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Meet The Team

Our Teachers


 Teresa Larson
5th Grade 

I have taught and tutored children from infancy to 12th grade since 2006. I truly believe that a child’s social, emotional, and physical development are just as important as his academic learning, and that a healthy, happy, and confident child will be a successful child. One of my goals is to encourage children to analyze problems, make decisions, and try out various solutions. I also have a passion for creating engaging science lessons. The way I see it, personal discovery is the cornerstone of learning. I look forward to helping your child along his path. • BS in Geography from Michigan State University • Post-bachelors in Elementary Education from Arizona State University


Jenny Chen
4th Grade

In second grade, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. After learning all day, I would come home and read to my sister. Now, both of us are teachers. After getting my bachelor's degree, I went to Shanghai, China, where I taught children from all over the world for four years. It was a true growing experience for me. When I came home, I taught in Detroit for five years. One thing I have learned is that no matter where you are in the world, you can make a difference. In my free time, I love to travel, read, cook, take pictures, sing karaoke, and ride my bike. I am excited to meet you! • BS in Elementary Education from Oakland University • MA in International Studies from Concordia University


Kelsey Heath
3rd Grade 

​When I graduated from high school, I decided to experience more of the world. I my time traveling, coaching, taking classes, working in the inner city, and exploring different cultures. When I started seeing places that I had read about for years, my passion for learning came alive, and I became more excited to share it with students. I want my students to feel the way I felt standing at the docks in Valdez, exploring Windsor Castle, or walking through villages in Zambia. When decided to settle down, I went back to school for a master's degree in teaching. In my free time, I love to hike, kayak, and go on walks. I also enjoy working in the yard and in the garden, sitting around the fire, and eating dinner outside. • BA in Biblical Studies from Moody Bible Institute • MA in Elementary Education from Oakland University


 Cathie Passon
2nd Grade 

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When I was in fourth grade at St. Anne’s, I decided I was going to be a teacher. My teacher was an inspiration, because she made learning meaningful and enjoyable at the same time. Over the years, I have taught second, fourth, and fifth grades and special education. One highlight was implementing the new elementary science curriculum at Akiva Day School. Another was starting at Eagle Creek in 2011. One of my personal goals is to encourage students to take responsibility for their learning and develop pride in their work. Another personal goal is to find unique ways to celebrate each child's family and heritage. Every year, I get excited about working with new students and their families. • BS in Education from Western Michigan University • Certification Teaching Learning Disabled from Saginaw Valley State University


Nicole Minton
1st Grade

Before coming to Eagle Creek in 2012, I was an academic specialist, finding new ways to present challenging material to small groups of students. I have also worked in a clinic with students who are on the autism spectrum. That was very rewarding, because I was able to help them find ways to communicate and grow. One of my passions is building a classroom into a community. As a mother myself, I believe wholeheartedly in connecting and communicating with parents. I can’t wait to get to know you and your children! • BS in Earth Science from Michigan State University • Post-bachelors in Education from Saginaw Valley State University


Stephanie Pinson

When I was a child, I would rush home from school and play teacher. In college, I tried to go the business route, but I couldn't see myself sitting at a desk all day. Changing my major to education was one of the best decisions I have ever made. For many years, I taught at Walton Charter Academy and Alpine Academy. I have been at Eagle Creek since 2005, teaching fourth grade and Kindergarten. I love coming to work every day. I am a big believer in active, hands-on learning, and I like finding new ways to get the children on their feet. My favorite part of teaching is seeing the children's growth from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. I'm eager to meet your child and help him on his way! • BA in Education from Oakland University • MA in Early Childhood Education from Oakland University


 Laura Lutey

I aspired to be a teacher starting in elementary school, and I am fortunate to be able to live that dream every day. While pursuing my bachelor's degree, I worked for the Rochester Community Schools School-Age program for four years. After that, since 2011, I have been working at Eagle Creek Academy and Alpine Academy with a wonderful team of teachers and administrators. I love all age groups. It's so much fun to get to know the children and watch their personalities develop. • BA in Elementary Education from Oakland University


Lisa Leighty

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I knew as a teenager that my calling in life was to be a teacher of young children, and I am grateful that I have been able to fulfill my dream. For thirteen years, I taught preschool and kindergarten at Discovery Montessori in Grand Blanc. Then, for ten years, I was a teacher and program director at Creative Learning Academy in Flint. Finally, in 2016, I came to Eagle Creek. I think of learning as an adventure, full of opportunities to discover the world. One of my favorite things is to plan new challenges and help the children investigate, practice and master them. My hope is that each child will develop a true desire to learn as much as he can. Loving school is so important! In my spare time, my husband and I enjoy biking, watching our three children play sports, and having family movie nights. • Child Development at Central Michigan University Montessori Teaching • Certificate from Michigan Teacher Education Program


Jen Cattel

I began my teaching career in a parochial school in Royal Oak where I taught second grade for six years. I then stayed home to raise my own children. When my youngest started kindergarten, I became a substitute teacher and then took the leap and taught preschool for Rochester Community Schools, where I taught three- and four-year-old classes. When I first started teaching, preschool was not on my radar, but now I am hooked! I love the awe the children show when they make discoveries. Their joy makes me excited to come to school every day! In my spare time, my husband and I love being with our three children, watching their sports, and traveling. I'm happy to meet you soon! • BA in Elementary Education from Adrian College • MA in Education from Oakland University


 Amanda Willick

​Since 2005, I have worked with children from preschool to 5th grade. I have spent 15 years teaching performing arts and love to bring music, dance and creativity into the classroom. Currently, I'm working towards my Masters Degree in Elementary Education. I have a passion for working with children and instilling confidence, curiosity and kindness. I am really looking forward to meeting your child! • BA in Theater from Columbia College in Chicago • MA in Elementary Education from Western Governors University (in progress)


Ryan Dawley

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Back in 2019, after teaching music for six years, I was excited to come to Eagle Creek. Now, I split my time between Eagle Creek and another local school. In addition to being a choir director, I have performed with choirs and theater companies across the United States. I have also directed, choreographed, produced, and acted professionally in fifty productions and been in several commercials and movies. In 2017, I was selected from thousands of nominees as a quarter-finalist for the 2017 Grammy Music Educator Award. Teaching music is unique, because music is all around you all the time. This makes it easy to relate what we are doing in the classroom to real life experiences, which helps the children gain deeper understanding. I also enjoy presenting music that is challenging, fun, and diverse. It's important to me that the children feel successful and proud of themselves when they perform. ​​ • MM in Choral Conducting from Oakland University (in progress) • BM in Music Education from Oakland University • BSA in Musical Theater from Oakland University


Laura Wass

As a working artist with a deep love of learning, becoming an art teacher was a natural choice for me. Before joining Eagle Creek, I taught at Hamtramck Schools, Roseville Schools, and a Montessori school. I also teach at Painting with a Twist. I believe studying art teaches children risk-taking, openness, and the joy of discovery. In my spare time, I enjoy painting, playing the ukulele, and traveling. I look forward to each new school year and the chance to explore the world in new ways with your children. • BS in Art Education from Wayne State University • MA in Art Education from Wayne State University


 Krista Schroeder
S.T.E.A.M. & P.E.

After getting my undergraduate degree from MSU in Communications, I began a career in the advertising industry and quickly realized I needed a job I was more passionate about. I began substitute teaching and fell in love with education. From there, I returned to school and earned my master's degree from Oakland University in Elementary Education. I have taught kindergarten and first grade and love the relationships I build with children. Helping them reach their potential brings me the greatest joy. Outside of work, I enjoy yoga, going up north and playing with my children who are 6 and 9. I am thrilled to be part of the Eagle Creek team! • BA - Communications, Michigan State University • MA - Elementary Education, Oakland University​


Señora Balza

I am from Venezuela, and I have been living in the United States since 2003. Before joining Eagle Creek Academy in 2017, I worked at International Academy East for three years teaching and tutoring Spanish. I really enjoy working with children. Their smiles fill me every day with joy. I love what I do! I am also a synchronized swimming coach for Troy Synchro Sharkettes. I love swimming, running and spending time with my husband and twin daughters. Please stop by and say, "Hola!"


Kristina Richards

​My father was a teacher; however, I was more interested in math and science, so I became a mechanical engineer. After working for GM and Delphi for many years, I left to be home with my young children, especially since my husband's job was keeping us on the move (from Ohio to Michigan to Shanghai). When my kids were in school, I enjoyed volunteering in their classrooms. After they went off to college, becoming a substitute teacher and a co-teacher was a natural fit. I have been at Eagle Creek since 2017, and it feels like a second home. In my free time, I enjoy running, traveling, and reading. • ​​BS Mechanical Engineering, University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana

Our Administrators & Support Staff


Cathy Hammond

I have been teaching since I was six years old when I sat in the back seat on the way up north and drilled my little sister with spelling words. After graduating from college and trying out a few jobs in the business world, I found my way to education. Over the years, I have taught preschool, GED classes, computer classes, English, French, and English as a Second Language. In 1995, I founded Cathy's Corner, which became Alpine Academy, an active preschool in Oakland Township. As we grew, we needed another building for the children in kindergarten and up, and Eagle Creek was born. I have loved every minute of my time in education. I believe teaching and learning are the most important jobs in the world. One of my favorite pastimes is eating lunch with our teachers, talking about what we are doing right and what we can do next. I am very impressed with our talented and energetic staff, and I know you will be, too. ​• BA in English & French from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL • MA in Education from Wayne State University in Detroit


Kim Kasal

Before joining the Eagle Creek team, I taught elementary and middle school in the Chicago and Indianapolis areas for 19 years. Since finding my home at Eagle Creek, I have taught 4th, 5th and 6th grades for 6 years and been in administration since 2019. Throughout my career in education, I have held leadership roles in mentoring teachers, developing curriculum, implementing safety policies, and fulfilling school improvement plans. One of my personal goals is to provide relevant and rigorous academics, and another is to meet the specific needs of each child and his or her family. One thing I love about being the school principal is the chance to know more children and foster more great relationships. In my spare time, I enjoy motorcycling, playing golf, and traveling around the United States. I look forward to partnering with you to ensure your child’s success. • BA in Education from Governors State University • MA in Teaching & Leadership from Saint Xavier University


Caroline Lewicky
Assistant Principal 

I became passionate about education when I started working as a preschool teacher in an international school in Istanbul, Turkey, over twenty years ago. Since then, I have taught preschool through fifth grade. One of my favorite positions was working as a technology integration specialist for four years, modeling the use of instructional technology to enhance student learning. I am always looking for ways to make learning come alive. As assistant principal, I look forward to working with all students, parents, and teachers, and continue building our strong, supportive community. • BA in Marketing from American University in Washington, D.C


Melissa Brown
Finance Director 

Before coming to Eagle Creek in 2016, I spent seventeen years working for and managing small businesses. I started out developing a small custom printing business while I was in college. After graduation, I ventured to Chicago to work in merchandising and project management. A few years later, I moved back to Michigan to be closer to my family and happened to meet the love of my life, Scott, whom I married at our favorite spot up north. At Eagle Creek, my focus is on accounting and business management. I truly believe that when you continue to learn and push yourself, endless opportunities will present themselves. • BS in Retail from Michigan State University


Annalise Buehner

After attending college to study Spanish language and culture in New York, I moved back to Michigan to be closer to family and worked as a veterinary assistant here for several years. I wholeheartedly believe in the pursuit of lifelong learning, especially within those small teachable moments that end up being more influential than they seem. I love languages and I have found that everybody, no matter what age, has their own individual language and lens through which they view the world. ​• BA in Hispanic Studies from Vassar College


Julia Casadei
Rental Manager 

I have been in management for twenty years. One highlight was when I worked at Oakland Hills Country Club and prepared for the 2004 Ryder Cup. It was an exciting event that went well, except that the USA lost. In 2010, I helped open TreMonte Ristorante in Troy, working on menu selection, computer systems and hiring staff. I was really excited when we won Hour Detroit Magazine’s restaurant of the year in 2012. I have also held positions as catering manager and general manager in various hotels. I have always lived and worked in this area, growing up in Birmingham and now living in Oakland Township. My husband is Enzo, and we have a son named Jeffrey. We also have two dogs named George and Ralph. My favorite hobby is hiking, and I go on at least one big hiking trip each year. I am looking forward to meeting you! • BA in Hotel Restaurant Management from Northwood University


 Craig Knox
Facility Manager 

I have been managing Eagle Creek's campus since 2007. I like keeping the building and grounds in tiptop shape, from the garbage disposals to the air conditioning units. I also own and manage Knox Lawn & Landscape, which is how I originally came to Eagle Creek. Originally from North Branch, I now live in Dryden with my wife and three children. I enjoy snowmobiling, boating, and spending time with family.


Ron Smith

I have been the Eagle Creek custodian and handyman since 2016. It's a great job because I get to tinker with things and help people. I enjoy big projects such as refurbishing old lockers. I also own and manage Ronkote, which is a full-service painting and staining company and how I became a part of the ECA family. I spend my free time working on cars, collecting precious metals, and hanging out with my grandson. If you see me in the hallway, please say hello!

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