Faculty and Staff

Faculty – Staff Roster


Armknecht_TravisTravis Armknecht – High School English, Speech and Journalism

Mr. Armknecht grew up in Nebraska and received his B.A. in Journalism/PR and Theatre Arts from Concordia University. 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 dachshund and the cat they’d rescued in Indonesia. They have a son, Sam, who was born in 2014. 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, the Missouri Journalism Education Association and the treasurer of journalismSTL, a St. Louis-based journalism teacher organization.

Email link: travis.armknecht@grandcenterartsacademy.org

.
GN6A1678 ClemonsFred Bachman – Security   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

 

 

..

DottieBarbeauDottie Barbeau – Assessment Coordinator

.Dr. Dottie Barbeau is the Assessment Coordinator at Grand Center Arts Academy and will also be leading the launch of a new gifted program at GCAA this year.  She has extensive district leadership experience, serving as the Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning for the School District of Clayton, District Curriculum Director in Waterloo, Illinois, and Director of Gifted and Talented Education in the Rockwood School District.  She has teaching experience in middle school challenge math and science at Rockwood Valley Middle School, and worked as a gifted education specialist at the Center for Creative Learning in Rockwood.  Dr. Barbeau is also a 13-year adjunct professor on faculty at Webster University, teaching graduate level Curriculum Design courses for the students pursuing the Masters in Education degree.  She earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership at St. Louis University,  Masters degree in the Instructional Process from Washington University, and double majored in Psychology and Education for her Bachelors of Art degrees, also from Washington University.
Email link: dottie.barbeau@grandcenterartsacademy.org

.

 

 


Stephanie (Nicki) BeierStephanie (Nicki) Beier, Dance

Ms. 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 Joffrey Ballet School, the Edge Performing Arts Centre in Los Angeles, the School of Hartford Ballet and Rivernorth Chicago.  Ms. 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

.
.
.

Black_DonnaDonna Black, Title I Math 

Ms. 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. In spring 2011 she received middles school math certification. She was born and raised in New Jersey. Her path as an educator has not been direct. Before having children, she worked as a computer programmer/analyst. Their family has lived in South Carolina and Michigan and in Missouri for almost twenty years. For the past four years, she has taught at Grand Center Arts Academy. During this time, she has taught eighth grade math (pre-algebra) and Title 1 Math for sixth grade, seventh grade and Algebra I. She is the proud parent of 3 20 “somethings”. Her two older children have graduated from college. Her youngest son, a rising junior, attends Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. Ms. Black loves to read, ride her bike and visit with family and friends. Ms. Black has high expectations for all her students and works hard to provide support needed to reach their potential.

Email link: donna.black@grandcenterartsacademy.org

.
.
.

Breeden_DeannaDeanna Breeden, Math II and Pre-Algebra

Ms. 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

.
.
.

 

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

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

 

.

SteveBurgessSteve Burgess:  HS Biology

Mr. Burgess received his B.S. in Biological Sciences from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.  Prior to coming to GCAA, Steve taught in the Ferguson-Florissant school district where he taught Honors Physics, Physical Science, Principles of Engineering, and Biology. He also attended Missouri University of Science and Technology for PLTW.  Previously, Mr. Burgess taught at Construction Careers Center Charter school for 1 year. Mr. Burgess is looking forward to his first year at GCAA,  email link  steve.burgess@grandcenterartsacademy.org
.

 

 

.

Campbell_LaurenLauren Campbell – 7th Grade Math

Ms. Campbell 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. She has worked previously in other charter schools in the city of St. Louis and when outside of school she spends most of her time with her sevem year old son. She is super excited to be joining the GCAA family. http://mscampbellsmathclass.weebly.com/ laurencampbell@grandcenterartsacademy.org
Email link: laurencampbell@grandcenterartsacademy.org

.
.
.

Clayton_Megan
Megan Clayton, Visual Art 

Ms. 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. Ms. 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. Email link: megan.clayton@grandcenterartsacademy.org

 

 

.
.
.
KathleenCummingsKathleen CummingsSpecial Education

.
.
.
.
.
.
.

 

.

 

 

.

JessDewesJess Dewes – Visual Art, B.F.A, M.A.T.

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

.
.
.

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

.
.
.

 

.
.
.
.
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

 

 

.
AliciaDunnAlicia Dunn: HS Physics

Ms. Dunn obtained her BS in Physics at Missouri State University, as well as an MS in Geology at St. Louis University.  Raised in Nixa, Missouri, she worked 3 1/2 years in industry, and as a substitute teacher in the St. Louis city schools, as well as volunteering with the YMCA in Math and Literacy. She loves to cook, hike and spend time with her family, friends and two cats. She is married and has one son, who attends elementary school.

 

 

 

 

Farnworth_DeniseDenise Farnworth – MS English

Ms. Farnworth graduated from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville with her BS in Elementary Education. She has been teaching middle school since 2002. 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, three boys (aged nine, four and four), two dogs, and two cats. “The house is loud and happy!” Family is very important to Mrs. Farnworth; they support her teaching and hear about her students’ accomplishments often. Email link: denise.farnworth@grandcenterartsacademy.org

.
.
.

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

..

 

 

.
FrigTed Frigillana – 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

.
.
.

 

 

Gage_KristineKristine Gage – Vocal Music

Ms. 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

.
.

 

.

FranchescaGindler (1)

Franchesca Gindler:  SPED

Ms. Gindler grew up in St. Louis and obtained her BS in education at University Missouri-St. Louis.  Her past professional experience includes implementing applied behavioral analysis at Southview High School. In addition to that, she was a substitute teacher for the Mehlville and Lindbergh school districts. When she is not teaching, she enjoys reading, writing, camping and spending time with her family.
.

.

.

Goodin_Andrew
Andrew Goodin – 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

 

 

 

DanielGrimesDaniel Grimes – 8th Grade Math
Mr. Grimes was Born and raised In Harrisburg, Illinois. He 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 his education, he earned my Associates in Applied Science-Southeastern Illinois College 1993 and his BS Math Education SIU-Carbondale 1997. He taught in several schools from Tennessee and Southern Illinois. He hasone daughter—13 years old. His interests include fishing, hiking, rafting, St. Louis Cardinal baseball, Dallas Cowboy football, and whatever his daughter is involved in. He is happy to be a part of the GCAA staff and looking forward to working with the staff and the outstanding students.
Email link: daniel.grimes@grandcenterartsacademy.org

.

 

 

Guss_BeccaBecca Guss – Title 1 Reading
Ms. 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, Ms. 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. Ms. Guss began teaching at GCAA in 2013 and has loved working with middle schoolers! When not in school, Ms. Guss spends time reading, running, singing and playing volleyball. She lives with her husband and two kids.
Email link: rebecca.guss@grandcenterartsacademy.org

.
.
.

Hagan_Dave
Dave Hagan – Guitar/Band
A St Louis native, Mr. Hagan is the resident guitarist here at GCAA. His educational background consists of an Associate of Science Degree in Recording Arts from Full Sail University, as well as a Bachelor of Music Education from Webster University. In addition, he is currently pursuing his Master of Music Education at the University of Missouri St Louis. While completing his BMEd, Mr. Hagan performed with the Webster University Classical Guitar Ensemble and several Webster University Jazz Ensembles. His previous teaching experiences include running the guitar and music technology programs at Ritenour High School, and many years of private studio instruction. His primary goal at GCAA is to establish one of the most successful guitar ensemble programs in the state.
Email link: dave.hagan@grandcenterartsacademy.org

.
.

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

.

 

Howe_MikeMichael Howe, B.S., M.Ed. – 10th Grade Chemistry

Mr. Howe is very excited to be at GCAA and is proud to be a part of the STEAM team. He came to GCAA after eleven years in the Clayton school district, where he taught Honors Chemistry, Chemistry and Biology, and spent 10 years as the Science Department Chairperson. Previously, Mr. Howe taught Chemistry, Honors Chemistry and AP Chemistry at Parkway South High School where he also served as Science Department Chair, Adult Education Director, and as principal of the Parkway/Maryville Summer Academy. He is looking forward to exploring ways to further STEAM connections, as well as new opportunities to play his trumpet and flugelhorn!
Michael Howe’s Chemistry Website: http://www.howechem.net/ Email link:  michael.howe@grandcenterartsacademy.org

.
.
.

Irving_RebeccaMs. Rebecca L. Irving, Dean of Students

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.  “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about, be kind always”

Email link: rebecca.irving@grandcenterartsacademy.org

.

 

 

Jagusch_Casey
Casey Jagusch –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

.

 

 

.
LisaKaczmarczykLisa Kaczmarczyk, High School Principal
Ms. Kaczmarczyk attended St. Louis University-to obtain her E.D-S; University of Missouri at St. Louis-Masters for her degree in Secondary School Administration and Milligan College for her B.A. in Vocal Music Education.  For 13 years she was a choir teacher at Crestview Junior High; for two years she was choir teacher at Marquette High School;and  for 16 years she was an administrator at Marquette High School.   She has two daughters and three dogs, and she is a worship leader at church. She stated, “I love mowing my grass!”

.

 

 

.

Kalacheck_CindyCindy Kalachek –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 lives in Clayton with her husband and two active children, ages 8 and 5 who never cease to amaze her with their discoveries and imaginations. Ever the eternal optimist, Ms. Kalachek is a Cubs fans and hopes that maybe, this will be their year…

Email:  cindy.kalachek@grandcenterartsacademy.org

Ms. Kalachek’s Classroom website:  http://kalachek.weebly.com/

.

 

 

Kenzie_Sara

Sara Kenzie – 7th & 8th Grade Social Studies   Ms. 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 has since changed hats to explore people, places, history, and culture with our 7th and 8th 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 the county with her husband, Jeff, and their two dogs, Phoenix & Maple.  They are currently expecting their first child, a boy, in October!  Her website can be found at:mrskenzie.weebly.com Email link: sara.kenzie@grandcenterartsacademy.org

.
.

 


TimKloeppelTim 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

.
.
.
.
.


DanielLanierDaniel Lanier – Theater

Mr. Lanier’s arts and professional background include directing, vocal and instrumental music, acting, technical theatre, and visual arts—he plans to take dance lessons someday. The exceedingly talented students at GCAA make his job as Shop Foreman and Drama Instructor a complete delight. Next May, Mr. Lanier will earn a Master’s in Theatre Education at Fontbonne University, where he also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Acting & Directing.  He enjoys long walks through the park with his wife and two Pomeranians—Bubbie Marie and Ms. Elinor Dashwood—while listening to The Beatles and The Beach Boys.

Email link: daniel.lanier@grandcenterartsacademy.org

.
.


Sikina LeeAdministrative Assistant

Email link: sikina.lee@grandcenterartsacademy.org   .

.
.
.
.

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

.
.
.
.

 

 

.
MichaelMancusoMichael Mancuso – HS Math
Mr. Mancuso is from St. Louis. He attended Southeast Missouri State University, majoring in secondary education in mathematics. Prior to joining GCAA last February, he worked at Construction Career Center for about a year, teaching Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II.  Michael has played the drums since he was 14 years of age.

.

.

.

.

.

Martin_Damen
Damen Martin – 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

 

 

 

SarahMathewsSarah Mathews – Theater 

Sarah Mathews (Varley) has been a director, designer and teaching artist for over ten years.

Sarah has been teaching in some capacity for about nine years. This is her first year teaching at  GCAA.  She has a BA in Theatre from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN, and received her Master’s in Education from Lindenwood University. Sarah studied scenic design at the University of Virginia and has studied Suzuki and Anne Bogart, as well as the Strasberg and Hagan methods, she also studied voice at the HAPS studio in Kansas City.  After a brief pilgrimage to Los Angeles to design, study and teach, Sarah returned to her hometown in St. Louis where she met her wonderful husband John, and was blessed with the opportunity to work here at GCAA.  Sarah lives with her husband John, her kid, Jack, and her dog, Steve Rogers (or Cap.)  Sarah is a lifelong learner and believes that acting and learning are a process of experience and discovery. She believes that a good story, speaks truth.

.
.

TracyMenseTracy Mense:  HS Social Studies

Ms. Mense obtained her BA in Secondary Education at St. Louis University. She was raised in the St. Louis area (North County). After graduating from college, she taught English and Social Studies at Construction Careers Center.  She also taught English and Social Studies at Bishop DuBourg High School and she taught English at Gateway Science Academy. She has four kids, one dog, one cat, one fish and one rabbit.

.

 

 

 

.

Merchant-Buckman_Chivas
Chivas Merchant-Buckman – 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

..

.

.

MarissaMooreMarissa Moore: World Languages

Ms. Moore obtained a BSED in Spanish Education and she is currently enrolled at University of Missouri at St. Louis, studying secondary education administration. Born in St. Louis, she taught one year at Lift for Life, and spent one year teaching English in Barcelona, Spain. She also taught for two years in rural Missouri. She is a diehard fan of the Detroit Red Wings and she has “an Adidas obsession.”

.

.

 

.

CaitlinMunguiaCaitlin Munguia:  Visual Art

Ms. Munguia attended Robert Morris University, obtaining a BAS in graphic design. She also attended Webster University, where she obtained a MAT-Art K-12.  Before coming to GCAA, she taught for two years at the “best public school in Illinois.” She is highly experienced regarding the design and photography industry. Her hobbies include photography, family time outdoors and coffee shops.

.

 

 

.

.

Murphy_AmberAmber Murphy – 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 at Jennings Senior High School. This will be her third year at Grand Center Arts Academy, where she places a strong focus on multi-cultural literature and the writing process.

Email link:  amber.murphy@grandcenterartsacademy.org

 

 


MattNaesMatt Naes – 11th Math/Chair

Mr. Naes is the head of the Math Department at GCAA. He has a Bachelors in Secondary Math Education for Southeastern University and a Masters in Mathematics from the University of West Florida. He is certified to teach middle school, high school, and under-graduate college level courses. He taught high school for 6 years, and taught college courses for 3 years at St. Louis Community College and Lindenwood University. He is excited to be working at this amazing school. Website for Matt Naes:  http://naesgcaa.weebly.com Email link:  matt.naes@grandcenterartsacademy.org

.
.
.

Newton_ArnezArnez Newton, M.S.-SS & ELA – 6th grade Social Studies and 6th grade Communication Arts

Mr. Newton obtained his BA in history/political science at University of Pennsylvania.  He obtained his Ed Certification at Dominican University. His hometown is Chicago, Illinois.  His past professional experience includes: Teach for America (2004), teaching for six years in Chicago public schools, taught one year in the Memphis city schools, three years at SLPS, and 10 years at Chicago, Memphis, St. Louis. In addition to teaching, he is interested in filmmaking and motivational speaking. Email link:  arnez.newton@grandcenterartsacademy.org
.
.
.
.

ChristineNobbeChristine Nobbe, Instructional Coach

Ms. Nobbe obtained her E.D.-S in Curriculum Instruction at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her hometown is Columbia, Missouri. At present, she lives in Maplewood, “so I’m a Kewpie and my two grown kids are MRH Blue Devils.”  She has 35 years teaching experience, from K – University (Webster).  She explained that she “Loves exploring the Universe, walking or cuddling #Oscardog, my Shihtzu.”

..

 

 

 

 

GingerO'DellGinger O’Donnell: HS ELA.

Ms. O’Donnell, who grew up in St. Louis, obtained her BA in performance studies at Northwestern University and her MAT in career arts at Webster University.  Prior to coming to GCAA, Ginger taught Dance and Theater History at the Chicago High School for the Arts and Humanities and at UNO Rogus Park High School. In addition to teaching, she teaches Zumba and is also a freelance writer, focusing on food, education and the arts.

.

.

 

 

BenOverbyBen Overby:  MS Social Studies

Mr. Overby was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, where he studied both English Literature and Secondary Education. He is certified in English and Social Studies.  During his time at Washington University, he served as president of the Beta Upsilon chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, the International Honor Society in Education. Previously, Mr. Overby interned for a nonprofit organization that provides educational outreach in the STEM fields to urban and rural populations. He expects a great journey ahead as he joins GCAA’s Social Studies department to teach 7th and 8th grade, where he will explore the subjects of Regions & People and The American Identity with GCAA’s talented students. Outside of school, Mr. Overby enjoys going to the theater with his friends. He is also learning how to cook!

.

 

.

Pranger_Denise
Denise Pranger, 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 home-schooled 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

.
.
.

Rearick_Alexander
Alex Rearick, 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 .

.
.

 

Riley_BrandonBrandon Riley – Theatre 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 everyone at GCAA..

Email link: brandon.riley@grandcenterartsacademy.org
.
.

 

.
MichaelSalsichMichael Salsich – ELA

Mr. Salsich is thrilled to be teaching Middle School English at GCAA.  He has an English degree from Grinnell College and a Masters from Brown University.  He minored in music, and directed the concert and jazz bands at his first teaching assignment.  In addition to his teaching experience, he spent thirty years in the business and non-profit world, including five years as vice president at Cardinal Ritter High School.  He is married, has three children, two cats, and a dog.  When he is not teaching he enjoys playing piano, hiking, camping, and reading. He particularly enjoys the poetry of Langston Hughes, the plays of William Shakespeare, and the cool sounds of Miles Davis.  If he is not at school or at home, he can usually be found enjoying the beauty of Forest Park.  Passionate about social justice, poetry and jazz. Married with three children, one dog and two cats. Loves hiking, camping and fishing.

 

 

.

Sampson_DanielleDanielle Sampson – Dance

Ms. 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 Sasser, GCAA Data Owner
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

 

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

 

 

Shelby_PhyllisPhyllis Shelby, 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

.
.

 


ShaunSheleyShaun Sheley –
Theater Department

Shaun Sheley 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
.
.
.
EvanSmithEvan Smith –
Social Studies Chair: Voices from the Margins, 20th Century United States History through the Arts, World History 10

A native of the Show-Me State, Mr. Evan Smith began his teaching career in the South Bronx as a member of the New York City Teaching Fellows Program. With an undergraduate degree in Government from Cornell University, Mr. Smith earned his graduate degree from Mercy College in Urban Education while teaching full time. Mr. Smith is certified in both Social Studies and Special Education. Mr. Smith is a father, partner, student of politics and culture, chess player, soccer fanatic, and experienced traveler of Latin America. He is inspired and humbled to be working with this group of talented young artists. “…it is essential to educate the educator himself.”
Email link:  Evan.smith@grandcenterartsacademy.org

.
.

 

 

RustySmithRusty Smith:  HS Counselor

Mr. Smith obtained his BSE in Speech, Theater and English, 7-12 from Truman State University and his Masters in Secondary School Counseling at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Although a native of Mexico, Missouri, Smith currently resides in Washington, Missouri, where in his spare time he enjoys actively participating in the lives of his wife, three children and two dogs.  Smith has spent many years in education, most of which were spent at the high school level. He is a past recipient of Eureka High School’s Teacher of the Year, the St. Louis Suburban’s High School Counselor of the Year and the MSCA’s Missouri High School Counselor of the Year.  He believes that everybody has the potential to be SOMEBODY and enjoys helping them discover and develop that person.
.
.

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

.
.

 


EricaSnelsonErica Snelson –
Counselor/Counseling Department Chair

Ms. Snelson is beginning her 14th year in education. She 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 is GCAA’s College Counselor and the Counseling Department Chair. Before coming to GCAA, Ms. Snelson served as a special education teacher and school counselor at other local charter schools in the city of St. Louis. Her passion is helping all students explore their full potential and using their passion and skills to identify their chosen pathway in life. Ms. Snelson is excited to be a part of GCAA’s first graduating class, the class of 2016.  She has one daughter and enjoys spending her free time with her family and friends!

Email link: erica.snelson@grandcenterartsacademy.org

.

 

.

AnnaSobotkaAnna Sobotka:  HS ELA

Anna Sobotka is a proud St. Louis native. A graduate of University City High School and Washington University (BA English, MA Teaching), she has spent most of her life enjoying everything this city has to offer. She has spent the past 3 years teaching at Jennings Senior High in Missouri where she sponsored the poetry slam team as well as an after school honors enrichment program. She is thrilled to be joining the CGAA team, and is looking forward to working with her 9th and 10th grade students.  When she isn’t teaching and reading, she can probably be found exploring local restaurants or watching documentaries. Her reading lists are diverse as she enjoys classic literature, nonfiction, and an occasional beach read. She is also an enthusiastic world traveler: this summer she took her first trip to Asia and can’t wait for more travel experiences. This summer she also became a feeder for a feral cat colony, a community environment she learns more about every day.

.

 

Spiguzza_Dave

David Spiguzza – 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

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

.
.

 

ElizabethSteckmanElizabeth Steckman:  HS Geometry
.
Ms. Steckman earned a BA in Mathematics and a BA in Music (with a minor in Secondary Education) at Carthage College. She was born and raised in Rothschild, Wisconsin. Prior to coming to GCAA, she spent one year as the Head Math Teacher at Bukiriro secondary school in Bukiriro, Ngara, Tanzania (Africa!)  She also spent two years at St. Anthony High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she taught Algebra I and II. She has been playing the French horn for more than 15 years.

 

 

.

.

Tate_AshleyAshley Tate – Dance Department Chairperson

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

.

 

Theby_EricEric Theby – 7th Grade Science

Mr. Theby earned his BS in Education from Southeast Missouri State University in 2006. This will be his seventh year teaching. His first four years teaching were as a 5th grade teacher and as a K-5 Science teacher. Last year was his second 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

.
.
.

 

Warren_Fred

Fred Warren – 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

.

 

.

ShannonWestShannon West: Dance.

Shannon Lee West completed her training at Arizona Ballet School, under the direction of Kee Juan Han, while studying the Vaganova method. She also had supplemental training at The Harid Conservatory and The Rock School. Throughout her classical performance career, she danced with Ballet Arizona and The Georgia Ballet. She has toured with Cedar Lake II performing the contemporary works of choreographers such as Adam Hougland, Lauri Stallings, Lucia Ballard, and Benoit Swan Pouffer. In 2006, during its inaugural season, Shannon joined Missouri Contemporary Ballet as Resident Choreographer and Ballet Mistress. She would later go on to become Rehearsal Director and remain with the company for 9 years. In addition to choreographing for MCB, her work has been performed by students at San Angelo Civic Ballet, Ballet Pacifica, The Georgia Ballet, Erie Dance Conservatory and COCA’s Ballet Eclectica and COCAdance. It is in teaching, however, that Shannon has found her greatest passion. Most recently Ms. West has been on faculty with COCA- Center of Creative Arts and Ballet Initiative in addition to being a visiting instructor at Missouri Valley College and Mercyhurst University.

.

 

Williams_KeithKeith Tyrone Williams – 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

.
.
.

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

.
.
.

York_Carol

Carol York – 6th Grade Science

Ms. York has taught 6th grade at GCAA since it opened.  She has a BS in Medical Dietetics and a MA in Management. She began her post college career as a clinical dietitian. Later, Carol and her husband spent 2 years as a Peace Corp Volunteer in Botswana, Africa.  Then they lived for a time in South Africa and New Zealand.  She received her teaching certificate in science with an emphasis on middle school education. Ms. 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

.
.

 


CourtneyYoungCourtney Young – 10th Math
This year I have the opportunity to teach Algebra 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

 

.

AllisonZeisset

Allison Zeisset – 7th and 8th Grade Science

Mrs. Zeisset graduated from Illinois State University, where she received a BS in Environmental Health Science. She holds a General Science (grades 5th – 12th) certificate. Prior to joining GCAA, Mrs. Zeisset taught 8th grade Science at Central Middle School and taught Biology part time and full time at Belleville West High School. She currently resides in Swansea, IL with her husband and two sons. “We love spending time in the outdoors, kayaking, camping, rappelling and hiking.”

 

Photography by Jess Dewes and JuJu Veith