LOWER SCHOOL FACULTY | PRE-K - GRADE 2


Learning Specialist Dalal Juma, Upper Division Director Darel Shelton & Lower Division Director Jason Hooper

LOWER SCHOOL ACADEMIC SUPPORT

LOWER SCHOOL DIVISION DIRECTOR [Pre-K – Grade 2]
Jason Hooper
Came to Forsyth: 2012
Education: BS Elementary Education, Centre College; M.Ed. with emphasis in Literacy, Belmont University

Prior to coming to Forsyth in 2012, Mr. Hooper served as Head of the Lower School at Hampton Roads Academy in Newport News, VA, where he helped implement Responsive Classroom techniques and led the faculty in best practices in education. Before that, he spent 13 years in the classroom teaching kindergarten and first grade in public schools in Kentucky (2 years) and independent schools in Nashville, TN. He is passionate about literacy, sustainability, and social/emotional curriculum. As Forsyth’s Lower Division Director, Mr. Hooper is responsible for teaching and learning in Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2.
 

LEARNING SPECIALIST
Dalal Juma, Ed.D.
Came to Forsyth: 2014
Education: BA Elementary Education, Lindenwood University; M.Ed. Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), Grand Canyon University; Doctorate of Education - Organizational Leadership, Grand Canyon University 

Before coming to Forsyth, Dr. Juma taught in parochial and public schools for 7 years. As Forsyth’s Learning Specialist, Dr. Juma consults with teachers, parents, administrators, and/or outside professionals about the specific learning needs of students. She develops strategies with Forsyth teachers to support students in the classroom. When needed, she develops instructional learning plans with long-term goals and specific objectives for students, including recommendations for resources. Dr. Juma is passionate about differentiated Instruction, diversity/inclusivity, and organizational culture and climate.

PRE-KINDERGARTEN | AGE 3-4


Pre-Kindergarten: Jennifer Pelc & Lisa Santa Cruz

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN PRE-K:

1.  Gardening
2.  Walking field trips to Forest Park
3.  Lunar New Year
4.  Bird watching and study of birds
5.  Yoga and mindfulness

 

PRE-KINDERGARTEN 
Jennifer Pelc | Language Arts

Years teaching: 18
Came to Forsyth: 2011
Education: BS Elementary Education, Indiana University; Masters in Early Childhood Education, Erikson Institute (Chicago, IL)

Mrs. Pelc began her teaching career in Chicago, where she lived for 10 years before returning to her hometown. Prior to coming to Forsyth, Mrs. Pelc taught Pre-K at Lake Forest Country Day School in the Chicago area, and at an independent elementary school in St. Louis. She co-chairs the Character Education Committee and is a Girls on the Run coach.

Lisa Santa Cruz | Math
Years teaching: 12
Came to Forsyth: 2012
Education: BA in Business, Webster University; MS in Elementary Education and Certification in Waldorf Education, Sunbridge Institute; certification in organic farming 2015, EarthDance Farm

Before she joined the Forsyth faculty, Mrs. Santa Cruz taught for 7 years at The Waldorf School. In 2013, thanks to Forsyth’s Sayers/Williams professional development grant, Mrs. Santa Cruz traveled to China to instruct local teachers how to teach English to Chinese elementary students as part of the We Teach in China program. Mrs. Santa Cruz led the development of the Fillmore Early Childhood Center farm with raised vegetable beds. She also serves on the Go Green Forsyth! Committee. 

JUNIOR-KINDERGARTEN | AGE 4-5


Junior-Kindergarten: Barb Alexander, Beth Maglasang, Barbara Byrd & Claire Winkeler

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN JUNIOR-K:

1.  Our Grade 5 Big Friends
2.  Bus ride field trips
3.  Eating in the lunchroom & P.E. in the gym like big kids
4.  Cultural celebrations
5.  Our first outdoor education experience: day camping at Whitecliff Park

 

JUNIOR-K UP
Barbara Alexander | Math, Book Study
Years teaching: 28
Came to Forsyth: 1999
Education: BSEd in Elementary Education, University of Kansas

In addition to her classroom teaching role, Mrs. Alexander leads Summer Discovery, coaches Forsyth teams, teaches after-school classes. Before coming to Forsyth, she taught and  was an administrator at a child development center and science center in San Diego. Mrs. A is passionate about running. She has served on the Math and Character Education Committees.

Beth Maglasang | Language Arts, Yoga & Movement
Years teaching: 14
Came to Forsyth: 2003
Education: BS in Occupational Therapy, Kansas University Medical Center

For 14 years, Mrs. Maglasang worked as an occupational therapist, experience that brings a unique and valued perspective to an early childhood classroom. At Forsyth, she has taught Pre-K and Junior-K. She teaches Yoga & Movement in Junior-K, has coached baseball and basketball, and has led numerous Summer Discovery camps.


JUNIOR-K DOWN
Barbara Byrd | Language Arts, Drama Workshop
Years teaching: 8
Came to Forsyth: 2012
Education: BA in English, Washington University; MAT in Early Childhood Education, Webster University

Mrs. Byrd raised two children and had a variety of different work experiences, including substitute teaching at Forsyth, before joining the Forsyth faculty. She has taught Pre-K, and you might find her teaching and after-school class for Forsyth’s youngest grades. She has served on the Language Arts and Character Education Committees. 

Claire Winkeler | Math, Music
Years teaching: 14
Came to Forsyth: 2008
Education: BA Studio Art, Knox College; MAT Art Education, Tufts University

Mrs. Winkeler grew up in Tulsa, and began her teaching career in Boston where she lived for 7 years. She came to Forsyth to teach Senior-K and has led Summer Discovery camps, taught after-school classes, coached soccer and T-ball, and Math Lab. Mrs. Winkeler is co-chair of the Math Committee.

SENIOR-KINDERGARTEN


Senior-Kindergarten: Sheree Sodipo, Kiera Cross, Jane Paradise, Kristina Jones & Mary McCormack

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN SENIOR-K:

1. Learning to read and write our own stories
2. Senior-K Friendship Assembly for the whole School
3. Doing the flying squirrel on Challenge Day
4. Letterland study and performance
5. P.E. everyday as well as Yoga & Movement
 

SENIOR-K EXPLORERS
Sheree Sodipo | Language Arts
Years teaching: 29
Came to Forsyth: 2010
Education: BA, Stephens College; MAT in Early Childhood Education, Webster University

Mrs. Sodipo is a veteran teacher who has taught in Archdiocese schools, City of St. Louis Public Schools, and suburban public schools. At Forsyth, she serves on the Language Arts and Character Education Committees. She initiated and continues to lead the Forsyth PomPoms Squad, a very popular after-school opportunity.

Kiera Cross | Math, Social Studies
Years teaching: 4
Came to Forsyth: 2016
Education: BS in Elementary Education & MBA, Alabama A&M University

For 4 years, Ms. Cross taught kindergarten classes in Alabama and St. Louis public schools. At Forsyth, she serves on the Math Committee.

 
SENIOR-K ART, MOVEMENT & YOGA
Jane Paradise | Drama teacher
Years teaching: 29
Came to Forsyth: 1994
Education: BFA Acting, The Conservatory of Theater Arts at Webster University

Drama teacher Mrs. Paradise is a professional actress who began her career on the East coast acting prior to joining the Forsyth faculty. She is a full-fledged member of the Senior-Kindergarten team where she teaches Senior-K art, movement & yoga. Outside of Senior-K, Mrs. Paradise leads Grades 4, 5, and 6 in their productions of the school plays. Senior-K – Grade 3 also study drama with her, culminating in All-School Assemblies featuring short plays. Her professional development opportunities include “Teaching Shakespeare through Performance” at the Globe Theatre in London and in 2015, Forsyth’s Sayers/Williams grant took her to Greece for a 3-weeks to study playwriting, acting, and mask making at The Athens Centre.  Mrs. Paradise is an ISSL Teacher of Distinction.


SENIOR-K ADVENTURERS
Kristina Jones | Language Arts
Years teaching: 8
Came to Forsyth: 2016
Education: BS in Elementary Education & M.Ed., University of Minnesota

Mrs. Jones taught at public schools in St. Paul and Anchorage, before moving to St. Louis where she taught at an independent elementary school. She has taught kids in first grade through middle school language arts and math in urban and remote locations. At Forsyth, Mrs. Jones serves on the Language Arts Committee.

Mary McCormack | Math, Social Studies
Years teaching: 16
Came to Forsyth: 2008
Education: BA, Webster University; Teaching Certificate – Secondary Social Studies, Webster University; M.Ed., Early Childhood Education, Maryville University

Mrs. McCormack taught pre-school before she came to Forsyth. She has chaired the Math Committee, Family Math & Science Night, Family Math Breakfast, and the Early Childhood Committee. She serves on the Social Studies Committee and the Curriculum Mapping Leadership Committee and coaches Forsyth sports teams.

GRADE 1


Grade 1: Becky Stierwalt, Judy Taylor, Rick Downs & Donna Militello

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN GRADE 1 

1. Build your reading, writing and math skills every day
2. Learn about your own community and others around the world
3. Perform in the If I Lived in Spain play
4. Be comfortable trying things you’ve never done before
5. Build great friendships and learn to work as part of a group

 
GRADE 1 EAST
Becky Stierwalt | Math, Social Studies
Years teaching: 6
Came to Forsyth: 2012
Education: BA in Advertising, University Illinois; Masters and Certification in Elementary Education, University of Illinois

Mrs. Stierwalt taught at an independent school in Champaign, IL, before coming to Forsyth. She serves on the Math and Social Studies Committees and coaches Girls on the Go!, an after-school elective for first and second grade girls.

Judy Taylor | Language Arts
Years teaching: 12
Came to Forsyth: 2006
Education: BA in Public Policy, Duke University; Reading Specialist Certificate, Maryville University; Masters in Education, Washington University

Before she came to Forsyth, Mrs. Taylor taught in the Kirkwood Public School District. Mrs. Taylor is chair of the Language Arts Committee and serves on the Character Education Committee. She is an ISSL Teacher of Distinction. In 2015, she attended Learning and the Brain Institute on the Neuroscience of Reading at MIT. Mrs. Taylor coaches Girls on the Go!, an after-school elective for first and second grade girls.


GRADE 1 WEST
Rick Downs | Math, Social Studies
Years teaching: 8
Came to Forsyth: 2010
Education: BS in Education, Harris Stowe University

Mr. Downs began his teaching career at Meramec Elementary School in the Clayton School District. He serves on the Math and Social Studies Committees and has coached every sport and led camps at Summer Discovery. If you’re new to Forsyth, you can’t imagine our Halloween festivities. Mr. Downs leads the faculty & staff production “Forsyth’s Got Talent,” better known as Halloween Assembly. Kids love it! We all do.

Donna Militello | Language Arts
Years teaching: 29
Came to Forsyth: 1989
Education: Diploma of Education, Christchurch Teachers College; Diploma of Education, Canterbury University New Zealand

Born and raised in New Zealand, Mrs. Militello is a Forsyth veteran teacher. There’s not much she hasn’t done at Forsyth. She’s taught Junior-K and Senior-K; she initiated the Letterland phonics program at Forsyth; she initiated the “Forsyth’s Got Talent” Halloween Assembly; she has coached every sport and leads Summer Discovery camps. Mrs. Militello co-chairs the New Faculty Mentoring Program and serves on the Language Arts Committee, which she has also chaired. She is a Teacher of Distinction and an Emerson Teacher of Excellence. 

GRADE 2


Grade 2: Liz Peterfeso, Eric Axelbaum, Julia Wilkins & Jill Dorgan

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN GRADE 2:

1. Heifer Hoedown
2. Publishing Parties
3. The Lewis & Clark play
4. Immigration Unit
5. Field trips to Cahokia Mounds, Scott Joplin House, Lewis & Clark Museum, Mastodon State Park, and Missouri History Museum.
 

GRADE 2 NORTH
Eric Axelbaum | Math, Social Studies
Years teaching: 19
Came to Forsyth: 1998
Education: BS in Finance, University Colorado; MBA, St. Louis University

Mr. Axelbaum joined the Forsyth faculty to teach second grade. He started the Eye-to-Eye conflict resolution program and the Rainbows program for Forsyth kids who have experienced loss. He leads the second grade Heifer Project, a community service project that benefits Heifer International. Mr. Axelbaum participated in a mission to Honduras as a guest of Heifer International. He has written, illustrated and published 3 children’s books and is an ISSL Teacher of Distinction. He serves on the Math and Social Studies Committees.

Liz Peterfeso | Language Arts
Years teaching: 8
Came to Forsyth: 2010
Education: BEd & BA Spanish, University of Dayton

Mrs. Peterfeso taught at a parochial school before coming to Forsyth. She co-chairs the Language Arts Committee, serves on the Character Education Committee, and has led Girls on the Run. Mrs. Peterfeso attended the NAIS Leadership Institute, several national language arts workshops, and has served on an ISACS accreditation visit team.

 
GRADE 2 SOUTH
Jill Dorgan | Language Arts
Years teaching: 14
Came to Forsyth: 2012
Education: BS in Education, Concordia University, Nebraska; Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, University of Missouri-Columbia

Mrs. Dorgan has taught at two parochial schools and a charter school in St. Louis, and she also taught music and art in Maui. She serves on the Math and Social Studies Committees and has served as a new faculty mentor.

Julia Wilkins | Math, Social Studies
Came to Forsyth: 2014
Years teaching: 10
Education: BS Early Childhood Education, Boston University; M.Ed. Reading & Literacy, Walden University

Ms. Wilkins brings a worldly perspective to the classroom. Although she grew up in St. Louis, Ms. Wilkins’ other teaching experiences were in schools far from St. Louis: the International School of San Pedro and the American School of Switzerland. At Forsyth, she has taught Pre-Kindergarten. She serves on the Math and Social Studies Committees, has led Summer Discovery camps, and sometimes you can find her after school with the Pom Poms squad.

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  • Tel: 314.726.4542
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