Elementary Teachers & Staff

Executive Director – Mr. Duane Vance was born into an Air Force/Naval family in Peru, Indiana. Through his early childhood, the family moved several times until settling in Jacksonville, Florida. Duane would become a graduate of Orange Park High School in Orange Park, Florida and then begin his studies at the University of North Florida during his college years. Here, he would meet his wife, Rebecca Ford Vance, and graduate with a degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in Social Studies in 2001. Duane and Rebecca would marry that same year. Rebecca has been an RN since 2001 and now serves as the healthcare coordinator for the La Grange Special Education School District.

Mr. Vance began his educational career at Ridgeview High School in Orange Park, Florida as the school’s lead Economics teacher in December 2001. He also taught Geography and Civics/American Government. Duane also coached men’s golf and baseball during his time at the high school. He was also very active in lay leadership in a new mission start on the east side of Jacksonville. There, he served as a council member for Victory Lutheran Church for three years. In the summer of 2005, he and Rebecca made the decision to move to the north side of Chicago to join family in the Milwaukee and Chicago areas. Shortly after his arrival and after joining Jerusalem Lutheran Church in Morton Grove, Mr. Vance was called on an emergency basis to teach grades 3-5 at Jerusalem Lutheran School and accepted. In 2007, he attained WELS Synod certification through Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN. He taught grades 3-5 for 5 years before transitioning to grades 6-8. In 2013, Mr. Vance became the principal of the school. In 2016, he received his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Martin Luther College. After 15 years of service to Jerusalem, he joined Illinois Lutheran Schools as the Executive Director in the summer of 2020. Mr. Vance also serves the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod in a few different roles. He is a captain for the Synod’s accreditation body, known as WELSSA, where he makes usually three visits to schools a year throughout Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan to evaluate ministries and help drive efforts toward school improvement. He also serves on the nomination committee for the Southeastern Wisconsin District for the synod.

Duane and Rebecca have two children. Sarah was born in 2003, and Nathan was born in 2006. The Vance’s feel tremendously privileged and blessed to be in service to ILS and the local congregations who support this educational ministry.

Phone: 708.672.3262, ext. 119 – Email: dvance@ilhs.org

Elementary School Vice-Principal – Mr. Scott Sievert is a 1983 graduate of Dr. Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN. He has been a principal for over 30 years. As a servant-leader, he encourages the faculty members to grow in their educational techniques and professionalism while also growing their faith and service to the Lord.

Mr. Sievert says, “I am honored to serve here. As we share God’s Word with our students and families, I am inspired by God’s grace. I am amazed how each of us grows in our personal faith as we hear and learn God’s Word.”

Mr. Sievert teaches 5th Grade, as well as 6th Grade Science
Phone: 708.672.5969, ext. 103 – Email: ssievert@illinoislutheran.org

Mrs. Laura Biesterfeld is from Minnesota and graduated from Doctor Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN. Mrs. Biesterfeld began teaching at Illinois Lutheran in 1998. She teaches 5th grade math and is the 6th grade homeroom teacher.

When asked what she enjoys most about teaching, she said, ” I love seeing the ‘lightbulb’ when kids understand something they’ve been working towards.”

When not at school she enjoys reading, gardening and spending time with her family. Mrs. Biesterfeld and her husband have four children, including two ILHS graduates.

Mrs. Biesterfeld teaches 5th & 6th Grade Math
Phone: 708.672.5969 – Email: lbiesterfeld@illinoislutheran.org

Mrs. Pam Brudos grew up in Elkhorn and Kenosha, Wisconsin. She graduated from Shoreland Lutheran High School in 1988, and Dr. Martin Luther College in 1992.

Pam taught in Egg Harbor, WI and Waukegan, IL before marrying Steve in 2001. Soon after their daughter Elizabeth was born, the Brudos family moved to Janesville, WI, where Pam worked at St. Matthew’s as a part time teacher/substitute/aide for 16 years.

In her free time Pam likes to watch movies, read, do needlework, and play board games.

Mrs. Brudos teaches 4th Grade
Phone: 708.672.5969 – Email: pbrudos@illinoislutheran.org

Mrs. Laura Cook grew up in Brownsville, WI and attended school at St. Paul’s Lutheran. She attended Winnebago Lutheran Academy in Fond du Lac, WI. She went to Martin Lutheran College in New Ulm, MN and graduated in 2012.

Mrs. Cook met Kendall Cook in college and they got married after she graduated in 2012. They moved to Milwaukee, WI where Kendall attended Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. They moved to College Station, TX for Kendall’s intern year and moved back to Milwaukee for his last year of seminary. Upon Kendall’s graduation in 2015, they moved to Norfolk, NE to serve a church. While in Norfolk, Mrs. Cook taught part time at St. Paul’s, Norfolk. They moved to Crete in 2019 where Kendall serves as Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church.

Laura and Kendall have four children: Logan, Tristan, Sawyer, and Dani. Laura enjoys raising her children, reading, running, watching football and baseball and spending time with her husband. She is very excited to have her own classroom.

Mrs. Cook teaches 1st Grade
Phone: 708.672.5969 – Email: lcook@illinoislutheran.org

Mrs. Megan Deenik grew up in Watertown, WI, where she attended Lutheran grade schools and went on to graduate from Luther Preparatory School in 2015. She came from Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin where her mom is a teacher.

In May 2019, she graduated from Martin Luther College with a degree in Elementary Education and a Social Studies emphasis. From there she was assigned to teach 2nd grade at ILS. She also coaches grade school volleyball.

Mrs. Deenik married her husband, Rob, in June 2021. Together they are raising his four children, who all attend ILS. In her free time she likes watching sports, reading, and playing with their puppy, Daisy. She also loves to travel, especially to Disney World.

Mrs. Deenik teaches 2nd Grade
Phone: 708.672.5969 – Email: mdeenik@illinoislutheran.org

Mr. Joseph Keller grew up in McLean, VA just outside Washington D.C for most of his life. He comes from a family of four: Parents Karen, Ed, and younger sister, Lee who all spent most of their lives in the DC area.

Mr. Keller graduated from high school in 2013 and went to Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN the following Fall. After spending 5 ½ years there he graduated in December 2018 and received an assignment to teach 5th Grade in Grenada, West Indies. Mr. Keller spent 1 ½ years in Grenada teaching and exploring the beautiful Caribbean island.

In his free time Mr. Keller enjoys hiking, biking, and skiing. You can often find him in the warmer months detailing cars in his driveway for his other hobby.

Mr. Keller teaches 3rd Grade
Phone: 708.672.5969 – Email: jkeller@illinoislutheran.org

Mrs. Hannah Schneider is a 2008 graduate of Martin Luther College, with a degree in elementary education as well as secondary Spanish. She was assigned to Loving Shepherd Lutheran School in Milwaukee, and was privileged to serve three years as 3rd and 4th grade teacher there. While following her husband Michael, a pastor, she also taught a combination of grades 3-8 various times in Toledo, Milwaukee, and North St. Paul. She took a few years off to stay home with her two children, but now is excited to be back in the classroom full time.

Some of her interests outside the classroom include hiking, exploring nature, reading, singing and playing music, knitting, crocheting, volunteering at Camp BASIC, drinking coffee, and baking yummy desserts for others to enjoy.

Mr. Schneider teaches kindergarten
Phone: 708.672.5969 – Email: hschneider@illinoislutheran.org

Mrs. Elizabeth Oestmann
Elementary School Administrative Assistant
Phone: 708.672.5969 – Email: eoestmann@illinoislutheran.org


Mr. Rik McGathey
Repairs & Maintenance
Phone: 708.672.3262, ext. 116 – Email: rmcgathey@ilhs.org