Return to Headlines

August 2018 Weddings, Babies & Kudos


Yvonne Leigh, fourth-grade teacher at Wyland Elementary, can breathe a sigh of relief now after celebrating three weddings of her three children in the last 18 months. The wedding marathon started with their oldest daughter Hannah’s wedding to Brian Peters; then, second daughter Cassie married Alex Bryant; the third and last wedding came this summer when her son, Ben, married Hailey. After the third wedding, Yvonne and husband Matthew enjoyed some rest and relaxation in Punta Cana.

Hannah and Brian Peters      Cassie and Alex Bryant      Hailey and Ben Leigh      Yvonne Leigh in Punta Cana

Holly (Nevels) McCarthy, an ELL teacher at Hoech Middle, married Mike McCarthy on July 14. (photo credit: Lisa Meyer Photography)

McCarthy wedding

Stephanie (Poelker) Puzzo, a first-grade teacher at Marvin, married Antonio Puzzo in June. The couple first met in the halls Ritenour High School and were a part of the graduating class of 2011.

Poelker - Puzzo Wedding

Alexander Terrance, assistant principal at Ritenour Middle School, married Kristine Gage on June 30 at the Lalumondiare River Mill in House Springs. They celebrated their honeymoon in Peru, traveling to Lima, Cusco and Aguas Caliente, where Machu Picchu is located. (He wore his AP World History T-shirt to celebrate his RHS students.)

Terrance Wedding      Terrance Honeymoon


Lori Brok, Ritenour social worker, and husband Adam, welcomed Lena Miriam Brok on July 3. Lena came into the world at 6 lb. 4 oz. and was 19 inches long. Big sister Yael, 2, is very excited to have a new playmate. Lori serves students and families at Husky Academy, Kratz, Marvin and Wyland.

Lena Brok

Rita Gordon, school psychologist at Wyland and Ritenour Early Childhood Center, and husband Josh, celebrated the birth of Asher Jeter Gordon June 12. Asher arrived at 7 lb. 4 oz. and was 20 inches long. Proud big sister is Lilia Shea, 2.

Gordon Baby      Gordon Baby

Dr. Michael Dragoni, instructional facilitator for STEAM and the Ritenour Gifted Center, and his wife, Amanda, welcomed their first child, Jack Edward Dragoni, on May 22. Jack weighed 8 lbs. 9 oz.and was 20.5 inches long.

Dragoni Baby

Felicia Griffin, PE/health teacher at Ritenour Middle, and Jarret Smith Sr. welcomed Vaughn Avery Smith on July 2. He made his debut at 4lbs. 15oz. and was 18 inches long. Awaiting his arrival were his older brothers, Jarret Smith Jr., 18, and Josh, 15. 

Griffin Baby      Griffin Baby

Lisa Meeks, second-grade teacher at Iveland Elementary, welcomed a beautiful grandson on July 17. Cayden O'Neil Meeks was born 6 lbs. 13 oz. and was 20 inches long. Father Cody Meeks and mother Daijah Cobb-Meeks are thrilled. It was a double blessing, as they got married on July 22 in an elegant yet simple ceremony.

Joshua Winstral, and his wife, Jamie welcomed a new daughter, Josephine Claire, on June 30. She joins big brother Harry, 4.

Winstrel Baby


Tisha Arnold, an interventionist at Buder, received her master’s in education and k-12 reading certification at the end of May from University of Missouri-St. Louis. She also celebrated the graduation of her son, Austin Barnes, from Ritenour High School on June 2.

Matt Berry, counselor at RMS, presented this summer at the American School Counselor Association National Conference in Los Angeles. His presentation, "I Want to Do That! Integrating Technology into a Comprehensive School Counseling Program,” was one of only 16 at the conference selected to be streamed virtually as part of the ASCA National Virtual Conference.

Matt Berry Kudos

Amy Bourland, SSD/Buder Elementary teacher, earned her master’s in social work from University of Missouri-St. Louis this summer.

Patricia Closson, assistant principal at RHS, celebrated her first born's high school graduation on June 2. Jaden graduated from Francis Howell Central High School and is excited to begin college this fall.

Jaden graduation from Francis Howell

Hoyt Gregory, Ritenour High School social studies teacher and football coach, will be inducted into the Lindenwood University Sports Hall of Fame next month.

Mandi Little, physical education/health teacher at Hoech, completed her +30 from Fresno University this summer and celebrated by buying her first house in Kirkwood.

Mandi Little House   Mandi Little   

Colette Love Hilliard, English language arts at RHS, celebrated the publication this summer of a blackout poetry book, “A Wonderful Catastrophe.” Check it out on Amazon.

Colette Love Hilliard book

Megan Merritt, first-grade teacher at Iveland Elementary, completed her +30 through Truman University in May.

John Schimmel, English language arts teacher at RHS, and his daughter, Paige, enjoyed a life-changing week volunteering at the La Limye orphanage for girls in Haiti this summer.

With their own fundraising efforts, John and Paige spent a week at the orphanage painting, cleaning and organizing supplies, and “a lot of time loving on some precious orphans.”

This summer’s visit is just the start of his commitment to the children and orphanage.

“I have started a committee to send gifts to the girls for their birthdays and Christmas. I solicited several donations so I could send over 30 immediate needs,” said Schimmel. “For example, they had no battery-operated lights, and their generator went out a couple evenings when we were there. They were in complete darkness.

“I am also leading a ‘Power for Haiti’ initiative with the goal of raising money to be able to supply the orphanage with three new solar panels, which should be enough to semi-cool one room in their building."

He added that the heat he experienced during his trip was unlike any heat he has experienced in St. Louis.

“Cooling one room down to around 80 degrees would help with health concerns that are unique to Haiti, as well as provide a little relief during the brutally hot summer months,” Schimmel said.

John and Paige Schimmel at Haiti Orphanage

Dr. Lisa S. Thompson
, reading specialist at the International Welcome Center, has been selected to present at the Art Workers’ Guild Conference in London, England on Oct. 26. The theme for the conference is Dress and War: Clothing and Textiles at Home and Abroad during the First World War Era, 1910-1920. Dr. Thompson’s presentation is titled, “Ellen Quinlan Donnelly aka ‘Nelly Don’: A Pioneer of the American Fashion Industry during the First World War, 1910-1920.”

Lindsey Webster, counselor at RHS, was selected to serve on the Board of FOCUS St. Louis for the 2018-2019 year.