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Meet US

Learn a little about us...& a lot about why we LOVE to teach.

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Autumn Nelson        
Joined SMS Family in 2004

"My hope for all students is that they become life long learners and become all that God has planned for them.  I feel so blessed that God has allowed us to be a part of that journey and positively influence each student at St. Mary's School."

EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE: BS Degree in Elementary Education from Concordia College, Moorhead. Masters in Technology from the University of St. Thomas.  


ON THE PERSONAL SIDE: I am married with 3 children. I enjoy spending time watching my children in their activities and spending time with them. I also like to spend time outside, reading and listening to music. 


Briana Worms

Joined SMS Family in 2015

"I love to help others in a variety of ways and watching the SMS students grow into the best they can be; it's a highlight of my day!"


EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: BA of Arts in Communications with a minor in Psychology from the College of Saint Benedict. Has held a variety of positions at SMS and prior to that in various areas of communications, marketing, and promotions.


ON THE PERSONAL SIDE: Is a mom of 3 who LOVES to spend time with her family, volunteering, and enjoys traveling. She helps out with the Dutchmen Booster Club, various things through the Church of St. Mary and is the best cab driver for her younger children getting to and from activities or events. Notice: She also loves hugs!

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Dana Finken
4/5 Year Old Classroom

Joined SMS Family in 2015

"All four of my children have attended Little Saints Preschool! I really love the program and am having fun teaching all of the program’s Little Saints!"


EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Child and Adult Care Education degree from St. Cloud Technical College. Most recently worked as nanny for two families, and prior to that worked at City of Melrose HRA Rose View Manor as Administration Assistant. Was Owner/Director of  M.O.M.'S Little Angels Childcare Center in Albany where she planned curriculum for each age group ranging from 6 weeks old to 12 years in age.


ON THE PERSONAL SIDE: Is married to Joe, and has four wonderful children!

Heidi Hoppe
3/4 Year Old Classroom

Joined SMS Family in 2023

"I am excited to get back into a classroom and teach preschoolers again. So blessed to be working at St. Mary's with the amazing staff and at a place where I can share my faith."  

EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Graduated from St. Cloud Technical College with a Child and Adult Care and Education Diploma. Owned and operated an in-home child care for almost 14 years. Along with working with special ed students and as an Assistant Preschool Teacher for 2-3 years.


ON THE PERSONAL SIDE: I am married and we have three boys. I enjoy spending time with my family, camping, traveling and watching my children play sports.

Ruth Johnson
4/5 Year Old Classroom

Joined SMS Family in 2022

"I am so excited to continue working with the preschoolers at St. Mary’s. Watching them learn, grow, and hit milestones throughout the year is very fulfilling as a teacher."


EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE:  Graduated from MSU Moorhead in 2005 and received my BS, majoring in Paralegal. After working as a Paralegal from 2005 to 2014, I started my own home daycare and spent the next seven years as a daycare provider. Most recently I worked both in the St Mary's preschool program and the Montessori School of Melrose.


ON THE PERSONAL SIDE:  Married with three children, two who still attend St Marys. I enjoy spending time at the lake, playing board and card games with family, watching my children play sports, and reading.

Amy Primus
3/4 Year Old Classroom

Joined SMS Family in 2023

"I am excited to be a part of the preschool program. All 4 of my children attended the Little Saints program, so I know it is a wonderful program!"


EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: I have an Associate in Applied Science Degree with honors in Accounting from Alexandria Technical College. I also worked as a Para-sub and Preschool Assistant for the Melrose Area Public School.

ON THE PERSONAL SIDE:  I am married with 4 children, all of which have attended St. Mary's School. We live on a beef farm just outside of Melrose.

Jennarae Barten

Joined SMS Family in 2023

"So blessed to have found a place built on Faith where everyone feels like family! My two daughters will also be attending St. Mary's this year and I can't wait to have them with me at school everyday!" 


EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Graduated in 2011 from SCSU with a bachelor's degree in Psychology. Spent many years as a treatment counselor and Mental Health Practitioner before transitioning to a Preschool Teacher for the past 3 years. 


ON THE PERSONAL SIDE: Married to my husband, Isaac, and have two daughters-Charlie (6) and Georgia (3). My husband and I both grew up in Melrose and moved back to the area just over 4 years ago. Both of our girls will be attending St. Mary's this Fall and we are excited for them to start their education journey here! I enjoy chairing the Melrose Community Farmers Market, gardening, being outside, taking walks, going to the lake, and cooking with my girls.

Peggy Stowe

Joined SMS Family in 2023

"I am so blessed to have found a new home to continue my teaching adventures. I look forward to forming new relationships with the staff and families of St. Mary’s School."


EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: BS Degree in Elementary Education from Minnesota State University Moorhead. My teaching experience includes being a substitute, a Learning Resource Teacher, and for the past ten years I taught kindergarten.

ON THE PERSONAL SIDE: My husband and I grow Haskap berries so part of my
summer is spent harvesting the berries. I enjoy spending time with my family and
traveling to California to see my granddaughter.

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Zachary Thell

Joined SMS Family in 2019

"My goal as a teacher is to get the best out of every individual student and to create an environment where students feel comfortable and have fun while advancing as learners and people."


EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: BA in Elementary Education with a Minor in Special Education from St. Cloud State University

ON THE PERSONAL SIDE: Enjoys watching all kinds of sports with friends and family and playing baseball and softball with friends.

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Kathy Wolff

Joined SMS Family in 2019

"I enjoy meeting each child where they are at both academically and socially, as well as discovering their strengths and talents.  My goal is to foster a love for learning in each child and help them reach their full potential."


EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: BS in Applied Psychology/Minor in Child and Family Studies from St. Cloud State University. Montessori teaching certificate/ Early Childhood Credential Saint Catherine. Taught Montessori Preschool/kindergarten for 12 years in St. Cloud.  


ON THE PERSONAL SIDE: I enjoy spending time with my husband and children, friends and family, going for walks and spending time at the lake.

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Amy Kloth
4th GRADE 

Joined SMS Family in 2014

"I feel very blessed to continue my teaching career in such a wonderful, faith-enriched learning environment.  I enjoy supporting and challenging all of my students to learn and become the best version of themselves."


EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: BS degree in Elementary Education/Certification in Early Childhood Education from Mankato State University; and a Masters in Elementary Education from the University of Central Oklahoma. Teaching experience includes teaching in Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.


ON THE PERSONAL SIDE: Is married with 3 children. She enjoys watching movies, playing board games, traveling, and exploring State Parks with her family; reading with a cat curled on her lap; and going on walks with the family dog, Lucy.


Holly Scholz

Joined SMS Family in 2021

"As a teacher, my goal is to make my classroom as fun, positive, and inclusive as possible. I believe that all students have the ability to learn and grow to their full potential as long as they are given the time and support that they need."  


EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: BS degree in Elementary Inclusive Education with a minor in Special Education from Minnesota State University Moorhead 


ON THE PERSONAL SIDE: I love doing anything outdoors (hunting, fishing, walking, playing sports, etc..) When I’m cooped up inside, I love to work on puzzles, read, and bake.


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Sue Pundsack

Joined SMS Family in 1988

"Our school motto says so much: Learn, laugh, believe, succeed. I hope students will embrace this and experience a real love of learning. I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm and creativity with students. I appreciate the many gifts and talents the students, staff, and volunteers share with me and our school. It is an honor to be part of the St. Mary’s family."


EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: BS Degree in Elementary Education from St. Cloud State University


ON THE PERSONAL SIDE: Loves kayaking; biking; cross-country skiing; hiking with her dog, Skippy; playing music; drawing and reading.

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"I strive to make learning highly experiential for students—so they live it, not just learn it.  I want them to show respect, enjoy life, and have fun being a kid."


EDUCATION/EXPERIENCE: Educational Assistant Degree from Ridgewater College, Hutchinson, Minn.


ON THE PERSONAL SIDE: Likes to spend time with family and friends.

Amanda Hellermann

Joined SMS Family in 2005

Our Support Staff

Brenda Primus

Ali Arnzen
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Jenn Ellering
Joan Kuefler

Kathy Peterson


Our Caretakers

Roger Althaus
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Matt Grossinger

Our School District Team

Carrie Schulzetenberg
Public School Teacher
Katie Meyer

Public School Teacher
Emily Zachmann

Public School Teacher
Gloria Welle

Public School Para

Visit the Melrose Area Public School website to find information on the public school educators who teach at SMS.

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