Weekly Teacher Spotlight

We are so thankful for the Faith-based environment at LMC that allows our Lakers to excel in their academic achievements, athletic accomplishments, and community service. LMC attributes our students’ success to our dedicated parents and Lake Michigan Catholic teachers. Not only are LMC teachers committed and well prepared, our Laker students understand they are cared for by our teachers who nurture and foster them. Our teachers make a huge impact on our school; it is time to turn the spotlight on them in our weekly eNewsletter (see Publications). Below is a list of the teachers we’ve celebrated so far this year.


5/19/17 – Stephanie Tan, Elementary Music & Liturgy

Mrs. Stephanie Tan has been teaching music at LMC Elementary since 2012. Her students range from preschoolers to fifth graders. In addition to liturgical music, her students are taught to sing in several languages, while being given cultural background about the songs and the communities from which the songs originate. Mrs. Tan also exposes her students to various well-known composers from Mozart to Bernstein through discussions about their lives, engagement with their music, and field trips to watch the symphonies in South Bend and Kalamazoo perform. Furthermore, third and fourth graders perform in opera productions once a year. The elementary students also play in a variety of western and non-western musical ensembles, while music theory is incorporated into the music curriculum of older students.

Mrs. Tan grew up in Malaysia. She began her musical study when she was seven, and by twelve, was already playing the organ in church. Mrs. Tan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications (Honors), with a minor in Business Management, as well as a  Master of Arts degree in Musicology from the Science University of Malaysia. She also earned a Ph.D. in Musicology/ Ethnomusicology from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining LMC, Mrs. Tan taught at the University of Notre Dame and Andrews University.

Mrs. Tan enjoys “the strong sense of family among my colleagues, as well as the families attending LMC. It gives me great pleasure to listen to the children at LMC sing their hearts out at mass and at music. They especially love it when we explore popular music such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Muppets.”

Mrs. Tan and her husband, Seng Hock, are parents of two boys who have also attended LMC. All of Mrs. Tan’s gifts and talents will be missed in the coming years, as she will be joining her husband who has relocated to Pennsylvania for his employment. We wish Mrs. Tan the best as she shares her many talents with another community.


5/12/17 – Mary Jo Jager, MS Math

Mary Jo Jager is LMC’s Math teacher for 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade Algebra students. Mrs. Jager’s math knowledge and her ability to relate to her students makes a perfect combination for helping students tackle what many view as a difficult subject. LMC Middle School students love Mrs. Jager’s patience and the time she takes to teach them one-on-one when they are having trouble.

Mrs. Jager began at LMC in 1990 when she taught classes including middle school math, algebra, geometry, and physical education for nine years. In addition, Mrs. Jager was the Laker varsity volleyball coach. Back then, Mrs. Jager was Miss Smith. She met fellow LMC teacher Mr. Chuck Jager who was teaching right across the hall from her. The two married and Mrs. Jager stayed home to raise their boys, Drew and Sam. LMC was blessed when Mrs. Jager returned in 2012 as a middle school volleyball coach and then returned to teaching at LMC in 2015 in the same hallway 16 years later. “I am excited to be back at LMC teaching math and coaching middle school volleyball—my favorite sport!”

Mrs. Jager has been accustomed to Catholic education since her high school years when she attended St. Philip in Battle Creek. Mrs. Jager holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Miami, Florida with a concentration in Exercise Science and a Minor in Math. In addition, Mrs. Jager has a Masters of Science degree in Exercise Science from Western Michigan University.

In her spare time, she enjoys reading, knitting, and spending time with her family, which also includes two very energetic big dogs. LMC is so thankful for the wonderful talents Mrs. Jager brings to our Middle School!


5/5/17 – Kris Cutter, Preschool

LMC Preschool is known far and wide in Southwest Michigan due to the thorough and thoughtful curriculum… but the quality reputation is especially due to the day-to-day dedication of our preschool teachers like Kris Cutter. Kris shows an innovative approach to keeping LMC preschoolers active in her classroom and interested in learning. LMC has been fortunate to have Mrs. Cutter with the Preschool for 8 years. However, Mrs. Cutter first joined the LMC family in 1993, teaching 2nd grade for 2 years and then deciding to stay home to raise 4 children.

Mrs. Cutter feels blessed to share and grow in faith with her students. “Living and practicing our faith every day makes our school feel like a family.” Mrs. Cutter and her husband, Russell, brought their children to the LMC family when their oldest child, Emily, started Kindergarten and then went on to graduate from LMC in 2014. Since then, there have been 3 more Cutter children, including Matthew who graduated from LMC in 2016, Molly who graduates this year and Jenna who is in 8th grade. Mrs. Cutter says LMC has been part of her family and “I love that LMC is our partner in helping our children become hard-working, faith-filled learners for life.”

Catholic schools have been part of Mrs. Cutter’s life for some time as she earned her  Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Saint Mary’s College. LMC is so blessed to have such a well-educated and devoted faculty member who shares her passion for education daily with her young students.


4/28/17 – Karen Petsovich, 1st Grade

Mrs. Karen Petsovich has been teaching at Lake Michigan Catholic Elementary for 21 years.  In her classroom, LMC first grade students experience a lively and educational year as they begin their wonderful elementary experience. Karen Petsovich still loves when she arrives at school and hears the pitter-patter of little first grade feet coming down the hall. The “adorable students, parental cooperation and our Catholic faith that is reinforced daily” are Mrs. Petsovich’s favorite aspects of LMC.

Mrs. Petsovich’s exemplary credentials tell the story of her preparation as a teacher. She earned her Bachelors in Elementary Education from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Also, Karen holds a Masters in Education from Indiana University in South Bend, Indiana. Mrs. Petsovich keeps very active in her spare time with kayaking, knitting, gardening, calligraphy, and spending time with her six grandchildren.

LMC has been so blessed to have Mrs. Petsovich on the faculty!  She brings such joy to her students every day. This Fall, LMC will sorely miss Mrs. Petsovich as she has made the decision to retire. We are so thankful for the time our LMC students have spent with a wonderful teacher. Her smiling face and joyful spirit have gotten many students through their first year. LMC wishes Mrs. Petsovich all the best in her future. Thank you for the many years of your kind and caring teaching!


3/31/17 Frank Deja – 2nd Grade

Mr. Frank Deja has been one of Lake Michigan Catholic’s second grade teachers since 2001. The first day of teaching at LMC wasn’t the beginning of Mr. Deja’s relationship with LMC schools, he is a legacy. Frank Deja’s father, also named Frank Deja, was in the first graduating class of Saint Joseph Catholic in 1932. Along with his wife Deb, our second grade teacher Frank Deja graduated from Lake Michigan Catholic High School in 1974. Deb and Frank sent their children to Lake Michigan Catholic for the duration of their education from Kindergarten to twelfth grade.

Mr. Deja says he enjoys “the close personal relationships that I have formed with families throughout my teaching career. I have remained friends with many families long after their children have moved on to higher grades.”

If you’ve been a parent or student in Mr. Deja’s classroom, you will know that this time of year is a favorite for teacher and students alike, as Mr. Deja teaches a unit about the Iditarod and follows the race in the classroom. Past students still stop and visit with Mr. Deja to watch the Iditarod together.

Mr. Deja keeps very busy outside of the classroom. He loves to spend family time with his daughters and together with his wife loves to travel.

Frank Deja holds a Bachelors of Arts in Elementary Education with a minor in Social Studies and Language Arts from Michigan State University. In addition, Frank Deja has Continuing Education graduate courses from Western Michigan University.


3/24/17 Laura Jasper-Stump – 9th Grade Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, College Biology, and Psychology

Mrs. Laura Jasper-Stump is one of the teachers in Lake Michigan Catholic High School Science Department. Mrs. Jasper-Stump teaches 9th Grade Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, College Biology, and Psychology.

Laura Jasper-Stump possesses two bachelor degrees including a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from Hope College, a Bachelors of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Grand Valley State University. In addition, Mrs. Jasper-Stump holds a Masters of Science in Secondary Education from Grand Valley State University as well as a Psychology Endorsement from Hope College.

Lake Michigan Catholic students are what Mrs. Jasper-Stump enjoys most about teaching as she feels “the Lakers are the best students I have taught”.

Mrs. Jasper-Stump and her husband have an active household with nine cats.  Being a lover of all-things-Biology, she loves to garden and bird watch. Mrs. Jasper-Stump is a perpetual music student of the piano and actively plays as well as takes lessons.

True to her love for biology and nature, Mrs. Jasper-Stump hopes one day to own and operate her own lavender farm and raise bees.


3/17/17 Jamie Hannapel – Kindergarten

This past fall, Jamie Hannapel accepted a new position for the 2016-17 school year, making the move from the Lake Michigan Catholic preschool program to the Kindergarten. Jamie got her feet wet in the Dowagiac School System as a fourth-grade teacher. She then participated in a first/second-grade loop for four years. “The assignment was perfect for me, to be able to guide students from non-reader to reader was, and still is, such a remarkable achievement.”

Mrs. Hannapel took some time off to be home with her children but returned to teaching in 2013. She loves working with our LMC parents who are committed to QUALITY education. She recognizes how important a supportive family is to a student’s success and is happy to work with so many who are willing to partner with her to educate students. “While working at other schools I have had the responsibility of “driving the cart” for students, taking them from point A to point B on their educational journey not deviating from that continual treading. What I love the most about LMC is that the teachers don’t have to “drive the cart” so to speak. Teachers differentiate instruction without robbing students of important social and emotional opportunities to grow. We partner with parents and ride in the backseat, giving students the ability to choose what path to take, allowing for mistakes to be turned into triumphs. Teachers realize that every experience, positive and negative has opportunities for growth and learning. Parents at LMC recognize students are responsible for their own assimilation of material. Teachers offer support, advice, and encouragement when the going is tough and enthusiastic praise in times of accomplishment. When students make a wrong turn, the teachers, student, and parents are working as a team to help the student reach their potential.”

Jamie feels that LMC cultivates a feeling of family among students, staff, and parents. “I know the teachers truly care about my own children and as a teacher, I very much care for my students. When they hurt I hurt, when they struggle I struggle, and when they soar so do I. Recognizing that these children are their parent’s most precious gifts, I strive to be the very best teacher and advocate I can be.”

Mrs. Hannapel possesses a Bachelors in Elementary Education from Saint Mary’s College, in Notre Dame, Indiana. She holds a teaching certificate in the State of Michigan as well as Indiana. In addition, Jamie is pursuing post-graduate courses at Western Michigan University in Literacy Studies and Early Childhood Education.

Mrs. Hannapel is the recipient of Bishop Bradley’s Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Grant two years in a row. This grant secured funding for professional development for the preschool program to attend the Michigan Early Childhood Conference in 2015 as well as funding Conscious Discipline training for the entire staff in 2016. Jamie was also awarded the Capizzo Scholarship in 2015 and 2016 which was used for continuing education course work.

This year Mrs. Hannapel challenged all of our Laker kindergarteners to read 300 books by the end of the school year. “My goal was for the students to develop good reading habits and incorporate reading into their lives along with all the other things that interest them.” The students wrote all the book titles into a reading log, “This way they could see the book lists filling up, evidence that they are REAL readers! At the end of the year, I hope students will identify themselves as readers just like they identify themselves as soccer players or dancers.”

Research shows that those who read the most outperform children who read less. “I gave them lots of beginning reader books. At this age that is the hardest part, finding the right degree of difficulty, not so hard they doubt their ability but not so easy that they stagnate.”

While the goal seems lofty for new readers, we are pleased to report that students are already reaching the goal.“

Jamie loves to spend time with her family, cheering on her children in their extracurricular activities, going to the movies, spending time at the lake, going for walks and hikes, crafting, and volunteering for events at Lake Michigan Catholic. She loves photography and is a steady supplier of media for our social media sites. Jamie is an avid reader and loves creative writing as well. We are happy to have Mrs. Hannapel as a part of our Laker team!


3/10/17  Sarah Rouse – 5th Grade

Mrs. Sarah Rouse is one of our newest assets at LMC. She is one of our wonderful 5th grade teachers, as well as the mother of a little Laker girl (Janey) and soon-to-be Laker boy, Hunter. LMC is so pleased to have welcomed Sarah Rouse into the LMC Family this Fall. Mrs. Rouse says “It is a true honor to be a part of the Lake Michigan Catholic Family. Waking up each day to teach students about the world and its Creator is what brings me pure joy.”

In addition to her daily curriculum, Mrs. Rouse likes to integrate her love for travel. She has visited over 40 countries and hopes to inspire her students to develop a passion for learning about the world.

Mrs. Rouse possesses a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Fontbonne University in St. Louis, MO. Her bachelor’s degree is from the College of Charleston-a double major in Studio Art and Mass Communication Studies.


3/3/17  Tom Adams – High School Math

Mr. Tom Adams has taught at Lake Michigan Catholic High School for four years. This year Mr. Adams is teaching Algebra II, Geometry, AP Calculus, and Pre-Calculus. He is also the founder of, and advisor for, LMC Middle School Robotics and has led the team to quite an accomplished two years of competition. Mr. Adams is known all around on “youtube” for his Math tutorials that revisit his lectures done here at Lake Michigan Catholic. This week, the YouTube channel will have over 200,000 views.

The students enjoy Mr. Adams’ manageable approach to some hefty subjects, as he is a master of tutoring. Students will inform you that Mr. Adams helps them to discover the “Can do Math!”.

Mr. Adams holds a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics Education and Physics from Andrews University and a Masters of Science in Education Administration from Purdue University. He is pursuing Doctoral Studies in Curriculum and Instruction from Andrews University. He keeps quite busy as a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Notre Dame for The Center for Sustainable Energy in Aerospace, Mechanical Engineering, Biomolecular Engineering, and Chemical Engineering. Last summer, Mr. Adams did research at Northwestern University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy (as a Graduate Research Assistant) funded by the National Science Foundation. This upcoming summer, he plans to mentor Notre Dame Education Majors as an ACE Mentor.

Mr. Adams is an active parishioner at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Bridgman. Being at LMC, Mr. Adams “really enjoys attending Mass, and visiting the adoration chapel” with the students. Tom Adams has four beautiful children and most loves doing things with his family. The LMC Family loves having Mr. Adams as part of the faculty!


2/24/17  Jennifer Whitlock – Middle School English Language Arts

Jennifer Whitlock is LMC Middle School’s English Language Arts teacher. Two years ago, Mrs. Whitlock came to LMC with 10 years of teaching experience, from both Catholic and public schools. When asked about her LMC experience, Jennifer says “When our family moved to this community four years ago, we weren’t sure where we would send our son to school, or where I might teach. When Jonah went to three-year-old preschool with Mrs. Hannapel, I decided to use that time to volunteer in public schools as well as LMC. After spending time in both, it didn’t take long for me realize that our family needed to be part of LMC. We fell in love with the family feel and tight knit community. Jonah currently loves kindergarten with Mrs. Mills, and teaching here has been a true blessing. The students here are so smart, and they make me smile and laugh about a thousand times a day.”

Mrs. Whitlock pulls out the best in our students and has spurred a lot of excitement in the Middle School about BOOKS! She uses a student-centered, differentiated approach to teaching literacy, which empowers students to read self-selected literature, which they love.

She possesses a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education with a concentration in History from Ohio University. In addition, Mrs. Whitlock holds a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Central Michigan University and is certified to teach in Michigan and Tennessee.

Mrs. Whitlock brings a wealth and variety of experience to our schools. She has taught all over the country, including Ohio, California, Hawaii, and Tennessee. She worked as a staff developer in Tennessee, helping teachers refine their craft and employ only research-based instructional strategies proven to be effective and engaging for all learners.

Jennifer Whitlock loves being part of the LMC community by helping kids to become lifelong learners who are excited about reading and writing. We are blessed to have her as part of the LMC Family!