ST. John the Baptist Our Team

Our team

Administration:

 

Fr. Alex Carlson
Pastor
fr.carlson@stjohns-excelsior.org
952.474.8868, ext. 216

Father Carlson grew up in St. Paul, and was a parishioner at St. Joseph’s in West St. Paul. He graduated from Cretin-Derham Hall high school in 2001, and attended Bemidji State University for a year. In 2002, Father Carlson was accepted into St. John Vianney college seminary for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Catholic Studies. In 2006, he entered St. Paul Seminary where he received his Masters in Divinity and was ordained a priest in 2010 for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He served as an associate pastor at Epiphany in Coon Rapids and St. Ambrose in Woodbury before being installed as Pastor here at St. John the Baptist in July of 2013. Father Carlson has a great love for the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession. He is also a big proponent of Catholic education, as it formed him into who he is today. He enjoys spending time with family and friends, golfing, and ice fishing.

 

Angela Wroblewski
Principal
awroblewski@stjohns-excelsior.org

Angela (Mrs. W) has spent over 20 years as a Montessori teacher in private as well as public charter Montessori schools at both the lower and upper elementary levels. She obtained her B.A. from University of St. Thomas with majors in both Education and Spanish. It was during this time that Angela took on the Summer Coordinator position for an afterschool and summer program in Minneapolis. After the invitation of a friend, Angela founded a Montessori Elementary school (1st-6th grade) in Blaine, returned to the St. Catherine University to complete her Montessori training and M.A. while teaching and sharing administration duties. Taking the opportunity to be the Director of Montessori Education committee and intern administrator at Bluffview Montessori School in Winona, Angela simultaneously completed her Principal's license through St. Mary's University of MN while teaching at the E2 level. At Bluffview Angela gained greater experience with closing the achievement gap during the process of writing and implementing a school improvement plan. Wanting further experience with Montessori charter schools, she took an E2 level teaching position at World Learner School in Chaska and became involved with the board and finance committee. Feeling called to a new challenge, Angela accepted a position to begin an E2 level at Great River School in St. Paul. After getting the program up and running, Angela took a Head of School/Principal position at Bright Water Montessori and Elementary School in North Minneapolis. After transitioning SJB to the Montessori Method and teaching elementary for three years, Angela is very excited to continue in the role Principal while spending time in the classroom. Currently, Angela lives in Mayer with her husband and 5 children.

 

Monica Benda
Administrative Assistant
mbenda@stjohns-excelsior.org

Monica (Miss Monica) grew up near Rockville, MN. She graduated from the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND in April 2019 where she earned a bachelor’s degree in History with a minor in Catholic Studies. She originally entered college to study Biology and become a doctor, and then joined the Nursing program, and after much discernment felt called to study History. Monica had the opportunity to study abroad in Rome, Italy for a semester where she took courses in philosophy, history, theology, and Catholic Studies and found that her heart was set on fire with a love of learning and sense of wonder. Monica has a great love for Catholic education because she has seen the immense impact it has had on her own life. She is so excited and thankful to continue to be a part of the St. John’s community and learn more about the beauty of Montessori education. She hopes to use her gifts at the service of others in whatever way she can, and to share with others the joy of life with Christ. Monica has 4 siblings, and in her free time enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, painting, reading, and doing anything outdoors like canoeing, hiking, and climbing.

 

Guides, Assistants, & Paraprofessionals:

 

Cassie Gierszewski
Toddler Guide 
cgierszewski@stjohns-excelsior.org

Cassie (Miss Cassie) earned a B.A. in Biology and Wildlife Ecology Research as well as Management with a Captive Wildlife minor from the University of Wisconsin: Stevens Point in December 2014. After graduating, she interned at Northwoods Wildlife Center in Minocqua, Wisconsin and at the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota. While there, she gained a passion for education. In the fall of 2015, she gratefully started working at Saint John the Baptist after school care. As the school was changing into a Montessori school, Cassie fell in love with the method and its practices and joined the school full time working in before care, after care, and as the Children's House Assistant. Cassie has completed the AMI Assistants course for Assistants to Infancy at the Montessori Institute of North Texas. After spending two years as an assistant in the Toddler Community she is excited to take on the role of Toddler Guide. Cassie feels very blessed to be growing in the ways of Montessori with Saint John the Baptist Catholic Montessori School.

 

Anna Schmitz
Toddler Assistant
aschmitz@stjohns-excelsior.org

Anna grew up in Minnesota and attended the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND, and graduated in 2018 with a University Studies degree with a concentration in psychology. After graduation, Anna stayed in Bismarck for another year and decided to go back to school for another semester to take education and Catholic Studies courses. Anna also served as a missionary on Totus Tuus in the summer of 2019 before serving a year with Teach for Christ as a missionary educator, where she worked as a teacher’s assistant for the second-grade classrooms at Ascension Catholic School in North Minneapolis. Through her time in Bismarck and the Twin Cities area, Anna knows many people who have worked in Montessori settings and after hearing several stories about the joys and wonders of working in a Montessori environment, Anna thought she would learn more about it and work in an assistant position. Anna enjoys reading, singing, drinking coffee with others, spending time with friends and family, and going on walks. Anna is excited to begin her adventures in Montessori and join the community at St. John the Baptist Catholic Montessori School!

 

Mary Hamiter
Toddler Community / Children's House Assistant
mhamiter@stjohns-excelsior.org

Mary Hamiter (Mrs. Mary) grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She attended Saint Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin where she majored in French and minored in Spanish. During her junior year, she studied abroad at the Universit√© de Limoges, France on a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Saint Norbert in 1981. Mary continued her study of French language and literature at Fordham University and received her Master's Degree in 1983.

In October of 1985, looking for adventure, Mary joined the United States Navy as a commissioned officer. She served in the Republic of the Philippines and Norfolk, Virginia. During her time in the Navy, Mary travelled extensively to Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Diego Garcia, Iceland, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She was awarded two Navy Commendation Medals. It was during this time that Mary met her husband, Todd Hamiter, a native of South Carolina. They were married in April of 1989.

In 1999, Mary and Todd joined The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori community in Cincinatti, Ohio, when their son, Harry, began kindergarten. Mary, a stay-at-home mom, volunteered for many activities and served on various committees, including the PTO and the Middle School Planning Committee. Mary provided music at the weekly school Mass from fall of 2002 to Spring of 2017 and was the Liturgy Planning Coordinator from the fall of 2007 to Spring of 2017.

In the Fall of 2011, Mary was hired to teach language arts, logic, and Erdkinder at The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori Middle School while continuing to plan and provide music for Mass. Mary has attended classes at the Cincinnati Montessori Secondary Teacher Education Program. Through her professional work in education, Mary has held 7 through 12 teaching licenses in Wisconsin, Connecticut, and most recently, Ohio.

Mary and Todd moved to Minneapolis in June of 2017, and in the Fall of 2017 she joined the St. John the Baptist Catholic Montessori team.

 

Rose Ann Erickson
Children's House 1 Guide
rerickson@stjohns-excelsior.org

This is Ms. Rose Ann’s third year at St. John’s with the Children’s House community. This is her first year as the Casa 1 guide. Ms. Rose Ann attended training this past summer on site through Virgina Montessori Teacher Education Center. She was born and raised in Michigan, but grew up visiting cousins and friends in Minnesota. After high school, she attended Eastern Michigan University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts for Elementary Education. Her areas of focus were Mathematics and Reading. She moved to the area in 2016 as an opportunity for personal growth. Minnesota is a place to call home because both faith and family are here. She spent two years nannying and was introduced to St. John’s through her nanny family. When the door was opened to be an assistant in Casa 1, she was confident that this is the professional community she was meant to be a part of. She is thankful for her training experience that was needed to be the Casa 1 guide. In her spare time, she enjoys painting, hiking, cooking, and puzzles! She is excited to continue her journey at St. John’s.

 

Lacie Sammons
Children's House 1 Assistant
lsammons@stjohns-excelsior.org

Lacie's (Ms. Lacie) relationship with God is one of the most important things to her and caring for children is one of her greatest passions, so combining both of these is very exciting to her as a Children's House Assistant. After high school, she chose to study at the Aveda Institute - she liked working with her hands and serving other people. Toward the end of her studies she started nannying to cover expenses and quickly realized God had given her gifts for working with children. She felt God calling her heart toward working with children and also toward serving His church, which led her to St. John the Baptist Catholic Montessori School. She enjoys encouraging children to take an interest in and spark their curiosity about the world around them, especially in ways that encourage them to deepen their relationship with God. She has a daughter who attends the SJB community as well. Together, they love art projects, being outside, and spending time with family, especially up north at the cabin.

 

Christa Gawarecki
Children's House 2 Guide
cgawarecki@stjohns-excelsior.org

This is Miss Christa's third year in a Montessori environment, having spent the last 2 years as an Elementary Assistant in Mrs. W's classroom. She previously worked in Special Education at St. Louis Park Middle School as well as being a personal care attendant for adolescents and young adults with Down Syndrome. She was first introduced to Montessori when she attended The Way of the Shepherd Catholic Montessori School in their Children's House. Christa and her husband have a daughter, Eloise, who attends the Children's House at St. John's, as well as a son, Aaron, who was born last December. As a family, they love being outdoors, camping, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. In her spare time, Christa enjoys art, baking, cooking, and being at the lake, especially kayaking. She is excited to continue her journey at St. John's.

 

MaryGrace Franz
Children's House 2 Assistant
mfranz@stjohns-excelsior.org

This is Miss MaryGrace's first year at SJB, and she is thrilled to join the school community. She was first introduced to Montessori education as an assistant CGS guide at Nativity of Mary in Bloomington, through which she recognized the unique way Montessori honors the development and dignity of the child. During her years as an education student at the University of Mary, MaryGrace served as a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd guide at Corpus Christi parish in Bismarck, ND, solidifying her interest in the Montessori method. The past two summers, MaryGrace worked at an early learning center in St. Paul, where she discovered a love for working with the three to five-year-old child. In her free time, MaryGrace enjoys getting her hands dirty in the kitchen, the garden, and at her easel. She has written and illustrated several children's books and is looking forward to starting on more book projects soon. MaryGrace cannot wait to walk alongside your child in the Casa this year!

 

Marie Hodgdon
Children's House Assistant
mhodgdon@stjohns-excelsior.org

Marie grew up in Miami, Florida and is the oldest of nine children. From life at home, to nannying, teaching Faith Formation, spending a year as a full time missionary, leading summer camps, etc., she has been caring for children and helping them grow in their Catholic Faith from a young age.  Since marrying her MN native husband, Patrick, in 2008, they have enjoyed living in many cities in Florida & Minnesota and discovering what both states have to offer with their five children. Marie spent 10 years working in the insurance field before transitioning to be a stay at home mom. She first experienced the wonder of a Montessori education while her oldest child was attending a Children’s House in Pensacola, FL. Marie’s love for Montessori has only grown over the years as her children have continued with their education and participated in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  A dream came true when she & Patrick found a Catholic Montessori school at St. John the Baptist in Excelsior. Now that all of her children are in school, Marie is excited to be serving on the team at SJB!

 

Grace Salonek
Lower Elementary Guide
gsalonek@stjohns-excelsior.org

Grace Salonek (Mrs. Salonek) grew up in Ham Lake, MN and was homeschooled with her four brothers. Her first encounter with the Montessori method was through attending Catechesis of the Good Shepherd as a child. When Grace was in high school, her mom took Montessori training and worked at the Way of the Shepherd Montessori School while her younger brothers attended there. Although she formed fond memories of editing her mom’s papers for Montessori training, Grace did not foresee her own future in this field at the time, but pursued her dream of studying music, and went to the University of CO at Boulder as a violin performance major. After two years in CO, Grace discerned with the Nashville Dominicans in Tennessee for a time and then returned home to MN where she started working at the Way of the Shepherd as a Children’s House Assistant. This experience was the springboard to her own pursuit of Montessori education. Grace continued working at the Way of the Shepherd in the Lower Elementary classroom while simultaneously completing an Elementary Education degree online through Bemidji State University. In 2018, she took her elementary Montessori training at the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder, CO. Last year, she graduated from Bemidji State University, finished her Montessori training courses, and entered into the vocation of marriage. This year Grace and her husband Kyle welcomed their son Louis into the world in May. They live in Loretto, and Grace is excited to be returning for her second year teaching at St. John's!

 

Kalley Koch
Lower Elementary Assistant
kkoch@stjohns-excelsior.org

Kalley (Ms. Koch—soon to be Mrs. Colling) grew up in Loretto, MN with her four older brothers. After graduating high school, Kalley thought about becoming a missionary, but ultimately decided to attend the University of Minnesota Duluth, where she graduated in 2020 with a degree in Educational Studies. During her time at UMD, Kalley grew passionate about her Catholic faith and was heavily involved at the Newman Catholic Center by leading Bible studies, serving at events, and developing lifelong friendships. Her original plan of being a missionary was not left incomplete, for during her undergraduate career, she was able to travel to two different countries (England and Israel) with the organization FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). In addition to traveling internationally, Kalley took a brief hiatus from school after her sophomore year to serve an organization called Catholic Volunteers in Florida. While living in Florida for a year, she braved a hurricane, soaked in the sun, and served the roles of teachers’ aid, substitute, and after care teacher for a Catholic school in Orlando. Kalley is joyfully journeying towards the Sacrament of Marriage with her wonderful fiance, Teddy and they plan to be married in May of 2021. Please keep them in your prayers! Kalley is thrilled to be joining the team at St. John the Baptist.

 

Rachel Wermerskirchen
Upper Elementary Assistant Guide
rwermerskirchen@stjohns-excelsior.org

Rachel Wermerskirchen (Mrs. Wermerskirchen) is originally from North Dakota and recently moved to Minnesota with her husband, Matthew, who is pursuing a law degree at the University of St. Thomas. Rachel attended and graduated from the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND, where she obtained a B.A. in Music Performance (vocal and oboe), and a minor in Business Administration. Prior to moving to Minnesota, Rachel worked at Christ the King Catholic Montessori School in Mandan, ND, where she served a Children's House Assistant and music teacher. She also coached middle school soccer for Light of Christ Catholic Schools, and sang at numerous parishes in the Bismarck/Mandan area. In her free time, Rachel enjoys spending time outdoors hiking and skiing, teaching music lessons, sewing baby quilts, reading, and spending time on her family's cattle ranch,  She is excited to continue to be a part of the Montessori community at St. John the Baptist and learn more about Montessori education!

 

Stephen Barnhart
Adolescent Guide
sbarnhart@stjohns-excelsior.org

Stephen (Mr. Barnhart) was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. He attended Seton Hill University, earning a B.A. in Elementary and Special Education. After graduating in 2017 he joined Teach for Christ as a Missionary Educator, serving the second grade classrooms at Ascension Catholic School in Minneapolis. Stephen served a second year with Teach for Christ in a supervisory role, helping to support other young missionaries in Catholic schools throughout the Twin Cities. Stephen enjoys spending time outside, going on adventures, trying new things, and sharing the faith. He is excited to be a part of the St. John the Baptist Catholic Montessori School community, supporting and working alongside the middle school students.

 

Louise Babatz
Food Service, Before Care, & Hallway Assistant
lbabatz@stjohns-excelsior.org

Louise (Ms. Louise) lives in Watertown and attends St. Maximillian Kolbe Catholic Church in Delano. She married her high school sweetheart, Mark. They have been married for 39 years. Mark and Louise have four adult children, twelve beautiful grandchildren, and two great grandsons. Louise has done childcare out of her home, nannied for a couple of  families, drove a school bus for thirteen years and worked in a Christian nursing home for six years. She is very active in her Catholic faith, teaching Children's Liturgy of the Word every Sunday, serving as an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister, volunteering to help whenever possible. Louise is also very active in the Cursillo Movement. Her favorite activity is spending lots of time with her grandchildren who add so much JOY to her life!

 

Mike Pylka
Lead Maintenance Technician
mpylka@stjohns-excelsior.org

Mike is a happily married man to his wife Linda; he has 2 children and is also blessed with a grandson. He resides in Victoria and was born and raised in Carver County. He works in the maintenance department at St. John's with the majority of his work being a janitor. Some of his interests are Mankato West Football, golfing and fishing with grandson Jack. He feels blessed to be working at St. John's with an incredible staff, parishioners, and most importantly some awesome kids and parents.