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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!)
Mr. Fares was raised in a suburb of sleepy post-war San Diego. He went to college at San Diego State University (then College) as an engineering major. During his college years, he counseled at summer camp for boys in Northern California. That experience helped him know he wanted to become a teacher. He then taught in San Diego teaching math to seventh, eighth, and ninth graders. After receiving his masters in He taught math and science for over twenty years.
In 1988, he began teaching seventh grade math and science at another school. Eventually, both he and his wife were assigned to the same school, and for five years they taught together: he taught science and math, and she taught language arts and reading. Both retired in 2004 and moved to Missouri, where their now married son, Daniel, his wife, and child were then living. David has three very active grandchildren, with whom he spends many of his summer days swimming, exploring, and hiking. David also enjoys taking ballroom dance lessons and he loves to entertain his students with his singing!
Mr. Keith Preston is CAL’s US History and US Government teacher. He taught high-school History from 2002 to 2016. After a brief “retirement” pause, he decided to return to his love of teaching at the Classical Academy de Lafayette. Prior to his teaching career, Mr. Preston was an Investment Broker in South Florida from 1982-1990, and served as the Trust Administrator for an independent school managing their Charitable Trusts from 1990 to 1998.
Mr. Preston is passionate about history. His fascination with the JFK assassination led him to once interview, among others, Lee Harvey Oswald’s widow, a man who was a specialist at JFK’s autopsy, the man who wrestled Jack Ruby to the ground after shooting Oswald, and the Russian KGB man who interviewed Oswald in Mexico City.
Mr. Preston earned his BA in History and his Masters in Teaching Secondary Social Sciences from Webster University in 1998. Additionally, he has taught adult education offerings at alumni gatherings, summer educational classes, and has spoken at the invitation of dozens of educational clubs for over 20 years. Mr. Preston lives with his wife, Gloria, and his two daughters in St. Louis. We’re excited to have Mr. Preston join our faculty to enrich our CAL students.
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.
Mrs. Katy McKinney, Founder and Head of School, founded the Classical Academy de Lafayette (CAL) in 2016, to offer an exceptional classical education to grade school through high school students in the O’Fallon area. Katy is passionate about all things “education” and has found herself in some form of teaching over the last 20 years. Having taught 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 founded and directed pre-schools, developed curriculum for elementary schools, home schooled her own children and was the principal in a successful real estate investment and management start-up. Katy lives in Foristell, Missouri with her husband, Justin, and three children. In their free time, Katy and her family enjoy swimming and fishing in their lake and reading with her kids.
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.
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.
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
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.