Faculty and Staff


Armknecht_TravisTravis Armknecht, B.A., M.A. - 9th Grade English
Mr. Armknecht grew up in Nebraska and received his B.A. in Journalism/PR and Theatre Arts from Concordia University there. His initial plan was to work in theater, either as a professional or in higher education, but as graduation came closer, he felt a calling to teach high school. While working in a factory and saving money to return to school for his teaching degree, he got a call from a friend in Indonesia about a drama teaching position that had opened suddenly. In 2004, he and his wife headed for Indonesia, where they both taught in a suburb of Jakarta for three years. They traveled extensively while there, and still consider it their second home. They returned in 2007 and settled in St. Louis with their two dachshunds and the cat they’d rescued in Indonesia. Mr. Armknecht received his MA from Webster University in Teaching Communication Arts with an emphasis in Media Literacy. He is a member of the Journalism Education Association and the National Council of Teachers of English, and he and his wife are members of the Gateway Lo-Downs, a local dachshund owner’s society and enjoy participating in many events with the group. Website: www.mrarmknecht.weebly.com Email link: travis.armknecht@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Bachman
Fred BachmanSecurity   Mr. Bachman spent over 35 years with the St. Louis police department. After his retirement from the force, he worked as a security guard at Third Baptist Church where he first joined the GCAA team, then moved with us to our new building full-time. He and wife live in Wentzville, and have three grown children and six grandchildren. Not only does he keep traffic flowing and our building safe, “Mr. Fred” gets to know every single GCAA student and is an integral part of our GCAA family. Email link: freddie.bachman@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Beier_StephanieStephanie (Nicki) Beier, M.A.T., B.A. – Dance Mrs. Beier earned her MAT and BA in dance and performing arts from Lindenwood University where she taught for five years. While teaching dance educational programs in public schools for MADCO (Modern American Dance Company) and teaching dance to Autistic adults, she was inspired to share her passion with students and got her certification in Dance and PE. She received the Dance Award for Lindenwood University’s dance program and studied on scholarship at the Joffery Ballet School, the Edge Performing Arts Centre in Los Angeles, the School of Hartford Ballet and Rivernorth Chicago.  Mrs. Beier has performed for several companies locally and abroad such as the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and MADCO. Email link: stephanie.beier@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Black_DonnaDonna Black, B.S. – Title I Math  Mrs. Black has a BS with Distinction in Environmental Health from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., a Post Baccalaureate Certification in Computer Science from Kean University in Union, N.J., and her MA in Teaching from Missouri Baptist University. Email link: donna.black@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Breeden_DeannaDeanna Breeden, B.S. – Math II and Pre-Algebra Mrs. Breeden earned her BS in Education with an emphasis in Math at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri. She loves math and enjoys helping students learn new concepts! She has taught in both Texas and Missouri. Music has been a big part of her life and she grew up playing the piano, singing in choirs, participating in show choir, musicals and playing the alto saxophone in high school and university bands. Ms. Breeden and her husband, Jim, have three children, one of whom is a happy student here at GCAA! www.mrsbreedensmath.weebly.com Email link: deanna.breeden@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Brockman_JessicaJessica Brookman - ELL Teacher
Email link: jessica.brookman@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Campbell_LaurenLauren Campbell 7th Grade Math I am the new 7th grade math teacher at GCAA. I was born and raised in St. Louis, Mo and graduated from Harris-Stowe State University in May of 2012, earning my Bachelor of Science degree in Education. I have worked previously in other charter schools in the city of St. Louis and when outside of school I spend most of my time with my 7 year old son. I am super excited to be joining the GCAA family. http://mscampbellsmathclass.weebly.com/ laurencampbell@grandcenterartsacademy.org
Email link: laurencampbell@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Clayton_Megan
Megan Clayton, B.S.Ed. – Visual Art  Mrs. Clayton graduated from Missouri State University with her BSEd in Art Education, K-12. Before arriving at Grand Center Arts Academy, she taught at Liberty Junior High and Blue Springs High School, both in the Kansas City area. In addition to teaching, she is also a practicing artist. Mrs. Clayton has traveled the country doing performance painting for various events and creating commissioned art for clients. She lives with her husband, Scott, in Town and Country, where they will soon welcome their first child. Email link: megan.clayton@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Cummings_KathleenKathleen CummingsSpecial Education

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Davenport_RashaadRashaad Davenport - School Counselor Rashaad Davenport received his B.A. from Missouri Baptist University, where he majored in Elementary Education. He went on to teach fifth grade at a neighboring district for a couple of years. While teaching, Mr. Davenport felt a strong passion to counsel students, so he pursued his M.A. in Counseling. While obtaining his degree, Mr. Davenport became a Middle School Counselor at a local charter school, before joining the staff at GCAA. Mr. Davenport has a wife and one child, and enjoys coaching, playing and watching basketball. Email link:  Email link: rashaad.davenport@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Jess DewesJess Dewes – Visual Art Ms. Dewes is an art teacher and professional photographer. In the field of photography, she has worked both commercially and editorially for a variety of publications and purposes. She has also exhibited her personal work in assorted galleries and venues throughout the Midwest. She considers portraiture to be her specialty, although she embraces all art forms as essential to the true understanding of art and art-making. As a teacher, Ms. Dewes has worked with students from pre-K to college teaching photography, ceramics, sculpture, and visual art survey courses. From 2004-2009, Ms. Dewes taught art for the School District of University City in both Elementary and Secondary classrooms. Ms. Dewes owned her own photo studio for five years prior to joining the staff at GCAA. She is an active member of the St. Louis art community and feels extremely privileged to be a part of the Grand Center Arts Academy faculty.
Email link: jess.dewes@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Dickson_Marilyn
Marilyn DicksonISS (In-School Suspension Supervisor) Ms. Dickson taught for the St. Louis Board of Education for 28 years.  Her lifetime certification is mathematics.   She’s been listed in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers multiple times.  Ms. Dickson is at GCAA to help the students stay on the right track in all of their education performances. Email link:  marilyn.dickson@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Dinwiddie_Ben Ben Dinwiddie – U.S, History, AP Benjamin Dinwiddie is a St. Louis native that has recently rejoined the Show-Me community after a brief stint in the Sandwich Islands where he taught Hawaiian history for two years. Previously, he was a world history teacher for four years at McCluer North High School in Florissant, where he grew up. Mr. Dinwiddie holds two bachelor degrees, and attended law school in Colorado before coming back to education to pursue his true passion. He is a father of two strapping and precocious young sons and spends his spare time playing music, reading, and traveling. Besides his unending motivation to history education and working with young people in the community, Mr. Dinwiddie founded an organization that provides humanitarian travel experiences for at-risk youth. He is very excited to be a part of the GCAA family and hopes that his work here will have a lasting impact on the lives and future success of our students.
Email link: ben.dinwiddie@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Sha-Ron Edwards – Special Education assistant sha-ron.edwards@grandcenterartsacademy.orgEdwards_Sha-RonSha-ron Edwards

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Farnworth_DeniseDenise Farnworth, B.S. - Math I & II Mrs. Farnworth graduated from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville with her BS in Elementary Education. After graduating, she worked for two years with 6th grade learning-disabled students in O’Fallon, Illinois. She then taught middle school at a parochial school for five years in Maryville, Illinois. Most recently, Mrs. Farnworth taught 5th grade for three years at a charter school in St. Louis. Her favorite level is 6th grade, and she is very excited to be teaching GCAA 6th graders. She resides in Illinois with her husband, Jason, five-year old son and infant twin boys. Family is very important to Mrs. Farnworth; they support her teaching and hear about her students’ accomplishments often. Email link: denise.farnworth@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Frederickson_MattMatt Frederickson – Principal
Matt Frederickson has 20 years of experience in education. In Rockwood School District, he has held roles as Assistant Principal of the HS Summer School at Lafayette High School, District Director of curriculum, and as their Fine Arts Coordinator. He has worked for Quachita Baptist University as the Director of Athletic Bands, in Union R-XI School District as head director of bands, and in Gasconade County Schools as band director. At the post-secondary level, Frederickson has held adjunct faculty positions at MO Baptist University, Lindenwood University, Community Music School of Webster University and St. Charles Community College, among several others. He has also worked for COCA- Center of Center of Creative Arts.
Email link: matt.frederickson@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Frigillana_Ted
Ted Frigillana, M.Ed. - Middle School Principal Mr. Fridge, as he is fondly known by his students, earned his M.Ed. at Maryville University. He was named “Most Outstanding Senior” of New Mexico State University. Mr. Frigillana has been featured in US News and World Report, run for local government, and after meeting Dan Quayle, had him autograph a potato(e). Mr. Frigillana started at GCAA as the 7th grade social studies teacher, and this year moves up to his new position as principal of GCAA’s middle school. His website can be found at www.heymrfrig.com. Email link: ted.frigillana@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Gage_KristineKristine Gage – Vocal Music Miss Gage received her BA in Music from Saint Louis University as well as her BME in Choral Music Education from Webster University. While studying at SLU, she sang with and directed the all-female a cappella group Beyond All Reason in addition to the co-ed a cappella group Decadence, which she co-founded. She is the recipient of the 2012 Saint Louis University Arion Award in Music. At Webster, she sang and toured with the Chamber Singers, a group featured at state and national conferences and in an instructional DVD produced by GIA Publications. Miss Gage spent a year singing with the all-female, semi-professional a cappella quintet Jaded and now focuses her energy on directing GCAA’s two new a cappella ensembles, The Rhythm Chasers (all-female) and Not Your Forte (co-ed). In her spare time, you may find her representing the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America (CASA) as the ambassador to all high school, collegiate, and post-collegiate a cappella groups in the state of Missouri, teaching camps at COCA, and serving as a certified adjudicator at quarter and semifinal rounds of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA-the competition made famous by Pitch Perfect!) throughout the Midwest region. A self-confessed cat lady, she resides in Webster Groves with her beloved three cats and two dogs. Her website can be found at:
Email link: kristine.gage@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Goodin_Andrew
Andrew Goodin, B.S., M.Ed. – Makerspace Manager Andrew Goodin manages the GCAA Makerspace, a collaborative workshop in which students use their artistic abilities to solve real-world problems in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  He earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Washington State University and a Masters of Education from University of Missouri-St. Louis.  Andrew is co-founder of The Disruption Department, an educational technology nonprofit that creates tangible STEAM learning opportunities for students from under-resourced neighborhoods in St. Louis.  For his work, Andrew has been recognized as one of St. Louis Business Journal’s “30 Under 30,” and was awarded the St. Louis Science Center’s Loeb Prize for Teaching Excellence.  Andrew also plays snare drum with the John Ford Highland Pipe Band. “I’m honored to be part of the renowned GCAA faculty and am committed to helping our school stand out as one of the region’s top for STEAM education.  I’ve observed that students learn most when they create the meaning for themselves.  The GCAA Makerspace is a cutting-edge opportunity for students to create authentic products that showcase their learning.  I look forward to meeting the families of GCAA and having you to our new space!” Email link: andrew.goodin@grandcenterartsacademy.org

Daniel Grimes – 8th Grade Math
I was Born and raised In Harrisburg, Illinois. I served in US Marine Corps from 85-91 as a plane captain/jet engine mechanic on F-4 Phantoms, A-4 Skyhawks, and AV-8B Harriers. For my education I earned my Associates in Applied Science-Southeastern Illinois College 1993 and my BS Math Education SIU-Carbondale 1997. I taught in several schools from Tennessee and Southern Illinois. I have one daughter—13 years old. My interests include fishing, hiking, rafting, St. Louis Cardinal baseball, Dallas Cowboy football, and whatever my daughter is involved in. I’m happy to be a part of the GCAA staff and looking forward to working with the staff and the outstanding students here.
Email link: daniel.grimes@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Guss_BeccaBecca Guss – Title 1 Reading
Mrs. Guss graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Elementary Education and a minor in Japanese Studies. She was an active participant in the music program there and was one of the founding members of the female acapella group on campus. After graduation, Mrs. Guss taught in University City and Brentwood and earned her M.A.T. in Communication Arts from Webster University. She later added a Reading Specialist Certification. Mrs. Guss began teaching at GCAA in 2013 and has loved working with middle schoolers! When not in school, Mrs. Guss spends time reading, running, singing and playing volleyball. Mrs. Guss lives with her husband and two kids.
Email link: rebecca.guss@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Hagan_Dave
Dave Hagan – Guitar/Band
Email link: dave.hagan@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Stephanie Hogan – Special Ed/OT stephanie.hogan@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Howe_MikeMichael Howe, B.S., M.Ed. – 10th Grade Chemistry Mr. Howe is very excited about the potential of GCAA as he joins our 10th grade team.  He comes to GCAA after eleven years in the Clayton school district, where he taught Honors Chemistry, Chemistry and Biology, while serving as the Science Department Chairperson. Previously, Mr. Howe taught at Parkway South High School in all levels of Chemistry, served as department chair, adult education director and as principal of the Parkway/Maryville Summer Academy.  He is looking forward to exploring ways to further the integration of arts and sciences, as well as for new opportunities to play his trumpet and brand new flugelhorn! Michael Howe’s Chemistry Website: http://www.howechem.net/ Email link:  michael.howe@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Irving_RebeccaRebecca Irving, B.A., M.A.S.L. – 9th Grade Algebra IA, I & II Ms. Irving has her BA in Secondary Math Education from Wilmington College in Ohio and her MA in School Leadership from Baker University in Kansas. She taught college math for four years, high school math for 15 years and most recently, junior high math for three years, where she was also an instructional coach for the math department. She served as principal of a specialized school for emotionally disturbed and behaviorally disturbed students for three years as well. Ms. Irving has been an active costume designer and assistant theater director for high school productions for several years. It has been a lifelong dream of Ms. Irving’s to teach at an arts school and where she is surrounded by creative achievers. She has two adult children who both are involved in the performing arts. Her oldest son performed at Carnegie Hall with his song and dance troupe in 2005. Ms. Irving was blessed to attend the performance, a memory that she considers a chance in a lifetime. She also has a 3rd grade son who fills her time off with exciting adventures. Recently, she was blessed with her first grandchild…a beautiful baby girl. Email link: rebecca.irving@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Jagusch_Casey
Casey JaguschB.A., M.Ed., – 10th Grade Social Studies and AP World History Ms. Jagusch earned her BA in Political Science with a concentration in Global Politics from the University of Minnesota. She then received her M.Ed. in Social Studies Education from Rockhurst University across the state in Kansas City. Before coming to GCAA, she worked for the city government of Mission, Kansas. She also did substitute teaching and worked as a Program Instructor for Close-Up in Washington, D.C. In her free time, Ms. Jagusch can be found cheering for the Golden Gophers and the Jayhawks, tap dancing, trying new recipes or planning her next travel destination. Email link: casey.jagusch@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Kalacheck_CindyCindy Kalachek, B.A., M.Ed. – English III and English Chair As a teacher, curriculum writer and editor, Cindy Kalachek seeks out ways to infuse the arts into her English classroom.  She earned her M.Ed. in the Arts in Education from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, and her  B.A. from Washington University, where she studied English, Secondary Education and Art History.  For seven years, Ms. Kalachek taught Upper School English at MICDS in St. Louis, instructing grades 9-12 in the writing process and analyzing world and American literature.  She is thrilled to be a part of GCAA, a school that she has followed and admired since its inception.  She looks forward to using visual and performing arts as ways to enhance understanding of the reading her classes will do.  As students’ understanding of literature grows, Ms. Kalachek also looks forward to crafting strong writers, capable of arranging their thoughts and ideas with clarity and style.  She will be teaching Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” during the 2013-14, and eager to see how a group of student artists approach Shakespeare, expects a wonderful journey ahead. She lives in University City with her husband and two active children, ages 6 and 3 1/2, who never cease to amaze her with their discoveries and imaginations. Email:  cindy.kalachek@grandcenterartsacademy.org Ms. Kalachek’s Classroom website:  http://kalachek.weebly.com/

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Kenzie_Sara
Sara Kenzie, B.S., M.A. - 7th Grade Geography & Cultures Mrs. Kenzie earned a BS in Education with certifications in both Social Studies and Dance from Central Michigan University.  She taught both subjects for grades 7-12 at a fine arts charter school in Michigan for five years while also earning her MA in Humanities. Mrs. Kenzie started at GCAA as a dance teacher, but is changing hats this year to explore people, places, maps, and culture with our 7th graders.  As a dancer, musician and historian, she is passionate about the integration of arts and academics and enjoys igniting this passion within the students and families at GCAA.  In her free time, she enjoys running, fly-fishing, reading, cooking, anything that has to do with music, and traveling.  She lives in South City with her husband, Jeff, and their two dogs, Phoenix & Maple.  Her website can be found at: mrskenzie.weebly.com Email link: sara.kenzie@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Kileff_PeterPeter Kileff, B.A., M.A.T – 6th Grade Communication Arts & Social Studies Mr. Kileff earned his B.A. in English from Lake Forest College, where he was also an active member of the Garrick Players theater group, both as actor and director, and received Lake Forest College’s competitive Deerpath Theater Scholarship.  He went on to earn his M.A.T. with a concentration in Secondary Education and English from National-Louis University.  He holds certification to teach English/Language Arts, Social Studies, and Speech and Drama in both Missouri and Illinois.  After graduating and working as a substitute teacher in Chicago for a year, he and his wife served as Education Volunteers with the U.S. Peace Corps in the Kingdom of Jordan, where he was also involved in teacher training. Since returning to the US in 2011, Mr. Kileff has been working as a substitute teacher at GCAA and other area schools.  Mr. Kileff feels thrilled to foster the creative minds of the future, and privileged to collaborate with the outstanding GCAA faculty. When he’s away from work, he enjoys playing guitar and piano, reading and writing, biking, swimming, and playing tennis, travelling, and spending time with his wife and young son.  Email:  peter.kileff@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Kloeppel_TimTim Kloeppel – Band Tim Kloeppel is thrilled to be teaching at GCAA. He has performed in such groups as The Gateway Men’s Chorus, The St. Louis Wind Symphony, and Band Together. He has served as Artistic Director of the Growing American Youth Chorus and is currently the director of the Hope Choir at the First Unitarian Church of St. Louis. In his free time, he enjoys composing new music, reading library books, hiking, yoga, jogging, swimming, and cooking.
Email link: tim.kloeppel@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Lanier_DanielDaniel Lanier – Theater daniel.lanier@grandcenterartsacademy.org
Email link: daniel.lanier@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Sikina LeeAdministrative Assistant Email link: sikina.lee@grandcenterartsacademy.org   .

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LeSaulnier_LizLiz LeSaulnier – Visual Art teacher
Liz LeSaulnier received her BA in Studio Art from Saint Louis University, and her MA in Education from Lindenwood University. She has been an educator for over a decade teaching Art, Theatre, and Religion in Illinois and Missouri. She lives in Illinois with her husband and two young sons where she stays active in the Arts by volunteering, running summer Theatre camps, and selling her work as an artist.
liz.lesaulnier@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Martin_Damen
Damen MartinB.M.E., M.M.  - Instrumental Music, Orchestra Mr. Martin comes to us from Lima, Ohio where he attended Ohio Northern University and earned a Bachelor of Music Education with a focus in choral and instrumental music. Mr. Martin currently holds a Master of Music degree from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, where he served as the graduate assistant in the choral department. Throughout Mr. Martin’s collegiate years, he has acted as principal cellist for the ONU Symphonic Orchestra and as a featured cello soloist. Mr. Martin was also principal cellist of a select Chamber Orchestra, which toured with the University Singers. Mr. Martin also has participated in the Ohio Northern Wind Ensemble where he played the Bb clarinet and has played bass guitar for numerous pit orchestras. While attending ONU, Mr. Martin was also given the position of Assistant Conductor to the Ohio Northern Men’s Chorus and The University Singers. During this time Mr. Martin has performed and conducted in venues such as the Crystal Cathedral in Orange County, CA, Severance Hall in Cleveland, OH and Carnegie Hall in NY. Mr. Martin is also an active performer throughout St. Louis. He currently is a principal singer for the Saint Louis Bach Society (where he is a featured vocal soloist on the recently produced CD, “Great and Marvelous” Hymns, Anthems and Spirituals), Ladue Presbyterian Church and volunteer singer with the St. Louis Symphony Chorus. In January 2009, he became a part of the faculty at Lindenwood University as adjunct professor in vocal and cello studies and currently plays in the University Faculty ensemble, Con Brio Trio. “Music has given me an outlet my entire life. It expresses things inside me that I otherwise would not be able to express. I am excited to be able to assist students in finding their own voices through their talents!” Email link: damen.martin@grandcenterartsacademy.org

Merchant-Buckman_Chivas
Chivas Merchant-Buckman, B.F.A. – Dance, Ballet and Modern (Horton) Chivas Merchant-Buckman, a native from Washington, DC graduated from Duke Ellington School of the Arts.  He then received his BFA in Dance from Marymount Manhattan College where he worked with choreographers such as Robert Battle, Jiri Kylian, Chris D’ Ambroise, Jose Limon, Sean Curran, and Donald Byrd.  Previous companies that Chivas has worked with are Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Elisa Monte Monte Dance, and guested with The Big Muddy Dance Company.  His musical theater credits include Petrouchka in The New York Musical Festival and recently The Wiz with The St Louis Black Repertory.  This is Chivas’ first year with GCAA. Email link: Chivas.MerchantBuckman@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Murphy_AmberAmber Murphy, B.A., M.A. – 9th grade English After spending her childhood on the south side of St. Louis, Ms. Murphy attended the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. After interning at local magazines and newspapers, she moved to Chicago to work as a copywriter, while also volunteering in local schools. In 2009, she decided it was time to leverage her passion for urban issues, education and communication arts and moved back to St. Louis to earn her Masters in Teaching from Webster University. Ms. Murphy served as an AmeriCorps Literacy Tutor in the St. Louis Public Schools, worked as a fellow and teacher for Aim High St. Louis and taught English and American Literature last year at Jennings Senior High School. Recently, Ms. Murphy is most proud of her work with the GOOD Ideas for Cities initiative, which was hosted by the Contemporary Art Museum and Regional Arts Commission. As a writer and urban enthusiast, she is excited to return to the city and soak in the inspiring and creative culture at GCAA, where she plans to focus strongly on story-telling, literature analysis, creative non-fiction and language expression. She was drawn to GCAA because she felt like the school was “creating unique solutions and making impressive strides” in urban education. Email link:  amber.murphy@grandcenterartsacademy.org

Naes_MattMatt Naes – 11th Math/Chair Hello, I am Matthew Naes. I am the new head of the math department here at GCAA. I have a Bachelors in Secondary Math Education for Southeastern University and a Masters in Mathematics from the University of West Florida. I am certified to teach middle school, high school, and under-graduate college level courses. I have taught high school for 6 years, and I have taught college courses for 3 years at St. Louis Community College and Lindenwood University. I am very excited to be working at this amazing school, and looking forward to a great school year. Website for Matt Naes:  http://naesgcaa.weebly.com Email link:  matt.naes@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Newton_ArnezArnez Newton – 8th grade Science Email link:  arnez.newton@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Pranger_Denise
Denise Pranger, B.S. – 8th Grade Communications Arts Ms. Pranger earned her BS in Education from Southern Illinois University. After graduating, she taught for 10 years with an emphasis in language arts and then homeschooled her two children for 13 years. She is thrilled to be a part of the GCAA family, as she believes in integrating each individual student’s love of the arts into the Communication Arts curriculum. Acting has always been one of her loves. She has performed in community theatre and has been a comedic motivational public speaker in the Missouri and Illinois area for the past 11 years. Her interests are musical theatre, nature, her faith, Colorado, children, running, gardening, and most of all, her family. She lives in South County with her husband, two children, dog, cat, and her bunnies. Email link: denise.pranger@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Rearick_Alexander
Alex Rearick, B.S. – Physical Education Mr. Rearick earned his BS in Physical Education and Health for K-12 from Southwest Baptist University in 2010. He lived overseas when he was younger, graduating from Ukarumpa International High School in Papua New Guinea. He began his GCAA career as a substitute teacher and saw the potential our students hold. Mr. Rearick believes every child has the potential to be successful, and he is excited to help our students reach high by getting to know them as individuals. He has many interests outside of the classroom, including coaching and playing soccer, camping, hiking, running, and working at a local YMCA. Email link: alexander.rearick@grandcenterartsacademy.org .

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Riley_BrandonBrandon Riley, BATheatre Arts
Mr. Riley is a graduate of Missouri Baptist University. He holds BAs in Middle Education, Secondary Education and Speech/Theater. As an active participant in the theater community for years, he has performed and directed in productions like The Crucible, Guys & Dolls, West Side Story, The Wiz, A Song for Coretta, Aida, and several others. Mr. Riley’s passion for working with and inspiring young people has led him to work and volunteer with many coaching and tutoring companies throughout St. Louis. He would like to thank his family and GCAA students, parents and staff for sharing their passions and inspirations as a community. He is excited to collaborate and create with all of you.

Email link: brandon.riley@grandcenterartsacademy.org
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Salamon_TimTim Salamon – 9th grade Science A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Mr. Salamon studied philosophy and music at Oberlin College. He spent a number of years travelling as a musician and toiling in the restaurant industry. After his daughter was born he returned to school and got a couple of spiffy science degrees at UMSL. He had a brief and unfulfilling career on the Dark Side in the pharmaceutical industry as a lab technician which inspired him to go to Washington University and recive teacher training. Thus, he is now Obi Wan Salamon intructing your young artisan Jedis at GCAA. tim.salamon@grandcenterartsacademy.org .

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Sampson_DanielleDanielle Sampson, B.A. – Dance Mrs. Sampson earned her BA in dance with a minor in Fine Arts Entrepreneurship from Southeast Missouri State University. She also holds a variety of fitness certifications in Zumba fitness, Kangoo Power, Kangoo Jumps and more. She has performed in a variety of Dance Concerts in styles of Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Swing, Modern and Contemporary and also plays such as Trojan Women and A Streetcar Named Desire to name a few.  Mrs. Sampson has been teaching for over 10 year throughout the St. Louis and Cape Girardeau area. This inspired her to co-found a studio with her sister here in St. Louis called I.A.M. Dance and Fitness, LLC, which stands for “It’s All In The Mind.” She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity and has been an ongoing mentor with Junior Achievement. She has always found the time to give back to her community by being a mentor to our youth of today, and not only sharing her passion for community service but sharing her passion for the arts. Mrs. Sampson has joined the GCAA family to help mold students into well-rounded artists that are prepared for their life journey of creativity. She wants them to know, if you can dream it and are willing to work hard, you can achieve it. Email link: danielle.sampson@grandcenterartsacademy.org

Melissa Sasser Melissa SasserGCAA Office
Melissa Sasser moved to St. Louis from Chicago and graduated from Kirkwood High School. She married Paul Alan Sasser and they moved frequently, throughout the U.S., with the U.S. Air Force. She received a Bachelor Degree in Computer Science and Business Administration from Troy State University in Alabama. She has twin daughters that are grown and has seven grandchildren. She has been with GCAA since July of 2013 after running the office for her husband’s healthcare rehabilitation company for 12 years. She builds and rehabs houses, loves to cook, garden and sing. Melissa and her husband have a small farm in Southern Missouri, where they plan to retire one day.
Email Link: Melissa.Sasser@grandcenterartsacademy.org

Emily Schiltz – Special Ed/Speech
I am a Speech-Language Pathologist, and I love working at GCAA! I have worked for the Confluence district since 2009. I currently serve the Confluence community by providing private and group therapy, screenings and evaluations, consultation services, professional educational opportunities, and support and education for staff members. I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree from Truman State University, and my Master’s Degree from Saint Louis University. I am a certified member of the “American Speech-Language-Hearing Association”, and I am licensed in the State of Missouri. I live in St. Louis with my husband and two children. As a family, we enjoy reading books together and hiking – especially in the Rocky Mountains! Most summers, you will find us traveling out West to spend a week camping and hiking. My family and I greatly enjoy living in the city, and we can often be found out and about at the amazing places St. Louis has to offer. We also greatly enjoy the Arts in St. Louis. My husband has a degree in voice, and worked for Opera Theater of St. Louis for several years. We both sing in a local choir, and toured Scotland in June of 2014 with our choir. I am always inspired by the talent and dedication of the GCAA students!
Email Link: emily.schiltz@grandcenterartsacademy.org

Shelby_PhyllisPhyllis Shelby, B.S., M.Ed. - Computer Applications After receiving her BS in Education with a minor in Mathematics from Harris Stowe Teacher’s College, Ms. Shelby pursued her M.A. in Teaching at Webster University, where she focused on Education Emphasis in Computer Resources. She joined the GCAA staff after 10 years teaching math and computer science to grades 6-12, in various St. Louis metro area schools. She has also worked in adult education for many years, teaching literacy and computer skills at St. Louis Community Colleges. Email link: phyllis.shelby@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Sheley_ShaunShaun Sheley, B.F.A. - Theater Department Shaun received his BFA in Performance from Niagara University’s Conservatory Training Program and his MFA in Directing and Performance Studies in 2007. Shaun has been an actor and teaching artist for 18 years. He is a member of Actor’s Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio, as well as a member and Recommended Actor/Combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors. Most recently (2013), Shaun performed Hamlet under the direction of Dr. Saul Elkin, a former mentee of Joe Papp, and founder of the third largest, and third oldest, free Shakespearean festival in America–Shakespeare in Delaware Park. Under the auspices and generosity of GCAA’S partner, St. Louis University, He was given the unique opportunity to return to New York City, his home for eight years, to study the techniques of the historically renowned and visionary actor trainer, Jerzy Grotowski, as presented by former students and master teachers of Grotowski’s technique and theory. Notably, Shaun has performed locally as Rochester in Mustard Seed Theatre’s production of Jayne Eyre, The New Jewish Theatre Company’s production of Talley’s Folly, as Matt, and Kurt in Hot City Theatre’s production of The Winners. Additionally, Shaun has worked as an actor, director, movement and fight coach with The MUNY, Stages St. Louis, St. Louis Repertory Theatre, Union Avenue Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival and Mustard Seed Theatre. Beyond all of these wonderful experiences, Shaun is most proud to be the father of four brilliant and beautiful children, all of whom fill him with love, wonder, hope and creativity. Email link: William.Sheley@grandcenterartsacademy.org To see Shaun’s Curriculum Vitae and pictures etc., go to shaunsheley.shaunsheley.weebly.com

Slocum_VerondaVereonda Slocum – English 1 and English III Veronda Slocum, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, has been teaching English since 2001. She is a graduate of Sacred Heart University and Georgia State University. Ms. Slocum has also completed additional graduate studies at The University of Alabama and Arizona State University. She currently teaches high school students at GCAA, and she is extremely dedicated to preparing students in the skills needed for post-secondary composition and literacy. vereonda.slocum@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Smith_EvanEvan Smith - 9th grade Social Studies Email link:  Evan.smith@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Smith_WesWes Smith – Vocal Music
Wesley G. Smith holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Music Education from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, where he studied choral conducting with Cameron LaBarr. He has served in a variety of conducting and teaching roles, directing singers of all ages. Past experiences include director of Asbury Children’s Choir at Broad Street United Methodist Church; interim assistant director at Oakville High School; Teaching Intern with the Savannah Children’s Choir; guest conductor at Manchester United Methodist Church; student conductor of Choral Union at Lee University; conductor of a student-led, collegiate chamber chorus; participant in the Conducting Institute at Westminster Choir College with James Jordan in June 2012, and bass section leader of the Lee University Chorale. As a baritone, he has performed with the Tennessee Chamber Chorus, the Manchester United Methodist Church and the Broad Street United Methodist Church chancel choirs, various ensembles at Lee University, the 2012 Tennessee All-Collegiate Choir, and Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He was also a participant in the Lee University Festival Chorus which performed for the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. He has studied voice with James Frost and James Burns, and collaborative piano with Perry Mears. Publications include articles in The Chorister, published by Choristers Guild, as well as choral reviews published in the Choral Journal and The Chorister.
Email link:  wes.smith@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Snelson_EricaErica Snelson – College Counselor and Dept. Chair Erica Snelson, B.S., M.A.- College Counselor/Counseling Department Chair Ms. Snelson has been in education for the past 13 years and currently holds a B.S. Degree in Elementary Education from Missouri State University, Special Education certification and a Masters Degree in School Counseling from Lindenwood University. She joins the GCAA family as the College Counselor and the Counseling Department Chair. Before coming to GCAA, Ms. Snelson served as a special education teacher and school counselor at local charter schools in the city of St. Louis. Her passion is helping all students explore their full potential and using their skills to identify their chosen pathway in life. Ms. Snelson is excited to be a part of GCAA’s continued growth as a high school and is looking forward to preparing for its first graduating class, the class of 2016! Ms. Snelson has one daughter and enjoys spending her free time with her family and friends! erica.snelson@grandcenterartsacademy.org Email link: erica.snelson@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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David Spiguzza, B.S., M.A. - Visual Art Mr. Spiguzza has his B.S. in Education from Missouri State University and a Master’s from Webster University. Before coming to GCAA, he taught full-time in the Kirkwood School District for 31 years and part-time for two years. In addition to full time teaching in Kirkwood, he also taught pottery for 25 years through the St Louis Community College Continuing Education program. Mr. Spiguzza is a well-respected artist in the St. Louis community where he continues to pursue his own professional work with pottery and painting. Email link: david.spiguzza@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Stanciel_TanishaTanisha Stanciel – Special Education/Chair
I am the oldest of six brothers and one sister and a mother to a bright and smart six year old little boy. I am a St. Louis transplant and I love to laugh and laugh and laugh even more. I also enjoy supporting the community in any way that I can. I earned my Bachelor of Science in Communication, Public Relations from Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, MO in 2006. I then completed a Master of Arts in Teaching Special Education-Emotional/Behavioral Disorders from Walden University in 2010. I just completed my Master’s in Education Specialist for Administration from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO this past August of 2014. Special Education is my passion! I look forward to being in the lives of children for many years to come!
tanisha.stanciel@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Tate_AshleyAshley Tate – Dance Ashley L. Tate is the founder, artistic director, and head choreographer of Ashleyliane Dance Company (ADC), a full service dance organization based in the Greater St. Louis area. Ashley has studied dance for over 27 years. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Science from Texas Christian University, where she served two consecutive years as captain during her four-year stint as a member of the TCU Showgirls Dance Team. She has been an instructor for National Dance Alliance, a cast member in a Sony Dreamworks motion picture, and a bodily-kinesthetic intelligence presenter for St. Louis Area Resources for Community and Human Services (ARCHS). Ms. Tate has choreographed for NCAA basketball and football halftime shows, studio recitals, theatre productions, professional dance organizations, and national and regional dance competitions. She teaches master classes and workshops in contemporary jazz, hip hop, street jazz, lyrical jazz, and specialty classes in turns, leaps, and cardio hip hop. She was a member of the Saint Louis Rams Football Cheerleaders, serving as a captain for two years. She also served as the head cheer and dance coach at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She also taught hip hop at the Downtown Dance Center, home of the The Big Muddy Dance Company. Ms. Tate is now a member of the Regional Arts Commission Citizen Review Panel and a board member for Missouri Dance Organization. Ms. Tate is a dance instructor at Grand Center Arts Academy and an adjunct instructor of dance at Washington University in St. Louis. Ms. Tate was invited to a private audition for Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour and is a recipient of Grand Center’s Emerging Artist Visionary Award. She has served as a judge for the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation’s Teen Talent Showcase. She is also a winner of the Pulse On Tour Dance Convention Protégé Scholarship, a Monsters of Hip Hop Scholarship (and a Monsters Show Nominee), and is signed as a dancer and dance educator with Clear Talent Group in Los Angeles, California. Her work was recently chosen to be featured in an emerging choreographers’ showcase at the Peridance Capezio Center in New York City. ashley.tate@grandcenterartsacademy.org

Email link: ashley.tate@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Terrance_AlexAlex Terrance, B.A., M.A. – 8th Social Studies Alex Terrance was born and raised in New York and only recently moved to the St Louis area. He join the United States Marine Corp in 2001 and served with the 8th Tank Battalion and the 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion overseas in 2005.  During his time as a Marine, Mr. Terrance was able to attend school on the side, and he graduated from St. John Fisher College in 2008 with a B.A. in History, Adolescent and Special Education. He taught Social Studies in Rochester, NY, instructing students in Psychology, World History, and American History for four years.   During that time, he also returned to school for a Master’s Degree in Literacy and rejoined the military, this time in the United States Air Force Reserves. He graduated from State University of New York at Geneseo in 2012, and is currently attached to the 375th Security Forces Squadron on Scott Air Force Base. Mr. Terrance is excited to teach at Grand Center Arts Academy, because for as long as he can remember, his family has shared an appreciation of the arts.  His father played saxophone for a volunteer orchestra, and Mr. Terrance played sax as well, from 5th to 9th grade. His parents also took him to see musicals in New York City, Toronto, and London.  To date, he’s seen Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Les Miserables, Joseph and the Technicolor Raincoat, Lion King, Legally Blonde, and Wicked.  He is looking forward to working closely with students and staff to improve their appreciation of history. Email link: alexander.terrance@grandcenterartsacademy.org

Theby_EricEric Theby, B.S. - 7th Grade Science Mr. Theby earned his BS in Education from Southeast Missouri State University in 2006. This will be his sixth year teaching. His first four years teaching were as a 5th grade teacher and as a K-5 Science teacher. Last year was his first year with GCAA, and he loved every minute of it. He found his calling teaching Science to 7th graders, and he enjoys watching his students grow academically and socially in his class. Mr. Theby resides in Affton with his wife of five years, Krista. Email link: eric.theby@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Ulrich_PattyPatty Ulrich M.Ed., M.A. –  Assistant High School Principal Patty Ulrich comes to GCAA after teaching drama for almost twelve years.  She holds a Masters in Educational Leadership and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Missouri-Columbia as well as an MA in Theatre from Lindenwood University. She has taught at Lindbergh High School and Ritenour High School.  Before entering the education profession, Patty served as a Family Preservation Worker for five years.  In addition to social work and teaching, she has acted and directed professionally in St. Louis for the past 20 years, and ran Muddy Waters Theatre Company as co-artistic director with her husband for nine years.  Patty is currently pursuing her PhD in Educational leadership at Saint Louis University. Email link: patty.ulrich@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Varley_SarahSarah Varley – Theater sarah.varley@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Warren_Fred

Fred Warren, B.S., B.S.E. – 11th Grade Biology Frederick Warren graduated from Drake University Magna Cum Laude, with University Honors, earning two degrees: a BS in Environmental Sciences and a BSE in Secondary Education.  He describes himself as “an enthusiastic science teacher.” He has taught Physical Systems in the high school setting and pioneered the 8th grade science here at GCAA.  He is excited to be back in the high school setting teaching Physical Science and Physics to our freshman.  Over the summer he taught ecology in the New Mexico Rocky Mountains, a college course on sub-cultures and their role in mainstream culture, as well as assisting in teaching a technology course for college students.  He teaches 9th Grade Science (and the visual art elective) in the summer with the AIM High summer program.  Some of his proudest accomplishments at GCAA include starting the School Garden next door with his 8th grade class last year, forming the rocketry club last year (which he looks forward to continuing this year), and mentoring the girls robotics club to a strong finish in the Jr. First Lego League last year.  He is looking forward to bringing Physics to all the 9th grade students this year in Physical Science or the Physics First class, continuing the Rocketry Club, and starting an Environmental Club. He is most excited to be returning to the GCAA family of faculty, students, and parents.  More than any other, GCAA is the school he has been most excited to be a part of in his long line of experiences. His classroom website can be found at www.warren-science.weebly.com. All classroom notes, assignments, and due dates can be reached from this site. As well as basic information about the clubs that he is sponsoring. Email link: fredrick.warren@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Williams_KeithKeith Tyrone Williams, M.A., M.F.A. – Dance and Musical Theatre Keith Tyrone Williams brings a very diverse experience to the faculty here at GCAA. He has performed, directed, and choreographed throughout the United States and extensively in Europe. He is artistic director of Innervision Dance Theatre, which most recently premiered the inspirational work, The Ties That Bind, to sold out audiences. Some may remember him as “Horse” in The Full Monty at Stages St. Louis for which he won the prestigious Kevin Kline Award. His choreographic work of “Sarafina”, a musical about South African apartheid, received rave reviews and garnered him another Kevin Kline Award for best choreography.  He also appeared in Damn Yankees” (Applegate) for which he won the Woodie King Jr. Award for best actor, was the recipient of the Katherine Dunham Award, and the NAACP Cultural Arts Award. Keith has appeared in many national, international, and Broadway productions, such as Legs Diamond, Once On This Island, Five Guys Named  Moe, Bubbling Brown Sugar, Starlight Express, The Music of Andrew Lloyd Weber, and is currently working on his dream production of “The Ties That Bind” , believing that it will one day be performed on the Broadway Stage. Keith is very proud to be among the few people certified by Katherine Dunham to teach the world renowned Dunham Technique, and served as co-writer and appeared in the historic documentary on Dunham Technique with the Library of Congress and performed in the  Dunham Gala performance at Carnegie Hall..  Keith has a BS in Theatre/Dance (Southern ILL University Edwardsville, MA Theatre/Directing (Lindenwood University) and completing his MFA (Directing). He has been a member of Actors Equity Professional Union for more than 30 years, and is excited about sharing his years of professional experience to the wonderful young artists here at GCAA.  
Email link: keith.williams@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Winscott_TristiTristi Winscott – Student Health Services After receiving her B.A. in Business Administration from Graceland University, Tristi Winscott moved to St Louis and pursued her degree in Nursing.  She graduated with a B.S.N. from Goldfarb School of Nursing and has since worked at Progress West Hospital as well as at a clinical research facility.  She lives in St. Charles with her husband, dog, and new baby girl.  She loves music and is thrilled to be at GCAA where she can hear it all of the time.  She looks forward to helping the students stay healthy so they can pursue their educational and artistic endeavors.  Tristi also has a website where you can find important information about the school health office as well as interesting information on current health topics.
www.nursewinscott.weebly.com
Email link: tristi.winscott@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Woodcock_TimTim Woodcock – 8th grade Com. Arts Mr. Woodcock has been teaching for six years, having spent a decade working professionally as a journalist. He has previously taught at Holy Rosary, a parochial school in Warrenton; Hazelwood Central High School; and St. Louis University. He earned his degree in English Literature and Social Policy at the University of Glasgow, Scotland; completed his teaching training at University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2010-2012; and is working toward his Master’s degree in English, also through UM-St. Louis. Before moving into teaching, he worked at the West End Word newspaper from 2001 to 2008, editing it for last three years of that period. He has also worked as a freelance journalist for the Post-Dispatch, St. Louis Beacon and St. Louis Magazine, and continues to write for St. Louis Magazine. Mr. Woodcock is originally from England (the suburbs of London) and is married to a St. Louisan. Living in the States for the last 13 years has taken the edges off his English accent only a little. People sometimes tell him he sounds like the Geico lizard. Tim.Woodcock@grandcenterartsacademy.org Classroom Website: http://mrwoodcockgcaa.weebly.com/

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Yannick_VanessaVanessa Yanick - Middle School Guidance Counselor
Ms. Yanick earned a BS in Psychology from Southeast Missouri State University in 2005 with a minor in Social Work. She joined the counseling program at University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2006 and graduated with her MEd. in School Guidance and Counseling in 2009. She worked as a TA for the ELL program in the Affton School District for 4 years. She then held a job with St. Louis Crisis Nursery and Chestnut Health Systems where she was a counselor for adolescents struggling with addiction. Ms. Yanick is very excited to be a part of the GCAA family. She has danced since age six and also plays the flute and was in the marching band and concert band in high school. She danced on the dance team for three years and was in Show Choir for one year. Ms. Yanick cannot wait to get to know all of the students and see their talents grow here at GCAA.
Email link:  Vanessa.yanick@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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York_Carol

Carol York, B.S., M.A. – 6th Grade Science Mrs. York received her BS from the University of Missouri-Columbia in Food and Nutrition. After graduation, she worked for a number of years as a clinical dietitian and as assistant dietary manager in an area hospital. During this time, she earned her MA in Management from Webster University. Soon after her marriage, she and her husband joined the US Peace Corps, which took them to Botswana, Southern Africa, where she worked as a dietitian for the Department of Health. Later, Mrs. York stayed home when her children were young, but kept busy teaching preschool, working with Parents as Teachers, coaching middle school girls’ soccer and leading Girl Scouts and Ventures. She received her teaching certificate in Science with an emphasis on middle school education. Mrs. York has many interests, not the least of which is her family. She also enjoys exploring nature, hiking, reading, and being involved in her community. Email link: carol.york@grandcenterartsacademy.org

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Young_CourtneyCourtney Young – 10th Math This year I have the opportunity to teach Geometry, Geometry Concepts, and Advanced Geometry at GCAA. I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Truman State University and a Master of Teaching degree from Lindenwood University in the area of Secondary Mathematics. Prior to working here at GCAA I was a math teacher at Soldan International Studies High School for two and a half years. I’ve spent time working in the math department at Rockwood Summit High School, as an accountant for The Boeing Company and as an event planner for Youth Encounter. I was honored to receive the award of Outstanding Beginning Teacher in 2013 by MACTE, and I look forward to an outstanding year at GCAA! Website: http://younggcaa.weebly.com/
Email link: courtney.young@grandcenterartsacademy.org