Grade 1: Mrs. Sarah Hoppe
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 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!
Grade 2: Mrs. Jodi Keeley
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
Grade 3: Mrs. Molly Newton
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
Grade 4: Mrs. Mary Jo Gilbert
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
Grade 5: Mr. Matt O’Keefe
Experience: 1 year
Education: B.S. in Business Administration with a minor in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire and am presently finishing my Masters in Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin- River Falls
Philosophy: I’m a firm believer in equity in the classroom- meaning, I want all students to know that, based on their individual needs or capabilities, they’ll be provided the tools necessary to meet their full potential. I believe in creating an engaging learning environment where students want to come to school every day. I pride myself on my ability to foster relationships with my students in order to help them succeed. I believe in incorporating humor into all aspects of my life and feel it’s important to bring a “controlled silliness” into the classroom.
Hobbies: I enjoy traveling, coaching football, cooking and spending time with my wife and 18 month old daughter.
Middle School Religion & Social Studies: Ms. Jessica Nelson
Experience: I have been working with and educating young people through Faith Formation and Catechesis for 16 years.
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.
Middle School English, Art, and Science: Ms. Alison Prahl
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.
Music: Amy Nelson
Amy Nelson holds a degree in Music Education from Bethel University. She sings in the choir and plays her clarinet at her home parish of St. Charles Borromeo. She also enjoys performing in local theater musicals. She and her husband have been blessed with six children. Teaching at a Catholic school allows her to share her faith along with her passion for music performance and music education.
Spanish K-8: Ms. Lorena Cocco
Ms. Cocco is originally from Santiago, Chile. She has been living in Minnesota for over 20 years with her husband and 2 kids; Sebastian who is 18 and a Freshman at the University of St. Thomas and Isabella who is 15 and a Freshman at Burnsville High School.
She graduated from International Business/Foreign Trade and Logistics in Chile.
A few years ago she discovered that teaching Spanish was her call and decided to pursue that call, which fulfills her when she is in a classroom with students.
She enjoys watching how quickly they learn and how easy learning a second language can come to them.
Band & Orchestra Director: Mr. Warren Starr
Warren Starr earned a B.S. degree in Music Education from the University of Minnesota in 1980, and a certificate in Gifted/Creative/Talented Education from the University of St. Thomas in 2011. He started teaching at Hill-Murray School in 1981, and was the Coordinator of the Hill-Murray Parish Schools Band Program from 1984 to 2016. He was the Band Director at Presentation School for nearly 30 years before his retirement from Hill-Murray and Presentation in the spring of 2017. Warren toured China with the University of Minnesota Wind Ensemble in the summer of 1980. He has played tuba with the 451st Army Band at Fort Snelling, the Tubadours at Valley Fair, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He currently performs with the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra and his own quintet, Minnesota Brassworks.
Physical Education: Ms. Melissa Rogers
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.
Counselor (K-5): Mrs. Sarah Lilja
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 more than 25 years as a school social worker, disability advocate, and counselor. I also am a therapist in private practice working with children and families.
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. I love being a part of the amazing community at Presentation of Mary School and helping support the educational, spiritual, and social-emotional development of children.
Hobbies: Tennis, kayaking, gardening, reading, travel, and being a grandma!
Secretary: Mrs. Linda Charnowski
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 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.