• Elementary Teachers
     
    Cindy Hutchinson – chutchinson@cpsk12.org - Cindy was born in McAllen, Texas. She has been teaching 25 years. Twelve of those years have been spent teaching in the Columbia Public Schools. She has a Masters Degree in Special Education and has taught in this area for 15 years. She also holds a degree in English As A Second Language and has 10 years experience of teaching in this area. She is a native Spanish speaker and can interpret district wide when needed.
     

    Sarah Pedrazas – spedraza@cpsk12.org - Sarah has been teaching for 16 years, but she has been involved with the Columbia Public Schools since she started Kindergarten at Midway Heights Elementary. Her husband is from Bolivia, South America and they speak Spanish at their home. She has three children. She loves traveling, trying new things, and spending time outdoors.

     
    Mari Politte - mpolitte@cpsk12.org - Mari has been employed by Columbia Public Schools for approximately eleven years. She received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Spanish from Stephens College. She also completed a Master of Arts in TESOL and ELL Certification from Southeast Missouri State University. It is extremely rewarding teaching ELL and to work with parents to make a difference in student learning. She was born and raised in Texas. She moved to Columbia, Missouri to attend college. She currently resides in Columbia with her husband Kevin where they enjoy spending time with family, friends and our pets.
     
    Courtney Siewertcsiewert@cpsk12.org - Courtney taught Spanish and French in Mexico, Missouri, where she was born and raised. After that she taught ESOL K-12 and Adult Education ESL in California, MO. She has been an adjunct professor for Southeast Missouri State University teaching ESOL certification courses. She received a BS in Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1998. She received a MA-TESL from the University of Central Missouri in 2003. She is currently working on an ED. Spec. Degree at UMC. She is married and has 4 children. She loves teaching, languages, and traveling. She has studied abroad or taught in many countries; including Mexico, China, South Africa, France, and Chile.
     
    Jane Wellmanjwellman@cpsk12.org - This is Jane’s seventh year serving Columbia Public Schools as an English Language Learner teacher. Jane received both an undergraduate degree and a Masters degree in Elementary Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has taught at both the pre-school and elementary level in the Columbia Public Schools. Jane loves to travel and learn about other cultures, as well as enjoy outside activities. Though not a native of Columbia, she loves the area and currently calls it her home.
     
    Christy Kruseckruse@cpsk12.org - Christy has earned a Master’s degree in Special Education and has been teaching for over 25 years in Columbia. She has taught in the elementary setting as a classroom teacher, as well as a special education teacher for the Columbia Public Schools. Christy enjoys reading, traveling, and walking. She is excited to be an ELL teacher at Paxton Keeley and she loves teaching!
     
     
    Katie Cook - kcook@cpsk12.org - Katie taught English for two years in Iowa, but this is her first year teaching in Columbia Public Schools. She’s no stranger to the district, however. A Columbia native, Katie attended Columbia Public Schools from kindergarten at Fairview to her graduation from Hickman. She earned a B.A. in English from Illinois State University, her teaching certification from Cornell College, and a Master’s Degree in TESOL from Mizzou. She moved back to Columbia with her husband this year, and she is very excited to be an ELL teacher at Columbia Public Schools! Katie also enjoys reading, writing, cooking, hiking and traveling.
     

    Alexander Taiatai@cpsk12.org - Alexander has been an educator since 2008 and is a transplanted Missourian. He received his Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Secondary Mathematics Education and Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. Recently, Alexander completed his studies for his Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Education Leadership from the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. He has taught ninth grade mathematics in Georgia, English in Taiwan at the Taoyuan International English Village, and now English as a Second Language in Columbia. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and serves as an interpreter when needed.

    Beth Butcher- ebutcher@cpsk12.org - Beth is from the Springfield, MO area. She holds an undergraduate degree in Lighting Design for Theatre from Stephens College and a teaching certification from Columbia College. She is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Education from UMSL. This is her 9th year of teaching and her 2nd year in ELL. She loves making connections with her students and their families and learning about different cultures. Beth lives in Columbia with her husband and 5 year-old daughter.

    Caitlin Richardsoncrichardson@cpsk12.org - Caitlin has been a teacher for Columbia Public Schools since 2010.  She received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from the University of Missouri.  Caitlin has also completed her Master’s Degree in TESOL from the University of Missouri.  She has taught 4th grade, 5th grade, and K-5 EL students. Caitlin enjoys spending time with family and friends, Mizzou sporting events, traveling, and learning about different cultures.

    Sherry Pfeiferspfeifer@cpsk12.org -  This is Sherry’s fourth year teaching at Columbia Public Schools as an English Language teacher.  Sherry has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Arkansas Tech University and a Master’s degree in Special Education from University of Central Arkansas.  Sherry also has a certification in ESL (English as a Second Language) from Arkansas Tech University. She is in her 25th year of teaching and has taught various grades and subjects.  Sherry loves to spend time with her family.  She also enjoys sewing and doing crafts.

    Jennifer Ajans – jajans@cpsk12.org  Jennifer has been a teacher at West Boulevard Elementary for 15 years.  She has served many roles, including kindergarten teacher, 2nd grade teacher, 3rd grade teacher, Title 1 reading teacher, and now an EL teacher.  She graduated from Hickman High School in 1997, Columbia College with a Bachelor or Arts in Psychology in 2002, and Drury University in Springfield, Missouri with a Master of Arts in Teaching in 2004.  She is married to Tony Ajans, and they have two children, Norah and Jackson.  Jennifer loves to spend her free time reading, traveling, making floral arrangements, and spending time with her family. 

    Pamela Laughlinplaughlin@cpsk12.org - Pam was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and has lived in Missouri her whole life. She is certified to teach early childhood education and K-12 English language learners. Pam has been an educator for 22 years. She taught second and third grades for a total of 19 years in Blackwater, Boonville, and Columbia. She now teaches K-5 English language learners for Columbia Public Schools.  She holds two masters degrees: one in Curriculum and Instruction and the second in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. In addition to teaching she loves fitness, food, reading, working with dogs, traveling, and warm weather.

    Megan Dasczynski - mdasczynski@cpsk12.org - Megan was born near Flint, Michigan. Megan moved to Missouri and attended Columbia Public Schools from 2nd grade at Rock Bridge Elementary to her graduation from Rock Bridge High School. She earned her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Stephens College in 2015. After her undergraduate degree she worked as a substitute teacher and an English Language Instructional Aide for Columbia Public Schools. In summer 2017, she began working as an English Language Teacher and started her Master’s Degree. She received her Master of Arts in ELL from Western Governor’s University in summer 2019. Megan has been teaching EL for 3 years. She loves photography, traveling, and trying new things.

    Becky Alexiou - ralexiou@cpsk12.org - Becky began teaching 6th grade in Phoenix, AZ in 2001. In 2005, she moved back to Missouri and started working at Lange Middle School. After earning her TESOL certification from Southeast Missouri State, she began her work with English learners in 2008. When the EL program moved to Oakland, Becky went with it. After 19 years of teaching middle school, Becky made the big jump to elementary in 2019. She currently works with ELs at Beulah Ralph Elementary School and loves supporting her students with their English literacy success!

    Laurie Salem lsalem@cpsk12.org  Mrs. Salem loves everything outdoors and family oriented. She first discovered her love of travel, language, and culture when traveling to Austria for a week and then volunteering at a Taiwanese orphanage for three months in 2009. Motivated by a love of diversity, language, culture, and education, in 2014 she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and ESL from Johnson University in Knoxville, TN. The adventure deepened when she married Shahob and moved to NYC for a one-year internship. Now she fulfills her dream of being a part-time EL teacher and part-time mom while she helps Shahob with campus ministry to international students.

     

    Middle School Teachers
    Linda Agrippino - lagrippino@cpsk12.org - Linda graduated from Missouri State University in 1985 with a BS in Elementary Education and Special Education Learning Disabilities. After her undergraduate degree she worked as a substitute teacher, a teacher’s aide and a teacher in St. Louis, Missouri. Her husband, David and her have one son, Connor, who is a freshman in college. After moving to Columbia, Missouri she worked in the Columbia Public School District as a paraprofessional and a teacher’s aide in the elementary schools. In the fall of 2008, she went back to school at the University of Missouri and started working on her master’s degree. She graduated in the summer of 2010 with her certificate in TESOL (Teaching English to Students of Other Languages) and her masters in Education from the University of Missouri, Columbia. As of August, 2010 she has been working as a teacher’s aide in ELL. She enjoys teaching the English language learners at our school and helping them learn and understand English.
     

    Kari Schuster- kschuster@cpsk12.org - Kari has been an English Language Arts teacher for the past 13 years in CPS. She was also a 4th grade teacher and preschool teacher at the beginning of her teaching career. She started the TESOL Master’s program at MU/UMSL in the Summer of 2018. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from Truman State University, another bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Buena Vista University, and a Master’s degree in Reading Curriculum and Instruction from Grand Canyon University. She lives with her husband and 2 step-children in Columbia. Originally from Minnesota, she doesn’t like the Missouri heat. She likes to travel to new places in the US and around the world. She likes to read, garden, play with her dogs, and spend time outside (when it’s not hot!).

     
    Erica Shadwell Mitchell - eshadwell@cpsk12.org - Erica has been employed by Columbia Public Schools for 17 years. She received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Spanish from William Woods University. She then completed a Master of Arts in TESOL and ELL Certification from Southeast Missouri State University. She has had the opportunity to learn to read/write/speak Mandarin and even lived in China for a short time.  She loves learning about languages, culture, and beliefs; and absolutely loves teaching middle school students! She currently resides in Columbia with her husband, Brad, her two out of three daughters (her oldest currently resides in Spain) and one step-son.  They enjoy traveling, family time, being outdoors, their pets, and board games with friends.
     

    Sarah Hoover - shoover@cpsk12.org - Sarah has been in education for over 20 years, earning her Bachelor's in Spanish Education and Master's in Educational Leadership from Evangel University, and her TESOL certification from the University of Missouri, Columbia. She spent the first 15 years of her public school career in Springfield Missouri area at Fair Grove High School and Kickapoo High School, teaching Spanish 1-8 and Dual Credit Spanish with Missouri State University. After moving to Columbia in 2015, and traveling for several months in Latin America, Sarah began teaching Spanish at Lange, Gentry and the University of Missouri. She started teaching in the EL Newcomer Center for Middle Schools for CPS in 2017. Sarah loves to serve as a Life Coach and Yoga Teacher, travel the world, be with her pups and partner, and play outdoors.

     

    Marlene Mullen- mmullen@cpsk12.org - Marlene is a New Mexico native where she earned her BA in Elementary Education from Eastern New Mexico University in December 2004.    Her first teaching job was in the Fall of 2005 at a hometown middle school.  After 4 years of teaching, she earned her TESOL certificate in 2010 from the same university.   Soon after receiving her TESOL certificate, she moved to Springfield, Missouri to marry the love her life and fortunately was hired quickly for her first EL position in an elementary school.   She worked at Hickory Hills Elementary for 4 years. During that time, she took on the position as Migrant Liaison assisting refugee families.   Teaching in Springfield was a joyous time adjusting to a new marriage and new environment.  In 2014, Marlene and her family moved to Columbia where she was hired at Smithton Middle School. She has been happily teaching there since then.  Marlene enjoys going to the lake in the summer, reading, and spending time with her family.

     

    Linda Agrippino - lagrippino@cpsk12.org - Linda graduated from Missouri State University in 1985 with a BS in Elementary Education and Special Education Learning Disabilities. After her undergraduate degree she taught in St. Louis, Missouri. She and her husband have one son. After moving to Columbia, Missouri with her family, she worked in the Columbia Public School District as a paraprofessional and a teacher’s aide in the elementary schools. In the fall of 2008, she went back to school at the University of Missouri and started working on her master’s degree. In the summer of 2010, she graduated with a certificate in TESOL (Teaching English to Students of Other Languages) and her master’s in education from the University of Missouri, Columbia. In 2012 she started teaching EL at Smithton Middle School. She enjoys teaching middle school students as they learn and understand English. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading, decorating and relaxing at the beach on vacation.


     
     
    High School Teachers

    Lilia Ben Ayed - lbenayed@cpsk12.org - Lilia is a mother of three, originally from Tunisia, has been married for 31 years. She has a twenty six year old son and  eighteen year old twins. She speaks Arabic, and French. She has been teaching for the last eighteen years. She taught math for nine years, and this is her ninth year teaching ELL. She loves working with a diverse population of learners. Her favorite animal is the butterfly and her favorite quote is “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” ~Mahatma Gandhi”

     
    Beckie Hocks - bhocks@cpsk12.org - Beckie is a native of Columbia, Missouri. She received her BA from the University of Missouri in Spanish Education K-12 in December of 1998. She also earned an MA in TESOL (Teacher English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Southeast Missouri State in December of 2006. She has three sons, Robert, John, and William. Ms. Hocks loves to read, listen to music, watch film, bicycle, enjoy the outdoors, cook, play and watch sports, and go horseback riding.
     

    Karen Cottrell- kcottrell@cpsk12.org Karen has been a non-traditional student. While raising 4 daughters on a farm in Illinois, she decided to become a teacher. Finding a classroom in central Illinois upon graduation was difficult. Not to remain discouraged, she took a path that has threaded through many places. Her educational experiences swing wide taking in generating educational material for online learning out of Alabama, working with second-language learners in the Salinas Valley in California or Navajo students on the reservation in Arizona, and creating primary lessons for migrant children near Sedona. Karen took a year off teaching to gain her Masters in Language, Reading, and Culture from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Her interests are not restricted to the classroom because she can be found creating in the heart of the kitchen, swinging a hammer or slinging mortar in construction, sewing clothes or reupholstering furniture, or delving into various art mediums. Want to travel? She is an ever-ready copilot. Karen is in her 8th year of working with DHS students in Columbia.

    Nikki Aguero – naguero@cpsk12.org -  Nikki is from Oklahoma. She has been teaching for 18 years at the high school and elementary level and in higher education for Southeastern Oklahoma State University. She earned a B.A. in Spanish Education, a M. Ed. in Instructional Technology and a graduate endorsement in Teaching English to Students who Speak Other Languages. Nikki is a daughter, sister, wife, mother, auntie, CASA, and friend who loves learning new things and getting to know people from around the world. She is proud to have the opportunity to guide Battle Spartans through their educational journey. 
     
    Kayla Phillipskphillips@cpsk12.org - Kayla has been with CPS her entire teaching career!  Her early years were spent as a 1st grade teacher, and then, after having children of her own, she went to work as a Parent Educator with Parents As Teachers.  Later, she earned a Master’s in Administration, and then trained as a Reading Recovery and Title One Teacher.  A dozen years after that, she went back to school to get an English Language Certificate.  Kayla and her husband Ron have two grown daughters, two Golden Retrievers, and love hanging out with family and friends.
     

    Beckie Hocks - bhocks@cpsk12.org Beckie is a native of Columbia, Missouri, and had been serving the CPS District since 1998.  She received her BA Summa Cum Laude from the University of Missouri in Spanish Education K-12, taking courses at the University of Madrid during the summer semester of 1997. She also earned an MA in TESOL (Teacher English to Speakers of Other Languages) Summa Cum Laude from Southeast Missouri State in December of 2006.  Beckie taught Spanish for 5 years at West Middle School and has been teaching ELs at Hickman for the past 16 years. Beckie has three grown kids, Robert, Eva, and William. She loves to read, listen to music and attend concerts, watch films, bicycle, enjoy the outdoors, cook, play and watch sports, and go horseback riding on her sister’s farm down at Osage Bend.