Catholic, Independent Elementary Schools Serving Chicago's Children Since 1876


Primary School, Pre-Kindergarten-2nd Grade

Where a love for learning begins

We focus on instilling confidence and a sense of belonging in these early years at Sacred Heart. Teachers and administrators work to know each child individually and to provide the kind of daily encouragement that allows all children to flourish. Kindness, respect and responsibility are all qualities we actively seek to affirm in our youngest students.

We also work to lay a solid foundation of skills that will support later learning. In the Primary School, we carefully and purposefully balance developmental growth and academic achievement. Early learning cannot be rushed. No two children learn the same way, or at the same pace, and so we make sure there are enough adults on board—homeroom teachers, teaching assistants, special area teachers, an enrichment coordinator and a reading support teacher—so that learning opportunities can be individualized in ways that benefit each child.

Children this age learn best by doing, which is why our curriculum is organized around hands-on activities in line with the children’s genuine interests. Children explore topics like “dinosaurs” and “penguins.” They publish class books and perform plays they have written. They do the work of real scientists as they investigate the life cycle of a butterfly or how plants grow. They build French and Spanish vocabulary through games and role-playing. They write daily.

Our goal is for students to leave the Primary School with confidence in their abilities, a sense of joy in and responsibility for their new school family and the security that all adults are working together to help them grow to be their best selves.

Our Focus is the Whole Child

The Sacred Heart Primary School places children on the path to a life-long love of learning. Our curriculum encourages curiosity, stimulates thinking and helps to instill in each child a sense of self-confidence. The Primary School includes kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade.

The Sacred Heart Approach

The Primary School faculty works to welcome students to the Sacred Heart community. Children build the foundations for their careers as students and lifelong learners in a nurturing and stimulating environment. Teachers are well versed in the developmental stages specific to this age group and work to instill an excitement about learning and an eagerness to form community. The coed kindergarten lays the groundwork for the Schools' co-institutional model, allowing boys and girls to get to know one another. In first grade, children break into single gender classrooms, allowing teachers to tailor the learning in their classes to the needs of each student using their knowledge of brain research, of educational theory and of each child in the room.

Seventy to 80 boys and girls are enrolled at each grade level. Children are divided into five coed classes in the kindergarten, each with its own teacher and assistant. Children in 1st and 2nd grade are in single-gender classes, each with its own teacher and teaching assistant.


Nat Wilburn
Head of Schools

Lisa Zimmer
Head of Primary School

Sally Sharp
Head of Student Life

Marjie Murphy
Director of Curriculum & Instruction


Senior Kindergarten
Apples - Lead: Michelle Keen, Assistant: Nicholas Nagata
Bears - Lead: Donna Terry, Assistant: Gabriela Zarate
Caterpillars - Lead: Melanie Blackmon, Assistant: Javier Perez
Dolphins - Lead: Michele D'Andrea, Assistant: Julianna Leone
Elephants - Lead: Betsy Fallon, Assistant: Andrea Lenaburg

1st Grade – Lead: Ashley Russell, Assistant: Breanna MacDonald / Lead: Jessica Hotz, Assistant: Maria Rodriguez
2nd Grade – Lead: Julie Perona, Assistant: Marie Regala / Lead: Sheryl Henderson, Assistant: Hannah Schutter

1st Grade – Lead: Margo Oelerich, Assistant: Kaylee Williams / Lead: Stacy Gensheimer, Assistant: Mary Pennington
2nd Grade – Lead: Caitlin Coyne, Assistant: Margaret Faller / Lead: Jill Renn, Assistant: Alexa Feiereisel

Diana Cortez

Lisa Senft

Tim Mikolay

Physical Education
Georgina Sagert

Katherine Gates

Clarisa Vela

Student Services
Paula Fusco, Enrichment Coordinator
Kathleen Roderer, Reading Support Teacher
Caitlin Tobin, Reading Specialist

Technology Integration Specialist
Kristin Lagerquist