A Unique Catholic Education


Grade School (PreK-5th Grade)

Seana Tetzlaff (Kindergarten, Dean of Grade School)​

I have been privileged to be a part of JPII from the very beginning as one of the founding families.  Over the last 8 years I have been involved as a board member, teacher and now Dean.  

I grew up in Tampa, Florida and graduated from Tampa Catholic High School.   I went on to Hillsborough Community College and once completing my degree, transferred to the University of South Florida to pursue a degree in Psychology.

I have been married to my husband, Marcus, for 29 years.  We are blessed with a beautiful daughter, Hailie, a graduate of JPII.  I was a stay-at-home mom until Hailie entered the first grade. I began working in a special education class with autistic preschoolers and then transferred to a private Catholic school as a kindergarten assistant and co-teacher.    Once we moved to Missouri, I began working at Gateway Academy as a temporary 2nd grade teacher/substitute.  I remained with Gateway as a substitute teacher for grades PK through 6th grade, co-teacher for PK and an assistant to 1st grade.  After receiving my certification as a Preschool/Kindergarten teacher from North American Montessori Center, I began to implement a Montessori program for the PK3 – PK4 program until the schools closing.  

My great desire is to, above all, share Christ with the children I teach, support parents in their God given role as primary educators of their children and help form young people who know and love our Lord.

“Without confidence and love, there can be no true education. If you want to be loved…you must love yourselves, and make your children feel that you love them.”St. John Bosco
​Elaine Maxwell (Preschool)

I have been married 25 years and blessed with 4 children.  We have lived in Troy, MO for the past 4 years and belong to Sacred Heart Parish.  As we drive to school, I remind my children it is not about how long the drive is – it’s about the destination – we love JPII.  Before we moved to Troy, we lived in St. Charles and belonged to St. Peter’s Parish for 20+ years.  During this time, I worked at St. Peter’s grade school as a substitute teacher for grades K – 8th.  I was the director of the Sunday school program and VBS program for several years.  I enjoy working with Preschool students the most and love being a part of the JPII community.   
Marykay Fulton (1st Grade)

Marykay grew up in a small town in north-central Illinois with her 7 siblings. She has a degree in Computer Science from Illinois State University. After graduating, Marykay moved to St. Louis to work for Arthur Andersen Consulting.  Before deciding to stay at home with her sons, she worked in the commercial finance industry for 11 years as a computer programmer, systems analyst, and project leader.  Once she became a stay-at-home mom, God led Marykay to a wonderful group of Catholic home schooling families.  After 9 years of home schooling, her 2 youngest sons enrolled in John Paul II Preparatory School and Marykay began teaching there as well.  She enjoyed 1 year of teaching Algebra I before moving to Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st grade.  Marykay loves being the 1st grade teacher at JPII!
Billijean Erard (2nd Grade)​

I am a native St. Louisan, born and raised.  I attended Holy Ghost School and Incarnate Word Academy while my brother went to CBC.  My B.A. is from National Louis University, (formerly called National College of Education), out of Evanston, IL.  In addition to my B.A., I have 45 credit hours in the areas of Old and New Testament, Liturgy, Special Education, Theology, Teaching Methods, Youth Ministry,  Coordination of all Religious Education Programs in a Parish and/or school, etc.,  – all of which means I am DRE and CRE certified in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.  I have been teaching for many years.
My husband, David and I have been married for 44 years and have been blessed with 4 beautiful daughters and 18 (and counting) grandchildren, seven of whom attend JPII! God has blessed me greatly and continues to do so even now --  I have taught every grade, including Pre-K thru adults.  I was home for 13 years with my children and had the privilege of homeschooling for a time 2 of my daughters. 
My experience in life has led me to either heading up or participating in the following areas, to name a few:  La Leche League, Marriage Encounter, Youth Group, PSR, RCIA, RCIC, Preschool, Campfire Girls, Mothers’ Hotline, and Eagle Forum.  We have lived in Hawaii, Oklahoma, Illinois, and, of course, Missouri.  I am very happy to be here at Saint John Paul II Preparatory School and look forward to another year of teaching and modeling Jesus to the children! God bless you!    
Julie Forbes (3rd Grade)

I grew up in Southern Vermont with my parents and six siblings. I graduated from the University of Vermont in 1985 with a B.S. from the School of Natural Resources. Upon receiving Elementary Certification through a Master of Education program at Saint Michael’s College in Winooski, VT, I taught second grade for five years at Mater Christi Catholic School in Burlington Vermont. I also spent one year in Southeast India volunteering at a Carmelite mission, working with teachers and students at an English medium school. I have had the opportunity to work with young adults through various Church outreach programs. I spent seven summers as a team coordinator bringing high school and college students on mission trips to Haiti. I was also privileged to be part of team that organized and worked with various religious orders to present “Youth 2000” retreats, which focus on Eucharistic adoration and the teachings of the Catholic faith, at parishes throughout the Northeast.

Marriage to my husband, John, and the gift of our five children began my vocation as a stayat-home mom and homeschooling mother. For the past fourteen years I have been challenged to strengthen my teaching skills, strategies, and techniques in order to accommodate the individuality of each of our children, recognizing their gifts and responding to their limitations through the development of individualized curricula.

My philosophy of education has been greatly influenced by one of the great classical educators, Saint Thomas Moore, who said, “Education is not the piling on of learning, information, data, facts, skills or ability - that ‘s training or instruction – but is rather making visible what is hidden as a seed.” I pray daily for the grace to assist parents by helping your children to recognize their strengths and their weaknesses, helping them to understand that in recognizing their weaknesses they can discover hidden gifts, helping them to develop and use their gifts for the glory of God, helping them to desire the lifelong discovery of the awesomeness of God and their uniqueness, and helping them to grow to become fully the person that God created them to be. I look forward to being back in the classroom!
Mary Beth Franzen (4th grade)
Mary Beth graduated magna cum laude from Western Illinois University with a degree in Elementary Education, and continued her education with coursework in mild/moderate and severe disabilities at Webster University.  She has also earned her Religion Teacher and Catechism Certificates through Paul VI Pontifical Institute. Her classroom teaching experience includes: middle school and first grade at All Saints School in St. Peters, third grade in the Francis Howell School District, and gifted education coordinator/instructor for 2nd-5th grade students at St. Joseph School-Cottleville.
Mary Beth has been married to her high school sweetheart, Steve, since 1988 and they have three daughters. She and her family live in St. Charles, where she was a stay-at-home mom and homeschooler for 13 years.  A cradle Catholic, her family has been parishioners at St. Joseph-Cottleville since 1993. She taught PSR there for eight years, and has been a flautist in the choir since 2000. She has held various volunteer positions, including founding a Little Flowers Catholic Girl’s Club, leading a St. Charles County support group for families of children with Down syndrome, and serving on the board of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis. Mary Beth has also been a presenter at various local and national conferences, including the St. Louis Catholic Homeschool Conference, Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis Annual Conference, and the National Catholic Educators Association-Teaching Exceptional Learners Conference.
As an educator, Mary Beth knows that each student is a unique being with gifts and talents in a combination like no other person. In addition to instilling a love for Our Lord and a love for learning, she challenges each child to use whatever gifts God has blessed them, to bless others. Mary Beth is excited to be part of the faculty at JPII and to partner with the parents in educating the future of the Catholic Church.

Anne Henning (5th Grade & 6th Grade Science)

Anne Henning begins her fifth academic year at JPII and brings a background in teaching, graphic design, and small business entrepreneurship to the faculty at JPII. She graduated from Northern Illinois University with a B.A. in Political Science and teaching certification for grades 6-12. She moved into a career in graphic arts, and spent fifteen years at HOK (Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum, Inc., Architects/Engineers/Planners) becoming Vice President of Graphic Design.

She and Patrick, her husband of thirty years, worked together to establish and to manage Henning Communications (www.henningcommunications.com), and raise three daughters.

While their daughters were attending Holy Innocents Catholic School, Anne served as volunteer Pre-School Director for ten years, then part-time science teacher for 4th-8th grades. After the school and parish closed, Anne taught fourth and fifth grades at St. Ambrose Catholic School on the Hill through June 2011.

In 2012, substitute teaching called her to new experiences at Cabrini Academy, St. Cecilia Catholic School, Loyola Academy, DeLaSalle Middle School, Marian Middle School, and, in the spring of 2013, to JPII.

Anne has renewed her teaching certification with classes at UMSL and SIU and professional development in the QUEST (Quality Elementary Science Teaching) program, College of Elementary Education, MU, Columbia, MO. In 2011, she completed 12 credits in doctrine, scripture, morality, sacraments and methodology in the St. Louis Archdiocese's Paul VI Pontifical Institute and received the Religion Teacher Certification.

​Anne is delighted to be part of the JPII faculty and its mission of educating students, both academically and spiritually. Joining parents and her teaching partners, she looks forward to preparing her students to become faith-filled adults living and defending the Catholic faith with confidence and joy.

Middle School (6th-8th Grade)

Amy Steppig (Dean of Middle School)​

Amy Steppig has been an active member the homeschooling community since 1997.  Once introduced to the Classical homeschool methodology, she spent years learning about and collecting Classical curriculum and books, while teaching her own children.  Before becoming a full-time homeschooling mother, Amy worked in professional theatre as an educational performer with the Muny Student Theatre Project, providing theatre experiences for young audiences.  Mrs. Steppig is a magna cum laude graduate of St. Louis University with a Bachelor of Arts double major in Theology and Fine and Performing Arts with an emphasis in Theatre and Music.  While at SLU she was nominated for the prestigious Irene Ryan Award which recognizes excellence among college actors.  Amy is comfortable both on and off stage, having worked as a properties manager, costumer, and stage manager for several theatre groups and organizations in the St. Louis area.  Mrs. Steppig has also worked as a youth minister and catechist at several area parishes and is a certified catechist for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.  She is also an experienced cantor and occasionally still sings for various liturgical events.
JoAnn Heffernan (Reading, Writing, Composition, Bellarmine Speech)

I received a Masters of Arts in Education from Northwestern University in 1978, and a BS in Communicative Disorders from University of Illinois at Champaign and University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1977. I did post graduate work at the College of Charleston in 1997.
I have certifications in Elementary Education, K-8 and Special Education for Mild to Moderate Disabilities in K-12.

The vast extent of my teaching career has been from 1999-2009, at which time I taught at Linda Vista Catholic School teaching Religion, Social Studies, Science, and Math for various grades ranging from 3rd through 8th. I have also spent 13 years tutoring for Huntington Learning Academy as well as doing independent tutoring for grades 3-12. After Linda Vista closed, I worked as a teacher aid for Rockwood School District for one year, and then as a Supervisor for student teachers at St. Louis University for one year in 2011.

During my years of teaching, I enjoyed several years of coaching students for the Bellarmine Speech Contest, coordinating the Scripts National Spelling Bee, and fulfilling the role of Primary grades department head.

My philosophy of education includes love, individuality, and respect. Every student must know that he/she is loved in order to learn. God makes each of us an individual. Each student needs to embrace this fact and embrace his/her own gift. Learning to accept and use these gifts are the challenges the student must accept in order to learn. And finally, all learning is meaningless without respect. My classroom is a loving and safe environment where each individual student is accepted, celebrated, and respected by teachers and peers.
Anna Catalano (Literature, Writing, Reading, History)

I was born, grew up, and have happily decided to stay in St. Louis.  As a cradle Catholic, I appreciate St. John Paul II Preparatory School’s strong Catholic identity and emphasis on virtue and character building.  As a former homeschooler and graduate of Kolbe Academy, I enjoy teaching in a collegiate model school which encourages organizational and motivational skills in its students as well as close parental involvement.  In 2014, I graduated summa cum laude from Maryville University with a Bachelor of Arts in English education and a minor in communication.  While at Maryville, I completed several secondary education practicums at various public schools where I worked primarily with “at risk” students.  I also worked as a university teacher’s assistant and tutor in the university’s writing center working with ESL students.  I began teaching at Saint John Paul II Preparatory School in the fall of 2014 and have loved every minute of it!  
​Alysia Horst (Math, Latin, History)​

I graduated summa cum laude from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education and a Bachelor of Arts in English.  That same year my husband and I married, and I began teaching 2nd grade at our parish school, as well as a PSR class. The following two years I taught honors literature/grammar classes at New Haven High School. 

After our first child was born, I became a stay-at-home mom for the next 15 years, although I continued to teach PSR, even taking on Confirmation preparation for 12 years. During that time, I earned my Catechist certification through the Paul VI Institute. For the past four years, I have been homeschooling my children.  Two years into our homeschooling venture, we discovered JPII and enrolled our oldest.  That was the beginning of a journey that has gradually led to the enrollment of all three of our children and my joining the faculty. 

JPII has been an incredible blessing to our family, and I am looking forward to the blessings my new role will bring. 

High School (9th-12th Grade)

​Sebastian Garren (Dean of High School)​

Rumors of Mr. Garren have traveled far and wide; he received his B.A. from Wabash College, labored over Classical Languages, Philosophy, and Medieval Studies, studied Classical Civilization for one semester at the Instituti per Studi Classici in Rome, was the editor-in-chief of The Wabash Commentary, won (and lost) a Fulbright Scholarship to research education in Finland, and is currently Dean of High School at John Paul Prep where he teaches five exciting classes.
Among Mr. Garren's inexhaustible number of interests are concept albums, art history, living abroad, science fiction, canoeing, hiking, and natural philosophy. He has been a member of the Legion of Mary, the Newman Center, and the Chesterton Society. When you walk into his classroom, you will not escape without learning something new, laughing out loud, or both.

Some of his favorite works of literature are the Odes of Horace, Lost in the Cosmos, and The Lord of the Rings.
Lynn Dery (Religion, Church History, Public Speaking)​

Lynn is blessed to be married to Bill and has five amazing children, two of whom are in college, one in seminary, and two attending St. John Paul II Preparatory School. She graduated summa cum laude from University of WI-Lacrosse in Physical Therapy, specializing in Women’s Health and spinal orthopedic injuries. When her third child was born, she felt the call to homeschool and has very much enjoyed that journey. While homeschooling the older children, she felt inspired to begin teaching a public speaking course to Catholic home-schoolers. This led to the development of a DVD curriculum which was ironically named “John Paul II Beginning Public Speaking Class”. The class and curriculum was completed but lay dormant while she awaited the marching orders of Our Lord. After six years, she moved from Boston to St. Charles and was finally shown how to use her public speaking curriculum. She was asked to teach at JPII!!

          She received the call “to teach” as a Physical Therapist, creating a back school that educated people about proper posture and body mechanics. She has been part of the directive team for RCIA at each of her parishes for over 10 years and has also taught religious education classes. In Boston, she began a youth formation apostolate called Challenge Girls Club, which incorporated catechesis along with leadership and virtue formation. She has also been the spiritual formation coordinator for Regnum Christi while living in Florida, Boston, and St. Louis. In this role, she has written numerous study circles and speaks at retreats and other formation events. She has led numerous Bible Studies for over 15 years and has a great love for the Catholic Faith. She is very excited to be part of the faculty at Saint John Paul II Preparatory School.  
​​Anne Klein (Mathematics)

I graduated summa cum laude from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with a degree in Elementary Education and an extended teaching certificate to teach mathematics in grades K-12. I then taught math and science to grades 7 and 8 for three years at St. James the Greater School. Subsequently I worked for two years as a Mathematics Specialist in the Parkway Math Project, in coordination with the University of Missouri/Columbia to research the best methods for teaching mathematics. I traveled to different elementary schools in the Parkway District to share those techniques with grade school teachers.

During this time I also helped to write a series of enrichment mathematic workbooks for the Houghton-Mifflin Mathematics textbook series, as well as several instructional manuals for Parkway math teachers, and I gave presentations at national teacher workshops and conventions. I then taught math for more than a year at Parkway South Middle School until the birth of my first child.

I loved being a stay-at-home mom for 26 years for my children:  Mary (Sister Mary Gianna, OP), working at the Motherhouse in Nashville, TN, John (Brother John, LC), currently studying in Rome, Ellen, Coordinator of Religious Education/Youth Ministry at St Theresa of Avila parish in Boston, and Michael, studying Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS. During my time at home raising my children, I also helped to write math practice and enrichment workbook pages for the Grade 7 Silver Burdett Mathematics Textbook. I have been teaching high school and middle school mathematics at St John Paul II since the school began in the Fall of 2009. I am also the Prolife Coordinator for the school. I am so blessed to be able to teach at JPII where I can integrate the study of mathematics with the beautiful teachings of the Catholic Church!
Brian Cowell PhD (Anatomy and Physiology, Earth Science)

I was born and raised in Lake St. Louis, MO with my very loving family.  I am newly married to Jami and am eager to start our new adventure together.

I received a PhD in Agriculture/ Entomology from the University of Arkansas, a Masters degree in Applied and Natural Science from Missouri State University, a Bachelors degree in Biology with research in genetics from College of the Ozarks, and an Associates form St. Charles community College with an emphasis in human biology.

I have also published six journal articles and given over 20 presentations across the United States to scientists and peers alike. From this knowledge I co-authored one US patent and composed and presented a production guide for pecan which is currently being published by the University of Arkansas.
I previously assisted in teaching Human anatomy and physiology, genetics, and invertebrate zoology at College of the Ozarks. I also taught integrated pest management to graduate students at University of Arkansas. I am currently tutoring science and teaching Anatomy and Physiology at Jefferson College.  

As a teacher I strive to share my love of learning with my students and teach them critical thinking skills that will help further them in not only their education but also in their daily lives. My overall goal is for students to gather a deeper understanding of the sciences in order to better understand and respect God’s creations. 
Pam Olimpio, OCDS (Dean of Religious Formation)

​I am married and blessed with 11 children and 9 grandchildren, and was a stay at home mom and homeschooler for many years. As a secondary vocation, I entered formation in the 3rd Order of the Discalced Carmelites of  St. Joseph, and have been an active member of the Carmelite Secular Community for 15 years. I earned my CRE  (Certified Coordinator of Religious Education) and received a Catechism, and Religious studies Certification from Paul 6 Institute. My focus of studies from St. Louis University and Southeast Mo. State University was Political Science and Communications. I’m continuing classes through the Institute of Holy Doctors with a focus in Education and Theology.            

My work background includes; Store manager of staff, operations and bookkeeping for retail stores,1st/3rd gr. PSR teacher, Coordinator and Curriculum writer for Parish VBS programs, Campus Ministry Coordinator, Math and Religion teacher, and teachers assistant.  

The love of God in Jesus Christ is our greatest gift .The Bishops, Priests, Religious, teachers, families and Lay faithful to which the students are exposed provide an atmosphere modeling the love of Christ and encouraging students to be formed by, and grow in, a loving relationship to Jesus. At the beginning of the 3rd Millennium, Pope St. John Paul II made reference to the Face of Christ 37 times, calling us to “Contemplate the face of the Savior and to make known His true countenance. ” He said,” Man cannot live without love. He remains a thing who is incomprehensible for himself; his life is senseless if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, the man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly …must draw near to Christ to see His loving face.”      

To answer this call to seek Christ’s face, I’m excited to assist  Mr. David Williams, in developing a formation program which provides the tools for the families of JPII to best accomplish this goal. Through the  Sacraments, formation programs, Lectio Divina, love of Scripture, growth in personal prayer, and adherence to the Magesterium,  Saint John Paul II Preparatory School hopes to  provide a sure road to being grounded in the truth of the Gospel and encouraging intimacy with Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Fine Arts

Mary Beth Hercules (Visual Arts)​

I graduated with honors in Interior Architecture from Kansas State University with an emphasis in product design.  During my education at Kansas state, I spent several years creating and building furniture and product designs in their extensive wood working and metal shop.  In addition to my education in design, I found myself drawn to additional classes in painting, figure drawing, colored pencil and marker rendering.  At one time I remember having an instructor working with us on drawing shadows and how, all of the sudden, it was as if my eyes were open and I saw the world in a whole new light!  (Literally!)  I loved everything about my education and feel that it opened my eyes to so much of God’s beauty that I had been oblivious to. In addition to my time in Kansas, I was also privileged to spend a semester abroad as an exchange student in Trier, Germany.  This experience allowed for extensive travel, where first hand exploration of architectural wonders was encouraged.  Being able to walk into the Sistine Chapel and stand in front of the statue of David were experiences I will never forget.
     Upon graduation I worked for a local Saint Louis architecture firm designing retail stores across the United States. Shortly after, I joined my new husband, David, in his budding business designing and building furniture.  This experience was invaluable in shaping my desire to work one on one with clients to improve their lives with good design. I then moved into a corporate environment, working as the lead designer with Brown Shoe Company for many years.  Working with their product designers and brand developers I worked to transition their Naturalizer brand from one for an older woman to one for working professionals.  When our first child was born I began my own company, Mantis Design, and worked for a diverse clientele.  My projects extended from restoring the facade of a 1920’s theater to its original ornamented terracotta design, to creating a completely new store image for a growing retailer.  The work was challenging and rewarding, but as our family grew I knew I wanted a new role.  I closed my business and began my venture as a homeschooling mom.  
     As much as I enjoyed seeing the ah-ha moments in the eyes of my children, after several years of trying, I came to the conclusion that God was NOT calling me to homeschool.  My extremely right dominant brain did not handle all of the requirements of scheduling and planning necessary to make our home a joyful place to learn.  It was a painful reality, but I knew that unless I could homeschool like Maria in the Sound of Music, skipping through the Alps with a gaggle of cooperative kids, I would simply have to trust God to find a better alternative…and He did.  Less than 1 year after I gave up homeschooling, Jessica Zuniga called me to say that they were going to open a lower school at John Paul II.  (Our son Eliot was in 8th grade there that year and the girls were in the public school.) She offered me a position as an assistant in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade classroom.  I absolutely loved working alongside Mrs. Erard that year.  As she was teaching one class, I would help the others complete their independent work.  When that was complete, I was free to fill in the gaps with fun projects.  We quickly began having fun with creatively writing and illustrating our own books.  We learned to memorize lines and act out the 3 Billie Goats Gruff, which we performed for the lower school.  In addition, with Mrs. Erards’ encouragement, I began teaching some basic art classes to the 4th, 5th and 6th grade class that was over the partition from us.  (Yes, the early days were VERY intimate!)  I had so much joy seeing the eyes of the students light up as we worked together on their projects.   At this point I was certain God had answered my prayers and had let me along a road that made use of my unique skills and strengths.  
     Each year I enjoy more and more my time teaching art and design.  I am grateful to have such amazing students with such a zest for learning and am privileged to see their creative wheels moving as they produce their unique interpretation of each project. I look forward to many years to come!
Christina Heddell (Music & Schola)

​Christina Heddell is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but grew up in St. Louis. Mrs. Heddell is eternally grateful to her public high school choir director for inspiring her love of choral music (and teaching her most of the Latin she knows) by exposing her to a beautiful repertoire of sacred music. Mrs. Heddell first discovered her love of music at the piano bench, where she can still frequently be found, both at home and at JPII school Masses.
Mrs. Heddell graduated from Miami University in 2002 with a BS in Economics and a minor in Piano Performance. She graduated from Ave Maria University in 2008 with a Masters of Theological Studies. After working for a private economic forecasting firm out of college, she landed her first dream job at the Respect Life Apostolate in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, a position she left in 2009 for her next dream job as stay-at-home mother. She has two children enrolled at JPII and two at home this year, with a fifth baby due in January of 2017. Mrs. Heddell is thrilled to join the workforce again as a music and fine arts teacher at JPII.
In addition to playing piano for Masses, weddings and the occasional cocktail hour, Mrs. Heddell’s current focus is on teaching music to young people. Mrs. Heddell has trained with Making Music, Praying Twice, a music and movement program for 0-8 year olds. She started a children’s choir at her parish, has been a volunteer music and choir teacher at JPII, and is the Chorus Director for Joyful Noise Musical Theater. She is grateful to JPII, both the school and the saint, for loving and promoting the arts, and she looks forward to working with the students to make beautiful music that gives glory to God!