Mr. Kellar began the 2011 – 2012 school year as Principal at Salem. He grew up in a suburb near Chicago and graduated from Concordia – River Forest. Rob then went on to earn his Masters Degree in Educational Leadership from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fl. He has had the honor of serving schools in Florida and Illinois as a teacher and administrator for over 25 years. Rob’s favorite Bible verse is Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings of eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” He and his wife Karen have three grown children. He is a lifelong Cubs fan who likes to fish and work outside.
Mrs. Miller graduated from Concordia River Forest with a B.A. in Early Childhood Education. Mrs. Miller began teaching 1998 and has served Lutheran Schools in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Missouri.
Kindergarten is a mix of discovery and academic learning. Kindergarteners are kinesthetic learners, they learn through real life interactions and activities. Kindergarteners are curious and excited about learning and absorb information constantly through observations and exploration.
Stephanie also coaches 5th & 6th grade girls volleyball. Stephanie’s favorite Bible verse is Hebrews 13:5, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Her statement of faith is, “I believe God is my creator, my Father, my guide, and my Savior. Without Him, I am a lost sinner. Through Him I am a forgiven child.” Her personal motto is FROG- Fully Rely On God. Stephanie is married to Jason Miller, Salem’s 4th grade teacher. She and Jason have two sons, Brandon (Salem Class of ’16) and Jonah (Salem Class of ’19), who attend Salem. In her spare time (what spare time?), Mrs. Miller enjoys reading and spending time with her family.
Mrs. Becky Dedert graduated from McKendree University with a B.S. in Elementary Education. She went on to complete a few masters level courses in early childhood and earned my Early childhood teaching certificate. She has been teaching for 14 years and loves exploring the individuality and uniqueness of each student in her class. She enjoys breaking down each of the subjects into center work so that everyone has the opportunity to learn in a way that is easiest for them. Teaching children to celebrate small victories they see happening in themselves and the people around them is a goal she strives to meet every year. Helping build each other up and focusing on the good things they see happening helps create a strong positive foundation. She is married to her husband Bob and together they have two children, Addison (born in ‘08) and Drake (born in “10). They are a very active and sports loving family and they love to travel. One of her favorite bible verses is Deuteronomy 6:5 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
Mrs. Laurie Dunnette is the 2nd grade teacher at Salem. She received her B.A. in Education from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL. has completed the Colloquy Program of Religion studies/Theology through Concordia University – Chicago. Laurie has attended many conferences such as Differentiated Instruction, Love and Logic, and Smart Board Technology. Mrs. Dunnette loves challenging her students by including a lot of learning games, Accelerated Reader, and using the Smart Board. Currently, Laurie is one of the Student council teacher representatives, helps coach the Salem Academic Team, and is on the Lutheran Schools Week Committee. Another of Mrs. Dunnette’s passions is teaching her students about God’s love through Christ. Intercessory prayer is a very big part of her classroom. Her goal is to help each child learn to become comfortable with prayer and even praying aloud. Mrs. Dunnette has a lot of favorite bible verses, but Psalm 25:4-5 is very special to her. “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior and my hope is in you all day long.” Prior to teaching at Salem, Mrs. Dunnette has taught in two other Lutheran Schools. She has taught at Advent Lutheran School in Boca Raton, FL and Holy Cross Lutheran School in Collinsville, IL. Laurie has worked many different positions at school, but mainly with 2nd and 5th grades. Besides teaching 2nd grade, Mrs. Dunnette is mom to Taylor, age 23 and Travis, age 21. They both attend college. Taylor attends SIUE, Edwardsville, IL and Travis attends the University of Miami in Florida. Mrs. Dunnette is married to Brian, a Lutheran School teacher in Collinsville, IL. They reside in Maryville, Illinois. In her spare time, Mrs. Dunnette enjoys spending time with family, going to the gym, being outdoors, and singing. One thing she always likes to remind herself is to F.R.O.G. (Fully Rely on God). “It keeps the focus off me and on God, instead. It helps me stay positive, knowing that I’m a redeemed Child of God through Jesus. I am comforted that God is always with me and He cares about everything that concerns me.”
Ms. Potts is the third grade teacher at Salem. Ms. Potts earned her B.S. in Elementary Education from Missouri Baptist University in 2015. Along with her degree, Ms. Potts holds her Missouri Certification in Elementary Education. After earning her degree and certification, Ms. Potts began teaching third grade in the Ritenour School District. This will be her second full year in education. Ms. Potts is extremely excited to join the Salem Lutheran community and help the children to reach their fullest potential. In her spare time, Ms. Potts enjoys watching the cardinals play, getting lost in a good book, and spending time with her two younger brothers. Ms. Potts’s favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Mrs. Paula Justus is the 4th grade teacher at Salem. She earned her B.S. Ed degree in Elementary Education and Masters in Classroom Teaching/Special Education from Missouri Baptist University. After earning her Master’s degree, Mrs. Justus continued her education at Maryville University for a Reading Specialist degree. She completed her Colloquy in Religion studies/Theology through Concordia University in 2003. In addition to her degrees she holds Missouri State Certifications in Elementary Education, Early Childhood Education, Cross Categorical Special Education, English Language Arts (5-9), Special Reading, and Library Media Specialist. This is her first year at Salem. Prior to teaching at Salem she was a reading coordinator/specialist at Lift for Life Academy, Librarian and Reading Specialist for Lindbergh School District, and K-1 teacher at Green Park Lutheran School. This is her 16th year as an educator. In addition to being part of the Salem staff she teaches evening courses in the literacy department at Missouri Baptist University. Mrs. Justus loves to experience the reading zone with her students. Reading skills are crucial as third graders begin to notice an emphasis on the importance of reading. Mrs. Justus is married to Jeff and together they have three adult children. All graduates of Lutheran South, Derik (05), Brett (09), and Allison (11). In her spare time Mrs. Justus loves to read, travel, and spend time with her family. Faith and family are very important to her and one of her favorite Bible verses is, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid. John 14:27. It helps her to keep things in focus whenever she is upset or concerned about something reminding her that God is with us always.
Laura earned a B.A. from Concordia University-Wisconsin in 2007. During her nine years in education, she has taught grades 5-8 at Salem. She most enjoys “…the kids! They can be challenging, but they are so much fun to talk to and work with.” She thinks Salem is special because of “the AMAZING staff! Everyone is so dedicated to making Salem a great place to learn and grow. They truly care about the success of each student. God is quite evident and is doing good things here at Salem.” Mrs. Frank’s favorite Bible verse is Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God”. During the school year, Mrs. Frank helps with the Yearbook, Academic Team, NLSW, planning Team Meetings and Veteran’s Day Committee. Laura is married to Peter and they welcomed their first child, Sawyer, in October, 2012 and their second child, Melody, in August 2015.
Mrs. Bair received her B.S. in Education from McKendree University and completed the Colloquy Program through Concordia University- Chicago. In her sixteenth year of teaching, Cori is thrilled to be starting her fourth year at Salem. Cori is married to Garet, a computer analyst. They have two daughters: McKenna (14 years old) and Ryenne (10 years old). In her spare time, Cori loves to get lost in a great novel – either reading one, or writing one of her own. Cori’s favorite Bible verse is Psalm 139:13-14 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
Ms. Mathews is the seventh grade teacher at Salem. She will also serve as the co-athletic director with Mrs. Diane Carney. She just graduated May 2016 from McKendree University with a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education with a specialization in mathematics. She also received her endorsement in middle school mathematics and Language Arts. While attending McKendree, Ms. Mathews played on the golf team, helped out with the youth of Zion Lutheran Church in Belleville, and found time to spend with friends and family.
Ms. Mathews is thrilled to join the Salem family, and is excited for all the fun that will be coming this year! Her favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Which is a constant reminder that God is always in control.
Mrs. Rivers is the 8th grade homeroom, and middle school math and language arts teacher. She also serves as the yearbook coordinator. Lisa earned a B.S. in Elementary Education from Concordia University- Seward, as well as a M.A. in School Counseling from the University of Missouri- St. Louis. Prior to teaching at Salem, Lisa served at St. John’s Lutheran School in Ellisville. Lisa joined the Salem staff in 2000. She served as the school counselor for five years. Lisa currently teaches middle school math and literature and is the 8th grade homeroom teacher. She enjoys the sense of humor that middle school students have. She thinks Salem is special because “It is a family. Everyone looks out for each other.” One of Lisa’s favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight”. Lisa is married to Joel. They have three children: Andrew (Salem Class of ‘06); Josh (Salem Class of ‘09), and Sarah (Salem Class of ‘13). In her spare time, Lisa enjoys reading, walking, spending time with her family.
Mrs. Gastler has been teaching art at Salem for over 10 years. She came to Salem twenty years ago when her family moved to St. Louis from Texas, and her two children attended Salem School at that time. Mrs. Gastler was active in establishing Parents and Teachers for Salem. She first taught art for the upper grades, and several years ago her schedule expanded to include all students in 1st through 8th grades. Mrs. Gastler earned her education degree from Mary Hardin Baylor-College in Texas. She is married to Greg who is the choir director at Lutheran High School South and Epiphany Lutheran Church in their Holly Hills neighborhood.
Ms. Petrillo is employed by the Lutheran High School Association of St. Louis as an instructor for the Lutheran High School South grade school instrumental music program. She earned her BA degree and MS degree in Music Education from Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville, and is certified K-12 in both instrumental and vocal music. She has continued her education through classes at various colleges and universities, including VanderCook College of Music in Chicago and Truman State University. Her previous teaching experiences include St. Martin of Tours School (band, general music, liturgical music), Bishop Dubourg High School (band, guitar, general music) and Buerkle Middle School- Mehlville School District (Director of Bands). In addition to teaching band at Salem Lutheran School, Mary is also a team teacher and substitute teacher for band classes in the LHSS program, and maintains a studio schedule for individual instruction on oboe, clarinet and saxophone. She enjoys adjudicating local solo/ensemble festivals, and working with middle school bands as a guest clinician. She feels blessed and honored to be part of the music education taking place in the Lutheran Schools, and believes deeply in the Salem Band Program for the opportunity it provides each student “to develop individual, God-given talents for service in life, at home, at school, and in church” (LHSS band brochure). One of her favorite Bible verses is Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.” Her statement of faith stems from Proverbs 16:9, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Mary enjoys spending time with her family, biking, opera, playing music, lunch with friends, and reading for relaxation.
Counselor – Mrs. Lara Duy
Mrs. Duy received her BS in Psychology from Missouri State, and a Master’s in Social Work from Saint Louis University. She has completed the requirements to practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Laura has worked in the areas of child abuse and neglect investigating, victim’s advocacy, mental health court, and children’s inpatient mental health care. This is her third year working as a Professional School Counselor. Laura grew up in the Lutheran faith, and attended both Word of Life School and Lutheran High School South. She is the proud mother to two loving and energetic boys, and a very lazy Great Dane. She loves to read in her spare time and she and her husband enjoy traveling.
Mrs. McCord has taught music to Kindergarten through fourth grade students at Salem for the past seven years. She holds a B.S. in biology from Valparasio University, a B.A. in music from the University of Missouri Kansas City, and an M.A. in teaching from Washington University in St. Louis. Kelly has continued her studies in music teaching methods at Webster University and the University of Missouri St. Louis for the past four summers. Mrs. McCord loves teaching music because it not only stretches our minds, it also has the ability to touch us deep into our souls. She feels participating in the gift of music that God has given us makes us better human beings! Besides sharing her love of music, Kelly prays that she daily shares the love of Christ with her students: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:17-18). Mrs. McCord is married to Duane, a pharmacist, and they have three children, Nathan, Noelle and Nicholas. Nathan attends college at the University of North Texas and Noelle is a student at Lutheran High School South. Her son Nicholas was diagnosed with cancer at age 3 and is waiting for her family in heaven. When she is not teaching or planning lessons, Kelly enjoys cooking with her daughter, walking her dog, Zoey, playing keyboard in her church praise band and working out with jazzercise.
Mrs. Carney earned a B.S. in Health Education with a PE Minor/Coaching Emphasis from Illinois State University, where she played Intercollegiate Softball. She started at Salem in 2002 and teaches Preschool 3-8th grade PE as well as Middle School Health and Fitness. She is also Assistant volleyball and track coach and Head boys volleyball coach. She loves teaching at Salem because she gets to know and witness to all of the students in the school. Prior to coming to Salem, Mrs. Carney served at Lutheran High School South and Washington Lutheran Grade School and was a stay-at-home mom for 15 years. She also has an extensive coaching background including Head coaching stints in softball at Missouri Baptist College and Lutheran High School South, as well as tennis, soccer and volleyball at Lutheran South. Her favorite Bible verse is Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” She is married to Patrick, a Superintendent at Western Waterproofing. They have 4 children: Kelley (Salem ’01), Kirsten (Salem ’05), Colleen (Salem ’08), and Cooper (Salem ’11). Mrs. Carney loves her family time, working out, all genres of music (especially blues!) and Cardinal baseball.
Mrs. Dawn Praechter earned her bachelors degree in 1984 and masters degree in 1985 in speech-language pathology at Fontbonne University. She retired in June 2015 after working 30 years full-time in the public schools. She has many years experience conducting school-wide speech/language screenings and evaluations, providing speech-language therapy to children ages preschool through high school, and being a crucial member of a district and building level Multidisciplinary Diagnostic Team. She also served many years as the lead speech-language pathologist in her district to over 25 speech-language therapists, purchasing district-wide speech language diagnostic and therapy materials, and providing quarterly Professional Development training for special education staff and therapists. She currently works part-time for Lutheran Association of Special Education (LASE) and enjoys working at Salem School and getting to know all the wonderful students, their families, and the school staff. Mrs. Praechter chose the field of speech-language pathology to help children who have speech and language challenges become better communicators since she views communication as being a vital part of success in life. Mrs. Praechter is married and she, along with her husband and daughter, reside in Sunset Hills. Her husband retired four years ago from Special School District in which he was employed as a special education instructor and assistant principal. He currently works full time for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) as an instructional specialist and travels weekly between Jefferson City and St. Louis providing teacher training and support for building principals and staff. Her daughter, Alyssa, recently graduated from Fontbonne University with a degree in Communication Studies. They reside in Sunset Hills and they enjoy traveling, volunteering, and spending time with family and friends. Her favorite Bible verse is from the Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ, Jesus”.