Alumni Accomplishments

Kevin Baldus
Kevin Baldus

Congratulations to these Department of Special and Early Education alumni!

Kevin Baldus, M.S.Ed. Special Education, ’05, has been named interim Special Education director at Riverside-Brookfield High School, where he is also an instructional coach. Baldus began his career as a teacher at Krejci Academy, a therapeutic day school in Naperville, and also taught in a special needs program in DuPage High School District 88. Before coming to RBHS, he was a special education teacher at West Chicago High School.

Tui Harned
Tui Harned

Tui Harned, M.S.Ed. Early Childhood Education, ’09, was awarded a 2020 Golden Apple Teacher Award for her teaching at Nashold Elementary School in Rockford, Illinois. Golden Apple recipients are recognized for making a difference in their communities through their commitment to educational excellence. → Read about Harned and her fellow NIU College of Education alumni who were Golden Apple finalists!

Lauren Hartelius
Lauren Hartelius

Lauren Hartelius, B.S.Ed. Special Education, ’07, was named Behavioral Support Systems coordinator in Downers Grove Elementary District 58. Hartelius directly supports students, staff and families who participate in the district’s Behavioral Emotional and Social Training program, working systemwide to strengthen behavioral support systems for all students. She previously provided guidance and direction to specialized programs as the educational coordinator in Morton District 201, taught students with emotional disabilities in the Kendall County Special Education Cooperative and was the lead teacher of South Berwyn District 100’s ED program.

Kurt Johansen
Kurt Johansen

Kurt Johansen, M.S.Ed. Adult and Continuing Education, ’03, B.S.Ed. Special Education, ’01, is the new principal of South Elgin High School. Johansen most recently was assistant principal at Glenbard East High School, a role he began there in 2013 after serving as dean of students since 2009. Johansen began his career in 2003 as a special education teacher at East Leyden High School in Franklin Park.

Taylor Leach
Taylor Leach

Taylor Leach, M.S.Ed. Early Childhood Education, ’20, was featured on Northern Public Radio’s “Student Teachers’ Lounge” podcast. Leach, who recently concluded her student-teaching at Kingston Elementary School in Genoa, Ill., talked to WNIJ host Peter Medlin about how she experienced the pandemic as both a student and as a teacher.

Jennifer McKay
Jennifer McKay

Jennifer McKay, M.S.Ed. Special Education-Advanced Special Education Practices, ’19, was hired as a teacher consultant at North Creek Elementary School in the Chelsea (Mich.) School District. McKay has nine years of teaching experience, is certified as a behavior analyst and is endorsed for ELL (English Language Learners).

Peter Meismer
Peter Meismer

Peter Meismer, B.S.Ed. Special Education, ’12, was named assistant principal of Hunt Club Elementary School in Oswego School District 308. Meismer, who in October 2019 became Special Education Program administrator at Oswego High School and also served as the school’s Extended School Year site coordinator, previously taught math, reading and writing at The Wheatlands Elementary School in Aurora as an elementary resource teacher.

Jennifer Pacheco
Jennifer Pacheco

Jennifer Pacheco, B.S.Ed. Special Education, ’05, is the new director of Special Services in East Maine School District 63. Pacheco, who previously served as principal of Emma Melzer School, began her career as a special education resource teacher at West Aurora School District 129 and later joined District 63’s Apollo School in a similar position. She also worked as a professional development and academic achievement coach, ultimately serving as a district special education facilitator for two years. Prior to returning to District 63, she was associate principal at Stevenson Middle School in Maywood/Melrose Park/Broadview School District 89’s Stevenson Middle School.

If you’re a SEED grad with news to share, please let us know – and send a photo! Our email address is NIUCOEalum@niu.edu.

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