Continuing on from last week’s article honoring 10 and 15 year employee milestones, this week we celebrate faculty and staff who have been at MICDS for 20 and 25 years. The 25th milestone is a particularly important one at MICDS, and typically a colleague reads remarks about the honoree at the spring all-school assembly, while the honoree sits in a special commemorative chair. Because of the distance learning environment, we are unable to physically come together as a community to celebrate our faculty and staff; however, that won’t stop us from honoring them from afar! As for the chairs, they will be waiting on campus in the fall.
Congratulations on this momentous occasion, and thank you for all that you do for the MICDS community! Please be on the lookout in the weeks to come as we celebrate other important faculty and staff honors.
Alan Berkbigler - 25 Years
Thank you to Linda Ganss, Sandra Lee and Greg Stevens for contributing the following remarks.
Alan Berkbigler teaches our youngest learners at MICDS—Junior Kindergartners—and thus he wins the patience award! He has also worked at other grade levels in Beasley, including first and second grade, and led and worked in the Extended Day program. Alan is a man with a big heart who is kind, thoughtful, gentle, caring and generous.
He is a calm and supportive presence when children need it most. Alan cares for each and every child with an open heart and is excited by the happiness a child brings to the room or playground. He loves working with the youngest Beasley students; they know it and they love him in return. Alan is amazingly patient and calm. Key aspects of his approach are steadiness and stamina. At times he can be quiet and watchful, and he is always a careful observer. He sees small things in a child’s expressions and understands what they are too young to say clearly. Experience, good instincts and keen intuition about a young child’s wants and needs make him ever ready to support and nurture our youngest children. He delights in the joy that children bring to the classroom and he cares for them with a glad heart.
Alan is respected by all of his colleagues in the Lower School. When a need arises, he gently and quietly will fill the need, whether with kind words, voluntary action, a gentle hug, a kind email or a meal. As he walks through the buildings, he greets everyone with a warm smile and a heartfelt hello. His love of MICDS shows through in all that he does. He knows the School well and all its benefits, and he sent his two younger daughters here to receive the great education that MICDS provides. He has been a joy to work with these past 25 years.
Alan Berkbigler is a wonderful colleague, patient teacher and trusted friend. He is a proud father of five daughters and a loving “Papa” of ten grandchildren, and he is quick to share phone photos of his family with you. Family is most important to Alan whether it is his own family or the MICDS family.
Jim Lohr - 25 Years
Thank you to Sue Orlando for contributing the following remarks.
It is my pleasure to share about Jim Lohr, my friend and teaching partner for the past twenty-five years. From the first day I met Jim, I knew he was a teacher who MICDS needed to keep. He started in March of that year as a permanent substitute, and 25 years later I am proud to say we are still working together to make the Beasley Physical Education program top notch.
Mr. Lohr’s work spans across the entire MICDS community. As the Lower School Physical Education teacher, he teaches each Beasley child the importance of physical movement as well as the importance of being a good citizen who helps everyone. How many elementary Physical Education students can say that their teacher is the Missouri Coach of the Year in both Cross Country and Track and Field, and is in the Hall of Fame for both sports? This leads me to another one of his passions—coaching. He coaches Middle and Upper School students in both Cross Country and Track and Field. His knowledge of these two sports is amazing. He is always looking for better ways to train and work with his athletes. His commitment to his athletes is unreal. He is always available to talk to or help his athletes. His fellow coaches and his athletes describe Jim as one of the most caring coaches they have ever worked with. He has coached athletes in these sports to both individual and team state championships.
Jim is never afraid to pitch in whether he is toting tables (as he puts it), gathering kindness rocks for the Beasley garden in below-zero weather or cleaning up a mess in the cafeteria. He helps wherever he is needed. He loves the food in the cafeteria, and can build the best dessert sandwich ever. He thanks the chef every day and compliments her on the lunch.
Jim is a devoted family man on top of all his other skills. He is married to Julie and is an awesome dad to Blake and Reid. He is very proud of his wife and his boys. To the Lohrs: thanks for sharing your husband and dad with all of us!
In closing, I am going to tell you a funny story that happened this year. One of our junior kindergarten students and her mom who teaches at MICDS were playing PE at home one day. The student was Miss O and her mom was Mr. Lohr. Her mom asked, “What should I do since I am Mr. Lohr?” and the JKer responded, “Just listen to Miss O, she will tell you what to do!” Jim, thank you for sharing the past twenty-five years with me. You are a dear friend and thanks for ALWAYS LISTENING to me.
Kelly Long - 25 Years
Thank you to Christine Mayer for contributing the following remarks.
This is our moment to honor Kelly Long for her 25 years of service at MICDS. In 1995, the year Kelly started, MICDS was just three years into our merger, our nation was in mourning due to the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, Windows 95 was released, The Grateful Dead broke up, Ebay launched, Toy Story was released, and Kelly, like most of the nation, did not even own a cell phone. Much has changed in the world and in our community since then, but what endures is what Kelly brought with her when she walked through the doors to teach second grade at Beasley: her endless rays of sunshine; an admirable amount of versatility, adaptability, resilience, compassion, empathy and perseverance; her bright analytical mind and her unwavering dedication to her students and the greater community.
After a successful five years in the Lower School, Kelly moved to the Middle School where she taught a variety of classes—fifth grade math and science, sixth grade math and science and seventh grade science—and in 2000, she became our Middle School Registrar. Thankfully for us, through the years, those early traits never dimmed, but rather shone brighter and brighter as the years passed. Those traits, and many more are still the very essence of who she is today and why we love her and cherish her dearly.
Congratulations, Kelly! Now sit back for a moment, reflect in your new rocker, and ROCK ON!
Stacey Morgan - 25 Years
Thank you to Josh Smith for contributing the following remarks.
When you walk by Stacey Morgan’s desk in the STEM Building or into her Athletic Training room, you get to see the reverberation of her years at MICDS. There are pictures of smiling students everywhere. On her desk, on her walls, on her training equipment, there are pictures of athletic contests, dances, weddings and students wanting to express their love for our long-time science teacher and head athletic trainer. And they should! I would confidently wager that there is no other member of our faculty who works more weekly hours on our campus than Stacey Morgan. She passionately teaches our Upper School science students, and she also puts in countless hours helping us oversee 500 on-campus athletic contests every year. She is on the sideline to watch over our student-athletes and provide the best care if called upon.
Athletics is in her blood. It is personal for her. I have watched her sadness when she realizes one of our student’s season has ended, and her excitement when a student is able to return to play after hard work and rehab. Have I mentioned she passionately cares? Sometimes I have to remind her it’s not okay to yell at refs and officials because they missed a call for one of our kids. But that passion is why she has been a pillar of MICDS and MICDS Athletics. She has been and is here because she relentlessly cares about kids. She has been giving 100% of herself to MICDS during her 25 years, and we are a better place for it. The proof is on her walls. See the smiles of our alums as they welcome her back into different parts of their lives because she left an impression on them. As the athletic director, a coach and a parent of student-athletes, I know how lucky we are. Thank you, Stacey Morgan, for everything that you do.
Linda Ganss - 25 Years
Thank you to Amy Scheer, Sue Orlando, Jim Lohr, Christy Moore, Bridget Wallace, Margaret Hanser, Jen Gillis and Sarah McGinn for contributing the following remarks.
As the Administrative Assistant and Registrar in the Lower School, Linda Ganss is one of the most organized people at MICDS. She has been the command center for the Lower School for 25 years, and she also manages many logistical details for the entire School. On rare days that she cannot be at school, we wonder if the place will be able to run at all! She is often the first contact that many people have with our School, and she provides an outstanding welcome to our community. Her heart is huge, and her knowledge of the Lower School is remarkable.
Linda is the go-to fix-it person in the Lower School. She is the engine behind every meeting, every after-school activity and every parent and child interaction. If you have a problem, Linda will solve it. Whether there are baby squirrels falling out of their nest or a sick child who needs comforting while waiting for a parent to pick them up, Linda is there to help. She is a wealth of resources and the Lower School runs much smoother because of her behind-the-scenes presence.
Linda is the heartbeat of Beasley. She knows all of the children so well, and they absolutely love her! She cares deeply for all the students, parents and faculty. She is always there to support her colleagues and the children, and she is a daily guest at the student lunch tables. Linda is genuinely interested in learning about each child. She works tirelessly to make sure that everyone’s needs are being met and that every member of Beasley has what they need to do their best work. She has been a part of so many families’ lives, and she cares about each and every child as if they were her own.
Linda goes above and beyond her job description. Whether she is doing her daily routines, planning a special event or just hanging out with the students, Linda is always a person you can count on. She truly is a wonder—a colleague and friend who has the incredible ability to see the big picture of what goes into running a Lower School combined with an attention to detail that is second to none.
She is the person you go to with good news and bad, the one who solves problems and calmly helps make a plan, and the one who makes every event in the Lower School a special one. Linda is an awesome and loyal friend who is always willing to help others. She is a peacemaker and a very loving person. There is so much love and energy coming out of her, and we are the lucky recipients. We are all so grateful to have her in the Lower School community. Thank you Linda for being the rock that holds us all together and for being a good friend!
Greg Greenwell - 20 Years
Greg Greenwell has spent his entire career at MICDS overseeing the bookstore where he has provided books, supplies and snacks for thousands of MICDS students, not to mention all the great Mary Institute, Country Day School and MICDS merch we see our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends sporting. Greg has been the Director of Campus store from day one and has been an integral part of the evolution of the campus store. He is poised to start the second half of his career with the implementation of the new MICDS Campus store website set to launch this spring. Greg, along with his support staff, is always eager to help our students and works closely with the faculty to provide the most up to date supplies.
Natalie Griffin - 20 Years
Natalie Griffin teaches World Languages in the Middle School. She has all the ideal characteristics for that role, and so much more. She is kind-hearted, caring, welcoming and loving. One of her advisees said, “I enjoy every day with her no matter how good or bad the day is. I am truly very thankful for her and everything that she does to help and support me.” Another shared, “Ms. Griffin is a special teacher because she makes different connections with all her students in different ways. She tries to learn about and make each student as comfortable as possible in her class and advisory.” And yet another one of her students remarked, “She has a lot of patience for her students, she encourages us to step out of our comfort zone and helps us improve.”
Reda Guebert- 20 Years
Reda Guebert has been a mainstay in the College Counseling office for twenty years, working tirelessly to support the office in every possible way. She has taken on numerous tasks and projects during her tenure at MICDS, succeeding every time with her strong work ethic and desire to make our school a better place. When a student or parent comes into the College Counseling office, there’s Reda, ready to drop what she is doing to assist them. Not only is she a wonderful colleague and friend, she also dazzles with her culinary masterpieces anytime an employee event calls for homemade dishes!
Elizabeth Helfant - 20 Years
It’s an understatement to say that Elizabeth Helfant is widely read and fluent in just about every researched-based pedagogical method over the last twenty years. Elizabeth understands exemplary practice and methods. Never content with just one emerging idea or philosophy, Elizabeth will find more than a half-dozen ways to help teachers to teach, grow and thrive in their classrooms. Elizabeth Helfant has been one of the most committed people to the health and vibrant ascendancy of teaching and learning at MICDS.
Patrick Huewe - 20 Years
Patrick Huewe is the JK-12 World Languages Department Chair, teaches Spanish in the Upper School and coaches Girls Tennis. It is safe to say that his students really enjoy his energetic teaching style. One student said, “In the classroom, Mr. Huewe truly is a bundle of fun, energy and enthusiasm. Mr. Huewe always has a smile on his face and greets each student with a heart-warming, ‘¡Hola!’ It is because of Mr. Huewe that we can observe and laud the culture around us.” Another appreciative student said, “Not only is his cheerful spirit constantly present but also, his energy is extremely contagious. I remember every day in class last year, no matter if I felt stressed or sad or if the class felt similarly when we walked into his room, Mr. Huewe would immediately greet us, and we would feel a sense of liveliness and security. There were few moments in his class where I didn’t have a confident smile on my face because he genuinely believed in me and helped me realize my potential to excel as a student and person.” A student-athlete commented, “Whether learning or competing with him he always takes the time to make sure everyone has fun along the way.”
Eric Lay - 20 Years
Eric Lay is the JK-8 Physical Department Chair and Director of Fitness and Athletic Development. He also coaches a 7th-8th grade Girls Basketball team. His Middle School P.E. students and advisees are so grateful to have him in their lives. One student said, “I really appreciate how Mr. Lay goes the extra mile to help a student succeed.” Another commented, “Mr. Lay is a great teacher. He is very laid back, and he does his best to form relationships throughout our entire advisory.” Still another student remarked, “Mr. Lay has been a great advisor and always greets his students with kindness and enthusiasm.” Thank you, Mr. Lay, for making such a positive impact in your students’ lives, and also for your leadership in the excellent physical education program at MICDS.
Cathy Leitch - 20 Years
Cathy Leitch teaches history in the Upper School. She has a style all her own, and she serves as an important advisor and supporter in her advisees’ educational journeys. Her students know that she always has their back. One advisee commented, “Ms. Leitch has been in my corner since day one. She fought for me harder than I could have ever imagined, supporting me throughout my wild journey.” She also knows how to make her students feel special and loved. “Ms. Leitch has always taken the time to bake us treats on our birthday, and as an advisory, we would also get to do fun activities like flying kites. Overall, she has always been an advocate for us.”
Dr. Jody Marberry - 20 Years
Dr. Jody Marberry teaches math in the Middle School, and she makes a positive impact on her students every day. One student said, “Dr. Marberry helped me learn how to do math easier, and that helped me because I have dyslexia and had trouble with learning things quickly.” Her students also appreciate her playful side. “Dr. Marberry is special because she is funny, and she lets us play games in advisory. She is supportive.” An advisee remarked, “I love Dr. Marberry because she is always willing to make you smile. I love her personality and how she is so bright and energetic. She always knows how you feel and helps you feel better. She is an amazing advisor!” Another student said, “I love Dr. Marberry because she is so kind and is always there for me when I need to talk or if I ever need anything.”
Lynn Mittler - 20 Years
Lynn Mittler is the JK-12 English Department Chair. She not only teaches English to engaged students, but she also coaches one of the finest girls field hockey teams in the region. One student shared, “Ms. Mittler is hands down one of the most fun teachers students at MICDS I have had the opportunity to learn from. She makes sure every student feels personally connected and relevant in the classroom and relates the material to us as high schoolers. She knows how to balance productivity and fun in ways that create a classroom with maximum efficiency.” Several students shared that they appreciate how she puts so much time, effort and care into getting to know her students outside of the classroom. One student commented, “She has the ability to connect with you on a much deeper level and go beyond just the class material with you.” And another said, “She doesn’t only care about us as students, but as people as well. She has had such a positive impact on my life and the lives of all of her students. Once I graduate, I will miss seeing Ms. Mittler around and talking to her every day. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to get to know her and have her as a teacher.” One student concluded, “Ms. Mittler is not only one of the most influential teachers I’ve had the pleasure of having but one of the most inspirational human beings I know. She stops at nothing to make all of her students feel welcomed and valued every time they sit around her iconic wooden table. Ms. Mittler has challenged me to think beyond the ideas of the classroom, as she has taught me to think globally and embrace every opportunity as a challenge to strive for more. She is one of the few educators who teaches students more than just their subject…she opens our eyes to all that is beyond MICDS.”
Jason Rajchart - 20 Years
Jason Rajchart works in the MICDS Grounds Department. If you have spent any time on the MICDS campus, you know the beauty and handiwork of Jason. He is a team player and great colleague. He is married to Julie and has two daughters. He is an avid hunter and loves the outdoors. He is also going to school to further his education in the grounds maintenance field.
Ines Shultz - 20 Years
Ines Shultz teaches Spanish in the Middle School, and she always seems to be in a great mood. She brightens up a room with her warm spirit and big-hearted smile. One of her students shared, “Ms. Shultz is such a great teacher because she is always so bright and happy, which, in turn, rubs off on her students. She not only teaches us about the language but about the many different Spanish cultures as well.” Another said, “She makes Spanish class fun and enjoyable through games, activities and songs in which everyone has a good time. She is an outstanding teacher at MICDS.” Yet another student shared, “Mrs. Schultz has been one of my favorite teachers I have ever had at MICDS. She has the biggest heart that creates a warm and welcoming environment for all her students, and her smile always lights up a room. I know that I can always count on her to cheer me up or make me laugh.”
Stan Tillotson - 20 Years
Stan Tillotson works in the MICDS Grounds Department. His meticulous work and constant care help to create our beautiful 100-acre campus. Stan is married to Donna and has five children. He has an impressive coin collection. Stan loves to work with the roses on campus and has quite a few of his own at home.
Soledad Villagomez - 20 Years
Soledad Villagomez, or Senora Soledad as her students call her, teaches Spanish in the Beasley Lower School. Her colleagues on the Lower School specialist team appreciate her constant smile in the hallways and her friendship. Her passion for Spanish language and culture is contagious. A colleague shared, “Soledad is so passionate about teaching language to students and encouraging adults to practice languages as well. If you pass by her class, you can usually hear students cheerfully singing in Spanish and after school, you can sometimes learn how to cook a new dish in one of her enrichment cooking classes.” Another colleague said, “Soledad’s ability to have students speaking and interacting in a room where only Spanish is spoken is truly magical. Her enthusiasm for her students, and for their world language development, is apparent in all she does.” Soledad goes out of her way to make Spanish engaging for our youngest learners. “She works to find material that students will relate to and become familiar with the Spanish language.” Another colleague remarked on this, “From singing to plays to cooking her repertoire seems endless.” “Through her kindness and consistency, Soledad has always demonstrated the Beasley School mission of taking care of each other, our school and ourselves,” another colleague shared. “Her gratitude and love for the students and her fellow faculty shines through her words and smiles every day.” And on top of all of that, “She is one of the best partners to have at carpool because she knows every single car and who it belongs to!”
Michelle Webster - 20 Years
Michelle Webster is truly the heart of the Middle School. She is the welcoming face and voice for the office and the mastermind behind the calendar, attendance, budget, field trips, supplies and everything else that makes the division run smoothly each day. She is the most brilliant multi-tasker, and she can handle any situation with confidence and grace. She cares deeply for her colleagues and the Middle School families, and she goes out of her way to support everyone. She is a gift to all of us and we are grateful for her incredible dedication and service.
Krystal White - 20 Years
Krystal White is a beloved math teacher in the Middle School. One of her students said, “Ms. White is an amazing individual who has pretty much every positive quality there is. She is not only an amazing teacher with her kindness, compassion and open-mindedness but also as an advisor who genuinely cares about us and our wellbeing, not just because it’s her job.” Another advisee shared, “She is an encouraging ball of joy who always knows what to say to make people feel both welcomed and appreciated in the MICDS community. I truly believe that she will continue to have an amazing, lasting impact on her students and advisees in the future.” “Ms. White is always there for me, not just for math help as a teacher, but also just to talk to as an advisor,” another student said. “I appreciate everything she has done for me this year.”
Congratulations and thank you to all of these wonderful faculty and staff members for their years of service!