Meet Your Teachers

Dr. Tara Bonebrake, Upper School Director

Dr. Tara Bonebrake is excited to join the upper school faculty and administrative teams at The Summit! Tara’s experiences in education include teaching K8 general science and courses in biology, marine biology, zoology, ecology, and microbiology for 9-12 grade students. Tara’s leadership experiences include creating collaborative team opportunities for K12 faculty to support instructional growth and development. In the summer of 2022, Tara was thrilled to help co-coordinate and present at Southwest Missouri’s EdCafe, providing free professional development for area educators.

Tara joins The Summit Preparatory School family as a lead learner and will be an ally to all learners, no matter where they are in their journey. Not only does she enjoy working with learners just beginning their experience but also those focused on providing the tools and insights needed to support the development of lifelong learning.  Her experiences as a learner, educator, and leader have created remarkable avenues, thoughts, and opportunities. Because of this, Tara is driven to support those around her in both their personal and professional learning journeys. 

In addition to sharing her love of all things learning, Tara enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling as much as possible, and reading.

Jordan Alexander, Language Arts  –  7th Grade Mentor

A native of Southern California, Jordan Alexander attended California State University Long Beach where he received his Bachelor’s in English Education with a Theatre Arts option. Upon moving to Missouri, he received his Master of Arts in Teaching from Missouri State University. He taught public school for 6 years at Branson and Nixa High School and is thrilled to be joining the faculty of The Summit. He has taught private tap, jazz, and modern dance over the past 15 years and, on his off hours, he volunteers with the Branson Regional Arts Council directing and choreographing musical theatre and dabbles in costume and wig design. He is looking forward to a great year at The Summit!

Anna Cook, Mathematics  –  7th Grade Mentor

Anna Cook 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, playing board games, trying out new recipes, and spending quality time with her husband and young kids.

Dawn Eckstein, Mathematics  –  6th Grade Mentor

Dawn Eckstein was born in Texas but raised in the Springfield area. Dawn received her Bachelor of Science in Education from Missouri State University and her Master of Education in Instructional Technology from Drury University. Having taught for 15 years in the public school system, she is excited to bring her passion for teaching and learning to The Summit! She loves making math relevant to learners through real-world contexts and challenging concepts.

Outside of teaching, Dawn loves creating through crochet, woodworking, sewing, and all other things crafty! Weekends and school breaks are spent with her husband, Jason, and two sons, Jake and Jaxson.

Whitney Kelley, Biology

Whitney Kelley received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Missouri-Columbia and her Master of Science in Biology from Missouri State University with a focus in aquatic ecology and invasive species.

She has taught introductory biology and environmental science courses at the collegiate level for twelve years. She has also worked with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) for the past six years coordinating exchange student placement, orientation, and supervision throughout their exchange year.

When not teaching, she enjoys road trips around the country and Caribbean cruises with her husband and three young children.

Rob Powers, Science  –  6th Grade Mentor

Rob Powers has his bachelor’s in Chemistry Education from Missouri State University and an M.Ed in STEM Education from Concordia University. He has served as a leader in local science education since 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, Rob plays guitar and sings in various local bands, and also spends time with his wonderful wife and ProPow co-founder and their 3 rambunctious and precocious boys, 3 dogs, and one fierce kitten.

Emma Smith, History  –  8th Grade Mentor

Emma Smith loves her husband, history, travel, and her dogs. She studied history and business at College of the Ozarks and was fortunate to travel to Europe twice with World War II veterans and Holocaust survivors to learn their stories firsthand. She earned her M.A. in American History at the University of Kentucky in 2015 before moving back to the Ozarks and discovering The Summit.

She enjoys being a faculty mentor to the Upper School Student Council and coaching with Girls on the Run in the fall. Teaching is her vocation, and she is so grateful to be part of The Summit community.

Emma Souza, Spanish

Emma Souza is a graduate of Missouri State University. While there, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies, Bachelor of Science in Spanish, and Master of Arts in Applied Second Language Acquisition. As a graduate assistant, she taught Spanish for 2 years. Before joining The Summit team, she worked as an English teacher with students of all ages from around the world.

In her free time, Emma enjoys traveling, gardening, reading, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.

Alex Henke, Music

Alex Henke graduated from Missouri State University in 2015 with a degree in music education and composition. Since graduating, he has been teaching lessons on a variety of instruments, playing shows in Branson, and touring with a band. Alex loves all kinds of music and sharing it with other people! 

His best buddy is his cat named Phillip who has extra toes on all his feet!

Emma Renfroe, Art

From working as a freelance artist and graphic designer to studying art education at Missouri State University, Emma attempts to immerse art in everything she does. She is passionate about the role of education in students’ lives and believes in the importance of working within a creative atmosphere. She is excited to partner with The Summit in support of creative endeavors. 

Outside of her involvement with art, she enjoys hiking, baking, and values spending time with her friends and family.

Kharja Teed, Physical Education

Kharja Teed has a great love for physical activities and group interactions. She has taught all types different age levels and a variety of activities and sports. She loves showing and teaching students how to enjoy a lifestyle of physical activity. 

Kharja and her husband, Chris, welcomed a new baby boy, William, to their lives in the spring of 2019. Together as a family, they love being active outside with their two black labs, Tank and Gunner.