New Faculty 2019-2020

God continues to bless Saint Agnes School with amazing new faculty members! Please pray for each of our new educators over the summer and warmly welcome them in August as they bring their experiences, talents, and ideas to aid in our work of forming Catholic hearts and minds in faith, reason, and virtue. 

Sr. Gabriella Cotter, O.P. (1st Grade Homeroom)

Sr. Gabriella holds a degree in elementary education from Eastern Michigan University and is excited to teach 1st grade! She describes her call to religious life: “I am originally from Friendswood, TX. I was baptized Catholic and though I did go to Mass as a young child, as I grew older, going to Mass become secondary to everything in my ‘busy’ life. I was very involved in classical ballet. In fact, when I was 9 years old I was selected to audition for a Vaganova ‘Russian method’ ballet program. One month later, I found myself training a minimum of 3 hours a day and 6 hours or more on the weekend to attain my goal of become a professional ballet dancer. Ballet became my life, so naturally going to Mass on Sunday was no longer a priority. For the next five years, I was merely Catholic by name. It was not until I was a freshman in high school that I discovered Eucharistic Adoration for the first time. I had been invited to go on a youth retreat with my church. It was in that Holy Hour that I discovered the True Presence of our Lord. I was filled with an inner peace, and I fell in love with Jesus. Over the next few years, my love for the Eucharist continued to grow as I grew in my knowledge of the Faith. When I was a senior in high school, I met religious Sisters for the first time at a Life Teen camp in Georgia. The priest who introduced the Sisters to me said they were ‘Brides of Christ.’ When I looked at these young Sisters, I saw a joy and love that I wanted! As I went off to college, the Lord had wonderful plans in store for me as the Dominican Sisters of Mary lived in a Mission Convent just 30 minutes from where I was studying at Texas State University. As a student, I prayed with these Sisters, learned more about their lives, and realized that God was asking me to give my life to Him in this same radical yet beautiful way. I visited the Motherhouse in May of 2012 and entered 3 months later. Ten years ago, I could never have seen myself giving up ballet. However, over the years I have come to see that what I was attracted to in ballet was beauty, so when I discovered the eternal Goodness, Beauty, and Truth of the Catholic Church, giving up ballet was nothing in comparison. In the end, I have realized this is what I was made for; I belong to Him.” We are grateful to welcome Sr. Gabriella to Saint Agnes!

Ms. Jennifer Hagenauer (Montessori Aide)

Ms. Hagenauer recently completed a nine-month service program at a Catholic parish in Ireland. Of her experience, she writes: “At the Church of the Annunciation in Wexford, Ireland, I taught Catechism classes weekly in the local school to second and sixth graders, First Holy Communion preparation classes for parishioners who attended public schools, and I also organized and planned parish events, executed secretarial roles for the priests, and fostered many relationships with the parishioners and community members.” She has also travelled to Mexico and India for her studies. Ms. Hagenauer, a graduate of St. Mary’s College in South Bend, IN, has an amazingly diverse set of talents and interests, earning a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies with a concentration on Anthropology and a minor in Environmental Studies. She has extensive experience working with and caring for children and is also serving as a nanny for an Aggie family this year. She writes of her work with youth: “[My] past experiences and encounters have given me a strong desire and passion to aid children in their development.” We are excited to bring Ms. Hagenauer’s care and experience to our Montessori Preschool.

Ms. Agnes King (Montessori Assistant Guide & After School Care)

Ms. King is currently finalizing her Master’s in Catholic Studies, completing her final essay on Maria Montessori’s educational model and the Catholic Faith. Her background is a wonderful fit for our Preschool as she has both the intellectual knowledge of the Faith and Montessori philosophy, as well as hands-on experience in a Montessori environment. Most recently she has been working at Sunny Hollow Montessori, partaking in what she calls “the beautiful vision of Maria Montessori.” In addition to working in our Preschool, Ms. King will also serve in our After-School Care program for Lower School students. Ms. King writes: “For the last year, I have worked at a Montessori school as an extended day assistant and a substitute teacher for all levels of Montessori. This work complements my thesis on the question ‘Is Montessori Catholic?’ which will explore the Incarnational worldview inherent in the Montessori method and in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. It is exciting to see this method of education take off at Saint Agnes which is already so well regarded for the [Liberal Arts] classical approach, and I think that these two methods of education complement each other well.” Welcome to Saint Agnes, Ms. King!

Mrs. Lisa Leeson (6th Grade Homeroom)

Mrs. Leeson has lived and taught in various places throughout the country, travelling from state to state with her husband who had a career in the U.S. Military. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Mathematics from Mount Mary University, and subsequently earned her Master’s in Education from Cardinal Stritch University where she wrote her master’s essay on improving students’ benchmark reading scores. Having taught since 2002, Mrs. Leeson has been a homeroom teacher for 1st grade and 3rd grade, and she has most recently served as a Science/STEM and Math Specialist for 4th through 8th graders at St. Pascal’s. A mother of three and currently looking forward to her first grandchild, Mrs. Leeson highlighted the following about herself: “I am a practicing Catholic who is devoted to educating children and helping them become their best academically, spiritually, socially, emotionally, and behaviorally. I am a very detail-oriented, conscientious, and transparent person, who is open to learning new things, and continually looks for best practices. I am looking forward to getting back into being a full-time homeroom teacher, so I can really connect with my students.” We’re blessed to open a third section of 6th grade and even more blessed to have Mrs. Leeson join our faculty!

Mrs. April May (3rd Grade Homeroom)

Mrs. May has been teaching elementary students in Catholic schools since 2006, and she brings a wealth of experience and training including: a Master’s of Education in Teaching (University of MN), a strong knowledge of Liberal Arts/Classical curriculum, Orton-Gillingham training (in reading instruction), but most importantly a love of the Catholic Faith. She has experience catechizing children who are converting to the Faith and she’s also experienced in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd as an Atrium Aide. Most recently, Mrs. May has served as a 3rd grade teacher at The Atonement Academy, a Catholic Classical K-12 school in San Antonio, TX.  Originally from Minnesota, Mrs. May is excited to return to her home this summer with her family. Reflecting on her teaching career, Mrs. May wrote: “I strive to encourage each child to build upon his or her potential and work to fulfill God’s plan in each child’s life. Working together as a school team, I have collaborated with my colleagues in order to plan school-wide events, such as a science fair and Festival of Nations. My passion for my faith has led me to arrange vocation visits, celebrate feast days with my class, and teach them to pray in Latin.” Mrs. May will be a wonderful addition to our Lower School faculty!

Mrs. Kathy Silva (Upper School Mathematics)

Mrs. Silva will be teaching part-time in our Math Department, sharing her teaching gifts with both Saint Agnes’ Upper School and St. Peter’s elementary in Forest Lake where she resides with her family. Mrs. Silva earned her bachelor’s in Secondary Math Education and Mathematics from Bemidji State and her Master’s in Education from St. Mary’s University. She began her teaching career in 1993 at Anoka High School and has taught in public schools, Catholic homeschool consortiums (ARCHES), and Catholic schools throughout her career. Mrs. Silva, reflecting on her different experiences, wrote the following: “Slowly, after years of homeschooling my four children, I began teaching outside the home again […] I remembered very quickly why I chose math education as a career. I love it! And I love the students. I can honestly say that I love going to school. I love connecting with the kids, and I have especially loved bringing my Catholic faith into the classroom. Saint Agnes has always been at the top of my list spiritually. My husband and I were members right after we were married. Our first three children were baptized there by Fr. Altier. I believe I can bring talent, enthusiasm, and joy to my classroom.” We are excited to welcome Mrs. Silva and three of her children who will attend Saint Agnes this fall!

Ms. Claire Sorteberg (Grades 4-6 Religion & After School Care)

Ms. Sorteberg earned her bachelor’s degree in Theology at Benedictine College. This past school year, she served skillfully and reliably as a sub for Saint Agnes’ Lower School frequently during the 2nd semester. Ms. Sorteberg is fluent in German and spent the last three years in Germany where she met her fiancé, Mr. Adrian Missy; their wedding is set for early September of this year at Nativity of Our Lord! In addition to her fluency in German, Ms. Sorteberg has a background in theater, having worked for a Children’s Theatre program in Kansas and Open Window Theatre here in the Twin Cities as a stage director and director’s assistant. In the recent past she has also worked with both NET Ministries and Dunrovin Retreat Center for consecutive years. One of her younger sisters, Mary, is an alumna of Saint Agnes School. Ms. Sorteberg writes: “As a lifelong seeker of truth and answers, I have been preparing for the role of teacher before I even knew I wanted a classroom. My own curiosity and desire to learn is what makes teaching so enjoyable for me; I love watching others discover more about the world. Additionally, my theatre background contributes heavily to the creativity I can bring to my students. I sincerely enjoyed the time I spent substituting for Saint Agnes this past spring. There is a unique quality in your student body, and I am excited to contribute to your school’s educational goals.” Welcome back, Ms. Sorteberg!

Mr. Steve Truran (Grades 5-8 Instrumental Music)

Mr. Truran has been a professional musician and educator for over thirty years. He brings an amazing wealth of experience and connections to band directors and programs throughout the state to our school. His instrumental areas of emphasis include brass specialist, jazz band, and jazz improvisation. Mr. Truran earned his bachelor’s degree in Music with a minor in Business from Gustavus Adolphus College and his Master’s of Music in Jazz Performance (Trumpet) from Indiana University; he is a member of the Minnesota Band Directors’ Association. For close to twenty years, Mr. Truran served as the President of Logos Productions, an independent religious publisher of music for Christian churches. Mr. Truran writes: “I have a great deal of experience teaching middle and high school band students. Currently, I teach at three schools.  My responsibilities at these schools include directing six jazz bands, two jazz combos, brass instruction for marching band, and private lessons in all brass instruments (grades 4-12).” We are proud to welcome Mr. Truran to our faculty, joining Mrs. Truran, his wife, who teaches grades K-4 Music.

Mrs. Rachel Zinter (Upper School Mathematics)

Mrs. Zinter has been teaching high school mathematics since 2002, and she comes to Saint Agnes after eight years with Nova Classical Academy’s Math Department where she taught courses ranging from Pre-Algebra to Calculus and served as Department Head. In addition to teaching math, Mrs. Zinter has also taught within the Humanities even teaching a course on Ancient World History! She earned her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education with a minor in Mathematics and Geography from Concordia University. She writes: “I have long heard about Saint Agnes, and it has always been on my radar as a place I would like to teach someday. I enjoy[ed teaching] at Nova Classical Academy, but I believe in the importance of Christian Education. I am a practicing Christian, [and] I support your mission in the Catholic Faith. I am a huge supporter of the Pro-Life movement, and I was so happy when some of my Nova students wanted me to supervise their group. In addition, Classical Education training has allowed me to see what I was already doing right [in my teaching] and what I can do better. Now, I stress the grammar of math, and it helps my students to read directions and the textbook, and it takes them less time to understand new material. I love Jesus, Christian education, and I’m excited to teach at school with a greater purpose.” We are grateful to welcome Mrs. Zinter to Saint Agnes!

We are also pleased to welcome back:

Mr. Rick Peters, who has discerned that he will stay on for at least two more years at Saint Agnes, leading our junior high and high school concert bands.

Dr. Kathleen Kirsch, who will be teaching Latin for grade 3-6 in addition to her work teaching upper school Latin and theology.