Our staff in the Religious Education Department are an amazing group of individuals. We have volunteer teachers, parents, & guest speakers who give of their time, energy, & experience each Sunday morning for the students. The volunteers may be there to teach a special class, such as Carol Petersen’s highly popular clay workshops. The volunteers might be helping with Story for All Ages, participating as a guest in the classrooms for the day, or providing insights for the children in some other way.

We also have paid staff members who are part time. These are insightful individuals, committed to working with children, who give of their energy to help run the nursery & assist our dedicated volunteers.

Here is a snapshot of our Religious Education (RE) staff for the 2015-2016 church year!

Nursery Teachers 2016-2017 (0-5 Years)


School Age Classroom  2016-2017 (6-10 Years)


Junior High and High School Classroom 2016-2017 (11-18 Years)



 See Also Director of Religious Education:Christopher Bakker  

Religious Education Assistants 2016-2017

Hazar Ahmed

Ava Kemppainen

Volunteer Teachers 2016-17

Nancy Mork Bakker

Gale Holmlund

Rita Maniotis

Sandy Guzman

Volunteer Congregation Members 2016-17

Carol Petersen (Clay Workshops)

nancyNancy Mork Bakker – Nancy is an instructor in the nursery program at Third Unitarian Church. She has her Master degree in Social Work as well as an infant specialization. She works at Erikson Institutes Fussy Baby Network where she provides home visits to families who have a baby that cries a lot, doesn’t sleep well and or struggles with feeding. She has been there for almost 13 years!

Nancy is the mother of Pierce who is 9 and wife of Christopher. As a family they love to travel. Nancy enjoys gardening, reading and playing trains with Pierce. She and her family have been attending TUC  for 4 years and has been volunteering in the classroom for much of that time.




Hazar Ahmed – Hazar is a Sophomore at Oak Park and River Forest High School. She has lived in the Chicago area almost all of her life. She lived in Dubai for a year when she was little, but other than that she has lived in Wilmette and has been in Oak Park for about a year. This will be her first year working with the children of TUC. She loves to dance, in fact she is on the dance team at her school. She also loves fashion and is hoping to pursue a career in fashion merchandising. Hazar loves working with kids and is so excited to begin her journey here at TUC!



Ava Kemppainen – Ava’s family has been attending TUC for over two years now. Her mom is Venessa Tarbell and her dad is John Kemppainen. Her sisters are Helena, Emma, and Elinor.  Ava likes to draw, act, sing, and write in her free time. She loves to watch live theater, and she attends Senn High School. She’ll be working in the nursery this year. Ava is hoping to get to know all the children, parents, and members of TUC more this year in her new role.


Sandy was born in St.Louis, Missouri and moved to Chicago for school in the 90’s.  She has been attending TUC with her child since 2009.  Sandy co-chairs the RE team and is a member of the Auction Team and the TUC Board.  When not working at a microphone company, Sandy enjoys biking, baking, and exploring new restaurants.

Rita Maniotis is a certified teacher in English Language Arts, Drama, Speech and Special Education.  She has taught religious education at Unity Temple as a former member for almost all grade levels.  The Forums brought her to TUC where she enjoys working with young people, doing coffee hour and participating any time a choir is needed.