Diana Kon C.A.S., M. Ed., Co-Executive Director

I hold a Post Graduate Degree in Educational Leadership, a Graduate Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and Undergraduate Degree in Elementary Education and Psychology from National Louis University. I maintain certificates in General Administration, Secondary Education and Elementary Education with Special Education Endorsements.

I have been blessed with outstanding professional opportunities and mentors. Prior to coming to teach at the Orthogenic School (over thirteen years ago!), I opened the Therapeutic Day School at Children's Memorial and taught there for four years. I also collaborated in a variety of Learning Disability Diagnostic Clinics, A.D.D centers, and gifted learners programs. As a young teacher, I gained invaluable experience working as the teacher for the Children's Unit at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital where I first learned about the concept of milieu and was encouraged to develop academic programming that incorporated this approach. Through these experiences I have facilitated meetings, presented at, or consulted with numerous schools and school districts throughout the Midwest. I also have almost twenty years of experience (oh my!) working as Jewish Educator in Chicago's North Suburbs.

As an educator, I have come to learn that teaching is not just about the simple act of imparting information -- it is about everything you do, think, experience, and learn. In my opinion, good teaching takes your whole, complete, authentic self. Students know the difference! There is no school, in my experience, that more richly embraces this notion and supports teachers to develop significant and meaningful relationships with students than the Orthogenic School. It is for this reason that I came to teach at the Orthogenic School over twelve years ago - and it is for this reason that I have remained.

Peter Myers Psy D., Co-Executive Director

My education and traning is in Clinical Psychology. I graduated from a small liberal arts college in Michigan, Kalamazoo College. I earned my Master's Degree at the University of Chicago, while working at the Orthogenic School. My Doctorate is from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology.

Most of my professional experiences have been at the Orthogenic School. I started out as a counselor in a younger boy's dormitory and then was promoted to the Coverage Position, the Head Counselor Position, and the Assistant Director for Residential Services. I have also worked in a private psychological testing services office as a psychometrician; in a local hospital emergency room as the crisis intervention specialist; in an outpatient clinic as a therapist and early childhood intervention specialist; and I currently am a part-time Visiting Lecture at Northeastern Illinois University. During my clinical training I worked at a large intermediate care facility for chronically mentally ill adults, at Cook County Jail as a therapist, and at a large state operated facility in New York City that cared for 2000 mentally ill adults.

I work at the Orthogenic School because I share the school's mission and values directed at providing children, adolescents, and their families the best second chance in life. We all need that from time to time. I enjoy the excitement and pride that always seems present within the school. No matter how small, each accomplishment and victory is acknowledge and appreciated. I also work at the Orthogenic School because it has become like a second family to me; the staff and students are wonderful to be with day after day.

Jerry Martin, Director of Educational Services

Jerry Martin first began working at the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School as a teacher in 1983. He has been a member of the administrative staff since 1990. Most recently he supervises the educational staff at the school, oversees each student’s Individualized Educational Plan, and implements each student’s Behavior Intervention Plan based on the Social Emotional Profile that he creates with the educational staff. Mr. Martin received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education (with a comprehensive major in English) from Illinois State University. He received a Master of Arts Degree in English Literature from the University of Illinois in Chicago. Mr. Martin was certified in Special Education (with endorsements in Learning Disabilities and Social Emotional Disorders) and in Educational Administration through programs of Study at National-Louis University. Prior to coming to the Orthogenic schools, Mr. Martin taught for five years in public schools and for seven years at the Illinois State Psychiatric Institute. During his many years at the Orthogenic School, Mr. Martin has found that one essential belief has remained the same: That each student is unique and that the creation of an educational plan for each student requires empathy and a willingness on the part of the staff to tailor a program to meet each student's social-emotional and cognitive needs.

Kristin Friesen, Director of Admissions & Residential Coordinator

Kristin Friesen joined the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School staff in 2005 and is currently the Admissions Coordinator/Residential Administrator. She also supervises the social work interns from the Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.
She earned an undergraduate degree in social work from Goshen College followed by Master's degree (MSW) in social work from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She is currently a licensed clinical social worker. Kristin comes to the Orthogenic School with a strong background in community practice. Her experience includes working with a community crisis intervention program in Chapel Hill, N.C., directing a micro-enterprise business for homeless and low-income women in Raleigh, N.C., and directing an urban service and education program for youth in Chicago.

Kristin enjoys working at the O School because of the unique partnership between the students, parents, and staff and the strong gifts that everyone brings to this relationship. She also loves the family feel at the school and how hard everyone works together.

Michelle Zarrilli, MS Ed. Academic Coordinator

I started working at the Orthogenic School in 1997 as the Fine Arts teacher. In January of 2011 I took on the role of Academic Coordinator and will still maintain oversight and teaching responsibilities in the Fine Arts classroom. I hold an Master of Science in Education in Supervision and Administration from Bank Street College in New York City. I also have undergraduate degrees in Fine Art and Art History from Ithaca College in New York as well as my Art Education Certification from Bank Street College of Education and Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Before I worked at the Orthogenic School I worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. I remember looking around the office one day and thinking, there are no kids here! With that, I decided to become an art teacher. I envisioned myself in a regular school, with regular hours and the typical restrictions that an art teacher faces.

I began at the Orthogenic School in 1997. Aha! A regular school with regular hours! The truth is there is nothing regular about the Orthogenic School; it was a perfect fit for me. Over the years I have met extraordinary children and colleagues that have changed my ways of thinking and seeing the world. I have had the opportunity to teach art and to build a program that extends beyond the walls of the art room.

I work at the Orthogenic School because I believe passionately in our mission and our ability to provide children with the education and care needed to help them through the challenges that they are facing.

Michelle McMartin, Associate Director of Residential Services

J3 Michelle McMartin is a licensed clinical social worker with a Master’s degree in social work from Loyola University of Chicago and a B.A degree in International Relations with a concentration in Russian Studies, from Carleton College. Michelle began her career in working with children and families at the Orthogenic School in 1995. For four years she worked as a counselor in an younger girl's dorm and spent one year as a teacher's assistant in the self contained elementary classroom (the Conqueror's). Michelle has work experience at the Juvenile Protective Association (JPA) in Chicago as an individual child and family therapist, providing long term psychotherapy treatment to children and families. She began working as a consultant and assessor for the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) while at JPA, completing court appointed clinical assessments for complex cases. Michelle then went on to work at the Erikson Institute as a clinical supervisor and program manager for the Erikson Institute's collaboration with DCFS. While at Erikson she continued her studies in child development and infant mental health, paying particular attention to the complex and important interactions between parents and their young children. She also conducted trainings and consultation on infant mental health, early childhood social and emotional development and engaging/working with at-risk families. She returned to the O-School in 2009 as the Associate Director of Residential Services for the first floor and TLC. She was thrilled to return to the school as the Associate Director and is excited to build relationships with the children, families and staff that currently are part of the Orthogenic School community.