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Our Staff

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Rev. Dr. Kurt Taylor - Senior Pastor

Pastor Taylor (PT) was born and raised in Iowa, living 16 years in Des Moines and attending Mt. Olive Lutheran Church and School. In 1988 he graduated from Concordia University Wisconsin with a BA degree in theological languages. From 1988-1993 he attended Concordia Seminary St. Louis. He earned his Master's of Divinity in 1992 and his Master's of Sacred Theology in 1995. In 1993 he received his first call to Trinity Lutheran Church in Potter, WI.  In 1999 Pastor Taylor joined the United States Air Force as a reserve chaplain and currently continues to serve as a Chaplain, Lt. Colonel at the 217 AOG in Battle Creek, MI.  In 2003, he accepted a call to St. John's Lutheran Church and School. In 2007 he received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Ashland Theological Seminary and Canterbury College at the University of Windsor, Ontario.

Tell us a little bit about your family:
  • Christine and I were married May 28, 1988 in Milwaukee and are quickly approaching the 30 year mark.  In 1996 Christian Paul Taylor was born, who is currently a Junior at Central Michigan University.  In 1999, Karinna Marie Taylor was born, who is currently a senior at Lutheran High School-Westland.
What’s your Christian philosophy of education?
  • “The noblest and greatest work and the most important service we can perform for God on earth is bringing other people, and especially those who are entrusted to us, to the knowledge of God by the holy Gospel.” (Martin Luther)  This is masterfully done through Lutheran schools.  By expertly fulfilling an earthly need, namely, the elementary education of children, our schools fulfill the greatest spiritual need, fostering a relationship with Jesus Christ.
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • For over 30 years, my immediate and extended family have lived in Las Vegas, Nevada.  It has become my second hometown and continues to be my favorite place to visit.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • If given the opportunity on any day, at any time, and for any or no reason at all, my favorite thing to do is go to a major league baseball game, with the minor leagues not far behind.  Between April and September, if I can’t be reached, I’m probably at a ball game.  What I don’t like to do in my spare time is go to the gym and workout.  But I do it anyway.  I also enjoy brewing beer, spending time with family and friends, listening to 80’s music and Avril Lavigne, and vociferously supporting the Green Bay Packers.
The best part of following Jesus is…
  • The absolute clarity of His love for me.

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Rev. Jeffrey Wade - Associate Pastor

Pastor Wade is a life-long Michigander, born and raised in Sterling Heights. He attended Concordia University - Ann Arbor. He graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Family Life Education. On April 29, 2014 he was blessed to be called as Associate Pastor of St. John's. He graduated with a Master's of Divinity in 2014. He was ordained and installed on July 20, 2014.

Tell us a little bit about your family:
  • I am married to my ever-patient and compassionate wife Christine, who is currently employed by Airport Community Schools.
What’s your Christian philosophy of education?
  • What I try to do when I teach Catechism Class here at St. John's is to form the students into disciples of Christ. I also desire to empower parents (who are statistically the primary faith developer of their children) to build lasting relationships with their children with Christ Jesus as the foundation.
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • This is no simple question. My favorite place to vacation is at my grandparents' cottage on Lake Manistique in Curtis, MI. However, if I got to choose to go anywhere in the world it would be in one of three places: London, England - home of the greatest football club in the world The Arsenal; New Zealand - to see all the sets and places from the Lord of the Rings movies; or Istanbul, Turkey - one of my life's desires is to see the famous Hagia Sophia.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • I thoroughly enjoy reading, writing, and working on my yard.
The best part of following Jesus is…
  • ...that I am adopted by God the Father and made His son through the waters of Holy Baptism. Following this, the best part of having this new identity is daily reminding our students of who they are in Christ - the forgiven and innocent sons and daughters of God the Father.

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Mrs. Adrienne Gurney - Principal & Sixth Grade

Born and raised in Seymour, IN, I am a lifelong member of the Lutheran Church. I received my Bachelor's of Science in 1998 from Indiana University Southeast. My Lutheran colloquy certification was earned from Concordia University Wisconsin in 2003. Following, I received both my Master's of Arts degree and administrative license from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2006-2007.

Tell us a little bit about your family:
  • I taught at Lutheran Central School in Brownstown, IN for nine years while also coaching volleyball, cheerleading, and filling the role as a five year athletic director. After teaching high school English at Heritage Christian School in Indianapolis for two years, I took an administrative position at Our Savior Lutheran School in Marlette, MI. I served as both teacher and principal there for the three years leading up to my call to St. John's. I accepted the call and began serving as principal and sixth grade teacher in the summer of 2014. On February 27, 2015, I married Bob Gurney, who retired from appliance sales and repair.  We had our son, Severin Michael, on April 4, 2016 and currently live in Flat Rock.
What’s your Christian philosophy of education?
  • A short paragraph is not enough to describe my philosophy on education. As a teacher, it is not only my job to prepare students for life as citizens of the world but also to teach them what it is to be Children of God. Everything we learn in a classroom we also learn how to apply in life. We don’t simply teach the Bible then set it back on the shelf. It is part of our lives in every facet of our day. As a principal, it is also my job to help teachers do that very thing. We strive to be good examples for our students, and at those times when we’re not, it is our job to show how we, who are also sinners, are saved through the death and resurrection of our Lord.
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • I’ve always dreamed of vacationing in the beauty and splendor of Hawaii. I have a friend who was stationed in Hawaii…he once told me it is always hot and sunny there, but there’s a constant cooling mist surrounding you everywhere!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • Spare time?!?!? What is that?!?!?! J I love to be outside in the sunshine! I love being on the water…boating, skiing, tubing, tanning. Most of my spare time is spent with my little boy, who will soon be a year-old toddler. God blessed me with a wonderful family, and we enjoy spending time together in any way we can.
The best part of following Jesus is…
  • The best part about following Jesus is knowing that He is following me…AND leading me, AND with me always…it’s a great feeling that I’m never alone. It is also wonderful being able to reassure all our little ones that they are never alone either.

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Mrs. Diana Sarkkinen - Church Secretary

Tell us a little bit about your family:
  • I am married to Art. We have three grown daughters and five grandsons.
What’s your Christian philosophy of education?
  • I was sent to St. John’s by my parents and always knew that my children would attend also. We even sent our daughters to Lutheran High School Westland. They weren’t necessarily happy about it at the time, but they have come to appreciate the faith based education. My oldest daughter also attended Concordia University in Ann Arbor and is now a Lutheran school teacher.
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • We enjoy going on vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • I enjoy crocheting and working jigsaw puzzles.
The best part of following Jesus is…
  • I love knowing that Jesus is always there. He helps me daily even when I forget to take the time to talk to Him.

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Mrs. Carol Puchalsky - School Secretary

Tell us a little bit about your family:
  • Carol is a lifetime member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, She Attended St. John’s Lutheran School as did both of her sons:  Matthew and Bradley, She also has 1 daughter- in –law and 1 granddaughter. Carol loves spending time with her family.
What’s your Christian philosophy of education?
  • My Christian philosophy of education is to always let the children know that God is with them and loves! The Bible is the greatest book and can give you the courage to concur anything in life.
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • I would love to go to Alaska. I would enjoy seeing the glaciers, beautiful mountains and especially the Elk and Moose.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • In Carol’s free time she loves spending time with her granddaughter and playing cards with her family, she also enjoys crafting and gardening.
The best part of following Jesus is…
  • The best thing of following Jesus is: knowing he is with you always! Having Jesus in your life can give you the strength to continue going. Somedays you may have trials in your life that you may think you cannot get through. Having Jesus there with you and beside you, being able to turn to him in prayer, asking him for his guidness will help you!

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Mrs. Katelyn Puchalsky - Preschool

Katelyn started teaching at St. John's in 2012. She attended Eastern Michigan University where she received her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education majoring in Language Arts and Early Childhood Development. She always knew she would love teaching preschool. She loves sharing her faith with children and teaching them about our Savior.

Tell us a little bit about your family:
  • Katelyn is married to her husband Matt, who works at Krzyske Hardware. She lives in New Boston with her husband, Matt, her daughter, Hailee, and their two dogs, Allie and Lilly.
What’s your Christian philosophy of education?
  • Teaching young children give me the opportunity to help plant the seed for their faith (with the help of their parents). When they leave my classroom I want them to know Jesus loved them so much that he died on the cross to take away their sins, so they can go to Heaven.
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • There are so many places I would love to go on vacation! I enjoy going to Cancun, Mexico. The beaches are amazing! Going to Jamaica is on my bucket list. I also want to take my daughter to Disney Land when she is older.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • I have an odd hobby of grooming dogs. I groomed dogs while going to college. Now I enjoy it on the weekends. I also enjoy spending time with my family and watching my daughter as she learns and grows.
The best part of following Jesus is…
  • The best part of following Jesus is know that he love ME so much that he died on the cross to take away MY sins, so I can go to Heaven. Being able to share the love that Jesus has for us is one of the best parts of my job. 

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Mrs. Kathy Davis - Kindergarten

Mrs. Davis received her Associate of Arts degree from Concordia Lutheran Junior College in Ann Arbor.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Concordia University in Illinois where she received her permanent teaching certificate for grades K - 8 with an added Early Childhood Specialty Endorsement.  She went on to receive her permanent 18 hr. teaching certification in Language Arts from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI. 

Tell us a little bit about your family:
  • Kathy is married to David, who is retired from General Motors.  Their 3 children are grown and married. They have blessed Kathy and Dave with 5 grandchildren. All their children live within a 3- hour radius, so Dave and Kathy enjoy seeing them often.
What’s your Christian philosophy of education?
  • My Christian philosophy of education includes the realization that God created each of us uniquely.  We all come from a different mold, with no two being the same.  In the classroom, that means trying to identify the unique talents and abilities of each child, while trying to understand what learning and teaching techniques work best for the individual child.  This requires a varied approach in teaching techniques to reach the wide range of abilities in the classroom.  I strive to help each child see him/herself as a unique individual created by God for a special purpose with great capabilities.  It is my responsibility to help each child reach his or her greatest potential.  I love teaching at St. John’s because I can have a Christ-centered emphasis that integrates into all areas of the curriculum.  I strive to have a very good rapport and communication with my students and parents. 
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • If I could go on vacation anywhere in the world, I think I would to go on an Alaskan cruise.  That is something very different from what I have done in the past.  I would enjoy seeing glaciers, the wildlife and Alaska’s culture.  I’m also quite confident that I would enjoy the cruise part too!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • In my spare time, I love playing the piano, organ and guitar, just for fun.  I love finding new crafts to work on, as well as do-it-yourself projects.  I especially like spending time with our children and grandchildren.  My husband and I also like camping up north.
The best part of following Jesus is…
  • The best part about following Jesus is that He has already laid out the map for me.  I know that the best part is yet to come.  I know that He always loves me and will never leave me.  All He asks, is that I trust Him and believe in Him as my Lord and Savior. What a comfort that is!   God directs us to be disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".  This includes Waltz, MI.   My focus as a Kindergarten teacher, is to make sure that each child in my class, knows the deep love that God has for him or her.  These children are “sponges”, soaking in the Word of God through our daily Bible lessons and prayer.  It is our church and school's mission to teach about the never-ending love that God has for us. The two need to work closely together. It is our responsibility to share that love with all that we meet, including the families of our students.  Every word of God is true as written in the Bible.  This becomes our blueprint for life which we share with others. The school is a mission ministry of the church.

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Mrs. Karen Reinhardt - First Grade

Karen Reinhardt received her bachelors from Concordia Teachers' College, River Forest, Illinois (now known as Concordia University Chicago) in 1976 and her Master's Degree from Eastern Michigan University in 1988.

Tell us a little bit about your family:
  • Karen is married to Gary and has three children and five grandchildren.
What’s your Christian philosophy of education?
  • My Christian philosophy of education is that children will learn many things throughout their education, but the most important thing is that Jesus loves them very much, died, and rose again so that they will be with him someday in heaven.
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • If I could go anywhere for vacation, I would travel to all fifty states of the United States. I have been to many of them, but would like to see all of them.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my husband and family. I like to sew and read when the time is available.
The best part of following Jesus is…
  • Being able to share my faith and the love of God with those around me. Seeing their faces and hearing them talk about Jesus in return is absolutely indescribable. 

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Mr. Christopher Hansell - Second Grade

Mr. Hansell received his Bachelor’s Degree in education with an English major as well as a Lutheran Teaching Diploma from Concordia University, Ann Arbor in 2002. He received his Master's Degree in Reading Education and currently is certified as a reading specialist. 

Tell us a little bit about your family:
  • Chris lives in Waltz, Michigan with his wife Joy and son Jonathan. 
What’s your Christian philosophy of education?
  • I have always believed that Lutheran schools provide the highest quality Christian education available. The purpose of Lutheran schools is to provide education that will create future leadership in the Church. Lutheran teachers integrate the faith into all aspects of the school day, creating a Christ-centered curriculum that prepares the children for a successful future. I partner with the parents of the children in my class to help raise them as intelligent, respectful and honorable members of society in accordance with God’s Word. Proverbs 22:6 is very clear about the importance of a Christian education, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” I am blessed to be Called to St. John’s as the second grade teacher where I can share the love of Jesus each and every day.
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • If I could go on vacation anywhere in the world I would go Peacock Bass fishing in the Amazon. 
What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • In my spare time I enjoy fishing and hunting. 
The best part of following Jesus is…
  • Knowing that I am a baptized child of Christ, and that my salvation is assured. It is a privilege to share the love of Jesus every day with the people in my life.          

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Mrs. Janise Faerber - Third Grade

Janise Faerber graduated from Concordia College in Seward, Nebraska. My area of concentration was in Early Childhood Education, with a minor in music. Since then I have obtained an additional 18 hours of credit through MSU. After that I have taken a variety of workshops, classes to further enhance learning in my classroom. Currently, I have taken various classes which focus on 'Brain-Gym' which promotes Educational Kinesiology. 

Tell us a little bit about your family:
  • I am married to Mark Faerber. We have 5 adult children who are marrried and are blessed with 9 grandchildren!
What’s your Christian philosophy of education?
  • My philosophy for being a Lutheran Teacher is I have the joy and privilege of sharing the Gospel message with the Lord's children every single day. I am able to integrate the Gospel throughout the day in each subject. When these young children need to make decisions, we can look to what we are taught in the Bible. When discipline is needed I am able to bring in forgiveness just as how Christ forgives each of us. In Science class I am free to state how amazing the world is that God created for us! Each day we are able to spend time in devotions and then pray together. We begin our day singing praises to our Lord. Being a Lutheran teacher is a day filled with blessings as you listen to your students talk about their Lord and Savior. I then can encourage them to tell others about Jesus! My parents were both Lutheran teachers, along with many aunts, uncles, and my sister too. I was raised in this Lutheran Teacher family atmosphere. Our children went to Lutheran schools. I pray that my grandchildren will be blessed with the same Christian educational experience. Being a Lutheran Teacher is who I am! I can't even imagine doing anything else in my life!
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • I LOVE going to Florida! I am able to relax, soak up the sun and experience new restaurants! 
What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • In my spare time I LOVE being with my family. My family is precious to me. I consider them a gift from God!  I love spending time with my mom, my children and grandchildren. Each day it's a joy to be home and relax in the evening with my husband who is my best friend (other than Jesus, of course). I also love cooking and going out to different restaurants. Another pure enjoyment for me is watching baseball and football games.  
The best part of following Jesus is…
  • The best part about following Jesus is that He is my Savior! Because of what He did out of great love for me, I know some day I will be with Him and all of my family, those still here on earth and those who have already gone before me to heaven. I will be with all the saints together, forever!

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Mr. Ric Genthner - Fourth Grade

Ric started college on the Gulf Coast of Florida intending to be a Marine Biologist, but the Lord led him to transfer to Concordia University - Ann Arbor and enroll in the Elementary Education Teacher program, where he obtained a Bachelor's degree and his Lutheran Teacher's Diploma. Later he obtained a Masters' Degree in School Administration from Wayne State University and is a thesis short of a Specialist Degree in Science Education.

Tell us a little bit about your family:
  • Ric is the oldest of seven children and grew up in various places, including: Wisconsin, Texas, Florida, and Ocho Rios, Jamaica where his parents were missionary teachers. While attending Concordia, Ric met his wife Kathy, a generational Lutheran of the St. John's Waltz area. He married Kathy at Concordia's Chapel just before Christmas 1989. Kathy and Ric have four sons, all of whom attended St. John's Church and School.
What’s your Christian philosophy of education?
  • My Christian philosophy of education is that the Bible is the inspired, infallible, and authoritative Word of God. Knowledge is more than the gathering of information, it is learning and understanding. I use God's Word and a combination of strategies to give each child a well-rounded, safe, exciting, and Christ-centered learning experience.
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • If I could go on vacation anywhere in the world, I would go "Up North" in Michigan. Michigan has fresh water oceans, sandy beaches, beautiful pine forests, mountains, waterfalls, world class fishing, and stunning national wilderness areas - all in our backyard! Other places are nice to visit, but Michigan is where I choose to live.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • Ric and his family enjoy exploring the great state of Michigan, camping, hunting, and fishing. They participate in hosting exchange students from foreign countries. Ric is a longstanding and very active Boy Scout leader, a Michigan DNR Hunter Safety instructor, and is a St. John's Board Member.
The best part of following Jesus is…
  • The best part about following Jesus is that Godly wisdom and Jesus Christ are the central themes of everything I say, do, and believe. I am committed to educating and leading children and their families to a knowledgable relationship in following Jesus.

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Mr. Greg Manthei - Fifth Grade and Athletic Director

Greg Manthei attended Concordia College Ann Arbor and received his bachelors degree in 1991. Later, he earned his Professional certificate in 1997 through EMU. Greg has served St. John’s since 1994. 

Tell us a little bit about your family:
  • I married Kim Littler in 2002. We have two children. Lucas was born in 2004, and Noah was born in 2007. We currently live in Flat Rock.
What’s your Christian philosophy of education?
  • My Christian philosophy of education centers around strengthening the faith in Jesus of each child through God’s Word and prayer. I enjoy sharing the love Jesus has for us with my students. Having a sense of humor helps me to connect with students and become more receptive to God’s message of love and salvation.
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go? I would go to Alaska so that I could fish for giant salmon and take in the grandeur of God’s Creation. The waters and mountains together show the handiwork of God’s power and wisdom.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • I enjoy spending time up north at our cabin. You will always find me working on something to build, improve, or fix. I have undertaken many projects of building including renovations, add-ons, and woodworking.
The best part of following Jesus is…
  • The best part about following Jesus is experiencing Him in my life. The strength, wisdom, and love of God is richer than anything the world offers. Hearing about Jesus doesn’t compare to experiencing Him working in my life. That is what I want my students to know and experience.

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Mrs. Kristen Jackson - Seventh Grade

Kristen Jackson is a 1991 Alumni of Concordia College in Ann Arbor, MI where she earned her B.A. in education with a major in Science and English. She went on to earn her M.A. as a Reading Specialist from Eastern Michigan University.

Tell us a little bit about your family:
  • Kristen is married to Eric and they have one daughter, Samantha. She enjoys attending St. John's and having her mom close by everyday. 
What’s your Christian philosophy of education?
  • Kristen teaches Science and Literature in the Middle School. She enjoys sharing her faith with her students through the connection of Science. She feels that it is her calling and privilege to share her faith daily with her students. She enjoys seeing her students grow academically and spiritually and developing a close personal relationship with our Lord.     
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • If I could go on a vacation anywhere in the world it would be with my family to see all of the Hawaiian islands and the variety of scenery and unique experiences that are on each island.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • In her free time Kristen enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, gardening, camping and traveling.  
The best part of following Jesus is…
  • The best part of being a follower of Jesus is the sure confidence of Eternal life through Jesus Christ and being able to share that joy with my students and family. 

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Mr. Joel Schaffer - Eighth Grade

Joel Schaffer earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Concordia University (Chicago).

Tell us a little bit about your family:
  • Joel Schaffer is the father of three children.  Abigail is a student at Concordia University (Chicago) studying secondary math education.  Nathaniel is a student at Lutheran High School (Westland).  Annmarie is a student at St. John’s (Waltz).
What’s your Christian philosophy of education?
  • My Christian philosophy of education is that I am here to add to what is taught at home.  My job is not only to teach the core subject of math and history, but also help bring children to the knowledge of God and help them grow in their trust in Christ and His good news.  
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • I would like to go back to Germany.  I would like to spend time visiting the cities where my great- great grandparents lived.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • In my spare time, I like to watch all of the sporting events that my children are in.  I also like to golf, play soccer, and play softball.
The best part of following Jesus is…
  • The best part about following Jesus is knowing that I am a redeemed child of God.

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