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Our Staff


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Kelly Perez

Ms. Kelly Perez holds a BA in applied behavioral science from National-Louis University and holds two American Montessori Society teaching credentials, Infant-Toddler (birth through age three) and Early Childhood (ages two-and-a-half through six). Kelly was nominated for the 2017 Golden Apple Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award. Her professional affiliations include the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Illinois Association for Infant Mental Health. Since 1987, Kelly has supported all aspects in building and delivering high quality early childhood programs. She has brought her experience as a teacher, teacher educator and consultant, classroom and curriculum developer, parent coach, program administrator and director to Smart Love since 2010.

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Danielle Banks

Ms. Danielle Banks received her BA in liberal arts and sciences from Northern Illinois University in 2013. She has been an early childhood teacher since 2017.  Danielle believes Smart Love’s emphasis on nurturing children’s social and emotional development should be the focus for children in all early childhood education settings.  She is also excited to join the Smart Love teaching team and take part in our ongoing teacher mentorship and continuing education. 

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Emma Church

Ms. Emma Church has been in the early childhood field since 2018 and attended DePaul University with a focus on early childhood education. She takes pride in being a nurturing caregiver for children as they explore their world through play, arts, and positive relationships. She is so happy to be a part of the Smart Love team and a community that is so supportive of children and their social/emotional well being.

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Karen Hermach

Ms. Karen Hermach received her M.A. in early childhood education from Concordia University Chicago after she earned her BA in Business Administration from Aurora University. She has a passion for teaching young children and has been working with children since 2014. Throughout her graduate coursework, she was particularly interested in studying social, emotional and play based learning. With that focus, she is very excited to be a part of the Smart love team. 


Allison King

Allison received her master’s in music from DePaul University following her bachelor’s degree in music from UT Austin. She has been teaching musicians of all ages since 2016. Allison is passionate about introducing young students to a wide variety of arts in an accessible format. She has actively participated in many youth programs, including music programs in Austin, TX for students in the public schools,  summer enrichment camps in Hampton Roads, VA, and has also provided music instruction for students in Chicago’s underfunded schools through DePaul’s Community Music Division. She is delighted to be a part of the Smart Love team!


Caren Jurina 

Caren has been a play-based preschool teacher since 2015, she has an associate’s degree from the American Academy of Art and a bachelor’s degree from Kendall College in early childhood education.  Caren is excited to share her artistic talents as well as her experience in early childhood education.  She sought Smart Love out as she felt it was a match for her teaching ideals to foster creativity and exploration while supporting a relationship-based approach in an early childhood setting.

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Kim Maites

Ms. Kim Maites received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign and has worked in the field of early childhood education over the past for five years. She and her husband have moved back to Chicago after raising a family in the suburbs.  After spending a lot of time assisting and volunteering at her own children’s schools, this seemed like the perfect next step.   Kim is super excited to be a part of the Smart Love community, she looks forward to inspiring fun and creativity which she feels is so important for young children.

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Ashley Marchan

Ms. Ashley Marchan received her bachelor’s degree in human development and learning from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  For three years while in college, Ashley was a Child Life volunteer working with children at UI Health ensuring children’s emotional well-being through play and supporting families.  She admires how Smart Love makes children feel safe, comfortable and fosters a sense of community.  She is very excited to be a part of the Smart Love team to support children in their development and to contribute to a positive classroom environment.

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Madelyn Perez

Ms. Madelyn Perez received her bachelor’s degree in marketing with a minor in early childhood education from Roosevelt University.  Madelyn interned and taught summer camp at Smart Love Preschool in 2017 and has been available as a substitute while pursuing her degree.  Madelyn’s passion for young children and Smart Love felt like a perfect match. She feels it’s a privilege to work with the children and their families and is so happy to be a part of the Smart Love teaching team.  

Our Teachers

Vice President Education Programs and Preschool Director

Natalie & Ben Heineman Smart Love Center

Our Home


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Mike Conway

Mr. Mike Conway earned his BA in political science and history from Illinois State University. He has over 20 years of experience working with a variety of businesses in client service and experience as an assistant teacher in kindergarten. 

Smart Love Preschool is located in the Natalie & Ben Heineman Smart Love Center at 2222 N. Kedzie Blvd. in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. The gracious prairie style home has been completely renovated and features a large outdoor area and a spacious light-filled interior for our highly regarded preschool and kindergarten (3-6 years), and playschool (2-3 years) that includes a year-round Garden and Nature curriculum.

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