I am looking forward to serving you and all of the school families during this upcoming school year. This opportunity is an exciting one for me, as I will be moving to Peoria from the Chicago area in about a month. I can’t wait to meet all of you to learn more about you, and how we can work together for the benefit of our students. Here is a little more information about me and my service as an educator.
I served as Principal of St. Monica Academy on the northwest side of Chicago from 2003-2022. Prior to that, I worked as a middle school teacher in two schools, teaching Math and Social Studies. In July of 2022, I took on the role of Regional Director and High School Liaison where I am responsible for 23 elementary schools and working with 29 high schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago. I do come from a family of educators as my parents were both teachers.
I have two Master’s degrees. One of them is from Dominican University, River Forest, IL (2004) in Educational Administration and another from Roosevelt University, Chicago (2000) in Secondary Education. As an undergraduate, I received a Bachelor’s Degree from Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL.
I have learned to know that a positive school culture and strong teachers are most important in creating a successful school experience. In addition, the following ideas are important to me as an educator:
Every child is capable of excellence.
Students learn best when they feel connected and experience success.
Parents are partners
Teachers need to feel valued for classroom success.
Active participation is essential for learning and developing positive self-esteem.
Children can become problem solvers to promote social responsibility.
The world is an ever-changing place, and learning is ongoing.
Family: My wife Anna and I have five children: Trey 24, Julia 22, Jason 20, Jack 18, & Jillian 17. I enjoy hiking, sports, and traveling. As a lifelong Cub fan, I am looking forward to going to some spring training games and hiking on the best Arizona trails.
Ms. Lenhart has been working in education for 3 1/2 years & her education is in General Studies. She said, “I absolutely love working with the scholars and their families. I am a mother to a beautiful daughter, that is my sunshine. I love to travel, hike and the ocean is my happy place!”
Hello! My name is Macquela Brown! I just finished my 1st year as a Pre-K teacher. I am excited to be teaching here at Heritage Academy next year! Not only am I Pre-K teacher, but I am also a dance teacher. When I am not at school, I am teaching dance to kids, traveling, shopping, and trying new things!
My name is Ali Schneider. I am originally from sunny Buffalo N.Y. (Go Bills)! I moved to Arizona 5 years ago and joined Pinnacle Pointe Academy. I taught preschool for 7 years and this will be my second year teaching kindergarten. I attended the State University of New York at Buffalo and received my Bachelor’s in Digital Media in 2011 and subsequently my Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education in 2020. I am quite eager to be a part of the Heritage Academy community and can’t wait to share all that we have in store for you! When I am not teaching kindergarten, I love to spend time with my dog, Penny, go hiking, and lay by my pool.
My name is Monica Stekkinger. I was born and raised in Ventura, California. I attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff where I received my B.S. in Elementary Education and Special Education. After graduating from NAU in 2014, I moved to Scottsdale where I worked in education, primarily early education, for over five years before transitioning to kindergarten. This is my sixth-year teaching kindergarten. Some of my favorite activities include reading, traveling, and spending time with my cat, Figaro and my dog, Georgia.
Kindergarten is a year of growing socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually. I believe in a student lead classroom; many times, the process is more important than the product, and learning to accomplish by doing, touching, and experiencing!
I feel that my greatest contribution so far in education has been serving my students to the best of my ability, being an advocate for their education, and giving them independence and confidence to succeed!
Hello! My name is Britnie Jacobsen, better known as Miss. B by my scholars. The 2023-2024 school year will be my third year teaching. I have a Bachelor of Science in Education and experience in Kindergarten through 8th grade. One of my favorite memories in teaching was leading a grade 1 and 2 blend in Australia. To say I am excited about teaching 1st grade this coming school year would be an understatement. I am deeply passionate about early education and the foundational skills we will be mastering to help your scholars exceed as they continue through their academic careers. Outside of teaching I enjoy hiking, kayaking, and traveling with my Fiancé and two husky mixes. Can’t wait to see you next school year!
Hello, I am Jacquelyn Riekena. I am originally from Eureka, Montana, a very small town. I attended the University of Montana where I graduated with a bachelor’s in Elementary Education. I moved to Arizona in 2018 and started my teaching career. This will be my 6th year teaching second grade. My husband and I have a 6-year-old son and a 10-month-old son that keeps us busy! In my free time you’ll find me relaxing outside with my family, cheering on my son’s baseball team, or swimming.
My name is Katie Shaw. I graduated from ASU in 2011 with my Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education degree and have just finished my 11th year of teaching. The majority of my career has been in 3rd grade, with one year of 4th grade. On top of being a teacher, I am a wife and a mother of two wonderful kids and loving every minute of it!
I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in the College of Teacher Education and Leadership from Arizona State University in 2009. While in college, I was a member of the Kappa Delta Pi’s Honor Society where I was involved in events that gave back to the educational community. During my time as a student teacher, I really fell in love with teaching fourth grade, and I have been teaching fourth grade for 12 years now. In addition to teaching, I have coached baseball, volleyball, soccer, and softball to help build a community of students who worked together as a team. I am excited to join the Heritage team, and I look forward to setting the example of what a life long learner looks like. When I am not learning with my fourth graders, I love to go to the park with my two young boys and my husband.
My name is Ms. Jarrell! I have 4 dogs that I love to hike and play fetch with. My favorite hobbies include gardening, yoga, running, and cooking. I graduated from ASU with my Bachelors degree in Exercise and Wellness and received my Master’s degree in Elementary Education from GCU. I have taught in schools since 2014 and cannot wait for another fantastic year!
Hello, my name is Zach Smith. This is my second year teaching after getting my Masters at Pacific University in Oregon. I was born and raised near Portland, OR and visit frequently. I specialize in STEM and love to teach science and mathematics. I spend my free time hiking, playing with my dogs, and playing soccer. My goal as a teacher is to make sure every student feels comfortable in my classroom and to form students into educated citizens.
Hi my name is Phoebe Perez! This is my first-year teaching. I’m a Heritage Academy alumni from the Laveen campus. I’m currently attending South Mountain Community College; I plan on majoring in Criminal Justice and I will be receiving my certificate to be a Crime Scene Investigator. Throughout highschool I was in the chamber choir, chamber band, and participated in our school musicals. I love singing and playing the clarinet, alto saxophone, piano, and bass. In my free time I like to play volleyball, basketball, make music with friends, hang out with my family and teach Sunday School kids at my church.
My name is Mrs. Robison, I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. I attended The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Los Angeles and earned a degree in Merchandise Marketing. I went on to work in the licensed sports apparel industry for over 20 years. My first love is art so working in the apparel industry gave me the opportunity to further my knowledge of graphic design. I started teaching digital design to high school students during the 22-23 school year and went on to obtain an Arizona CTE Certificate to be able to share my real life work experience with our scholars. During my down time, I enjoy spending my time with my husband and our three daughters; traveling, creating art, and helping my husband coach youth basketball. I look forward to sharing my knowledge of sports, art, and design with our young scholars.
Graduated from Ironwood HS in Glendale, AZ in 2006. Earned B.A. from Western Governors University in K-8 Elementary Education and K-12 Special Education. Worked in the Peoria and Dysart Unified School Districts from 2013-2022 teaching special education students grades K-12 for math and science. Have also been coaching Basketball and Football for junior high and high school since 2008.
“Hi, my name is Sarah Loya. I was born in California, but moved out here to Arizona as a kid. This is my second year as an Instructional Aide. I am currently in school to be an Occupational Therapist Assistant and hope to work with Special Needs kids when I graduate! In my free time I like to read, walk my dog George, and listening to music.”
Hello! My name is Mrs. Christina and I am so excited to be a part of the Heritage Academy team this year. I was born and raised in Bulgaria. I earned my AA Degree in Business Administration with a minor in marketing at Santa Monica College, California. I moved to Arizona 6 years ago. In my free time I like to go on walks, watch movies, travel, try new restaurants and spend time with family and friends