our staff

We have a great group of people who are committed to serving the students at GCS. Learn a little more about them here.  

office staff

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Larry Pender

Head of School

I grew up in a Christian home in Hobart, Indiana and accepted Christ at age 7 at a Backyard Bible Club. I attended Hammond Baptist High School from 8th-12th grades, Tennessee Temple University for my Bachelors, and Liberty University for my Masters in Education. I have served as an assistant pastor, lead pastor, school teacher and head of school over the past 36 years in 5 different states. However, I grew up in Indiana where I met and later married my highschool sweetheart, Teri Thomasino, and am so blessed to return to our home state after years of ministry in other states. With 19 years of leading Christian Schools it is my prayer that I can lead Granger Christian School to prepare hundreds of Christian young people at GCS to become the leaders God wants them to be and to make an incredible impact on our world.

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katie

kray

Executive Administrative Secretary & Choice

I am a Bethel Graduate with two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Criminal Justice and Liberal Arts with American Sign Language. I started at GCS as the admissions secretary working alongside my big sister! Yes, Mrs. Olesen is my sister. I am now the Executive Administrative Secretary and Choice Scholarship point person. I also advise the Foreign Language Class.

I speak with my hands! You will often see me spelling something in American Sign Language. Or learning a popular song in sign language, sometimes Chapel songs.

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Holly Hedges

Admissions Secretary

I started working at GCS in the preschool program. Last year, I was the Preschool director and enjoyed that time with our youngest students. This is my first year working admissions in the front office and I love it!

It is a joy to watch kids grow and learn. Children that I worked with in Preschool are now heading into fourth grade and it is neat to see how they grow and mature!

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Stephanie Olesen

Attendance Secretary

I have a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education from Indiana University. I taught second grade through fifth grade over the span of seven years before becoming a stay at home mom. I started working at GCS in 2015 as a secretary in the front office. I loved being a teacher, so it feels very natural for me to be in school even in a different capacity interacting with all of our kids and parents.

I do announcements every morning over the loud speaker and I count it an honor and a privilege to pray over our students everyday!

prek team

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Jacklyn

Earl

Prekindergarten Teacher

I grew up in NY state where I attended Corning Community College and Houghton College. I enjoy spending time with my family, gardening, hiking, and biking. I have been with GCS Preschool since 2016.

In the classroom, I love to share great books and create fun projects about the stories we read. One of my favorite parts of the day is singing songs together that help us learn God's word and remind us how much he loves us.

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Flor

Acevedo

Prekindergarten Teacher

Born and raised in El Salvador, my native language is Spanish or "Castellano"I moved to California in 1999. I am a wife, and a mother of two girls and I'm passionate about working with preschool age children. I have an Associate's degree in Business, a Child Development Associate Credential (CDA), and finishing my Associates in Early Childhood Education. 

My favorite subjects are Social Studies and Creative Movement.

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Kandina Bernhard

Prekindergarten Aid

Bio Coming

elementary team

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Paul

Freet

Kindergarten Teacher

Bio Coming

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Angela

Vega

First Grade Teacher

I teach first grade at GCS. I have been teaching 19 years (4 here at GCS) and have taught Kindergarten and first grade. I live with my husband, Daniel, and our 2 daughters attend GCS.

I love teaching kids and building relationships with my students. Watching first graders grow as readers is so exciting! I enjoy teaching our character clubs unit and doing STEM challenges with students.

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Stacey Hampton

Second Grade Teacher

I have been teaching for 15 years and have been working at GCS for 4 years. I went to New Buffalo High School and received my degree in education from Bethel College (now Bethel University).

I really enjoy teaching math, science and social studies. I love teaching math using hands on learning and stations. One of my favorite projects of the year is when we teach the life cycle of butterflies and we get to watch them grow.

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April

Geibe

Third Grade Teacher

Heidi

Markum

Fourth Grade Teacher

Jeff

Kreider

Fifth Grade Teacher / Tech Coordinator

I am in my 20th year of teaching. My focus was in lower elementary (mainly kindergarten) before transitioning up to 3rd grade in the fall of 2019.

 

In my free time, I enjoy reading, participating in BSF, playing games, and spending time with my husband Josh.

This is my 4th year teaching 4th grade at GCS. I previously taught five years of Elementary Education in public schools. My teaching career of 16 years were enjoyed in Preschool. I graduated from Indiana University and also completed courses at St. Mary's Holy Cross.

As I walk around the classroom hearing, "Now I get it," to "My writing has improved so much," brings a smile across my face. I love teaching math and provide meaningful experiences to grasp understanding. Having inquiry based group projects are a passion of mine and to watch as each student explains their project is so fulfilling!

I graduated from IU South Bend in Winter of 2005 with a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education and a Middle School Social Studies minor. I taught 11 years teaching 3rd grade before coming to GCS. This is my 4th year teaching 5th Grade at GCS.

My goal is to create a strong community of learners that explore, create, and collaborate using critical thinking and technology. One of my favorite projects is the learning about the Caldecott Award for best picture book. I enjoy connecting and helping students develop as readers. I enjoy history and in 5th grade we study the American Revolution more in depth.

Secondary team

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Kelly

Glisson

Secondary History/English & BETA

I have a degree in History and Secondary Education from Geneva College (Beaver Falls, PA). I have been teaching at GCS since 2016. Before that I taught in Hawaii and Arizona.

I love teaching the American Civil War, Ancient Egyptian History, the World Wars, and Government. I am also a huge Cleveland and Ohio State fan.

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Audrey

Meert

Secondary History/Science

I graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Secondary History Education, and I have been teaching in Christian schools ever since! I joined the team here at GCS in 2018 as the Middle School History teacher, but my role has expanded since then to include teaching some high school classes, coaching volleyball, and directing drama.

One of the reasons that I became a teacher was to help students see the world outside of themselves. I love seeing the light in their eyes as they realize the beauty found in the variety of God's creation both in nature and the people He created.

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Jena Stevenson

Secondary Math/Science & Yearbook

I have taught secondary mathematics and yearbook at GCS for four years. I graduated from Grace College in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Mathematics Education. Granger Christian School has always been home for me, as I attended school at GCS for 12 years, graduating in 2013. My sister, Rachel, also graduate from GCS in 2017.

I enjoy teaching middle and high school students and building their confidence in mathematics, as well as helping students creatively capture the school year in our yearbook. A favorite project of mine is creating origami dodecahedrons with my Geometry classes!

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Keri Aldridge

Secondary Math

I have a B.S. in Business Education, an M.B.A. and the required credits in mathematics coursework to be licensed to teach secondary math. This is my fifth year teaching Mathematics at GCS.

I enjoy challenging students to use various problem-solving strategies and to tackle hard problems.

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Julie

Abbott

Secondary Math 

I have a B.S. in Mathematics from Wheaton College and a M.S. in Biostatistics from The School of Public Health at The University of Michigan. This is my 7th year teaching Math at GCS. My husband and I have 5 children, two are GCS grads and two are current students.

I love teaching all math, but I especially like teaching AP Calculus. It is a type of math that most students have never seen before, and I like seeing their sense of accomplishment when they understand.

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adam

Willis

Secondary Bible Teacher

I Graduated with a B.S. in Youth Ministries from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2003. This is my 3d year teaching Bible at GCS. I worked as a Youth/ Student Ministry Pastor for 14 years in the local church in the Grand Rapids & Mishawaka areas before coming on board as the Bible teacher here at Granger Christian School.

I have always had a heart for students to know, understand and grow in their knowledge and understanding of God's word. I want them to know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior and develop a faith that is their own so that when they graduate from High School they not only have a personal relationship with Christ but desire to grown and impact the world for sake of the Gospel where ever they go. I also absolutely love to plan and run trips and retreat for students and especially look forward to the High school trips we go on each year.

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Lori

Nieter

Secondary English/Science

I have been teaching at GCS for 11 years. I started with teaching in elementary with 6th grade and I moved to middle school when 6th grade moved about 9 years ago. I have taught English, History and now Science.

I went back to school in 2009 through the Transition To Teaching Program at Bethel and I graduated in 2010. I also have a Master's Degree in teaching from Bethel.

My husband and I have been married for 24 years and we have two children, Shelly, 23 , and Michael, 20. Both of our kids attended GCS from kindergarten until 12th grade.

Additional Teachers

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Todd Peterson

Secondary PE

It has been a great joy facilitating gym classes for the secondary grades. Teaching P. E. class was never on my radar as I graduated from Penn High school and Bethel University, but the opportunity to impact the students through physical activity and promote positive leadership qualities in them was something I couldn't pass up.

Most of the students know me also as Coach Peterson for the soccer teams. My time coaching the soccer programs here started 3 years ago and I have enjoyed watching our players develop their skills from year to year.

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Mary Harrison

Art and Elementary Library

Mary Harrison joined the GCS faculty in 2018. She has been teaching for over twenty years, first in life science and biology, then for many years as an elementary teacher. Since 2011 she has served as a visual art instructor for both elementary and secondary classes. Sharing beauty and inspiration from God's world through art is one of her greatest joys in life. Ms. Harrison currently also fills the roles of library and computer technology instructor for elementary students.

 

Ms. Harrison holds multiple certifications, Indiana state licence and ACSI certification. Her degrees include biology from the University of California  San Diego, education from California State Fresno, and a master's in fine arts from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Ms. Harrison is also a licensed minister through Higher Ground School of Ministry.

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Mary Fairchild

Paraprofessional

I have a bachelor's degree in elementary education with five years of experience teaching first and second grade. I have been a paraprofessional here at GCS for two years.

I love to see students get excited when they understand something that was hard for them at first.

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Eunice Thomas

Paraprofessional

I graduated from Bob Jones University with my degree in Early Childhood Education. God has blessed me with 25+ years of multifaceted experience in the field of education - from preschool, pre- kindergarten, building substitute, to special education. I am truly blessed to be in my third year here at GCS!

My all-time favorite thing is when that "light bulb" goes off in a student's head - that "I finally got it" moment. This never grows old! My heart's desire is to bring out God's very best in every student that He brings my way.

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Trisha Emswiler

Athletic Director

Bio coming.

Find out more about Athletics at Granger Christian HERE>>

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Katlin Stewart

Lunch Program

Bio coming.

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Kristi Littrell

Lunch Program

Bio coming.

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Kiel Boynton

Chapel Worship Team Teacher

Bio coming.

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