Jessy Dinkelman

Director

Hello! I am Ms. Jessy Dinkelman. I am the Director of the center. I’ve been here for the past 7 years in many different work roles. My first day here I knew: this is where I always wanted to be. I love the staff, the children, the environment, the Church and the community we all share. The children are my first priority and I love spending time getting to know each of them and their family members. Here at Open Arms we are a big family, supporting each other in our parenting journeys because "it takes a village". My husband, Adam, and I welcomed our first child, Ambellina, back in August of 2021.  She’s growing up so fast and enjoys her days here at Open Arms and her Sundays at Immanuel. I look forward to the growth of the school, our community, and my own family. If you ever need anything please do not hesitate to ask, I always keep an open door!

 

 


Hannah Dunn

Assistant Director

I am Mrs. Dunn, the new assistant director! This year will be my 7th year here at Open Arms. I started at Open Arms in the 3’s room and then worked my way up to the assistant director position. I have my degree from Concordia University Chicago. My daughter, Caylee, is an Open Arms graduate and is now entering 7th grade. You may find me moving and grooving to different music as you walk into the office.

 

Rana Sweilem

Morning Teacher, Baby Rosebuds

Ms. Rana is the co-teacher with Ms. Natalie in the infant room and has been working at Open Arms since 2007. She has always loved working with children and once her own children grew up they joined the Open Arms family in their founding year. Her favorite things about working with infants is watching them grow and develop. She loves to feed them and make them laugh during tummy time. When they move into new classes, Ms. Rana loves saying hello as they pass and seeing how much they have changed since their time in the infant room.

 

Ms. Rana is married and has four children. She lives in Glenview with her family but was born and raised in Jordan.

 

When she’s not at Open Arms, she loves to go for walks at Flick Park, to cook and bake, and to spend time with her children, nieces and nephews.

 

Natalie Kryjanovskaia

Afternoon Teacher, Baby Rosebuds

I am Ms. Natalie and I am the Baby Rosebuds teacher.  I have been with Open Arms since the first day they opened. It has been a very rewarding opportunity to have worked with so many wonderful children and their families. I love being able to help the infants and their families as they begin their journey at Open Arms and learn to navigate the waters of being first time parents, or second, third or fourth! I am originally from Ukraine, that is where I went to college and worked with kids. In my spare time I love to spend time with my family, go to concerts, read, spend time outdoors, and travel. I am looking forward to meeting all our newest little ones and their families, you are all a blessing to me!  

  

Debbie Johnson

Lead Teacher, Baby Begonias

Ms. Debbie (that’s me) has been working at Open Arms since August of 2012. (Has it been ten years already?!?) I started in the Toddler Tulips and then moved into the Begonia room where I am now the leader of the Begonia team. Prior to coming to Open Arms I was an elementary teacher in a Lutheran school. I am a product of Lutheran education and have always taught in Lutheran schools, graduating with my teaching credentials in 1985 from Concordia Chicago.


I grew up in Racine, Wisconsin, where my sister still lives. I also have two brothers, one lives in Maryland and the other in Georgia. Three of us are Lutheran trained educators. At times you might find me playing the organ at Immanuel, Glenview.


My husband, Eric, and I live in Des Plaines. We have three children and two grandchildren. Rachel and her husband live in Washington, D.C., Nathan is in Chicago, and Hannah and her family are in Wheeling.


When I do have free time I enjoy relaxing in front of the tv with my cats Cali, Oreo, and Monti. I also enjoy counted cross stitch projects and sewing. My latest project is sewing bibs for the OA classrooms.

 

  

Carol Endres

Morning Teacher, Toddler Tulips

I am Ms. Carol, the Toddler Tulips co-teacher! This is my sixteenth year here at Open Arms, and I have adored and appreciated every day that I have been here in this amazing community. God has blessed me with so many opportunities to grow close to such wonderful children and parents! I am a  graduate of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and have taken courses at OCC. Before teaching at Open Arms I taught third grade, and later I substituted at several schools. In my spare time I enjoy reading anything and everything, swimming and spending time with friends. I have three amazing grown children, so spending my weekends with them and the rest of my family makes me the happiest! The “icing on the cake” is spending days with my eight year old grandson Alex!

  

Evi Gutierrez

Afternoon Teacher, Toddler Tulips

I am the afternoon Toddler Tulips co-teacher! I have been working at Open Arms for 6 years and I have a Child Development Associate certificate. Every year here gets better and better! It is such a joy to play with these toddlers and watch them grow. Every day is a new adventure where toddlers can explore and learn. My favorite thing to see is their faces light up with pride as they learn a new task. In my free time I love to spend time with my family and make all kinds of art!

 

Adriana Zagal

Lead Teacher, Tiger Lily Twos

Hello I’m Ms. Adriana,

I have always wanted to be a teacher ever since I was a little girl. I took an ECE class during my senior year where I got to experience working with children and have lesson plans ready. I have been working for Open Arms for almost 6 years where I worked closely with Teacher Leads and helped with lessons they have planned. I have gained so much knowledge and experience working in the 2’s room. This is my second year as the lead teacher in the 2’s. My plan for the future is returning to school and getting my degree for ECE. I currently have my CDA.

Michelle Harner

Lead Teacher, Daisy Threes

Hello, My name is Michelle and I am the lead teacher of the Daisy 3s room at Open Arms. Working with kids is a passion of mine! I have an associates degree in fine arts, and am currently working towards a bachelors in psychology. Child development is a great interest of mine, and it is so great to get to see your threes grow into big four year old's. I have worked at Open Arms for a year starting as an assistant in the threes room.

  

Megan Gerken

Lead Teacher, Sunflower Fours

Ms. Gerken will be going into her 8th year of teaching in the Sunflower 4s room. She studied elementary education at Illinois State University. Even though she went to school for elementary school she has used her knowledge and experience to develop a play based curriculum. Each year she goes over the alphabet a letter a week. Activities and art projects are all based on the letter of the week.  In addition to many hands-on engaging activities she is a huge fan of LEGO! She enjoys sharing the love of LEGO with others, but most importantly she shares the love of Christ through her Jesus times with singing and the retelling of Bible stories. 

 


Leslie Christiansen

Lead Teacher, Wildflower Kindergarten

Hi there! My name is Ms. Leslie and I am the lead teacher for the Wildflower Kindergarten class! I am going into my 3rd year of teaching Kindergarten and my 9th year of working at Open Arms (led the 3s my first year and 5 years of being a summer camp counselor). I have my bachelors degree in Lutheran Early Childhood Education from Concordia University Wisconsin and am currently finishing my masters online at CUW for Literacy. I have also been a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church for my entire life, being baptized and confirmed here and also going to Pre-K and Kindergarten at Immanuel Lutheran School before Open Arms opened. Kindergarten is my favorite grade to teach because I love the balance of play and learning and you can see the kids grow and change over the year. When I am not teaching, you can either find me sipping on a cup of coffee or watching a baseball game!