Faculty & Staff Bios

Teaching Faculty

Elizabeth Blondia

Elizabeth Blondia

Elizabeth Blondia has been teaching for 18 years and has been with The Leelanau School for all 18 years. Elizabeth is the chair of the Humanities Department. She has her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Valparaiso and her Master’s Degree in Education from DePaul University. Elizabeth is married to Joe Blondia (science teacher) and has two children, Kate and Jamie. She enjoys reading, cooking, hiking, travelling and playing viola. These interests have fostered her passion for teaching at The Leelanau School.

Joe Blondia

Joe Blondia

Joe Blondia has been teaching for 23 years, and has been teaching science at The Leelanau School for 20 years. Joe received his Bachelor of Science in Biology from Grand Valley State University, his Master’s Degree in Education from Nazareth College and did post-graduate studies in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana. Joe is married to Elizabeth (Humanities chair) and has two children, Kate and Jamie. Joe enjoys cooking, travel and music and is passionate about hunting and fishing.

Becca Dymond

Becca Dymond

Becca Dymond is the Director of the Learning Commons and has been with The Leelanau School for seven years. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from Eastern Michigan University. Becca says, “It was a serendipitous journey that brought my husband and me to Leelanau. It is the friends, family, community and students who have helped us make Leelanau our home. Now with our two cats, dog, horse and sweet son, there is nowhere else in the world we would rather be teaching, learning, laughing and living. Life is good!

Tanya Firestone

Tanya Firestone

Tanya Firestone has a Bachelor’s Degree from Miami of Ohio and a Master’s Degree in English from the University of Dayton in Ohio. Tanya has taught first year writing and been part of the curriculum mapping team at Northwestern Michigan College. Prior to moving to Traverse City, she was a tenure-track English Professor at Richard J. Daley College in Chicago. She worked at the high school level for two different private schools early in her career.

Bruce Hood

Bruce Hood

Bruce Hood is the chair of the Science Department and has been teaching science for 24 years, 23 of them at The Leelanau School. Bruce received his Bachelor of Science in Botany from the University of New Hampshire, his Teaching Certification from Northern Michigan University. and his Master’s Degree from Central Michigan University in Animal Behavior. Bruce lives with his wife, Laura, on a cooperative farm in Cedar, where they have horses, pigs, chickens and family gardens. He has two children, Ian and Jessie. Bruce says, “I spend as much time as I can fly fishing and hunting for woodcock and grouse in the fall.”

Laura Hood

Laura Hood

Laura Hood is the chair of the Art Department and teaches Music at The Leelanau School. She has been a teacher for 31 year, and she has been with The Leelanau School for 23 of those years. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Michigan State University. She lives on an Intentional Community Farm in Cedar with her husband, Bruce. Laura also shares her farm with four horses, five pigs, 20 chickens and their dog, Bear. She has two children, Ian and Jessie. She says, “I love to play music, ride horses and play outside.”

Kaz McCue

Kaz McCue

Kaz McCue is a Visual Arts Instructor and advisor for Venture Crew. He has been teaching for 25 year, and he has been with The Leelanau School for the the last six years. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design and a Master of Fine Arts from Long Island University/C.W. Post Campus. Kaz is an experienced artist, curator, arts administrator and educator who brings a diversity of expertise to his teaching. As a professional artist, Kaz is known as a storyteller who works in a variety of media. Over the past five years he has focused on collaborative projects where teens have had the opportunity to get involved in his creative studio practice.

Cal Meyers

Cal Meyers

Cal Meyers is as a math teacher for The Leelanau School. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Central Michigan University and is a native of Traverse City. He has had the opportunity to teach in several academic disciples including Geography, German, Science and, of course, Math. Cal taught in Traverse City where he also coached football, wrestling and track. During the summer, Cal is a camp counselor in upstate New York.

Jay Meyers

Jay Meyers

Jay Meyers is not entirely new to our teaching faculty. Jay was one of our teachers for Winter Term when he teamed with his brother, Cal, to teach Lego Mindstorms. He has a Bachelor of Science in Education, specializing in Integrated Science and minoring in Mathematics from Central Michigan University. He did his student teaching at East Middle School in Traverse City. Jay has been a frequent substitute teacher at The Leelanau School, who he knows our students well and they know him.

Cris Pina-Gautier

Cris Pina-Gautier

Cris Pina-Gautier is a Learning Specialist at The Leelanau School. He has his Masters in Special Education from the University of Illinois at Champaign- Urbana and a Licenciate in Clinical Psychology from Universidad Pedro Henrique Urena in the Dominican Republic. He also attended City College of New York and Long Island University. Cris says, “I have yet to encounter a student who can’t learn. I have chosen to do what I do and love being a teacher. I am grateful that a school like Leelanau School exists. Yes I am old. Yes I am competitive. Yes I don’t believe in giving less than 100%, but I am patient to help others achieve their goals.”

Jennifer Sperry-Steinorth

Jennifer Sperry-Steinorth

Jennifer Sperry-Steinorth will be teaching Drama and English part-time at The Leelanau School. She also works at Interlochen Arts Academy as a member of the Creative Writing faculty. she was a student of Interlochen and has won numerous awards and honors and is a published author in numerous publications. She received her Bachelors in English from Michigan State University and her Masters in Fine Arts from Warren Wilson in Asheville North Carolina. She regularly shares her poetry at readings around the area.

Kim Speicher

Kim Speicher

Kim Speicher is our Spanish Teacher and has been teaching for 35 years. She has been with The Leelanau School for nine years. She received both her Bachelors (Spanish) and Masters (Education) Degrees from Purdue University. Kim says, “I love to travel and take students along. Leelanau County is my favorite place in the world, so teaching at Leelanau is great. When I am not at school I like to read, kayak, sail, hike and spend time with my family and friends.”

Norm Wheeler

Norm Wheeler

Norm Wheeler has been teaching for 36 years and with The Leelanau School for 32 years. While retired as a full-time teacher, Norm will be offering an evening Astronomy class to Leelanau School students (and other public school students in the area) this fall. He has a BA from Olivet College in English and Physics and an MA in English Literature from Drake University. Norm plays trumpet/flugelhorn in several bands and performs “spoken word” poetry and stories. He has three grandchildren. His wife, Mimi, founded the Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate store.

Barbara Zyren

Barbara Zyren

Barbara Zyren is a Learning Specialist at The Leelanau School.She joins us after 34 years of teaching experience in Michigan Public Schools as a General/Special Education Teacher, English as a Second Language Coordinator, and Reading Specialist. She received a Educational Specialist from Wayne State University, a Master of Arts from University of Michigan and a Bachelor’s of Arts from Nazareth College. In her “free time” she works as a private Cognitive Therapist for children and adults with closed head injuries and as a private Reading Coach for children and adults seeking remediation or enrichment. She believes that being given the opportunity to build confidence, strengthen cognitive skill, and inspire young people to become life long learners is an honor and a privilege. After meeting her you will see that teaching is her passion. This summer she and her husband, Jerry, moved from Royal Oak to Suttons Bay to fulfill a life long dream to live in Northern Michigan. They look forward to visits from her step-son, Nate, whenever he is on leave from serving in the US Army. She is looking forward to joining the Leelanau family this year.


Residential Life Staff

Daniel Chamberlin

Daniel Chamberlin

Daniel Chamberlain will be a House Parent in Kindel House this year. Daniel graduated magna cum laude from Western Connecticut University with a BA and MA in Professional Writing. He has been teaching Short Fiction and Composition as a Graduate Assistant. Daniel has also been a founding partner of Bend Bars Lift Gates, a game-design cooperative. He is very proud of a project which is a role playing world game presented in 2015 at Gen Con, a gaming convention. Daniel has also been very active and held multiple positions with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Rob Dymond

Rob Dymond

Rob Dymond is the Head of House of Cochran. Rob has been at The Leelanau School for six years, and graduated from Leelanau School in 2000. He received his Bachelors from Manchester College in 2007. He says he loves the “great outdoors” and enjoys playing the drums in “Mighty Snappy” and other various groups. He especially enjoys being a good husband and father.

Anika Eisenstat

Anika Eisenstat

Anika Eisenstat is as a House Parent in Kindel. She has eight years of experience as a daycare, afterschool, and camp counselor. She graduated with her B.S. in Youth Development and a minor in Athletic Coaching from Springfield College in May of 2015. During her time at Springfield College, she worked with a variety of local youth organizations and schools to develop one day events and workshops focusing on healthy living, team building, and diversity.

Chris Lipscomb

Chris Lipscomb

Chris Lipscomb is the Head of House at Kindel. He has a Bachelor of Arts in History from UNC Pembroke and is currently attending Eastern Michigan University for a Master’s Certification in Historic Preservation. Chris says, “I love my wife, I love my dogs, and I love Leelanau.”

Collin Pidot

Collin Pidot

Collini (Hoku) Pidot is a House Parent in Cochran House. Hoku is from Redlands California with a degree in Music Education. He has worked as a private guitar instructor and most recently was part of the camp counseling staff at Camp Hayo-Went-Ha in Central Lake. He was very active in Boys and Girls clue in Kailua, Hawaii and the Redlandss Soccer Club. The CEP of the YMCA of Michigan gave Hoku high praise to Hoku, “He is very skilled and his work with freshman and sophomores is indeed noteworthy!”

Nicole Seabolt

Nicole Seabolt

Nicole Seabolt will be a House Parent in Pinebrook this year. Nicole graduated from her undergraduate program, Summa Cum Laude from DeSales University and just recently completed her Masters of Education in School counseling from Loyola University. Nicole has experience in school counseling as well as having been a nanny for children with special needs.

Spencer Seaman

Spencer Seaman

Spencer Seaman is returning to Leelanau Schools as a House Parent in Cochran. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a BS in Environmental Sciences. Spencer has also been employed in various campus and hospice programs and has been a nanny for a family for about two and a half years.

Katie Stainkamp

Katie Stainkamp

Katie Stainkamp comes to The Leelanau School from the Interlochen Arts Academy and will be a House Parent in Pinebrook. In addition to working at a hall counselor for Interlochen, Katie was the waterfront manager and band manager. She has a degree in Music Education from State University of New York at Fredonia (graduating Summa Cum Laude). Katie has also worked as a substitute teacher.


Nursing Staff

Stephanie Carmichael, RN

Stephanie Carmichael, RN

Stephanie Carmichael, RN, has been with The Leelanau School for four years and has been a nurse for 19 years. Stephanie has worked in various fields of nursing but is particularly interested in working with children. She is a Foster Care provider. She has six children, and her oldest son graduated from The Leelanau School last spring. She loves cooking and being outside, and also works on-call for our local hospital.

Sue Kline, RN

Sue Kline, RN

Sue Kline is a certified practicing nurse in pediatrics and public health. She has her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Detroit and her Master of Science degree in Nursing from Wayne State University as a clincial nurse specialist in pediatrics. Most recently, Sue has worked at Interlochen Center for the Arts as a school nurse dispensing medication and conducting daily health assessments for students based on their medical/psychological complaints.

Alice Montie, RN

Alice Montie, RN

Alice Montie is one of the school R.N.’s. She has been an RN since 1984, graduating from Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor. She has been with The Leelanau School since 2007. Alice has also been a Yoga Instructor for over 20 years, certified through American Viniyoga Institute and Union Yoga. Yoga became a passion after her first child was born. Alice believes it is a perfect complement to her work here at The Leelanau School.

Ashley Peterman

Ashley Peterman

Ashley Peterman, RN, graduated from the nursing program at Northwestern Michigan College and will complete her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Davenport University in the Spring of 2016. This is her second year with The Leelanau School. She enjoys working with students in an environment that fosters a holistic approach to student health and learning.


Administrative Staff

Sarah Jane Crimmins

Sarah Jane Crimmins

Sarah Jane Crimmins joined The Leelanau School in the fall of 2015 as the Admissions Assistant. She is also the coordinator of Student Events and Mentors. Sarah Jane graduated from Leland High School in 2011 and graduated from University of Michigan in 2015.

Virginia Deisler

Virginia Deisler

Virginia “Ginny” is the Chief Financial Officer and Director of Human Resources for the The Leelanau School. Ginny joined the School in 2014, and prior to that she was the owner and lead advisor for her own accounting firm, served as CFO of an electrical contracting business for more than 20 years and worked for major accounting firms earlier in her career. Ginny has a CPA and is a Graduate of Alma College. She has two grown daughters, and one middle school aged son. In her spare time she coaches the Equestrian team at Traverse City St. Francis.

JD Friley

JD Friley

JD Friley is the Head of School. He has been teaching for 40 years and this is his 11th year at Leelanau School. He has his Bachelors from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana and his Masters from Ball Sate University, in Muncie, Indiana. He has worked in nearly every area of education including band directing, classroom teaching and administration. In his spare time he hosts a jazz radio show on Sunday afternoons and enjoys time with his family and dog, Willow.

Westley Ivankovich

Westley Ivankovich

Westley Ivankovich is the Dean of Students. Wes is from Providence Rhode Island where he worked as the Director of Residential Life and the Director of Operations. Westley brings an International perspective, a keen interest in student development, a passion for the arts and the great outdoors. Westley was previously a faculty member at the International School of Florence, Italy in many different professional roles – educator, Administrative Dean, Coordinator of Curriculum and Assessment, Coordinator of Service Learning and music teacher. A graduate of Olivet College with a BA in Music, Westley earned a Master’s degree in Education from Framington State College. He studied educational leadership and instruction at the University of the Virgin Islands while working as a music teacher in an urban school environment on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. He was awarded recognition from the PTA and the Governor of the Virgin Islands by presenting concerts with students at Government House, Senior Citizen homes and the University of the Virgin Islands Center for the Arts.

Michael Jarvis

Michael Jarvis

Michael Jarvis is the Director of Admissions and is the IT Director. Michael has worked in education since 1992 and has been with Leelanau School since 2000. He has a BS in Humanities from the United States Air Force Academy, and an MA in Counseling Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Michael says he has been working with adolescents since leaving the Air Force in 1991. “I am committed to helping young people grow into compassionate, conscious adults who know themselves, and who want to make the world a better place. I believe that education should be holistic and include physical and community learning.”

Kristie McCaw

Kristie McCaw

Kristie is the Director of Marketing and has worked as an Executive Assistant for The Leelanau School prior to this appointment. She is an alumna from the class of 1999. She has a husband and two grade school aged sons.

Jen Parker

Jen Parker

Jen Parker is the Administrative Assistant, Leelanau School Registrar, LeeShop Manager and Student Travel Coordinator. She has been with The Leelanau School for a little over five years. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Michigan State University and is a member of the Chi Omega Sorority. She was a cheerleader for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills in 1998 and has been the cheerleading coach for Glen Lake Community School for 5 years. Jen is married, with two athletic teenage sons. They have lived here for five and a half years and feel extremely fortunate to be a part of The Leelanau Family.

Matthew Peschel

Matthew Peschel

Matt Peschel is the Director of Counseling/College Advising after having taught Math at The Leelanau School for five years. He taught for five years prior to coming to The Leelanau School. Matt has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan and his Masters in Counseling from Western Michigan University. Matt says, “I am committed to all learners. I am a voracious reader. I am a lifelong learner.”

Julie Povolo

Julie Povolo

Julie Povolo is the Director of Advancement and has been with The Leelanau School for three years. She has worked in the non-profit development arena for 29 years. Julie has a BA from Michigan State University. She has two grown adult children, and a Sheepdog, Willow, who comes to school regularly. Julie plays a lot of tennis in her spare time and loves to read.


Kitchen Staff

Lynne Brach

Lynne Brach

Lynne Brach is the Food Service Director at The Leelanau School. She has been in the food business for 30 years and has been with the School for three years. She attended Calvin College, College of the Atlantic and NMC Culinary School. Lynne also spent a semester at sea with Hurricane Island Outward Bound. Lynne says, “Cooking has been my passion for 3 decades. I have cooked on bike tours across the US, at retreats in New Mexico and for a canoe tripping camp in Canada, at the Traverse City Children’s House and Oryana Natural Foods in Traverse City.’ Lynne has two children in college “whom I find endlessly interesting. I love to do outdoor things with my husband and amazing dog.”

MIchael Beery

MIchael Beery

Michael Beery is our Food Service coordinator, starting in fall of 2016. He is familiar with our school having been a Head of House in the past.