OUR TEAM

Our expertise is rooted in early childhood education and the arts! Meet our dynamic team members.
Natalie Monterastelli

Natalie Monterastelli

Executive Director | Co-Owner

nataliem@bubblesacademy.com
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About Natalie

Natalie Monterastelli feels beyond lucky to have found such a magical place that weaves together so many of her passions and nurtures children and families during the critical first 5 years of development!

Natalie’s creative path has taken from her hometown of Champaign, Illinois to New York City, London, Dublin, San Juan and beyond performing and teaching creative drama and improv. She is thrilled to have landed here at Bubble Academy, first in her role as the Director of Events, then as Senior Director of Programming and now as Executive Director & Co-Owner! Natalie loves witnessing the everyday wonders of little ones developing and growing, and she can’t think of a better place to do that than at Bubbles Academy!

Before her arrival at Bubbles Academy, Natalie earned her degree in Musical Theatre from Ball State University and then was off to New York City where she worked as an actress and a teaching artist. She was also an ensemble member with Freestyle Repertory Theatre, performing Off Broadway as well as in schools around New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Her work in schools inspired her to pursue her Master’s degree in Educational Theatre at New York University.

Her passion for Arts Education then brought her to Chicago where she was the Education Director for Victory Gardens Theatre, performer at Navy Pier and director for Beacon & Skyline Theatre Companies. Natalie then followed her dream of opening an Educational Theatre company in her hometown of Champaign, called Class Act, interactive education and events. Through Class Act, Natalie developed creative curriculum for all ages and led the drama and creative movement programming at Next Generation School and University Primary School, a Reggio Emilia-based lab school in Urbana, IL. Class Act continues to offer youth theatre classes and enrichment programming in Central Illinois.

These days, Natalie enjoys the challenges and learning opportunities that come from being a mom and running a business. She has fun sharing some of her observations and experiences on her blog, Stars Over the Mountain.  Natalie is grateful for the opportunity to interact with the wonderful families and team each day at Bubbles Academy!

Andy Shlensky

Andy Shlensky

Co-Owner

bigbubble@bubblesacademy.com
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About Andy

Bio Coming Soon!

Kirsten Uttich

Kirsten Uttich

Operations Director

kirsten@bubblesacademy.com
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About Kirsten

Kirsten Uttich brings a unique variety of expertise to Bubbles Academy — especially her tremendous service skills and a love for delighting an audience. She has been smiling wide and tapping her feet since the age of three, when she began her dance training.

Kirsten, originally from California, moved to Chicago after graduating from Millikin University with a BS in Fitness and Sport and a Minor in Dance. She met and fell in love with her now husband there and are growing their family with their cute little pup, Tuni.

Growing up in California, Kirsten performed and competed as a member of the Fancy Dancers, who toured all over the U.S. and internationally. She developed her organizational smarts as a personal assistant, an event planner and a spa manager, while also balancing an active dance agenda.

Kirsten is currently a company member of Chicago Tap Theatre, celebrating tap dance all over the world including a recent tour Spain, France, and all over the United States.

Megan Lowndes

Megan Lowndes

Admissions Manager

megan@bubblesacademy.com
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About Megan

Megan Lowndes, a native of Council Bluffs, Iowa, has been an important part of the Bubbles Academy team since 2010! She has lead many initiatives from hiring and on-boarding new team members, encouraging positive company culture, to working with families during their preschool enrollment process.

Megan studied communications, journalism and sociology at her alma mater, The University of Iowa. In Omaha, Meg gained invaluable experience as a teacher’s assistant and tutor in special education classrooms, kindergarten through sixth grade.

Her daily opportunity to greet the families that attend Bubbles Academy is a favorite one. She can also often be found in the classroom telling stories, assisting students, and sharing her sweet temperament and sense of humor. Outside the activity of our buzzing office, Meg enjoys exploring Chicago neighborhoods, traveling, listening to good tunes, and a good belly laugh with her family and friends. She is a weekly volunteer at Lurie Children’s Hospital and an everyday ecstatic aunt to her nephews!

Brittny Congleton

Brittny Congleton

Program Manager

brittny@bubblesacademy.com
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About Brittny

Brittny, a sassy Southern gal from Midway, Kentucky, is thrilled to be a part of Bubbles Academy — a place where she feels joyful, goofy and full of life! Studying Drama and Gender Studies at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky prepared her for a versatile career. The road to happiness led Brittny to Chicago in April 2010 to pursue her love of musical improvisation.

She attended Second City Training Center, and currently plays at iO Theatre, collaborates with others in the sketch and clowning community and writes her own original material. Brittny is a company member with Chicago Kids Company, a children’s theatre that develops musical fairytales with a twist! She is grateful to have creative outlets in which she has the opportunity to generate young smiles and never has to “grow up” completely.

 Kim Schiefelbein

Kim Schiefelbein

Senior Director of Music

kim@bubblesacademy.com
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About Kim

Kim Schiefelbein received what she calls her “dream job” in 2005 — when she began directing Bubbles Academy’s music and fitness programs! She holds a Bachelor of Music with a focus in Voice Performance from Miami University.

As Senior Director of Music, Kim collaborates with the music team to create enriching curriculum that will both entertain and engage young children and families. She leads our Professional Developmental Programming, partnering with area specialists to share their knowledge with us so we can further strengthen the support we provide families in reaching developmental milestones. She was excited to be able to use this knowledge to create Bubbles Academy’s newest class Bubble Reach, designed to help babies develop their core and upper body strength.

Kim, certified by the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, has been leading Chicago-area fitness programs since 1993. As the Stroller Fitness class teacher, she leads Moms in a positive, high-energy and transformative work out three times a week. She was honored to be chosen to represent Athleta as a Fitness Ambassador, as well as being voted as the 2013 “Mom on the Move” in the Bump Club Chicago’s BCBesties Awards.

Kim created Bubbles Academy’s Navigating the School Search series. She has developed a thorough knowledge base on the various school systems within Chicago.

Grateful to serve as a resource to parents, Kim is truly proud to pursue her favorite role everyday — being the mother to her daughter Laken.

 Ashley Newcomb

Ashley Newcomb

Events Coordinator

birthdays@bubblesacademy.com
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About Ashley

Bio Coming Soon!

Samantha Perry

Samantha Perry

Lead Preschool Teacher

sam@bubblesacademy.com
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About Sam

Samantha Perry joined Bubbles Academy in 2010. Sam’s responsibilities have included roles ranging from the coordination of children’s learning and play events to her current role as lead teacher in the 4’s preschool classroom. Prior to Sam’s role as a preschool lead teacher, Sam was lead teacher for the Meeting Milestones and Preparing for Preschool classes. Sam’s expertise in supporting the needs of children is essential to the success of her classroom.

Originally from Michigan, Sam moved to Chicago to earn her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University. During Sam’s college career, she discovered a passion for youth theatre and has been privileged to work with the Tony Award winning Minneapolis Children’s Theatre Company, The Chicago Children’s Theatre Company, Emerald City Theatre, and Theatre-Hikes Chicago. Sam’s most cherished theatrical experience was her work with The Chicago Children’s Theatre Company’s installation for children with autism and their families titled The Red Kite Project.

Sam is the recipient of the Harris Foundation’s Scholarship for Excellence in Leadership and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Child Development with a specialization in Administration at Erikson Institute. The Harris Excellence Scholarships are awarded annually to a select number of students with excellent academic credentials and a demonstrated commitment to the field of early childhood.

Sam is grateful for the opportunity to use both her theatrical expertise, and broad knowledge of needs of young children at Bubbles Academy’s arts-integrated preschool program. As an educator, Sam strives to inspire confidence, independence, curiosity and creativity in each of her students every day.

 Cynthia Bangert

Cynthia Bangert

Lead Preschool Teacher

cynthia@bubblesacademy.com
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About Cynthia

Cynthia Bangert, a Chicago native, is a performer, improviser and teaching artist all over town. Growing up in Edison Park as the younger middle child of 4 sisters, she started taking drama classes at the Park District and immediately decided being onstage was the most fun ever. She is enamored with making and sharing art with children of all ages.

She has a BFA in Theater from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and also trained at iO, The Second City Conservatory and One Group Mind. Moving back to Chicago after college, she immediately fell into the comedy rabbit hole and has been making things up onstage with wild abandon most days of the week ever since.

Cynthia has taught at the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program in the mountains of southern California, with the Chicago Children’s Theater’s Red Kite Program for children with autism and currently teaches improv and sketch comedy for The Second City Teen and Youth Program and at The Stage School in Park Ridge. She can be seen performing with Dogs at iO as well as every Friday at the Annoyance Theater.

She is delighted to join the brightly colored, smiley, silly, creative and energetic glittery cuddle puddle that is the Bubbles Academy Family!

When she isn’t teaching or performing you can find her biking (rain or shine) in a key lime helmet, reading 4 books at once, swimming in giant coffee mugs at assorted cafes, training for any event that will give out a medal at the end and attempting to make every dish in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything.

Anna Rhoads

Anna Rhoads

Preschool and Music Teacher

anna@bubblesacademy.com
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About Anna

Anna Rhoads is beyond excited to work at a place where she gets to share her love of music and imagination with a brand new generation – all while being supported by an amazing team of artists and creators who make Bubbles a magical place to be!

From her first time on stage at age 4, Anna knew that music and dance would be a lifelong devotion! While growing up in Jefferson City, Missouri, she spent all of her free time at the dance studio, acting in musicals, and singing in choirs or at vocal competitions. She then followed her dreams all the way to the State University of New York at Buffalo to study Musical Theater. With “big city dreams” in mind, Anna followed her heart home to the Midwest to pursue her love of music further. She is now a freelance vocalist in the Chicago area performing live on stage with Chicago Tap Theatre and working on other independent projects.

In her spare time, Anna likes to work on her sweet ukulele skills, read sci-fi fantasy novels, discover new restaurants in Chicago, and make delicious (and many times, experimental) baked goods!

Grace Stratton

Grace Stratton

Preschool and Music Teacher

grace@bubblesacademy.com
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About Grace

A native of Milwaukee, WI, Grace graduated from the University of Dayton in 2011 with a BA in Communication and Theatre. She has been working with Bubbles Academy for almost 3 years now and spent the last year and a half teaching in the Preparing for Preschool program. These experiences have inspired Grace to go back to school for Education and she is currently working towards a Master of Art in Teaching Elementary Education at National Louis University. Grace is thrilled to be joining the preschool team and is looking forward to meeting and teaching all the sweet students!

 Jessica Alldredge

Jessica Alldredge

Teacher

bigbubble@bubblesacademy.com
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About Jessica

Jessica started teaching at Bubbles Academy in the fall of 2015. She has enjoyed working as an assistant in preschool, leading story times, leading preparing for preschool classes, and teaching drama!

Growing up in Birmingham, Al, she attended middle school and high school at the Alabama School of Fine Arts majoring in theatre then received a BA in theatre performance from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. While in college, she discovered her love teaching. She started the a drama program for preschool through sixth grade at Creative Montessori School in Homewood, AL. She also enjoyed working with the Bards of Birmingham as an actor, mentor, acting coach, and director.

After moving to Chicago in 2012, Jessica worked as an intern, administrator, and teaching artist for American Theater Company. She has worked as a teaching artist for Dream Big and Mudlark Theater and as the Junior Camp Director for Northlight Theater’s summer camp. In addition to her work at Bubbles, she teaches for Northlight Theater and the Viola Project. She is a member of the 2015 cohort of the Teaching Artist Development Studio through the Center for Community Arts Partnerships at Columbia. Since moving to Chicago, Jessica has worked as an actor, producer, and collaborator with several theatre companies.

Jessica enjoys working with youth from age 6 months to high school. She believes that art builds community, develops independence and confidence, and teaches empathy and passionately believes in access to art for everyone.

Rich Ashworth

Rich Ashworth

Teacher

bigbubble@bubblesacademy.com
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About Rich

Rich Ashworth grew up on a farm in Rhode Island where he discovered his passion for music, movement, and adventure at a young age. He received his BFA in Dance in 2007  from the State University of New York at Buffalo. During his time in New York, Rich honed his skills as a dance instructor, performer, and choreographer. He is an experienced hip-hop dance battler and historian, teaching the concepts of unity, community, and peaceful expression to students of all ages.

Currently, Rich is the rehearsal director and a choreographer for Chicago Tap Theatre as well as a freelance choreographer in and around the Chicagoland Area. He is very excited to flex and stretch his culinary muscles as an assistant in the Tastebuddies Class here at Bubbles and is stoked to be a new face in a crowd of such wonderfully talented and welcoming people.

Amelia Bell

Amelia Bell

Teacher

bigbubble@bubblesacademy.com
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About Amelia

Amelia’s been moving and grooving from day one. Her parents once told her that as a child she “wasn’t content until she could walk on her own.” Walking quickly turned into dancing, and she’s never stopped. Originally from Houston, Texas, Amelia spent her childhood trying to do anything she considered “artistic” until finally finding her passion in theatre and dance. She graduated from Northwestern University where she was a Theatre major, Dance minor, and graduated with a certificate in Music Theatre.

Working at Bubbles is a dream come true! The mixture of imagination, adventure, art, and music is perfect for Miss Amelia’s energetic and creative spirit. She has been working with young children since she was a teenager, and loves the opportunity Bubbles gives to combine her love of children with her love of the arts. When not working, she can be found on stage performing, teaching herself how to play musical instruments, and baking treats for friends!

Teaira Burge

Teaira Burge

Teacher

bigbubble@bubblesacademy.com
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About Teaira

Bio Coming Soon!

Jason Clark

Jason Clark

Event and Teaching Assistant

bigbubble@bubblesacademy.com
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About Jason

Bio Coming Soon!

Katie Dimond

Katie Dimond

Speech Development Teacher

bigbubble@bubblesacademy.com
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About Katie

Katie is a dedicated, experienced, and licensed speech and language pathologist. Katie is energetic, fun loving, and kids love working with her! Katie has been practicing since 2008 and has extensive experience treating children with speech and language delays and disorders. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Speech and hearing Science at the University of Illinois in 2006 and received her Master’s degree in Communication Science and Disorders from the Saint Louis University in 2008. Katie is a certified speech and language pathologist in the state of Illinois, a member of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association, and owns Crossroads Speech Therapy in Chicago. Katie is also a mother of two young children who attend Bubbles classes. You also may recognize Katie from Shred415, she has taught exercise classes there since 2012. From a speech therapy client: Katie is a pleasure to work with and is a complete professional. She gives the kids exercises that are not only tailored to their needs, but actually get them excited and are fun for them to work on at home. The progress has been beyond what I thought was possible, and working with Katie has made a huge difference! I highly recommend Crossroads to anyone in the Chicago area looking for a Speech Pathologist.

Kathleen (K.C.) Dix

Kathleen (K.C.) Dix

Teacher

bigbubble@bubblesacademy.com
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About K.C.

Bio Coming Soon!

Veronica Garza

Veronica Garza

Concert Performer

bigbubble@bubblesacademy.com
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About Veronica

Veronica is a Pennsylvania State University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. She recently moved to Chicago from Pittsburgh to pursue a career in performance —bringing with her a bright history of acting in musicals, plays and operas.

Veronica is thrilled to teach young children and share with them her love of music. She can be spotted strumming her guitar, kayaking or painting in her free time. Love a good show tune? She is always up for learning new ones!

Veronica views Bubbles Academy as a pure source of positive energy in her life and in the lives of all families who enter its doors!

Victoria Golden

Victoria Golden

Teacher

bigbubble@bubblesacademy.com
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About Victoria

Victoria Golden is a native of Louisville, Kentucky. After earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish Studies at American University, she moved to Chicago, where she immediately fell in love with the bright, fun atmosphere at Bubbles! After spending the last several years working at the Girl Scouts, she is so excited to be back teaching at Bubbles Academy. She is also a company member of Barrel of Monkeys, a group of teaching artists that teach creative writing in Chicago Public Schools and adapts the students’ work into theater. In her spare time, she loves playing music with friends, playing Telephone Pictionary (aka “The Best Game in the World”), and hanging out at the beach!

Monica Hunt

Monica Hunt

Office and Sibling Care Assistant

bigbubble@bubblesacademy.com
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About Monica

Bio Coming Soon!

 

J.D. Kostyk

J.D. Kostyk

Teacher

bigbubble@bubblesacademy.com
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About J.D.

Bio Coming Soon!

 

Matt Perutz

Matt Perutz

Teacher

bigbubble@bubblesacademy.com
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About Matt

Bio Coming Soon!

 

 Alexis Pontidoro

Alexis Pontidoro

Teacher and Concert Performer

bigbubble@bubblesacademy.com
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About Alexis

Madison, Wisconsin native Alexis first fell in love with music when she began taking Suzuki piano lessons at the age of four. Since then, she has added voice, guitar, bass, drums and ukulele to her repertoire. She studied Art and English at the Madison Area Technical College before moving to Chicago to pursue a career in music in 2009. Since arriving in the Windy City, Alexis has combined her love for music and kids by working as a nanny and a children’s guitar and ukulele instructor. In her free time, she enjoys concocting new vegan recipes, writing songs and singing and playing guitar with her band. Alexis is very happy to have found a home at Bubbles Academy, a place she considers to be the perfect environment for a growing creative soul.

Zoe Sapienza

Zoe Sapienza

Teacher and Event Coordinator

bigbubble@bubblesacademy.com
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About Zoe

Bio Coming Soon!

 

 Vinny Tangherlini

Vinny Tangherlini

Event Coordinator and Teaching Assistant

bigbubble@bubblesacademy.com
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About Vinny

Vinny Tangherlini has always loved pretending to be somebody else! Growing up in Southern California, he was first introduced to improvisation and theatre in middle school through the Comedy Sportz professional league and the high school league at Tesoro, the school he would eventually attend and graduate with the coveted “Titan of the Year” award, the highest honor anyone at the school could achieve for academic excellence, extracurricular distinction (in his case, being a member of the Varsity Comedy Sportz improv team and participating in numerous plays and musicals—often times being roped into doing them because of his quick wit and impressive mustache for a sixteen year-old), and school and community service (working as a high school theatre critic through the CAPPIES program where many of his reviews were published in the Orange County Register). In addition, Vinny served as a tutor and office assistant at Pathfinders Learning Center, an afterschool and over the summer tutoring program for children with Dyslexia and other forms of learning disabilities. It was here that he started to discover his love for teaching.

While attending UC Irvine, Vinny continued using his creativity and teaching skills while pursuing a degree in Drama. He captained the troupe Improv Revolution for four years, running rehearsals, performing weekly, and implementing a workshop program to teach students, faculty, staff, and members of the community improvisation through weekly sessions targeting how not only improv can be an art form, but also how it relates to various fields and can be practically applied in any area of study. Further, he helped run the Coup de Comedy festival, a completely free celebration of improv, stand-up, and sketch comedy on the UCI campus. He worked at the Writing Center as a Peer Tutor, assisting undergraduate and graduate students daily with college level writing including grammar and syntax, organization and structure, brainstorming, and research and served as a teaching assistant for his professors who knew of his dream to teach.

He couldn’t quite escape performing in plays though, regularly being asked to participate in projects during the school year and the New Swan Shakespeare Festival over the summer because of his quick wit and impressive mustache for a twenty-one year-old. In his final year, he was part of the UTeach program where he designed, created, and taught his own university course on the history of improvisation to a class of twenty undergraduates. He is a proud PhiBeta Kappa.

After moving to Chicago two years ago, Vinny is a published poet, a jack-of- all-trades at Blue Man Group, a celebrated improviser, and a teaching and event assistant at Bubbles. He is a graduate of iO and the Annoyance as well as the CIC theatre improvisation training programs and currently performs and teaches improv regularly around the city. He loves getting to explore teaching with younger kids at Bubbles and utilizing his improvisation skills to make each class different and exciting. He keeps his coworkers, students, and friends laughing with his quick wit and impressive mustache for a (in the words of most Bubbles kiddos) one hundred year-old.

Maddie Shewchuk

Maddie Shewchuk

Teacher and Event Assistant

bigbubble@bubblesacademy.com
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About Maddie

Bio Coming Soon!

 

BUBBLES ACADEMY

 

2184 North Elston
Chicago, IL 60614

Phone:  312-944-7677

Contact and Directions

 

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We offer you access to a compassionate team of teaching artists; a bright community of families to form lifelong friendships with, and overall piece of mind that the experiences enjoyed with us invaluably contribute to your child’s growth, happiness and confidence.

Empowering children with the gifts of confidence, curiosity, and creativity.

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