LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy is a non-diocesan, non-profit, independent, private school rooted in a classical academic curriculum and teaching students from grades pre-K-12, administered and staffed by Catholic laymen and incorporated under the laws of Illinois. Independent of the Diocese of Rockford, the school is not an agency of and is in no way connected or affiliated with the Diocese of Rockford or any church; however, as faithful, practicing Catholics, the school trustees, administrators and full-time teachers joyfully sign an oath of fidelity to the Magisterium and a profession of faith to the Catholic Church.

Phone: 815-399-3021

3445 Elmwood Road

Rockford, IL 61101

Email: olsha@comcast.net

The heart of the academy’s program lies with our dedicated teachers, who employ proven, traditional teaching methods and best practices. All full-time teachers are practicing Catholics who view all aspects of education through the light of the Faith. Each signs an oath of loyalty to the Magisterium and a profession of faith to the Catholic Church. Our qualified professionals hold degrees from Yale College, Hillsdale College, Franciscan University of Steubenville, and the University of Illinois, among others, and most have many years of experience.

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Mrs. Elizabeth Altham

Head Teacher

Our amazing head teacher, Mrs. Elizabeth Altham (high school and junior high courses) has been teaching at the academy since its inception in 2000, and she has been instrumental in the development of its curriculum and culture. Literature, history, Latin, French, and choir are her areas of expertise. She previously served as assistant editor for The Latin Mass and Sursum Corda magazines, and as amanuensis for William F. Buckley, Jr. for nearly twenty years.  In 1992 she was the Republican candidate for the Connecticut State Senate from the eleventh district. She is the winner of the Salvatori Award for Excellence in Teaching from Hillsdale College. She earned her A.B. in English from Yale College, and graduate credits in history, mathematics, and the philosophy of education from Hillsdale College and Southern Connecticut State University. Mrs. Altham converted to the Catholic faith over thirty years ago. Having crossed the Tiber while an editor at Arlington House Publishers in New York, she credits the following authors as instrumental in her conversion; Fr. Vincent Miceli, Fr. Bryan Houghton, and Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn. Married for over thirty years, until the passing of her husband Jim two years ago, she is the mother of three beautiful young women. 

 

Until handing over history courses to Mr. Sartino this year, Mrs. Altham taught both literature and history classes in the upper school. Teaching history with an appreciation for our Western and Catholic heritage, she regularly had her class consult with notable conservative historians Ozment and Kagan, along with other conservative authors. Truly providing her students with an incomparable education in history and literature, she was honored by historian Richard Brookhiser, who dedicated his book Founders’ Son to Mrs. Altham and her students.

 

Of course, the study of history and literature in a classical education is incomplete without knowledge of Latin. The Academy is now the only Illinois State Board of Education-recognized school in the Rockford area that offers the study of Latin. For nineteen years, Mrs. Altham adeptly taught this official language of the Church before handing over the reins to Evan Williams, M.A. She continues to tutor students in Latin from outside of the Academy.

 

She has led choir for twenty years, and her students have earned awards in the IHSA Music competitions, and have sung at Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The academy choir, under her direction, was also honored to sing at the Legionaries of Mary Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter with Bishop Doran as celebrant years ago, and at the 2017 Hundredth Anniversary of Fatima Mass at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, with Bishop Malloy as celebrant.

 

Our Lord has blessed the academy to have such a faithful, diligent, and capable teacher to inculcate wisdom and virtue in our students, and to mentor our staff these many years. Deo gratias!

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Mr. James Sartino

Teacher (HS/JH)

Mr. James Sartino (high school and junior high) is beginning his second year of teaching at the academy. He previously taught theology at Boylan High School for fifteen years, and at Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox for two. He earned his B.A. in history and secondary education at the University of St. Francis in Joliet. Mr. Sartino has a gift for teaching as well as for singing, and his powerful rendition of St. Lucia may be viewed on our Facebook site. His passion for the faith inspires students each day, not only in theology and history classes, but in the hallways and café as well. Married to Katie, founder of Once Upon a Dream, he is the father of five beautiful children.

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Mr. Evan Williams

Teacher (HS/JH)

Our new upper school teacher, Evan Williams, Ph.D. in progress, has quickly gained the respect and loyalty of his students. Having studied under Reginald Foster, the Vatican’s top Latin linguist, he brings a wealth of fascinating anecdotes to his Latin and composition classes. Mr. Williams is completing his thesis in philosophy from the University of St. Thomas in Texas, where he was under the tutelage of the renowned professor John P. Hittinger. Prior to this, Evan completed a classical studies and philosophy baccalaureate degree at Hillsdale College, and a master’s degree in philosophy from Marquette University. Proficient in classical Greek, he is eager to impart this language to future classes; and acclaimed as a champion wrestler in his youth, he is giving our students the opportunity to participate in club wrestling. Evan is also a member of the Lumen Christi Institute and a lay Dominican; most importantly, he is the devoted husband of Lauren and father of three young daughters.

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Mr. Mark Sayers

Teacher (HS/JH)

Mr. Mark Sayers (high school and junior high) has ten years of teaching experience. He taught at the academy from 2008 to 2010; we were delighted to welcome him back two years ago. He has also previously taught in the Rockford public schools and at Rock Valley College. He earned his B.A. in English literature at Indiana University-Bloomington, with a minor in history, and his M.A. in Catholic Thought and Life at St. Meinrad School of Theology. His post-M.A. studies have focused on mathematics, including college algebra and quantitative literacy. Mr. Sayers also tutors students in ACT and SAT preparation, and is beloved by all!

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Mr. Ron Adams

Athletic Director/P.E./Coach

Mr. Ron Adams is beginning his second year as full-time athletic director at the academy. He has forty years’ experience in coaching basketball and baseball for youth leagues and for high school and junior high programs. He holds ASEP and NFHS coaching certificates, and a CPR/AED/concussion certification. His favorite quotation is from John Wooden: “Make today your masterpiece.” Mr. Adams cheerful smile and positive attitude brightens everyone's day.

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Mrs. Sallie Van Daele

Teacher (LS)

Mrs. Sallie Van Daele (lower school) is also beginning her second year of teaching with us. She has served in surgery and cardiac intensive care at Swedish American Hospital and Rockford Memorial. She earned her R.N. at Swedish American, her B.S. at the College of St. Francis in Joliet, and her MSN at the College of Nursing of the University of Illinois. Mrs. Van Daele has a natural gift for teaching and the results of it are evident in her students’ accomplishments and the love for learning she instills in them.

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Mr. Michael Van Daele

Teacher (LS)

Mr. Michael Van Daele (lower school) has five years of teaching experience. He is beginning his second year of teaching at the academy. He has previously taught at St. Rita School and other private schools. He earned his B.A. in philosophy at Rockford College, and is a veteran of the U.S. Army. Prior to answering the call to educate youth, he was a successful entrepreneur.  Mr. Van Daele has been nominated for and has won several local and national teaching awards. You may see him outside rousing his students to victory as they run each morning after prayers!

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Ms. Jeanette Asam

Teacher (LS)

Ms. Jeanette Asam (lower school) has over ten years of teaching experience with eight of them in Catholic liberal arts schools. She graduated with honors as a Great Books Scholar with a degree in history and theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and she's earned graduate education credits toward her master’s degree. Mrs. Asam, a violinist, also has a gift for music, and she commands loving respect from students under her able tutelage.

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Ms. Addie Beck

Teacher (Kindergarten)

Miss Addie Beck (Kindergarten) is a new teacher this year, but comes with several years of experience assisting with young children in a Montessori setting as well as other local organizations. She graduated from the University of St. Mary, Bismark, ND, with a bachelor of art degree in history and theology, and brings coaching skills in track and field to the academy. Miss Beck’s joyful energy is contagious, and keeps her little ones learning and moving.

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Mrs. Nancy Everhard

Teacher (Preschool)

Mrs. Nancy Everhard (pre-K) is also beginning her second year of teaching at the academy. She previously taught for eight years at St. Peter Catholic School in South Beloit. She earned her B.A. in behavioral psychology at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. She is a lay Carmelite, and very active in spreading the Faith. Mrs. Everhard develops an amazing love for our Lord and His Blessed Mother in her little ones as they learn their prayers, the alphabet, how to count to ten in ten different languages, and so much more!

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Mrs. Toni Cermak

Teacher (Art & Drama)

Mrs. Toni Cermak (art and drama) is beginning her second year of teaching at the academy. She has previously taught art and drama classes for many years, and other courses for three years at Veritas Christi Hybrid Academy in Rockford. She earned her associate’s degree in interior design at the College of DuPage. Mrs. Cermak is passionate about passing on the Catholic faith along with her artistic and dramatic expertise.