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Administration

Kristen Okabayashi, Principal
kokabayashi@hopeseattle.org

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I am so thankful and blessed to be the principal at Hope Lutheran School, where I have served since the fall of 2010. I believe that children will blossom as their social, emotional, and spiritual needs are balanced along with establishing a firm academic foundation from which they can grow. I am a people person, and I love greeting each student as they come in the door every morning. I graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and I hold a master of arts degree in teaching from Seattle Pacific University. I have had an interesting career path, starting off in retail management and then moving into education when my oldest son was born in 1998. I have been married to my amazing husband Scott since 1994 and we have four active boys, one in college at Western Washington University, one in high school at Seattle Lutheran, and two who attend Hope Lutheran School. In my free time, I mostly run a taxi service from our house to my kids’ assorted events, but I also try to fit time in for traveling, hanging out with friends, and reading all sorts of books, especially young adult fiction and science fiction.
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Shari Wallace, Office Manager
swallace@hopeseattle.org

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I just celebrated 15 years as the office manager of Hope Lutheran School. I have been a member of Hope Lutheran Church since 1994 and was also a parent at Hope Lutheran School from 1994 to 2003. After my children attended Hope and Seattle Lutheran, they graduated from WSU—go Cougs—and both are enjoying successful jobs and careers.My experience as a parent, combined with my previous work in business customer service with Bank of America, has given me the tools I need to understand and perform my tasks as your office manager. One of the many highlights of my job is forming relationships with the children and families at Hope Lutheran School. I look forward to meeting you and sharing God’s awesome love and grace for us all. When I’m not working I enjoy walks with my husband and our dog Callie. I also love spending time with my children, granddaughter, scrapbooking, and going on camping trips.
Sally Heit, Admissions Director
sheit@hopeseattle.org

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I am a country girl at heart having been raised on a 14-acre farm in rural Sherwood, Oregon. The smell of freshly stacked hay and chirping crickets always reminds me of home, even after 19 years living in Seattle. I followed in my father and grandfather’s footsteps when I graduated from Oregon State University with a bachelor of arts degree in English, and it was also where I met my husband of 23 years. Early in my working career, I realized that my gifts were best suited to project management in the digital prepress and printing industries. I spent the next eight years working as a production coordinator for several companies in San Francisco and Seattle before I became a mom of three, all of whom are students at Hope Lutheran School. As a young mom, I spent 10 years serving in leadership in the international nonprofit Christian group, MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) which not only supported me socially and spiritually in motherhood, but also allowed me to rediscover my leadership skills and prepare me for serving at Hope Lutheran School. I was honored to join the Hope staff as the admissions counselor in the spring of 2011 to not only promote and bring new families to our amazing school, but to continue supporting and building the relationships between families, the students, and staff that form our amazing school family. My kids and I have thrived at Hope Lutheran, and I am blessed to be a part of the school as a parent and staff member.

K through Fifth Grade

Jennifer Neafcy, Kindergarten
jneafcy@hopeseattle.org

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I am excited to be returning to Hope Lutheran School this year as the kindergarten teacher. Previously, I have served as the Preschool 4s teacher and at Hope Lutheran Church as children’s minister. I love working with young children and their families. It is such a joy to be able to guide these children, watch them grow, and share Jesus with them. I have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, with an emphasis in mathematics, and a master of education degree in curriculum and instruction, both from Concordia University, Texas. Throughout my 18 years in the teaching ministry, I have been blessed to serve three other Lutheran schools in Texas with experience in teaching children from preschool through eighth grade. I have also served as an assistant principal and as an interim principal. When I am not at school, I enjoy cooking, knitting, and especially hiking and kayaking with my husband, Ken.
Julie Hartley, First Grade
jhartley@hopeseattle.org

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Since 2008 I have been blessed to be a part of Hope Lutheran, as both a teacher and church member. I started at Hope Lutheran School as the kindergarten assistant my first year, and then moved into the first grade teaching position the following year. Earning a master’s degree in literacy combined with my previous experience teaching primary grades for the Highline School District makes teaching first grade truly rewarding. I love being able to foster a foundational love for reading, spark naturally curious minds to explore and learn, and nurture tender spirits to grow in the love of Christ. On a personal note, I have two boys enrolled at Hope Lutheran School and am celebrating 20 wonderful years of marriage. We live in Burien and have a houseful of pets, including two dogs, a cat, several fish, and even a ball python. Leisure activities include boating, camping, biking, and idea inspiration through Pinterest.
Nancy Tagge, Second Grade
ntagge@hopeseattle.org

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I am a native of West Seattle and attended Hope Lutheran School as a student. I returned as a teacher in 1985 and have taught a variety of grades and subjects. I currently teach second grade and enjoy the enthusiasm of this age. I received a degree in education from Concordia University, Nebraska, and completed graduate work at Seattle Pacific University. Outside of school, I enjoy my work as director of music at Trinity Lutheran Church in Seattle..
Mary Norton, Third Grade
mnorton@hopeseattle.org

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In 1969 my teacher gave my class a writing assignment, to answer the question, “What will you be doing in the year 2001?” I wrote the following two sentences, “I will be a music teacher. I will live at the beach.” Close. I am now teaching third grade and live five minutes from the beach. My teaching career began at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, with a degree in elementary education. I taught at Calvary Lutheran for the next seven years in grades 1 through 4. I then worked as a stay-at-home mom for five years when my two girls were little and then came to teach at Hope. My family has been a member of Hope Lutheran Church since 1993, and I have been teaching at Hope since 1996. Both of my daughters began attending Hope Lutheran School in preschool and continued through the eighth grade. I enjoy spending time at the beach and messing about in boats. I cherish time reading all genres of books with a keen eye to historical and science fiction. The bookstore is a favorite date night in our house. I actually like to run, slowly, and participate in races. Teaching at Hope enables me to live out my faith on a daily basis. I am given the privilege of guiding young hearts to Christ as they begin their walk of faith.
Lucy Kuhn, Fourth Grade
lkuhn@hopeseattle.org

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I have been a part of the Hope Lutheran School family since 2005 when our family selected Hope’s kindergarten program for our oldest child’s launch into the full-time schooling experience. My two children have continued to thrive in Hope’s learning environment since that time, and will soon begin seventh grade at Hope and ninth grade at Seattle Lutheran High School. I am a graduate of the University of Southern California (1990), Heritage University (2010), and previously worked as a paralegal before having children and discovering my own calling as an educator. My family and I became members of Hope Lutheran Church in 2007, and I began working at Hope Lutheran School that same year. I have served in a variety of teaching and support roles at Hope since 2007 including part-time teacher in fourth grade this past school year. I am excited to serve as Hope’s fourth-grade home room teacher, and am looking forward to the energy and enthusiasm of this age level. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, listening to all kinds of music, reading good books, exercising, camping, hiking, cooking, and cheering on all of Hope’s students as they grow in their God-given abilities.
Lisa Richardson, Fifth Grade
lrichardson@hopeseattle.org

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I am very excited to be the fifth grade teacher at Hope Lutheran School. Previous to this, I taught in the Bellevue and Highline School Districts. Combined I have 13 years of teaching experience in second, fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. I grew up near West Seattle and attended the University of Puget Sound for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be at Hope and share my teaching and faith with the children and families. During my free time, I love spending time with my husband and two children. We enjoy camping, skiing, swimming, soccer, and movie nights, as well as spending time with our extended family and friends.

Middle School

Tim Allen, Sixth Grade Home Room
tallen@hopeseattle.org

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I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest for my entire (yet relatively brief) life, moving from Washington to Oregon and back again on multiple occasions. I finished high school at Seattle Lutheran High School, received my undergraduate degree from Pacific Lutheran University with a major in history, and recently achieved my master of arts in teaching degree at Concordia University in Portland. I am a huge sports fan (college football especially—Go Ducks!), and I work to bring teamwork and leadership into the classroom. I also love reading, doing anything outdoors (disc golf, tennis, etc.), and just exploring this awesome world.I am so excited to continue working here at Hope as the sixth grade homeroom teacher, and cannot wait to continue forming relationships with all of the students and their families. I know God has brought me here, and I am ready for all the challenges presented to me!
Sara Kunkel, Eighth Grade Home Room
skunkel@hopeseattle.org

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I love mentoring and encouraging students to follow the path God has chosen for them. Because of this, I chose teaching as a profession and earned my bachelor of arts degree in secondary education from Concordia University in Portland, my master of Education from Concordia St. Paul, and taught high school math and theology at Lutheran North High School in St. Louis, Missouri. While raising my young children, I taught online high school theology classes through Orange Lutheran High School. It gives me such joy to help students experience the amazing love God has for each of them and to help them reach their full God-given potential using their unique gifts. I also like to make math fun! My family is my greatest joy. My husband Kris is an avid Seahawks fan. Go Hawks!! My daughter Addie is my little writer and artist. She is 11 years old and is a Hope Lutheran student as well. My son Tobi is all boy and loves to play with his toys and he is a first grade student at Hope. One of my passions is singing, and I sing whenever people will let me (sometimes even in class or in conversation). I enjoy the outdoors and spend time every summer camping and hiking with my family. Travel is another one of my loves, and I have journeyed to many countries experiencing different cultures. I feel privileged to be teaching at Hope Lutheran School. Each day is an adventure…on, on we go!
Lisa Meyer, Seventh grade Homeroom
lmeyer@hopeseattle.org

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I am thrilled to be back in the classroom and teaching at Hope.  I am a graduate of Concordia University Portland, where I played basketball for four years and graduated with my bachelors of arts in education. Currently I am working on my masters degree at Grand Canyon University and plan on being done in the spring of 2017! Previous to this, I have taught in grades 4-8th, worked with the Discovery program and the National Institute for Learning Differences as well as have been part of an administration team at Concordia, Seattle. My true passion is teaching and kids, and I look forward to getting back into the classroom full time. In my spare time I enjoying reading, spending time watching the Seahawks with my family and supporting my children, Hailey, Joshua and Andrew in their activities. As a parent I know the value of a Christian education and I value being in the classroom not only teaching about academics, but also sharing about God’s unconditional love for us all! I look forward to a blessed year and teaming with this great community of Hope Lutheran School!

Specialists

Kevin Jones, Technology
kjones@hopeseattle.org

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Since 2010, I have been honored and blessed to help our wonderful Hope students learn about technology. After 25 years in the technology field, I pursued a lifelong dream and re-entered college to pursue a teaching career. My studies at Antioch University Seattle culminated in a bachelor of arts degree (with a focus on writing and organizational psychology) and a master of arts degree in education with a K-8 teaching certificate. I also hold a Career Tech Educator certificate from my time as a vocational instructor at Renton Technical College. I love helping students explore their interests and develop their skills through the use of technology. My favorite subjects include 3D modeling, speech recognition, and digital sound editing. I believe that technology should help us improve our lives and the lives of others. I also firmly believe that regular “offline” time is vital to our health and happiness. I have been blessed with an incredible wife and three wonderful children. When I am not camping or boating with them, I am usually reading, writing, and pondering what we could do next at Hope!
Thad Franklin, Music
tfranklin@seattlelutheran.org

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I received my master’s degree in music performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts before moving to Seattle. Currently I am the band director at Seattle Lutheran High School and teach the K-5 music program at Hope as well. I recently released my first children’s album entitled “Ladies and Jellybeans” on which I perform vocals, guitar, piano, organ, trumpet, and flugelhorn. In addition to my Hope Lutheran students, I offer private music lessons after school to beginning through advanced students.
Leah Evjen-Bryan, Discovery/Resource Program Therapist
levjen-bryan@hopeseattle.org

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I have always been drawn to working with children. I worked for many years as a nanny before graduating from the University of Washington with a bachelor of arts degree in English. I went on to pursue a K-8 teaching certificate with graduate coursework in human development from Pacific Oaks College. I took time out to stay at home with my three children. It was through my oldest child that I found my passion in teaching– working one-on-one with children who demonstrate learning differences. I am an avid reader and a perpetual student thanks to the recent improvement of online open courses. I feel blessed to be working with the students and families here at Hope Lutheran School.
Mark Goodspeed, K-8 P.E. Teacher                                                                                     mgoodspeed@hopeseattle.org

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My name is Mark Goodspeed, and I am excited to join Hope this year teaching Kindergarten – 8th grade PE! I was born and raised in Kent , Washington. I am married to my wife Susan, and we have 2 children, Tyler, who will be attending Seattle University in the fall (Go Redhawks!). My daughter Kyra, will be a Junior at Seattle Christian School. I have been the P.E  Teacher and Athletic Director for Shorewood Christian School for the past 13 years, and I am very excited about the opportunity to bring my knowledge and experience to Hope Lutheran! My favorite things to do in my leisure time are to play Volleyball, hike, play Paintball, and coach Track and Field and Cross Country. I look forward to meeting, teaching, and learning from all of the wonderful students and staff at Hope Lutheran this upcoming school year!
Janet Manuta, Kindergarten through Grade Five Art Teacher
jmanuta@hopeseattle.org

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 I have been teaching art to students from grades K-8 for over 40 years. I grew up outside of Washington, DC., where I taught for 20 years, then moved to Upstate New York with my husband, son and daughter, and taught for 20 more.  I have worked with children of all abilities and challenges and have loved sharing my passion for the arts with them. Upon moving to West Seattle about a year ago, I realized I was not ready to be a retired art teacher. I needed to get back into the classroom to fill my soul with the creativity and energy of children! I feel so fortunate to have found Hope Lutheran where everyone – staff and students – have been so welcoming. I’m very excited to be joining this team of professionals as their part time art teacher and looks forward to sharing her favorite artists and techniques with the students at Hope Lutheran. 

Preschool and Extended School Care (ESC)

Carol Christian, Preschool 3 Aide
cchristian@hopeseattle.org

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My name is Carol Christian.  I am so excited to be back working as the preschool 3 aid this year as well as the preschool ESC aid.  This will be my sixth year working in the preschool program here at Hope.   I started working with Christina Figgins 8 years ago as the preschool aid.  I left for a couple years and returned two years ago as the ESC/Sand Dollar club aid. I have lived in West Seattle for 52 years and became a member of Hope when I married my husband Rob 25 years ago.  I am the mother of a 19 year daughter who is currently attending the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. I am looking forward to working full time with all of the amazing Hope preschool families and staff.
Christina Figgins, Preschool Director. Extended Care Director and Lead Preschool 3 Teacher
cfiggins@hopeseattle.org

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I am the preschool 3s “Sea Star” teacher as well as the Director of our preschool program and Extended care program. I attended Hope Lutheran School, Seattle Lutheran High School, and have been a member of Hope Lutheran Church my whole life. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with an emphasis on early childhood education. After graduating from the University of Washington (UW), I worked in a lab at UW studying children’s eye movements. Research studies were fascinating, but my true passion was teaching young children. I worked for a learning center by Greenlake for eight and a half years, which gave me a rich source of knowledge about respecting children as individuals, and honoring the family unit. Some of my hobbies are reading, walking my dog, gardening, camping, boating, learning about foreign cultures, and spending time with my family. I am blessed with a wonderful husband (married 20 years) and we have three awesome kids. Being a mom has taught me a lot about understanding other parents, and how we all just want our children to succeed. This is my goal as a preschool teacher—working together to help children feel confident about learning, while having fun!
Ruth Gardner, Preschool 4 Orca Aide
rgardner@hopeseattle.org

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My family made the decision to move our oldest daughter to Hope Lutheran School in 2011, and then our second daughter in 2012. We are blessed to be involved with such an amazing community. I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and attended the University of Cincinnati. I spent 15 years in banking as a branch manager and private banking. Becoming a parent changed my call to be around young children. I served as children’s minister for my church, Westside Presbyterian, and have been a Girl Scout leader for the past five years. I look forward to my new position this year as the preschool 4s assistant. I can’t wait for all the giggles and smiles! In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, camping, paddle boarding, boating, and cooking.
Mairi Seraile, Preschool 4 Orca Teacher
mseraile@hopeseattle.org

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My family and I have been a part of Hope Lutheran School and Church since 1984. I am part of the rather large group of teachers and staff who are Hope Lutheran School alumni. My husband and I have three daughters who love being a part of the Hope Lutheran family as well. I have been serving as the extended school care director for the past nine years and am pleased to have been given the opportunity to teach the preschool 4 class. I attended South Seattle Community College where I studied early childhood as well as elementary education. I love teaching children about the love that God has for them and how to share that with others. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I also love to run and explore different areas to hike around in the beautiful state we live in.
  Tammy Shelver, Preschool 4 Sea Turtle Teacher                                                                          tshelver@hopeseattle.org

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I am thrilled to be joining the Hope Lutheran community this year as a preschool teacher. I have found it to be a very warm and welcoming environment. Preschoolers are so energetic and fun! It is my hope to nurture and equip them with a joy of learning, curiosity, and an exuberance for life! I grew up in the PNW and attended Washington State University, where I studied Child & Family Studies, with an emphasis in Child Development. I spent 10 years as a preschool teacher at Childhaven, a therapeutic child care center for young children who have experienced trauma. When we had our own two children, I came home to raise them. Our children attended preschool at Hope, and then were homeschooled until high school. Our daughter is now off at college, and our son attends Seattle Lutheran HS. Throughout the homeschooling years, I worked as a preschool teacher, a reading specialist, a homeschool teacher, and was actively involved in our kid’s activities. I have been married to my wonderful husband for 23 years. We enjoy traveling (anywhere & everywhere!), barbequing with friends, adventures with our kids, and daily walks along Alki Beach.
Stephanie Thiele, ESC Sand Dollar Aide
gharriman@hopeseattle.org

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Originally from the Oregon coast, I have now lived in West Seattle for 23 years. I am the mom to three great teenagers, and own and operate an in-home preschool called Neighborhood Preschool. I have been teaching children in one capacity or another for over 30 years. The preschool aged children in particular have a special place in my heart. I have been a babysitter, a camp counselor, a Sunday school teacher, a Sunday school supervisor, an elementary school aide, a daycare teacher, a daycare curriculum writer and supervisor, a daycare staff trainer and supervisor, a nanny, a MOPPETS, nursery, and VBS volunteer, and a mom of three. I have 3.75 years of college courses, majoring in Elementary Education, and have earned my Early Childhood Education certificate from North Seattle College.  I am a founding member of the West Seattle Preschool Association, and currently serve on its board of directors.  I am a dog lover, a book reader, a beach comber, and a sound sleeper.
Christi Sonheim, Preschool 4 Sea Turtle Aide                                                                              csonheim@hopeseattle.org

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My family and I have been a part of Hope since 2014 when my youngest started preschool. We fell in love and never looked back. I’m a graduate of Corbin University (2008) and spent my professional and volunteer careers in various ministry fields including The Salvation Army, Youth With A Mission, and MOPS. For the last decade, I’ve regularly been a leader at VBS, youth groups, Bible studies, and more. Recently I’ve been a full time stay at home mom with my three young children. I enjoy my spare time getting together with friends and family, working out, reading, and dancing in the kitchen. Hope is not only my church and school family, but now it’s my professional family as well. I couldn’t be more excited.
  Katie Yang, Primary Grade Assistant
kyang@hopeseattle.org

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More information to come about Katie soon.