Traders Point Christian Academy has announced a number of new staff additions, in part to replace retiring teachers but also to compensate for school expansion in several areas, including technology and Bible instruction.
Many of the teachers have impressive backgrounds in teaching and ministry, including a former college professor of chemistry, said Head of School Ron Evans.
Dr. Rie Somlai, PhD, comes to Traders Point with more than 10 years of teaching experience in chemistry classes and laboratories. Somlai taught at Delta State University and has won awards from both the Mississippi Science Teachers Association for Outstanding College Science Teacher of the Year and the DSU alumni sponsored inspirational award for her Dedication to Students.
Grace Na, a former music director with 10 years of teaching experience, will join TPCA as the 7th through 12th grade choir director. Na is a skilled singer with experience performing in numerous operas, touring choirs in Italy and Switzerland and also trained privately in Italy. She holds a BM in Vocal Performance from Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul, Korea and MS in Music Education from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
Kasey Clark and Steve Zimmer will teach high school and junior high Bible respectively, using a new curriculum from Wheaton Academy that will provide comprehensive instruction and the ability to monitor student growth.
Clark is an Indianapolis native who played basketball in college before feeling the call to ministry and switching to Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis to finish his degree. He has been heavily involved in a church plant in downtown Indianapolis, where he serves on the leadership team.
Zimmer is a recent transplant from Southern California with 35 years of experience in ministry as well as a B.A. in Bible and an MDiv in Biblical Communication. He has taught eighth grade and English Literature in Arizona and has served as both a youth pastor and senior pastor at churches in California.
Rachel Bush will be teaching Spanish for grades 3-8. Her love of Spanish began in high school when she went on a mission trip to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. She is looking forward to sharing her passion for Spanish and culture to students at TPCA.
Amelia Echemann will be teaching Social Studies. She has a degree is Social Studies Education from Huntington University and values a small classroom size that allows her to know her students’ individual strengths and abilities. In addition to teaching, she will also serve as the assistant coach for the varsity girls’ basketball team.
Jill Probst, who will teach English, comes to TPCA from Brownsburg Schools, where she has been working for the past six years teaching math and reading to intensive and strategic students from first through fifth grade. Probst found herself interviewing for the teaching position this summer after looking into TPCA for one of her children.
Chelsea Reed and Kristen Wilcoxen will both teach 5th grade in the fall. Reed taught 5th grade for Indianapolis Public Schools. She graduated from Purdue in May 2014 with a major in Elementary Education. Wilcoxen is a Cathedral High School and Indiana University graduate. She moved back to the United States over the summer after teaching 4th grade at an international school in Doha, Qatar, for the past two years.
Katherine Vail will be the new Grades 1 and 2 multi-age teacher, instructing students with a three-year chronological age span who would previously have been placed in two different grades. She is a 2013 Purdue graduate, and has taught fourth grade in Brownsburg for the last two years.
Leah Westra will serve as a kindergarten teacher at TPCA this fall. She has a passion for teaching, and recently graduated from Spring Arbor University with a degree in Early Childhood Education.
Tom McCormick will assist school staff with Information and Technology but will also be in charge of the school’s new Maker Space Program. The school has recently expanded its WIFI by seven times to help its increasing emphasis on technology.
Beth Herr, who has served as an instructional assistant for the last seven years, will become the school’s new Media Center Specialist.
“Beth’s passion for literacy and problem solving make her a natural fit for the Media Center,” Evans said.
Herr shared her interest in blogging with the middle school team and has guided them in using a blog for student writing. Last year, Herr created, implemented and taught book review blogs for the high ability stretch program, teaching high level literacy to 14 students. They recently posted their 300th blog post at www.thereadingeagles.com. She also helped pilot Google Apps for Education with the 6th grade class and will be assisting middle and junior high students as they begin using Chromebooks across the curriculum for the 2015-2016 school year.