About Us

We began collaborating on informal homeschool workshops, classes, and activities in 2008. As we worked together, we found that we shared a similar educational vision for our families. The following year, as our oldest children prepared to graduate from high school, we set out to develop a curriculum program that would help us reach the goals we had set. Through the years, lessons and curricula have been tested and evolved but our purpose remains the same: to nurture a love of learning and to prepare students for academic opportunities at the college level and beyond. 
  • Dee Chapman (Co-founder, 2009; Instructor, 2009-present) - Dee and her husband Bill have six children, with three of them spanning three levels of the Academy.  Dee's family started homeschooling in 2005 after having sent three of their oldest children to a private school in Champaign, IL from 1999-2005.  Their oldest daughter (Bri) graduated from the University of Illinois in 2016, and she currently works as a software engineer at Apple in Cupertino, CA.  Their oldest son (Ben) attended an intensive with San Francisco Ballet on scholarship in summer 2014, and started UIUC in fall 2015 as a JBT Scholar studying Dietetics.  Their second oldest son (Bliss) is a UIUC freshman, majoring in Statistics and Computer Science.  Bliss also works at Agrible as a software developer.  The Chapman family also spends time with the Champaign Urbana BalletDee has BS & MS degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois, and enjoys teaching math, computer science, and science, and learning along with the children in other subjects. Her husband, Bill, is a lecturer in the UIUC Computer Science department, after having spent close to 25 years in the UIUC Atmospheric Science department doing climate research. He also consults with Agrible, a new venture in Research Park.  He has previously taught Earth Science at JiL.  Dee’s personal passions include planning and developing curriculum, spending time with her kids and family, attending her children's activities and events, walks in the park, and listening to public radio shows.  She also freelances as a computer programmer for a text book publisher.  Dee's homeschooling goal is to create lifelong learners who are happy, curious, thoughtful, brave, and motivated to follow their interests and passions.
  • Naomi Young (Co-founder, 2009; Instructor, 2009-2015) - Naomi and her husband David have two children who were home schooled K-12. Their son is majoring in Graphic Design at the University of Illinois, interning at Web Management and Support for ACES, and working part-time as an AppleCare College Advisor. He is a third-degree black belt and a former instructor at Illini HMD Tae Kwon Do. Their daughter is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance classical ballet program and a Girls Who Code alum who attends Colorado College as a Quest Scholar. Naomi has a BA from Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, where she studied theology, French, and business. She holds a Senior Belt in tae kwon do and has sewn costumes for local ballet productions at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and the Virginia Theater for the past 13 years.  At JiL, she has taught history, literature, and writing; for the past six years, she has tutored English, French and test prep, including students who have been accepted to University Laboratory High School (UIUC), Illinois Math and Science Academy, and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Naomi enjoyed home schooling immensely and appreciates having been able to share many experiences together with her children.  
  • Yael Gertner (Instructor, 2011-present) - Yael and her husband have one child who has always been home schooled and is currently a student in the Grammar classroom.  Yael has taught history, literature, writing, computer science, math, and science over the past four years in the group.  She has Bachelor and Master's degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a PhD in Computer and Information Science from the University of Pennsylvania.  Her thesis was in Cryptography.  Most recently, she was a Beckman Fellow at UIUC and conducted research on language acquisition and child development.  Yael has taught computer science classes at MIT and UPenn and Psychology classes at UIUC. Yael's husband, Mahesh Viswanathan, is an Associate Professor in the UIUC Department of Computer Science.