Welcome New MICDS Faculty & Staff

As we begin the 2022-2023 academic year, we are delighted to welcome the newest teachers and staff to the MICDS Rams family!

Lower School

Marita Kheim – Early Childhood Teaching Assistant

Marita joins the Lower School team as an Early Childhood Teaching Assistant. Already a familiar face to many, Marita served as a JK Assistant Teacher last year, and she is a parent to two MICDS students in first and fifth grade. Prior to her work in JK, Marita worked in the Urbana Illinois School District as a special education assistant teacher. A fun fact about Marita was when she attended the University of Colorado, Boulder, she was part of the dance line that traveled with the football team, cheerleaders, and marching band to the New Year’s Day Cotton Bowl Game in Dallas to perform on the ABC half-time show. Welcome, Marita!

Eric Kimminau – Junior Kindergarten Teaching Assistant

Eric joins the Lower School team as a JK Teaching Assistant. Also a familiar face, Eric has served as a substitute teacher at MICDS since 2019 and most recently as the Assistant Extended Day Director. In addition to his work in JK this year, Eric is an assistant Varsity Boys Basketball Coach. A fun fact about Eric is that his hometown, Washington, Missouri, is the location of the first Walmart Supercenter, which opened in 1988 and is touted as an important historic milestone on the company’s website. Welcome, Eric!

Jessica Lloyd – Third Grade Teaching Associate

Jessica joins the Lower School team as a Third Grade Teaching Associate. With several years of teaching experience in second through sixth grades in St. Louis and the New York City public school system, Jessica is passionate about instructional approaches to support the whole child. In addition to teaching, Jessica loves making jewelry and experimenting with different materials. Her first pair of earrings, made in fifth grade, were fashioned from fishing lures using giant green rubber frogs that she proudly wore everywhere she went. Today she creates jewelry using vintage tins, ancient walrus ivory, leather, and beads to sell at craft fairs and festivals. Welcome, Jessica!

Naomi Smith – First Grade Teaching Associate

Naomi joins the Lower School team as a First Grade Teaching Associate. Naomi relocated to St. Louis from Hawaii last year. She served as a substitute teacher and Extended Day staff member at MICDS before transitioning to her most recent role as a reading interventionist in the Pattonville School District. A fun fact about Naomi is that she loves animals and has had 12 different kinds of pets, including rats, snakes, and hissing cockroaches. Welcome, Naomi!

Christina Terry – Second Grade Teaching Associate

Christina joins the Lower School team as a Second Grade Teaching Associate. She held this role during the last half of the 2021-22 academic year and has previous experience working with preschool children. In addition to her role as a faculty member, Christina is a parent to an MICDS fourth grader. A fun fact about Christina is that she once had ice cream with actor Kim Basinger in South Carolina in the summer of 2000. Welcome, Christina!

Middle School

Dhaniela Charleville – Middle School Spanish Teacher

Dhaniela Charleville joins the Middle School World Languages team as a fifth- and sixth-grade Spanish teacher and a sixth-grade advisor. Dhaniela most recently taught Spanish at St. Joseph School in Imperial and Assumption Parish School and has a background in Business and Graphic Design. A fun fact about Dhaniela is that she recently got a new dog, a Westie named Yuki, which means lucky, snow, and happiness in Japanese. Welcome, Dhaniela!

Dustin Delfin – Middle School Math Teacher

Dustin returns to MICDS on the Middle School math team as a fifth- and sixth-grade math teacher and sixth-grade advisor and is excited to continue building relationships with colleagues, students, and families. In his free time, he loves working on his lawn and spending time with his three young children–watching them grow and develop while they read and play with LEGOs and Minecraft. Welcome back, Dustin!

Berta Simic – Middle School History Teacher

Berta joins the Middle School as a seventh-grade history teacher and advisor. Berta has a background in international relations and teaching experience in the St. Louis area, most recently at Premier Charter School. A fun fact about Berta is that she is an amateur beekeeper and extracted a batch of summer honey just a few weeks ago. Welcome, Berta!

Blake Whitney – Middle School History Teacher

Blake joins the Middle School as a seventh-grade history teacher and advisor. Blake’s most recent position was in the Blue Springs School District near Kansas City, where he taught math and history, coached various sports, and explored the administrative side of education. A fun fact about Blake is that he is both a parent of twins and a twin himself to a sister who is two minutes older. Welcome, Blake!

Upper School

Robin Begley – Upper School Spanish Teacher

Robin rejoins the Upper School World Languages department as a Spanish teacher and 11th-grade advisor. Robin taught Spanish at MICDS from 2000-2010 before leaving to serve as a Department Chair and Spanish teacher at Saint Mary’s Hall in San Antonio, Texas, and subsequently at Villa Duchesne until she returned to MICDS this year. This is Robin’s 29th year teaching Spanish, and she said it just keeps getting better. In her spare time, Robin loves to walk, bike, spend time with her three rescue dogs and husband, and learn how to play golf. Welcome back, Robin!

Ryan Bueckendorf – Upper School English Teacher

Ryan joins the Upper School English team teaching ninth and 11th grade English and serving as a 10th-grade advisor. He comes to MICDS from Brittany Woods Middle School in University City and J.D. Clement Early College High School in Durham, North Carolina, where he taught English & Language Arts. In his spare time, Ryan enjoys reading, biking, running, hiking, camping, smoking ribs, playing soccer, sampling local breweries, and enjoying time with his wife and two dogs. He is a huge Cardinals, Blues, and Mizzou fan, as well as a Detroit Pistons and Lions fan. Welcome, Ryan!

David Garrett – Upper School Math Teacher

David joins the Upper School math team as a ninth- and 10th-grade math teacher, ninth-grade advisor, and Boys Freshman Soccer coach. He comes to MICDS from Lutheran High School North, where he taught algebra, trigonometry, finite math, and coding. In his spare time, David likes to hang out with his three young children at the playground and baseball games, plays, and musicals. He is an avid video gamer and enjoys playing soccer and tennis and writing trivia for his friends and family. He looks forward to learning about our students’ unique interests, activities, and diverse backgrounds. A fun fact about David is when he was in a running club in college, one of their favorite activities was piling old car tires at the top of a hill, rolling them down, and chasing after them. Welcome, David!

Jenna-Fleur Lin – Upper School Math Teacher

Jenna joins the Upper School math team, teaching ninth and 10th grade math and 12th grade calculus and serving as a ninth-grade advisor. She comes to MICDS from the Fountain Valley School of Colorado in Colorado Springs, where she taught calculus, algebra, discrete mathematics, and more. In addition, Jenna loves to cook, make costumes, and choreograph dances and performances for Luau shows. She has traveled extensively, even climbing the Great Wall of China. Welcome, Jenna!

Stephanie Matteson – Upper School Science Teacher

Stephanie, not pictured, will soon join the Upper School science team as a 10th grade science teacher and ninth-grade advisor. She previously taught at Affton High School and is currently on parental leave, and will join the MICDS family in October. Welcome, Stephanie!

Zaven Nalbandian – Upper School History Teacher

Zaven joins the Upper School History team teaching 10th-grade history and AP Macroeconomics and serving as a ninth-grade advisor and assistant varsity football coach. He comes to MICDS from Parkway West High School, where he taught for 21 years, focused mainly on AP History, AP Micro/Macroeconomics, and U.S. Government and Politics. Zaven enjoys reading non-fiction books, traveling, and watching movies in his spare time. He likes that MICDS is a community of learners, steeped in history and appreciates the frozen yogurt machine. A fun fact about Zaven is that he and his daughter wrote a St. Louis Food Review column once a month called the Nalbandian Nosh: a look at St. Louis restaurants through the eyes of a carnivore and a herbivore. Welcome, Zaven!

Michelle Rabe – Upper School English Teacher

Michelle joins the Upper School English team teaching 10th and 11th grade English and serving as a ninth-grade advisor. Her prior experience includes teaching in the English and Rhetoric & Writing departments at the University of Texas, Austin. In her spare time, Michelle loves to read, play Spikeball and Pickleball, and play board games with her family. She’s excited to join an environment where everyone challenges themselves to grow academically and professionally. Welcome, Michelle!

Philip Rosen – Upper School Math & Science Teacher

Philip joins the Upper School math and science teams teaching chemistry and AP computer science and serving as a 10th-grade advisor. He comes to MICDS from New York City, where he worked as a tutor at Competitive Edge Tutoring and as an actor. He also dabbled in juggling. In his spare time, he enjoys attending arts events and spending time outdoors walking and biking. He’s looking forward to getting to know the student community at MICDS. Welcome, Philip!

Jenn Sellenriek – Upper School English Teacher

Jenn joins the Upper School Teaching team as a ninth- and 10th-grade English teacher and ninth-grade advisor. Prior to MICDS, Jenn served as the K-12 Literacy Curriculum Coordinator for Clayton School District and taught English at Clayton High School. She is inspired to be part of the MICDS community and looks forward to supporting students in becoming their authentic selves. She enjoys spending time outdoors with her family and dogs and visiting her college-age sons to watch them play hockey. Welcome, Jenn!

Kris Kamper Sontheimer ’03 – Long-Term Upper School Science Substitute

Kris joins the Upper School science team as a long-term substitute. She comes to us from Chaminade College Preparatory School, where she taught conceptual physics and technology for seven years. In her spare time, Kris loves to spend time with family, friends, and her two young children, particularly at her parents’ lake house. As an alum and child of a former faculty member, she looks forward to seeing familiar faculty faces and re-engaging with “the great community feel.” Welcome back to MICDS, Kris!

Meg Yoshioka-Tarver – Upper School Science Teacher

Meg joins the Upper School science team as an 11th and 12th grade chemistry and AP Chemistry teacher and a ninth-grade advisor. Inspired by her high school science teacher, Meg comes to MICDS with experience as a chemistry teacher at Chamberlain University and Crossroads College Preparatory School. Meg loves to cook and is having fun improving her sourdough bread recipe. She also enjoys DIY home repair and just completed a full bathroom renovation over the summer. Welcome, Meg!


Grace Lee – Dean of Faculty

Dr. Grace Lee joined MICDS in July as the Dean of Faculty. Grace has a bachelor’s degree in middle school education with an emphasis on social studies and language arts from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, a master’s degree in social work from Washington University, a master’s degree in educational administration from Lindenwood University, and a doctoral degree in educational administration, also from Lindenwood University. Before MICDS, Grace served as the principal of Brittany Woods Middle School in University City and as the Director of the Equity and Justice Academy of Character Plus. A fun fact about Grace is that she raises chickens and enjoys making fruit jam. Welcome, Grace!

Jo Nardolillo – JK-12 Arts Department Chair and String Orchestra Instructor

Dr. Jo Nardolillo joined MICDS this summer as the JK-12 Arts Department Chair and String Orchestra Instructor. She comes to MICDS from the Northwest School in Seattle, where she served as the Chair of the Performing Arts and Director of Orchestras. Jo earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, a Master of Music degree from Rice University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the Eastman School of Music, where she was awarded the Certificate in Pedagogy from the Institute for Music Leadership. A fun fact about Jo is that she learned to play the banjo in a remote school environment because “you can play the banjo on Zoom and your hands are out of view of the screen.” Welcome, Jo!

Ciera Field – Associate Director of Admission – Tuition Assistance

Ciera joins the Admission team as the Associate Director of Admission – Tuition Assistance. She leads the Tuition Assistance and Assistance Beyond Tuition programs for MICDS families and employees and has worked in tuition assistance, admissions, and enrollment management for over nine years. Her most recent role was at Washington University, where she served as the Assistant Director of Student and Family Engagement. In addition, Ciera enjoys hiking, biking, and spending time with her husband, two children, and three pets. Welcome, Ciera!

Abby Klinckhardt – Upper School College Counselor

Abby joins the college counseling office as an Upper School College Counselor. Her most recent role was as a college counselor at the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida, and as an Assistant Director of Admission at Washington University. A fun fact about Abby is that she is currently training for her second Disney half-marathon this winter. Welcome, Abby!

Tammy Maxwell – Long-Term Middle School Counseling Substitute

Tammy joins the Student Services team as the Long-Term Middle School Counseling Substitute. Tammy brings more than ten years of clinical experience as a licensed professional counselor, having worked peripherally with schools as a case therapist and most recently working within her private practice. She is excited to work as part of the Middle School team to support students while Erin Sutherlin is on parental leave. Tammy is originally from Memphis, Tennessee, and a fun fact about her is that she was a champion bowler in high school. Welcome, Tammy!

Tim Bradford – Facilities

Tim joined the Facilities team late last fall and is the parent of a third and sixth grader. Prior to MICDS, he worked in sales for Farmer Brothers Coffee but loves working at MICDS to be closer to his family. A fun fact about Tim is that he’s a triplet (identical twin to one, fraternal twin to the other!). Welcome, Tim!

Brad Hart – Housekeeping

Brad joined the MICDS Housekeeping team late last fall as a housekeeper focused exclusively on the Steward Family Aquatic Center, ensuring the building is sanitary and clean for students, staff, and guests who visit daily. Prior to MICDS, he worked for Rent-A-Center as the Accounts Credit Manager and as an ASE-certified automotive mechanic for 10 years. In his spare time, Brad collects art and draws daily, reads a novel a month, writes short stories, and is learning how to play several musical instruments. A fun fact about Brad is that he has been an avid martial arts practitioner since 1992 and was born during a solar eclipse. Welcome, Brad!

Joel Marx – Grounds

Joel Marx joins the grounds department as a groundskeeper. His previous experience is with TWA and American Airlines. He is a native of St. Louis and loves fishing and doing rehab projects around his house. Welcome, Joel!

Jim Sheehan – Senior Accountant

Jim joined the MICDS Business Office last spring as a Senior Accountant. He comes to MICDS from Logan University. A St. Louis native, he loves all things outdoors, especially fishing. Welcome, Jim!

Mary Shields – Executive Assistant to Chief Financial and Operating Officer

Mary joined the MICDS Business Office last spring as the Executive Assistant to Chief Financial and Operating Officer. Her previous experience is with BTC Transport as an accounts payable manager. A fun fact about Mary is that she is a living kidney donor, having donated a kidney to her nephew nearly five years ago. She is an ardent advocate for others getting tested to be donors. Welcome, Mary!

Sudhapriya Venkatachalam – Data Analyst

Sudha joins the technology team as a Data Analyst. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics and is a certified SAS Analyst and Tableau Specialist. She loves creating success metrics and helping organizations understand data insights. A fun fact about Sudha is that she enjoys reusing household items to create upscale artwork and experimenting with vegan baking. Welcome, Sudha!

Elizabeth Welsh – Annual Giving Assistant

Elizabeth joined the Alumni & Development team late last fall as the Annual Giving Assistant. She comes to MICDS from the non-profit Pianos for People, which provides free access to music for children and families with limited resources. A fun fact about Elizabeth is that she is a rescue animal foster mom. Welcome, Elizabeth!

Joe Woods – Facilities Department

Joe joined the Facilities team this summer as an HVAC Technician. Prior to MICDS, he was at Vogel Heating & Cooling for more than 20 years, handling everything in the HVAC world: sales, project management, tech solutions, service, and installation. Joe enjoys working at MICDS as he’s exposed to new things daily, which keeps him learning. He likes spending time with his family and dogs at the lake in his spare time. A fun fact about Joe is that he and his brother won 3rd place out of 380 teams in the National Wiffleball World Series. Welcome, Joe!