Meet the Staff

 Rebecca Gonzalez - Lead Teacher and Director

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 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. 

She 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 fellow-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 - Teacher Assistant 

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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 for two years, a teacher’s assistant in summer school, and a nanny for the past two years. In her free time, she likes to travel and be outdoors. She is really excited to be a part of the Bucktown Academy community and to work closely with all of the wonderful families and children!


Rachel Hilbert - Substitute Teacher/Volunteer

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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 completed her student teaching at Prescott Elementary. 


Esther Garces - Substitute Teacher/Volunteer

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Esther Garces has always loved being surrounded by children. She is a grandmother to five 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

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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 coaches their track and field teams and is the head of the girls basketball program at Walter Payton College Prep.