Meet Our Team
Dr. Susan Toohey
Dr. Susan Toohey - Principal
“I love working with the scholars of Nelson Mandela Elementary School because they are our future and I have so much passion for education and I know that they will be the ones to change our city, our state and our world. I am thrilled that I will be able to join them on this exciting journey! I know that they will teach me so much and I am grateful.”- Dr. Susan Toohey
Dr. Susan Toohey is an Omaha native and has a vast array of educational experiences. She attended the Omaha Public Schools through eighth grade, and then graduated from Marian in 1982.
Susan graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with teaching degrees in Earth Science and Social Sciences in 1986. After teaching for one year in Colorado, Susan and her husband Mike returned to Omaha where she taught social studies, English and drama for OPS while also working to complete her Masters in Administration at UNO. Susan then accepted the position of Social Studies Supervisor for the Omaha Public Schools which included: textbook selection, standards alignment to state standards, teacher observation and coaching, curriculum alignment and strategic planning . After serving as supervisor and middle school liaison she then returned to a school setting as the Data Processor and Assistant Principal at Lewis and Clark Middle School.
In 2009, she accepted the position of Head of School at Marian, an all-girls Catholic high school and was responsible for fund-raising and the day to day administration of the high school. In 2012, Mrs. Susan Toohey became Dr. Susan Toohey after successfully completing her doctorate at Creighton University. In 2014, The Lozier Foundation offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to begin a unique, dynamic, creative, community-based , free, private school and Susan was compelled to return to her urban education roots and take on this amazing adventure.
Assistant PrincipalAbout Me
Genevive Core - Assistant Principal
Genevive (Grant) Core was born and raised in North Omaha. She attended Belvedere Elementary, McMillan Jr. High, and graduated from South High School in 1994. She began her career as a first grade teacher at Walnut Hill Elementary. During her first year, she obtained her Masters degree through the Cadre program at UNO. The next year she was placed at Florence Elementary, where she spent 14 years teaching second grade.
In 2013, Genevive began a new position as the Instructional Facilitator and Academic Data Representative at Martin Luther King Elementary School. She enjoyed being an Instructional leader and supporting the staff, students, and families. She loved her position so much that she decided to go back to school for administration. She is currently attending Doane University and will graduate with a Masters degree in Administration in May of 2019. Genevive is married to her supportive husband Marcus. They share six wonderful children together... Khalil(22), LaRon(21), Veronica(18), TreVaughn(12), Janae(6), and Janessa(3).
Genevive states, “It is truly an honor to be at Nelson Mandela Elementary as the Assistant Principal. Ever since they renovated Blessed Sacrament in 2013, I’ve wanted to be a part of the beacon of light that was being transformed into Nelson Mandela.The hope that is instilled in every scholar will assist them through their life journey. I can’t wait to see them grow, learn, and thrive.!”
Family Support CoordinatorAbout Me
Monica Wells - Family Support Coordinator
Monica R. Wells serves as the Family Support Coordintor at Nelson Mandela Elementary in Omaha, Nebraska and has been working with inner city youth through education and mentoring for over 15 years. Monica’s personal mission has always been to inspire others to be happy, confident, and believe in their full potential.
Monica Wells dedication to her community has shined through the many organizations, committees, and boards she has served on throughout the Greater Omaha Area. Monica currently serves as Board Vice President for African Culture Connections, serves on the Diversity Committee for the Human Resource Association of the Midland, she is a Glass Class representative for the Anti-Defamation League of Nebraska, and an active member through TeamMates mentoring program, Sacred Heart Catholic Schools mentoring program, and the College of Saint Mary’s mentoring program.
Graduating in May of 2019 with a Master’s in Educational Leadership, Monica continues to pursue education and works hard everyday to strengthen the lives and give hope to the youth and families in her community. She states, “It takes a village and the importance to empower and nurture our future leaders within our community. It only takes one person to believe, inspire a world of kindness, and change the world.”
Her daughter, Lalah Wells, is also a scholar at Nelson Mandela.
Receptionist and Administrative AssistantAbout Me
Stacy Hudson - Receptionist and Administrative Assistant
Stacy Hudson is an Omaha native who worked at North High School for over ten years. For the last eleven years, she has kept herself busy as a homemaker. Stacy volunteered previously at her daughter's school where she has served on several committees and boards, Head Volleyball coach and Assistant Basketball coach. Her mission is to be active in children’s lives. Stacy is looking forward to being part of the Nelson Mandela Elementary family as a receptionist/assistant. She trusts their mission will effectively educate children while improving the community.
Speech PathologistAbout Me
Liz Anderson - Speech Pathologist
Liz Anderson grew up in Omaha and graduated from Millard South High School. In 2002, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Liz continued her education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduated in 2004 with a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. Liz has worked in a variety of settings as a Speech-Language Pathologist with most of her service in pediatrics. She has experience working with patients aged 1 - 21 years and has treated diagnoses including autism, apraxia of speech, expressive and receptive language delays, phonological and articulation disorders, auditory processing disorders, social skills, aphasia, dysphagia, fluency, voice, traumatic brain injury and several other speech and language disorders.
The past five years she has worked in Omaha Public Schools providing services to children aged 3 - 12 years. She is a strong advocate for early intervention. Liz has four young children of her own and has grown as a Speech-Language Pathologist through experiencing child development first-hand as a parent.
In the fall of 2015, Liz will begin working at Nelson Mandela Elementary. "I am so excited to work with the students, families, and staff at Nelson Mandela Elementary. There is no better feeling in the world than when a child learns new speech and language skills and becomes a better communicator both in and out of the classroom."
Jaylan Ashley -Para-Educator
Jaylan Ashley is new to the Mandela team as of 2019. Mr. Ashley was born here in Omaha NE. He is passionate about working with kids, and he loves music. He’s excited to share those passions with the scholars at Mandela. Mr. Ashley says, “Mandela is a great place for kids to learn and grow.”
Riannon Bell - Culinary
Riannon Bell is an Omaha native that grew-up in the Ponca Hills area. She attended St. Phillip Neri, a National Catholic Educational Association grade school located in Florence, NE from kindergarten through 8th grade. She attended OPS North High Magnet School until 1995. Riannon started her culinary career in 1998 studying various cuisines including American Southwestern, Creole Cajun, French and Greek Mediterranean. She used her skills to start a career at Omaha Public Schools in 2007 as a kitchen assistant and becoming certified by the National Restaurant Association in ServSafe training.
Riannon transitioned to a traveling manager position assisting the central kitchen which distributes lunches to seven other OPS satellite kitchens. Riannon took a short hiatus in 2014 when she had her second son. She is an advocate for organic and locally sourced foods. Thanks to the Lozier Foundation, Riannon has the opportunity to use her collective culinary talents to serve the students of Nelson Mandela Elementary School.
She states, “I am very thankful and appreciative to be part of such a one of a kind and community serving institution like Nelson Mandela Elementary School. I am looking forward to the start of the school year, GO MEERKATS!”
Shiree Bonner - Para-Educator
Shiree Bonner is new to Nelson Mandela in 2019. Shiree Bonner graduated from Omaha North High School. She grew up in a military family, and she lived in many places, including the east and west coasts. Ms. Bonner has always had a passion for kids, between caring for her own daughters, Ariana and Shylee, and working in various places with kids of all ages. Ms. Bonner’s main passion is working with kids; she says, “It’s an incredible reward and joy when a scholar amazes you in what they do. I just want to see them grow, learn and be successful. I am very thankful to be a part of such an awesome team.”
Angela Bultez - Para-Educator
We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. -Maya Angelou
Angela Bultez was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. She attended Omaha Public Schools from elementary through high school and graduated from Northwest High School. Ms. Bultez started working for Omaha Public Schools at Springville Elementary as a paraprofessional, where she worked for 4 years. After that, she spent 2 years working as a restaurant manager. She then returned to the school system to work at King Elementary, because she knew her passion was working with kids.
Now, besides working at Nelson Mandela, she is attending classes at Metro Community College for an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education.
4th Grade TeacherAbout Me
Callie Burks - 4th Grade Teacher
Callie Burks joined the Mandela team in 2019. Before Mandela, she worked in the Omaha Public School (OPS) District for nine years, working with grades 3-6. She was also a Spalding Coach within OPS for two years. As of the summer of 2019, she became a certified Spalding Instructor. She loves working at Mandela and is passionate about teaching. She states, “Mandela is a great place for kids to learn and grow.”
Ashli Carlock - Para-Educator
Ms. Carlock started her career at Mandela in 2017. Ashli Carlock has always had a passion for kids. She brings experience from a variety of places: home services, ministry and several years working in an early childhood center as an aide, teacher, night supervisor, coach, and assistant director. Ms. Carlock finds joy in providing safe spaces for children to be happy, healthy, and make good choices so they can become strong future leaders. Ms. Carlock is appreciative of Mandela and the Mandela team; she states, “I am delighted that I am able to bring my unique attributes and what I love to do to the Mandela team.”
Maurice Cotton - Para-Educator
Maurice Cotton is a native of Omaha. He is a graduate of Omaha Central High School and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Communication at Creighton University. Maurice has over 15 years of experience working with children. As Program Director at the Mid-America Council, Boy Scouts of America, Maurice received great experience working with OPS after-school programs and OPS staff. Maurice is also an Assistant Scoutmaster at troop #362. Prior to scouting Maurice had the privilege of working with the late, great Dr. Joe Edmonson at the Edmonson Youth Outreach Y.M.C.A., where he was a Director of the radio and broadcast journalism program as well Coordinator for after-school programming. Maurice enjoys cooking barbeque as well as well spending time with family and friends!
Lynette Dacus - Para-Educator
“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who protest prepare for it today.” - Malcolm X
Omaha, Nebraska native. Lynette attended Omaha Catholic Schools and graduated from Marian High in 1986. She has been in education for ten years, working as an In-School Suspension Facilitator at Blackburn Alternative and Westside High School and as the Pac Facilitator at Franklin Elementary
Lynette has served as a chaperone for the non-profit Condors drill team for over 15 years, chaperoning anywhere from 15-20 youth (ages 7 to 18) who fundraise to travel to different states to perform. Their most recent trip was to Las Vegas to perform in the Martin Luther King Day parade. Lynette is excited to be a part of the Nelson Mandela Family!
Violin and Art TeacherAbout Me
Jessica Davis - Violin and Art Teacher
Jessica Davis is a teacher, musician and artist. She started studying the Suzuki Violin Method when she was six years old. She graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy and earned her Bachelors of Music Education from Bowling Green State University with University Honors under Dr. Penny Thompson Kruse and her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Painting at Bowling Green State University and Studio Arts Center International in Florence, Italy.
During her undergraduate studies, Davis lived in Empire, Colorado in the summers, and worked as the art director for an Easter Seals camp. Being introduced to a wide range of people with disabilities, Davis started pursing programs that offer musical and artistic opportunities to underprivileged students and people with disabilities. After graduation, Davis moved to Shizuoka, Japan and taught English through the Japan Exchange Teaching Program for two years. She played with the Hamamatsu Symphony Orchestra and studied Japanese ceramics and painting.
Currently, Jessica is a violin artist-faculty at the Omaha Conservatory of Music and Lead Teacher for the String Sprouts Program at Nelson Mandela Elementary and Cody Elementary. She believes that music is a way to empower youth, build confidence, and bridge ability gaps.
Michael Davis - Paraeducator
Michael Davis joined the Nelson Mandela team in 2019. Mr. Davis was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from Blue Springs South High School where he served as a big brother/mentor to elementary and middle school youth. He then went on to graduate from Missouri State University. Currently, outside of Nelson Mandela, Mr. Davis owns his own audio company, MD Audio. He is a musician of all trades, acting as a drummer, singer, and live sound engineer to bands like Diamond Empire Band. Mr. Davis is enthusiastic about working at Mandela and being able to share his love for music with kids, he states, “I am very excited to be a part of the Mandela Staff.”
3rd Grade TeacherAbout Me
LC Doss - 3rd Grade Teacher
LC Doss is a native of Omaha. In 2007 he graduated from Omaha Benson High. After Benson, LC went on to Ellsworth Community College where he excelled on the basketball court as well as the classroom. He achieved 2nd team All American while also earning an Associate’s in Criminal Justice and Fire Science. In 2010 he was awarded a scholarship to attend Eastern Illinois University. In 2012 he earned his Bachelor's in Sociology. In 2019, he graduated from the College of St. Mary with a Masters Degree in Education.
Doss comes from a variety of child focused and educational settings. He had most recently been a support teacher at Children’s Square in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He also coaches youth and high school basketball at Millard South. He is also a Title 1 tutor with OPS and the 100 Black Men Saturday Academy. Doss is entering his fifth year at Nelson Mandela, and it is his first year teaching.
“He states, I am very thankful to have an opportunity to work with the Nelson Mandela team.”
5th Grade TeacherAbout Me
Annette Foster - 5th Grade Teacher
“Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”-Michelle Obama
Annette Foster holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and an endorsement in Special Education from Creighton University in Omaha. She also has a Master of Science degree in Reading from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She has worked for the Omaha Public School system as an elementary and middle school teacher for 35 years until her retirement in the spring of 2014. Annette has taught undergraduate and graduate students, managed after school tutoring programs, designed and written various curriculum and programs and has been a member of numerous educational committees. Along with her daughter, Antoinette Davis, Annette is co-founder of Power of Words Literacy. Part of its mission is to encourage reading, so Power of Words co-hosts literacy fairs with various schools which include games, crafts and free books at no cost to participants.
Annette’s mission is to inspire her students to be the best they can be in all areas of their lives. She believes every student is unique and has a purpose. She encourages them to explore their talents and interests. She anticipates their needs and keeps them actively engaged in their own learning by using various assessments as tools followed by best practices in education. She believes educators teach more than subjects and concepts, they teach the whole person. She holds her students to high expectations and they know in no uncertain terms that she expects them to achieve. In response to why she is excited to teach the students at Nelson Mandela Elementary she states, “The reward in teaching is the satisfaction of knowing that I make a difference. When I teach, I have the joy of knowing that I was a part of inspiring a generation of teachers, doctors, lawyers, athletes and others. I may never see the end result of my teaching in a student’s life, but I know that I’ve played a part in planting the seeds.”
“Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”-Michelle Obama
Dominique Hardy came Mandela from Omaha Public Schools in 2018. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, she has been a resident of Omaha NE for over 20 years. Ms. Hardy has over 10 years of experience working with children from various backgrounds and age ranges. She enjoys working with children and utilizing "teachable moments". Nelson Mandela has brought a great experience to her work history, as it has taught her how to identify and manage trauma in multiple ways. She says, Mandela has been a benefit to her life as another tool in her tool belt for success.”.
OTD, OTR/L, Occupational TherapistAbout Me
Kerrie Ivey - OTD, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist
Dr. Kerrie Ivey grew up in Omaha and is a graduate of Omaha Northwest High School. Kerrie graduated in 2006 from Creighton University with a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy. Kerrie is an experienced pediatric occupational therapist who has worked at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, UNMC- Munroe Meyer Institute as a school based therapist in the Omaha Public Schools, and as a consultant for Phoenix Academy.
Kerrie is passionate about education and is dedicated to equipping our youth with the tools that will instill the confidence and ability to pursue meaningful learning activities by teaching foundational skills from a developmental perspective. Kerrie will use her expertise in the area of development to work with students and teachers to address the student's needs in the classroom. She will use a holistic and multisensory approach to help facilitate the Mandela students' optimal participation in the classroom.
“I am honored to be able to be a part of Nelson Mandela Elementary in it’s infancy. This is a unique opportunity to develop something great for children and I share the vision of empowering students through education. My role as an occupational therapist will be to address the needs of the students from a developmental and holistic approach that will allow them to be active, engaged learners."
Kindergarten TeacherAbout Me
Tracy Jones - Kindergarten Teacher
Tracy Jones is a native of Omaha and a graduate of Benson High School. Tracy received an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education shortly after graduating high school. While working in the Early Childhood field for more than 10 years, Tracy’s strong desire to work with low income families and children encouraged her to pursue a degree in Human Social Services Administration while working for Early Head Start. Tracy worked with Early Head Start as a home visitor for 3 years which allowed her to go into homes and work with pregnant and parenting women connecting them with resources in the community and providing parenting and child development coaching. Tracy was promoted after receiving her undergraduate degree as the Family Development Coordinator for the Early Head Start Program which allowed her to supervise Home Visitors that worked with the families in the community and take on numerous administrative duties. During 9 years of supervision for the EHS program Tracy wanted to pursue her childhood dream of teaching. In January of 2010 she received a Masters of Education in Elementary Education. She began teaching Kindergarten for Omaha Public Schools and during that time she continued her studies in Education and received a 2 nd Graduate Degree in Educational Administration which was completed in February 2016!
“I am so excited to have the opportunity teach at Nelson Mandela and give back to the community that I grew up in! I am honored to be a part of the Mandela team. I look forward to continuing my journey in education and I am eager for the wonderful experiences ahead here at Nelson Mandela Elementary! Although I come with 25+ years of experience in Early Childhood/Elementary Education, I am very excited to learn more ways in which I can be more instrumental in the lives of our children and give all I have to make each child I come in contact with successful!”
1st Grade TeacherAbout Me
Miranda Kreulen - 1st Grade Teacher
Miranda is excited to be at Mandela as she begins her 15th year of education. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Miranda attended Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, where she received her Bachelors with a double major in Elementary Education and Special Education. After completing her student teaching practicum in Chicago, Illinios, Miranda returned to Omaha to teach with Omaha Public Schools. While with OPS, Miranda taught Special Education, Kindergarten, and Second Grade. During this time, she also returned to school to earn a Masters of Literacy with an emphasis in ESL from Concordia University in 2007. The following summer, she spent 6 weeks teaching English in Burundi, Africa to orphaned boys and girls. In 2014, Miranda took her love for teaching into a new setting at the Omaha Home for Boys, as they were in the beginning stages of opening their own on-campus Rule 18 classroom, where young men were able to recover lost or failed credits quickly in order to get back on track to graduate high school on time. For the past three years, Miranda has been teaching at Mandela in Kindergarten and now in First Grade, as she begins her fourth year.
Miranda is so excited to be back in the classroom at Nelson Mandela. She is eager to teach academics to her scholars and also build strong relationships with scholars and their families, believing that the two go hand in hand. Miranda enjoys watching her students grow and mature as they learn to take healthy risks as learners and discoverers during their year together in the classroom. As scholars grow older, Miranda enjoys watching them grow into young men and women and strives to stay active in their lives. She states, “Joining the Mandela team is both a privilege and a responsibility. I believe in the mission and am excited to see how the school continues to evolve and grow. I can’t wait to see my students grow and learn and laugh.”
When not teaching, Miranda is most likely playing trucks and trains, reading books, or snuggling with her adorable son, Zyaire.
Kindergarten TeacherAbout Me
Amanda Krier – Kindergarten Teacher
Amanda graduated from Papillion La Vista High School in 2013 and went on to pursue her degree in Elementary Education at Wayne State College. After graduating in December of 2017, she started work as a substitute teacher for Omaha Public Schools, Ralston Public Schools, and Papillion La Vista Community Schools. She is currently pursuing her masters degree in curriculum and instruction and will finish in May of 2020. Working with scholars is her passion. She loves helping scholars develop their social, emotional, and academic skills. Amanda believes that Nelson Mandela's unique approach to learning helps prepare scholars for the future by teaching them vital skills they can carry with them for life.
Amanda states, “Nelson Mandela Elementary is a family full of supporting individuals, all dedicated to the success of scholars. It is a warm and inviting place to be.”
1st Grade TeacherAbout Me
Kwin Kunkle - 1st Grade Teacher
After wrapping up her tenth year in Omaha Public Schools, Kwin is excited to be a part of the Nelson Mandela Team. Kwin is an Omaha native, graduating from Central High School in 2003. She completed her Bachelors of Science with a focus in Elementary Education at Creighton University in 2007 and her Masters in Reading with English as a Second Language endorsement at Concordia University in 2010. Her teaching career began in 2007 in first grade in OPS; after also teaching second grade and ESL, she is excited to be back to the scholars in grade one!
Kwin has a particular interest in childhood wellness; reaching the whole child is her mission in teaching. She became a Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher in 2013 and studied Mindfulness Fundamentals and Curriculum Training with Mindful Schools in 2015. Her varied educational experiences really transformed her teaching. This passion led her to develop a curriculum dedicated to childhood wellness in education. In addition to the classroom, Kwin has taught wellness classes with the Neighborhood Offshore, Omaha Girls Rock, Omaha Outward Bound, Girl Scouts of Nebraska, and University of Nebraska Omaha.
Kwin is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the unique learning environment at Mandela and looks forward to getting to know her students, their families, and the school community!
4th Grade TeacherAbout Me
Jessica Lahman - 4th Grade Teacher
Jessica joins the Mandela team this year as she begins her 6th year teaching. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Jessica attended University of Nebraska at Omaha where she received her Bachelors degree in Grades 4-9 Math and Spanish Education. Continuing at UNO, she earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a concentration in STEM through the CADRE Program. Her first five years teaching were spent with Omaha Public Schools in an eighth grade math classroom. Jessica is thrilled to begin teaching scholars at Nelson Mandela Elementary. She is eager to help scholars find their thirst for knowledge and to build strong relationships with the scholars and their families. She most loves watching them grow into kind and well-rounded humans. It is an honor to join the mission of Nelson Mandela and one that she eagerly implements in her classroom.
She often states, "How can anybody have a bad day when little people are always hugging you?"”
2nd Grade TeacherAbout Me
Ryan Margheim - 2nd Grade Teacher
Ryan Margheim was born in South Sioux City, Nebraska. He grew up in Mitchell, South Dakota after moving there in the second grade. Seeking a faster pace of life, he moved to North Carolina in 1999 to attend a small liberal arts school called Elon University. Ryan majored in technical theatre and in time became a professional stage manager, working at theatres across the east coast. He eventually settled in Charlotte, and took a position at the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, located in ImaginOn, a partnership with the Children’s Library, where he discovered his passion for working with children and children’s literature.
Ryan decided to go back to school to become an elementary teacher to make a difference in the lives of children. He took an opportunity to move to Omaha, where he would be much closer to his family, and where he would finally be able to find high quality, squeaky cheese curds. In the Spring of 2017, after finishing his degree long-distance, Ryan graduated with high honors from Guilford College with a B.A. in Elementary Education, and a minor in English. Calling Omaha home since August 2015, Ryan loves everything the city has to offer. When he isn't in the classroom, he enjoys his three dogs, cooking, trying out the city’s vibrant restaurant scene, and organizing his office supplies.
Ryan is excited to join the Nelson Mandela team because he is passionate about urban education and bridging achievement gaps. He not only believes that all children can learn, but that they deserve to be held to high expectations, and celebrated when those expectations are met and surpassed. A classroom, and a school is a family, and Ryan is excited to be joining the Nelson Mandela family.
KaSheena Maxwell - Library/Technology
KaSheena Maxwell is an Omaha native who has dedicated her time and knowledge to increase college readiness for students in various communities. She and her husband have three children. As proud parents, the Maxwell’s put education and diligence as the top priority within their home. KaSheena attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha and, since the birth of her last child, recently returned to school to finish her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. KaSheena has served as an active employee for Omaha Public Schools for ten years.
KaSheena has worked after school programs assisting children in areas of math, reading, science, and enrichment programs. Through funding provided by LEGO Mindstorms, she taught children how to build, control, and manage software to operate their own robots. As an employee of OPS, KaSheena has taken advantage of training programs offered through the company for new software applications. She has earned three certificates from Metropolitan Community College for Conversational Spanish and has also worked with colleagues for Lead Coalition Education through the UNO Sociology Department.
She states, “I’m excited to embark on a new journey with a company that is passionate about all students in the community.” The program is an amazing curriculum that will offer a chance to be competitive and engage students in a divergent technique of learning. She is passionate about inspiring and motivating children to be better than their circumstances. Maxwell states, “Many people will judge you based upon where you live. Majority of these students have no control over that area in life. They can show the world how intelligent they are while upholding respect, nobility, and grandeur about themselves. You may be in your habitat but you do not have to be a product of your domain if your environment is not conducive to your success.” As Nelson Mandela said, “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
Kindergarten TeacherAbout Me
Rachel Metzler - Kindergarten Teacher
"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." -Mother Teresa Rachel Metzler was previously a Special Education teacher after she graduated from college in 2018 with a degree in Education Inclusion. Her dream was to be a Kindergarten teacher, and she is blessed to have received that opportunity. She is continuing to work on her education and hopes to receive a Master's Degree in Inclusion and Collaboration. Her passion has always been to teach young scholars and she looks forward to her time at Mandela. Rachel states, “This is my first year at Nelson Mandela, and I am so thankful to be a part of the amazing mission.”
Volunteer CoordinatorAbout Me
Amanda Myroniuk - Volunteer Coordinator
Amanda Myroniuk is originally from Apple Valley, Minnesota. She comes to Omaha and Nelson Mandela through the Lutheran Volunteer Corps-a year-long service organization that encourages its volunteers to be intentional about social justice, simple/sustainable living, community, and spirituality. She will be with us until July of 2020.
Amanda attended Minnesota Public Schools until 2015, when she graduated from Eastview High School. She went on to attend St. Olaf College, and just recently graduated in May of 2019 with a degree in Dance and English. At St. Olaf, Amanda studied choreography, dance history, arts management, and poetry. During the summers she worked at both Lake Wapogasset and Ox Lake Bible Camp in Amery, Wisconsin as a counselor, staff support member, and team leader. She hopes to one day combine her variety of interests by working for a nonprofit arts organization that focuses on youth engagement.
Maya Angelous said: "Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls." When working with children, Amanda believes that both patience and passion are required.
Amanda states, "I am excited to be working at Nelson Mandela with a passionate team of educators that believe in this school and its scholars."
3rd Grade TeacherAbout Me
Kimberlyn Oliver -3rd Grade Teacher
Kim is an Omaha Native and graduated from Mercy in 1998. From there she went on to pursue a degree in Sociology with a Criminal Justice emphasis from Kansas State University. Kim received her Master’s in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix in 2008. In 2012, she obtained her second Master’s in Administration and Supervision from Concordia and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Education in Professional Inquiry, Leadership, and Transformation. Her passion for education is evident by her previous roles which include teaching 3rd and 4th grade for Omaha Public schools, working with teen mothers and young adults through community partnerships, and being a tutor and mentor. During her tenure with OPS, Kim served on various committees which included the district’s Science, Transportation, Cultural Proficiency, and Math Adoption Committees and a New Teacher Mentor. Prior to joining Mandela, Kim was the director and grant manager of Papillion-LaVista’s Upward Bound program where she worked directly with students to prepare them for post-secondary success. In addition to working with K-12 students, Kim also has experience working with students at the college level which gives her a unique perspective in regard to the education continuum.
“I am very passionate about doing my part to raise a new generation of scholars who are well-rounded, empathetic, responsible, accountable, and academically prepared to be successful leaders. I am excited to be a part of the Nelson Mandela Elementary team and look forward to shaping scholars into the people they are destined to be. Education has always been a passion of mine because it can take you to places that you never thought possible. With a solid education and foundation, our scholars will be equipped with the tools to turn obstacles in stepping stones and face the challenges of the world confidently, resiliently, and intelligently. Indeed, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” -Nelson Mandela.”
Bajah Pittman - Para-Educator
Ms. Pittman is currently a student at College of St. Mary in pursuit of her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Special Education and an endorsement in Inclusion. She is maintaining a 4.0 g.p.a. while taking classes full time, mothering two teenagers (Jadai 17 and Vincent 15), and working full time with Nelson Mandela (previous experience Conestoga and Standing Bear of OPS). She loves to build relationships, empower families, and be a team player. In her spare time she loves to sing, cook, and enjoy family time.
Kindergarten TeacherAbout Me
Katie Siwa - Kindergarten Teacher
"Peace begins with a smile." -Mother Theresa
Katie Siwa, born and raised in Omaha, NE, attended Omaha Public Schools through middle school and graduated from Marian High School in 2015. She continued her education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where she graduated with a degree in Elementary Education with an ESL endorsement in 2019. During her time at the university Katie served in several organizations including Chi Omega and Kappa Delta Pi, while working as a dance teacher and choreographer at a local dance studio. Katie has danced all her life and developed her passion for kids and education through teaching dance. Katie's strengths include that she is empathetic, encouraging, and enthusiastic. These characteristics help in reaching students where they are at in order to help them succeed.
She states, "I am so excited to be a part of the Nelson Mandela family. We are all here for the kids and I want to contribute to the wealth of important skills and knowledge they will acquire at this school."
Title I SupportAbout Me
Alice Smith - Title I Support
Alice Smith provides support to our scholars through Title I. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the purpose of Title 1 funding, “is to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high quality education and reach, at minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.”
2nd Grade TeacherAbout Me
Beverly Tate - Second Grade Teacher
Beverly Tate received her Bachelor's Degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2010. In 2014, she received her Master's Degree from Concordia University. This is her 9th year of teaching. Previously, she taught first through fourth grade in OPS at Masters Elementary and Lothrop Elementary.
Beverly has a husband DeAngelo, and 4 beautiful children: DeAuna, Antonio, DeAngelo and Demi. When she’s not teaching she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and making crafts.
She states, “I am excited to be teaching Second Grade at Mandela.”
Spalding Certified Teacher InstructorAbout Me
Tamara Wharton - Spalding Certified Teacher Instructor
Tamara Wharton is a native of Ralston, Nebraska who has spent the past 26 years in education. She attended Ralston Public Schools and graduated from Ralston High School in 1987. She earned her teaching degree from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 1992 and began teaching in the Omaha Public School District in the fall of 1992. In 1998 she earned her Masters of Arts degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Urban Education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. During her 22 years with OPS, Mrs. Wharton spent 1 year teaching at Kellom Elementary, 3 years at Druid Hill Elementary and her last 18 years in the Omaha Public School District at Skinner Magnet Center.
During the course of her teaching career Tamara has taught kindergarten and first grade, served as a grade level leader, Instructional Learning Team Leader, member of the Safe and Secure Schools team, and a volunteer tutor. Tamara has always believed strongly in the value of integrating arts in the classroom. Several of her classrooms participated in UNO residencies with Josie Metal Corbin. Tamara has participated in Schools Transformed Through the Arts (STart), a project that examined issues related to making meaningful study in the arts integral to a child’s education. More recently, she participated in Arts LINC (Arts & Literature Integrated in Nebraska & California). This federally funded research project investigated how visual art and music could be integrated with literature and language development to increase student achievement. Tamara also co-authored an article in the Early Childhood Education Journal titled Learning About Culture Through Dance in Kindergarten Classrooms.
Tamara started at Nelson Mandela Elementary as a kindergarten teacher. She served in that role for two years. After several years of experience and training she became a Spalding coach and then Spalding Certified Teacher Instructor. This allowed her to take on a dual role as classroom teacher and Spalding coach for the Nelson Mandela team. Tamara has now moved out of the classroom into a new role. She is one of the Spalding coaches at Nelson Mandela Elementary. She also provides support and enrichment for scholars.
Tamara believes in the quote "Each and every day for each and every child". She states, “I am extremely excited to be part of Nelson Mandela Elementary. I believe in the school’s mission and am proud to have a role in helping the scholars of Nelson Mandela develop their gifts and talents.”
1st Grade TeacherAbout Me
Heidi Wilhelm -1st Grade Teacher
Heidi Wilhelm has spent the majority of her life teaching in a variety of roles from the traditional classroom to the theater. She attended Millard Public Schools and graduated from Millard North High School in 1995. Heidi earned her degrees in Early Childhood, Elementary, and Special Education from the College of Saint Mary in 2004 and began teaching in the Millard Public School District in the fall of 2004. Mrs. Wilhelm spent all of her 13 years with MPS at the same school that she attended as a child, Cottonwood Elementary. During the course of her teaching career Heidi has taught pre-school, kindergarten, and first grade. She has served as a grade level leader, Millard Intervention/RTI team member, member of the PbIs team, Art Club sponsor, Google Guide, Class Dojo Mentor, Staff Development leader, and building mentor. Heidi’s teaching career has been focused on empowering the whole child to become not only the best learner they can be, but the very best person. She is passionate about educating young minds and helping them to develop and bloom into responsible, well-rounded, and successful members of our world. Her strengths in adaptability and creativity have enabled her to develop lesson plans that accommodate multiple intelligences and hands-on learning opportunities that keep her students engaged and excited about learning. Heidi draws on the diverse interests of her students to help in building their own connections between the classroom and the world around them.
Heidi states, “I am so excited to be a part of Nelson Mandela Elementary. The value of every child is apparent the moment you enter the building. I have always believed that every child is gifted. The mission at Nelson Mandela Elementary school ensures that every child is given the tools needed to develop and realize their own gifts.”
Physical Education SpecialistAbout Me
Brandon Williams -Physical Education Specialist
This is Brandon William's first year working at Mandela and his first year teaching PE. Before Mandela, Brandon spent 12 years teaching golf. He plans to eventually become a film actor, and Mandela offers a safe space to grow and continue to learn alongside the scholars.