About Us » New Staff 2020-21

New Staff 2020-21

Position: Assistant Principal 

Greetings Decatur Families,

It is with a joyful heart that I introduce myself to each of you as your Assistant Principal.  What most excites me about joining the Decatur family is how closely our values and philosophy for educating children are aligned.  As a collaborative leader I know that schools thrive within supportive cultures. Children must have people who love them, believe in them and are committed to their growth and success.  By taking into account students’ strengths, culture and individuality, every child is able to push beyond their edges of growth to explore new levels of learning. 

With over two decades of experience as an educator, I have developed a relentless devotion to providing students instruction that is both valuable and meaningful.  I taught most grades within the elementary setting, with a passion for literacy for 18 years.  As an administrator of 3 years, I found most joy when I was participating in classrooms, learning from students and educators supporting great teaching and learning.  There is nothing more invigorating than being around children that are discovering, creating and growing right before your eyes.

During the last 2 years I worked at the network level within CPS where I partnered directly with principals and educators to bring about school improvement for 20 schools.  I found success within this work by establishing trusting relationships and incorporating my expertise to create systems and structures that brought about sustained improvement. 

As a proud CPS product and parent, I count myself blessed to serve my community.  I have three amazing daughters Ariel, Grace and Joy. Grace is preparing to become an educator herself, which I find incredible that she wants to do this impossible yet incredibly rewarding work. I have the perfect grandson, Levi (you can tell I'm a newer grandma) and I am married to the bravest firefighter in Chicago, Eddie. We are both foodies and love exploring new recipes in the kitchen, we recently made sushi and were blown away! Please do not hesitate to give me recommendations to great food joints or new recipes. During quarantine I discovered the joy of taking long walks (with Levi of course) and stopping to literally smell the roses. 

I look forward to meeting the amazing Decatur students and forging strong relationships with each of you.  Yolanda agrees with the traditional African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I am honored to be a part of the Decatur village that will continue to uplift your child to learn in a safe, secure and happy school.  

-Marisol Negrón



Position: Middle School Science Teacher

Dear Decatur Classical Community,


It is an honor to become a part of the learning community here at Decatur and I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. Let me start with my family. As you can see from the photo, my wife, Megan, and I have two children, Hank and Ruby, and Hank’s service dog, Dosido. Megan is also blessed to serve students and their families in the education field at Niles North High School. Hank attends Park therapeutic school in Evanston and Ruby will be a junior within CPS at Von Steuben High School as part of their Scholars Program.


I am a 17 year veteran teacher having served students and families from all across Chicago. I bring with me a wide body of teaching experience having taught students from grades 3-8, primarily in the subject areas of Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts. I hold a Master of Arts in Teaching from National-Louis University, and in recent years I was awarded a Golden Apple in Teaching Fellowship and MSUrbanSTEM Fellowship. I also have earned National Board Teacher Certification in the area of Adolescent and Young Adult/ Literacy.


I am extremely passionate about teaching and exploring Science with middle school students! My philosophy of teaching science revolves around guiding students into collaboratively exploring phenomena, both inside and outside of our classroom. Then, while using The Next Generation Science Standards, students devise their own evidence-based hypotheses, test their hypotheses with their own designed experiments and/or engineering creations, and after careful data analysis, they apply their language skills in a variety of ways to communicate their findings to a wider audience. Their audiences sometimes include students from other schools and locations, as well as professional scientists and engineers from around the world via Skype in the Classroom. I continually seek out opportunities within the greater community that not only quench my own thirst for teaching Science, but also to provide more authentically real-world learning experiences for students to explore together as they grow into our world’s future problem solvers. In due time, I hope to bring some of these same high quality and cutting edge STEM partnerships to Decatur so our students can learn alongside actual scientists and engineers from local institutions like Northwestern University’s Science in Society Program, and even engage with STEM professionals from around the world through Skype in the Classroom.


Lastly, I excitedly look forward to meeting and building relationships with everyone here at Decatur and I am so grateful to become part of the Decatur community as we work together to provide the best for our students and families!




Gerard Kovach

NBCT, MSUrbanSTEM Fellow & Golden Apple Fellow of Middle School Students

Decatur Classical School

Position: Interim Dance Teacher

Matthew Echevarria is joining our team this August.  Born and raised in the Chicago land area, Matthew is a Dance Educator who has danced since he could walk. Matthew began his formal dance training at York Community High school and continued his passion for dance at Illinois State University where he graduated with a BA in Dance Education. Since his time at Illinois State, he has taught at studios and all around Chicago public schools. Teaching a great variety of styles and genres that include Jazz, Ballet, Modern, Salsa, Bachata, Hip Hop and many more. When not teaching dance, you can see him perform with dance companies Desueno and Lawson Dance Theater. Matthew is super excited to teach dance at Decatur Classical school and welcomes anyone who wishes to learn more to approach him. Aside from dance Matthew also has many hobbies that include slam poetry, crafting, reading, and baking to name a few.

Position: Special Education Classroom Assistant


Shazia Siddique has been working with CPS for the past 17 years in different roles. She has worked as a substitute teacher, teacherś assistant and the last 10 of those years as a special education classroom assistant. Shazia loves working with children and is still amazed by the creative as well as ingenious ideas that the children come up with on a daily basis. She loves reading fiction, especially mysteries.

She  has a masters degree in English literature, a bachelor's degree in English literature and a minor in Home Economics with a focus on early childhood. Shazia Siddique was born in Pakistan, but calls Chicago home. She is a wife of a US Army Veteran as well as a proud Mom of three beautiful children.