Loueva Smith, B.A.
South Loop Director

Loueva Smith realized her passion for supporting and educating children after obtaining her A.A.S degree within the field of early childhood. For the first five years of her career she led a preschool classroom within a childcare center. She later moved on to work alongside a BCBA to implement ABA therapy. Loueva has also worked in an elementary school setting where she assisted children with special needs in an inclusive classroom. As a paraprofessional, Loueva gained a strong understanding of differentiated instruction. She utilized this philosophy to support her students’ individual cognitive abilities. Appealing to her student’s unique growth allowed her to meet each child’s academic level. Concurrent with her work, Loueva continued her education, and in May of 2018, she graduated with high honors from Ashford University, where she obtained a BA in childhood education. Throughout her education and work experiences, Loueva has learned to incorporate the values of inclusion, diversity, and independence into her philosophy. With those values in mind, she has decided to return to the early childhood field and accept the role of director of the new South Loop location. With her skills and drive, she will help advance the vision of Living the Language and provide children and families with a high-quality bilingual program.


Nana Aba Peters, Ph.D, E.C.E.
Bronzeville Director

Nana Aba has been a part of LTL since its inception, and is instrumental in our development and success. Her personal interests are in education, social change, and community development. She attended Howard University and holds a Bachelor's degree in French, a Master's degree in French/Francophone literature, and a Doctorate degree in African Development and Public Policy. She has experience teaching young children, teenagers and college students. At Living the Language, Nana is responsible for program development and implementation as well as coordination and day-to-day operations.


Adriana Spiridon, M.A.
Customer Relations Manager

Adriana is our new dynamic customer relations associate. Born in Romania, she holds a Bachelor's degree in Foreign Languages (English & French) and a Master's degree in Translations. Before leaving Europe, she worked as head of international relations for two Romanian accounting and auditing institutes, so she is skilled in public relations, event planning and office management. She is full of energy and very creative when it comes to interacting with children. She loves fashion, healthy eating, and hopes to hit the lottery one day and get to travel all around the globe :) Adriana ensures the smooth operation of our daily activities and helps increase LTL visibility.


Sandie Johnson, M.S.W. 
Child Therapist

Sandie is a child therapist and collaborates with Living the Language. She speaks Spanish and French and has two bilingual children. She holds a B.A. in French and Communications and a Masters in Social Work from UIC. She has worked for 12 years with children pre-K through 8th grade in the public school setting.  

Sandie’s work focuses around using play to assess a child’s developmental milestones, and help children process circumstances in their world, and to understand better how a child is perceiving life circumstances. Play is a great way to get a glimpse inside a child’s mind since the language skills for “talk therapy” are still developing. 

She loves teaching social skills to preschoolers in fun, playful ways.


Dionne McKenzie M.Ed.
After-school Program Coordinator

Dionne has been with LTL from its inception and brings invaluable knowledge and experience to our team. She has worked with children of all ages for over two decades. Dionne holds a Bachelor's degree in French and is a certified teacher with a Master's Degree in Education. She has also taught in the Chicago Public School system. In her free time, Dionne practices Capoeira with her four adorable children.

Dionne oversees the day-to-day management of Living the Language to ensure a productive and disciplined learning environment.


Concepción Sandoval B.A.
Le Petit Nido Spanish Teacher

Concepción joined Living the Language in the spring of 2014 and immediately had a huge impact on the staff and kids! She has a strong work ethic and is dedicated to seeing children succeed. She received her bachelor's degree in Accounting from UIC and has worked as a bilingual tax professional and instructor. She is a mother of 4 adorable children and has been working with kids for over a decade. Concepción has a passion for creating stimulating activities, and enjoys creating scenarios to get her students engaged in the target language.


Lorena Armenta Cordero
Teach-sitter and Camp Coordinator

Lorena joined the LTL family in the summer of 2015 and was loved by the children and staff from her first day. As a brilliant artist, she loves teaching others to create their own art as she believes it to be the universal language. 

Lorena is a passionate teacher, helping children express themselves through her favorite activities: art and dance. Her focus is always on child-led activities because she believes they learn best when their interests are highlighted.

She gives back to her community by painting a mural in her High School and running races! Lorena is an avid photographer, and is currently working on a degree in Pediatric Nursing.


Elsy Lopez, B.S.
Teach-sitter and Spanish after-school teacher

Elsy joined the Living the Language team in the Spring of 2016. 

Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, she received her Bachelor's degree in Human Resources Management from Western Michigan University and has been working with children for the last 4 years. Elsy loves to embrace her culture and teach her native language. She believes that learning a second language is extremely important because it opens every child's mind up to ways of thinking they might not have used before and give them the key to better explore and understand cultures beyond their own. 

In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, going for walks, bike rides and traveling.