Who We Are

staff-800

Our Staff

Rev. Aaron Winkle, Head of School

Email AaronRev. Aaron Winkle has been involved with Living Stones Academy from the very beginning. As a parent, he was looking for a school that offered a distinctly Christian education that was also welcoming to all people. He found that at Living Stones – in fact, his family was the very first family to enroll at Living Stones.

Aaron has been our Head of School since the summer of 2016, bringing his passion for discipling kids to be vibrant disciples of Jesus and his extensive experience in leadership and team building. Prior to Living Stones, Aaron was the Associate Chaplain at Calvin College for 8 years, and also served as the interim Vice President of Student Life at LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania for a year. Aaron has degrees from Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary.

As Head of School, Aaron sees his role as partnering with the teachers, staff, volunteers, parents and friends to respond to God’s call for our school. “As educators, our role is to shape the environment and curriculum that will fully engage the hearts, minds, and imaginations of curious students.”

Aaron and his wife Betsy live in Eastown and have four children, Quincy, Annie, Jackson, and Nala.

Jessica Frederick, Preschool Director

Email JessicaJessica FrederickJessica attended Grandville Christian Elementary, Byron Center Christian Middle School, and South Christian High School before going to Calvin College and pursuing a degree in elementary education with specialties in early childhood, Spanish, and language arts. After graduation, she spent some time in Kwoi, Nigeria working with young widows and orphans of AIDS.

When she returned, she worked at Discovery Days Learning center, where she taught 3-year-old and 4-year-old preschool and organized programs for school aged children, including before and after school and summer programming.

When Jessica learned about the mission of LSA and its desire to provide Christian education to all and to teach children how to serve in their community, she knew God was calling her to teach there. She loves the community aspect of LSA – that although each class is a community, all students are in community with each other and know one another.

In her free time, Jessica loves to spend time outdoors at the lake wakeboarding and doing a variety of other water sports. She spends most of her summers at Gun Lake. She also love to read and spend time with family and friends. Jessica’s passion is working with kids of all ages and so besides working with preschoolers, she is also very involved in both middle school and high school youth group at Heritage CRC in Byron Center.

Ms. Mary Cole, Preschool aide

Email MaryMary Cole is our preschool aide. Mary has spent the past year working at Milestone Child Development Center. Mary is known for her warmth, humor, and knowledge and experience with working with young children. The youth pastor of Mary’s church described her as someone who loves children, works hard, and always follows through.

Lynn Mudde, Tutor

Email LynnLynn-MuddeLynn graduated from Calvin College in 1985 with a degree in elementary education, and from Western Michigan University in 1994 with a master’s degree in reading. She has taught in two public schools, and five different Christian schools, including Rehoboth Christian School in New Mexico, and Oakdale Christian School in Grand Rapids.

Lynn’s love for Christian education, especially urban Christian education, was nurtured by her parents and family from a young age. She attended Christian schools in both the city of Chicago and the Chicago suburbs. A love for learning, and the impact of seeing all she learned through the lens of God’s love, grace, and sovereignty, planted the seeds of desire to become a teacher who could share in the wonder of God’s amazing creation and love for us with future students.

The commitment of Living Stones to be an impact in the city of Grand Rapids, to renew and restore community and be a light in the city for God, was enough of a “tapping on the shoulder” by the Holy Spirit to come on board in its first year. Since then, she has seen a school grow into a loving, caring community of diverse people. LSA is intentional about loving God, loving people, and creating community!

Lynn and her husband Paul have three children, Maaike, Jon, and Willem. She especially enjoys meals around the table with Paul and the kids, trying new recipes in the kitchen, entertaining friends and family, creating all kinds of things at her sewing machine, being outside hiking or biking, exploring new places and learning new things, teaching Children in Worship at her church, and reading a good book!

Mrs. Zahra Mobinikesheh, Paraprofessional

Email ZahraZahra Mobinikesheh was born and raised in Iran where she spent more than a decade teaching kindergarten and 1st grade. In 2008, she immigrated to the United States. Soon after, she converted to Christianity from Islam, was baptized, and is now a member of Church of the Servant. Those who know Zahra well describe her as joyful, hardworking, and resilient. She too has a deep love for children.

Joy (Sohee) Oh, First grade teacher

Email JoyJoy graduated from Calvin College with a major in Elementary and Early Childhood Education and minor in ESL. Joy brings a rich and varied background that makes her uniquely equipped to serve at LSA. Beyond her education and experience, Joy brings a deep love for Jesus, a strong sense of calling to serve in an urban setting, and a strong work ethic.

Rebekah Muller, Second Grade

Email RebekahRebekah MullerRebekah graduated from Calvin College in 2004 with a BA in elementary education with minors in Spanish and science. She is currently working on her Masters at GVSU. Rebekah has taught preschool, young 5’s, and kindergarten as well as in an after school program (Schools of Hope) helping 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders become better readers.

Rebekah’s free time is spent with her two children, Asa (9 yrs) and Charlotte (6 yrs). She enjoys summers spent at a family cottage in Pentwater where she can be found at the beach, boating, or reading.

Rebekah is deeply rooted in Christian Education and appreciates LSA’s mission to be a community school and offer quality faith-based education. She loves doing daily devotions with her students and inspiring her students to have personal relationships with Jesus Christ.

Ashley Copier, Third Grade

Email Ashleyashley-copierAshley grew up in Holland, MI where she attended Holland Public Schools and graduated from Holland High School in 2007. She moved to Grand Rapids to attend Grand Valley State University and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and education. While in college, Ashley worked with youth at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids. There God grew her passion for working with communities of diverse individuals.

She is blessed by the supportive and uplifting community of Living Stones Academy. The mission and vision perfectly aligns with Ashley’s vision for the Grand Rapids area and for a community in which she belongs. While searching for teaching jobs, God put on her heart to seek out Christian education opportunities. God is always faithful and placed Ashley in this wonderful school. She loves that LSA provides all children the opportunity to have a quality faith-based education. One verse that has been a guiding light in life for Ashley is Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”

Ashley lives in Eastown with her husband Eliott and loves the area. In her spare time she likes to be outside gardening, playing frisbee at the park, spending time with family and friends, and just enjoying the beauty of nature.

David Wainer, Fourth Grade

Email DavidDavid grew up in Holland, MI and attended Toccoa Falls College, a small Christian school in North Georgia, where he graduated with a BA in literature and minor in ESL. During the three years in Georgia, he volunteered in an ESL classroom of a local school. Shortly after graduating, he moved to China to teach English in a Chinese middle school. This one-year commitment turned into a nine year adventure. His last six years in China, David worked at a Christian international school teaching multiple subjects for sixth grade and middle school. He also earned a master’s of education from Indiana Wesleyan University and became certified through Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).

God has always directed David’s steps throughout life. From bringing him to Toccoa Falls College and giving him a desire to work with other cultures to connecting him with people that shaped him and introduced him to opportunities, David has saw God’s hand at work. Often David has prayed, “If it is your will, please open that door for me.” God has led him to volunteer and teach in the classroom for the past 20 years, primarily with students from ages 6-12.

David’s Christian walk and his family are of the utmost importance to him. He met his wife, Fan Fan, in China and they were married more than 12 years ago. They have two daughters. Naia is eight years old and is attending fourth grade at LSA. Enna is seven and attends second grade at LSA. David spends most of his time being a father and husband, but when he does have time to pursue other activities he enjoys playing ultimate Frisbee, disc golf and basketball.

Dawn Plescher, Fifth & Sixth Grade

Email DawnDawn-PleascherDawn Plescher grew up in the Grand Rapids area. She earned her BA in Elementary Education from Calvin College and is currently pursuing a MA in Curriculum and Instruction at Grand Valley State University. She began her teaching career in Anchorage, Alaska—first teaching second grade and then middle school. She also served as interim administrator for that school before dedicating her time to her growing family.

Dawn met her husband, Matt, in Anchorage. When Matt and Dawn moved back to the Grand Rapids area with their three children, Lydia (17), Ries (15) and Ian (12), they were looking for a community, church and school that reflected and valued diversity. When they heard about the mission of Living Stones Academy, they knew they wanted to be a part of a place that was intentional about embracing families from diverse backgrounds. Ries and Ian started at Living Stones the year it opened and Dawn began teaching at Living Stones in 2012. Their whole family is delighted to be a part of the wonderful community of people at Living Stones Academy.

Dawn considers it a privilege to help students to discover and delight in the way God created this world and works in it. She hopes that her students will see themselves as being “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps 139:14) and will see God working in their lives as well.

In addition to her work at Living Stones, Dawn enjoys her family, spending time outdoors, reading, baking, creating or learning something new.

Erin Colago, 5th/6th grade teacher

Email ErinFor the first time at Living Stones, the title of 5th/6th grade teacher will be shared; veteran teacher Dawn Plescher and Erin Colago will both have the position. Erin has been teaching at New Harvest Christian School in Oxnard, CA since the fall of 2011. Erin has experience teaching a variety of subjects and spent time teaching 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th. Erin and her husband Michael have three daughters, Sage, Beatrice, and Wren.

Lauren Newhuis, Educational Support Services Teacher

Email LaurenLauren is a graduate of Calvin College with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education. Lauren has a passion for cultivating student’s strengths and helping them become a successful student and follower of Christ. She believes that all children have been made in the image of God and is excited to become a part of the inclusive environment of Living Stones Academy.

Jo VanderPloeg, Office Administrator

Email JoJo VanderPloegJo grew up in the suburbs of Chicago where she attended both private and public schools. She came to Grand Rapids, MI to attend Calvin College where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in recreation. She worked professionally for Porter Hills Retirement Village as well as Wedgwood Christian Services until the birth of her oldest daughter. Jo was a stay-at-home mom for the next 5 years.

The enrollment of her daughters as students brought her to the LSA community in 2010. Jo feels most blessed that she is able to work in a school environment that is committed to its challenging mission for Christian education. John 10:10 is a favorite life verse. In it, Jesus says “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” At Living Stones Academy, we live life to the full!

Jo and her family live in the Eastown neighborhood where they enjoy the community of their neighbors. In her free time, Jo likes to read, practice yoga, and entertain family and friends around a home-cooked meal.

Lisa Spoelhof Schra, Advancement Director

Email LisaFor the past six years, Lisa and her family served at an international Christian day-school in Vienna, Austria, where Lisa was involved with fundraising, administration and implementing the International Baccalaureate program. Before moving to Austria, Lisa worked in the development office at Grand Rapids Christian Schools and helped them successfully complete a 25 million dollar capital campaign. Lisa and her husband Jeffrey have two sons, Willem and Xander, live in Eastown, and are active members of Sherman Street Church.

 


Our Planning Team

Trish Borgdorff

Trish has been a supporter and cheerleader of Living Stones Academy from its start. Among Trish’s many gifts is her ability to identify problems and provide solutions. Trish is the owner of Visiting Angels, and brings a skill set that compliments the board well. Trish has found a way to blend her keen sense of social justice and compassion as a small business owner who ministers to the needs of those served by her amazing staff.

Michael Remo

Michael Remo considers it a pleasure to serve as a board member for Living Stones Academy. He comes to LSA with experience in Juvenile Corrections (Juvenile Court), Community Development (ICCF Housing) and Youth Development (YMCA, Parks & Rec, Boys & Girls Club). He is married with one daughter who attends Hope College. He believes all children should have the opportunity to experience a Christian education. This is his motivation for wanting to join the LSA Board. He enjoys working with students, families as well as the community.

Melissa Williams

Melissa Williams is the treasurer of the board. She and her husband Aaron have four sons. The Williams family came to LSA in 2012 because they wanted an education for their children that was consistent with their family values. They feel the mission and sense of community at LSA are amazing and are very happy to be a part of it.

Melissa has a BBA and an MSA in accounting, and currently works at The Decc Company in Grand Rapids as an accountant and ERP system coordinator. She previously served as treasurer on the board of Southwest Cooperative Preschool. She enjoys doing work in the areas of accounting, tax and finance, and is eager to use her skills to serve God and support the mission of LSA.

Peter Boumgarden

Peter is an associate professor of management at Hope College, and a faculty fellow at the William Davidson Institute of Ross Business School, University of Michigan. In the 2016-17 year, he is a visiting professor at Washington University in St. Louis (Olin Business School) Peter’s research focuses on innovation and organizational structure, and he is  active in both executive education and consulting. Peter is excited about the opportunity to work with LSA to help guide an innovative, holistic, and value-driven Christian educational experience in an urban setting.

Liliane Tchuente

Originally from Cameroon, in Central Africa, Liliane and her family have been at LSA since 2011. She and her husband Albert believe in Christian education, and they saw LSA as the mean of teaching their four children the deepest values Jesus Christ taught us. Liliane has a Master’s degree in Biology, and works as a Practical Nurse at Porter Hills Village, a retirement community here in Grand Rapids. Liliane enjoys making other people feel better. She is motivated by the mission of LSA which is committed to inspiring, equipping and empowering students. She is starting her second year as a board member.