The Sequoyah community takes its name from the Cherokee linguist. Although Sequoyah was not literate in any language, he created written symbols for the 85 sounds in spoken Cherokee. He introduced the language to the Cherokee nation in 1821, and within a few months thousands of Cherokees became literate. By 1825, many books and songs had been translated into Sequoyah’s written Cherokee, and by 1828 the first Cherokee newspaper was in publication. By 1830 the Cherokee literacy rate was over 90%; much higher than that of the white settlers. Ms. Kerstin and her team hope to inspire their students with Sequoyah’s spirit of innovation and public mindedness, and to help them develop into young adults who love learning.
Kerstin BroockmannElementary Teacher, English
Ms. Kerstin is a lifelong Midwestwesterner. She is a graduate of Macalester College (B.A. in English and Dramatic Arts), and the Inner City Teaching Corps UNITE Program/Northwestern University (K-9 Teaching Certificate with middle school endorsement in Language Arts, 2009). Ms. Kerstin received her AMS Upper Elementary Teaching Credential in 2005 from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education/New York. Her 15 years in the classroom include work as a lead teacher, assistant, and substitute. Ms. Kerstin has been the upper elementary guide in the Sequoyah community since 2014. She is committed to helping students grow as citizens and learners through the Montessori curriculum and philosophy, offering hands-on opportunities for students to explore and expand their interests. “Let us give [the child] a vision of the whole universe.”
Xiang JiChinese Language Academic Program Coordinator & Elementary Teacher, Chinese Mandarin
Ms. Xiang Ji is Sequoyah’s Chinese teacher and has been teaching at Intercultural for eight years. From 2011 to 2014, she served as the lead teacher for Long Feng Community. From 2014 to 2016, she served as the lead teacher for He Ping Community. She is also a school Chinese Program Academic Coordinator since 2016. Ms. Xiang holds a Bachelor's degree in Education from Huangshan University and a Master's degree, with a major in Education Curriculum & Instruction and a minor in Early Childhood Education, from Southwestern College. She is also Montessori trained for Early Childhood and Elementary I - II. Ms. Xiang is a very dedicated, detail-oriented, and passionate teacher, who believes that every child is unique and requires individual care and attention to most effectively learn and develop. As such, she firmly believes in Montessori's method of 'following the child.'
Damaris GonzalezElementary Teacher, Spanish
Ms. Damaris is originally from Corozal, Puerto Rico and has been living in Chicago for one year. Ms. Damaris received her B.A. in Elementary Education from the Universidad Central in Bayamán, Puerto Rico. She hopes to begin her Montessori Elementary training this fall. She’s been a teacher since 2000, working in private and public schools as well in a prison in Puerto Rico. She’s been the Upper Elementary Spanish teacher at Intercultural Montessori Language School since 2017. Ms. Damaris is a passionate and nurturing teacher who believes that all students are capable of learning Spanish. She believes in inspiring students by engaging their interests as well as creating projects that allow them to build their understanding as they expand their knowledge of different fields.
Erika AvilaElementary Teacher
Ms. Erika has been teaching at Intercultural since 2007 where she has worked as an assistant teacher for primary and elementary classrooms in addition to working in the Extended Day program. Ms. Erika has also worked as a bilingual teacher in Mexico for students 9 to 12 years old. She hopes that every child she works with feels comfortable to approach her at any given time to share any thought or idea. Ms. Erika's goal is to acquire Montessori teaching certification. She feels proud of her two daughters who were enrolled in Intercultural from preschool through 6th grade in the Japanese community.