We are Leaders Making the Climb...To the Top!

O’Keeffe School of Excellence will prepare our students for college, career and beyond by providing adaptive learning environments, which allow for multiple opportunities to develop individual needs, interests and strengths, enforcing high academic expectations for all students by building the capacity of our staff, providing opportunities for growth and celebrating successes, and developing restorative practices to ensure a positive a supportive environment through conflict resolution.

Together we will prepare our students to become global citizens through a technologically rich curriculum that provides outside experiences and ensures parent and community involvement that ultimately leads to student achievement. 

Pre K-8

O’Keeffe School of Excellence

6940 S. Merrill Ave.
Chicago, IL 60649

Enrollment: 620
A CPS Neighborhood School managed by the AUSL Network

Principal's Message


Welcome to O'Keeffe School of Excellence!

​I believe that a positive culture and climate has to be the foundation that a school is built on.  Effective structures create trusting relationships among students, staff and the community.  With these structures, the focus can be placed on increasing teacher capacity in order to deliver rigorous and engaging instruction to our students that will prepare them for high school, college, careers and their community.  

At O’Keeffe School of Excellence, we are Making the CLIMB by instituting a curriculum study, implementing data drive instruction, improving our overall attendance and increasing parent and community engagement.  Together the students, staff and community of O’Keeffe will Make the CLIMB…to the TOP!  Go Cougars!

Melissa Capinegro



Our Growth In

Steady, positive improvements in academic achievement, student engagement, and parent satisfaction are hallmarks of all AUSL-managed CPS schools. You will find reports for O’Keeffe School of Excellence to the right.

Our History

Building on Our History to
Create a Culture of Excellence


O’Keeffe School of Excellence is named in honor of Isabelle C. O’Keeffe (1869 – 1922), an educator and the driving force behind the establishment of the kindergarten system in Chicago Public Schools. O’Keeffe served on the Board of Education from 1898 to 1904 and 1907 to 1910 and was on the board’s kindergarten committee. In 1898, the committee recommended that kindergartens to be established in the school system and O’Keeffe spoke throughout the city seeking approval of the plan, which voters approved that spring.

O’Keeffe School of Excellence opened in 1925 and originally contained 21 classrooms, a gymnasium, and an auditorium. An eight-room addition was added in 1936 to the north end of the building. 

In response to severe overcrowding at the school during the 1960s, six mobile classrooms were used before a 14 classroom “relocatable” annex building was built in 1971. The annex building is still in use today.

O’Keeffe was renovated in 2013, contains 43 classrooms, and serves 525 students.


AUSL (Academy for Urban School Leadership) is a Chicago nonprofit school management organization that creates schools of excellence by developing highly effective teachers and transforming educational outcomes for students in the lowest performing schools.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) turned over management of O’Keeffe School of Excellence to AUSL in 2013 as a turnaround school. Turning around a school is one approach that CPS uses to improve neighborhood schools that have been failing for many years. The transformation begins with the new leadership and teachers in the building to deliver effective instruction and the right climate and culture to the same neighborhood students.

AUSL is committed to to providing all AUSL students with a quality education to prepare them for college and career.

Staff List

Questions for Our Staff?

If you have any questions, the O’Keeffe School of Excellence staff will be happy to assist you.

Phone: 773-535-0600

Fax: 773-535-0611


Melissa Capinegro
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Ms. Tabitha White
Assistant Principal
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Mr. Terence Knight
Dean of Students
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Mrs. Brigid Comer
Academic Director
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Ms. Melissa Warner
Academic Director
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Mrs. Kuempel
Case Manager: Room 103
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Mrs. Major
Pre-K Teacher: Room B123
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Ms. Stone
Pre-k teacher room B121

Ms. Sperindeo
Kindergarten Teacher: Room B125
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Ms. Guerrero
Kindergarten Teacher: Room B128

Ms. Brett
1st Grade Teacher: Teacher: Room B126
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Ms. Anderson
1st Grade Teacher: Room B224
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Ms. Frollo
2nd Grade Teacher: Room B228
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Ms. Wymer
1st/2nd Grade Teacher: Room B220
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Ms. M. Smith
2nd Grade Teacher: Room B226
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Ms. Kempe
Diverse Learning Teacher: Room B225
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Mrs. Fulson
3rd Grade Teacher: Room109
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Mrs. Graham
3rd Grade Teacher: Room 114
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Mrs. Mettenburg
3rd Grade Teacher: Room 111
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Ms. Donati
3rd Grade Teacher: Room 112
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Ms. White-Mitchell
Diverse Learning Teacher: Room 206
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Ms. Adams
Diverse Learning Teacher: Room 202
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Ms. Dokainos
Diverse Learning Teacher: Room 116
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Ms. Klotz
Diverse Learning Teacher: Room 116
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Mrs. Martinez
4th Grade Teacher: Room 215
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Ms. Burkhalter
4th Grade Math/Science Teacher: Room 216

Ms. Brown
5th Grade Literacy Teacher: Room 214
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Ms. W. Allen
5th Grade Math/Science Teacher: Room 213
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Ms. Berry
6th Grade Literacy Teacher: Room 207
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Ms. S. Smith
7th/8th Grade Math Teacher: Room 212
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Mr. Nathanson
7th/8th Grade Math Teacher: Room 211
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Ms. Morgan
7th/8th Grade Literacy Teacher: Room 209
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Mrs. Turner Burkes
Physical Education Instructor Gymnasium
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Ms. Calhoun
Music Instructor: Room118
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Mr. Allen
Music Instructor: Room 116
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Mrs. Thomas
4th Grade Teacher Room 218
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Support Staff

Ms. Durry
School Clerk

Mrs. Ferguson
School Clerk Assistant

Mr. Mayers

Ms. Brown

Ms. Virgin
Lunchroom Manager

Ms. Ellison
Lunchroom Attendant

Ms. Rogers
Teacher Assistant Pre-k

Ms. Gordon
Teacher Assistant

Ms. Williams
School Social Service Assistant

Ms. Nelson
School Community Rep. 1

Mr. Harris
Instructional Assistant 2

Mr. Short
Senior Security Officer

Mr. Allen
Senior Security Officer

Mr. Dailey

Mr. Britten

Ms. Wesley

Mr. Lee

Mr. McPherson

Mr. Roberts

Mr. Hardiman

Jasmine Sola
City Year 6/7th grade math

Monet Marzette
City Year 5th grade math

Shannon O'donnell
City Year 6/7th grade ELA

Marlissa Stalling
City Year 7/8th grade math

Isaiah James
City Year 4th grade ELA

Israel Saucedo
City Year 4th grade math

Samrean Ahmed
City Year 5th grade ELA

Shelby Khuth
City Year 7/8th grade ELA

Alex Solliday
City Year Administrator