Principal: Melissa Bergholt
Melissa Bergholt : Principal

Experience: This is my fifth year at Word of Life. I am currently the principal but have taught both 6th and 8th grade homeroom and Middle School Math and Science in my time serving here.  Prior to Word of Life, I was a principal and algebra teacher beginning in 2008. From 2006-2008, I served as a 7th grade homeroom teacher and 6th-8th grade Math teacher. In my first call as a teacher from 2001-2006, I served as the 6th grade homeroom teacher, and the Math and Science teacher for 6th-8th grade students.

Education: Concordia University, Mequon, WI, Bachelor's degree, Elementary Education, with a minor in math; University of Central Florida, Master's degree, K-8th math and science education.

Personal Education Philosophy: My philosophy is to teach the whole child. As teachers, we not only educate in core areas, but also help students to learn and grow in their faith as individuals.

Classroom Goals: My goal is to integrate faith while teaching students about what God created through earth, life, and physical science lessons.

Interests: Reading, jogging, watching movies, time with family

Favorite Bible Verse: ""For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11

Director of Marketing & Admissions: Joel Akridge
Joel Akridge : Director of Marketing & Admissions
Education: Master of Arts in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration & Marketing from the University of Missouri-St. Louis

Experience:  While also currently serving as founder and director of Rhapsody Ministries, Inc. and serving as a fill-in speaker/preacher at several different churches in the area, over the past 20 years have had the privilege of serving others in a variety of different positions in various ministries and businesses...
  • Associate Pastor
  • High School Bible & Fine Arts Teacher for 8 years
  • Director of a community children's ministry in South Carolina working with local schools, while training adults on how to reach children in said local schools.
  • Worked in sales and marketing at various companies in the St. Louis area
Interests: Seeing others being loved and cared for through the love of Jesus.  Spending time with my wife and daughter.  Cardinals baseball, Blues hockey, and participating in activities that bring our community together!
Favorite Bible Verse: Hebrews 13:14 - "For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come."

Financial Business Manager: Judy Ruf
Judy Ruf : Financial Business Manager
Experience:   Prior to joining the office staff at Word of Life, I served for 7 years as the Business Manager and Treasurer of the Board of Directors for Lutheran Association for Special Education (LASE).  In my first career, I was the chief financial officer for a major St. Louis law firm for over 20 years.
Education:  Bachelor of Arts in Accounting, Business and German from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois
Interests:  Gardening, Cardinals baseball, traveling with my family, and teaching young children to make a joyful noise to the Lord!
Favorite Bible Verse:  Zephaniah 3:17 - The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He takes great delight in you; He will quiet your fears with His love  He rejoices over you with singing!

Office Administrator: Devri Davis
Devri Davis : Office Administrator
Experience: Two and a half years in Office Administration at Word of Life, two years Office Management, four years Advertising & Sales, five years Marketing, two years Radio and four and a half years in Market Research
Education:  BS Mass Communications from Boston University with a concentration in Advertising and a minor in Spanish Literature & MBA Marketing from California Lutheran University
Personal Education Philosophy: The Bible is the ultimate handbook for life.
Classroom Goals: Be available to students who may need my support.
Interests: Needle Arts, Cooking
Favorite Bible Verse:  Joshua 24:15b "But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

Preschool 3/4 year olds (St. Lucas): Allie O’Toole
Allie O’Toole : Preschool 3/4 year olds (St. Lucas)

Experience: I have been teaching at Word of Life for four years. Previously,  I worked in the Mom’s Day Out Program at St. Lucas Lutheran Church for 5 years.

Education: Webster University, Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education

Personal Education Philosophy: I want to create a safe and positive classroom environment where students are given the opportunity to grow in their love of learning and love of Jesus.

Classroom Goals: My classroom goals are to help students grow spiritually, socially and emotionally while creating strong and positive relationships.

Interests: Volleyball, reading, shopping and spending time with family and friends.

Favorite Bible Verse: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Teacher Aide: Ronda O’Toole
Ronda O’Toole : Teacher Aide

Preschool 3 year olds (Timothy): Lorenda Bolling
Lorenda Bolling : Preschool 3 year olds (Timothy) lbolling@wordoflifeschool.netÂ

Experience: This will be my first year teaching at Word of Life Lutheran School. Prior to this, I taught at Messiah Lutheran School in St. Charles, MO, for three years. During this time I taught Kindergarten, 1st grade, and preschool.

Education: Concordia University Chicago, Bachelors Degree in Lutheran Elementary Education. Middle School Endorsement in Language Arts.

Personal Education Philosophy: My philosophy is to help students recognize that we are lifelong learners.  I work to help them achieve this through a welcoming classroom where they get to experience learning through hands on activities, open ended discussions, and other creative outlets to learn and explore.  I strive to create a place that allows children to learn who they are as a person and “whose”  they are in Jesus Christ.

Classroom Goals: I believe that early childhood sets the foundation for further learning.  With this in mind I work to help students learn fundamental learning blocks such as colors, numbers, letters, and more.  Above this I want to help them through their course of development which includes emotional, social, and spiritual.  I work to help students through all of these areas in my classroom.

Interests: Spending time with my family and son, crafting, shopping, and decorating!

 Favorite Bible Verse: “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." Psalm 118:14

Preschool 4 year olds (Timothy): Melissa Maxfield
Melissa Maxfield : Preschool 4 year olds (Timothy)

Experience: I've worked with Lutheran Schools for over twenty years.  Fifteen years have been in the classroom teaching a variety of grade levels including sixth, third, first, & preK.  Six years were spent working part-time for the Lutheran Elementary School Association of St. Louis while my children were young.  While out of the classroom, I was able to serve Lutheran schools around the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Education: Missouri State University, a B.S. in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. Concordia University, Chicago, Lutheran Teaching Certificate through the Colloquy Program.

Personal Education Philosophy: I strive to create a classroom where all children can learn to the best of their God-given ability, by providing differentiated activities, incorporating opportunities to support a variety of learning styles, and guiding them to be all that God would have them be.

Classroom Goals: I desire to meet my students where they are academically and from there, encourage, scaffold, and promote learning opportunities to stretch them just a bit more. We'll do this with a variety of activities as we experiment, work with numbers and letters, strengthen gross motor skills, and hone fine motor skills, all while working to develop socially.  Most importantly, I want to help them grow in their knowledge of Jesus and the love He has for them, as we work to demonstrate His love to others around us.

Interests: Hiking with my family, cooking, crafting, and photography.

Favorite Bible Verse: "Be thou faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life." Revelation 2:10

Teacher Aide: Kathy Thies
Kathy Thies : Teacher Aide

Kindergarten: Jill Moormann
Jill Moormann : Kindergarten

Experience: This is my 12th year at Word of Life. Besides kindergarten, I taught first grade for 5 years.

Education: Missouri University, Columbia, Bachelor's degree, Elementary Education; Southwest Baptist University, Master's degree, Curriculum and Design in Education

Personal Education Philosophy: Every child is gifted. They just unwrap their packages at different times.

Classroom Goals: My goal is to make my students responsible Christian citizens who enjoy learning.

Interests: My family, cooking, traveling, exercising

Favorite Bible Verse: "Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs." Psalm 100:2


Teacher Aide: Rachel Hofman
Rachel Hofman : Teacher Aide

1st Grade: Jessica Thompson
Jessica Thompson : 1st Grade

Experience:  I have 13 years of teaching experience in a variety of elementary and middle school grades.  This is my first year at Word of Life and I'm so excited to be here!  Previously, I taught at a Lutheran school in Oviedo, FL.

Education: I received my Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Central Florida and my Lutheran Teacher's Certification from the Concordia House of Studies

Classroom Goals: 1.  My students will know that they are loved by Jesus and are unique, cherished creations of God.

2.  My classroom will be a place where all students feel loved, safe, and important.  

3.  Each child will be given the tools they need to grow to their full potential; academically, socially, and spiritually. 

Interests: Reading, running, going to the beach (which is hard in Missouri!), hanging out with my husband, kids, and dogs, being in nature, exploring St. Louis

Favorite Bible Verse: Romans 8:28


2nd Grade: Sara Poppitz
Sara Poppitz : 2nd Grade

Experience: I worked for Word of Life as an instructional aide in the Resource Room at the Ascension campus for 2 years. In 2007, I worked as a full-time reading specialist for grades 6-8 at Lift for Life Academy in Soulard. I was also a preschool aide at St. John’s Lutheran School in Arnold.  In 2011, I came back to Word of Life to teach preschool at the St. Lucas campus.  The following school year kept me on my toes as I served in many different capacities at the Timothy campus, each of which I learned from and enjoyed greatly. Since 2014, I have found my calling to serve as our second grade teacher.

Education: Valparaiso University, Bachelor's degree, Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education

Personal Education Philosophy: Students must be active and engaged participants in their personal learning to achieve their fullest potential.

Classroom Goals: My classroom goal is to create and foster an environment where each student can use their God-given talents to succeed inside and outside the classroom.

Interests: I love spending time with my family and friends! You can also find me organizing, labeling, alphabetizing things in my spare time!

Favorite Bible Verse: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- His good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2


3rd Grade : Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson : 3rd Grade

Experience: This is my twelfth year in the classroom and my seventh year teaching at Word of Life!  Before my time as a Cougar, I served as a children's minister in Texas and then God called me to be teacher.  I taught as a bilingual first grade teacher in a public school in Texas for a number of years and then taught first and third grade at the St. Louis Language Immersion Spanish School.  I am fluent in Spanish and have experience in leading group-building, outdoors education, music and theater.  A few years ago, I completed a M.Ed. in reading which I love being able to use in the classroom to help my students grow as readers.   I feel so blessed to be at Word of Life!

Education:  Concordia University Portland, Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialty in Reading Intervention;  Texas Lutheran University, Bachelor's degree, Theology with a youth ministry concentration; Missouri Certification to teach early childhood through third grade.

Personal Education Philosophy: I believe that each school year is an opportunity for each child to grow in their understanding of who they are in Christ and to gain tools for a life of learning.

Classroom Goals: My goals are to create a Christ-centered community, to nurture a love of reading and discovery; and to support each student's individual growth.

Interests: Reading, playing guitar, cooking, film, theater

Favorite Bible Verse: "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6


Before Care (Timothy), Aide: Katlyne Thies
Katlyne Thies : Before Care (Timothy), Aide

Experience: This is my second year as a preschool aide at Word of Life.

Education: I graduated from Word of Life in 2008. I attended Lutheran South High School and graduated in 2012. I am currently taking classes at Meramec Community College until I transfer to a local university to pursue a degree in education.

Personal Education Philosophy: I believe that it is not only the job of a teacher to teach their students things that they can learn from a book, but to also teach them life lessons. Most important, I want to teach students about Jesus.

Classroom Goals: My goal is to develop a positive relationship with each student, to keep learning, to have fun, and to spread the love of Jesus.

Interests: Reading, spending time family and friends, and helping others

Favorite Bible Verse: "'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9


4th Grade : Mindy Hanke
Mindy Hanke : 4th Grade

Experience: This is my 12th year of teaching, and my 6th year at Word of Life. During my first two years at Word of Life, I served as our first grade teacher. Prior to joining Word of Life's staff, I taught preschool at St. John Ellisville for two years; first grade at Christ Lutheran School in Brea, California for two years; and both first and fourth grades at Our Savior in Fenton, Missouri for two years.

Education: Concordia University, Mequon, WI, Bachelor's degree, Lutheran Elementary Education/Broadfield Social Studies

Personal Education Philosophy: I believe that positive relationships between teachers and students are the key component of a thriving classroom community. When I know my students' backgrounds, interests, likes, and dislikes, I can tailor my lessons to best meet their individual needs. I know that every child can have success in my classroom. Success will look different for each student, and I look forward to encouraging and celebrating my kids as they meet their specific goals.

Classroom Goals: Students will develop self-confidence as they gain independence throughout the year. Students will grow in their relationship with Christ as they live out what it means to be a child of God.

Interests: Spending time with my family, reading, baking and home decorating.

Favorite Bible Verse: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4: 6-7


5th Grade Homeroom, 5th-8th Language Arts: Sarah Maxfield
Sarah Maxfield : 5th Grade Homeroom, 5th-8th Language Arts 

Experience: Mrs. Maxfield has taught 3rd grade for 10 years in the Parkway School District. 

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Truman State University; Masters of Arts in Elementary Education, Truman State University

Personal Education Philosophy: My philosophy is that students academically, emotionally, and spiritually thrive when they are in a safe, loving, and engaging atmosphere.

Classroom Goals: To create a Christ-filled caring community of students who love to learn and share the love of Christ.

Interests: Being a wife and mother of 3 boys, reading, volleyball, outdoor activities

Favorite Bible Verse: "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7


6th Grade Homeroom, 5th-8th Science: Dawn Schlesselman
Dawn Schlesselman : 6th Grade Homeroom, 5th-8th Science dschlesselman@wordoflifeschool.netÂ



Personal Education Philosophy: 

Classroom Goals: 


Favorite Bible Verse:

7th Grade Homeroom, 5th-8th Social Studies: Laurie Jones
Laurie Jones : 7th Grade Homeroom, 5th-8th Social Studies

Experience: I have taught seven years at Word of Life -- 1 year teaching first grade and 6 years teaching fifth grade homeroom/social studies. I also taught outdoor education at Camp Wyman in Eureka, MO. My children attended Word of Life and Lutheran High School South.

Education: University of Missouri-Columbia, Bachelor's degree, Political Science; Webster University, teaching certificate; Concordia University, Chicago, colloquy

Personal Educational Philosophy: As a servant of Christ, I want to encourage students to reach their full potential and work for the glory of God.

Classroom Goals: I will work to create an atmosphere in which all students feel safe and secure in order to express themselves, to grow academically, and to grow in their faith.

Interests: Reading, spending time with friends and family, being outdoors

Favorite Bible Verse: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28


8th Grade Homeroom, 4th-8th Grade Math: Rebecca Bedell

Special Education: Cindy Mueller
Cindy Mueller : Special Education

Experience: I'm very excited to start my 4th year at Word of Life Lutheran School supporting  their Special Education program. I'm a 2008 graduate of Fontbonne University with a Bachelors degree in Special Education & Masters Degree in Reading.  I spent 17 years of my career working with Special School District as a Certified Occupational Therapist.

Personal Education Philosophy: I'm very committed to my students and will be a strong advocate to help develop a sense of community at Word of Life. I will make certain that each student receives individualized praise and encouragement so they will remain motivated to learn.

Classroom Goals: Active student learning will always be developed in my classroom by incorporating various forms of technology, integrative learning, and collaborative planning for inclusive learning.

Interests: I love spending time with my family outdoors. I spend a majority of my spare time volunteering with Special Olympics to support my adult son with Intellectual Disabilities.

Favorite Bible Verse: "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." Philippians 4:13


Special Education, English Language Project Coordinator: Janey Menner
Janey Menner : Special Education, English Language Project Coordinator

Experience: This will be my 4th year serving Word of Life. I have had the privilege of serving Word of Life as a consultant since 1999.

Education: Boston University, Bachelor's degree; University of Missouri-St. Louis, Master's degree, Education, Certification in Mental Retardation, Developmental Disabilities, Learning Disabilities, and Behavior Disorders

Personal Education Philosophy: Each child has a gift. We, as teachers, can help them unwrap it.

Classroom Goals: Assisting Word of Life teachers by helping kids access the curriculum, monitoring their progress and finding interventions that work best.

Interests: Playing with my grandchildren, riding my bike, fishing with my husband

Favorite Bible Verse: "Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path." Psalm 119:105


Music Teacher & Choir Director: Gabe Maichel

Art Teacher: Nikki Akridge

Band Instructor: Jennifer Porath

Athletic Director: Emily Maichel

After-Care Director: Paula Albrecht
Paula Albrecht : After-Care Director
Experience: This is my 5th year of serving at Word of Life.
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with a Lutheran Teaching Diploma from Concordia University Ann Arbor
Personal Education Philosophy: Each child is a unique child of God, and we have the opportunity to help them realize their uniqueness.
Classroom Goals: To enrich younger students’ time in Aftercare with reading stories and/or planned activities. To help older students with their homework when they are having difficulties, help all students have fun and learn.
Interests: Genealogy, cooking, baking, reading, crafts, painting, sewing, spending time with my daughter, animals
Favorite Bible Verse, I have two: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
“Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me.”  Psalm 43:3