Kristie Aukema

Meet Ms. Kristie! Ms. Kristie’s life motto is that “Life is a gift, so celebrate everything you can!” We celebrate that Ms. Kristie has been with us for the last four years as a teaching assistant for the 4-day PreCademy classes.

Ms. Kristie’s favorite habit is “Sharpen the Saw” because it reminds her to take her time to pursue balance, refreshment, and fun in her professional and family life. She would also like her students to know “that they are unique, amazing, and incredibly special! There is no one in the world like you!”

First Job: Paper carrier
Favorite Snack: Fruit… and chocolate
Favorite Books: The Bible and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Special Talent: Wrangling kittens and baby tigers

Classic Elementary

Gina Dobbin

Meet Ms. Gina! Ms. Gina’s life theme song is “Sunshine on my Shoulders” by John Denver and she has been bringing sunshine to the Innocademy family the last three years teaching our youngest friends in Kindercademy.

Ms. Gina’s favorite habit is “Think Win, Win” because thinking win, win is thinking of others! She also would like all her students to know “Mistakes are proof that you are trying! (Refer to my life motto and make it part of the dance!)”

First Job Ever: Blueberry Picker
Special Talent:  Doing the wave!
Bucket List: Visit Greece
Life Motto: “If you can’t find the sunshine, be the sunshine! If you stumble, make it part of the dance!”

Monica Kraai

Meet Ms. Monica! In Grade school, Ms. Monica loved school, studied often, and loved to make new friends. She has been sharing her love of school and teaching our youngest friends how to make new friends the last 6 years as the youngest friends teacher teaching kindergarten standards.

Ms. Monica’s favorite habit is “Seek first to understand then to be understood” because she thinks it is important to learn to listen to others first before talking. She wants her students to know “that they can do and be anything! Once you believe in yourself, the sky is the limit! Our students have so much potential-it is our job to help them reach it!”

Favorite Snack: Veggies and spicy hummus
Special Talent: Art! She loves to draw, write, and create art
First Job: Serving ice cream at The General Store
Bucket List: Traveling out of the country with her kiddos and husband

Cyndi Nykamp

Meet Ms. Cyndi! She can’t live without her glasses and would love to see Victoria Falls in Kenya one day. We have loved seeing Ms. Cyndi daily the last 5 years as a teacher in the Green Room teaching the second grade curriculum to our younger friends.

Ms. Cyndi’s favorite habit is “Begin with the end because she likes to set goals for herself. She also would like her students to know “they are valued and loved.”

Special Talent: She can touch her tongue to her nose
Voted: Funniest Laugh
Favorite Snack: Chocolate covered peanuts, not double-dipped
Life Motto: Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

Kerri Bosch

Meet Ms. Kerri! Anyone that knows Ms. Kerri knows she loves her Cheez-its and we have been loving her the last 9 years! Ms. Kerri has taught many grade levels over the last 9 years, but currently teaches the Blue Room middle friends.

Ms. Kerri’s favorite habit is “Synergize” because she loves working with others. She also would like her students to know “one person can make a difference in your life if you are being bullied! Be that person to stand up for someone else!”

First Job: Dairy Queen
Bucket List: Whitewater rafting
Favorite Book: Wonder
Voted Most Likely: To get married

Tatiana Boinais

Meet Ms. Tatiana! Did you know she is really good at calligraphy? She has talent with all types of writing and has been sharing her ELA knowledge with students at Innocademy. We are thankful to have her teaching the middle friends in the blue room!

Ms. Tatiana’s favorite habit is “Sharpen the Saw” because it is easy to get wrapped up in the craziness of daily life and she likes having a reminder to pause and take care of herself. She also would like her students to know “You really can make a difference in the world! Never stop believing in yourself.”

Life Theme Song: Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles
Favorite Book: The Midnighters
Can’t Live Without: Nora (her cat)
Voted Least Likely: To reach the top shelf

Las Huellas Elementary

Ashley Dentler

Meet Ms. Ashley! She loves slushies, rainbows, and couponing, but she loves her students even more! She has been a part of the Innocademy family the last two years teaching Elementary FLES to our classic friends. She excited to move to the Las Huellas team to begin teaching our youngest amigos this year.

Ms. Ashley’s favorite habit is “Begin with the end in mind” because she loves setting goals and working towards them with a bigger picture in mind. She wants all her students to know “You are loved, creative, strong, and smart. You all teach me as much as I teach you!”

Life Motto: “Use your smile to change the world, don’t let the world change your smile.”
Type of Grade School Student: Teacher’s pet
Life Hashtag: #Holyhotmolasses
Voted Most Likely: To be a teacher

Natalia Bravo

Meet Ms. Natalia! Ms. Natalia has always loved learning! her bucket list wish is to continue her academic learning. She has shared her love of learning with us the last 6 years and currently teaches our youngest friends in Las Huellas.

Ms. Natalia’s favorite habit, is habit number three “Put first things first” because she likes to prioritize things that are most important. She would also like all of her students to know “ that we all have different personalities, different ways to learn, and talents, but they all are special to me .”

Type of Grade School Student: Quiet, and always worried about grades and homework
Can’t Live Without: Coffee
Favorite Book: Romeo and Juliet
First Job: Dishwasher (at 8 years old)

Rachel Walendzik

Meet Ms. Rachel! She started with her first job as running steel bending and cutting machines at Steelcase, but we are thankful she chose teaching as her lifelong career. She has been a part of the Innocademy family the last four and half years and currently teaches second grade objectives to younger friends in the Las Huellas Green Room.

Ms. Rachel’s favorite habit is “Put first things first”, because it feels great to get a job done and relax afterwards! She wants her students to know that “In a world where you can be anything, be kind!”

Life Motto: Pura Vida! (Life is good!)
Special Talent: She can wiggle her ears
Favorite Snack: Cheese popcorn and slushies
Can’t Live Without: Fuzzy slippers and hot tea

Jessenia Martinez

Meet Ms. Jessenia! She can speak, write, and read in two languages and LOVES to dance! We are so happy she has been teaching the students of Innocademy a second language the last 4 years as a teacher of third grade curriculum in the Las Huellas Blue Room.

Ms. Jessenia’s favorite habit is “Put first things first” because the order in which you choose to do thinks matters ALL the time. She wants her students to know “that I care and value the education they get each and every day here at Innocademy. I hope that they feel appreciated, cared for and loved by staff and students in our school. AND that learning another language is NOT easy, but it is SO rewarding. How cool is it to speak to people in their native language?”

Favorite Snack/Can’t Live Without: Cheese
First Job: Cashier at Burger King
Bucket List: Go Skydiving
Life Motto: Work hard, have fun along the way!  

Liliana Rivero

Meet Ms. Liliana! She is a world traveler that has visited the USA, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, England, Spain, Portugal, France, China, Scotland, and Belgium. This world traveler has been part of our family the last two years as a paraprofessional and we are honored to have her teach Las Huellas 4th grade standards this year.

Her favorite habit is “Think Win-Win” because she believes this habit creates harmony in any relationship. She wants all her students to know that “I learn at the same time with them, we are together in the journey.”

Bucket List: Learn to Ski
Special Talent: Dance
Can’t Live Without: Diet Coke
First Job Ever: Sales

Classic Middle School

Alvin Essenburg

Meet Mr. Alvin! Mr. Alvin’s bucket list wish is to visit All the National Parks in the United States. We are lucky enough to have him share all his outdoors and science knowledge with us the last three years as the Oldest Friends Science teacher.

Mr. Alvin’s favorite habit is “Synergize” because it is a challenge (and fun) to get all the moving pieces to work together to present a unified whole. Mr. Alvin wants his students to know that “I want to help them be curious about the world around them and use their knowledge to make a difference in that world.”

First Job: Paper Route
Favorite Snack: Combos/Mountain Dew
Favorite Book: The Bible
Special Talent: Computers and fixing things

Cory Dams

Meet Mr. Cory! Mr. Cory is going on his fifth year with Innocademy as the middle school math teacher. He is a lover of data, Doritos, Mountain Dew, and Mike and Ikes.

Mr. Cory’s favorite habit is “Begin with the end in mind” because he is a planner and likes to know where he is going. He would also like his students to know “We can all continue to grow. There is never an end. There will always be ways we can improve.”

Life Motto: Some day, I’m going to own this place.
First Job: KFC
Favorite Book: The Giving Tree
Special Talent: Being average

Kelly Lepley

Meet Mr. Kelly! He is famous for his selfies (#selfieswithmrkelly) and has been a part of the Innocademy family for 2 years teaching middle school social studies.

Mr. Kelly’s favorite habit is the first habit “Be Proactive” because he loves to plan ahead and feel prepared. Mr. Kelly wants his students to know “I love teaching history because it is stories about everyday people who did extraordinary and innovative things.”

Bucket List: Attend a major sporting event championship
Life Motto: Hakuna Matata, it means no worries
Special Talent: He can read minds!
Type of Grade School Student: Very quiet and shy

Rachel Rich

Meet Ms. Rachel! She shares her love of foreign language with our oldest friends teaching Spanish. She lives by the motto that #Asíeslavida and we are thrilled to have her in our vidas!

Ms. Rachel’s favorite habit is “Put first things first” because she is a visual person and likes to have a To-Do list to help her feel ready for the day. Ms. Rachel would like all of her students to know “I am excited to be here! I’m looking forward to getting to know you and the unique way that you learn, and to help you have a successful school year!”

Favorite Snack: Chips and cheese
Bucket List: To watch the Olympic games in person
Favorite Book: The Harry Potter Series
Special Talent: Art (such as drawing, sketching & painting)

Kate Webb

Meet Ms. Kate! Have you heard that her PowerPoint presentations are legendary? Ms. Kate has been a part of our Inno family the last 3 years sharing her technological expertise as well as teaching Special Education for middle school friends.

Ms. Kate’s favorite habit is Habit number 5 “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” She loves this habit because truly hearing others’ needs (and being heard yourself) is so important to having good relationships with others. She would also like her students to know “You can accomplish anything you set your mind to – and we’ll support you all the way there.”

Can’t Live Without: Music
Bucket List: Hike Sleeping Bear Dunes & the Porcupine Mountains
Favorite Book: Anything with a cover, lots of pages in the middle, and a back cover…
Life Motto: “Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody” – Kid President

Las Huellas Middle School

Cati Vila

Meet Ms. Cati! Ms. Cati has traveled all over the world to Spain, Portugal, England, France, Germany, Netherlands, Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico, Jordan, Italy, Switzerland, and Canada just to name a few… We are so excited to have such an international traveler join us this year. She is joining our family for the first time as a Las Huellas teacher teaching 5th grade objectives.

Ms. Cati’s favorite habit is “Be Proactive” because if you are not you will find yourself in one hot life mess. She wants her students to know “I care about WHO they are as well as how well they learn.

Favorite Snack: Cheese and crackers
Bucket List: To go to Israel
Voted Most Likely: To move to a faraway place
Special Talent: She can touch her nose with her tongue

Meghan Loree

Meet Ms. Meghan! Ms. Meghan is passionate about reading, rollerblading, biking, traveling, AND teaching our Spanish Immersion 6th grade objectives! This is her first year at Innocademy, and we are oh-so grateful to have her in the team!

Ms. Meghan’s favorite habit is “Sharpening the Saw” because she loves traveling with her family!

Favorite Snack: Dark Chocolate
Favorite Dance Move: The Chicken Dance
Voted Most Likely: To #explore
Special Talent: She is a great canasta player!

Support Staff

Kelli Gunn

Meet Ms. Kelli! She has been a part of the Innocademy family for over a decade as she begins her 11th year! Her very first job ever had her calling customers at a car dealership to ask if they were satisfied with their service. We have been highly satisfied with Ms. Kelli as the Point person for Innocademy Zeeland and Middle School Electives Teacher.

Ms. Kelli’s favorite habit is “Synergize” because she gets an adrenaline rush from a great brainstorming session. She would like the students to know “that they are valued and the whole world is theirs to explore.”

Life Hashtag: #soyouaretellingmetheresachance
Can’t Live Without: My son Cam
Bucket List: Visit every continent
Voted: Most spirited (nice way of saying she had endless energy)


Becca Beebe

Meet Ms. Becca! She has been a part of the IES family the last two years through CTC and joins us this year officially on our staff! Ms. Becca’s first job ever was a lifeguard, but she now works as our Speech-language pathologist.

Ms. Becca’s favorite habit is “Put first things first” because she is motivated by the reward at the end of the tunnel. She also really wants her students to know that ” I want out learning to be effective and always fun. When you are dismissed from speech we will celebrate together.”

Bucket List: Swim the Straits of Mackinac
Special Talent: She can spot a Petoskey stone faster than anyone she knows
Life Motto: If you pass physics, you can do this!
Favorite Book: The Hobbit

Eileen Brandwein

Meet Ms. Eileen! “I just like to smiling. Smiling is my favorite!” is Ms. Eileen’s life motto. She has been sharing her bright smile with us the last two years as the paraprofessional for the Youngest Friends.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” is Ms. Eileen’s favorite habit because she loves that it helps us listen and hear others. She believes we need to emphasize and learn from others before jumping to conclusions. Finally, Ms. Eileen wants her students to know “You are loved.

First Job: Waitress at “The Choo Choo” in Illinois
Can’t Live Without: Coffee and chocolate
Special Talent: She teaches English to kiddos in China
Voted Most Likely: To start singing out of nowhere

Tiffany Martinez

Meet Ms. Tiffany! She is a baking extraordinaire that has been lucky enough to have one of her own recipes featured in Food Network Magazine! WE are lucky enough to have her working as a parapro in the Green Room for the first time this year.

Ms. Tiffany believes that “Putting first things first” is one of the most important of the 7 Habits because “we cannot get back the time we waste. Whatever we value should come first and receive our best efforts!”

Favorite Dance Move: The Carlton
Can’t Live Without: Water. She gets super nervous (and thirsty) whenever she doesn’t have a drink of water near her.
Special Talent: She can make a roll of sushi disappear! 
Voted Most Likely: To live in a van down by the river.

Renee Frye

Meet Ms. Renee! She can’t live without a cozy blanket, but we can’t live without her! She has been with our family the last two years and is currently the Classic Blue Room Paraprofessional.

Ms. Renee’s favorite habit is “Think Win-Win” because she believes it helps you think outside yourself and look to work better with others. Ms. Renee also wants her students to know “Today can change by tomorrow and yesterday can grow your today, don’t ever stop growing and learning.”

First Job: Cart Girl at Kroger
Favorite Snack: BBQ Chips
Favorite Book: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Life Motto: Always another side to a story

Noemi Hoven

Meet Ms. Noemi! She loves cashews, Jesus, and sewing! We have loved having her as part of the Innocademy family the last three years as a paraprofessional in Las Huellas.

Ms. Noemi’s favorite habit is “Be Proactive” because it helps her remember that her joy is not dependent on others. She wants her students to know “They are uniquely amazing.”

First Job: Church’s Notary
Bucket List: Visit Spain
Life Motto: Live simply, love generously, learn constantly
Type of Grade School Student: Humble learner

Necia Ornée

Meet Ms. Necia! She is a #healthnutfitnesschica that loves to spend her time with her husband and kids, cooking, going to the beach, running, biking, hiking, doing yoga, gardening, traveling, reading, and learning and teaching about food, self care, exercise, language and cultures. She is a woman of many trades and talents, and we are grateful that she shares her talents with us here at Innocademy! This is her first year in the Innocademy family as our Spanish Immersion Interventionist.

Ms. Necia’s favorite habit is “Sharpen the Saw” because she believes that “self care and living into one’s strengths and passions help create a happy and healthy life balance.” We couldn’t agree more!

Special Talent: She can sing!
Can’t live without: Her family.
Favorite Dance Move: The Salsa
Voted Most Likely to: Smile!

Tania Yunissi

Meet Ms. Tania! She has joined us for her first year as a parapro in Las Huellas Spanish immersion. We are so grateful to have her caring heart and expertise on staff!

Stay tuned for more information about Ms. Tania soon!


Melissa Meyer

Meet Ms. Melissa! Ms. Melissa loves to cook, bake, and try new recipes. She tried something new this year by joining our team as a paraprofessional for the youngest friends and we are so happy to have her!

Her favorite habit is “Be Proactive” because it is the foundation of all great accomplishments in life. Ms. Melissa wants all her students to know “that they are uniquely created to make the world an amazing place!”

Life Motto: Be a light in the world
Bucket List: Visit all 50 States
Can’t Live Without: Sleep and a good book
First Job: Video Store Clerk

Jody Voss

Meet Ms. Jody! Ms. Jody’s life hashtag is #lettheadventurebegin. She has been adventuring with us the last five years as an assistant to middle school friends.

Ms. Jody’s Favorite habit is “Think Win-Win” and she wants her students to know that “they are important, they matter and if they need something I’m always read to listen/help.”

Favorite Snack: Anything with chocolate, caramel, or mint
Can’t Live Without: Pajama pants and a large, soft blanket
Bucket List: Visit the 7 Wonders of the World
Special Talent: Baking all kinds of yumminess

Karl Malefyt

Meet Mr. Karl! His special talent is problem solving! We are so thankful he brought his top notch problem solving skills to Innocademy this year and is a new addition to our family as a custodial extraordinaire.

Mr. Karl’s favorite habit is put first things first because it is a great simple reminder. He would also like all the students to know “learning new things is so exciting, It’s like an ‘Achievement Unlocked’ in video games!”

Can’t Live Without: Music
Voted Most Likely: To be in a punk band
Life Motto: Take care of others (He takes great care of us!)
Favorite Snack: Cheese and crackers

Dave Zimmer

Meet Mr. Dave! Mr. Dave has traveled all over the world to Russia, Greece, Spain, Italy, Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Germany, France, Denmark, Norway and Turkey, but thankfully ended up in Michigan to be in charge of IES Finances. Mr. Dave’s life motto is to be humble and kind and he has kindly been a part of our IES family the last four years.

Mr. Dave’s favorite habit is to begin with the end in mind. He also wants the students to know “Be yourself and you can be anything.”

Favorite Snack: Popcorn
Can’t Live Without: Coffee in the morning
Bucket List: To be a street performer
Special Talent: Plays the organ

Sara Vereeke

Meet Ms. Sara! In grade school, Ms. Sara was a social butterfly, but also a rule follower. She continues to be a social butterfly while also following the rules as she takes care of all our Human Resource needs!

Ms. Sara’s favorite habit is “Seek first to understand, then to be Understood.” She believes it is great to focus on understanding others’ point of view before expressing one’s own point of view. Ms. Sara would like all the students to know…”You are capable of great things in your life. Make good choices, move on from your mistakes and you will be capable of anything you set your sights on!”

Can’t Live Without: Lipstick
Special Talent: Plays the piano
Favorite Snack: Chocolate, lots of chocolate
Favorite Book: The Secret Garden

Heidi Wolters

Meet Ms. Heidi! Ms. Heidi is the Boss and Queen bee as she does it all for all three IES Schools. She does the registrar, pupil accounting, the front desk and countless other tasks for our schools.

Ms. Heidi wants all the students to know that “You are capable of great things in your life. Make good choices, move on from your mistakes and you will be capable of anything you set your sights on!”

First Job: Grocery store cashier
Favorite Snack: Doritos
Can’t Live Without: Her husband & kids
Quote to Live By: “Life is all about the choices you make”

Specials & Electives

Katie Wilson

Meet Ms. Katie! Running the Disney Marathon is on Ms. Katie’s Bucket List and tennis is one of her special talents. Thankfully she has been sharing her athletic abilities with our students the last three years as our Learn to Be Fit (L2BF) teacher.

Favorite Snack: Brownies
Life Motto: Be a Fruit Loop in a world of Cheerios!
Can’t Live Without: Family
Favorite Book Series: Harry Potter

Chad Zuber

Meet Mr. Chad! Mr. Chad loves tomatoes and trips to the lake and mountains. He has been all over the world visiting over 10 countries! Thankfully he has shared his worldly knowledge the last five years with IES students. Currently teaching Innogineering at both Innocademy Zeeland and Allegan campuses.

Mr. Chad tends to get lost a lot… so his favorite habit is Begin with the End-in-Mind because that’s how you know where you are going. He also wants all his students to know “Your teachers will help you accomplish anything that you are willing to work for.”

First Job Ever: Meijer bagger (only time he has ever had to wear a tie to work)
Bucket List: Learn an instrument (beyond a few cords of a ukulele)
Life Motto: “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can” – Arthur Ashe

Hillary Schmidt

Ms. Hillary has sang her way into all our hearts last year as she joined our IES Family. She brings music to all our lives by instructing general music at both Zeeland and Allegan campuses as well as oldest friend’s (grades 5-8) choir at Innocademy Zeeland’s campus. Ms. Hillary’s music wins our heart, but toasted coconut ice cream from Kilwins is the way to her heart.

Ms. Hillary loves the seven habits so much it was hard for her to choose just one. Habit 3 Put first things, first” is one of her favorites because she finds it really helpful to make sure she takes things one step at a time and identifies what needs to be done to accomplish a great goal. She also really loves Habit 5 Seek first to understand, then to be understood because if humanity could practice this habit, our world would be a brighter and more loving place for all. Finally, Ms. Hillary wants her students to know that “they are all music makers no matter what skills and abilities they bring into the classroom.”

Bucket List: Eating her way through a trip to Italy and France
Special Talent: Classically trained opera singer
First Job Ever: Cash register clerk at a dry cleaner