Tyler Smith - 2nd Grade Teacher

Tyler Smith - 2nd Grade Teacher

Tyler teaches Second Grade at Gordon Parks. He got his teaching license through an online Masters Program through Kansas State University. This will be his first official year as a full time teacher. He student taught last year at Gordon Parks and he was a boxing coach for the last five years. Through boxing he grew to love working with kids and teenagers helping them achieve their goals and make a difference in their life.
Before Gordon Parks he worked at a clinical research company for three and a half years in addition to being a boxing coach. He also worked at a bank for two years and a news station for a little over a year. He was born and raised in Kansas and for the last three years has lived in Missouri.

“I'm most looking forward to continuing where we left off last year in building relationships with our students. I was lucky to student teach in the same grade that I will be teaching this year so I will be familiar with how things work at that level. I also was lucky to finish the last two weeks last year as a substitute teacher for first grade. So I was able to get to know the students I will be getting this year.”

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Tamara Allen-Williams - 2nd Grade Teacher

Tamara Allen-Williams - 2nd Grade Teacher

Mrs. Tamara Allen-Williams grew up right here in Kansas City, Missouri.  Her love for education began with her start in private education.  One of the 8th grade graduation requirements was to write an autobiography, and she stated then that she was going to be a teacher.  Her 36 years of teaching experience is proof of her non-wavering determination.  “Active learning is the foundation for student empowerment.  That’s why I am a lifelong learner.”  She enjoys visits from previous students.  “One of the greatest feelings is to teach a student that is the child of a former student.  That’s how I know I made a difference in that student’s life.” Mrs. Allen-Williams lives in the Kansas City area and has two adult sons.

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Brenda Boyles - 2nd Grade Teacher

Brenda Boyles - 2nd Grade Teacher

Brenda Boyles will be teaching second grade at Gordon Parks. Mrs. Boyles grew up in Michigan and upon graduation from high school she moved to Greenville, South Carolina to attend Bob Jones University. She graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education and a Minor in English. She then moved to the Kansas City area to teach second grade. She has taught for over fifteen years, most recently focusing on Pre-K before returning to elementary education. 

Mrs. Boyles and her husband have five children and one granddaughter. In her free time she enjoys gardening and returning to Michigan to visit family.

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Brenna Hart - 4th Grade Teacher

Brenna spent two years as a teacher assistant in a pre-k/kindergarten blended classroom. She then accepted a position in the Kansas City Teacher Residency. She completed her residency year and is now ready for her first year as teacher of record! She was attracted to GPES commitment to teach the whole child through a trauma smart lens. She is looking forward to building connections with students, families, and staff! Brenna says, “I am so excited to be welcomed into the Gordon Parks community!”

Jennifer Clay - Academic Officer / Principal

Jennifer Clay - Academic Officer / Principal

Mrs. Jennifer Clay has over 16 years experience in education. She has taught almost every grade level from Kindergarten through Seventh grade and was an instructional coach for five years. She has spent her time in Raytown, MO and Buffalo, MO, and nine years in Liberty, MO.

Mrs. Clay graduated from Southwest Baptist University with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary and Middle School Education with emphasis in the areas of Language Arts and Social Studies.  She earned her Master's Degree from Webster University in Curriculum and Instruction again with an added emphasis in Communication Arts. 

Mrs. Hagemaster graduated from Southwest Baptist University with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary and Middle School Education with emphasis in the areas of Language Arts and Social Studies.  She earned her Master's Degree from Webster University in Curriculum and Instruction again with an added emphasis in Communication Arts.  Mrs. Hagemaster is eager to work with the teachers, students, and families of Gordon Parks Elementary.

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Kirsten Lipari-Braman - Operations Officer

Kirsten Lipari-Braman - Operations Officer

Kirsten Lipari-Braman is the Coordinator of the Federal School Improvement Grant. Previously she served as the Director of Federal Programs for the Kansas City, Missouri School District, assisting with the coordination and implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) compliance mandates as well as the analysis and evaluation of their effectiveness.  Mrs. Braman participated in developing administrative guidelines and policies for federal programs, and implementation of Title I Choice and Supplemental Education Services, working with transportation and service providers, and acting as liaison to parents ensuring federal regulations were followed. Prior to working in Federal Programs at the state and local level, Mrs. Braman was a Reading Specialist serving teachers and students in preschool through 6th grade, including gifted and talented.

She has taught science and mathematics at various grade levels, provided special education direct instruction to seventh and eighth graders in communication arts and math, and was a reading specialist for grades preschool through sixth.  Mrs. Braman received her Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education from Avila University and Masters of Education in Reading from Northwest Missouri State University. She is a certified Reading Specialist and Elementary Teacher for Grades 1-6.

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Leslie Gasser - Chief Development Officer

Leslie joined the staff in 2017 and is responsible for annual fundraising, major gifts, and community awareness.

Leslie attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri.   She is active in the community and in her profession, serving on the Board of Connecting for Good and as an active member of Rotary Club 13 and the Mid-America Chapter of AFP.  She and her husband Pete live in Roeland Park and are busy raising a family of 4 active boys.

Pam Justus - Dean of Students

Pam Justus - Dean of Students

Pamela Justus has 23 years experience in education, and she might love her work even more now than when she began which says a lot.  She has taught almost every grade and subject from kindergarten through 8th grade, spent 10 years teaching, supervising, and collecting data at UMKC School of Education, and was also an instructional coach.  Her experience was gathered in Houston, KCK, and Kansas City.

Ms. Justus graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education with a reading endorsement.  She earned her Master's Degree from UMKC in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Urban Education.

Ms. Justus enjoys living a life she doesn't need a vacation from.  She seeks joy, whimsy, and creative fun in everyday moments.  She loves her people, wellness as a study, and capturing her gratitude with a picture every single day.

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Abbie Plummer - Development and Marketing Manager

Abbie Plummer joined Gordon Parks working with Leslie as the Development and Marketing Manager. She is excited to be a part of this staff and get to know the team as the school year goes on. She moved to Kansas City in January, 2019, after recently graduating from Kansas State University with my Bachelors in Public Relations.

In her free time, she enjoys exercising, playing slow-pitch softball, taking her Husky/German Shepard to the dog park and spending time with her family and friends.

April Maroney - Curriculum & Instruction

April Maroney - Curriculum & Instruction

“I am originally from Tennessee and I’m entering my 16th year in education.  However, I have spent the last 12 years working at Arlington Elementary in Lexington, Kentucky. During those 12 years I served as a classroom teacher, intervention teacher and MTSS coordinator.  

I am so excited to join the Gordon Parks Elementary community and getting to know the students, family and staff.  I can tell that Gordon Parks is truly student focused and strives to do what is best for each student. I look forward to stepping into the role of Director of Curriculum so that I can come  support teaches in providing a quality education for all students.”

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Caylie Yessa - Curriculum and Instruction

Caylie Yessa - Curriculum and Instruction

“I'm originally from central Wisconsin. I graduated from University of Wisconsin - La Crosse with a Bachelors in Psychology and University of Missouri - St. Louis with my Master's in Education. I have taught middle school science in Kansas City, MO, Kansas City, KS, and Brooklyn, NY.

I truly look forward to returning to Kansas City and to serving the children and families of GPES as Director of Curriculum and Instruction”

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Deborah Moore - Transitional Kindergarten

Deborah Moore - Transitional Kindergarten

Ms. Deb Moore started her career with children as a Juvenile Probation Officer after graduating from Kansas State University with a degree in Early Childhood and Community Services. Ms. Moore has also worked at the Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services in Wyandotte County, as a teacher in the pilot program for Parents as Teachers in Kansas City, MO, and finally as a teacher at Operation Breakthrough. Today, Ms. Moore works in the Kindergarten classroom.

Ms. Moore has two grown children. Her daughter is a senior prosector working for the State of Missouri and her son is working on furthering his career in Los Angeles, CA. In her spare time, Ms. Moore spends time with family, friends, books and the occasional workout.

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Justine Volkman - Kindergarten Teacher

Justine Volkman - Kindergarten Teacher

“My name is Justine Volkman and I am thrilled to be joining the team at Gordon Parks. I moved to Kansas City five years ago to teach with Teach for America. I started my teaching career at Operation Breakthrough teaching Pre-K for three years. After that I worked abroad creating an early childhood curriculum in Tanzania, Africa. Most recently I was a Kindergarten teacher at Hogan Preparatory Elementary.

I am so excited to have a small student to teacher ratio at Gordon Parks that will allow me to provide each student with the love, attention, and academic rigor that he or she deserves.

I am drawn to the mission and vision of Gordon Parks based on my deeply held belief in nurturing the whole child. I believe that students need to feel safe, seen, and respected in order to learn. My priority in the classroom is to grow students as human beings with kind hearts, curious brains, and brave bodies. I am so grateful to be part of the Gordon Parks community!”

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Tina Monks - Technology Coordinator

Tina Monks - Technology Coordinator

Tina Monks is excited to be at Gordon Parks as the Instructional Technology Coordinator and Technology Teacher.  She has been in education for 16 years, starting as a 3rd grade teacher in a technology rich classroom which sparked her interest for technology in education.  She loves to help teachers and students use technology to expand and enrich their learning. 

Mrs. Monks graduated from the University of Central Missouri with a dual major in elementary and early childhood education and received her master’s degree from Webster University in teaching.  She has also completed a graduate certificate program in online teaching and learning, and in December of 2015 she recieved her Education Specialist Degree in Educational Technology from the University of Central Missouri.

Mrs. Monks and her husband have 3 children.  In their free time they enjoy going to the lake and traveling to new places.

Classroom Website: http://gpeslinks.weebly.com/

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Michael Turner - Security / Facilities

Michael Turner - Security / Facilities

Michael Turner was no stranger to Gordon Parks when he joined the facility staff. 

"Four of my children went to school here," he said proudly.  "I know what this school offers--small class sizes and lots of encouragement. This job is a good fit for me," Mr. Turner said. "I feel strongly about the teamwork and positive reinforcement that is fostered at Gordon Parks.  There is nothing else like it."

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Virginia Hall - Kindergarten

Virginia Hall - Kindergarten

Virginia Hall moved to Kansas City from Louisiana. She worked at Center School District as a Behavior Interventionist Specialist for nine years, In-School Suspension Specialist for two years and tutor in Louisiana with a focus in Math and Science. Ms. Hall was a substitute teacher at Gordon Parks prior to starting full-time in the kindergarten classroom.  Ms. Hall also enjoys spending time with her two daughters and family.

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Meryci Diaz - Administrative Assistant

Meryci Diaz - Administrative Assistant

Meryci D. Diaz-Quezada was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. She and her family moved to the United States when she was 13 years old to give her siblings and herself a better life.

Merycimoved to Kansas City from New York 10 years ago. She is the proud mother of two wonderful children, Wennely, who has a passion for singing and Michael, who loves basketball. She attended Penn Valley Community College and worked as an Administrative Assistant at a previous school for two years. S

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Lauren Gonzalez - Family Coordinator

Lauren Gonzalez - Family Coordinator

Lauren Gonzales was born and raised in Kansas City and graduated from Park University with a Bachelors Degree in Child and Family Studies.  She loves working with children and feels that the development and emotional needs of each child is very important.  She is also excited to build positive relationships with the students, families and her coworkers here at Gordon Parks. 

Lauren enjoys spending time with family, taking walks, reads and loves to water ski!

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