Staff

Tonya Lowry | Superintendent

Degrees: BA History Secondary Ed, MA Educational Leadership and Administration

Favorite thing about UMA: I love working at Uplift Michigan Academy because UMA has such a unique culture. Our focus is on modeling well-rounded and respectful lives. We treat our students with the utmost respect and love. UMA provides a level of caring that I’ve never experienced before and I love it. It makes every day worth it and enjoyable.

Life outside of school: The Lowry household is big and always exciting. Mr. Lowry and I have four beautiful children, two dogs, and 2 two rabbits. We love being outdoors as a family. We fish, kayak, hunt, hike, foraging, really anything outdoors. I love donating my time to local dog rescues and homelessness initiatives.

Fun fact: I am an avid mushroom forager and absolutely love talking about mushrooms. I’m a real fun-gal. My favorite food is lasagna (with mushrooms). As a child my favorite author was Dr. Seuss. As an adult I really enjoy reading Dr. Seuss to my children and watching their excitement over the words and characters.

Lindsay Wesley | Assistant Principal, Math 6-12

Degrees: BS Mathematics, MA Online Learning and Leadership

Favorite thing about UMA: I love working with students who needed something outside of the normal school experience, especially with math. Sometimes taking the pressure of “performing” away from the course work can really take the anxiety out of learning a tough subject.

Life outside of school: Outside of school I take pictures! I have a small photography business and, that keeps me pretty busy. I also teach tap dancing, garden and spend a lot of time remodeling my old house!

Fun fact: I have been to Japan twice and LOVE cooking and eating Japanese food.

Dayna Lundberg | K-3 All Subjects

Degrees: BA Language Arts, MA Curriculum and Instruction

Favorite thing about UMA: I love that I get flexibility! I am an early bird, and do my best work in the quiet/dark, so being able to lesson plan at 4:30am suits me. I love that I don’t have to be in a brick and mortar building by myself feeling unsafe.

Life outside of school: We live on an organic farm and I love all that it brings to life – animals, growing fruits and vegetables, and spending time outside.

Fun fact: One of my favorite books is Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll. It is the sequel to Alice in Wonderland. I received it as a gift when I was in 2nd grade and I was enchanted with the silver leafing on the edge of the pages.

 Erin Pielin | Special Education

Degrees: BA Elementary and Special Education

Favorite thing about UMA: My favorite thing about UMA is how we are one big family. At UMA, we support one another, we lead by example, have high expectations, and are always reaching for the stars!

Life outside of school: I am married and have two children. I love spending time exploring and being outside with my family. I also love to workout, travel, play games, and spend time at the beach.

Fun fact: I am a New Year’s baby! I was the first baby born in Southwest Michigan in 1986.

 Erin Terpstra | English 6-12

Degrees: BA English Secondary Ed, MA Teaching and Curriculum

Favorite thing about UMA: I really enjoy being able to meet and teach students from different backgrounds, different lives, different talents and joys. Our diversity as a school and student body makes us a strong force in the global community.

Life outside of school: My family (me, my husband, and our two kids) live just outside of Ann Arbor; we love to be outside hiking or enjoying Michigan’s lakes. I also spend time volunteering for The Arc in Livingston County, supporting students with disabilities to ensure they get the support they need in the community and at school.

Fun fact: My most favorite book as a child was “Wump World” by Bill Peet. I still have the copy that I read with my brother growing up, and I love reading it to my kids!

Jacquelyn Leib | Science 6-12, French 6-12

Degrees: Chemistry, Minor: French MS Ed Major: Secondary Education Minor: Biology

Favorite thing about UMA: Online students are unique and seeking something different or better than what they’ve experienced in the brick and mortar setting. Being able to use my talents to meet the needs of my unique students is a welcomed challenge

Life outside of school: Rotary, Girl Scouts and a family brewery keep myself, my husband and our three daughters very busy.

Fun fact: I studied French in Paris.

Jenifer Gould | Social Studies 6-12, German 6-12

Degrees: BA Group Social Studies and German

Favorite thing about UMA: I love working for Uplift Michigan Academy because I love the relationships I have built with my co-workers and students. Our school has a small family feel and I love that. Kindness comes first here and that is a rare find.

Life outside of school: I love spending time with my husband and our three kids, Ella, Luke and Jack. We love being outside and, trying new places to eat. I volunteer at our church in the 2 year old classroom. I love to working out, interior decorating and reading books (when I have time).

Fun fact: I love good TexMex and could eat guacamole and, queso everyday. I was born in Germany and, German was my first language. I have traveled to over 10 different countries. My favorite flavor of ice cream is moose tracks with hot fudge.

Kathryn Simmons | Math 6-12, Electives / Art 6-12

Degrees: BA Education, MA Educational Leadership

Favorite thing about UMA: Working online, at UMA, allows me to work with more students one on one and provide individualized help and support. I also feel like I’m family at UMA; The staff is full of amazing, warm-hearted people!

Life outside of school: When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I love going to the movies and, concerts as well as just wandering around the mall. On nice days, I play Pokemon Go and Wizards Unite.

Fun fact: My favorite job before I started teaching was operating the roller coasters at Cedar Point. You have to be willing to walk to the top of the lift hill before you can work at the ride. I’ve stood at the top of the Iron Dragon, Corkscrew, and Magnum XL 200!

Marcus Duran | Learning Specialist

Degrees: BA Business Administration, MA Special Education

Favorite thing about UMA: I believe online learning is the future of education, and I’m happy to be a part of that.

Life outside of school: In my free time I enjoy spending time with my wife, Molly, our daughter, Brooklynn, and our dog, Bailee. I love fishing, watching sports, playing games/cards and time away from work.

Fun fact: I enjoy being outside; but, when I'm inside, I’m inside I like it dark with the lights out.

Rebecca Thompson| Counselor

Degrees: BS Biology & Chemistry, M.Ed Educational Counseling, Administration Certificate

Favorite thing about UMA: I love meeting such a diverse group of people. Working online allows me to understand people at an individual level, develop a specialized plan, and watch them achieve their goals.

Life outside of school: Outside of school, I work my ranch. I bought my grandparents ranch 3 years ago and love to carry on the tradition. I raise cows and horses.

Fun fact: I worked on the racetrack for 3 years as a pony girl and gallop girl in Denver, Phoenix, and Montana before I started my career in education.

Sean Kerwin | Special Education

Degrees: BA Physical Education, Graduate Certification in Special Education

Favorite thing about UMA: The staff has been the best group of teachers/administrators that I have worked with. Everyone is so willing to go over the top to help anyone.

Life outside of school: Married with three kids (12yo, 3yo, 1.5yo). We are a soccer family. I played all levels from recreation to college and now my older son plays travel and daughter is just starting.

Fun fact: I have a huge saltwater fish tank with live coral. It is 110 gallon display tank with another 100gallons in the filter system. I’ve been keeping fish since I was young and had a saltwater aquarium for about 5 years.

Stacea McKeever | Relationship Manager

Degrees: BS Economics, M.Ed. Secondary Education

Favorite thing about UMA: I love having the chance to get to know entire families (pets, grandma, siblings).

Life outside of school: I love my 2 dogs (Posie and Bowie). I am teaching myself to play the ukulele to keep myself sane this winter.

Fun fact: I live to read mysteries that are set in Nordic locals! My favorites are mysteries in Iceland and Finland.

Stefannie Simmonds | PE/Health 6-12, Learning Specialist

Degrees: Associates of Science: Science, B.A. of Education Degree: Physical Education, MA. Education Degree: Curriculum and Instruction

Favorite thing about UMA: The relationships built with students and staff.

Life outside of school: Foster parents for Carolina Big Heart Big Barks Rescue, Love to be outdoors and to travel.

Fun fact: One of my favorite movie is Gone with the Wind.

Victor Sanchez | ESL Director, Spanish 3-12

Degrees: AA – International Business, BS Special Education, M.Ed Spanish , MEd Leadership in Education

Favorite thing about UMA: I like teaching at UMA because it truly provides an opportunity for parents, students, and teachers to work together to create unique and personalized education plans for students that really work. UMA places a stronger focus on teaching students life skills that will help them be successful today, tomorrow, and later on in life.

Life outside of school: Cub Scout Leader, Soccer coach and full time Papá.

Fun fact: I was born in Mexico City and I like to travel to different countries to learn more about their traditions, food, and culture. In my travels, I have eaten crickets in Mexico City, Guinea Pigs in Peru, Snake tacos in Brazil, Bull ́s meat in Barcelona and raw fish in Russia. I also play guitar in my free time and I am into hiking and, camping. However, my favorite hobby is to spend time with my kids (Diego 10, Dylan 7 and Sophia 3) and beautiful wife.

Victoria Malone | Registrar / Admin Assistant

Degrees: Associate’s Degree Office Systems/Administrative Assistant

Favorite thing about UMA: Being at Uplift Michigan Academy allows our students and staff to be at school anywhere and anytime we need/want to be. Of course there are expectations, but the flexibility of our program is so wonderful.

Life outside of school: A lot of family time, sporting events, spending time with friends

Fun fact: I love reading books, listening to podcasts or watching YouTube videos pertaining to self-development. I like to figure out what my weaknesses are and then use the advice from one or all of those sources to learn to help myself improve.

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