Leadership Team

The 21st Century Preparatory School leadership team is comprised of three members:  Executive Director, Arletta Tucker (x1170); Elementary Principal, Jennifer Petruska (x7862); Middle School Principal, and Kelly Llanas (x7829).

Arletta Tucker

I believe the children are our future...

I believe each and every child has the potential to bring something unique and special to the world. I will help children to develop their potential by believing in them as capable individuals. I will assist children in discovering who they are, so they can express their own opinions and nurture their own ideas. As the core of what makes life so fascinating, I have a vision of a world where people learn to respect, accept and embrace the differences between us.

Every classroom presents a unique community of learners that varies not only in abilities, but also in learning styles. My role as the Executive Director is to make sure children have the tools with which to cultivate their own gardens of knowledge.  At the 21st Century Preparatory School, I will help create a caring, safe and equitable environment where each child can blossom and grow. I will allow children to become responsible members of our school community by using strategies such as positive discipline and democratic principles. By showing children how to become responsible for themselves as well as their own education, I am giving them the tools to become successful in life, to believe in themselves, and to love themselves.

Teaching is a lifelong learning process. It is a process of learning about new philosophies and new strategies; learning from the parents and community; learning from colleagues; and especially learning from the children. Children have taught me to open my mind and my heart to the joys, the innocence and the diversity of ideas in the world. Because of this, I will never forget how to smile with the new, cherish the old and laugh with the children.

Jennifer Petruska

Education is my passion, and I consider myself a lifelong learner.  I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education with honors from the University of Iowa.  My undergraduate honors thesis focused on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  In 2004, I earned my Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction from National-Louis University in Evanston, Illinois.  As a part of my graduate program, I was given the opportunity to pursue National Board Certification.  I earned my certification as a Middle Childhood Generalist in November 2004.  In 2014, I was recertified.  In May 2011, I received a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which enabled me to receive my Director of Instruction and Principal licenses.

Prior to joining the 21st Century Preparatory School staff, I was a classroom teacher and gifted and talented coordinator.  I taught third grade for five years.  I spent two of those years in San Antonio, Texas at Pecan Valley Elementary School.  At Pecan Valley Elementary, I received a technology grant which changed my teaching philosophy.  I believe technology should be integrated in the classroom on a daily basis.

I returned to Illinois after September 11 because I felt the distance from my family was too great.  I was fortunate to find a position in Antioch, Illinois at Oakland Elementary School.  During the three years I was in Antioch, I received a lot of valuable training in differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all learners.  The technology knowledge I gained in San Antonio coupled the differentiation experience from Antioch prepared me for my next position, gifted and talented coordinator.

For nine years, I served as the gifted and talented coordinator for Riverview School, a pre-kindergarten through eighth grade school.  Throughout my time there, I revamped the program, greatly increasing services for not only the students identified as gifted and talented, but for any student who sought additional challenge.  In addition to working with students and coordinating extracurricular clubs and events, I served as an instructional coach for teachers.  I provided assistance in planning and differentiating curriculum.  At Riverview, I learned the importance of student voice, rigor, and creativity in the curriculum.  I also gained valuable experience in collaboration to increase student achievement.  As a result of my efforts, I was honored with a Herb Kohl Fellowship in 2009 as one of 25 specialists in the state of Wisconsin.  In October 2014, I received the Gifted Educator of the Year award from the Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted.

Whenever I have free time, I love to travel.  My adventures have taken me to China, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Egypt, South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Morocco, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Turkey, England, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and Spain.  I believe it is important to incorporate multicultural literature and current world events whenever possible because our kids today are living in a global community.

I was fortunate to receive the role of elementary principal here at 21st Century Preparatory School in 2014.  I like to combine my passion for technology integration, differentiation, student voice, rigor, creativity, collaboration, and global learning in this new role to help all students grow academically, socially, and emotionally.

Kelly Llanas

Leaders of 21st Century Education programs should recognize that children have evolved and live in a very different world from the one in which many of us live. The five key 21st Century Skills that have been identified as critical for students’ success in a global economy are:

Critical Thinking & Problem Solving, Creative Thinking Skills, Communication Skills, Collaboration Skills, and Global Citizenship.  It is my mission to support students in their attainment of these skills by facilitating the following supports:

Environment:  Students should be able to learn in an environment where they feel safe from physical and/or emotional harm. Students and parents should clearly understand expectations within the school and feel that they have a voice when concerns arise. I believe that we must work on building strong relationships between our teachers and students as well as our administrators-teachers-and students so that every person feels valued.

Communication: I believe that communication is critical on every level and that communication is also our biggest challenge.  If we want to develop communication skills in our students, we must begin with ourselves.

Student Engagement: Children spend a great deal of their lives at school.  I believe that this time should be well spent with them participating in highly engaging lessons that apply to the world in which they live and the greater global community. I believe that assignments should provide opportunities for students to be creative and express their opinions and feelings.

Academic rigor: I believe that children will rise to the challenges that we set for them. I believe in high expectations for all children. I also believe that not every child learns in the same way and that it is our duty to know and understand our students so that they may reach their highest potential.

Collaboration: I believe that teaching should no longer be an isolated profession. Working together for the betterment of children is the best way to ensure that every child in our school receives the best education that he/she can get. This is not just our mission, it is our duty.