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Our Schools & Faculty

Primary School Faculty


Katie Walker

Primary A (Kindergarten)

EMAIL: primarya@nextgenerationschool.com

Mrs. Katie Walker has her B.S. in Elementary Education with a concentration in Language Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Mrs. Walker earned the honor of being on the Dean’s List and a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society while completing her degree. She finds joy in all of the successes of her students as she gently guides them and challenges them to new heights. Katie has been teaching Kindergarten at NGS since 2009.


Caroline Cox

Primary A (Kindergarten)

EMAIL: primarya@nextgenerationschool.com

Ms. Caroline Cox graduated from The University of Mississippi, with a Bachelor of Business Administration in of May 2008. After she realized her true passion for teaching, she pursued and earned both a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction. She taught kindergarten for three years at Snowy Range Academy in Wyoming before relocating to Champaign. Ms. Cox believes that high academic standards enable students to achieve their greatest intellectual potential. She believes in creating an atmosphere that is warm, loving, and designed around learning.


Kari Brackenhoff

Primary B (1st Grade)

EMAIL: primaryb@nextgenerationschool.com

Kari Brackenhoff moved to Illinois from Los Angeles, CA. She graduated from California State University, Northridge, with a B.A. in Liberal Studies as well as her California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. She then earned her Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology and Counseling with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. Mrs. Brackenhoff has six years of teaching experience in kindergarten, first and second grades and was awarded the Southern California Kindergarten Teacher Award. While in California, Mrs. Brackenhoff was a founding member and curriculum/teaching model developer for Prestique Academy, a new and innovative private school. Her passion for teaching, expertise in curriculum differentiation, and innovative teaching methodologies create a compassionate, stimulating environment that fosters fun, interactive learning. Mrs. Brackenhoff has been recognized for her work as an educator and has presented at the Southern California Kindergarten Conference on subjects such as incorporating dance and movement into curriculum, as well as integrating technology and innovation into the classroom to create life long learners. She joined NGS in 2014.


Jen Christianson

Primary B (First Grade)

EMAIL: primaryb@nextgenerationschool.com

Mrs. Jennifer Christianson received her B.S. in Elementary Education from Ball State University. She has been teaching for over ten years. She has taught in Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Japan. While in Japan, she taught at a language school for young children who were learning English. She was also an instructor for several adult intermediate-level English classes. Ms. Christianson has been teaching at Next Generation since 2009. Jennifer’s enthusiasm for teaching and her desire to help children develop into confident learners makes her classroom truly unique.


Johanna Mueller

Primary C (Second Grade)

EMAIL: primaryc@nextgenerationschool.com

Ms. Johanna Mueller holds her B.S. in Elementary Education, with a minor in English, from Wheaton College. Prior to receiving her degree, Ms. Mueller spent several months at an International Baccalaureate school in Lima, Peru, teaching second-grade students from all over the world at the Colegio F. D. Roosevelt (the American School of Lima). While there, she was introduced to innovative approaches to teaching that led her to seek NGS after she returned to Illinois. She has been teaching at NGS since 2009. Johanna comes from a family of musicians and began playing violin when she was three years old. She has been teaching violin for over ten years and is trained in the Suzuki method.


Kim Walwik

Primary C (Second Grade)

EMAIL: primaryc@nextgenerationschool.com

Ms. Kim Walwik grew up in Virginia and graduated from Mary Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in History. After moving to Champaign, she completed her Teaching Certificate in Elementary Education with Endorsements in ESL, Middle School Social Studies, and Language Arts at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. Ms. Walwik is an active community member serving in the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana for 13 years. She also chaired several committees focused on schools and education.


Jennifer Huffman

Primary D (Third Grade)

EMAIL: primaryd@nextgenerationschool.com

Ms. Jennifer Huffman holds a Bachelor of Art in elementary education from Eastern Illinois University and a Master of Education in literacy, language and culture from the the University of Illinois at Chicago. She taught in Japan and was a founding faculty member at Rowe Elementary Charter School in Chicago before relocating to Champaign. She joined the NGS faculty in 2013.


Camille Griffin

Primary D

EMAIL: primaryd@nextgenerationschool.com

Ms. Griffin spent six years as an interventionist, teaching exceptional students at a Champaign elementary school. Originally from Chicago, Ms. Griffin moved to Champaign-Urbana to attend the University of Illinois. She graduated from the University with a B.S. in Special Education, Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, and is in the process of completing the requirements for an ESL/Bilingual endorsement from the state of Illinois. She joined Next Generation in 2015.


Paul Han

Primary E (Fourth Grade)

EMAIL: primarye@nextgenerationschool.com

Mr. Paul Han’s interest in teaching was sparked by his travels to Oaxaca, Mexico as a high school student, where he had his first experience working with children. His travels then took him to various regions throughout Kenya, including the southern coast of Mombasa and Mount Elgon, located at the border of Uganda. During the summer of 2008, he spent four weeks as a member of a team of teachers helping local educators implement curricula and design lesson plans for their students. Mr. Han received his B.S. in Elementary Education and a Master in Education in Language and Literacy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also has endorsements for middle school language arts, Spanish and social sciences. Mr. Han has been a member of the NGS faculty since 2007.


Lexie Kesler

Primary E (Fourth Grade)

EMAIL: primarye@nextgenerationschool.com

Ms. Lexie Kesler graduated Summa Cum Laude from Webster University with a B.A. in Elementary Education. While at Webster she was a student athlete and served as the captain for her softball team. Originally from Champaign, she taught fourth grade for five years at an area school before joining the NGS faculty in 2016. Ms. Kesler aims to instill in her students the courage and desire to ask questions and approach problems with confidence. She works to impart a desire for learning that reaches far beyond the classroom. In her spare time, Ms. Kesler enjoys coaching softball and has completed multiple half-marathons and one full marathon.


Ann Quackenbush

Primary F (Fifth Grade)

EMAIL: primaryf@nextgenerationschool.com

Mrs. Ann Quackenbush is a founding NGS faculty member. She holds her B. S. in Elementary Education, with endorsements in language arts and social science from Illinois State University. Mrs. Quackenbush taught in the Champaign schools for many years and was active in both administrative and leadership capacities, conducting teacher training workshops and serving on several parent-teacher committees. She also worked at the Illinois State Museum as the Coordinator for the Museum in the Classroom project, an ISBE-funded initiative that encouraged the development of online content for elementary students. Mrs. Quackenbush is adept at supporting the individual needs of students while helping children meet any challenge with success.


Jake Riss

Primary F (Fifth Grade)

EMAIL: primaryf@nextgenerationschool.com

Mr. Jake Riss is a graduate of Carleton College, Minnesota, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in History and completed the teacher licensure program. He then completed his Master of Professional Studies in Childhood Special Education. Mr. Riss has taught third and fifth grade at Pear Tree Point School in Darien, Connecticut. Jake has also been a teacher and steering committee member for Saturday Academy, a program designed to assist English Language Learners with reading. Outside of school, one of his main passions is baseball. He has coached high school varsity, 10 and under teams, and everything in between.


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