Faculty & Staff Bios

Teaching Faculty

Elizabeth Blondia, Humanities Department Chair; English and History Teacher

Elizabeth Blondia, Humanities Department Chair; English and History Teacher

Elizabeth Blondia has been teaching for 19 years and has been with The Leelanau School for all 19 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, Science Teacher

Joe Blondia, Science Teacher

Joe Blondia has been teaching for 24 years, and has been teaching science at The Leelanau School for 21 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, Coordinator of Learning Commons; Learning Specialist

Becca Dymond, Coordinator of Learning Commons; Learning Specialist

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, Curriculum Coordinator; English Teacher

Tanya Firestone, Curriculum Coordinator; English Teacher

(231) 334-5834
tfirestone@leelanau.org

Tanya Firestone has seventeen years of teaching experience. Before teaching at Leelanau, she was involved with Assessment and Curriculum development while serving as a tenure-track professor with the City Colleges of Chicago. Tanya has a BA in English Literature from Miami University, Oxford and MA (English) from University of Dayton with two years MS (post-bac) work in Secondary Education. Her recent teaching with Northwestern Michigan College directly impacted community outreach in young women leadership. She has published a work of fiction and has presented at the National Council of Teachers of English, Conference on College Composition and Communication. Her young son, Jack and inherited goldfish, Goldie and Black-eye keep things interesting. “Authentic learning, to me, is meant to extend beyond classroom walls as the actual catalyst for inspiring entire lives.”

Bruce Hood, Science Department Chair; Science and Ceramics Teacher

Bruce Hood, Science Department Chair; Science and Ceramics Teacher

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, Music Teacher

Laura Hood, Music Teacher

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, Art Teacher

Kaz McCue, Art Teacher

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, Math Teacher

Cal Meyers, Math Teacher

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, Math Teacher

Jay Meyers, Math Teacher

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, Learning Specialist

Cris Pina-Gautier, Learning Specialist

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.”

Kim Speicher, Spanish Teacher

Kim Speicher, Spanish Teacher

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, Astronomy Teacher

Norm Wheeler, Astronomy Teacher

Norm Wheeler has been teaching for 36 years and with The Leelanau School for 33 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, Learning Specialist

Barbara Zyren, Learning Specialist

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 Faculty

Daniel Chamberlin, Kindel House Parent

Daniel Chamberlin, Kindel House Parent

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.

Anika Eisenstat, Head of House – Cochran and Kindel and House Parent

Anika Eisenstat, Head of House – Cochran and Kindel and House Parent

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.

Lynne Elsasser, Pinebrook House Parent

Lynne Elsasser, Pinebrook House Parent

Chris Lipscomb, Pinebrook House Parent

Chris Lipscomb, Pinebrook House Parent

Chris Lipscomb 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.”

Spencer Seaman, Pinebrook House Parent

Spencer Seaman, Pinebrook House Parent

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.

David Spellman, Kindel House Parent

David Spellman, Kindel House Parent


Nursing Staff

Angel Maritz, RN - Coordinator of Health Services

Angel Maritz, RN - Coordinator of Health Services

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 is a graduate of The Leelanau School. She loves cooking and being outside, and also works on-call for our local hospital.

Linda Hepler-Beaty, RN

Linda Hepler-Beaty, RN

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.


Administrative Staff

Sarah Jane Crimmins, Enrollment Assistant

Sarah Jane Crimmins, Enrollment Assistant

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, Chief Financial Officer/Human Resources

Virginia Deisler, Chief Financial Officer/Human Resources

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, Head of School

JD Friley, Head of School

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, Dean of Students

Westley Ivankovich, Dean of Students

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, Director of Counseling and College Advising

Michael Jarvis, Director of Counseling and College Advising

Michael Jarvis is the Director of Director of Counseling and College Advising. 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, Director of Marketing

Kristie McCaw, Director of Marketing

231-334-5831
kmccaw@leelanau.org

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.

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Graydon Mitchell, Senior Director of Enrollment Management

Graydon Mitchell, Senior Director of Enrollment Management

231-334-5826
gmitchell@leelanau.org

Graydon Mitchell became a member of the leadership team as the Director of Enrollment Management in April 2017. Graydon joins us from California’s Chartwell School where he was a key member of their leadership team since 2012. As the school’s Director of Enrollment, Graydon is an independent school leader with over 20 years’ experience in admissions, enrollment management, marketing, and communications. In addition to his outstanding work experience, Graydon has also demonstrated his ability for leadership and retention through his work with domestic and international recruitment events and marketing initiatives. Most importantly, Graydon understands the power of authentic and trusting relationships, and his approach to enrollment management is human-centric. In fact, he is very much looking forward to building his own meaningful connections with students and parents as well as developing relationships with both domestic and overseas educational consultants and other professionals in our global community.

Jen Parker, Administrative Assistant/Registrar

Jen Parker, Administrative Assistant/Registrar

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.

Julie Povolo, Director of Advancement

Julie Povolo, Director of Advancement

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.


Staff

Lynne Brach, Director of Food Services

Lynne Brach, Director of Food Services

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 four 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, Assistant Director of Food Services

MIchael Beery, Assistant Director of Food Services

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.

Rob Dymond, Coordinator of Auxiliary Programs and Technology

Rob Dymond, Coordinator of Auxiliary Programs and Technology

Rob has been at The Leelanau School for seven 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 musical groups. He especially enjoys being a good husband and father.