Head of School, Bible, English
For nearly forty years, Tammy Walker has served in the field of education in a number of diverse roles. She has worked with students ranging from fifth grade through undergraduate classes. Her experiences have included Christian, secular private, and public schools, and she has taught in the regular classroom and in special education. Early in her career, she was blessed by the call to found a Christian school, Cornerstone Academy, where she was the Head of School and a full-time teacher for twenty-one years. An out-of-town job change for her husband resulted in her leaving Cornerstone. However, circumstances during the pandemic brought him home, and he is working locally again. Most recently, she has served as the middle school language arts teacher at Twin Oaks Christian School. She has served as head of school since 2021. In accepting God’s call to shepherd the students at Heritage, she is committed to pray for, to love and nurture, and to challenge each student to make glorifying God the hallmark of his/her life.
B.S. in Elementary Education, Minor in Bible - Lee University, 1983; M.Ed. in Educational Psychology - The Wichita State University, 1987
Larry Birchler started teaching at Heritage in 2016, but has been teaching since 1965. In that time he has taught in three different Christian schools and also taught college courses. Mr. Birchler earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a minor in Bible from Covenant College, and a master’s degree in education from Whitworth University. Mr. Birchler is also an accomplished cartoonist -- he earned a certificate in cartooning and has published two Christian comic books. When not in the classroom, he enjoys collecting memorabilia from old western, superhero, and science fiction television programs. Mr. Birchler has taught high school and adult Sunday school classes for over 50 years.
BA in Mathematics, Minor in Bible - Covenant College, 1965; Master of Education - Whitworth University, 1974
Director of Finance, Art, Graphic Arts
BS in Computer Science, University of Missouri, Science and Technology 1988
Mrs. Cunningham is new to Heritage as both a parent and a teacher. She has been a teacher for 12 years in the public school sector. Her experience spans special education, third grade, sixth grade ELA, and ESL. Currently she works with MTW, a missionary sending agency for the PCA. She has been married for 20 years to and they have 4 children ranging from 7th grade to college. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, renovation projects, and the beach.
BS in Missions and Biblical Studies Evangel University, 2001; MS in Education Missouri Baptist University, 2008; MA in TESOL Southeast Missouri State University , 2020
Kathy Erickson has been a parent at Heritage since 2012 and the Office Manager since 2018. She has a degree in Elementary Education from Wheaton College and spent six years teaching sixth graders before staying home with her children. She has lead Bible studies and been a school librarian. She has lived all over the country, coast to coast, but loves life in St. Louis. She has three grown kids. She considers it a privilege to share Heritage with new families and and to serve the teachers in the office.
BA in Elementary Education - Wheaton College, 1991
Margaret Fitzsimmons came to Heritage first as a parent. This year she adds math teacher to her list of roles. Trained in Education, Mrs. Fitzsimmons has taught in all kinds of environments, including English language students in Taiwan and students in the division of youth services. Her experience covers all subjects and grade levels. Most recently she homeschooled her two sons while working as an advisor for Trinity Law School. In her spare time she enjoys reading, crafts, cooking and bike riding, hiking, camping with the boy scout troop.
BA in History, Saint Louis University, 2005; BA in Education, Saint Louis University, 2005, TEFL Certification, Hess Language School, 2006
Elaina Furlan is a pediatric nurse who is very passionate about science and Jesus. Mrs. Furlan was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and in November 2013, she moved to St. Louis with her family due to Mr. Furlan’s job transfer. She has three children, two boys and a girl, all born in Brazil. She was a stay-at-home mom for ten years, but when she moved here, God put into her heart to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. She graduated from the Accelerated Nursing program at St. Louis University and will finish her master’s degree in 2023. Mrs. Furlan always loved science, she became a believer when she was in college back in Brazil and realized the Bible and science are entirely compatible, and she was fascinated by that. She loves to spend time with her family and travel to Brazil to visit her extended and church family they left there.
BS in Medical Modality (Biomedicine) - Federal University of Sao Paulo, 2000; BS in Nursing - Saint Louis University School of Nursing, 2018; MS in Nursing Education - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, expected 2023
Lauren Garber started teaching at Heritage in 2018. She brings 14 years of prior teaching experience. Mrs. Garber has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and master’s degree in environmental engineering, both from University of Missouri - Columbia. She is a licensed professional engineer and prior to teaching spent 5 years working as a consulting engineer for projects across the United States. With a deep love for higher level math and science, Mrs. Garber is committed to preparing students for AP exams, college entrance exams, and college level courses. Mrs. Garber also enjoys backpacking with her family, creating pottery, and playing the piano.
BS in Civil Engineering - University of Missouri-Columbia, 1994; MS in Environmental Engineering - University of Missouri-Columbia, 1995
Hannah (Geisz) Baartman
Hannah (Geisz) Baartman is the new Education Coordinator for the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival. This is her first year teaching Drama for us here at Heritage. She has performed with various St. Louis theatres, including The MUNY, Metro Theatre Company, and the Festival’s TourCo. As an educator, she has taught and created curriculums for Advanced Theatre Movement, Acting Technique, Musical Theatre Performance, Theatre History, Voice for the Stage, and Dance. She runs a Voice Studio with both students and professional vocalists, and is developing various Shakespeare Performance Programs in schools across the city. She is excited to bring the gospel into her teaching. "Theatre can be an excellent place for growing a Gospel-attitude towards others. Throughout the process of creating a show, everyone involved is confronted with clear choices on what kind of attitude they will adopt towards their own role and their fellow cast-mates. The actor has the mantra ‘make the other person look better than myself,’ while Jesus exhorts us to ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility count others as more significant than yourselves,’ Philippians 2:3.”
BFA in Musical Theater - Millikin University, 2019
Pam Harlow is passionate about Jesus, students, education, and families. She loves to incorporate sports into the lives of kids to encourage the development of their minds, bodies and spirits. She believes sports and teams give students the opportunities to grow and challenge themselves in new ways as teachers and coaches lead them to press on to their higher calling in Christ Jesus. She has a teaching background (32 years at Hazelwood West High School teaching Social Studies) and coaching background, coaching cheer as head coach for Hazelwood West (18 years) and Parkway West (10 years) while teaching. She loves building into the lives of students and is energized by them.
BS in Psychology, Sociology, Education - Southwest Baptist University, 1985; MA Counseling Psychology - University of Missouri, 1993; MDiv Equivalency - Covenant Seminary, 2008; Currently working on Doctorate in Counseling - Covenant Seminary
Humanities, Latin, Bible
Matthew Heckel has been teaching at Heritage since 2001. Dr. Heckel enjoys the opportunity to equip students’ minds and hearts with the knowledge of God and His word. He enjoys the classical approach to education because it encourages deep reading of texts that open God’s word to us. In fact, his greatest satisfaction comes from seeing his own children and students serve the Lord. In addition to teaching at Heritage for two decades, Dr. Heckel has been teaching at Missouri Baptist University since 2006. Dr. Heckel earned his bachelor's degree in christian ministries from Southwest Baptist University, master’s of divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. in historical theology from Concordia Seminary. When not teaching, you might find him reading, fishing, golfing, shooting hoops, or listening to Christian rock music. In his younger days, Dr. Heckel was a radio DJ for a Saturday night Christian rock show.
BA in Christian Ministries - Southwest Baptist University; Master of Divinity - Covenant Theological Seminary, 1998; PhD in Historical Theology - Concordia Seminary, 2005
Music History, Classical Studies, Humanities, Bible
Liz Hobbs has been at Heritage since 2000. She enjoys the classical approach to education because it acknowledges critical stages in a student’s life that make learning more effective. Mrs. Hobbs sees a love of learning as essential to effective teaching and enjoys the challenge of developing curriculum: figuring out fresh and creative ways to teach a concept. In fact, as a Heritage teacher, she feels she is doing what she was created for. Mrs. Hobbs earned a bachelor's degree in speech pathology and audiology and a master’s degree in audiology both from Ball State University and a master’s degree in vocal music pedagogy from Lindenwood University. She finds her strength in the Word of God, and enjoys spending time studying the scriptures in her sunroom. Her other interests include biking, traveling, and spending time with her grandchildren.
BA in Speech Pathology and Audiology; MA in Audiology - Ball State University, 1979; MA in Sacred Music Pedagogy - Lindenwood University, 2000
Bethany Hockenbury first started teaching at Heritage in 2004. On any given day, Mrs. Hockenbury can be found teaching literature, writing, and history classes or setting up some fantastical theater adventure for the school to enjoy during our annual Shakespeare In A Week. Mrs. Hockenbury directs and produces this school-wide theater project where students build all the sets, produce the costumes, apply the make-up, and learn all the lines necessary to do William Shakespeare justice on stage -- in one week! She is fascinated by “The Great Conversation,” which is the process of listening and learning from our predecessors and then joining them in adding truth and beauty to the world around us. At Heritage, the Great Conversation is a daily pursuit, as we study our way from creation to the present. Mrs. Hockenbury holds a Masters in English Literature from the University of Missouri. She also taught English and writing classes for Missouri Baptist University. While she adores spending time talking about great books with her students, there are also days that Mrs. Hockenbury dreams of being a hot air balloon pilot in Australia.
BFA in English and Religion - University of the Cumberlands; MA in English Literature - University of Missouri Saint Louis
Sue Jenkins began teaching Spanish at Heritage in 2021. She achieved an advanced level of Spanish (oral and written) while serving as a missionary in San José, Costa Rica, and studying at the Instituto de Lengua Española. Working with children and youth has been an integral part of her work and ministry for more than two decades. Sue served as a substitute teacher (long- and short-term) in Spanish and other disciplines for the Webster Groves School District. Additionally, she served as the Global Outreach Coordinator for First Free Church, overseeing missionary care and finances as well as international short-term mission teams. Sue has lived in and/or traveled internationally to Costa Rica, The Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Ecuador. She brings an understanding of cross-cultural relationships and the significance of The Great Commission to the classroom.
BA in Mass Communication - Anderson University, 1996; Certificate of Completion (Spanish language study) - Instituto de Lengua Española, 2010
Lauren Kaniarz is one of our new teachers at Heritage this year. She is teaching freshman and sophomore Bible classes. She grew up in Minnesota and loves winter, snow, and the northwoods. She earned a bachelor's degree in music from Moody Bible Institute and earned an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary. She taught general music in the past. Mrs. Kaniarz enjoya coffee, going for walks, and learning to cook delicious meals. In addition to teaching, she is a wife, a mom to two sweet young kids, and dog mom to a lazy and fluffy golden retriever named Moxie.
BA in Music, Moody Bible Institute, 2015; MA in Biblical and Theological Studies, Covenant Seminary, 2021.
Carmen Kramer has been teaching at Heritage since 2015. She has plenty of teaching experience – she taught in Children’s ministry for 14 years and she homeschooled her own children for eight years while also teaching in a homeschool co-op. She loves interacting with the students and introducing them to new ideas and skills. Mrs. Kramer earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology. In fact, she and Mrs. Bollinger were sorority sisters there. Mrs. Kramer is an eighth generation Missourian, her family settled in Missouri in the early 1820's!
BA, Mechanical Engineering,1986
Brian Lehmann has taught math at Heritage since 2023. He has worked as a software engineer for over 20 years, and tutored hundreds of math students over those years. He has tutored all levels of high school through Calculus III and Statistics. He truly believes all students can enjoy and succeed at math. In his spare time, he plays in his church worship band, mentors high schoolers, and watches every Cardinals game he can.
BS in Mathematics, Lincoln University, 2000
Mr. Mayher is a second year parent at Heritage and a first year teacher. He is teaching a class on basic electricity. Steve delights in serving God, his family, and others. He and his best friend and wife of thirty years have spent the majority of their marriage advocating for, and working with, children. They have fostered thirty children and have more recently parented eight, some biological and other adopted. Steve’s heart is focused on helping children, as they mature to adulthood, finding Christ and serving Him as Lord and Savior.
Steve has mastered many disciplines. He and his wife, Renee’, have completed a ministerial training program with “Christian International School of Ministry.” They have served as cell pastors in a local church, and Steve has enjoyed leading the charge for men to lead their families well under God’s direction and guidance in the midst of an often chaotic world. He served as a sergeant in the United States Air Force in North Dakota and in Spangdahlem, Germany, and he is a veteran of “Operation Desert Storm.” His professional career includes carpentry work, auto and helicopter mechanics, welding and seventeen years as an electrician. He brings these skills to our students as they engage in learning practical skills in the electricity class.
In his spare time, Steve enjoys spending time with family. Being in nature and studying the Word of God brings him joy and peace that passes all understanding.
Laura Wagener was new to our staff in 2022. She was formerly an attorney, working in the attorney general’s office. She has spent many years involved at Twin Oaks Christian School as a parent, a substitute teacher, and a board member. She grew to appreciate the process of education with her youngest daughter who has special learning challenges. These challenges forced her to see the education process in more detail. Through subbing, Mrs. Wagener found that she loves teaching middle schoolers because they are at that stage where they are not quite teenagers, but not still children. She finds they are more open to discussion and learning. Through years of teaching the Word to women and youth, she has come to love teaching the Bible. In her spare time she enjoys walks with her husband, dining out at new restaurants, and reading a good book.
B.S in Interior Design - Southeast Missouri State, 1998; J.D.- St. Louis University, 2001