Careers » Meet Our Team

Meet Our Team

Kauffman School teachers come from diverse backgrounds and bring a wealth of experience to our students. Deeply rooted in a desire to work alongside students and their families, our teachers have an unwavering belief in what is possible for each and every student. Learn more about our teachers’ professional backgrounds and beliefs.
Emma Allen, Learning Support Specialist
Emma Allen believes that quality education is the most fundamental part of a just and equitable society. She is dedicated to pushing students to their full potential so that they have all the tools necessary to excel in college and become agents of change. Before teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Allen taught third grade at Guadalupe Centers Elementary School (formerly Academia de Ninos) and then moved on to teach Algebra I and Geometry to 9th and 10th graders at Alta Vista High School. She is an alumna of Teach For America - Kansas City. She received her Bachelor of Sciences in Psychology and Religion from Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. Ms. Allen joined the Kauffman School team because of the prevailing school culture of achievement. She is thrilled to work with diverse learners and celebrate students' achievements over this school year.
 
Matt Apuzzo, AP Government/Personal FinanceTeacher
Matt Apuzzo believes in the power of an excellent education and the doors it opens to ALL kids. He is committed to giving kids the skills and abilities to succeed inside and outside of the classroom so they are able to follow wherever their dreams take them. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Mr. Apuzzo taught seventh- and eighth-grade social studies in Wichita, Kansas and coached football and track and field, and also taught preschool and kindergarten at the Hilltop Child Development Center in Lawrence, Kansas. Mr. Apuzzo taught eighth grade Textual Analysis at the Kauffman School for two years before joining the high school team. Mr. Apuzzo is an alumni of the University of Kansas where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education, Social Studies. Mr. Apuzzo joined the Kauffman School team because of its amazing and positive school culture that inspires both students and staff to succeed and be their best possible selves.

Bess Bailey, 11th and 12th Grade AP Seminar Teacher
Bess Toyama believes that all children in Kansas City deserve an opportunity for excellent education and if given that opportunity can succeed academically. She also believes the key to excellent education is excellent, dedicated, and caring teachers. Ms. Toyama studied at Mississippi University for Women, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Sciences. She continued her education at University of Missouri-St. Louis, where she earned her Master of Education in Secondary Education. Prior to joining the staff at the Kauffman School, Ms. Toyama taught third and fourth grade at Gladstone Elementary School in the Kansas City Public Schools district. Ms. Toyama is excited to be a part of a staff that is greatly impacting the growing movement to provide quality education to all children in Kansas City. 

Abby Banning, 6th Grade Textual Analysis Teacher

Abby Banning believes that each student is full of potential and promise, and she is committed to doing what she can to help them reach it. Ms. Banning is coming to the Kauffman School as a recent graduate of Goshen College where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, with an emphasis in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). Ms. Banning is pumped to join a team full of passionate educators, like herself, and cannot wait to meet all of her students!

 

Kelsey Barnes, 6th Grade Science Teacher

Kelsey Barnes believes that every single student is capable of reaching their dreams. Prior to working at the Kauffman School, Ms. Barnes was a student at Truman State University where she was on the debate team. She received a Bachelor of Arts in in Public Communication with a minor in justice systems. Ms. Barnes was drawn to Kauffman because of the preparation and support for new teachers and the preparation and support for students to make a better world.


Sebastian Barraza, 5th Grade Fitness Teacher
Sebastian Barraza is convinced that every student can excel, if given the appropriate tools and support, and that potential is enough reason to deserve a quality education. Students are the authors of their stories, but teachers can be pretty good proof readers. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Mr. Barraza earned a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education from the University of Texas at Arlington and then a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from the University of Connecticut. Mr. Barraza became passionate about youth development after time spent coaching youth soccer and basketball in Texas, and made the decision to join Teach For America after a year spent working with urban youth in Hartford, Connecticut. Mr. Barraza was attracted to the Kauffman School because of the unapologetic culture of high expectations and student achievement.

Matt Beltrami, 9th Grade Pre-AP World History

Matt Beltrami believes that every child in America deserves the opportunity to pursue and achieve their dreams, and that can only happen when every child receives an excellent education. He is driven by his sense of patriotism and his belief that true citizenship requires active participation in making society more fair and just. By teaching, he hopes to uphold his own responsibility as a citizen and inspire and empower his students to consider their responsibilities as citizens. Prior to joining the Kauffman School team, Mr. Beltrami worked in the political sector for nearly ten years, and has lived in Illinois, Iowa, Washington DC, New Hampshire, and New York. Mr. Beltrami received his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Sociology from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He is a corps member with Teach For America - Kansas City.

Kameron Berkley, 6th Grade Textual Analysis Teacher
Kameron Berkley believes that every child has the opportunity to change his or her narrative and make it something that he or she believes in. She is passionate about her students being successful, productive citizens in their community. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Berkley joined the first cohort of the Kansas City Teacher Residency (KCTR). She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana. She completed her Master of Education in Urban Education at Park University in Parkville, Missouri. Growing up, Ms. Berkley was a Kauffman Scholar, and understood that the legacy of Mr. Kauffman lives through her; this realization inspired her to join the Kauffman School team, which is working to live out Mr. Kauffman’s legacy every day.

Robyn Blakemore, 8th Grade Math Teacher
Robyn Blakemore believes every student deserves an excellent education. She is committed to holding her students to high expectations so they will be ready to excel in college and their future careers. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Mrs. Blakemore taught seventh- and eighth-grade math in the Kansas City Public Schools district at Central Academy of Excellence (formally Central High School). Mrs. Blakemore is an alumna of Teach For America - Kansas City. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Child and Family Studies from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She went on to receive her Master of Education in Secondary Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Mrs. Blakemore was drawn to the Kauffman School because of its unique and positive school culture. She is excited to celebrate students’ successes this coming school year.

Wycla Bratton, 7th and 8th Grade Guided Reading Teacher
Wycla Bratton, a Kansas City native, believes every scholar is equipped with the abilities to succeed beyond measure. Mr. Bratton believes that the best investment you can make is in a child, and he has lived that belief out as he's volunteered and worked with many organizations, camps, and programs targeting youth development. Some of these experiences include Kansas City Freedom Schools, Great Circle, and Missouri Legislative Black Caucus Foundation Emerging Leaders Conference. Mr. Bratton received his Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education Language Arts from the University of Missouri - Columbia. He is excited to be a part of the students' growth, as he believes these scholars will be the game changers of generations to come.

Chris Bridenbaugh, 11th Grade AP Language and Composition Teacher
Chris Bridenbaugh is a firm believer that all students deserve access to a school with a strong culture and academic climate. He is committed to the belief that rigor is respect and that all students deserve to be held to the highest possible standards. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Mr. Bridenbaugh taught first-grade reading intervention at Academia de Ninos and ninth grade English at Carver Preparatory Academy in New Orleans, Louisiana. Mr. Bridenbaugh is an alumni of Teach For America - Kansas City. He received his Bachelor of Science in Corporate Communications from West Texas A&M University.
 
Gordon Brown, 5th and 6th Grade Teacher
Gordon Brown believes that every student has the potential to rise above circumstances that they believe are hindering them, with the help and encouragement given to him/her by the people that surrounds them. Mr. Brown has been in education for 33 years, teaching Heath and Physical Education in North Carolina, in Park Hill School District and within Kansas City Public Schools district. He has also worked as a Dean of Students at various schools throughout Kansas City. Mr. Brown received his Bachelor of Arts. in Health from Catawba College in Salisbury, NC and his Master of Arts in Education and Leadership from Trident University in Cypress, CA. Mr. Brown believes that Kaufman School is changing the mindset of education within Kansas City and proving that with structure and transparency, educational success within our urban community can and will occur.

Mario Brown, 6th Grade Fitness Teacher
Mario Brown believes every student deserves an excellent education. He is committed to making a safe and thriving environment within his classroom. Mr. Brown loves teaching and being a strong role model to kids within our school and community. He believes that it is very important to hold students to the highest expectations possible. Mr. Brown previously was an ISS supervisor within Liberty Public Schools. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Masters of Arts in Teaching at the University of Central Missouri. Mr. Brown came to the Kauffman School because he was very impressed with the structure and student performance. He is very excited to get to know the PREPsters and make an impact.

Camille Burgmeier, 5th Grade Science Teacher
Camille Burgmeier believes each student deserves to enter college confident and prepared with critical thinking skills needed to succeed. She also believes that science classes should be filled with opportunities to practice and sculpt these critical thinking skills by cultivating creativity and explanation. Mrs. Burgmeier was born and raised in Kansas City and graduated from Westminster College with a Bachelor of Arts in Middle School Education. She taught biology for two years at DeLaSalle Education Center. The decision to come to the Kauffman School was made because of the personal and professional development for teachers. Mrs. Burgmeier wants to be the most effective teacher possible because she knows each child deserves that. This year, she is most excited about continuing to inspire fifth graders to love science!

Jessica Burton, 7th and 8th Grade Guided Reading Teacher
Jessica Burton believes that every single person deserves to be loved and respected without question or judgment, just as every student has the right to be educated fairly and equally with great passion. Prior to coming on staff at the Kauffman School, Ms. Burton spent four years teaching special education in Worth County, Missouri and Lee's Summit, Missouri where she also coached volleyball and girls’ basketball. After stepping away from teaching for a few years, Ms. Burton spent time serving in student ministries with Church of the Resurrection and Young Life, working in restaurant management and traveling and working in Australia, Southeast Asia and New Zealand. Ms. Burton holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Special Education from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri and a Master of Arts in Education from Baker University in Baldwin, Kansas. Ms. Burton was drawn to Kauffman School because of its desire to put student's needs above all else and its positive and passionate environment. She is most excited about forming and fostering relationships with students and staff during this upcoming school year.

Sarah Cooper, 5th Grade Guided Reading Teacher
Sarah Cooper joined the Kauffman School because she is inspired by the mission to create college graduates. She believes schools should support students in setting and reaching ambitious goals. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Cooper taught kindergarten in Houston, Texas and worked as a reading interventionist at Academia de Ninos in Kansas City. She also taught English in Chile and speaks Spanish. Ms. Cooper graduated from Northwestern University (go 'Cats!) with a degree in Social Policy. She is excited to foster her students' love for reading and celebrate their growth!
 

Evan Copaken, Teaching Fellow

Evan Copaken believes that access to a quality education should be a standard in Kansas City and the nation at large. He hopes to help students think critically about meaningful literary topics and build a strong writing foundation that will be useful long after graduating college. Before teaching at the Kauffman School, Mr. Copaken worked in sports marketing for the Los Angeles Chargers. Additionally, he did some photography work for the team. Mr. Copaken graduated cum laude from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and minor in English. The Kauffman School’s strong work culture and student engagement appealed to Mr. Copaken. He is particularly looking forward to some of the in-class debates this year.

 

Michaela Creer, 6th Grade Math Teacher
Michaela Creer is passionate about working with students who see education as a pathway to their future goals and dreams. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Liberty University and is currently completing her Master of Arts in Education. Ms. Creer was excited to teach at the Kauffman School because of the unity of the staff and students around the same goals.

 

Lindsey Dennis, 6th Grade Textual Analysis Teacher

Lindsey Dennis believes all students are capable of academic success when given the support and attention needed to thrive. She is committed to creating college ready students in and out of the classroom. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Dennis taught second and third grade at Phillis Wheatley Elementary in the Kansas City Public Schools district. Ms. Dennis graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. She was drawn to the Kauffman School because of the strong school culture and focus on rigorous academics.

 

Emma DesMarteau, 10th Grade Pre-AP Language and Composition Teacher

Emma DesMarteau believes in equal education for all people. She is committed to doing whatever it takes to create college graduates. She is dedicated to hold her students to high standards to ensure they are able to reach their goals. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. DesMarteau taught emotional intelligence at the University of Kansas Marillac Campus. Ms. DesMarteau earned her bachelor’s degree from Washburn University where she studied Sociology. Ms. DesMarteau was drawn to the Kauffman School because of their vision and culture. She is so excited to have fun learning alongside her students this year!

 

Lauren Donovan, 7th Grade Textual Analysis Teacher

Lauren Donovan's life revolves around education. You can always find her reading and then talking about educational reform and philosophies. She wants what is best for her students and will stop at nothing to make sure they thrive and flourish. Ms. Donovan previously taught high school in Kansas City, KS after graduating from University of Missouri-Kansas City with her degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in English. She chose to join the Kauffman School team because she saw that every single person who works with our students is inspiring and extremely committed to the work. She cannot wait to help students reach their big dreams this year!

 

Leischele Downs, 6th Grade Science Teacher

Leischele Downs believes that all students can achieve at high levels and that all students deserve their best chance at life. She knows that through a rich educational experience, a student can do just that. Ms. Downs is an alumna of the University of Kansas, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Sports Management with a Business minor. She is also an alumna of the Kauffman Scholars Program. During her college experience, she participated in CDF Freedom School and found her love for educating children. She is committed to providing her students a safe place to learn and develop their skills to become college graduates.

 

Kris Drummond, Learning Support Specialist

Kris Drummond believes every student deserves a quality, well-rounded education. She holds her students to high expectations so they will be ready to excel in college and their future careers. Prior to coming to Kauffman School, Mrs. Drummond taught Technology K-6 in the Kansas City Public Schools district at Troost Elementary and Whittier Elementary. She also taught for 12 years in several different Catholic Schools in the Kansas City area. She taught seventh and eighth General Science ranging in topics focusing on Earth Science, Life Science and Physical Science. Mrs. Drummond is an alumna of Webster University, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Finance. She received her Master of Education in Curriculum and Learning from Avila University. Mrs. Drummond was drawn to the Kauffman School because of its positive learning environment and the high expectations that the school has for each and every student. She is excited to see her students grow and advance in all areas this coming school year.

 

Beth Edmonds, 7th Grade Textual Analysis Teacher

Beth Edmonds believes that everyone learns every minute of every day. She is committed to ensuring that students use the learning opportunities they have to grow each and every day. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Edmonds taught at Eisenhower Middle School in Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools district for four years. Ms. Edmonds has earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Education from Emporia State University as well as a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Kansas. Ms. Edmonds is joining the Kauffman School because of its culture and expectations. She is excited to meet her new students and to see growth this year.


Cornell Ellis, 7th Grade Textual Analysis Teacher
A Kansas City native, Cornell Ellis believes all students are individuals with unlimited potential. His formative years of school were spent in the Kansas City Missouri Schools district, and graduated from Rockhurst High School. Mr. Ellis was a collegiate athlete at Avila University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in History. Working with children is his passion and he is grateful to begin his teaching career at the Kauffman School. His love for Kansas City and its people brought him to the school. He is excited about developing relationships with students this coming school year.

Ellen Frierson, 12th Grade AP Language and Composition Teacher
Ellen Frierson is committed to helping students achieve their full potential so they can pursue their academic, vocational, and personal dreams. Prior to joining the Kauffman School team, Ms. Frierson served for two years in the Teach For America - Mississippi corps, during which she taught ninth- and tenth-grade English at Simmons High School in Hollandale, Mississippi. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in Secondary Education from Johns Hopkins University. Ms. Frierson was drawn to the Kauffman School because of its strong school culture, emphasis on teacher development, and commitment to the Kansas City community. 
 

Debra Fox, Learning Support Specialist

Mrs. Fox believes that every child has the opportunity to change his or her narrative through perseverance and resilience. She is passionate about her students being successful, productive citizens in their community. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Mrs. Fox worked in settings for children with significant emotional behavioral needs, and students with autism. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Art and Design from William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri. She has completed her Master of Education in Special Education at University of Missouri-Kansas City and also holds certification in Early Childhood Education.

 

Carolyn Gatewood, 9th Grade Honors English I Teacher

Carolyn Gatewood believes every student is capable of and deserves an excellent education. She is committed to building strong relationships with her students and their families, in order to help equip her scholars with the skills, mindsets, and knowledge necessary to be successful in college and beyond. Coming from a family of educators, Ms. Gatewood always knew that she wanted to teach. She attended Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education - English. After graduation, she moved to Louisiana where she taught 9th, 10th, and 11th grade ELA at a rural, public high school outside of Baton Rouge. After three years in the South, Ms. Gatewood returned to Kansas City and joined the Kauffman School where she was drawn to the school's belief in equitable education for every student, no matter their background, and their deep investment in adult culture and teacher development. She is excited to be back home and working alongside students, families, colleagues, and communities to help re-write the narrative of education in Kansas City.


Angie Gipson, 5th and 6th Grade Science Teacher
Angie Gipson believes all students should have access to an exceptional education. She is committed to ensuring all students are ready to succeed in college and their future careers. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Mrs. Gipson worked as a health care consultant at Cerner Corporation. Prior to Cerner, she taught high school biology and anatomy and physiology in the Houston Independent School District. Mrs. Gipson is an alumna of Teach for America - Houston and received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. Mrs. Gipson was drawn to the Kauffman School because of its positive culture and unwavering faith in students and their ability to achieve at high academic levels. She is excited to see her students' growth and success this school year.
 

Elizabeth Grau, Learning Support Specialist

Elizabeth Grau believes that every students deserves the opportunity to make explore and pursue their dreams, and that education unlocks the door for that exploration. She is dedicated to challenging her students so that they are prepared to attain their goals following graduation. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Grau attended the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience. Ms. Grau is excited to join the Kauffman School team and get to know her students and their families. Additionally, she is excited to see her students succeed within and outside of the classroom this coming school year.


Abby Green, 10th Grade Pre-AP Language and Composition Teacher
Abby Green believes that quality education is the key to success. She is committed to having high expectations for students through rigorous content and social behavior so that they will be given the tools they need to succeed in college and beyond. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Green taught sixth- and seventh-grade social studies at Junction City Middle School in Junction City, Kansas. Ms. Green received her Bachelor of Education from Kansas State University in both History and Government and Language Arts. Ms. Green chose to come to the Kauffman School because she is a native of the Kansas City area and is committed to educational growth in the community. She is excited to work alongside such inspiring students and staff.
 

Emiliano Gross, 10th Grade Spanish Teacher

Emiliano Gross truly believes that every child and every person has a talent that makes him/her unique and exceptional. Mr. Gross’ goal is to help students find their talents and guide them through the path they choose to fulfill their goals in life. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Mr. Gross taught Spanish I in Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools district at F.L. Schlagle High School. He also was the head coach for both the men’s and women’s soccer teams. He received his Bachelor of Science in Physical Education from Central Christian College of Kansas in McPherson, KS. The education program at CCCK also allowed him to obtain the Spanish and ESOL endorsements right after graduation. Mr. Gross is eager to help develop a strong and rigorous Spanish program to prepare students for their future college challenges.


Robert Henderson, 8th Grade Fitness Teacher

Robert Lee Henderson III believes every student deserves a champion and role model. He is committed to making sure all students are college ready. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Mr. Henderson work as a firefighter engineer in multiple cities in Colorado. Mr. Henderson is an alumna of City Year-South Carolina. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History and American Studies with a minor in Asian Studies from Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois. Mr. Henderson is looking forward to working at Kauffman School because he believe they have created a living dynasty of family culture and putting students first.

 

Carley Henke, 10th Grade Pre-AP Chemistry Teacher

Carley Henke believe that every student deserves an excellent education and to find that excitement for learning.  She is committed to holding her students to high expectations to make sure they are ready to be successful in college.  Ms. Henke is an alumna of Michigan State University and is currently a corps member with Teacher for America - Kansas City.  She received her Bachelor of Science in Statistics and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics.  She is continuing her education at University of Missouri-St. Louis where she is working on a Master of Education in Secondary Education.  Ms. Henke is excited to bring joy to chemistry and inspire some future scientists.


Marissa Holaway, 8th Grade Math Teacher
Marissa Holaway believes every student is capable of achieving his or her goals and is committed to building relationships and holding high expectations in order to help students do so. Ms. Holaway is Teach For America - Kansas City alumna. Prior to teaching, she served as a City Year AmeriCorps member at the Kauffman School. Ms. Holaway received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Global Studies from North Central College in Naperville, IL. She chose to work at the Kauffman School because of its strong staff and student culture. She is excited to continue building relationships and celebrating student wins.
 

Isha Isme, Kansas City Teacher Resident

Isha Isme believes that every student deserves a safe learning environment to learn and excel, with a teacher who will challenge them to be their very best. Before joining the Kauffman School team, Ms. Isme was a substitute teacher in the Kansas City Public Schools district. She spent one year, on a long-term assignment, teaching French 1 at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy and the following year working in various other schools. Ms. Isme received a Bachelor of Arts in French with an emphasis in Education. She is currently part of he Kansas City Teacher Residency, working on a Master of Education in Urban Education. She was drawn to the Kauffman School because of the structure in the classrooms, student engagement, and the teacher culture at the school. This year, she is very excited to work with students, and watch them meet all their goals.

 

Christina Jackson, 11th and 12th Grade Fitness Teacher

Christina Jackson has as a burning passion for the well-being of urban youth as a whole. She is determined to fight for students’ success in all areas of their lives: physically, emotionally, and mentally. Prior to joining the Kauffman School team, Ms. Jackson worked at Kids Across America summer camp and supported the enrichment and development of urban youth. While at Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL, Ms. Jackson was heavily involved in dance team and founded Kauffman School’s first-ever dance team.

 

Jordan Jackson, 8th Grade Math Teacher

Jordan Jackson is feeling ignited to join the Kauffman School staff and work to ensure each student in Kansas City receives an excellent education. She is most excited about celebrating all the hard work that the students and staff do here at the Kauffman School. Ms. Jackson made her way to Kansas City as a 2017 Teach For America corps member. Originally from rural North Carolina, Ms. Jackson graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and minors in Journalism and Social and Economic Justice. Ms. Jackson feels honored to be a part of the bold mission at the Kauffman School and is hopeful to help graduate some future Tar Heels.

 

Brenna Jenisch, 5th Grade Science Teacher

Brenna Jenisch believes that a quality education is a right not a privilege. Prior to joining the Kauffman School team, Ms. Jenisch did City Year in Orlando, FL working with 9th grade Algebra students. She attended Truman State University in Kirksville, MO and received her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science and Psychology. As a corps member with Teach For America - Kansas City, she will be pursuing her Master of Education in Elementary Education. Ms. Jenisch is excited to work at the Kauffman School and was drawn here because Kauffman truly believes each student will be successful and is dedicated to serving students and their families. She is looking forward to supporting student growth and celebrating their successes.

 

Cody Kennedy, 11th Grade Pre-Calculus Teacher
Cody Kennedy firmly believes that all children are capable of rising to high academic expectations and that students deserve access to a school with a strong culture and academic climate. Mr. Kennedy loves learning and education and encourages students to find joy in learning. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, he worked as an Admissions Representative for Kansas State University, working with students in Northwest and North Central Kansas and Colorado. He received his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Kansas State University and is a proud alumnus.

Maria Kennedy, 11th Grade AP US History Teacher
Ms. Kennedy views teaching as an act of justice. Grounded in her belief that all students deserve an excellent education, regardless of identity or income, she is both excited and humbled to walk with Kauffman School students as they pursue the life they want for themselves. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Kennedy taught second and third grades at Academia de Ninos. An alumna of Teach For America - Kansas City and Leading Educators, Ms. Kennedy earned a Bachelor's in History from Centre College and a Master's in Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She loves reading and drinking tea.
 
Courtney Kern, 8th Grade Textual Analysis Teacher

Courtney Kern believes that education holds a unique power to empower individuals to realize their full potential, and their capacity for excellence. She is dedicated in learning the stories of her students and their families to better understand how to help them succeed and grow. Before teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Kern taught second and third grade in Chuuk, Micronesia for two years to a small village community. She also worked in an Intensive Language Classroom for students newly arrived the United States in Kansas City Kansas Public Schools disctrict. Ms. Kern received her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Creighton University in Omaha, NE, and is an alumna of Jesuit Volunteer Corps. She was drawn to the Kauffman School because of the dedication of the staff to provide a high level of education to the community. She is excited to meet and get to know students and staff this school year.

 

Tawar Khalandi, 7th Grade Math Teacher
Tawar Khalandi decided to become a teacher, specifically at the Kauffman School, because she believes every student deserves quality education and a champion. After earning a bachelor’s degree from University of Missouri - Kansas City, Ms. Khalandi worked at Cerner Corporation. Feeling a pull to teach and lead in urban schools, she joined the Kansas City Teacher Residency program, where she served as a Resident teacher and obtained a Master’s in Urban Education through Park University.
 

London Koehn, Teaching Fellow

London Koehn is committed to helping every student achieve academic excellence. She is driven to support her students go wherever they want to go. Ms. Koehn received her Bachelor of Arts in Law, Politics, and Society from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Ms. Koehn is excited to grow with the students and celebrate wins each and every day.

 

Linda Kovac, 5th Grade Textual Analysis Teacher

Linda Kovac believes every student is capable of great things and deserves every opportunity, especially education. She is committed to holding her students to high expectations so they will be ready to leave Kauffman and be a citizen of the world. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Kovac taught preschool in Chicago, Illinois and at University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ms. Bailes is an alumna of AmeriCorps in Chicago, Illinois. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Studies from Saint Louis University. She went on to receive her Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from University of Missouri-Kansas City. 

 

Katie Larson, Kansas City Teacher Resident

Katie Larson believes that every student deserves an excellent education taught by passionate educators. She knows that each student can achieve great things when they are held to high expectations and given the support needed. Ms. Larson is a Teacher Resident as part of the Kansas City Teacher Residency program and is working to earn her Master of Education in Urban Education. She most recently graduated Drury University with a Bachelors of Arts in Advertising and Public Relations. Ms. Larson was drawn to the Kauffman School because of its commitment to and sweat the small stuff. This year, she is excited to foster relationships with students and celebrate their growth!

 

Kalilah Lasenby, 10th Grade Honors Geometry Teacher
Kalilah Lasenby believes that quality education should not be based on whether or not you can afford it. No child should have to pay to have a quality teacher who truly cares about them and their success. Instead, it should be an expectation that all students receive excellent educators. Ms. Lasenby came to Kauffman School after graduating from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida where she completed both her Bachelor of Arts and her Master of Education in Exceptional Student Education. What brought her to the Kauffman School was the passion to break generational stereotypes that are projected on students; she saw a staff that expected success and great things of all students.

 

Johanna Laxton, 6th Grade Math Teacher

Johanna Laxton believes that every child in Kansas City deserves an outstanding education and is capable of succeeding in a rigorous classroom setting. She is committed to exemplifying the values of hard work, kindness, and joy in her classroom in order to facilitate student growth, pride, and success. Ms. Laxton is a Teach For America alumna member and a graduate of the University of Montana, with degrees in Communication and Psychology and a focus in Human and Family Development. She also completed a Master of Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

 
Ariel Lehr, 5th Grade Math Teacher
Ariel Lehr believes that all students deserve an excellent education and is committed to the work and dedication that it takes to provide this to all students. Prior to teaching at Kauffman School, Ms. Lehr taught fifth grade math and science at Primitivo Garcia Elementary in the Kansas City Public Schools district. She received her Bachelor of Sciences in Elementary Education from Missouri State University and completed her Elementary Math Specialist Certification and Master of Arts in Elementary Mathematics at University of Central Missouri. Ms. Lehr made the transition to the Kauffman School because she knew Kauffman School holds high expectations for all students and matched her passion for academic success in Kansas City.
 
Marcus Liddell, 11th Grade Pre-AP Calculus Teacher
Mr. Liddell received his Bachelor of Art in German from the University of Notre Dame, and his Master of Education in Secondary Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. After graduating, he taught English in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar, then returned to the United States to teach sixth through eighth-grade math at Genesis Promise Academy in Kansas City, MO. He is a Teach For America alumnus. Mr. Liddell was drawn to the Kauffman School because of its rigorous academic mission. He's looking forward to getting to know a new group of students this year.
 
Steffanie Long, 6th Grade Textual Analysis Teacher
Steffanie Long believes that every student can learn and deserves an excellent education. She is committed to holding her students to high expectations and preparing them to excel in college and their future careers. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Long taught sixth grade in the Kansas City Public Schools district at J. A. Rogers Elementary. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ms. Long was drawn to the Kauffman School because of the positive environment and high standards for students as well as teachers. She is excited to celebrate the many successes that are sure to come this year.
 

Louis Lowe, Building Substitute Teacher

Louis Lowe believes every student deserves to be prepared for college. He is committed to holding his students to high expectations so they will be ready to excel when they first step onto a college campus. Prior to joining the Kauffman School team, Mr. Lowe was a college athlete attending Avila University where he received a masters degree in Business Management. He was drawn to Kauffman School because of its unique and positive school culture. He is excited for another strong year at the Kauffman School and to grow with his students this year.

 
KAi Manning, 9th Grade Honors Algebra I and II Teacher
KAi Manning believes that every student deserves a structured environment and a fair playing field so that they can be successful in this world. She is determined to inspire her students to work hard in school, go after their dreams and live their most fulfilled lives. Prior to working at the Kauffman School, Ms. Manning briefly worked at Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary School in Columbia, MO as a Classroom Aide/Wellness Center team member. Ms. Manning is an alumna of the University of Missouri-Columbia, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with focus in Music Education and Black Studies. Ms. Manning was drawn to Kauffman School because of its sense of community and uplifting/upbeat environment. She looks forward to making an impact on the students as well as seeing the impact they will have on her.
 
Julian Marshall, 5th Grade Textual Analysis Teacher
Julian A. Johnson-Marshall firmly believes that learning is a dynamic tool to explore, enhance and identify one's worldview. He is committed to combining his passions for learning, communication and diversity to support students along their journey of becoming successful college graduates and professionals. Before teaching at the Kauffman School, Mr. Marshall led a poetry writing workshop as an AmeriCorps member in Evanston, IL. He received his Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Loyola University Chicago in Rodgers Park, Chicago, IL. Mr. Marshall was led to the Kauffman School because of its extraordinary mission and school culture. He is ecstatic to celebrate each student's achievements and triumphs this school year.

Kristina Maude, 7th and 8th Grade Guided Reading Teacher
Kristina Maude is committed to ensuring that each student has the ability to graduate from college. She is committed to teaching her students critical analysis and communications skills that are necessary for college and in everyday life. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Maude attended the University of Kansas, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is a 2016 Teach For America alumna and completed her Master of Arts in Education through the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Ms. Maude was drawn to the Kauffman School because of its commitment to ensuring every student’s success.

Amber Merola, 6th Grade Guided Reading Teacher
Amber Merola stands behind the belief that all students can learn given the appropriate guidance, support, and love. Before starting her journey at the Kauffman School, Ms. Merola taught Read 180 and System 44 reading intervention programs to fourth- through eighth-grade students at a Kansas City, Missouri charter school. In addition, she also played a different role as a lead teacher and taught her own fifth-grade classroom before joining the Kauffman team. Ms. Merola received her Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration and Communication at the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master of Arts in Elementary Education from Seton Hill University. One of the main reasons Ms. Merola joined the Kauffman School is because the school represents her vision for the future of our youth.
 

Grace Miller, 9th Grade Biology Teacher

Grace Miller believes that every child deserves excellence in education.  She is committed to bringing out the best professionally, socially, emotionally, and mentally in her students so that they will soar in college.  Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Miller earned degrees in History and Latin American studies at the University of Arkansas.  Ms. Miller is a native of Kansas City and is a current Teach For America - Kansas City corps member.  Ms. Miller is in the process of earning her Master of Education degree from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis.  She was drawn to the Kauffman School because of its mission to not just get students to college, but across that graduation stage.  She is very excited to celebrate all the wins (big and small) with her students this coming year!  As a math teacher, she knows that in the formula for student success, the Kauffman School philosophy and their wonderful kiddos are an essential part of the equation.

 

Christin Mitchell, 8th Grade Textual Analysis Teacher

Christin Mitchell believes that education is the key to a better future. As a fourth-generation teacher, she has a firm understanding of why education is important and how it can transform lives. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Mitchell taught eighth-, ninth-, and tenth-grade English Language Arts in the Kansas City Public Schools district. Ms. Mitchell is a Teach for America-Kansas City alumna. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Metropolitan State University of Denver in Denver, CO. She also received a Master of Education in Secondary Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Ms. Mitchell is excited to learn and continue to polish her craft of teaching at the Kauffman School this year, while building strong relationships with all of her students!

 

Jaki Molina, 7th Grade Math Teacher

Jacqueline Molina believes that every single child deserves the same high-quality education no matter what they look like or where they come from. She also believes that all students should have access to the resources that will help them be successful. Ms. Molina is committed to ensuring that students develop a passion in their own education so that they may overcome the barriers that may stand in their way. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Molina was in Shawnee, OK where she pursued a Bachelor of Science in Education from Oklahoma Baptist University. Ms. Molina was drawn into the Kauffman School because of how invested the entire Kauffman School staff is in the lives of its students. She was amazed at the amount of passion, support, and dedication present at the Kauffman School. Ms. Molina is most excited to learn from and be a part of such a talented staff. She can't wait to meet all of the wonderful students as well!

 

Madelynne Moore, 5th Grade Guided Reading
Madelynne Moore believes each student deserves a positive and challenging learning environment that allows them to succeed to their fullest potential. Ms. Moore is an alumna from the University of Texas at Austin, TX and received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Human Development and Family Sciences. Ms. Moore was drawn to the Kauffman School by the amazing staff, unique school culture, and the similar beliefs and core values of the school. She is excited to teach her first classroom and to create positive learning environments for the students' success.

Margaret Perko, 9th Grade Honors Algebra I and II Teacher
Margaret Perko truly believes that every person is entitled to an excellent education. She is continually inspired by the ever-growing capacity of every student to face challenges head-on and emerge into success with a stronger sense of self. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Perko attended William Jewell College in Liberty, MO where she received her degree in Political Science and Communication. As a life-long learner and enthusiastic educator, Ms. Perko has discovered a passion for teaching. She is a 2016 Teach For America corps member and is pursuing a Master of Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Ms. Perko is grateful to be teaching at the Kauffman School and looks forward to witnessing and celebrating students’ successes throughout the coming year.

 

Martina Pezzino, 5th and 6th Grade Music Teacher

Martina Pezzino believes music is a powerful tool for self-expression and communication that all students deserve access to. She is committed to using music to help students develop meaningful skills of self-confidence and self-expression. Prior to teaching at Kauffman School, Ms. Pezzino taught elementary music in Galesburg, IL. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Knox College in Galesburg. She has a particular love for choir and vocal music, but is excited to bring music of all kinds to the students at Kauffman School.

 

Rohan Pidaparti, 7th Grade Math Teacher

Rohan Pidaparti believes that schools can be engines of social change when students are given the resources and support that they need. He is committed to being a tireless advocate for the mental, emotional, and intellectual needs of his students. In his classroom, students will develop a love and appreciation for math and its real-world applications. Mr. Pidaparti is currently a Teach for America - Kansas City corps member. He graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts in Government. Mr. Pidaparti was drawn to the Kauffman School because of its high expectations for students, emphasis on building relationships, and commitment to self-improvement.


Elisabeth Randall, 8th Grade Science Teacher
Lis Randall is so excited to partner with parents and students this year at the Kauffman School. Ms. Randall is committed to helping her students get to and through college, and believes every child deserves an excellent education. Before teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Randall taught seventh- and eighth-grade science in the Kansas City Public Schools district at African Centered College Preparatory. Ms. Randall is an alumna of Teach For America - Kansas City. She earned an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Centre College in Danville, KY and she received her Master of Education in Secondary Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Ms. Randall was drawn to the Kauffman School because she believes that its high expectations can help its students achieve extraordinary success.
 
Emily Randall, 6th Grade Guided Reading Teacher
Emily Randall believes every child in Kansas City deserves the very best education. She has an unwavering faith in her students' abilities to grow as readers. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Randall was a fundraiser and event coordinator for DeLaSalle Education Center and Newhouse Domestic Violence Shelter. Prior to her work in fundraising, Ms. Randall worked as a news reporter at the Atchison Globe and the Northeast News. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Truman State University in Kirksville, MO. Ms. Randall chose to teach at the Kauffman School because she is energized by its mission to create college graduates.
 
Micah Robinson, 6th Grade Guided Reading

Micah Robinson believes that every student deserves an equal opportunity and access to a quality education.  Mr. Robinson feels honored to be working to provide an excellent education for children who grew up in the same community that he did.  From Kansas City and a graduate of Lincoln College Prep, Mr. Robinson graduated from Emporia State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies and an emphasis in Biochemistry, Education, and Psychology.  Mr. Robinson served as a Resident teacher with the Kansas City Teacher Residency; he is working to receive a Master of Education in Urban Education. Mr. Robinson was drawn to Kauffman School because he saw a team working toward the common goal of creating college graduates in our community. Mr. Robinson is excited to see the growth that students will show this year!

 

Vanessa Rodriguez, 5th Grade Guided Reading Teacher

Vanessa Rodriguez knows that education is the key to changing the life of a child for the better. She uses her own experiences to propel her to act with urgency and hope in providing equitable support and academic rigor for all her students.  Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Rodriguez taught early childhood in a bilingual program of Guadalupe Centers. She is an alumna of Teach For America - Kansas City. This year, she will be pursuing her elementary education license through University of Missouri-St Louis.

 

Macey Rose, 5th Grade Math Teacher

Macy Rose believes all students can achieve at high levels if you give them love and support. Mrs. Rose graduated from the University of Arkansas with her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and spent two years teaching in Tulsa Public Schools through the Teach For America program. Mrs. Rose joined the Kauffman School team because she believes the Kauffman School is a school in Kansas City that is truly fulfilling its promise to students and families of “creating college graduates”. She is excited to see the growth her students can make in just one year at Kauffman School and cannot wait to see her students’ results at the end of this year!

 

Parisa Saravi, 6th Grade Guided Reading Teacher

Parisa Saravi believes that every student has a gift and something to offer and she likes being a teacher because she likes encouraging students to see what that gift is and pursue that passion. Ms. Saravi graduated from University of Central Missouri with Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education and Health. She received a Master of Arts in Education from William Woods University. Before joining the Kauffman School team, she taught in Raymore Peculiar Public School district for six years. Ms. Saravi is excited to get to know students and their families and build a strong team this year!

 

Molly Schmeidler, Learning Support Specialist
Molly Schmeidler believes in celebrating grit, appreciating creativity, and knowing your neighbor. She most recently served as a Resident through the Kansas City Teacher Residency program. Prior to KCTR, Ms. Schmeidler served on the full-time staff of Camp War Eagle, programming the summer and year-round special events for kids and families in Northwest Arkansas. She taught skateboarding to kids and designed weekly curriculum encouraging kids to become involved in their communities. She received her Bachelor of Arts in History from Baker University in Baldwin City, KS. Ms. Schmeidler is excited to serve at Kauffman School because of the high expectations it holds for its students and supportive staff culture.
 
Joseph Schmidt, 5th Grade Textual Analysis Teacher

Joey Schmidt believes that every student has a right to go to and graduate college. He is passionate about highlighting every student's individuality and helping them grow to their potential as students, community members, and college graduates. Prior to his time at Kauffman School, Mr. Schmidt worked in the Admissions Office at the University of Louisville in Louisville, KY. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Arts and a minor in Psychology. He is a current  Teach For America- Kansas City corps member and will be completing certification coursework through University of Missouri-St. Louis. Mr. Schmidt became interested in Kauffman School because of the team development and the positive educational expectations for all students. He is looking forward to getting to know all of the students and see their growth throughout this upcoming year.

 

Emmi Scott, 7th and 8th Yoga Teacher
Emmi Scott believes in the inner strength of every student. Before joining the team at the Kauffman School, Ms. Scott taught Mild/Moderate Special Education at a Denver middle school for six years. She is an alumna of Teach for America - Colorado. Ms. Scott earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish from Concordia University Nebraska and her Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado at Denver. She completed her yoga teacher training with Kindness Yoga in Denver, CO. Ms. Scott was drawn to the Kauffman School because of its affirmation that all students deserve an excellent education. She is excited to build the yoga program at Kauffman and for students to use the skills they learn in yoga to enhance their education.

Taylor Sidles, 5th Grade Math Teacher
Taylor Sidles is committed to creating a world where every child has access to an outstanding education, beginning with students at the Kauffman School. Ms. Sidles received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with focuses in History, English, Women and Gender Studies, and Medieval and Renaissance Studies. She is a 2014 Teach For America - Kansas City corps member. Ms. Sidles is so excited to be a part of the Kauffman School team because of team members' dedication to helping students become confident and independent PREPsters on their journey to and through college.
 

Ashleigh Slover, 5th Grade Textual Analysis Teacher

Ashleigh Slover believes that every student deserves an excellent education in order to make their wildest dreams a reality. She is committed to holding all students to high expectations and pushing them to achieve at high levels. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Mrs. Slover taught Kindergarten and Third Grade in the Independence Schools district. Mrs. Slover is an alumna of the University of Central Missouri. She received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. She went on to earn her Master of Arts in Literacy Education from the University of Central Missouri. Mrs. Slover was drawn to the Kauffman School because of its high expectations of students and staff. She is excited to develop relationships with students and families alike and celebrate the success of our school community.

 

Bailey Smith, 8th Grade Textual Analysis Teacher

Bailey Smith believes that a quality, rigorous education should be the right of all students regardless of their socioeconomic background. She is energized by pushing her students’ education to places they never imagined. Before teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Smith taught preschool in the Kansas City. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts with a minor in Psychology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ms. Smith was drawn to the Kauffman School because she is committed to serving the kids of Kansas City. She is excited to watch her students reach new academic heights in the coming school year!

 

Alice Sollitto, 7th Grade Guided Reading Teacher

Alice Sollitto believes that every student has the ability to achieve his or her dreams. She is passionate about providing a high quality education to every student she works with. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Sollitto taught first and second grade at Coney Island Prep Elementary, a charter school in Brooklyn, NY. She also spent one year teaching second grade in the Kansas City Public Schools district at Phillis Wheatley Elementary. Ms. Sollitto received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Social Studies. She recently completed a Master of Education in Special Education from Niagara University. Ms. Sollitto was drawn to the Kauffman School because of its positive school culture and strong emphasis on teacher development.

 

Erin Suchy, 5th Grade Math Teacher

Erin Suchy believes that all students bring unique value and purpose, and that school is a place they can see and believe that about themselves. She also knows that all students can meet high expectations, and she loves to see students become proud of themselves. Before joining the Kauffman School team, Ms. Suchy worked year round with a youth development program and camp in Arkansas called Camp War Eagle. She is from Bentonville, AR, and received her Bachelor of Arts in Childhood Education at the University of Arkansas. She is currently a corps member with Teach for America - Kansas City and is pursuing a Master of Education degree from University of Missouri-St. Louis. She is excited to build relationships with students and families and see the impact of positive academic and personal growth in students.


Emily Thorpe, 5th Grade Guided Reading Teacher
Emily Thorpe believes all students possess the potential for success despite any and all obstacles. She is committed to providing an inspiring and rigorous education that paves a pathway for life-long opportunity. Before coming to the Kauffman School, Ms. Thorpe studied history and political science at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL. She is a proud Kansas City native and saw education as the key to Kansas City's continued growth and success. These fervent beliefs led her to join Teach For America - Kansas City. She was particularly drawn to the Kauffman School because of the school-wide vision of creating college graduates. She is extremely excited about this year for one particular reason: She believes Kansas City residents are truly some of the most driven, passionate, and community-aligned people and kids and she absolutely cannot wait to harness all that Kansas City and Kauffman School students have to offer.

Daniel Velazquez, 9th Grade Spanish Teacher
Daniel Velazquez believes all humans deserve the opportunity of an excellent education, and that equity of voice enriches and positively impacts our community. He is excited to work at the Kauffman School in the pursuit of its mission to create college graduates, and his students and colleagues inspire him every day. Prior to Kauffman School, Mr. Velazquez started the English Language Learners (ELL) Program at DeLaSalle Education Center in Kansas City, and he is an alumnus of Teach For America - Kansas City. He grew up in Asuncion, Paraguay, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Adolescent Development from San Francisco State University. He recently completed a Master of Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He is currently a member of the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education (NAATE).
 

Julian Vizitei, 10th Grade AP World History Teacher

Julian Vizitei believes every student deserves to go to a school that both challenges them with rigorous content and supports them with a positive and fulling school environment. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Mr. Vizitei taught ninth grade World History at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy in the Kansas City Public Schools district. He received his degree in Secondary Education Social Studies from the University of Missouri-Columbia and went on to receive his Master in Education in Social Studies Learning, Curriculum, and Teaching from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Mr. Vizitei joined the Kauffman School because of the opportunity to not only reach his highest potential but join a school with positive school culture for both teachers and students. He is excited to see students rise to the challenge of both content and character set by the Kauffman School.

 

Davis Warton, Teaching Fellow
Davis Warton believes that educated minds lead to change and therefore every child deserves a high quality education. He is committed to challenging his students to do their best every day both inside and outside the classroom. Mr. Warton is a recent graduate of William Jewell College and earned a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry. Mr. Warton is a current corps member of Teach For America - Kansas City. He was drawn to the Kauffman School because not only do they work towards the big picture, but they take the time to focus on the smaller things as well. Mr. Warton is very excited to start his first ever year of teaching and getting to know all of his wonderful students.
 

Destiny Washington, Teaching Fellow

Destiny Washington believes education opens doors and everyone deserves access to a quality education. She recently graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and a dance minor. Ms. Washington is excited to join the Kauffman School family as a first year Teaching Fellow. She was drawn to the Kauffman School because of the supportive and unique structure. Ms. Washington is ecstatic to be teaching with this team.


Rebecca West, 7th Grade Science Teacher
Rebecca West believes all students deserve to have the educational supports that push them to develop a passion and curiosity for life and a drive to excel academically. She is committed to developing students to think critically and responsibly in order to be successful in college and beyond. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. West completed her undergraduate education at Drury University, earning a degree in Elementary Education. She is a 2015 Teach For America alumna. She is excited to watch students grow personally and academically this year and make it the best year yet!

Roxine Westhues, Learning Support Specialist

Roxine Westhues believes every student deserves to have his or her voice heard and be pushed to communicate in meaningful, sophisticated dialogue with peers. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Mrs. Westhues taught English for grades eight through 12 in New Mexico and Texas. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and her Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM. Mrs. Westhues came to the Kauffman School because of the strong culture and high expectations. She is excited to know the students and hear each of their unique voices.


Chelsea Whittle, 6th Grade Math Teacher

Chelsea Whittle believes all students deserve the best education. She knows each student can obtain his or her goals with determination and hard work. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Mrs. Whittle taught at Faxon Elementary in the Kansas City Public Schools district for three years and also taught in San Angelo, TX. Mrs. Whittle received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Missouri State University in Springfield, MO. She is an alumna of Teach For America - Kansas City. Mrs. Whittle grew up in the Kansas City area and is very excited to influence the lives of students at the Kauffman School. She can’t wait to see her students’ achievements this year!


Erin Wilmore, 7th and 8th Grade Science Teacher
Erin Wilmore believes every student deserves highly effective teachers and a quality education. She is extremely passionate about serving the students in her hometown of Kansas City, MO. Ms. Wilmore strives to push her students to become the best they can possibly be. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Wilmore taught third grade in Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools district at John F. Kennedy Elementary School. Ms. Wilmore is an alumna of Jackson State University, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Middle School Mathematics. Ms. Wilmore was drawn to the Kauffman School because of its high expectations for students, staff and strong dedication to raise the bar of excellence. She is excited to accomplish myriad goals that she will set with her PREPsters this year!

Courtney Winchester, Learning Support Specialist
Courtney Winchester believes that every child has the ability to achieve his or her dreams and positively shape the world. To help children reach a their potential, she will hold students to high expectations and utilize each child’s strength to encourage students to be successful members of society. Ms. Winchester is a graduate of the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Sciences in Elementary Education with a concentration in Special Education and English as a Second Language. Ms. Winchester is eager to contribute to the Kauffman School’s vision of cultivating students who are equipped with skills to pursue their dreams.
 

Joyce Wong, 6th Grade Math Teacher

Joyce Wong believes that education opens doors to opportunity, and that every child has a right to equitable, excellent education. She strives to be her best, because she believes her students deserve the best. Before coming to the Kauffman School, Ms. Wong taught third and first grade at KIPP Saint Louis schools, where she helped develop and implement regional math curriculum and elementary systems and routines. She is a recipient of the Absolute Determination Award from KIPP Saint Louis Schools. Ms. Wong is an alumna of Teach for America - St. Louis. She has her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Truman State University, her Master of Fine Arts from Maine College of Art, and her Master of Arts in Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She currently attends the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education (NAATE). Ms. Wong comes to Kansas City through the Kansas City Green Fellowship and is ecstatic to join the Kauffman School team. She looks forward to immerse herself in the positive, college driven culture of the Kauffman School and to see her students grow beyond her classroom.

 

Molly Woodson, AP Biology Teacher

Molly Woodson believes every student deserves an incredible education. She holds her students to high expectations because she knows they are capable of achieving amazing things. She holds a true passion for science and wants to instill in ALL of her students the belief that if they work hard enough, they can have anything. Ms. Woodson is a 2017 Teach For America - Kansas City corps member. Prior to teaching, she studied biology at St. Louis University and went to graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University for forensic biology. She was drawn to the Kauffman School because of their strong school culture between students and all teachers and staff. She is excited to start this year and push her students to reach far beyond what they thought was possible.


Casey Wright, Learning Support Specialist

Casey Wright believes all students have an unlimited potential to be world changers and leaders and have the capacity to achieve their dreams. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Wright graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Justice Systems from Truman State University and worked as a Guardian ad Litem in Florida. She is a Teach For America - Kansas City alumna. Ms. Wright was drawn to the Kauffman School because of its emphasis on creating college graduates as well as its positive culture and commitment to student success. She could not be more excited to be a part of the Kauffman School family for yet another year!

 
Lyndsay Yates, 9th Grade Honors English I Teacher
Lyndsay Yates believes that a high quality education should be the expectation for ALL students, not the exception. She is committed to creating a more equitable education landscape in Kansas City and helping prepare the next generation of world changers. Prior to teaching at the Kauffman School, Ms. Yates taught fourth through eighth-grade Social Studies at Kansas City International Academy (formerly Della Lamb Charter School). She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theater from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK and completed her teacher certification at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ms. Yates was drawn to the Kauffman School because of its culture of excellence among both teachers and students. She is excited to be a part of such an incredible team of students and teachers.

Jason Zimmerman, 10th Grade Honors Geometry Teacher
Jason Zimmerman is committed to the idea that Kansas City's children possess the ability to compete on an absolute scale with the best and brightest of our nation. Prior to joining the Kauffman School, Mr. Zimmerman served as an elementary teacher in the Kansas City Missouri Public Schools district, where he helped transition the district into its standards-based academic system. Mr. Zimmerman is an alumnus of Teach For America - Kansas City and received his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Communication, and Gender Studies from the University of Pittsburgh and Master of Education from Rockhurst University. Among his reasons for working on the Kauffman School is creating a proof point for Kansas City that showcases exceptional public education.