Whittier Leadership

Andy Kramer 
Principal Andy

Andy has taught 3rd grade and 5th grade in Boynton Beach, Florida, Chicago Public Schools, and Northbrook prior to joining Waukegan Public Schools. While in Florida he was awarded the South Florida Teacher of the Year and National Teacher of the Year nominee. Andy has spent the past four years as the Assistant Principal at Little Fort Elementary School in Waukegan District 60.

Andy’s wide range of experiences have developed a sound understanding of how to serve people. Serving those he leads has shaped his approach to becoming a transformational leader. He leads by example and with his colleagues to build up their capacity. Andy believes that students come first and every staff member plays a vital role in supporting students. It’s been his pleasure to build relationships with staff and parents to provide the best learning experiences for students. He has helped transform student behaviors through community development and restorative justice. Andy has also shaped the school's approach to monitoring student data. He has coached and trained staff to understand standards and develop bite sized objectives and measurable exit tickets. This focus has led to teachers building their capacity to differentiate lessons and use data to drive instruction.

Andy has been eager to get an opportunity to lead a building as the principal. He brings a supportive approach that believes in honest decision making with specific transferable feedback. Andy passionately believes in the transforming Whittier Elementary School into a International Baccalaureate school!!

Katherine Peregrin
Instructional Coach / ILT Lead


Katherine Peregrine has been in the Waukegan district since 2004, where she has been a 3rd grade teacher, Reading Specialist, and now Instructional Coach. Her favorite aspect of coaching is finding new strategies to use in coaching cycles to watch students grow.  Katherine is a member of the MTSS team, IB team, and lead ILT. Her favorite thing about Whittier is the family feel!

Natalie Vanlaningham
5th Grade Teacher / IB Coach


Natalie Vanlaningham has been teaching at Whittier since 2011. She taught 4th grade for several years before moving up to 5th, where she teaches Math and Science. She has an ESL endorsement, Masters of Science in Instructional Technology, and is a National Board certified teacher. As an adjunct professor at Trinity International University, Natalie has grown in her understanding of the Science and Social Studies standards, and is energized by the ways students engage in these subject areas. Serving both on the Instructional Leadership Team and the IB team, Natalie is passionate about all students engaging in differentiated and student-led exploration. She's excited to see how Whittier's students grow as global citizens this school year.

Tamara Feldman
3rd Grade Teacher


Tamara Feldman brings a wealth of experience, encompassing 20 years of dedicated teaching, with a decade devoted to nurturing and contributing to the wonderful Whittier Wolf Pack. Throughout her fourteen-year time with Waukegan, she acquired invaluable expertise, earning both an ESL endorsement and a master's degree in curriculum and instruction. As a dedicated member of the 3rd-grade team, Ms. Feldman excels as a departmentalized educator, specializing in math and social studies.

Her extensive career has seen her flourish in various roles; for nine years, she served as a district technology innovation coach, leveraging her skills to drive progress. Presently, she stands as an integral part of both the ILT and PBIS teams, channeling her experience and insights towards collaborative leadership and positive behavior interventions.

Diana Jimenez
2nd Grade Teacher


Mrs. Jimenez graduated from Lake Forest College in December of 2018 with a double major in elementary education and English literature. She began working in Waukegan right out of college because she have a passion for this community as she grew up here. Mrs. Jimenez came to Whittier in 2022 and she is so happy to be a part of such a wonderful school full of capable leaders and students who will lead the world. She is happy to be a part of the PBIS team, leadership team, and lead a book club for 2nd grade students. She is currently working on my Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language. As a dual teacher, she believes in the capabilities of our English learners and will strive to be the best educator for them by providing a warm and safe environment where they can explore and grow academically and emotionally. Being bilingual is a superpower and she models that to her students every day. Go Wolf Pack!

Alex (Ames) Burks
School Psychologist/MTSS Lead


Alex has been the School Psychologist at Whittier Elementary School since 2018. She loves being a School Psychologist because she a passion for helping students and families find the support they need. As the School Psychologist she has the unique opportunity to work with students, parents, and teachers across all grade levels to help students at all stages of learning. Alex believes that Whittier is an amazing school community that has so many great teams working together to help students foster curiosity within their instruction, develop a passion for learning, and self-advocate around their own growth. Always feel free to reach out to her with any questions!

Angelica Corona
Instructional Support Teacher (IST)


Mrs. Corona has been at Whittier Elementary School since 2005 where she has taught kindergarten and second grade and is currently the Instructional Support teacher.  She is a member of the MTSS team, IB team, and Instructional Leadership Team. She has a passion for small group instruction and believes in fostering a nurturing learning experience through collaboration, high expectations, and differentiated learning opportunities.  Her goal is to encourage curiosity and inquiry to create self-motivated lifelong learners and leaders.

Victoria Labelle
5th Grade Teacher / IB Coach


Ms. Victoria Labelle is a member of the fifth-grade team and a part of the dual-language program. She also is the IB instructional coach helping to implement the new program at Whittier.This will be her third year at Whittier and she recently joined the instructional leadership team. Previously, Ms. Labelle taught the IB program in both schools in Mexico and Colombia. She uses this previous experience to help support the IB implementation team. Fostering a growth mindset in students and creating spaces for inquiry-based learning are two things she is passionate about. Ms. Labelle also finished her masters degree in teaching during the 2023 school year. 

Bess De La Cruz
Art Teacher


Bess began teaching art at Whittier in 2018, first as an itinerant teacher along with traveling to two other schools, then full-time at Whittier beginning in the fall of 2019. Her Bachelors of Science degree in Illustration came from Indiana Wesleyan University and she worked in the visual arts for two years before becoming a marketing and graphic design coordinator for a company for over four years. 
As she made the transition to teaching, she completed her licensure, art education endorsement, and Masters of Science in Teaching and Learning from Concordia University Wisconsin. She is passionate about building student agency, inquiry, and knowledge through the visual arts. Bess also currently serves as a member of the PBIS team at Whittier.

Melissa Ramlow
5th Grade Teacher & School-Based Equity Facilitator

Melissa Ramlow began her public school teaching career at Whittier in 2015. She has taught both 4th and 5th grade and is currently a 5th grade departmentalized ELA and social studies teacher. She recently became one of the Waukegan district's first school-based equity facilitators (SBEF); in this role her goal and hope is to make every person entering the doors of Whittier feel welcome and valued. She is a member of ILT and PBIS teams.

Prior to working in Waukegan, Melissa began her teaching career as a diverse learning educator. She is thrilled to be teaching in Waukegan, especially at Whittier, where she is excited to watch her students become internationally-minded lifelong learners.

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