Ben brings 14 years of experience in K-12 school leadership in public, private, and charter schools. He is currently the Director at The School at Gate City Harvest and engaged as a coach and consultant to school leaders across the country.
Ben started his education career at Highlands Latin School (Memoria Press) and West End School in Louisville, KY. Since 2013, He has been involved as a school leader, project manager, and now leadership coach for Hillsdale College’s K-12 initiative. Before his work in education,
Ben received a B.A. in Economics from The University of Virginia, a Masters in Architecture from the College of Architecture at UNCC, and practiced architecture and design for seven years.
Ben is the father of three school-age daughters who keep him on his toes and remind him of the blessing each day affords us all.
Upon graduating from the University of Oklahoma in 1994, Eric Maddox joined the U.S. Army as an infantry paratrooper for the 82nd Airborne Division. After spending three years as an infantry paratrooper with a Ranger tab, Eric reenlisted as an interrogator and Chinese Mandarin linguist. Since 9/11, Eric has conducted over 2,700 interrogations while deploying eight times in support of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) to include multiple tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, South America, Southeast Asia, and Europe.
In 2003, while assigned to a special operations task force in Tikrit, Eric conducted over 300 interrogations and collected the intelligence which directly led to the capture of Saddam Hussein. As a result, he was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Director’s Award and the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement. After being hired as a civilian with the Department of Defense, Eric continued to help fight the Global War on Terror (GWOT) until 2014. In May 2015, he earned his MBA from Washington University in St. Louis and is now a private consultant and negotiator and lives in his hometown of
Eric is also the author of Mission: Black List No. 1 (Harper Collins, 2008), which he wrote with the permission of the Department of Defense.
For more information go to ericmaddox.com
China Gorman is a successful global business executive in the competitive Human Capital Management (HCM) sector. She is a sought-after advisor and speaker bringing the CEO perspective to the challenges of building cultures of humanity for top performance and innovation. Well known for her tenure as CEO of the Great Place to Work® Institute, COO and interim CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and President of Lee Hecht Harrison, China works with HCM organizations all over the world to enhance their brands and their go-to-market strategies. She sits on the corporate boards of Universum, and Motivis Learning, and chairs the Universum North America Advisory board. Additionally, she serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Jobs for America’s Graduates as well as the Advisory Board of the Workforce Institute at Kronos. China is the author of the popular blog Data Point Tuesday, and is published and frequently quoted in media properties like Fortune, TLNT, Huffington Post, Inc., Fast Company, U.S. News & World Report, HR Magazine and many others.
Mitchell Clem is a partner and principal consultant for SBS Creatix, a St. Louis-based information technology firm. Mr. Clem is a graduate of the University of Missouri-St. Louis where he received a BS in Business Administration. His experience includes positions as a business analyst, application developer, quality analyst, data architect, large project/program management, and in business development. Organizations Mr. Clem has been employed by or has executed projects for in a consultant role include Anheuser-Busch, Edward Jones, Washington University, the US Department of Defense, the US Department of Agriculture, and Unisys and Boatman’s Trust, among others. He has also helped to found and grow two successful IT-related companies. Mr. Clem enjoys technology, is a passionate reader and life-long learner, and plays golf when time permits.
Chairman of the Board
Dale Henn holds an M.B.A. from the University of Rochester, and he graduated from Principia College with a B.A. in Math and Business Administration. In 2006 he was named Vice President, Capital Appropriations and Facilities, for Gannett, a Fortune 500 company, reporting to Gannett’s CFO. He also served as an officer of Gannett Satellite Information Network, the parent company of USA TODAY. He retired in 2013.
Dale lived in Reston, Virginia from 1985 to 2013 with his wife, Susie. He and Susie moved to St. Louis in June 2014. They have two sons, Josh and Steve. His hobbies and interests include reading – biographies and history – travel and fitness.
Hallie Meagher is a Director of Sales for a railcar leasing company headquartered out of St. Charles, MO. She manages accounts in Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Indiana. She has been through many transitions and acquisitions with the company which has positioned her well to understand business growth, flexibility, and account strategy. Her strengths are customer relationship management and high-performance sales. She currently manages some of her company’s largest accounts. Prior to her time at her current company, she served as a Project Manager at a hospitality manufacturing company. Hallie earned her B.S. in Marketing from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI.
Hallie was born and raised in northern Illinois, spent 7 years in Texas, and currently resides in Missouri. She is active in her church and enjoys spending time with her family. She is married to her husband Mike and has five children. Hallie enjoys gardening, beekeeping, time with her children, and the great outdoors. She has a passion for true education and wants to participate at any level to help as many children as possible receive the very best opportunities for schooling.
A self-made entrepreneur, Rick Duree launched four successful businesses and had four kids by the time he was thirty. A professor of entrepreneurship, inspirational speaker, angel investor, missionary, TV producer, author, and mentor, he founded the Duree Center for Entrepreneurship at Lindenwood University to support creators as they ramp up their new startups. Mr. Duree is a visionary with extensive project creation and development experience, as well as a dedicated team builder. He serves as a Board Member for multiple non-profit organizations, helping them grow to serve their communities. He is a loving husband and father, a martial artist, a musician, a Mormon, an avid fantasy book reader, a St. Louis Cardinals fan, and a Certified BBQ Judge.
1st/2nd Grades, Upper School History
B.A., History and French, minor in Classical Education, Hillsdale College
Grace Leonard graduated summa cum laude from Hillsdale College in 2020 with a double major in History and French, and a minor in Classical Education. In addition to completing her apprenticeship at the Hillsdale Academy, she volunteered with the Mary Proctor Randall Preschool and taught ESL online.
Miss Leonard grew up learning phonics and has trained under Dorothy Kardatzke (co-author of the Literacy Essentials program used by CAL). She is excited to return to CAL this fall to continue to share her love of reading with the first and second graders, and her love of history with the ninth and tenth graders.
Mary Stirton is excited to continue working with the administration at the Classical Academy de Lafayette. She graduated cum laude from Hillsdale College in 2021, where she received her BA in Latin. Miss Stirton first realized her love of the Latin language in 8th grade, and has been interested in linguistics ever since. In addition to Latin, she has taken several years of Greek and German, the latter of which she is working towards fluency in.
Serving as the librarian for Hillsdale’s Classics Department and administrating an extracurricular Latin-teaching program at Hillsdale revealed to Miss Stirton her love of organization and administration, which she intends to pursue long-term. Her additional interests include music, travel, and the outdoors. Miss Stirton’s free time is divided between reading, outdoor activities, learning guitar, and baking.
PE and Math
BSBA, Washington University in St. Louis
John Schweizer was the middle school and assistant varsity wrestling coach for Whitfield School from November, 2005 to February, 2015. During that time Mr. Schweizer assisted the program through five state titles, ten district titles, and three top-four team finishes. He has helped train numerous individual champions in the weight room and on the mat. Mr. Schweizer has also coached soccer at the middle-school level for Whitfield and the pre-school level as a coach for his son’s team.
Mr. Schweizer wrestled and played soccer in high school, earning state medals in both sports. He has recently competed in endurance events including the Halfmax at Innsbrook, MO, the 70.3 Ironman (half Ironman distance) in Seattle, and the Seattle Marathon.
Mr. Schweizer obtained his Chartered Financial Analyst designation in 2017, and works as an independent contractor for LCI Investments, LLC, an investment advisor based out of Minnesota with an office in St. Louis. Furthermore, he operates a residential property management business, Confluence Property Management, LLC. He has four children attending Classical Academy de Lafayette: Ellie, Mitchell, Charlie, and Jack Schweizer.
Latin and Middle School Literature
Madalyn Patrone is a St. Louis native and has been teaching since 2007. A graduate of Hillsdale College, she is excited to be a part of expanding the reach of classical education and sharing her love of Latin and literature with the students of CAL. Madalyn enjoys Shakespeare, poetry, travel, cooking, reading, and, most of all, spending time with her almost four-year-old daughter, Ivana.
Founder/Head of School
B.A., Business Administration, Principia College
Education, Chapman University
Mrs. McKinney has been passionate about education and teaching ever since she was a child. However, in 2011 she and her husband rediscovered their love of history, specifically American history, when they attended a lecture given about our founding fathers. It was then that they realized how much of their American and world history they were never taught. They committed themselves to learning as much as they could about our history and vowed their children would have a different experience.
To that end, McKinney founded and became the Head of School for the Classical Academy de Lafayette (CAL) in December 2016. Her goal: to offer an exceptional classical education— focused on great books, the western tradition, and the timeless principles that founded this country— not only for her three children but for as many children and adults as would be interested.
Mrs. McKinney is passionate about all things “education” and has found herself in some form of teaching over the last 20 years. Having taught elementary and middle education in San Diego, CA, Albuquerque, NM and St. Louis, MO, she is an experienced leader, educator and businesswoman with degrees in Elementary Education and in Business Administration. She has also founded and directed a pre-school, developed curriculum for elementary schools, and home schooled her own children. Before they were parents, she and her husband were the owners/brokers in a successful real estate investment and management start-up.
Mrs. McKinney lives in Foristell, Missouri, with her husband, Justin, and three children. In their free time, she and her family enjoy learning more about their American and world history and then traveling to see it for themselves. They’ve visited places like Trenton, NJ, Gettysburg, PA, and Rome, Italy to name a few. When home, Mrs. McKinney, her husband and their three children love to spend time together shooting trap, fishing in their lake, reading books, watching quality movies, playing cards, and playing with their Rhodesian Ridgeback, Locke (named after John Locke).
Upper School Literature and Philosophy
Mr. Grayson Gunn graduated from Ave Maria University with a BA in Theology and Minor in Philosophy. He came to love teaching and connecting with young people through his role as president of the youth ministry team at Ave Maria and his mission work through the Mother Theresa Scholars program, including travelling to Calcutta to serve with the Missionaries of Charity. Mr. Gunn previously taught High School Theology and is thrilled to be joining the Classical Academy de Lafayette this year.
Mr. Gunn loves coffee, working out, spending time in the outdoors, and adding to his growing book collection. He enjoys playing many sports, especially baseball, which he played from age 7 through his high school years. Most of all, he loves spending time with his wife and baby girl.
Teresa Gardea graduated cum laude in 2018 with a B.A. in Theology and a concentration in Business from the University of Dallas. She has since taught third grade art classes and served as a second grade teacher at a BCSI classical academy in Texas. She is excited to start at the Classical Academy de Lafayette this year as the fourth grade teacher!
Having been classically educated her whole life, Miss Gardea is looking forward to sharing her passion for the liberal arts with her students. Her additional interests include traveling, cooking, swing and country dancing, kayaking, frequenting art museums, and reading.
Dean of Student Life & Mathematics Teacher
B.S., Education, Truman State University
Master’s, Walden University
Cyndi Duggan is excited to begin her second year as the Classical Academy de Lafayette’s Dean of Student Life. It has been a privilege for Mrs. Duggan to serve at CAL in the capacity of both Dean of Student Life and math teacher. This has allowed her to work with all of CAL’s students and staff in many aspects throughout the year.
Before joining the CAL staff, Mrs. Duggan was an eighth-grade mathematics teacher for twenty-nine years at Fort Zumwalt South Middle School. During the last eight years she was also the Mathematics Department Chair at her school where she coordinated the department’s activities. Throughout Mrs. Duggan’s career she has been actively involved with the school district’s mathematics curriculum revisions and implementation. For many years she was the Co-Sponsor of the Student of the Week Program and the Chess Club Sponsor. As a trained mentor, Mrs. Duggan coached new math teachers in their early years of teaching. In 2017, she was selected and attended Missouri DESE State Exam Writing for the Algebra I End-of-Course Exam.
Mrs. Duggan’s passion for excellence in education continues to grow deeper throughout her teaching career. Her priority is to deliver the best education she can to each of her students, by presenting quality lessons with enthusiasm. Educating students includes expecting the best from each student in both academics as well as behavior.
Mrs. Duggan and her husband have two grown children, Jordan and Erika. Mr. and Mrs. Duggan love traveling, spending time with family and friends, and being part of the CAL community.
Math and Physics
Mr. Dave Robertson is our Upper School math and physics teacher. Prior to joining CAL, Mr. Robertson taught physics, mathematics, and astronomy at the collegiate level for 12 years, as well as two years of high school physics. Robertson holds an M.S. degree in physics from Stanford University. As a graduate student, Robertson’s research interest focused on astrophysics. He analyzed X-ray spectra from active galactic nuclei (AGN) to understand the interaction between radiation emitted from the accretion disks of supermassive black holes and surrounding ionized gas clouds. While teaching at the collegiate level, he supervised undergraduate research projects utilizing the college’s 16 inch Ritchey-Chretien telescope for exoplanet detection. A related hobby of Mr. Robertson’s is astrophotography. He is a member of American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and Phi Beta Kappa.
Kindergarten/1st Grade Math
Karri Thomas was born and raised in St. Charles, MO and moved to Atlanta after marrying her husband, Trent. She received her B.S in Elementary Education from Georgia State University in Atlanta in 1998 and became a first-grade teacher immediately upon graduation. She is currently certified Birth-6th grade in the state of Missouri.
After starting a family, they moved back to Missouri, and she became a stay-at-home mom raising their 4 children. During this time, she volunteered weekly at their school, attended the Judevine Center for Autism Training, participated in Relationship Development Training for Autism, and became a substitute teacher.
At CAL she continues to apply her joy for teaching the younger students in Level 1 Math, and the Kindergarten afternoon session. In her free time, she enjoys being with her family, cooking, attending BBQs with her large extended family, yoga and going on walks. Their two youngest daughters attend CAL: Leah and Nora.
Mrs. Amy Coffelt is CAL’s kindergarten teacher. Mrs. Coffelt has a Bachelor of Science in education and a minor in art history from the University of Missouri in Columbia. She received an athletic scholarship for soccer in college, earning Big XII Academic 1st Team Honors.
Mrs. Coffelt taught as an art teacher (K-12) for six years and coached middle school soccer for three. Her passion lies with younger elementary students, and she is excited to serve CAL in this way. Mrs. Coffelt has three children at CAL: Will, Samantha, and Mia.
Middle School History
Keith Preston, BA in History, MBA in Teaching Secondary Social Sciences. He spent 9 years as a retail investment broker, 8 years managing investments for a local school, and is teaching his 20th year as a secondary school history teacher. His interests are films, sports, 17 years of competitive swimming as a youth, and a lifelong lover of many kinds of music. Most curiously, he never seems to get bored.
It has been one of my greatest joys to discover classical education. Through teaching 2nd and 4th grade, I have come to love teaching reading and spelling to all ages. That lead me to start my own company in which I’ve trained teachers across the country and written my own materials for supporting older students in their literacy journey. I’ve worked with 3-year-olds through 70-year-olds — it’s never too early or too late to begin a deep love for words! When I’m not teaching or coaching teachers, I love to read the classics, write stories, watercolor, and do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
M.Ed, Special Education, University of Missouri – St. Louis
B.S., Special Education, Truman State University
Philippe Duggan is enthusiastic to continue as the 3rd grade teacher at CAL. Mr. Duggan is passionate about teaching and looks forward to having a classroom that has a community feel for his students to thrive in a positive, productive environment. His teaching style encompasses a high level of expectations for learning and behavior for all students.
Mr. Duggan graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Education from Truman State University and his Masters of Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He taught for eleven years in elementary schools as a Special Education teacher in the Fort Zumwalt School District. During that time, he was chosen as Teacher of the Year for his school.
Mr. Duggan is a native of North Wales. He is married to his wife, Cyndi, and they have two grown children. Mr. Duggan loves to be outdoors, working in his yard or maintaining his family’s land in the country. He also loves to spend time with his family, including being at baseball games, grilling for them, and traveling with them, especially for visits to Great Britain to see family and friends.
Finance & Administration
Dorian Aiello is originally from Brockville in Ontario Canada. She competed as a Division-I athlete in rowing while earning her Bachelor’s degree in Business at the University of Iowa. She later went on to get her Master’s Degree in Accounting at DePaul University in Chicago, and earned her CPA license. Mrs. Aiello has experience in operations, accounting, and finance; including three years in school-district business offices.
Mrs. Aiello is the oldest of 7, and along with her husband, Sam, she now has three children of her own: Henrik, Silje, and Vincent. The Aiellos moved to Wentzville in 2015 from Andover, Minnesota. They enjoy the outdoors, food, and athletics – especially cheering on their Iowa Hawkeyes.
Brad Bivens retired in 2010 from a career in financial analysis and planning at the Acushnet Company located in Massachusetts. The Acushnet Company is the world leader in the manufacturing and marketing of Titleist golf balls / clubs and FootJoy shoes / apparel. During his career as Vice President of Financial Planning, he developed business plans for the United States and international subsidiaries. Brad is originally from Illinois where he attended Southern Illinois University and earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in finance.
He and his wife have an adult daughter and live on Cape Cod. Brad is active in his community where he is on the board of two community development initiatives. Brad continues his financial activities by providing financial assistance to non-profit organizations.
Johanna Hunsbedt has spent the past 22 years teaching in public, private, and classical-homeschool settings. Having taught middle and high school English as well as US History, sociology, and human behavior, Mrs. Hunsbedt wields experience in a wide array of disciplines. She looks forward to bringing her passion for creating cohesive units of study to CAL as she works with teachers in her new role.
After spending one semester at Princeton University, Mrs. Hunsbedt transferred to Rutgers University where she double majored in English and Political Science. An undergraduate associate of the Eagleton Institute of Politics, she graduated cum laude as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Pi Sigma Alpha. She is currently working on her Masters in Education Leadership, Management, and Policy at Seton Hall University where she is a member of Kappa Delta Pi.
An avid cyclist who enjoys cooking and spending time with her family above all else, Mrs. Hunsbedt, her husband John and their college-aged children, Oliver and Audrey, will relocate from their home in Princeton, NJ, to the Wentzville area to join the CAL family this fall.
Brian Lunt is the Founder and Chief Creative Strategist for Seed Level Creativity Lab. Seed Level specializes in helping small business owners and entrepreneurs better navigate their business in order to accelerate their journey towards an ideal life. Brian works with clients one-on-one as a Hill’s Angels coach under the guidance of his mentor, Dr. Tom Hill. He also operates as a contract facilitator for T.A.B. – The Alternative Board. Brian is the President of the Saint Louis Business Club which supports an integrated network of resources throughout the greater Saint Louis, MO metropolitan area where he hosts weekly and monthly masterminds on a variety of topics. Brian has been blessed to help countless people grow in their lives and businesses throughout the years. He lives in Kirkwood, MO and has three children.
Dan Amsden retired at the end of 2014 following a career in engineering and construction. He is married and has two adult sons living in the St. Louis region. Dan is a native Missourian and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri and a Master’s Degree in engineering management from Missouri University of Science and Technology (MST). During his career he worked his way up from electrical engineer to senior executive positions with engineering/construction companies. Mr. Amsden has also been active in civic areas including serving on the Boards of Directors of Parkway Education Foundation and Family Resource Center, as well as being a member and chairman of the St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association Science and Technology Committee. He is currently active as a guest lecturer at MST, provides volunteer analysis of wasteful spending programs in the Missouri government, and works toward reforming public education in Missouri. He served in the US Army from 1970-1972
Amy Anderson started her professional career as a software engineer in the Avionics Laboratory at McDonnell Douglas and later worked for Southwestern Bell, ultimately leading a software project for their largest customer at the time—the state government of Texas. In 1995 she and her husband, Mark, started Anderson Technologies, an IT company which provides IT support for businesses and non-profit organizations. Together they have created a company culture of honesty, integrity, discretion, and excellence, which their clients both recognize and value.
Mrs. Anderson and her husband have two grown children, and they love to spend their time outside walking, sailing, and biking.
Business Operations Manager and Admissions Director
A Missouri native, Jessica Goertz received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in accounting from Columbia College, and she is now in her fifth year working at the Classical Academy de Lafayette. As the Business Operations Manager and Admissions Director, she plays a crucial role in the inner workings of the school.
Mrs. Goertz is married with three children, and she divides her weekends between excursions to the lake, and shuttling children to the hockey rink, volleyball court, and softball fields! The Goertz family are very much the active type; they enjoy camping, kayaking, and vertical caving together, and raise chickens and rabbits on their property in Defiance.
Mrs. Goertz loves her job with CAL. Though she is often deep-entrenched in the administrative workings, her focus is on the mission of the school. The best part of the job, she says, is watching the students grow in their education! Mrs. Goertz loves getting the chance to host admissions visits and introduce more families to what CAL is all about.
B.S., Wildlife Biology, Missouri State University
It would be safe to say that Mr. Miller began his biology career at the age of ten, when he received his first fly rod. From that moment, his focus became very clear: learn everything there is to know about fish, and how to catch them.
Having graduated with a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Missouri State University, Mr. Miller has performed a wide range of positions within the biological field, from spending months at sea as a marine biologist, to guiding fly-fishing trips in Idaho during the summers, to his most recent career— before teaching— as an aquatic entomologist, where he became the lead of his team, researching everything from mayflies to midges to aquatic worms.
The passion to teach has always been at the forefront of Mr. Miller’s mind, and he is beyond joyful to have begun teaching at CAL. His interests include (mainly) his family, including his wife and three children, gardening, fly fishing, and most obviously, everything science!
5th & 6th Grades
Robin Munro received her B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She then went on to receive her Master of Arts in Teaching from Webster University. Born and raised in south St. Louis County, she moved to St. Charles County in 1985.
She is now retired from Fort Zumwalt School District where she served as both teacher and Curriculum Coordinator. Ms. Munro spent 21 years teaching elementary school, 9 teaching middle school, and 6 years as a K-12 substitute. At the Classical Academy de Lafayette, she continues to provide the gift of education to the 5/6th grade class.
Ms. Munro has two adult sons and two special-needs rescue dogs. She loves to spend her time with friends and family, or volunteering. In addition to her vast teaching experience, she enjoys spending her time with needlework, reading, jigsaw puzzles, gardening and cooking. Furthermore, she loves travel and adventure: exploring new restaurants and museums, and attending sporting events, concerts, and festivals.
Abigail Leali graduated summa cum laude from Hillsdale College, receiving departmental honors for her bachelor’s degrees in both English and Art, as well as earning a minor in French. Through her work in publications and at university libraries, she has gained experience in proofreading, editing, and academic research, including working with an art curator on an archival research project. She has successfully presented an English thesis on moral philosophy in Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray, an art history thesis on the role of Japanese aesthetics in late Victorian illustration, and a conference paper on free will in Christopher Marlowe’s Tragical History of Doctor Faustus at the University of Dallas; Miss Leonard also recently published a translation of an essay by French philosopher Jean-Louis Chrétien in a peer-reviewed journal. She is a member of national academic honorary Phi Kappa Phi and art honorary Alpha Rho Tau and has received awards for charcoal drawing and graphic design.
Miss Leali will be sharing her love of art with every grade level, and her love of literature with the upper-school students. Her favorite authors include Herman Melville, T. S. Eliot, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Arthur Conan Doyle; her favorite artists: Caravaggio, Bernini, Rembrandt, Thomas Cole, and Alphonse Mucha. Though especially passionate about 19th- and 20th-century art and literature, she teaches students to delight in works from all times and places while challenging them to think critically about their meaning and find in them examples of courage, empathy, and integrity. When she is not helping students wrestle with humanity’s most abiding questions, she can often be found working on a new drawing, visiting museums, going for long walks, or listening to music.
Thomas Robert, (pronounced ‘Row-Bert), is a recent graduate of Lindenwood University. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Education, as well as K-12 Music Certification. He started playing guitar and piano at age 6, and by 11 was already playing professionally. Although he grew up playing in many Rock n’ Roll bands, Mr. Robert has fond memories of the years he spent in the music program at the Wright City School District. After graduating high school in 2016, he attended St. Charles Community College where he became their first student to graduate from the college with an Associate’s of Fine Arts in Music.
As a student, he performed with a variety of musical ensembles ranging from Marching Bands, A Cappella Choirs, Symphony Orchestras, and Big Jazz Bands. Currently, he performs with several local bands and occasionally works as a musician in several musicals around the state. In addition to teaching at the Classical Academy de Lafayette, Mr. Robert has a private lesson studio where he teaches 60+ weekly students of all ages and instruments at Old Friends Vintage Guitars LLC., located in Wentzville, MO. Additionally, Mr. Robert enjoys serving as music director at New Creation Presbyterian Church. He would like to say a big thank you to all his mentors and teachers for their love and support throughout the years!
Middle & Upper School Literature, Librarian
B.A., English, Hillsdale College
Elyssa Warren graduated from Hillsdale College with a B.A. in English Literature, also studying Classical Education and Spanish. Completing a teaching apprenticeship under the incomparable Dr. Ellen Condict introduced Miss Warren to the delights of both Reed-Kellogg sentence diagrams and the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, both of which now appear regularly in her classes. Ever since getting her first summer job with her local public library, Miss Warren has only solidified her library addiction—CAL’s books are the third library she’s worked with! When she’s not immersed in British novels and poetry, she can be found in her garden or tending her many houseplants.
Upper School Latin (remote)
B.S., Business Administration, Lindenwood University
MBA, University of Missouri – St. Louis
M.A., Educational Processes, Maryville University
Teaching Certification in K-12 Art, Maryville University
B.A., Mathematics, San Diego State University
B.S., Mathematics, California State University at Los Angeles
MAT, Integrated Mathematics & Science, Fresno Pacific College
B.A., Hillsdale College
M.Ed., Grace College
Middle School Latin (remote)
B.A., Soviet Studies, Fordham University
M.A., Theology, Franciscan University of Steubenville
Kindergarten & Music
B.A., Elementary Education and Sociology, Principia College
Amanda Coleman comes to us from Messiah Lutheran. Having taught elementary education since the late 90s, Mrs. Coleman is a passionate and dedicated teacher who loves to motivate, engage, and focus her students in purposeful learning.
Excelling in classroom management, she has a positive rapport with students. In her early teaching years, she felt something was missing from education and desired to take her students to a deeper level. She felt the curriculum was disjointed and difficult for students to make meaningful connections. She was always thinking and researching the best options for education until she discovered classical education. She knew then that she had found the model for which she had been looking to help cultivate wisdom and virtue. With her Bachelor of Science from MSU in Springfield, Mrs. Coleman is excited to join CAL’s faculty this fall. She considers it a privilege to guide young people in the classical tradition.
Sara Phillips de Borja graduated with a BA from Principia College and continued her studies at the University of Cambridge in England, receiving a CPGS (“Certificate of Post-Graduate Study” – equivalent of a Masters degree). She then moved to St. Louis to study at Washington University, where she received her MA and finished the coursework towards a PhD. She has taught at a variety of levels from preschool through college and thoroughly enjoys helping students appreciate the creative arts, both visual and literary. In her teaching, she emphasizes the importance of strong writing skills and thorough research. Sara loves to read, and Bridge to Terabithia, Pride and Prejudice, and People of the Book are among her favorite novels. When she is not teaching, Sara and her family enjoy international travel. To date, they have visited 25 countries and most recently traveled to the Panama Canal. While at home, she loves to spend time with her husband, son, and dog. (Side note: She is drawn towards egg-drop contests and has won multiple times. Something to keep in mind for field day!)
Hal Witt grew up in Kansas City MO. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Classical Greek and Latin from Northwestern University in Chicago and a Master’s degree in Classical Greek and Latin from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
As a graduate student at Illinois, he taught Latin to undergraduate students, and for his Master’s thesis he transcribed and translated two ancient Greek papyri written circa 150 A.D. These Greek papyri were excavated from Egypt and are now housed in the University of Michigan collection. He also received a Master’s degree in Business Administration from California State University at Fullerton.
After working in a consumer finance lending company for five years, he joined The Boeing Company where he was a financial analyst working on defense contracts for the U.S. military and its allies for 35 years.
After retiring from Boeing in 2017, he joined the Classical Academy de Lafayette in 2018, as their Latin teacher. Mr. Witt and his wife Cathy have six grandchildren. They love to travel, and their most recent trip was a 15-day cruise in New Zealand and Australia. While there, they included a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set because Mr. Witt’s favorite books are Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Nikki McGuire has taught in elementary education since 1993, with a ten-year break to raise her three children now 19, 17, and 10. She has experience teaching grade levels 3rd-6th in all subject areas, in both the public and private sector. She is a passionate professional with exceptional teaching, management, and leadership skills. She possesses the ability to tap into student’s interests and Socratically guide them to achieve levels previously thought unattainable. Mrs. McGuire loves inspiring and teaching children. Currently, she is the 6th grade homeroom teacher and math teacher for grades 4-6 for a local independent school, and she will join the CAL faculty in the fall as an elementary math teacher in the mornings and the PreK-K teacher in the afternoons. Nikki loves gardening, and spending time with her husband and three kids, preferably at the beach, but usually at the hockey rink or baseball field! With a degree in education from The University of Kansas, she also enjoys visiting her alma mater to see her daughter, a current Jayhawk, and catch a basketball game. She is a dedicated, passionate teacher that thrives on encouraging her students to reach for the stars!
Debbie Bridges is a 2011 graduate of Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Middle School Science Education at the age of 38 after spending ten years as a stay-at-home mother of two. Debbie taught for six years in a public middle school before joining CAL in September 2017.
Debbie actively works to encourage the natural curiosity of her students to better understand nature and science. She is dedicated to helping her students grow into the role of science literate citizens who are discerning voters and contributors.
Debbie lives in New Melle, Missouri, with her husband and their two children, along with their dog and two cats. Her time outside of school is spent attending sport and band events of her high schoolers, playing volleyball, and reading. She is an avid fan of both the Harry Potter series and The Kingkiller Chronicle.
Anne Hotz Harmon graduated cum laude from Hillsdale College in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Classical Education. She completed the Liberal Arts Teacher Apprenticeship at Hillsdale Academy with a focus in elementary education. Anne has also worked as a writer and editor for the Hillsdale College Marketing Department. In her free time, she enjoys browsing bookshelves, cooking with her friends, and listening to musicals. She is passionate about bringing her love of children’s literature and education to the Classical Academy de Lafayette in the fall.
Mary Douglas graduated summa cum laude from Lindenwood University with a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She has taught both fifth and third grade in the public school system for thirteen years. After teaching for a few years, she returned to school to earn a master’s degree in education from Lindenwood University with an additional certification in gifted education. Mary has a passion for incorporating creative activities and projects into her teaching model. Being able to do this allows her to bring subject matter to life, while making it engaging and memorable for the students. She has been involved in various activities and clubs throughout her career, including work in an outdoor classroom, as well as sponsoring after school book clubs for students. She has also been fortunate enough to take part in numerous professional development opportunities throughout the years offered by her previous school. She is extremely excited about the curriculum at CAL and cannot wait to start sharing her love of learning with her students. She has three children and one grandchild and loves to spend time with her family and friends. In addition, she enjoys reading, swimming, cooking, tennis and nature.
A native Chicagoan and veteran teacher of more than twenty years in public and private sectors, Linda Griswold and her family moved from the Chicago suburbs to the St. Louis area two years ago.
With two children now in college, she is delighted to teach full-time again and support CAL’s exceptional mission which is so needed today. Mrs. Griswold’s background includes a wealth of experience in gifted education, including teaching at all grade levels, kindergarten through eighth, and in such areas as French. Her Missouri certification includes endorsements in gifted (K-12), ELA, and Math. She also holds an Illinois Standard Teaching Certificate with similar endorsements.
As a French major at Sorbonne (University of Paris), she later earned her Masters of Arts in Teaching. She is a lifelong learner having led several professional development sessions for her colleagues and served on many staff committees. Her recent middle school students’ work in Missouri was featured in a local newspaper. She plays piano and gardens where she lives in West County with her family including two cats. She considers joining CAL’s faculty in its early stages an honor and looks forward to supporting the implementation of its mission. She recognizes a clear, current need for schools’ independence and the reinstatement of classical education in the promise to equip and strengthen young students as future leaders in our precious nation.
Mr. George Reed is a graduate of the University of South Florida with a degree in history, and he holds a degree in banking from the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Colorado at Boulder. George is the father of three grown children who are all successful in the arts. He is also a Vietnam War veteran having served with 82nd Airborne Division. George has spent most of his work career in industry as a financial planner and as a commercial loan officer with a major bank. He also had his own consulting business working with small business owners to improve their business practices. He has served on the Kirkwood YMCA Board, Alexandra Ballet Board, the Kirkwood Chamber of Commerce Board and the American Institute of Banking Board each for a term of 10 years. Mr. Reed has taught economics, financial history and American history.
Mrs. Marilyn Wallace is a lifelong educator, specializing in instruction for gifted and talented students. After graduating with degrees in Elementary/Secondary Education and Music, she taught students at all grade levels for 15 years, earned a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from National-Louis University in Evanston, Illinois, and entered school administration. In addition to her work in curriculum development, she was head of a K-8 independent school in the Chicago suburbs for 13 years and head of the Principia School here in St. Louis from 2006-2014. She has led 18 evaluation teams for the Independent Schools Association of the Central States. Now retired from her work in that field, she devotes her time to church activities. She lives in the area with her husband, and has two married sons who live nearby.
Mr. Dale Henn, Chairman, is a retired Vice President at Gannett, a Fortune 500 company, with 30+ years business leadership and experience including finance, accounting, real estate, facilities, M&A, insurance, treasury and IT. He serves on the St. Louis County Library Foundation Development Committee. Dale holds an M.B.A. from the University of Rochester and a B.A. in Math and Business Administration. Dale is an avid reader of history and biographies and a bike rider. He lives in St. Louis with his wife, Susie.
James V. Shuls is an assistant professor and the graduate program director of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. He earned his Ph.D. in education policy from the University of Arkansas. Previously, he taught first grade and fifth grade in the Republic, MO R-III School District. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Missouri Southern State University and a master’s degree from Missouri State University, both in elementary education. Prior to joining UMSL, he served as the director of education policy for the Show-Me Institute, where he is currently a distinguished fellow of education policy. Additionally, he is a research fellow at the Hammond Institute for Free Enterprise at Lindenwood University and for EdChoice.
James’ research focuses primarily on teacher labor markets, school finance, and school choice. His work has been published in numerous scholarly journals, such as: Social Science Quarterly, The Rural Educator, Educational Policy, the Journal of Education Finance, and the Journal of School Choice: International Research and Reform. Additionally, he has been featured in numerous popular print publications and has made numerous appearances on talk radio programs and television news. Including appearances on: The Charlie Brennan Show (KMOX—St. Louis), The Mark Reardon Show (KMOX—St. Louis), The McGraw Milhaven Show (KTRS—St. Louis), The Morning Magazine (KRMS—Lake of the Ozarks), The Morning Show with Greg Knapp (KCMO—Kansas City), KMBZ Live with Darla Jaye (KMBZ – Kansas City), The Gary Nolan Show (KSSZ—Columbia, MO), Morning Newswatch (KZRG—Joplin), Morningline (KWTO—Springfield, MO), Mornings with Nick Reed (KSGF—Springfield, MO), Stay Tuned (KETC – St. Louis), and The Jaco Report (KTVI- St. Louis).
His most important job is being a husband to Crissy and a father to four children, Tryston, Taryn, Truman, and Teigen. As a parent, he is incredibly concerned about the quality of education in our community and our state. Upon this recognition, Shuls was appointed by Tom Dempsey, President pro tem of the Missouri Senate, to serve on the committee which wrote Missouri’s K-5 math standards. Currently, Shuls is also serving at the request of Ron Richard, President pro tem of the Missouri Senate, on the committee tasked with revising the personal finance standards.