Phone: 847-731-9370

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Mr. Michael Blades - Department Head

Mr. Michael Blades came to ZBTHS in 2014 from Intrinsic Charter School in Chicago, where he helped design both the learning spaces and the Humanities curriculum for an open classroom, technology-based charter high school.  Prior to that, Mr. Blades taught English for 14 years at Evanston Township High School, Walter Payton College Prep in Chicago, and Glenbrook North High School.  Mr. Blades holds a Master of Arts in Educational Administration from Olivet Nazarene University, Teaching Certification from The University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and English from Loyola University of Chicago.  Mr. Blades has also taught English overseas in Seoul, South Korea, and was a Human Rights Investigator with the State of Illinois.  Mr. Blades has three children of his own of high school and college age.

Phone: 847-731-9540

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Dr. Jasey Kolarik - Department Head

Dr. Jasey Kolarik has served as Department Head for Social Science and World Language at Zion Benton Township High School since 2020. Prior to becoming an administrator, Dr. Kolarik taught in the Social Science Department for 20 years. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a minor in Environmental Policy and Planning from University of Wisconsin at Green Bay; a Master of Arts in Education: Language Arts from Carthage College; Master of Science in Psychology from Arizona State University and her Doctor of Education from Aurora University.  As a Department Head, Dr. Kolarik supports teachers’ efforts to empower students, enhance achievement, and ensure excellence.

Phone: 847-731-4401

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Ms. Jenn Lang - Department Head

Ms. Jennifer Lang has served as Department Head for Alternative Programming at Zion Benton Township High School since 2012. Prior to becoming an administrator, Ms. Lang taught in the Departmental Program at Cyd Lash Academy, before moving into a Lead teacher position at CLA. Ms. Lang also served as a Dean at Huntley High School before moving on to her role here at ZBTHS. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education (LBSI), a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Concordia University.  Ms. Lang serves as a Nonviolent Crisis Intervention trainer for the district. As a Department Head, Ms. Lang supports staffs’ efforts to foster positive relationships with students, enhance equitable services and ensure meaningful opportunities for students.

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Mrs. Courtney Lastacy - Dean of Students

Ms. Courtney Lastacy has served District 126 for 10 years. Prior to becoming an administrator, Ms. Lastacy taught a variety of courses in the English Department, before moving into her role as District Literacy Interventionist in 2019. She earned her bachelor's degree in English Education and Psychology from Hope College, and Master of Arts in Literacy from American College of Education. As a Dean of Students, Ms. Lastacy is passionate about creating an environment of equity and strong student advocacy. Relationships, social-emotional wellness, and restorative practices are her primary focus in her role as Dean of students.

Phone: 847-731-9309

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Mr. Zackary Livingston - Principal

Mr. Livingston is a proud Zee Bee graduate and credits his desire to work with students to the experiences and relationships built with teachers and administration here in the city of Zion. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee in Mass Communication and Media Production. After undergraduate school, he dived into education after he recognized a need in the community for students to recognize the value and opportunities provided in their school systems. He then acquired a Master’s of Science in Education from Quincy University. After experiencing various school models and the methods of accommodating disenfranchized student populations, he became interested in administration and acquired his second Master's of Arts in Educational Leadership from Dominican University or Riverforest. He is currently a doctoral candidate studying Educational Leadership at Concordia University of Chicago.

Phone: (847) 731-9311

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Mr. Derrick Lee - Dean of Students

Mr. Derrick Lee has served District 126 since 1998 and is currently in his twenty-third year of service. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Carthage College and is a 1985 Zee-Bee graduate. His current role for the past 21 years has been Dean of Students. Prior to that, Mr. Lee served as Assistant Safety Director.  Mr. Lee has also been the Men’s Head Track Coach for the last 12 years and has sponsored The Brotherhood of Extraordinary Young Men for the last 10 years.

Phone: (847) 731-9313

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Mr. Omar Orozco - Dean of Students

Mr. Omar Orozco has been working in the field of education for over 11 years and joined District 126 in July of 2021.  Prior to becoming a dean, Mr. Orozco spent 10 years in the classroom teaching Spanish while also coaching Boys and Girls Soccer. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree with a major in Spanish and Secondary Education with a minor in Latino and Latin American Studies from Northeastern Illinois and his Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction-ESL from Concordia University.  Mr. Orozco believes that it is imperative to foster a positive school environment so that students are able to grow academically, socially, and emotionally.

Phone: 847-731-9794

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Dr. Joaquin Stephenson - Assistant Principal

Dr. Joaquin Stephenson (he/him/el) has served as the Assistant Principal of Zion-Benton High School since 2022. Prior to his current role, Dr. Stephenson has served public education as a teacher, Dean, Curriculum Director, Associate Principal, and Director of Equity and Family/Community Engagement. His rich experience coupled with his ability to lead diverse school districts with a focus on the advancement of academic achievement, student sense of belonging, and culture & climate makes him a valued member of our Zee-Bee family.

Dr. Stephenson received his bachelor’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University (BA w/ a major in Secondary Physical Education). He earned a Masters of Arts in School Leadership from Concordia University, and completed his Ed.D. in Administration & Supervision from Loyola University Chicago in the spring of 2021.

Phone: 847-731-9440

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Dr. Nicole Stommel - Department Head

Dr. Nicole Stommel has served as Department Head for Mathematics and Driver Education at Zion Benton Township High School since 2015.  Prior to becoming an administrator, Dr. Stommel taught mathematics in Wisconsin and Illinois.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics, with a minor in Secondary Education from Roosevelt University; her Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University; and her Doctor of Education from Western Illinois University.  As a Department Head, Dr. Stommel supports teachers’ efforts to empower students, enhance achievement, and ensure excellence. 

Phone: 847-731-9492

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Mr. Andrew Stout - Department Head

Mr. Andrew Stout has been at ZBTHS since 2012 and has served as Department Head for Career & Technical Programs since 2020. Prior to becoming an administrator, Mr. Stout taught business education for 10 years. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Huntington University, a Master of Business Administration from Liberty University, Teaching Certification from Calumet College of St. Joseph and Educational Leadership Studies from Purdue University. Mr. Stout serves on the Executive Board for the National Business Education Association and President-Elect for the North Central Business Education Association. As Department Head, Mr. Stout supports teachers' efforts to create meaningful opportunities and ensure all students are college and career ready.

Phone: (847) 731-9312

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Mr. Brian Valerugo - Lead Dean of Students

Mr. Brian Valerugo has served here as Dean of Students since 2007.  Prior to becoming an administrator, Mr. Valerugo taught in the physical education department at Zion-Benton High School for 6 years.  He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in physical education with an emphasis in sports medicine from Illinois State University.  He went on to earn his Masters of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from Aurora University.  As Dean of Students, Mr. Valerugo supports teachers’ efforts to empower students, enhance achievement, and ensure excellence. 

Phone: 847-731-9713

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Ms. Emily Waddick - Department Head

Mrs. Emily Waddick came to ZBTHS in 2006 and has served as the Department Head for Special Education since 2017.  Previous to being the Department Head for Special Education, Mrs. Waddick taught English and was a case manager for students with IEPs at Warren Township High School before coming to ZBTHS.  Mrs. Waddick holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Special Education (LBS1) and a Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from Concordia University.  Mrs. Waddick is certified in Trauma Informed Practices in schools and Nonviolent Crisis Intervention as well as a member of the Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education and Council for Exceptional Children.  Mrs. Waddick is passionate about creating classroom spaces that are both equitable and accessible to all students.

Phone: 847-731-9570

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Mr. Mike Wollney - Department Head

Mr. Michael Wollney is the Department Head for Science, Health and Physical Education.  He studied Physical Education and Health at Eastern Illinois University.  Michael taught Physical Education and Health at CICS Northtown Academy in Chicago for 10 years. After earning his graduate degree in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University, Michael became the Department Chair for Health and Physical Education at Proviso West High School.  He later transitioned into the role of Division Head for Health and Human Services at Proviso East, before joining Zion-Benton.