Teachers & School Administrators

Former Raquel Gonzalez, Principal, Horace Greeley Elementary School
Former Raquel Gonzalez, Principal, Horace Greeley Elementary School 

Cool Classics! has become an integral part of our school-wide plan to foster a love for reading and learning. Ms. Tapp’s passion for the program is infectious and has transformed many of its participants.”

Carlos Azcoitia Jr., Co-Principal, Tioga Elementary School, Bensenville School District 2; Former Principal, Horace Greeley Elementary School, a 2007 NCLB Blue Ribbon School

“Start to finish Cool Classics! is one of the best after-school programs your school can adopt. The primary students loved all aspects – the rigorous arts, theater, and literary-infused activities and experiences. The Cool Classics! crew held high expectations for the students and worked closely with the school and parents to achieve some lofty goals that increased parent involvement for our school. Our culminating event served to highlight the work the students had done. Thank you Mara and the Cool Classics! crew.”

Andalib Khelghati, Assistant Superintendent, Evanston/Skokie School District 65; Former Principal, Dewey Elementary School; Former Assistant Principal, William C. Reavis Math & Science Specialty Elementary School

“It’s wonderful that each child has their own book and they’re getting exposure to a really interesting children’s story that they all seem to like a lot. [It’s] an arts integrated way of learning literature. So they’re making props. They’re moving. They’re acting. They’re dancing. They get to see real life artists [and learn] what they do and how they think about their work. I think the kids like it quite a bit and [are] very excited.”

Natalie Butler, Uptown Academy Director, The People’s Music School; Former Music teacher, Walt Disney Magnet School

“There are so many ways to take a book and make it the focus of learning. We focus on the literature to teach children reading strategies to improve comprehension and critical thinking skills. We teach children to question what they read, and that reading should inspire thoughts and ideas that can be discussed, explored, and interpreted in various ways.

Learning, especially for young children, needs to be equally fun and educational, and there is educational value in art-making activities. With Ferdinand we also promote reading for enjoyment — to laugh, feel or experience something new through music, dance, theater, and role-playing. These activities allow the children to identify with characters in the book and make comparisons that further their own understanding of their place in society.”

Evie Pena-Shives, Former Kindergarten Teacher, Walt Disney Magnet School, Former
Cool Classics! Teacher and Former Board member

“It was exactly what I was looking for. The school was abuzz with excitement. It was, ‘Oh, Mara’s here. Did you see whom she brought? Did you see the kids? They’re so excited!’ and it was obvious when you were here with your program, and it was first rate. It was quality.”

Dr. Kathleen Hagstrom, Former Principal, Walt Disney Magnet School