ST. John the Baptist Our Staff

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Our Staff



Fr. Alex Carlson


Nicholas Fonte

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.


Robin Kragness
Administrative Assistant

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 for the challenges of learning TADS, supporting Mr. Fonte along with the guides and teachers, encouraging the children, as well as enjoying the entire staff of God's people here at St. John's Parish and School. 


Guides, Assistants, & Paraprofessionals


Louise Babatz
Cook/After Care

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!


Stephanie Bandas
Children's House Guide

Stephanie earned her bachelor's degree in early childhood education birth-third grade in 2003. Stephanie has a teaching license from the Department of Education from the State of Minnesota in Early Childhood Education. She is licensed to teach children ages Birth-Third Grade. She is a master's prepared Montessori educator earning her credential in 2012. Stephanie studied Montessori education at The Center for Contemporary Montessori Programs at The College of Saint Catherine. Stephanie began her career in education in a Montessori Children's House as an educational assistant. She was mentored under the guidance of a veteran Montessori teacher who challenged her to look to the needs of the child first. Stephanie felt the desire to work as a teacher in the classroom and at that time began working in the Catholic school system teaching students of multiple ages in various roles. In 2011, Stephanie felt a desire to work within the Montessori system and began her training to become certified as a Montessori educator. During her training, Stephanie worked as a Children's House teacher in a charter school setting. She felt a desire to also go back to her roots as a Catholic school educator and has spent the last three years working in the role of Kindergarten instructor at St. Anastasia Catholic School in Hutchinson, Minnesota. Stephanie is excited to begin her experiences at the Children's House classroom as she is looking forward to working in a faith community that recognizes the value of a quality Montessori education. As an educator, Stephanie believes that the child is best served by seeing the value within their capabilities. She always puts this quote from Maria Montessori at the beginning of everything she does in education. "Teach me to teach myself!" Stephanie also believes that the most important thing she can do for her students and families is to always invest quality time every day listening and observing the children in her classroom. Our days will be productive and filled with lots of activity as we grow and learn together through the wonderful materials Maria Montessori created.


Hailey Pellegrene
Children's House Assistant

Hailey is originally from Plymouth, Minnesota but recently moved to St. Paul. She has a BA in Family Studies from the University of St. Thomas, and has served as a Teacher's Assistant for seven years at Providence Academy and The Child Development Center at University of St. Thomas. She also teaches religious education at St. Patricks Catholic Church in Hudson, Wisconsin. She is excited to be part of the St. John the Baptist community and help teach students the love Jesus Christ has for each of them. 


Kayla Lechelt
Children's House Aide

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.


Sue Dressel


Christa Gawarecki
Elementary Assistant

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 are thrilled to be expecting their first child in early 2018.


Cassie Gierszewski
Toddler Assistant

Cassie earned bachelors 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 is excited to be working with Carissa as the Toddler Assistant. Cassie has completed the AMI Assistants course for Assistants to Infancy at the Montessori Institute of North Texas. Caasie feels very blessed to be growing in ways of Montessori with Saint John the Baptist.


Mary Hamiter
Adolescent Assistant

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.


Carissa Posch
Toddler Community Guide/Toddler Before Care

Carissa studied Philosophy at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, FL, and she is currently enrolled in the AMI Assistants to Infancy credential program at the Montessori Training Center of Saint Louis. She has previously taught in the Toddler Community of two Montessori schools in Florida as well as worked as a nanny for many years. She enjoys volunteering as a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd aide in the Level I Atrium and is excited to pursue catechetical training for the Toddler Community at St. John the Baptist. She is also an auxilliary member of the Order of Malta. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, volleyball, and travel. A passionate believer in the Montessori method, Carissa delights in seeing the world through a child's eyes and has a profound respect for the dignity of the young child.


Nicky Schafer
Adolescent Guide

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.

Angela Wroblewski
Elementary Guide

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.


Dave Zenz
Paraprofessional/After Care

David Zenz was born and raised in Wisconsin. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point with a degree in Fine Art, David moved to Minneapolis in 1999. In spring of 2017, David graduated from the Archbishiop Harry J. Flynn Cathechetical Institute in the Class of St. Teresa of Avila. David and his wife teach religious education at the Church of the Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul. He is happy to help out as a paraprofessional at St. John the Baptist Catholic Montessori School.