ST. John the Baptist Our Staff

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Our Staff

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.

 

Nicholas Fonte
Principal
nfonte@stjohns-excelsior.org

Mr. Fonte has dedicated his life to Jesus Christ and is committed to serving him through Catholic education. He graduated from the University of  Notre Dame with a Bachelor's Degree in Great Books in which he studied the major works of Western philosophical, theological, scientific, and literary thought. He lived and worked in an Honduran Catholic orphanage for two years, and upon returning to the United States, Mr. Fonte continued his commitment to the poor through serving homeless families in Los Angeles. Early in 2005, the Lord called Mr. Fonte to Catholic education, in which he served as a high school teacher and campus minister before pursuing a Master's Degree in Theology at the Pontifical John Paul ll Institute in Washington, DC. Mr. Fonte joined a team of educators that founded Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Virginia. He served as a religion teacher and the Dean of Instruction & Student Life for eight years, while also earning a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Fonte now finds himself blessed to lead St. John the Baptist Catholic Montessori School.

 

Christa Vassalo
TADS Billing Specialist
cvassalo@stjohns-excelsior.org

 

Robin Kragness
Administrative Assistant
rkragness@stjohns-excelsior.org

After graduating from UCLA with a degree in English Literature, Robin began teaching third and fourth grade in a private Christian school. Robin created curriculum for a 5th grade enrichment class when her children started going to school while living on the island of Maui. The Kragness family felt led to move to Minnesota, exchanging perfect weather for top notch schools and snow. Robin worked for several churches in the West Metro as Children's Ministry Director, Office Administrator and Administrative Assistant. The Lord led her to St. John's after much prayer and trust in him for a long term fit. She is grateful to God as she supports Mr. Fonte along with the guides and teachers, encourages the children, and enjoys working alongside the entire staff of God's people here at St. John's Parish and School. 

 

Guides, Assistants, & Paraprofessionals

 

Elizabeth Miller
Toddler Community Guide/Toddler Before Care
lmiller@stjohns-excelsior.org

Liz is a native of New Ulm, MN and loves the color purple. She was born a middle child and has wanted to be a teacher since the day she graduated Kindergarten. Her teacher at the time made her feel loved and cared for, and that has become Liz’s mission as a teacher to little ones. Her love for the Catholic Church grew while she was in Middle School and inspired her to enter a religious community after high school. After a year of discernment, Liz felt called to re-enter the world and she attended the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND. In May of 2017, she graduated with degrees in Elementary Education, Early Childhood Ed., and Catholic Studies. She dedicated her 2017-2018 school year teaching 3rd-5th graders at a small Catholic school in Southern Minnesota. It was there that she realized her two-fold passion for early childhood education and for the Montessori Method. She is excited to explore her teaching philosophy during her interim year at St. John's in the Toddler Community as she continues her training with The Montessori Institute in Denver. She hopes and expects to be a licensed Assistant to Infancy Guide by the Summer of 2019!

 

Cassie Gierszewski
Toddler Assistant
cgierszewski@stjohns-excelsior.org 

Cassie earned bachelor's degrees in Biology and Wildlife Ecology Research and 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 a year as a Toddler Assistant with Carissa learning, she is very excited to start a new year with Liz. Cassie feels very blessed to be growing in ways of Montessori with Saint John the Baptist.

 

Hailey Pellegrene
Co-Lead Guide, Children's House
hpellegrene@stjohns-excelsior.org

Hailey is excited to continue her passion to teach and bring the experience of the Catholic family to her students at Saint John the Baptist. Hailey graduated from The University of Saint Thomas with a Bachelors Degree in Family Development. She is currently in the process of becoming Montessori certified through The Virginia Montessori Technical Institute. Prior to this year, Hailey served as the Children's House Teachers Assistant at SJB. Before working at SJB, Hailey worked as a Service Coordinator at Coles Hair Salon. She has prior experience working with children through eight years of nannying, a year working as a Teacher's Assistant for the Child Development Center at St. Thomas, and seven years as an after school Teacher's Assistant and Summer Camp Counselor at Providence Academy. 

Hailey currently lives in Mound, Minnesota. In her free time she enjoys painting, playing volleyball, and spending time outdoors. She has a passion to serve children and help draw them closer to the Lord and His love for each of them.   

 

Kayla Lechelt
Co-Lead Guide, Children's House
klechelt@stjohns-excelsior.org

Kayla Lechelt is from Chanhassen, Minnesota and has been a parishioner of St. John the Baptist since her conversion to the Catholic Church in 2014. She graduated from North Dakota State University with a B.S. in Human Development and Family Science with a focus in child and adolescent development. After college, Kayla did a year of mission with Reach Youth Ministries, an organization that puts on Catholic retreats for middle and high school students. Upon returning home, Kayla went into preschool education, but slowly the Lord had been opening her heart more and more to the Montessori teaching method. Kayla was first introduced to Montessori through Catechesis of the Good Shepherd shortly after she returned from mission and fell in love with it immediately. Kayla is trained in CGS level I and is currently working on her level II certification. Kayla is so excited and blessed to be a part of the St. John the Baptist Montessori community.

 

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

Mary Hamiter 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 UniversitĂ© 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 School community 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 this Fall she is joining the St. John the Baptist Catholic Montessori team. She will co-teach with Mrs. Schafer, specializing in Language Arts and Logic, and she will coordinate the music liturgy for the weekly school Masses.

 

Agnes King
Children's House Assistant
aking@stjohns-excelsior.org

Agnes is masters student at the University of Saint Thomas. After writing for the CSCOE magazine for a year, she was invited to do their substitute teacher training offered in January 2018 which led her to become connected to St. John's. She is excited to serve as an assistant in the Children's House and to learn all about Montessori this year. 

 

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

Rose Ann 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 2 years ago as an opportunity for personal growth and challenge. Minnesota was a place to call home because both faith and family were here. 

She has spent the past two years nannying and was introduced to St. John the Baptist School through her nanny family.  As the days passed, with each pick up and drop off her heart became more attached to the St. John’s Montessori community. When the door was opened to Rose Ann to be an aide in the Children’s House, she was confident that this is the professional community she’s meant to be a part of. Rose Ann feels blessed and thankful to be a part of the St. John’s community as she expands her knowledge in the ways of Montessori. 

 

Angela Wroblewski
Elementary Guide
awroblewski@stjohns-excelsior.org

Angela has spent over 17 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 University of St. Catherine's 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 Position at Bright Water Montessori and Elementary School in North Minneapolis but is very excited to be teaching again in the elementary classroom. Currently, Angela lives in Chaska with her husband and 5 children.

 

Christa Gawarecki
Elementary Assistant
cgawarecki@stjohns-excelsior.org

Christa has spent the last two years working 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 originally went to college to be an art major but felt the calling to dedicate her life to something more meaningful. She is grateful God called her towards the path of education and has never second guessed her decision to change majors. In her spare time, Christa enjoys cooking and creating new recipes, the outdoors, traveling, art and design, photography and DIY (do-it- yourself) projects. She was first introduced to Montessori when she attended The Way of the Shepherd Catholic Montessori School in their Children’s House. She is excited to be working at St. John the Baptist and cannot wait to learn more about the ways of Montessori. Currently, she lives with her husband in Eden Prairie. They enjoy their time with Eloise, their 7 month old baby, who loves the Montessori environment here at St. John's!

 

Nicky Schafer
Adolescent Guide
nschafer@stjohns-excelsior.org

Mrs. Schafer earned bachelor's degrees in Catholic Studies, Spanish, and Theology with a minor in Philosophy from the University of St. Thomas. She has studied internationally in Spain, Argentina, and Italy. After her undergraduate studies, Mrs. Schafer served in the University of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) where she earned a Master's degree in Education. She has taught courses at the Middle & High School levels in Religion and Spanish throughout her 10 years of experience at both Providence Academy in Plymouth, MN, and previously at St. John the Evangelist School in Southern Louisiana. Mrs. Schafer has also collaborated with students as a Student Council Advisor and retreat leader. She has led student groups abroad in Costa Rica and Ecuador. Mrs. Schafer found her path into the Montessori community through her training in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a Montessori-based religious educational program, which she implemented in her parish. She is currently earning her credential as a Montessori Adolescent Guide, a three-year program, with completion expected in 2018. Mrs. Schafer is a dedicated life-long learner, with a passion for evangelization, who seeks to help each student discover and release his or her God-given gifts for the service of the Church & the world, thus pursuing their particular vocation and lasting happiness.

 

Louise Babatz
Cook/After Care
lbabatz@stjohns-excelsior.org

Louise lives in Delano and attends St. Maximillian Kolbe Catholic Church. She married her high school sweetheart, Mark, and they have been married for 37 years. Mark and Louise have four adult children, eleven beautiful grandchildren, and one great grandson. 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!

 

Sue Dressel
Librarian
library@stjohns-excelsior.org

 

Scott Kragness
Lead Maintenance Technician
skragness@stjohns-excelsior.org

Scott joined St. John's staff in the fall of 2016. He lives in Mound, is married to Robin Kragness (who works in the school office), and they have two adult children, Hailey and Hudson. Prior to St. John's, Scott worked at Target for seven years. He is an avid reader, enjoys golfing, and was a sailing boat captain and scuba instructor in Hawaii for twenty years. One time, while scuba diving, Scott rode a whale shark.


 

 

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