Founder & President: Joannie Collens
After building a successful career in marketing over a twenty-plus year period, Joannie Collens was at a point of professional reassessment. After working for such prestigious companies as IBM, Raytheon, Alberto Culver, NutraSweet, The Chicago Board Options Exchange, and as an independent consultant, she wanted to leverage her talents and interests in a more meaningful way to help others. Teaching was always an integral aspect to Joannie’s responsibilities, and she had always enjoyed mentoring and educating young people.
In addition, Joannie was always actively involved in her children’s education. Her involvement led to a more intimate perspective about the life of an educator. She learned that schools can fail good students: often, students can have an undiagnosed learning disability that goes undetected until they take standardized tests. Such issues are often not caught until junior year, and consequently, students and their families experience frustration and anxiety because they do not have any idea of why standardized test scores do not reflect student capability and school performance.
Joannie has a MAT (Masters in Teaching) from National Louis University. She also holds an MBA in Marketing from Loyola Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL and a BSJ in Advertising from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. In the past she has been an active volunteer and participant in community and school programs in Lincolnwood, IL, including serving as an elected Trustee for the Lincolnwood Public Library.
Philosophy of Education
I believe in the power of education to transform lives. I also believe that every student has the potential to learn; the key is to identify and accommodate the learning style of every student. I utilize inquiry-based teaching, together with direct and indirect strategies, to help students use initiative, critical thinking ability, and problem solving skills. As an educator, I try and serve as a guide and facilitator, a coach and a mentor, to discover and grow along with my students. I am the ultimate “people-person”: intuitive, sensitive, compassionate, understanding. Combining these qualities with my energy, commitment, humor, and enthusiasm allow me to personalize my teaching in order to foster a stimulating and productive environment.
I always strive to make sure that ideas are energetically presented so that minds are challenged to explore and evolve to higher order thinking. Also, students feel comfortable and safe because they know I care and will do what I can to help them learn. I am sensitive to the fact that every student has unique learning challenges; sometimes, there can even be an undetected learning disability. If I think that a student needs additional assistance, I am proactive in working with the family to address these needs.
Students learn best when the material is relevant to their lives. Having worked my way up the corporate ladder, I can provide those relevant answers because I know what it takes to succeed. Employers look for effective communicators: people who can express ideas, both in written form and verbally. The most successful employees have the ability to find answers and the confidence and resourcefulness to solve problems. These are skills that I try and help my students develop and refine via skillful, interactive teaching.
Having successfully raised two teenagers, I believe in the power of partnerships. Like every parent, I am very familiar with the stresses and concerns facing families today. I have always taken an active role in my children’s education, and I believe that synergies are optimized when parents and teachers work together as a team. Those teachers who have best understood and motivated my children also knew and worked with my husband and me. There is power in teamwork: when a student knows that parents and teachers have high expectations, a more effective support system results which enhances the student’s ability to stretch and achieve.
The dynamic nature of education means that there is constant evolution; there is always a new idea or approach. I am committed to my own ongoing education and development and actively pursue any and all opportunities to share ideas with colleagues and to further my knowledge and skills. Just as we expect and encourage our children and students to focus on education, so too, should adults serve as effective role models by setting an example with our own continuing education. Knowledge alleviates the possibility of stagnation; a commitment to learning holds the promise of transformation.