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


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.


Holly Hedges

Administratie Assistant 

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!


Melissa JohnsTon

Administrative Assistant

I'm very excited to be joining the Granger Christian School team this year!

God has led me down a winding path in my professional career for a nice range in my professional skill set. I was with a local credit union for 10 years in clerical/administrative roles in various departments. Then, I went to college in 2011 at Brown Mackie in Mishawaka graduating with an Associates degree with a focus as Occupational Therapy Assistant in 2013. I have been able to use the knowledge I've gained with my career and educational backgrounds, with God's divine guidance, to be able to combine all the things I love doing into my new role at GCS working as Administrative Assistant in the office and Admissions. 


I have been married 17 years to my wonderful husband, Jeremy. We have one daughter, Alyssia, who is a student here at GCS. We have four cat's (Belle, Tuxie, Blue, Frankenstien- we love animals!) and love to travel and explore this beautiful country.

prek team




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.




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.


Kandina Bernhard

Prekindergarten Aid

I will be graduating in December with an associates in Early Childhood Education! This is my third year as teachers aide at GCS.

I love getting to know the students and teachers as I work with them I work with Pre-k through 5th grade. I also love working with the teachers and helping them out with projects, copies, one on one work with the students, etc.

elementary team


Karin Hartman

Kindergarten Teacher

After being a homeschool mom and long time substitute teacher, Karin recently completed the Transition to Teaching program at Bethel University and is enjoying her first year of teaching at GCS.




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.


Paul Freet

Second Grade Teacher

I graduated from Bethel College in 2016 with a B.A. in Bible and Ministry.  In the Spring of 2021, I completed the Transition to Teaching program at Bethel University with the focus on Elementary Education.  Prior to teaching, my work experience is rather diverse.  It ranges from painting RV’s to placing dental fillings as an EFDA.  I have also served as a Lead Pastor.  I taught Kindergarten at GCS in 2020-2021 and then transitioned to 2nd Grade for the 2021-2022 school year.  In my free time, I enjoy being with my wife and family, playing guitar and singing, as well as playing games and being active.

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Third Grade Teacher

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.

Fourth Grade Teacher

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. 

Fifth Grade Teacher / Tech Coordinator

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




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.




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.


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!


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.




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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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.


Rhonda Cheney

Secondary English

I am so excited to be joining the Granger Christian School faculty! I bring with me years of education, service, and a love for children. My degree in Education is from Indiana University South Bend, and I have also completed some graduate work with Ball State. Previously, I worked for several area school systems as both a paraprofessional and a classroom teacher. I also have experience with homeschooling, teaching Sunday School, and leading Youth Group. Loving God and loving people is at the heart of everything I do. 


My husband, Craig, and I have two girls, ages 7 and 9. We live on a farm with lots of chickens, ducks, and geese. We also have two dogs, a lab (Maggie Jane) and a service dog (Liberty) for our oldest daughter who is autistic. 

Additional Teachers


Trisha Emswiler

Athletic Director

Bio coming.

Find out more about Athletics at Granger Christian HERE>>

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Kiel Boynton

Chapel Worship Team Teacher

I graduated from Cedarville University in 2006 with a degree in Sports Management and a minor in Bible. I then went on the United States Sports Academy where I received my Masters Degree in Sports Management in 2009.  I have taught the GCS worship team for the past few years and I love watching students grow in their love of using the gifts God gave them!  I became the Worship Director at Grace church in 2015.  Before Grace Church I was the worship director and Youth pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Salem, Oregon for four years. 


In my free time I love baseball, playing guitar, spending time with my wife and kids, and watching the Dodgers!



Physical Education

I graduated from Defiance College with Bachelor of Arts in Wellness and Athletic Training. From there I received my Masters in Art in Organizational Leadership. For the last three years I served as the Hot Lunch Administrator. Last year I took over teaching Elementary PE. This year begins my first year as a full time teacher teaching PK-9th grade PE and K-5th grade Computers.

I love to see kids get excited about a new skill they learn in gym. Last year I had a parent tell me that their Kindergartner was teaching her family to do push ups and told them how they were doing them wrong.
My passion is my family and I feel very blessed to have a wonderful husband and kids.

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Mary Fairchild


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.


Eunice Thomas


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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