New Hires

A Special Back-to-School Message from Dr. Coffman

Dear Prairie Families,

Welcome to the 2018-19 school year!  While it is our first without our founder, I am confident that Mrs. Johnson would expect us all to embrace the future and move forward together for the continued growth and success of the Prairie community.

Prairie exists to make leaders who make a difference, and collectively we strive for the growth of every student as a scholar, artist, athlete and leader.  To attain this goal, we must continuously grow and improve as educators and parents; partnering together to know, value, support, and challenge each individual student to be his or her best self.

This summer has been a busy one for our faculty with more than a dozen different growth and development projects taking place as well as a shared reading of the ABC’s of How We Learn by Daniel L. Schwartz, Jessica M. Tsang, Kristen P. Blair.  Our goal was to develop a better understanding of the latest research on the many ways people learn and what specific pedagogical methods work best for each type of learning.  I have a few extra copies of the book and if you would like a copy, please stop by my office.

Thanks to your generosity, 2017-18 was a record fundraising year for Prairie.  Your support has allowed us to add a new computer coding teacher, a new robotics workshop and maker space, a new glass kiln, a full time art teacher, a whole range of facility updates and improvements, as well as make up the gap between your tuition and the actual full cost of educating each student.  I hope that each of you will continue your philanthropic support of our students through the Parent Prairie Fund so that we continue to thrive.

I also hope that you will join me in welcoming our new faculty members.  They are truly talented, experienced, conscientious, and inspiring educators.  The group includes two Ph.D.’s, an NCAA All-American, a grandmother, and much more.  You can read their short biographies here.

On a final note, I hope we all have a great year working together as a community committed to our collective growth and success.  We all benefit when we help those around us flourish.


Dr. Nat Coffman
Head of School and President

Bernoli Baello – Mathematics Teacher

    • Science & Math Teacher at Chesterton Academy, Milwaukee, WI
    • Adjunct Faculty at Milwaukee School of Engineering
    • Math and Science Chair at Northridge Preparatory School, Niles, IL
    • Materials Camp Master Teacher at ASM Educational Foundation Summer Workshops
    • Earth Science Adjunct Faculty at Wilbur Wright College of the City Colleges of Chicago
    • Research Assistant, NMR Facility Assistant, and TA at the University of Illinois Chicago
    • Mentor and Advisor at the Midtown Center, Chicago
    • B.S. in Chemistry, University of the Philippines at Diliman
    • M.A. in Education (Educational Leadership), Lewis University
  • Ph.D. Chemistry, University of Illinois at Chicago

Joan Bolewski – Director of Advancement

    • Sr. Director of Annual Giving, St. Catherine’s High School, Racine, WI
    • Director of Individual Giving, St. Catherine’s High School, Racine, WI
  • Director of Data & Research, St. Catherine’s High School, Racine, WI

Thomas Bresnehan – Mathematics Teacher

    • Science Department Head, Jackson Hole Community School, Jackson, WY
    • Science Teacher, The Rivers School, Weston, MA
    • Physics Teacher, Holderness School, Plymouth, NH
  • B.A. in Economics and Physics, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME

Izzi Buikus – Fine Arts Teacher

    • Art Teacher, Young Rembrandts, Milwaukee, WI
    • Lead Teacher, The Brookfield Center for the Arts, Brookfield, WI
    • Art Advocate, Boys and Girls Club, Milwaukee, WI
    • B.A. in Fine Arts, University of Wisconsin-Stout
  • M.A. in Educational Leadership, Concordia University, Portland, OR

Jennifer Cronin – Admission Department Administrative Assistant

    • Sales Analyst and Jr. Staff Accountant, Insinkerator, Racine, WI
    • B.A. in Business Finance, Univeristy of Wisconsin-Parkside
  • M.A. in Business, University of Wisconsin-Parkside

Hortense Dupin – Computer Programming Teacher

    • Marketing and Admissions Representative, The International School of Minnesota
    • Technology and Music Teacher, IT Manager, College Jeanne d’Arc, La Roche Chalais, France
    • Web Development Trainer/Community Manager, EPSECO, Perigueux and Bergerac, France
    • M.S. in Educational Technology, Iona College, New Rochelle, NY
  • B.A. in Business Administration and Computer Information Systems, Monroe College

Eric Hollow – Physical Education and Health Education Teacher

    • Long Term Physical Education Substitute, Wadewitz Elementary, Racine, WI
    • Recreational Activities Director for Developmentally Disabled (RADD), Racine, WI
  • B.S. in Education (K-12), University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Joseph Manley – Primary School Teacher

    • Kindergarten Teacher at Thoreau Elementary School, Thoreau, NM
    • Kindergarten and 1st Grade Teacher at Sundance Elementary School, Los Lunas, NM
    • B.A. in Art Studio, Saint Mary’s University, MN
  • Elementary Education Western New Mexico University, NM

Jason Louttit – Mathematics Teacher

    • Learning Specialist at the Mathematics and Statistics Learning Center, The Ohio State University
    • Part-Time Math Lecturer and Graduate Teaching Assistant, Ohio State University
    • Math Adjunct Faculty, Columbus State Community College
    • Chairman of the Adjunct Advisory Committee, Columbus State Community College
    • Math Tutor, Columbus State Community College
    • B.S. in Mathematics, The Ohio State University
  • M.A. in Education (Mathematics), The Ohio State University

Rachel Morello – Communication Manager

    • Education Reporter, WUWM 89.7, Milwaukee, WI
    • Education Reporter, Indiana Public Media, Bloomington, IN
  • B.S. in Journalism, Northwestern University

Sophia Penkala – Primary School Teacher

  • 3rd Grade Teacher at Saint Ann Catholic School, Prairie Village, KS
  • 4th Grade Teacher at Cathedral Catholic School, Portland, OR
  • Kindergarten and 3rd Grade Teacher at St. Nicholas Catholic School, Los Altos, CA
  • Kindergarten Teacher at Sacred Heart School, Atherton, CA
  • B.A. in Liberal Arts, Pepperdine University
  • M.A. in Education and Psychology, Pepperdine University

Zach Perkins – Strength & Conditioning Coach/Fitness Center Director

    • Director of Strength and Conditioning, Ohio University
    • Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, CSCS
    • B.S. in Education, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
  • M.S. in Education, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Gardner Seawright – MS Social Studies Teacher

    • Multicultural Education Instructor, University of Utah
    • B.S. in Sociology, University of Utah
    • M.A. in Education, Culture, and Society, University of Utah
  • Ph.D. in Education, Culture, and Society, University of Utah

Julianne Smith – School Nurse

    • Registered Nurse, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare All Saints, Racine, WI
    • Registered Nurse/ADN Degree, Gateway Technical College
  • B.S. in Letters & Science, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

Alesha Stam – Primary School Teacher

  • Director of Children’s Ministry at FBMZ, Florence, KY
  • Founder/Director of Pathways Preschool, Florence, KY
  • Kindergarten Teacher at JB Hunt Elementary, Springdale, AR
  • Director at Springdale Day Camp, Springdale, AR
  • Kindergarten Teacher at TG Smith Elementary, Springdale, AR
  • B.S. in Elementary Education, Southwest Baptist University

Ben Wagner – Theatre Department

  • Stage Manager, Antagonist Productions, Lexington, KY
  • Assistant Technical Director, Stage Right Theatre
  • Master Carpenter, Kentucky Conservatory Theatre
  • B.A. in Neuroscience and Theatre, Transylvania University