The Iowa-Missouri Conference began its 2017-18 school year with 11 new elementary teachers—more than in any previous year.

“The end of the past school year was the most challenging of my tenure,” said Joe Allison, education superintendent. “It’s unprecedented to have so many changes at once.”

Allison said several factors contributed to the large number of changes, including retirements, moves outside of the conference, growing schools and the reopening of two previously closed schools—Rolla Adventist School in Rolla, Missouri, and Prescott SDA School in St. Joseph, Missouri.

“Through the efforts of our dedicated school boards and many seasons of prayer, the positions were all filled,” Allison said. “God knows each need and directs us to the right teacher to fill that need.”

The school year began with 291 elementary students enrolled, up from 277 at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year.

Meet the new teachers:

Kori Cook – Hillcrest School

Kori Cook received a B.A. in Liberal Studies from Pacific Union College and a Master in Reading from Webster University. She previously volunteered at Hillcrest School. Cook lives in St. Louis with her husband, Tom, and two children, Riley (8) and Hudson (5).

Heather Daarud – Summit View Adventist Elementary

Heather Daarud has taught pre-k, kindergarten, and first grade in a multi-grade classroom, as well as music instruction in a junior academy setting.

Some of her passions outside the classroom include drawing, reading, going to the lake, singing, and game nights with family.

Matt Daarud – Summit View Adventist Elementary

Matt Daarud graduated from Union College with a B.S. in Education. He has taught the third, fifth, sixth, and seventh grades in all subject areas. He’s also tutored elementary and high school students while working at Sylvan Learning Center.

He likes to play golf and softball, listen to his Bible app, co-teach with his wife, Heather, and show his students that God loves them.

Jennifer Ewers – Nevada Adventist School

Jennifer Ewers has B.S. degrees in Business Administration and Elementary Education. She taught English in Suwon, South Korea.

Some of her hobbies include spending time with family, cooking, traveling, outdoor adventures and learning.

Valerie Haveman – College Park Christian Academy

Valerie Haveman has a B.S. in Elementary Education from Southern Adventist University. She previously served as secretary and substitute teacher at CPCA.

Haveman has served as a missionary overseas and has a passion for sharing the love of Jesus with others. One of her favorite hobbies is baking bread and desserts. She and her husband, Russell, have two children still at home, Carrie and Kidane, and a married daughter, Cassie Stewart, who lives in Nebraska.

Heidi Jorgenson – College Park Christian Academy

Heidi Jorgenson has a Masters in Educational Leadership and is currently working on an Ed. S. in Educational Leadership. She has spent the last 12 years teaching in California.

One of her hobbies is running, and she has completed a couple of super sprint triathlons.

Kirsten Mathis – Sunnydale Elementary School

Kirsten Mathis has a B.S. in Elementary Education from Southwestern Adventist University and has been teaching in Texas for the past 10 years.

She attended Sunnydale Elementary and Academy and married her husband of 14 years, Lee, on the Sunnydale campus. They have four children.

Mary McDowell – Springfield SDA Junior Academy

Mary McDowell has a B.S. in History and a Masters in Special Education. She most recently taught in Tennessee.

McDowell is a USAF veteran and loves spending time with her daughter, Katie, and grandchildren, Aiden and Hannah.

Amanda Plank – Springfield SDA Junior Academy

Amanda Plank has a B.A. in Elementary Education from Griggs University and comes to the conference from Collegedale, Tennessee.

Her parents, both electrical engineers, made her initials AMP.

Taneisha Purkiss – Rolla Adventist School

Taneisha Purkiss has B.S. in Education and School Counseling, and a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Special Education. She has taught for over 10 years in places including Jamaica and Germany.

Purkiss loves spending time with family, reading, cycling, cooking and eating. She and her husband, Easton, have two daughters, Porsha and Abigail.

Ashley Schebo – J.N. Andrews Adventist School

Ashley Schebo received her Elementary Education degree from Union College. She is originally from Wisconsin but just moved back from South Korea, where she had been teaching.

As an avid horsewoman, Ashley loves being around horses any chance she can get.

The Iowa-Missouri Conference began its 2017-18 school year with 11 new elementary teachers—more than in any previous year.

To learn more visit our school and teacher directories.