Experience: Carlo Giannotta has been the principal at Grace Christian Academy for the last 17 years. He has been part of GCA for 23 years, teaching 5/6 for 3 years and 3/4 for 4 years before taking on the role of principal while also teaching 7/8. He completed both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Concordia University River Forest.
As principal, he finds himself wearing many different hats. Whether supporting his teachers, planning school improvements, coaching basketball, or tackling a variety of odd jobs around the school, Mr. G continues to enjoy getting to know many wonderful students and families. He is happy to be part of providing quality, Christian education to families in the community.
Outside of Grace: When he’s not at Grace, Mr. G enjoys watching his Detroit sports teams, golfing, and spending time with his family.
What makes Grace special: Grace has great staff, great students, great teachers, and great families. We all work together to give our students a wonderful Christian education.
Word of Encouragement: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
Experience: Ms. Karen Crowder joined the GCA staff part-time in 2013 as the admissions counselor. She studied Sociology and Spanish at Asbury College and spent a year in Guatemala City prior to moving to Chicago to pursue her Master’s in Social Work in 2008. Shortly after moving to Chicago, she came across the Little Village neighborhood and has lived and served in Little Village ever since.
Ms. Crowder joined Grace full-time in the fall of 2017 taking on the role of both admissions and community outreach. She continues to be a point person for both perspective families and current parents while also building relationships with various community and church partners and individual supporters of the school.
Outside of Grace: Ms. Crowder enjoys experiencing the diversity and culture of Chicago. Whether hiking, biking, or kayaking, she tries to get outside as much as she can before the long, cold winters set in. She also loves travelling to see friends and family spread out across the U.S. and Latin America.
What makes Grace special: Relationship is what sets Grace apart. You feel the difference when you are in a school where everyone knows everyone and the teachers and staff care about the well-being of both the students and their families. Teachers and staff are approachable and the community is very warm and welcoming.
A word of encouragement: “He has told you, o man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
Experience: Mrs. Jill Giannotta (Mrs. G.) has been part of the Grace Christian Academy family for over 20 years. She attended Concordia University in Chicago to prepare for her teaching career. She has taught full time for 13 years including teaching 2nd grade, 1st/2nd grade, kindergarten, and extended care. While her children were still small, she led and taught the Title 1 tutoring program for 6 ½ years. In addition to her current role teaching kindergarten, she helps coach volleyball and cheerleading at Grace. She also makes time to teach Sunday School during the school year and lead VBS at her church during the summer.
Outside of Grace: With her oldest daughter in high school, her husband serving as GCA’s principal and her youngest 2 daughters attending Grace, finding time outside of school can be a challenge. Mrs. G. says her free time is most often spent watching her children in competitions or concerts and taking them to practices. She enjoys time with her family and free moments to surf Facebook and Pinterest. Other hobbies include gardening and sewing although she admits she doesn’t get to do them much anymore during this busy season of life.
What makes Grace special: Mrs. G. loves the freedom to share the love of Jesus and His salvation with all of her students. She has loved watching so many children grow up at Grace including her own!
A word of encouragement: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Experience: Mrs. Lesandra Nava has taught at Grace since 2015. She began her teaching career nine years ago, teaching in early childhood programs from birth – 5 years old in addition to experience teaching with a teen parent program in Cicero and Berwyn. She completed her Bachelor’s degree at DePaul University in Early Childhood. She has been a great addition to GCA, teaching our 3-year-old preschool, and now teaching 1st grade in the morning and co-teaching 1st and 2nd grade in the afternoon. She, her husband, and their three children live in the neighborhood and her youngest 2 children are students at Grace.
Outside of Grace: Beyond the classroom, Mrs. Nava likes to stay active. She enjoys boxing, dancing, and walking the trails around the city.
What makes Grace special: Mrs. Nava says the closeness of the staff, teachers, and students are what make Grace such a special place.
Joseph Hansa returned to Grace Christian Academy after completing his teaching degree 16 years ago. He is an alum of GCA and has taught 7th/8th grade for his entire teaching career. He attended Concordia University River Forest and Concordia University Chicago. He also has prior experience as an instructional coach at Fleetwood and a summer camp counselor.
Outside of Grace:
Mr. Hansa enjoys life outside of school with what he describes as an ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge and fun.
What makes Grace special:
For Mr. Hansa, giving back by serving the community where he grew up in the school where he received his elementary school education are part of what makes his teaching experience at Grace so special. He says he loves that Grace is providing Christian education to the Little Village community and continues to offer small class sizes that makes Grace feel like a family environment.
A word of encouragement:
“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15