Staff

Staff Directory

Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish School is fortunate to have an experienced, caring staff dedicated to maintaining a safe and loving environment that promotes learning and spiritual development. They make a concerted effort to recognize the gifts that each child brings to the classroom, and helps the child develop those gifts for life.

Karen Hicks
Interim Principal
Student Success Coordinator
Email: hicksk@ihmlansing.org

Mrs. Hicks has been appointed as Interim Principal at Immaculate Heart of Mary School. She has been in education for 30 years with a focus on working with students and families in the areas of improving academic and behavioral outcomes. Her experiences have included being a classroom teacher, Special Education Teacher Consultant, Reading Recovery teacher, and MSU Instructor in assessment and literacy instruction. Before coming to Immaculate Heart of Mary, she gained administrative experience overseeing programming and services of classrooms ranging from elementary through high school. Over the past year, Karen has successfully worked with our teachers, students and parents.  She has the support of the faculty and support staff that have worked with her.

 Mary Margaret Utess
Administrative Assistant
Email: utessm@ihmlansing.org

Mrs. Utess is not your typical grade school administrator. She has a BS in Systems Science Engineering with minors in Math and Chemistry. She decided to become a teacher while babysitting children in high school. Mrs. Utess has lived in many places; she was born in Lansing, and has lived in Grand Rapids and Missouri. Her hobbies include reading, shopping and baking.

Mrs. Chris Wilcox
School Secretary & Tuition Consultant
Email: wilcoxc@ihmlansing.org

Mrs. Wilcox LOVES being the “teacher of the office”.  She has four daughters who attended this school, so she thinks she understands what communications and support the parents need to be part of the school team.  Mrs. Wilcox started working here part time at the St. Casimir site in 2005 when her youngest child was in eighth grade.  She attended Lansing Community College studying Secretarial Science and worked at MSU until her first child was born.  She then spent the next 23 years being mom at home and taking care of other children, too.  She thinks being a Grandma is the BEST!  Her fun fact: Mrs. Wilcox grew up at IHM and attended this school, too!

Mrs. Lynn Boettcher
School Secretary
Email: boettcherl@ihmlansing.org

I have been a parishioner all my life at IHM, went to school myself here, all 4 kids went here and then to Lansing Catholic.  I've worked in the mortgage field, was a dental assistant....then stayed home for many years as a stay at home mom.

Andrea Trutzl
Kindergarten
Email: trutzla@ihmlansing.org

Mrs. Trutzl took the road less traveled to become a teacher. She started college at Michigan State University as a Merchandising Management major before discovering happiness in the Childhood Development/Education program. Mrs. Trutzl taught elementary school in Lake Odessa before coming here to IHM to teach Kindergarten. She likes to read, go to the movies and hang out with her friends and family, which includes one dog and one cat.

Nancy Fink

Elementary Aide
Emai: finkn@ihmlansing.org

Education: BS in Elementary Education from Bowling Green State University, Masters in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove College, Masters in Special Education from the University of Michigan - Dearborn

I have the privilege of serving our IHM School family as a teacher mentor/aide, as well as a lunch and recess supervisor. I am blessed to have over 30 years of teaching experience in Catholic schools, and am a better person, teacher and Catholic as a result. My husband, Eric, and I have three married children, who have children of their own. I spend my days off with these precious grandchildren, who teach me something new all the time. I love to read and exercise.

Sharon Kuchar 
1st Grade
Email: kuchars@ihmlansing.org

Ms. Kuchar teaches First Grade at IHM School. A native of Owosso, Michigan, she has a BS in Elementary education from Central Michigan University. Ms. Kuchar taught at St. Gerard and Resurrection schools before coming to Immaculate Heart. She really enjoys discussing the books her students read with them in class. Her hobbies include reading, walking and going to the beach.

Patricia Smydra
2nd Grade
Email: smydrap@ihmlansing.org

Ms. Smydra is proud to have been raised with her seven brothers and sisters in Ontonagon, which is in the western end of the Upper Peninsula on Lake Superior. Patricia attended NMU, MSU (B.A.), and Marygrove College. She loves teaching and especially loves learning about literacy. Patricia has a daughter Kristine, son-in-law Derrick, and grandchildren Elizabeth, Jacob, and Sarah. She enjoys swimming, bicycling, traveling, and spending time with her family.

Hilary Pratt
3rd Grade
Email:  pratth@ihmlansing.org

Mrs. Hilary Pratt will be our new teacher for third grade and 6th grade social studies.  Mrs. Pratt has taught at St. Mary's School in Williamston and came a year ago to be our  4 year old preschool teacher. because she loves our school and our school family.  We are super excited for all that Mrs. Pratt has to offer our students and staff team.  Mrs. Pratt cannot wait to welcome the students back and you are going to love her. 

 

 Nicole Evans
4th Grade
Email: evansn@ihmlansing.org

 I am a graduate from the University of Michigan-Flint with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. During my course of study, I particularly focused on literacy and history, and I specialized in Early Childhood Education. In my spare time I enjoy reading, writing and spending time with my husband, Carter, our family and friends, and our 2 cats, Charlie and Daisy!

Lisa Galbraith
5th Grade
Email: galbraithl@ihmlansing.org

Education: BA in Psychology and MA in Curriculum & Teaching

In 1996, I answered God’s call to educate His children and accepted a teaching position at IHM. I love what I do and feel especially blessed to be a part of this school community. My vocation as an educator in a Catholic school is very important and I am committed to helping children know, love and serve God. I strive to create a learning environment that generates excitement for learning and meets the needs of every individual. I am married to my husband Ken and am a mother to three amazing sons, all of whom attended IHM School and Lansing Catholic High School. I also have three beautiful daughter-in-laws and a wonderful grandson. I thank God for my faith and for the awesome opportunity I have to teach His children each day.

Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire. – St. Catherine of Siena

 Kelsey Hengesbach
6th Grade
Email: hengesbachk@ihmlansing.org

Hello! My name is Kelsey Hengesbach. I’ll be teaching 6-8th grade math, 6th grade religion, and 6th grade language arts. I have wanted to become a Catholic elementary teacher since I was in 3rd grade, and I am thrilled to be teaching at Immaculate Heart of Mary School this year.

I grew up in Pewamo, MI and attended St. Joseph Catholic School for my elementary years before graduating from Pewamo-Westphalia High School. After that, I headed to Central Michigan University for my B.S. in Elementary Education with a concentration in mathematics. During my high school and college years, I was heavily involved in youth ministry and music ministry. I was also blessed to study abroad in Italy for 5 weeks. There, I studied at the American University of Rome and visited as many churches as I could, including St. Peter’s Basilica.

This past July I married my amazing husband, Bryce. We currently live in Westphalia and enjoy crazy outdoor activities with our families, such as spikeball, football, kayaking, ice skating, and biking. In my free time, I enjoy crafting, cross stitching, and playing the piano and accordion.

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Rose McBrearty
7th/8th Grade
Email: mcbreartyr@ihmlansing.org

Mrs. McBrearty was born in Lansing but was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During her middle school years, she took piano and voice lessons and sang with multiple choirs such as North American Coral Company and The West Michigan Academy of Music for Girls. She spent her middle school summers in Campti, Louisiana on mission trips. While attending Comstock Park High School, she attempted to run cross country, play tennis, and even tried out for volleyball. She found no favor in her sports adventures. Instead, she sang in many school choirs and acted in plays. After studying music for two years at Grand Rapids Community College, she moved to Ohio to attend the Franciscan University of Steubenville. There she majored in Middle Childhood Education, Language Arts and Social Studies with a Reading Endorsement. After moving back to her beloved Home state, she became a proud Viking when she taught summer school and writing in Alanson, Michigan. From there, she taught middle school for six years at a local charter school. She now lives in Lansing with her husband and daughter. She enjoys reading Newberry Award winning books and watching old sitcoms. She is thrilled to be at Immaculate Heart of Mary because of its family closeness and center on Christ's love. She enjoys finding the strengths, weaknesses, and idiosyncrasies of each of her students.

Christina Abbott
8th Grade, Middle School Science
abbottc@ihmlansing.org

Ms. Abbott grew up in Haslett, MI, attended St. Thomas Aquinas for elementary and middle school, then graduated from Haslett High School. She first attended Saint Louis University in Missouri before transferring and finishing her college degree at Michigan State University. She graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology and then recently obtained a secondary science teaching certificate. During her time at MSU, she was able to study abroad in Indonesia and Malaysia, and also studied at Kellogg Biological Station. Her teaching goals are to ensure a safe, positive, and fun learning environment for all her students. She hopes to help each individual grow in their knowledge of science and as a unique person. She will work to foster a growth mindset in the students and assist them in forming a positive relationship with the world we are given. Outside of school, she has a dog named Charlie, loves to travel, enjoys doing graphic design, swimming, basketball, water polo, Irish Dance, and watching Fixer Upper. 

Mrs. Andrea Franz 
Art - Grade K-8
Email: franza@ihmlansing.org

Ms. Ruthie Munk
Music - Grade K-8
Email: munkr@ihmlansing.org

Mrs. Jan Tietsort
Band - Grade 5-8
Email: jan.tietsort@lansingcatholic.org
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Rennie Madden
Library & Teacher Aide
Email. maddenr@ihmlansing.org

Mrs. Madden is the librarian and teachers' aide at IHM School and loves helping the students become lifelong readers and learners. She was born in California but has also lived in Nicaragua, Oregon, Colombia, Arizona, Texas, and Maryland. Since her grandmother was born in Gaylord, she feels she has come full circle. Mrs. Madden went to the University of California, Santa Barbara where she received her BA in Spanish and Hispanic Civilization. Some of her favorite activities include spending time with family (especially the grandbabies), traveling, reading, sewing, and anything outdoors.

Kofi Baker
Physical Education - Grade K-8
Email: bakerk@ihmlansing.org

Hi my name is Mr. Baker, I currently live in Lansing MI where I teach general physical education. I have inclusive and diverse PE classes with students varying in skill and ability. I have a master’s degree in adapted physical education that has allowed me to further my knowledge and teaching skill to assist the students I serve to reach their full potential. I have a beautiful young family, and when I am not working or taking graduate courses I enjoy spending time with them traveling, biking, and camping.

Ms. Mercedes Ward
Spanish - Grade K-8
Email: wardm@ihmlansing.org

Priscila Fojan
Technology - Grade K-5: 


Education: BA in Elementary Education with an integrated science endorsement for middle school from Michigan State University; MA in Educational Technology and Teaching/Curriculum from Michigan State University.

I am the elementary technology teacher at IHMSchool. I was given this opportunity through Brighton Area School's share time program and have been teaching at IHM since 2013. I enjoy working with the students through their journey of becoming digital citizens and learning how to use the many tools that God has given us through the invention of technology.

Ben Hahnenberg
Technology Grade 6-8
Email: hahnenbergb@ihmlansing.org

Mr. Ben Hahnenberg is a graduate of St. Mary Catholic School in Lake Leelanau.  He has previously taught middle school English in Grand Rapids, where he devoted his time to improving the curriculum, creating the yearbook, and leading the school wide Spelling Bee. He has a great deal of experience teaching kindergarten at Manistee Catholic Central School and recently finished teaching first grade at Traverse City Christian where he was also the IT Coordinator for the school. Mr. Hahnenberg enjoys teaching middle school technology at IHM, where he shares his love of Jesus with them, and inspires his students to reach their maximum potential. He believes in living out his favorite quote which comes from St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

Mary Maher
Preschool & Student Care
Email: maherm@ihmlansing.org

I am the Program Director for our preschool, child care and before and after school program. I have my Bachelor's Degree from Spring Arbor College and CDA. I have been part of this Christian Community for 24 years and feel very blessed to have met so many wonderful children and their families. I am now seeing the second generation of children coming in our Church and our Student Care Program. It is truly amazing! In my spare time I love to spend time with my three children and three grandchildren.

 

Tina Back
Preschool Teacher (3yr)
Email: backt@ihmlansing.org

I am a graduate from Michigan State University. (Go Green) I am married and have 5 children and one grandchild. This past summer I visited Scotland and England. I love to read books and work in my garden. I have two rabbits, fish and a wonderful dog named Winston. We are going to have an amazing year in preschool!

Shonna Kerrigan
Preschool Aide

I'm from Tiffin, Ohio where I attended Heidelberg University and obtained my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. I worked in Cleveland, Ohio for 7 years in the Accounting field before moving to Lansing, where I then became a stay at home mom. I am currently working on receiving my Child Development Accreditation through LCC. In my spare time I enjoy spending my time with my husband and two boys doing outdoorsy things and traveling to Ohio to see family.

Picture Coming Soon!

Mr. Burdick
School Counselor
Email: burdickj@ihmlansing.org

I am serving as the student counselor for IHM School for the 2017-2018 academic year. My background is in urban planning and community development. I decided to make a mid-life career change and I am now working towards my Masters in Social Work degree at Michigan State University. I’m eager to learn from the students, all of which are special, unique individuals. In turn, I will do my best to assist students in developing the social and life skills necessary to be their best. I live in East Lansing with my wife and eight-year old son. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, attending concerts, travelling the back roads of Michigan, following sports (I’m both a UM and MSU fan) and playing board games with my son.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Useful Contacts

Father John Byers,
Pastor
Immaculate Heart of Mary Church
frjbyers@ihmlansing.org

School Marketing Committee
 
marketing@ihmlansing.org

Jason Watson, Webmaster
watson.jason@gmail.com