Meet Our Team

Lindsay Kaplan


Lindsay has been working in the education world since 2008. She began her career as an early elementary teacher at a private school in Chicago and loved it so much, she stayed for twelve years!

She earned her B.A. in Journalism from Indiana University and her M.Ed in Elementary Education from DePaul University.

In the spring of 2020, Lindsay created MotivatED Minds to provide individual and small-group learning experiences for students of all ages.

Lindsay also regularly works with families in a consulting capacity and helps them with everything from finding the best provider for their child's specific needs to navigating the private school admission process.

In her free time, Lindsay enjoys reading, watching comedy with her husband, Brian and taking extra long walks with her two yellow labs, Sully and Rider.

Claire Robinson

Claire is a lifelong learner who thrives on helping students grow. She received both her Undergraduate and Master's degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with an ESL endorsement. Claire is constantly enrolling in new courses to stay current with her research and practices as an educator.

Claire currently teaches second grade in the Chicago suburbs and couldn't love it more! She is passionate about creating personalized tutoring sessions with her students to instill a love of learning in them.

In her free time she enjoys reading lots of books, exploring new places in Chicago, and spending time with her friends and family.

Alec Josiah

Alec was MotivatED Minds first hire in 2020 and we are thrilled to welcome him back to our team!

Alec has worked with children for many years. His passion for education was first ignited while studying at the University of Pennsylvania, when was a Head Teacher in a community service dance organization called CityStep. Here, he taught dance and mentored students through the arts in public schools in West and South Philadelphia.

After graduating, Alec moved to Chicago to teach Preschool in Gage Park as a Teach for America Corps member. He graduated from the Erikson Institute in 2019 with a MS in Early Childhood Education and has worked as an Early Childhood teacher in Chicago Public Schools for the last year and a half.

Alec loves building strong relationships with children and families and loves to see his students grow and learn.

He brings his authentic self into his teaching using his experience in dance, Spanish and more to make his teaching fun, creative, entertaining, and personalized for each and every student.

Heather Banu

Learning Specialist

Heather has been working as an educator since 2006. For the past sixteen years, she has worked as a teacher of diverse learners in Chicago Public Schools.

She earned a B.A. in Theatre and Psychology from Purdue University and her Master's degree in Elementary Education from DePaul University.

Heather is a National Board Certified teacher and a mentor for teachers pursuing their certification. She is also a Level 2 Certified Wilson Reading System Instructor, which has provided her training on a program that offers direct instruction on phonics to struggling readers.

At her current school, Heather has dedicated much of her time and energy into providing more students with targeted interventions. She is continuously working on building her knowledge for new and effective interventions and developing her understanding for how to support students' social emotional needs.

In her free time, Heather enjoys spending time with her husband, two children and their pet dog and cat. She loves spending time outdoors and traveling to visit family and friends.

Nicole Gaggiano

Nicole has had a passion for education for as long as she can remember. She received her Undergraduate degree in Middle Childhood Education from Miami University of Ohio. She also earned a Specialist endorsement degree which enables her to work with English Language learners. Nicole is currently working towards her Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction at Concordia University. 

Nicole is certified to teach all core subject areas, but she currently teaches sixth-grade Science in a public school in the Chicago suburbs.

She structures her tutoring sessions to meet the interests and needs of the individual students, through the relationships she builds and the activities she creates.

Emily Gajos

Emily is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She earned her degree in Middle Grades Education with concentrations in Math, Science and Spanish. She is currently working on earning her Master's degree in Middle Grades Science Education from Northwestern University.

Emily has been teaching in the Chicago suburbs for four years and is passionate about building strong relationships with her students and tailoring her lessons to meet the needs of all learners. She loves working with Middle School students because they are curious, open minded, creative and fantastic problem-solvers.

Emily enjoys tutoring because she gets to engage with students in a way that is personalized for their learning style. She also loves to witness their growth as learners.

In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, exploring new restaurants, and traveling to places she can snowboard or hike.  

Corey Kibort

Learning Specialist

Corey is an Early Childhood Special Education teacher in the north Chicago suburbs. She graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Special Education and she received her Master's degree and Early Childhood Special Education certificate from National Louis University. Corey also has specialized endorsements in Reading and English as a Second Language (ESL).

When she is not in the classroom, Corey loves spending time with her family, which includes her husband Max, baby Tali, and dog Josie. They love to take walks, cook dinner, and watch movies together.

As a special education teacher, Corey loves to dive deep into student needs and help to figure out how to help them reach their full potential.

Michaela Skweres

Michaela is a graduate of the University of Illinois. She earned her degree in Elementary Education and she is currently teaching fourth grade in downtown Chicago.

Michaela is very passionate about motivating her students to reach their full potential. She loves to help them build skills to shape them to become lifelong learners. She also strives to build strong relationships with both her students and their families

In her free time, Michaela loves to read, cook, and try new restaurants in the city!

Ellie Begg

Ellie earned her Undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa in Elementary Education with an endorsement in reading. She just started her fourth year of teaching first grade in Mount Prospect, with fellow MotivatED Minds tutor, Claire Robinson.

Ellie grew up in Iowa and moved to Chicago after graduation to experience life in a big city. Even though COVID has put a bit of a damper on that experience, she has loved every minute of it. 

Ellie loves to see students fall in love with school and learning. It brings her so much joy to see those internal “clicks” for a child and to feel their excitement and achievement. Ellie believes that even the smallest wins are worth celebrating and praising. 

Emily Elfering

Emily is a first-grade teacher in the Northern Suburbs. She earned her Undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois in Elementary Education, with an endorsement in English as a Second Language, and a minor in Spanish.

Emily's passion for teaching early learners transfers into her tutoring sessions, as she is always finding creative ways to meet the interests and needs of her individual students.

In her free time, Emily enjoys spending time with my friends and family and taking long walks through her Chicago neighborhood.

Brooke Harrison

Learning Specialist

Brooke has been in the education world for fourteen years, primarily working in private schools throughout Chicago. She earned her Undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Indiana University and her Master's degree in Reading with a Reading Specialist endorsement from Loyola University. 

Brooke has worked with a myriad of age groups during her years as an educator and tutors students in all core subject areas. She structures her sessions thoughtfully and enjoys learning about her students' outside interests and applying those interests to their academic content.

In her free time, Brooke enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling and trying new restaurants.

Stacy Baughman

Stacy currently teaches second and fourth grade science at a public school in Chicago. She attended Buffalo State College where she earned her Bachelor's degree in Biology and her Master's degree in Science Education.

Stacy is motivated by meeting students at their level and giving them the appropriate tools to grow academically and socially. She builds strong relationships with students that help them foster a lifelong love for learning. When Stacy is not in the classroom, she enjoys hiking and reading. 

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