Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls

Our Staff


Executive Team

Dr. Sheri L. Miller
Executive Director
B.A. Dillard University-Elementary Education; M.Ed. Prairie View A & M University Graduate School of Education-Educational Administration; Ph.D. Prairie View A & M University Graduate School of Education-Educational Leadership

Dr. Miller brings to Hawthorn a deep and abiding passion for educating students in urban communities. Spanning 27 years as an educator, she has served as a teacher, principal and education executive in many of the largest school districts and charter organizations in the country. Dr. Miller's greatest gift to the kids she serves is her unwavering efforts to design and lead schools that allow students to live into their greatest potential and realize their wildest dreams. She is elated to bring that passion to Hawthorn. A native Houstonian who grew up with three older brothers and tremendous parents, she is a sports fanatic and uses exercise as a means of releasing stress. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family, traveling to beautiful places, and curling up with a good mystery novel. She is the proud mother of an amazing 25 year old son named Ian, and the proud owner of a six pound Maltese that goes by the name B-Bop.

Dr. Robyn Wiens
B.A. Drake University - Journalism; M.Ed Harvard Graduate School of Education - Technology in Education; EdD University of Washington - Education Leadership and School Policy

Dr. Wiens is thrilled to be back in her hometown after spending 12 years of her education career in traditional and charter public schools in Boston and Seattle. She is passionate about creating a teaching and learning environment where students and teachers thrive. She has interests in culturally relevant pedagogy, teacher leadership, and project based learning. When away from Hawthorn, Dr. Wiens enjoys playing board games with her elementary school-aged daughters, talking sports with her husband, and trying to find time to exercise.

Ms. Julie Hercules
Dean of Student Life & Community Affairs
B.S. Rockhurst University - Biology and Education (7-12th); M.S. Saint Louis University - Educational Leadership

Ms. Hercules is an alum of Incarnate Word Academy, an all-girl high school in St. Louis where she eventually dedicated 14 years of service. After graduating from college, Ms. Hercules was a middle school science teacher, Advancement Director and Director of Student Leadership and Diversity.  She enjoys working with students on a daily basis as she works to empower each student to embrace their leadership abilities and their individuality.  Ms. Hercules also enjoys cooking, sports, spending time with friends and family and being outdoors.

Ms. Raquel Evans
Director of Business & Operations
B.A. Texas Southern University - Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing

Mrs. Evans loves working in the community and giving back.  Even though she works in the Hawthorn Business Office, Mrs. Evans is very involved with not only the Hawthorn brand but with the students as well.  When not working at Hawthorn and working in the community, Mrs. Evans spends her time with her two sons and husband attending sporting events, traveling, reading and completing her many DIY (Do It Yourself) projects.

Faculty and Staff

Chelsea Arnett
B.S. English Education, University of Central Missouri; M.S. Library and Information Science, University of Central Missouri

Ms. Arnett is excited to start her first year at Hawthorn and to be returning to a traditional classroom setting after five years working as a middle and high school librarian. She loves having meaningful conversations about literature or discussing historical timelines and happily identifies as a nerd. One of her favorite things about working with middle and high school students is working with them to find the perfect book. When she's not avidly handing out book recommendations, she can be found playing with her four-year-old son, reading a good book (duh), cross-stitching, or gaming.

Amy Bellum, BSW
Social Work Practicum Student
B.S. University of Missouri-St. Louis: Secondary Education; B.S. University of Missouri-St. Louis: Social Work; MSW University of Missouri-St. Louis: Social Work (May 2019)

Bellum is excited to be joining the Hawthorn team as a practicum student working in Social Work and Student Services this school year. She began her career in education and found a deeper passion rooted in eliminating the barriers to the educational success experienced by many students. Bellm is especially excited about working towards making spaces equitable for all. When not in school, she enjoys exploring the outdoors with her dog, talking about basketball, and playing roller derby.

Jasmine Berger
Social Worker
B.A. Washington University in St. Louis - Psychology; M.SW. Washington University in St. Louis

Ms. Berger is excited to meet all the Hawthorn girls and help support the student. Prior to Hawthorn, Ms. Berger was at a nonprofit learning about early childhood trauma and therapeutic interventions. She is passionate about building relationships with students and families and educating families about the impact of trauma. Ms. Berger enjoys reading, eating at new restaurants and taking her dog for walks!

Ms. Meghan Bliss
Director of Curriculum and Assessment
B.A. University of Notre Dame - American Studies;M.S. Saint Joseph's University

Ms. Bliss has always loved math, especially because when she was in school she could check her work and know that she was right before turning in her assignments. When she's not problem solving or analyzing data, she enjoys riding her bike, cooking (and eating!) new foods, coloring, hand lettering, and spending time outdoors. In the summer, Bliss volunteers with the American Youth Foundation at their National Leadership Conference held at Camp Miniwanca, a place where she spent her summers growing up and learned to strive to be her own self, at her very best, all the time.

Anitra Brown
Special Education
Special Education Department Chair
B.A. University of Missouri - Columbia - Interdisciplinary Studies

Mrs. Brown has been teaching for 4 years as a Special Education teacher/Coordinator and ELA teacher. She loves working with students who have learning differences so that she can build their achievement skills and learning abilities. She is passionate about seeing students from urban communities model excellence in their academics and character for others to follow. Mrs. Brown looks forward to graduating with her M.Ed in Special Education Administration in May 2019. Outside of teaching, she loves to dance, teach Zumba classes, hike, and travel with her husband DJ.

Jennifer Bruns, RN
Associate in Science in Nursing- Excelsior College, Albany, NY

Nurse Bruns has been an LPN for 14 years and is working toward her RN and MSN/MPH. Nurse Bruns loves the school environment and has a background in Science Education-Biology, Environmental Studies and Urban Sustainability with an ABCTE certificate in 6-12 grade General Sciences. She uses that background to add an educational emphasis to the nursing care she provides. In her time away from Hawthorn, Nurse Bruns enjoys hiking with her family, gardening, teaching yoga, and participating in 5k and obstacle course races.

Ms. Lauren Campbell
B.S. Harris Stowe State University - Middle School Mathematics

After taking a year away from the classroom, Ms. Campbell has decided to return to her passion of teaching math. Ms. Campbell has a passion for urban education and helping students have "aha" moments while learning. Ms. Campbell is looking forward to continuing to coach the middle school track team and can't wait to meet all the new Hawthorn students. When not at Hawthorn Ms. Campbell enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Michelle Cooley
Assistant Principal
B.S East Texas Baptist University: Sociology, M.Ed: Secondary Education, M.Ed: Secondary Education Administration and Innovation

Mrs. Cooley came to St. Louis seven years ago and began her work as a teacher in North County while being a core member of Teach for America. She always knew that educating students in the inner cities was her purpose. She desires to instill in her students that - whether you’re a doctor, a custodian, a cosmetologist, an artist, whatever career is for you – how are you going to be the best you? And, how are you going to share your gifts with your community? When away from the work, she love spending time with her husband and church family.

Mrs. Crystal Dejong
Special Education
B. Kin McMaster University, Kinesiology with Biology Minor, B. Ed University of Western Ontario, Junior-Intermediate (4-10) Education Specialty

Mrs. Dejong originally hails from Canada! She has always loved teaching Math and Science and has previously taught in high school programs in Hamilton, Ontario and South Bend, Indiana. She loved helping Hawthorn debut their high school Biology program last year! Mrs. Dejong loves working in an all-girls school and strives to promote a classroom environment where students feel respected, supported and challenged to be their best. When she’s not at school, Mrs. Dejong enjoys spending time with her husband and two dogs, exploring the outdoors, as well as all the great restaurants and cultural spots throughout St Louis. She also loves to travel whenever she gets the chance.

William Doolin
B.A. University of Central Missouri - Social Science Education; Southern Illinois University Edwardsville - Graduate work towards Museum Studies and Public History

Mr. Doolin is returning to Hawthorn in a new position with the Science and Math teams. He comes from an eclectic educational background including teaching English as a Second Language in South Korea. Mr. Doolin loves to learn and enjoys the challenge that a new position brings. He believes that education is about revealing connections and creating new opportunities. When not teaching he enjoys board games, movies, and spending time with his newborn baby girl.

Ms. Katie Herring
Ninth Grade Department Chair

B.A. Southeast Missouri State University - Mass Communication/Media Studies

Ms. Herring is the oldest of four daughters, so sisterhood is something that runs throughout her life. She is a proud graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, and this is her 6th year teaching. She taught for three years on the Rosebud Reservation in south-central South Dakota, and this is her second year teaching at Hawthorn. She loves teaching humanities because our stories and our voices matter. When Ms. Herring is not at school, she enjoys reading, going to the movies, trying new restaurants and wandering around her neighborhood. She cannot wait to see how her students' voices shape the world.

Mrs. Zona Ho
Spanish, Mathematics
Tenth Grade Department Chair
B.A. Drury University - Secondary Education and Mathematics

Mrs. Ho has a passion for Spanish and Mathematics that she is always trying to pass on. She strives to empower Hawthorn students to become strong-informed female leaders within their communities. Mrs. Ho also has a passion for running which she shares with students through the Girls on the Run program. When she's not sharing her passion's at Hawthorn, she likes to spend time with her husband and two sons.

Mr. Otis Howell
B.A. Beloit College - Sociology

Mr. Howell enjoys working with youth from diverse populations and believes it is important to support young people and inspire them to achieve greatness. He looks forward to an amazing school year at Hawthorn, where our young ladies will learn to foster their authentic selves, build a tight-knit sisterhood and become innovative scholars. Mr. Howell’s hobbies include exploring the arts and spending time with family and friends.

Mr. Bill Huber
B.A. Southeast Missouri State University - Secondary Education with an emphasis in Social Sciences; M.A. Saint Louis University - Educational Leadership; EdD (expected commencement 2020) Saint Louis University - Education Leadership and Professional Development

Mr. Huber comes to Hawthorn Leadership Academy after spending 10 years at a local independent school where he taught, was an Administrator, and served in numerous capacities. He is a lifelong learner and is passionate about providing high quality for all students with a focus on social-emotional learning and instilling a growth mindset in his students. Mr. Huber has interests in instilling principles of social justice in his instruction, learning style and personality style directed professional development, and creating a positive and functioning school culture with a commitment to high standards and excellence. Outside of the classroom Mr. Huber enjoys spending time with his two boys and family, running, listening to all types of music, and living each day to the fullest!

Mrs. Elizabeth Iffrig
Eighth Grade Department Chair and Humanities Chair
B.A. Saint Louis University - Middle School Education and Language Arts & Social Sciences 

Mrs. Iffrig is a devoted teacher, who loves to see her students grow and learn as young leaders of our community. She is an avid reader who enjoys sharing literature with her students. When not at Hawthorn, Ms. Iffrig enjoys the outdoors, practicing yoga, and spending time with her friends and family. Mrs. Iffrig loves to travel to new cities, and especially try new foods. She is excited about all of the exciting experiences the 2018-2019 Hawthorn School year will bring!

Ms. Charlie Johnson 
Specials Department Chair
B.A. University of Missouri - Theatre and Dance

Ms. Johnson is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Hawthorn family and brings over 10 years of dance experience and teaching along with her. She has an unwavering passion for uniting the youth with the arts and it brings her great joy. It has been a dream of hers to teach dance to students in the neighborhood she was raised in and she is very excited to be on this journey with the young ladies at Hawthorn. When she isn't teaching dance at HLSG you will find her choreographing works for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, University of Kentucky, and UMSL, learning new styles of dance, traveling with friends and family, or trying new restaurants around the city.

Ms. Kaleigh Lawrence
Manager of Student Services & Social Worker
Homeless & Foster Care Coordinator

B.S.W. Grand Valley State University; M.S.W. Washington University 

Ms. Lawrence began her career as a teacher in St. Louis and quickly recognized her passion for supporting the social and emotional needs of young people. Ms. Lawrence loves connecting teens to opportunities, helping students explore their passion for service learning, and practicing self-care. When Ms. Lawrence isn't at Hawthorn she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, participating in community events, exploring St. Louis, traveling, cooking, and reading.

Ms. Cauiterra Matthews
Director of College & Career Counseling
B.S. Lincoln University of Missouri - Sociology & Criminal Justice; M.A. Lindenwood University-Professional Counseling

If someone would have told me years ago I would go to college, obtain degrees, travel the world and later find passion helping students do the same, I wouldn't have believed them. It was unexpected, yet vital that I had a counselor in high school who believed in me more than I believed in myself, and pushed me to pursue a path that would alter my life in unbelievable ways! I am excited to serve as the Director of College & Career Counseling here at HLSG, and I'm looking forward to the relationships I will build with our students and their families as we help navigate and support them in their plans and goals post high school! When I'm not at Hawthorn, I enjoy traveling the world, attending concerts and theatre performances and exploring new restaurants.

Mr. Chris Meyers
Technology & Engineering, Mathematics, TEALS
B.S. University of Missouri St. Louis - Elementary Education and Middle School Mathematics

Mr. Meyers is committed to demonstrating that the problem solving and cooperative skills learned in engineering and computer science translate to building not only stronger structures and better programs but stronger relationships and better communities.  He believes that math can be fun and hopes to encourage students to take chances and learn boldly. Mr. Meyers is also committed to being a resource to young people through his role as a youth minister at his church. He enjoys the outdoors and spending time with his family.

Ms. Heather Pillow
B.S. University of Missouri-St. Louis - Elementary Education

Ms. Pillow is back in the science classroom after taking some time to stay at home with her four children (14, 12, 11 and 9). Previously, she taught sixth grade science at Orchard Farm Middle School. She is a lifelong resident of Saint Louis City and a graduate of the Saint Louis Public School System. When not discussing science to strangers at the supermarket, Ms. Pillow enjoys building LEGO with her family and telling silly jokes.

Ms. Nanci Rich
B.S. Auburn University – Electrical Engineering; M.S. Walden University – Education, Curriculum Development; Secondary Mathematics Teacher Certification – Baylor University

Ms. Rich is new to Missouri and comes with an extensive experience of teaching mathematics.  She believes in the empowerment of young women through education and specifically a strong math and science foundation.  Ms. Rich has lived in many different places in the US as well as Germany - ask her about her travels. She enjoys bike riding, snow skiing and spending time with her new granddaughter.  Ms. Rich says she is most excited to learn from the Hawthorn community.

Mrs. Hallie Rockwell
Sixth Grade Department Chair
Social Media & Website Manager 
B.A. University of Richmond - English and Secondary Education

Mrs. Rockwell has always loved any form of communication - everything from writing to the visual and performing arts. This love of expression resulted in a passion for teaching young people the power and benefit of learning how to communicate through the written word. In class, she wants each student to realize that reading and writing opens up opportunities for self-expression, creative thinking, and storytelling. While not at school, Mrs. Rockwell enjoys reading a good book, running, playing with her puppy, or cooking a new dish with her husband.

Mrs. Elisha Simon-Lee
Office Support Specialist
B.L.S. University of Missouri-STL: Sociology Minor; Certificate: African Diaspora Studies

Mrs. Simon-Lee is honored to be apart of the Hawthorn family. She is a native of Chicago, but has been residing in the St. Louis area since 2010. She relocated to St.Louis for college. Since graduating from the University of Missouri-STL (UMSL), Mrs. Simon-Lee has been pursuing her passion for guiding youth, in positions such as, "Juvenile Transition Case Manager", "College Adviser", & "Therapeutic Foster Care Case Manager". When away from Hawthorn, Mrs. Simon-Lee enjoys learning about African history, listening to and creating music, and painting.

Mrs. Ronda Smith Branch
Student Support Manager
B.A. Saint Louis University - Criminal Justice, Forensic Science Certificate

Mrs. Ronda Smith Branch is so excited to serve the girls at HLSG as our first Student Support Manager. She is excited to implement programming and help craft the most effective interventions by providing unique thought out evidence based criteria that encourages each girl to be intrinsically motivated to seek excellence in all that they do. As a graduate of Rosati-Kain HIgh School she appreciates\the value of a single sex education and is passionate about bringing her gifts and talents to the sisterhood and culture of Hawthorn. Mrs. Smith Branch is a native St. Louisan and she loves to mentor young women, dance, and create programs. Ronda also loves spending time with her husband Theo and her pug Neo. Her purpose is to "restore my community by supporting black women and girls as they understand and identify the importance of their purpose on this earth". As a member of the student support team it is her duty to Empower.Elevate.Educate.

Ms. Laura Sparks-Boyce
STEM Department Chair
B.A. Saint Louis University - Elementary Education; M.S. Fontbonne University - Diverse Learners; Middle School Mathematics, Communication Arts & Social Studies certified

Ms. Sparks-Boyce is a passionate teacher who loves the work, loves the mission, and loves Hawthorn.  She wants to inspire the students to become agents of change and advocates, to take pride in themselves and their identities, to take ownership of building the skills needed to accomplish their BIG goals.  The love of learning is not something that she leaves at school at the end of the day; her boisterous personality takes her on new adventures that she loves to share with her students

Ms. Angela Spearman
Student Support Specialist
B.SW. Southeast Missouri State University - Social Work

This is Ms. Spearman's first year at Hawthorn and she is so excited to work with all of the amazing young women this year. Ms. Spearman enjoys serving the community and helping those in need. She brings to Hawthorn years of experience working in the urban community in Saint Louis, MO. When she is not giving back or helping those in need, she enjoys exercising and being physically active.

Ms. Tajun Thompson
Physical Education
Seventh Grade Department Chair
B.A. Lindenwood University - Physical Education

Ms. Thompson always loved learning by doing, and she feels the best way to learn is through experience. It is her mission to expose her students to a wide variety of activities to encourage them to discover and enhance these skills. As a professional educator, Ms. Thompson will present these activities in a positive and professional manner to maximize the self-esteem and the self-confidence of her students. In school she always found the gym to be her safe place. Ms. Thompson was able to build relationships with her PE teachers and coaches when playing sports. She often thought PE got a bad reputation, so she made it a goal of hers to become a PE teacher that provided the foundation for enjoyment and social development through physical activity, and access to a physically-active lifestyle.

Samantha Wilkerson
Humanities Teacher
B.A. Drew Universiy

Ms. Wilkerson is excited to join the Hawthorn team this year. She is originally from New Jersey and is looking forward to getting to see the beauty St. Louis has o offer. Ms. Wilkerson spent the past 3 years as an ESL teacher, coordinator and Vice Principal in Honduras. She is passionate about education equity and girls' access to education. When she is not teaching, she enjoys dancing, doing yoga and exploring.

Dr. Reagan M. Williams
High School Science Teacher
B.S.  University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Biology;M.Ed University of Arkansas-Little Rock, Secondary Education; Ph.D. Education-Teaching and Learning Processes, University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Dr. Williams is excited to join Hawthorn to continue her career in urban science education. She loves researching and teaching, and particularly seeks to bridge the gap between the research and practice of science education. She has interests in science curriculum design, inquiry-based instruction, and science-instruction professional development. Dr. Williams enjoys spending time with her family, attending church, going to the movies, reading, and traveling.  She is also a member of several professional associations and organizations.

Ms. Stephanie Zornes
Special Education Teacher
B.S. University of Kansas - Engineering, Special Education minor

After teaching 30+ years in the Ladue School District, Ms. Zornes is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the students at Hawthorn. She believes that all students have unlimited potential no matter what kind of learner they might be. For fun, Ms. Zornes loves to exercise, travel and spend time with her husband and recently graduated son.

Schedule a VisitIs Hawthorn Right for You?

We encourage community friends, prospective students and families to visit us! Throughout the year, our students lead tours twice a month during the school day which is a great way to see school in action. During student recruitment season, prospective families can attend our Saturday Open Houses. We also offer Family Tours the first Tuesday of every month during the spring.

Visit Hawthorn