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.

Ms. Brown is a high school mentor.

powers_rob_99Rob Powers 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.

Mr. Powers is a seventh grade mentor.

smith_emma_123Emma Smith loves her husband, history, travel, and her two dogs. 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 earned her MA in American History at the University of Kentucky in 2015 before moving back to the Ozarks and discovering The Summit. She enjoys being the faculty mentor to Upper School Student Council and coaching the Heart & Sole team in the fall. Teaching is her vocation, and she is so grateful to be part of The Summit community.

Mrs. Smith is an eighth grade mentor.

AnnaCookAnna Cook has been teaching for 8 years; this is her second year 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.

Mrs. Cook is a sixth grade mentor.


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.

Mrs. Brown is a seventh grade mentor.


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).

Mr. Madar is a sixth grade mentor.


Specials Teachers:

leighninger_sarah_77Sarah 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 (11), Ellie (8), and Hudson (5).  In her free time Sarah enjoys playing volleyball, traveling, sailing, and participating in BBQ competitions.

Señora Leighninger is a sixth grade mentor.


Cassandra RavenCassandra 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.


murphy_lisa_90Lisa 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.


keech_shawn_62Shawn 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 2018-2019 school year is his eleventh year teaching at the Summit.

Señora Leighninger is a sixth grade mentor.