Meet our wonderful teaching staff that strive to ensure the best education and environment for your child.

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Principal and Music: Mrs. Nikki Giel

651-842-6032
ngiel@presentationofmary.org

Experience: 13 years (all at Presentation)

Education: M.S. in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of St. Thomas, certificate in Differentiated Instruction, B.A. in Education from the University of St. Thomas. In addition to her duties as Principal of Presentation School, she is enrolled in the Murray Institute studies program at St. Thomas University where she will work towards the completion of her Education Specialist degree.

Hobbies: Fitness, watching my kids participate in their activities, reading, and Netflix

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Kindergarten: Mrs. Sarah Hoppe

651-842-6051
shoppe@presentationofmary.org

Experience: 17 years teaching experience; 14 at St. Croix Catholic School in Stillwater in Kindergarten and 1st Grade

Education: Bachelor’s Degree from Augsburg College in 2000 with a major in elementary education. Two years later, I joined a learning community through St. Mary’s and earned a Master’s Degree in curriculum and instruction. My focus of study was community building in the classroom and sparking beginning readers.

Philosophy: I am so excited to be the new kindergarten teacher at Presentation! I feel that something magical happens to students in their first few years of school. I am so blessed to be a part of that magic!

Hobbies: I live in North St. Paul with my husband, daughter, son, and two cats. We spend much of our family time on Upper Turtle Lake in Wisconsin. In the summer we enjoy swimming, boating, and spending time with friends. In the winter my family enjoys ice fishing, sledding, and playing in the snow. I am not 100% on board with the outdoor winter activities. I much prefer the warm weather!

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Grade 1: Mrs. Sue Underwood

651-842-6041
sunderwood@presentationofmary.org

Experience: 42 years (35 at Presentation)

Education: B.A. in Elementary Education/Special Education Hearing Impaired from Augustana College

Philosophy: Being a first grade teacher at Presentation has allowed me to emphasize my Christian faith in the learning process, help the first graders relate to each other in and out of the classroom and assist them in living their faith in their everyday lives. It is important to me to provide and encourage a safe and caring environment in order for the children to develop and grow as individuals. I believe it is important to develop a love and proficiency for the 3 basics of Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic by the end of their first grade year. In my classroom, I motivate students through curriculum centered on their interests, fun projects, group and individual work, and hands-on learning activities. I will recognize the uniqueness and ability of each individual in meeting their needs.

Hobbies: traveling, bike riding, movies and theater productions, shopping, family gatherings

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Grade 2: Mrs. Jodi Keeley

651-842-6039
jkeeley@presentationofmary.org

Experience: 33 years (32 at Presentation)

Education: B.S. in Elementary Education from Minnesota State University, Mankato

Philosophy: I strive to create a caring, nurturing, faith-centered classroom environment that encourages all students to work together and support one another in the learning process. I believe in helping children become successful, independent learners by setting high expectations, providing academic support to those in need,  and using a variety of teaching methods to meet individual needs. Guiding children in their academic, social, and spiritual growth is the most rewarding part of my job!

Hobbies: spending time with family, gardening, traveling, reading

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Grade 3: Mrs. Molly Newton

651-842-6048
mnewton@presentationofmary.org

Education: M.A. in Education-Catholic School Leadership from St.Mary’s University
B.A. in Elementary Education and Psychology from the University of St.Thomas

Experience: 17 years (4 at Presentation)

Philosophy: I am lucky to be a part of the Presentation Community where such wonderful faith-based education is taking place.  I aim towards creating an environment where students feel important, respected and believed in. The classroom should be a positive place where students can share the unique gifts that God has given them. I look forward to being a part of helping these gifts to grow!

Hobbies: Spending time with family, soccer, and running

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Grade 4: Mrs. Mary Jo Gilbert

651-842-6046
mjgilbert@presentationofmary.org

Experience: 38 years (19 at Presentation)

Education: B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Minnesota

Philosophy: I value the teaching I am able to do at Presentation School, as it allows me to share the Catholic faith and the teachings of the Catholic Church with my students. I want to foster critical thinking skills in all my students, so I focus on giving students questions, not answers, so students learn through self-discovery. Students are actively involved and engaged as they search for answers. Students need to think through the question asked and work out a response based on logic and reason.

Hobbies: gardening, reading, travel

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Middle School Religion & Social Studies: Ms. Jessica Nelson

651-842-6062
jnelson@presentationofmary.org

Experience: I have been working with and educating young people through Faith Formation and Catechesis for 16 years. This is my 4th year at Presentation, and I am so excited to have stepped back into the classroom!

Education: My undergraduate studies are in History, and I obtained my degree from Northern Michigan University. My graduate studies (almost completed!) are in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas.

Hobbies: As a hobby, I love writing music, cooking, baking, and crochet! I like the chance to be creative with my mind and with my hands.

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Middle School Science: Mr. Frank Jordheim

651-842-6063
fjordheim@presentationofmary.org

Education: Mr. J. completed his undergrad at Jamestown college and completed his Maters at St. Mary’s University.

Experience: Mr. J. has been in education for 27 years in the areas of Biology and General Science.

Hobbies: Mr. Jordheim and his wife live in Eagan MN with their two daughters.   Samantha is 10 and Macey is 15. He enjoys being outside in nature, archery, astronomy, all things science, and he loves to travel.

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Middle School Math: Ms. Ashley Way

651-842-6061
away@presentationofmary.org

Education: M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction from University of Cincinnati, certificate in Gifted, Creative, and Talented education, B.S.Ed. in Middle Childhood Education from Otterbein University

Experience: 13 years (5 at Presentation)

Philosophy: I identify myself as a middle school teacher because I love teaching this age group. As an educator of young adolescents, I work hard to promote academic, cognitive, moral, and social-emotional development of students as they prepare to take their next steps into the world.  I think it is important to deliver curriculum, pedagogy, and programs that match the developmental readiness, needs, and interests of the students that I am entrusted to teach. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of the Presentation family and find the cultivation of relationships with students, families, and colleagues the most rewarding part of my job.

Hobbies: family, live music, quilting, and being outdoors

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Middle School English, Elementary Library, & Middle School Art:  Ms. Alison Prahl

651-842-6045
aprahl@presentationofmary.org

Education: : B.S. in Psychology with an emphasis in Behavioral Analysis from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, minor in Child Development and Diversity. Certificate in American Sign Language.Currently attending Hamline University pursuing a M.A. in Teaching and certification in elementary education.

Experience: 2 years teaching (all at Presentation), 4 years as a behavioral therapist

Philosophy: My goal as an educator is to create an engaging environment for students from all backgrounds. I strive to promote a positive classroom that nurtures all areas of development. It is important to recognize the unique abilities of each student and to use a variety of strategies to meet their individual needs. I am passionate about education – not only for my students but also for myself. I believe we are never done learning and try to model this for my students any chance I can. I know I can only improve as an educator if I take the time to learn as much as my students do. By doing this, I hope to encourage my students to value education and to seek it out any chance they get. The Presentation community is so special and I am very thankful to be a part of it.

Hobbies: I love to cook, read, sing, craft, and spend time with my friends and family.

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K-2 Reading/Math Support Specialist:Mrs. Michelle Hoemann

651-842-6077
mhoemann@presentationofmary.org

Education: B.S. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Wisconsin, Stout

Experience: 21 years (all at Presentation)

Philosophy: I believe in a warm, caring, nurturing and inviting environment for the children.  In my preschool program I strive to teach to each child at their level and capitalize on their individual strengths.  Because children learn in a variety of different ways I believe in multi-sensory learning piggy-backed with differentiated instruction for each child in my classroom.  I am amazed at each child’s strengths and the things they teach me daily.  As the K-2 reading and math specialist I strive to encourage, mold, challenge, support, teach and enrich each child’s reading and math skills.

Hobbies: spending time with family and supporting kids in activities and sports, traveling, running

zachary miller

Band & Orchestra Director: Mr. Zachary Miller

612-361-9049

zmiller@hill-murray.org

Education: Music Education from University of Minnesota (UMN)

Experience: 2 years of middle school band/music both at Sartell MS and the Pioneer Pathways program for Hill-Murray Schools. Zach has also taught High School Marching band for Owatonna for four years as well as having a private music studio. Zach spent his years in college teaching band in the Band Project program through the UMN.

Philosophy: As a band teacher, it is my belief that all students should be offered the opportunity to discover and explore their potential as musicians, and to increase these natural capacities through formal music instruction. Music education should be guided by the purpose of crafting independent musicians, capable of performing, evaluating, and creating music.

Hobbies: Zach’s hobbies include playing is saxophone is various ensembles around the cities area. He also enjoys going out for pizza as often as possible and rates the different restaurants he tries, ask him where the best pizza is around the cities.

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Assistant Band & Orchestra Director: Mr. Austin Comerford

774-230-3916

apctuba@gmail.com

Education: BM-Tuba performance from The Boston Conservatory. John Corley Prize in Brass Recipient

Currently pursuing a MM in Tuba performance at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Experience: This is my 2nd year teaching in the PPW program. I have been teaching private tuba/low brass students for the past 5 years ranging from beginners to college students and ages 9-55.

As a professional musician, I have been fortunate enough to perform with a number of professional and community orchestras and chamber groups throughout the Twin Cities, Boston, and New England.

Philosophy: I think that the fine and performing arts should be a part of everybody’s education. Participation in an art form such as music engages a student’s mind and senses helping them develop self-discipline, patience, confidence, coordination, sensitivity, and expression. Studies in music can help to develop the person as a whole and the skills learned afford the student the drive to seek out excellence in all that they do. As an educator, I strive to not only help each student understand their own unique relationship with the arts, but to help them develop the skills required to become their own best teacher.

Hobbies: Biking, reading, baking, and swimming.

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Physical Education: Ms. Melissa Rogers

651-842-6057
mrogers@presentationofmary.org

Experience:  2 years substitute teacher, 6th – 12th grades at Hill Murray High School.  2 months long term substitute at Presentation 5th – 8th ELA and Math and as needed substitute at Presentation afterwards, K-8th; 13 seasons coaching girls basketball at Hill Murray high school; 2 seasons coaching volleyball, 1 season with St. John’s of Little Canada and 1 season with North Juniors J.O. program

Education:  Bachelors degree in Applied Science, Community Health with a psychology minor from the University of Minnesota – Duluth

Hobbies:  I spend quite a bit of time with my family, especially my nephew, and friends.  I love being a godmother to my nephew and live for his warm smiles and hugs.  I enjoy going to cabins and being on the lake, whether it be fishing or simply boating.  I like to camp as well.  As you may have guessed, I am a big sports fan and love my Minnesota teams.  I also thoroughly enjoy watching college men’s basketball.  I play sand volleyball in the spring, summer and fall and love to golf, even though I am not very good.  I enjoy a quiet night at home, but am most happy when I am surrounded by family and friends.  

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Spanish & Computer: Mr. Mynor Cruz

651-842-6055
mcruz@presentationofmary.org

Education: MBA and BA in Technology from the Galileo University of Guatemala

Experience: 29 years (13 at Presentation)

Philosophy: I am so lucky to be able to share my language and culture with my students in a Catholic environment, and at the same time to be able to grow in the technology field while teaching it. I believe that it is important for students to comprehend and to be open and accepting of people from different cultures and who speak different languages.  It is important for students to speak and enjoy a second language.  I believe it is also important for students to be very knowledgeable about technology and the use of computers, as this will better equip them for their work in high school and beyond.  I love working in a community where everybody is involved and supports education.

Hobbies: spending time with family and friends, listening to Spanish music, playing guitar, playing soccer, traveling, using and learning about technology

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School Nurse: Mrs. Mary Fowler

651-842-6034
mfowler@isd622.org

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Counselor (K-5): Mrs. Sarah Lilja

651-777-5877
slilja@comcast.net

Education: BA in psychology from Dartmouth College, Masters in Social Work from San Jose State University.

Experience: I have been working in public and private schools for nearly 25 years as a school social worker and counselor.  I also am a therapist in private practice working with children and families.  This is my 15th year at Presentation.

Philosophy:  I work closely with teachers at Presentation to help make sure that the social, emotional, and educational needs of our elementary students are being met.  I also help find resources and supports both inside and outside of school for children and families in need.

Hobbies: Tennis, kayaking, gardening, reading, and travel.

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Secretary: Ms. Linda Prazak

651-777-5877
lprazak@presentationofmary.org

Experience: Ms. Linda has worked in Catholic Schools for more than 20 years.
She served as the School Secretary at St. Francis De Sales in West St. Paul, where her children attended grade school. Ms. Linda has served as School Secretary at Presentation School for 6 years.

Hobbies: Gardening, cross-country skiing, and playing with her dog, Maggie.