This is Melissa’s 10th year of teaching and 6th year at the Summit. She comes from a background in Elementary/Early Childhood Education and has spent time teaching 1st grade, preschool (2-5), Kindergarten, and has a passion for The Summit Beginners.
The Kimmons family have been long time supporters of The Summit and have a Summit 1st scholar, with a future Summit scholar at home.
Casey Haskins graduated from Drury University with her Bachelors in Elementary Education. After graduation, she taught second grade at Nixa for two years. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Instructional Technology at Drury. Casey was born and raised in the Ozarks and think it is such a beautiful place to live! She loves to cook, read, hike, and participate in basically any outdoor activity. She thinks children are so enjoyable to be around and loves being a teacher. She enjoys sharing her love of learning with students and is constantly surprised at how much they teach her! She is very excited for the school year at The Summit and loves seeing all of the students’ smiling faces!
Linda Michaliszyn is from Chicago Illinois. Linda and her husband Marian have four children. Linda has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Linda began her career teaching pre-school and then went on to teach, Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade and then directed a non-for profit organization with three child care centers.
Shannon Wallace grew up in Seattle, Washington. She moved to Springfield in 2003 with her husband, Kendall, where she has raised her three children, Gabriel (20), Lucienna (17), and Micah (15). Shannon has worked as an aide at The Summit for three years. Shannon is working towards her general education degree, with an emphasis in Family Life Development, through Brigham Young University.
In my free time she likes to bake and decorate cakes (yes, it’s true), do almost anything crafty (sewing, crafting, canning, etc.) and spend time with her family.
Marissa Bradley has a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Missouri State University with an emphasis in Instructional Technology. Marissa enjoys doing creative things in her free time, such as painting, doodling, and graphic design.
She is excited for her 3rd year at The Summit and says one of her favorite things about our school is the “supportive and involved community: faculty, staff, and especially, the families.
Sarah Pulliam is beginning her third year of teaching and her first year of teaching at the Summit. Prior to teaching at The Summit, she taught at two different Independent Schools, located in Saint Louis and Kansas City. She received her B.S. in Early Childhood Education at Missouri State University and has also been trained in Responsive Classroom, SPIRE, Jolly Phonics, and Creative Curriculum.
Sarah is an educator whose passion is in teaching young children and providing them with the building blocks for a successful future. In her free time, Sarah enjoys hiking with her two dogs, scuba diving, traveling, and cheering on the St. Louis Blues!
Angie is a veteran teacher with over 30 years of experience. She recently retired from the Republic School District, where she taught 1st grade for 14 years. Prior to her time with Republic, Angie taught 2nd and 3rd grade in Monett, Mo. Having no intention of leaving teaching, Angie embarked on a new adventure and joined the Summit faculty last year. Angie’s goal for her scholars is to create lifelong learners who problem solve, think critically and share a love of learning, not only with her, but classmates as well. She believes in educating the “whole” child, meeting her students’ needs academically, socially, and emotionally. Angie has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Southern Illinois University, a Master’s degree In Elementary Education from Pittsburg State University, as well as her Reading Certification through Lindenwood University. Her in-depth trainings in professional development have allowed her to grow and improve as an educator. Some of these trainings include Kagan Cooperative Learning, Guided Reading, Writer’s and Reader’s Workshop, and Math Addvantage.
Angie’s professional goal is quite simple, to continually grow and improve as an educator, thus helping her students to be the best they can be. In her free time, she loves to work in her yard, spend time with her husband of 33 years, and her adult sons, Danny and Ryan.
Crystal has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education from Drury University with certifications in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She has additional training in Kagan Cooperative Learning, Love and Logic, and REACH (Cultural Diversity in the classroom). Crystal is in her 8th year at The Summit. She believes when students feel her enthusiasm for learning they are be able to take the initiative to see how important it is to get the most out of every learning experience.
She believes parent and teacher communication is a valuable part of a student’s success.
Ms. Karin Thompson, currently in her eighth year of teaching, will be moving to the Springfield area from Washington state to be closer to her family. Ms. Thompson has taught both third and fourth grades at independent schools located in Medina and Tacoma, Washington. She received her B.A. in Liberal Studies from California State University and her Master of Arts in Teaching from Seattle Pacific University. She has been trained in Reading and Writing Workshop, Daily 5 and CAFE Literacy, Core Knowledge, Thinking Maps, AVID Summer Institute, and Love and Logic. Ms. Thompson is passionate about constantly seeking new learning experiences alongside her students. In her free time, she enjoys reading, scrapbooking and photography, finding new adventures with her dog, Peaces, and spending time with her family, especially her four nieces and two nephews.
Rhonda Lersch came to The Summit 3 years ago with an assortment of teaching experiences under her belt. She began her career in early childhood and spent 11 years teaching Child and Family Development at the University of Central Missouri. She then moved to the Crest Ridge School District. During her 12 years there, she taught 2nd and 3rd grades and ran the K-12 gifted program. She has a Masters’ Degree in Curriculum and Instruction, plus additional graduate hours in Child and Family Development and Gifted Education. She is certified in elementary education, vocal and instrumental music, and gifted education.
Rhonda is a Master Gardener, quilter, book club leader and member of the music ministry at her local church. She enjoys hiking and, sometimes, attempts to run. She has two daughters and two extremely entertaining grandsons.
Courtney Brown earned her bachelor’s degree from College of The Ozarks, and she is nearing completion of her master’s degree in English Education from Missouri State University. Her seven years in the classroom have afforded her valuable experience in teaching Language Arts at both the middle and high school levels. She believes in a holistic approach to education, which prepares students to become informed, responsible citizens of the global community. In the classroom, she prioritizes research, writing, and discussion and believes that open dialogue and high expectations foster student success. Courtney is excited to join the team at The Summit and looks forward to building relationships with students, parents, and faculty. In her free time, Courtney enjoys kayaking, hiking, traveling, and practicing and teaching yoga. She and her husband live near Branson with their two dogs, Mili and Brutus.
This is Professor Powers’s first year teaching at The Summit, and he couldn’t be more tickled. The Professor has been teaching Chemistry and Physics to high schoolers for 7 years. He has his BS in Chemistry Education from MSU, and an M.Ed in STEM Education from Concordia University. He has been a leader in local science education for the past 2 years after he and his wife started Professor Powers Science Symposium, a non-profit organization offering high-quality science education opportunities to kids and adults via hands-on, project-based classes on evenings and weekends, and week-long camps in the summer.
When he’s not completely immersed in sharing his passion for science with everyone around him, he plays guitar and sings in various local bands, and also spends time with his wonderful wife and their 3 rambunctious and precocious boys, 2 dogs, one fierce kitten, and an immortal guppy.
Emma loves her husband, history, and her dog. She studied history and business at College of the Ozarks and was fortunate to travel to Europe twice with World War Two veterans and Holocaust survivors to learn their stories firsthand.
She is thrilled to be back in the Ozarks after two years doing graduate work in American history and working as a teaching assistant at the University of Kentucky. Teaching is her vocation, and she is so excited to become part of the Summit community.
Paul Madar brings a diverse background of studies and experience including biological sciences, alternative health, business, cognitive sciences, humanities, nonprofit development, music, and even comparative religions. He worked with an independent school for 19 years, teaching, lecturing, and giving radio and television interviews in many cities throughout the Midwest. For the last three years, Paul has primarily worked as an ACT coach for English, Grammar, Writing, Math, Sciences, Reading Comprehension, and as an online coach in academics and cognitive science (specializing in focus, concentration, and intuition). Paul previously worked at the University of Missouri-Columbia, the Missouri Humanities Council, the School of Metaphysics, Indiana Landmarks and the Holcomb Research Institute. Paul‘s thesis in 2011 involved studying the metaphysical properties of sound, vibration and music. He received a Masters of Divinity in 2005, an MBA from Butler University in 1995, and a BS in Biology from Cornell University in 1987. He also studied music at Jordan College of Fine Arts. Paul is a California native and Indiana transplant. Paul and his wife Christine have two daughters, Alexandra (15) and Vivienna (12).
Mrs. Michelle Brown has been teaching mathematics for six years, most recently for an independent school near St. Petersburg, Florida. In addition to teaching math courses ranging from Pre-Algebra to Calculus and Statistics, Mrs. Brown was a co-leader of the STEM team where she developed curriculum for various 1st-8th grade STEM enrichment as well as helped plan three annual school-wide STEM days. As a Springfield native, she is thrilled to return to the area as a member of the exceptional Summit upper school faculty team. Mrs. Brown earned a B.S. in Mathematics and Master of Arts in Teaching Secondary Mathematics from Missouri State University. Mrs. Brown believes that all students can learn math to the highest levels. This belief motivates her to bring passion and energy to the math classroom every day. Mrs. Brown, her husband, and two young children love outdoor adventures, family game nights, and traveling. When she is not helping her daughter tack up at the barn or playing catch with her son, Mrs. Brown spends her time doing yoga, reading, or thinking up her next research project.
This is Anna’s 8th year of teaching and first at the Summit. She is originally from Texas and moved to Springfield with her husband after previously living in Vancouver, Canada and Chiang Mai, Thailand where she taught for five years at an international school. She has a B.S.E. and M.A.T in Childhood Education from the University of Arkansas.
In her free time she enjoys road trips with her husband, playing board games, trying out new recipes and reading all sorts of books.
Shawn Keech holds a Bachelor of Music Education (with an Instrumental Music option) from Missouri State University. He enjoys composing original music, creating custom arrangements for student groups, exploring multiple instruments, reading, commuting via bicycle, and spending time with his family.
The 2017-2018 school year is his tenth year teaching at the Summit.
Sarah Leighninger has a B.A. in Spanish from Missouri Southern State University. She taught Spanish for five years at Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School in Joplin, Missouri, where she was also the P.E. teacher for elementary students and served as the head coach for the middle school volleyball and track team. She was a Spanish instructor at Crowder College in Webb City, Missouri for two years. Sarah has been with the Summit since it began in 2005. She developed and led The Summit’s first Spanish Immersion Summer Camp. Additionally, she served as head coach for The Summit’s first volleyball team in 2006 and continued to lead them through three successful seasons.
Sarah has served as a lead teacher, co-chair of the accreditation steering committee, and the ISACS teacher representative for The Summit. This year Sarah is teaching both lower and upper school Spanish. Sarah lives in Springfield with her husband, Brad, and their three children, Molly (9), Ellie (6), and Hudson (3). In her free time Sarah enjoys playing volleyball, traveling, sailing, and participating in BBQ competitions.
Cassandra Raven graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Spanish at Missouri State University in May 2014. She joined the Summit Faculty immediately that Fall as a sub and has been blessed to continue this journey as the Spanish teacher for the Beginner and Pre-K students, with the addition of Upper School classes this year. Outside of the Summit, Cassandra enjoys spending time with her husband and three pups in their home in Ozark. They are actively involved with their church and are always on the lookout to check things off their bucket list, start Pinterest-inspired house projects or spend time with family and friends.
Cassandra also loves coffee, a good book and is a diehard Steelers fan. She’s looking forward to her fourth year at the Summit!
Mrs. Murphy has dedicated her life to teaching and promoting the Arts in SW Missouri. This is her fourth year of teaching Art at The Summit. After teaching for many years in the public school setting she was thrilled to find this unique and progressive educational environment. She has an elementary education degree with lifetime teaching certification for all subjects K-8. After completing her undergraduate degree at MSU, she attended Drury University for graduate studies in K-12 Art and Gifted Education. She and her husband live on a farm south of Ozark. They have two daughters, Jenna and Michelle.
Lisa is actively involved in the area’s art community and is President of the Branson Regional Arts Council. Her hobbies include: playing guitar, singing, painting and gardening.
Dr. Kathryn (Katie) Heet joined The Summit Preparatory School of Southwest Missouri in 2008 after 3 years in the classroom. Since joining The Summit team, Katie has served in a variety of teaching and leadership roles and has taught first, second, and third grades, acted as Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS) teacher representative, guided the schools accreditation as steering committee chair, taught and lead “Summer at The Summit” (now Camp Raven), and served as faculty liaison to the Board of Trustees. Aspiring to additional leadership roles, she has most recently served as The Summit’s Lower School Program Coordinator and Associate Head of School.
The Board of Trustees appointed Katie into her current role as Head of School in 2018. Passionate about teaching and learning, Katie is eager to bring her experience in curriculum and instruction to the organization. Katie holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from St. Louis University and a Master of Arts Teaching in Early Childhood Education from Webster University.
In August 2018, Katie was conferred with her doctoral degree in Interdisciplinary Leadership from Creighton University after successfully defending her dissertation, Dyslexia: Examining Educators’ Understanding and Experiences in Providing Interventional Support. In addition to her love of reading, Katie enjoys cooking, barbecuing, hiking, camping, traveling with her husband Joe, and spending time with her family and friends.
Kristin is the Head of Operations and Finance, meaning she handles all things business related for The Summit Prep. She has spent her career in business management. In addition to the seven years at The Summit in the business office, she has been involved in the school as a parent since 2006.
She has often been heard saying she’s happiest when sitting in front of a spreadsheet, except of course when she’s at home with her husband and three kids.
Amy grew up in Springfield where she attended Springfield Lutheran School and Springfield Catholic High School. She graduated from Drury University with a Bachelors in Integrated Media and Theater.
In her spare time, Amy teaches Jazzercise, serves on the executive board of the Springfield Zeta Tau Alpha Alumnae Chapter, reads, knits, and cooks up the latest Food Network recipes.
Vincent Currao, Jr.
Vince brings over twenty years of development, business and political experience to The Summit. Based in Missouri since 1997, Vince regularly advised government and business leaders on major projects. Since 1994 he has served as a key staffer and consultant to both for-profit and not-for- profit organizations as well as Governors, US Senators, Members of Congress, and local officials in twenty-seven states. Vince has overseen the fundraising operations for many multi-million dollar projects.
Vince lives in the Phelps Grove neighborhood and and enjoys camping and fishing in the Ozarks with his son.
Becky has worked at The Summit since 2013. Her position at The Summit allows her to work closely with students and families to enhance their educational experience, as well as promote a positive global awareness through the international admissions office.
Becky has been married for 13 years and has a Kindergartener and 6th grader this year at The Summit.
Mike Albert is the Facilities Coordinator at The Summit. He oversees the facility’s day-to-day building operations, working closely with school personnel. Coming from a large family, he loves working with and inspiring children to meet their full potential.
He and his wife have three children.
Whitney is excited to join The Summit community as the school’s Administrative Assistant after four years in public library service. She graduated from College of the Ozarks with a Bachelors in English. In her spare time, Whitney enjoys cooking with her husband, reading a good book, watching true crime documentaries, and winning at UNO. She and her husband, Eric, live in Ozark with their five cats and two Corgis.
Angie Workman started the athletic program at The Summit in 2012. She has a Masters of Physical Therapy degree and participated competitively in athletics throughout high school and college. She believes all students can learn valuable life long skills through participation in organized sports. The goal of athletics at The Summit is to have fun and in the process develop skills that will serve student-athletes in all aspects of life.
Angie and her husband Michael have been married for 23 years and have three children.