Teacher/Volunteer


Esther Garces has always loved being surrounded by children. She is a grandmother to six and has raised two daughters of her own. She received her B.A. in Early Childhood Education from Northeastern Illinois University and enjoys being an occasional volunteer at Bucktown Academy. When she is not relaxing at her lake house in Michigan or riding her bike, she is the proud owner of Esther's Skincare and Electrolysis. She loves spending time at Bucktown Academy with all the incredible children and with her daughter, Rebecca Gonzalez.  

Joshua Greenberg - Summer Assistant/Substitute Teacher 

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Coach Greenberg was raised in Mercer Island, Washington, a suburb of Seattle, and came to the Midwest to attend Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri. After graduating with a degree in psychology, he came to Chicago where he earned his Master’s in Education from DePaul University. He taught at Oscar Mayer Elementary School, where he worked for four years before moving to Newberry Academy, where he currently works. Besides teaching math at Newberry Academy, he is the head of the girls basketball program at Walter Payton College Prep