Administrative Staff


Sheila Deal

Executive Director

Sheila Deal has been in the education field since 1986. She began her career working with students with Emotional Disabilities in a Public Junior High School. Three years later, she moved to the private sector and worked with students in a residential/day treatment setting. Obtaining a Master’s in education in 1998 and an Administrative Endorsement in 2002, she moved into an administrative role. She took on the challenge of Principal for a private therapeutic day school in 2006, working with students with Emotional Disabilities, Multiple Disabilities, Autism, and Developmental delays.  She joined Safe Haven School in June of 2015 as the Director of Educational Services for both Safe Haven School campuses. Sheila assumed the role of Executive Director on July 1st, 2021.



Joanna Krause

Director of Clinical Services

Joanna Krause joined the Safe Haven team as the Clinical Director in February of 2022.  Her career in education began in 2006 as a school social worker serving students with disabilities in the public school system for twelve years.  Joanna moved into an administrative role as a Student Services Coordinator at her previous school district, where her responsibilities included; the department chair of social workers, outplacement coordinator, homeless liaison, and overseeing the special education services in multiple schools.  Joanna earned a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois and a Master’s degree in Education Administration from Roosevelt University.  She is a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Illinois and provides ongoing supervision to our therapeutic team.  Most recently, Joanna earned the Director of Special Education endorsement from National Louis University. In her free time, Joanna enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her husband, daughters, and their dog. 



Shawne Greney

Shawne Greeney

Administrative Assistant

Shawne is honored to have joined the Safe Haven School family in 2016 as an administrative assistant.  She has worked for many years in alternative schools.  Shawne enjoys her interactions with students and forming relationships with the outstanding staff at Safe Haven School. She has two sons, loves family, good friends, travel, and animals.




Jan Lawson


Jan joined our staff in September of 2015. She received her Certificate in Bookkeeping from McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Her background in bookkeeping is an aggregate of experience from a diverse group of businesses. Gardening, baking, and pugs are her passions.






Teaching Staff


Jane Conley

Educational Case Manager/Math

Jane is thrilled to be teaching in the middle school at Safe Haven School Lake Bluff.  Her educational background is in science, and she loves sparking her students’ curiosity and seeing where it leads them.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in genetics from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in genetics from the University of Chicago. She also holds master’s degrees in special education and reading and literacy education. Jane has been teaching students with special needs for six years in therapeutic and general education settings. She loves to watch her students grow and thrive at Safe Haven School and looks forward to their future success.


Emily Curry

Educational Case Manager/Middle School

Emily graduated from Elmhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education with an LBS 1 endorsement. Emily has spent her career working with children who have Autism, Behavioral Disorders, and Learning Disabilities. Emily aims to inspire, support, advocate, and create a safe and welcome environment for students daily. She loves to watch her students grow and thrive at Safe Haven School. In her free time, Emily loves to do DIY crafts, read, cook and spend time with family and friends. 






Cassie Loyo

Educational Case Manager/English and Social Studies

Cassie Loyo joined Safe Haven in October 2017 and enjoys being part of the Safe Haven team. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Northeastern Illinois University and a Master’s in Education from Quincy University with an LBS1 endorsement. Cassie has worked in therapeutic school settings for ten years, primarily with students who have autism and behavioral disorders. She has taught a variety of students with a range of disabilities from middle school age to high school. When she is not teaching, Cassie enjoys reading, rooting for the Cubs, and spending time with her two sons and husband. 



Thomai Ntanga

Physical Education







Social Work Staff

Irina Akimova

Clinical Case Manager









Sarah Matchen

Clinical Case Manager

Sarah Matchen graduated with her Master’s in Social Work in 2007 and has focused on working with children, adolescents and families throughout her career.  Outside of school, Ms. Matchen serves on the Board of Directors for the Tourette Syndrome Camping Organization and loves kayaking and crafting.



Kevin Ockrim

Clinical Case Manager

Kevin graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a Masters in School Social Work. He has focused on children, families, and adolescents throughout his career. He aims to inspire, support, and advocate for the youth in any capacity. In his free time, he walks dogs and goes for long bike rides. Kevin is excited to be a part of Safe Haven School!






Nancy Pieroni

Clinical Case Manager

Nancy Pieroni joined the Safe Haven staff in January 2019.  She earned her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work.  She has focused on children, adolescents, and families throughout her career, working in a variety of settings. When not at school, she enjoys spending time with family and friends and the outdoors.  





Joanne Ramseyer

Art Therapist

Joanne Ramseyer, MA, ATR-BC, LCPC is excited to offer the students at Safe Haven School her passionate belief in the power of creativity to promote resilience and growth and to join such a highly dedicated, caring, and professional team. Joanne is a Board Certified, Registered Art Therapist and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has practiced, taught, and contributed extensively to the growth of art therapy services in the Chicago area for over 25 years. She is the former Director of an extensive art therapy program she created for all ages at Community Counseling Centers of Chicago and is currently on the adjunct faculty of the graduate art therapy program at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she has taught for 20 years. Joanne is highly skilled in working with children and adolescents who present with trauma and other serious mental health and behavioral issues through her lively, enthusiastic, and nurturing approach.


Art Therapist

Stephanie Reyes

Art Therapist

Stephanie Reyes, MA, from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, has completed a degree in Art Therapy and Counseling. Previously working at Rush Day School and Little City School, Stephanie has worked with children and adolescents along the autism spectrum, emotionally disabled students, as well as individuals presenting intellectual and developmental disabilities. While in graduate school, Stephanie also completed an internship at Advocate Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, providing art therapy for clients with various disabilities. Art therapy has been a lifelong passion of hers, and she is excited to join the staff of Safe Haven School. She aims to inspire and encourage young students to explore their minds and expand their imagination through the art process.


Daisy Rome

Clinical Case Manager

Daisy Rome is excited to have joined the Safe Haven staff in September 2021. She graduated in 2013 with her Master’s in Social Work with a mental health concentration and a Certification in Evidence-Based Mental Health Practice with Children and Adolescents approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. She has focused primarily on working with adults, children, and adolescents throughout her social work career. She has worked with children, adolescents, and adults along the autism spectrum, emotionally disabled students, as well as individuals presenting intellectual and developmental disabilities. When not in school, she enjoys spending time with her 3 dogs, family, and friends. In addition to going on adventurous travels around the world and outdoor summer concerts.


Therapy Dog
Riley attends school 2-3 times a week. She is very good at her job of making staff and students feel calm
and happy. She enjoys treats, walks, and playing with the students.  Riley Joined the Safe Haven team with
Joanna Krause. 





Paraprofessional Staff

Kelly Bruchert

Kelly Bruchert


Kelly is a paraprofessional at Safe Haven School Lake Bluff. Her passion for Special Education began at a young age and has been working with students with special needs ever since. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois. Kelly has over ten years of experience in both residential and therapeutic day school settings. She enjoys spending most of my free time loving her two dogs (and sometimes her cat), babysitting, doing respite work with children with special needs, baking and making crafty things, and seeing my favorite musicians in concert as often as possible. 



Kelly Evans


Kelly is very happy to be part of Safe Haven School. She has spent many years working in the public school system and also working with special needs students. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, watching movies, cooking, arts and crafts, and spending time with family. 






Kathi Felt


She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Carthage College in Social Work. She has 15 years of experience in child welfare. She enjoys spending free time with her pets, family, and friends. 



Johnny Guarnieri


Johnny Guarnieri comes to Safe Haven School from the public school system, where he spent two years working in various special education classrooms.  Mr. Guarnieri has three boys of his own at home who keep him very busy. He also works as a professional musician: writing, performing, and recording music. He is excited to be a part of the team at Safe Haven School!




Lucia Perez


Lucia Perez is excited to have joined the Safe Haven team! She has been working at Safe Haven since May 2016. She brings 9 years of experience in working at a therapeutic day school. Prior to Safe Haven, Ms. Perez was working at a therapeutic day school in Mt.Prospect. She graduated from National-Louis University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science and A.A.S in Human Services. Ms.Perez enjoys playing sports and spending time with the family.     





Benjamin Seidman

Substitute Teacher/Paraprofessional

Ben transitioned to Safe Haven School from Waukegan, previously working as a crisis intervention specialist. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science from National Louis University, Ben became very involved at his previous school in crisis intervention, sports coaching, and working with students of all ages and grade levels.  Ben’s passion for working in special education led him to Safe Haven School, where he has found his niche working with the students there as well as the wonderful staff. In his free time, Ben competes in weightlifting competitions, records his own music, and spends time with his registered emotional support cat.


Safe Haven School Founder


Holly Schaefer


As Founder of Safe Haven School, Holly Schaefer draws upon deep educational and practical experience in the field of special education as well as a strong personal commitment to children with special needs. This commitment and experience have combined to fill the need that has been expressed by special education professionals, parents, and the students themselves. Over the course of her career, Holly has had hands-on experience across all grade levels in both public and private therapeutic day schools. She began her career as a classroom assistant, became a teacher, a department head, a supervisor, a curriculum director, and an educational director. Holly received her Bachelor’s Degree in special education and her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. Holly Retired on July 1st, 2021.