Jessy Dinkelman


Hello! I am Ms. Jessy Dinkelman. I am the Director of the center. I’ve been blessed to serve here at Open Arms  in many roles since 2015. 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!


Education: Bachelors in Special Education from Concordia,  credentials in Project Management, Gateways Early Childhood Credential Level I, and Food Manager

Rana Sweilem


Mrs. Rana Sweilem: Baby Rosebud Teacher

My name is Ms. Rana and I have been working at Open Arms for 17 years! I love to work with young children and especially infants. I have so much fun watching them grow and develop. My favorite part of the day is snack time and watching babies learn to feed themselves and develop their love for delicious and nutritious food. When the weather is nice I love to take the babies on long walks to enjoy nature. Walking and observing the world around me is one of my main hobbies. I also enjoy cooking and baking. This is most fun for me when I get to do it with my family.

I was born and raised in Madaba, Jordan but my husband and I have been living in the United States for over 35 years. I am a mother to four children - Issa, Sarah, Omar, and Fayrous. I am grateful everyday that our Open Arms families trust me with their precious babies, and so I make sure to pour all of my love and care into them each and every day.


Education: Early Childhood Education CDA certified

Debbie Johnson


Ms. Debbie (that’s me) has been working at Open Arms since August of 2012. 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.


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.


I love working at Open Arms where I can share my faith with the children and their families.


Education: Elementary education - BA in 1985 from Concordia Chicago, Gateways credentials 1 and 2, working on Gateways Infant/Toddler credential.

Fayana Gayle


Hello! I am Ms. Fayana and I have been at Open Arms since October 2017, and I have loved my time here! I have always wanted to work with young children and babies, and was so happy when I found Open Arms. I’ve enjoyed my last 6 years here as an assistant teacher , and can’t wait for many more as a lead teacher. I’ve leaned so much from various teachers here, and most importantly, I’ve learned how to better teach, take care of, and love all of these amazing children. When I’m not at Open Arms I really enjoy watching movies, K-Dramas, and listening to music! I’m excited for this new year and all the new adventures it will bring!


Education: CDA certified. Working on associates in Arts (elementary education pre-major)

Adriana Zagal


Hi there! My name is Ms. Adriana. I began my journey here when I was given an opportunity in 2017 to start working in the 2s room as a teacher aide. At the time, I helped lead teachers with lessons they had planned. As my experience and love for children grew, I was given the opportunity to become the 2s lead teacher, and now I am approaching my fourth year as a lead. I am excited to begin teaching Spanish in the upcoming 2024 school year for the 2s and up classes. I am so excited to have your little one in my classroom.


When I’m not at Open Arms I’m at home doing arts and crafts or spending time with my family, friends, and pets.


Education: Early Childhood Education CDA certified

Ms. Helen Ermolov


I love to teach three-year-olds. I love to teach them everything: letter sounds, the five senses, patterns, how to hold scissors, and most of all - to love Jesus. When a child comes to me and is excited to tell you what he learned from me, it makes me feel so good. Three-year-olds absorb what they learn like sponges, and it is very rewarding.


I was born in Russia, and I have lived in the U.S. since 1999. First I had a career in the computer field, then I was a stay-at-home mom. When my son, the youngest of three children, started school, I became a tutor for School District 96.  Then I started working as a teacher at a daycare center.  I have been at Open Arms from the start of the 2022 – 2023 school year. It had been my dream to work at a faith-based school, and I am happy that my dream came true. I live in Glenview, within walking distance from the school!


In our spare time my husband and I, depending on the season, like to go biking, hiking, canoeing, fishing and skiing - both downhill and cross-country. I love to spend time with my grandchildren. I feel that I am more of an educator than a nanny in the family and at school.


Education: MS in engineering from Electrotechnical University in St. Petersburg, Russia; Early Childhood Education certificate from Oakton Community College.

Katherine Feerick


I'm Miss Katherine! I have been working at Open Arms for several years now over the summers and winter breaks while I studied at Illinois State University! From the day I first walked into Open Arms I fell in love with the center and was so eager to join the wonderful team and community here! I have worked in every classroom and love seeing the way that each age group grows and develops in such a short time period.  I am so happy I am here to stay and will have the opportunity to build deeper relationships with students and families! I am so excited to implement new curriculums here this year for Music, Art, and Social Emotional Learning and help students learn in new ways! I also love the Daisy 3's room and am looking forward to co-teaching with Ms. Helen as we walk alongside children during such a special and impressionable age. I have been volunteering for faith-based organizations and youth groups for several years, but am so happy I will get to share the love of Jesus everyday at work now too! On the weekends I love spending time with my family and friends! I enjoy watching the Minnesota Vikings, watercolor painting, and of course having a good shopping day! 


Education: State of Illinois Licensed Facility Teaching Credential hours from Illinois State University 

Megan Gerken


Hello my name is Megan Gerken, but the kids call me Ms. Gerken. This will be my tenth year here as lead teacher in the Sunflower 4’s room. I studied elementary education at Illinois State University and graduated in 2009. I found myself moving back home and in need of a job and that’s when I walked through the front doors at Open Arms in 2011. I first started in the toddler room and learned all I needed to know about early childhood care and how to share Jesus’ love through that care.  Each year here has been a learning experience and each year I feel like I have become a stronger teacher and stronger in my faith. My teaching style is a little bit of everything. I really like to keep my learning, play based and very hands on.  I also make time for more structured learning as well.  Besides teaching full time I do enjoy going camping, kayaking, and traveling to see my friends in my free time. I am an avid Cubs fan and a lover of Lego! I am also blessed with 3 nephews, so most weekends I’m in Milwaukee or Lake Forest being Aunt Meg! I can’t wait to see what God has instore for me in the coming year. 


Education: Elementary education

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