• 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.
    Kasey Laughlin - klaughlin@cpsk12.org This is Kasey’s seventh year teaching and is excited to work with ELL students this year. She has a two year old and a 5 month old son and has been married almost 9 years. She loves to travel, read, and take pictures in her spare time.
    Sarah Pedrazasspedraza@cpsk12.org Sarah has been teaching for 8 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 one son who is almost 2 years old. 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!
    Karen Sander- ksander@cpsk12.org Karen has eight years of experience teaching ELLs and this is her first year with Columbia Public Schools. She has degrees in Business Administration, International Studies, and Spanish from Mizzou, as well as a Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language from the University of Central Missouri. While at Mizzou, Karen studied abroad in Mexico City for a year and later taught EFL in Lima, Peru for a little over a year. Some of her favorite hobbies include photography, technology, reading, cooking, and writing. Karen enjoys new cultures, languages, and people, and looks forward to her first year in Columbia.
    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.
    Peggy White - pwhite@cpsk12.org Peggy has earned a Master’s degree in English (Curriculum and Instruction) from the University of Missouri and have been teaching in Columbia since 1990. She taught English for about fifteen years, and has been teaching ELLs for five years. Teaching ELLs is the best job she’s ever had because she loves teaching students who are new to the US, getting to know their families, and learning about their cultures. Her students constantly teach her about the world. The best aspect of teaching ELLs is being able to teach students who want to learn and who are respectful to their teachers. The biggest challenge of her job is teaching basic English to high school students who must also pass higher level classes in order to graduate. It’s very difficult for a high school student who does not speak English to earn a diploma, but most of her students work hard and graduate because they are amazing. As a teacher, being a part of her students’ success is very rewarding.
    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.
    Cathy Fulkersoncfulkerson@cpsk12.org Cathy loves teaching in this chapter of her life. Having held a number of professional roles , this is among the most satisfying. The privilege of leading young people to their next chapter of life ranks as supreme in personal satisfaction for her inside and outside the classroom. Teaching ELLs brings life’s experiences full circle with previous experiences in international corporate ventures, higher education, social services, and non-profit organizations. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Clinical-Counseling Psychology, a Masters in Business Administration, and a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Cathy received teacher certification through the University of Missouri St. Louis, her hometown. She holds Missouri teaching certificates in Language Arts, TESOL, Social Sciences, and Business Education.
    Becky Miller – rmiller@cpsk12.org This is Becky’s fourth year as an ELL teacher, before that she taught language arts at Lange for three years. She received her teaching certification and Master’s degree in Education in Phoenix, Arizona and taught 6th grade language arts and social studies there for four years. She loves working with such a diverse group of students. She had the opportunity this past summer to travel to China to work with teacher of English, which was a wonderfully rewarding experience. She enjoys supporting all her students in their quest for education!
    Becca Stock – rstock@cpsk12.org Becca has been teaching for 13 years. She spent the first 7 years working in special education at the elementary level. She got her masters degree in TESOL and began teaching ELL at the middle school level. When she’s not at school she loves walking her dogs, reading and traveling. She spent a month teaching English in China last summer. It was a wonderful experience. She would like to teach English in other countries around the world in the future.
    Jennifer Burkholz- jburkholz@cpsk12.org Jennifer is originally from Richmond, Va. and came to Missouri in 1999 to pursue a degree in newspaper journalism at MU. After graduating, Jennifer decided to act on a life-long desire to become a teacher, thanks to a man she met shortly after college. This man is now her husband, and the reason she still lives in Missouri. She has since worked at Smithton and West Jr. as a paraprofessional, taught summer school enrichment courses, and is currently an instructional aide at Jefferson Middle School. Jennifer hopes to ultimately obtain a Master’s in education and an ELL certification. She also would like to someday teach journalism and instill her love of languages, words, and current events into students. Jennifer loves learning about other cultures (especially sampling the food!) and does a lot of English tutoring for non-native speakers. She speaks Spanish, a bit of French and wants to begin learning Korean and Italian. Jennifer has an adorable 1 year-old son named Evan, who keeps her hands quite full when she’s not at work. She also adores her four-legged children: two cats and a rambunctious albino chocolate lab. Not that she gets a lot of downtime, but when she does have it, Jennifer enjoys cooking and reading.
    High School Teachers
    Lilia Ben Ayed - lbenayed@cpsk12.org Lilia is a mother of three, originally from Tunisia, has been married for 23 years. She has an eighteen year old son and a ten year old twins. She speaks Arabic, and French. She has been teaching for the last ten years. She taught math for nine years, and this is her second 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.
    Susan Nordberg - snordberg@cpsk12.org Susan received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Elmhurst College (Illinois) and a Masters of Art degree from Western Illinois University (Illinois). An ESL Endorsement was earned from National Louis University (Illinois). Ms. Nordberg has been an ELL teacher since 1996, the same year that her younger son started kindergarten. Like her students, Ms. Nordberg’s other language is English.
    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 curiously waiting for her first year in Columbia to begin.