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Grit2 Advisory Board

Sara Courington

Downers Grove South High School

Associate Principal


Prior to her role as Associate Principal for Student Services at DGS, Sara was a classroom special education teacher, Dean of Students, Special Education Department Chairperson and an Associate Principal for Curriculum and Instruction.  She received her BS from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and M.Ed. in special Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a M.A. in Educational Leadership from North Central College. She is a resident of Downers Grove.


Michele Doose

Pierce Downers Elementary



Michele is a 6th grade teacher at Pierce Downer Elementary School.  She grew up in Downers Grove, attending Highland, Herrick and DG North.  

 has been a teacher in D58 since 2003, experiencing 

both the middle school (Herrick) and elementary settings.  Michele holds a BA from Lewis University and a Masters from St. Francis.


Jade Parks

Downers Grove Public Library

Teen Services Coordinator


Jade manages the Teen material collections, provides outreach services, and coordinates programming for middle school and high school students. She holds a BA in Writing and Literature from SFUAD and a Masters of Library and Information Science from Dominican University.

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Dr. Erin Ludwick

Downers Grove North High School

Associate Principal


Erin currently services as Associate Principal of Student Services at Downers Grove North High School.  She earned her Bachelor's degree at Illinois State University and two Masters degrees at the University of Illinois. She is currently working towards her Doctorate in Equity and Education Policy at the University of Illinois.

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Tricia Miller

Whittier Elementary



Trish is a sixth grade teacher at Whittier Elementary and has been teaching for more than 30 years in a variety of settings. She earned a Bachelors of Arts from St. Bonaventure University in New York and Masters of Education from Buffalo State College. Trish grew up on the east coast and has lived in Downers Grove for 20 years with her husband and six children.


Sandra McDonnell

Navigate Adolescence

Executive Director

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Leslie Murphy


Education Specialist


Leslie Murphy works as an Education Specialist in a partial hospitalization program helping patients who struggle with mental health.  She also is a certified Dyslexia Specialist who has worked with children of all ages for over 15  years. In addition to being a lifelong educator and learner, Leslie is a mother of two boys ages 16 and 13 years old and a 10 year-old girl.  


Matt Neustadt

O'Neill Middle School



A lifelong resident of Downers Grove, Matt is currently teaching 7th grade math at O'Neill.  He earned his Bachelor's Degree at National Louis University, Master's Degree from Northern Illinois University, and a second Master's Degree at Western Governors University.  He lives in Downers Grove with his wife and two teenage sons.

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Peggy Tomchek, M.S., LCPC

Benedictine University

Counseling Coordinator

Peggy has lived in Downers Grove for ten years, and is a married mother of two teenagers. As a Licensed Professional Counselor she enjoys working with adolescents and wants to make a lasting impact on the well-being of our teenagers while working to foster real connections.

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