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Our Academics

We are accredited by the state of Indiana and the National Lutheran School Accreditation. St. John-Emmanuel faculty and staff focus on the specific developmental needs of the students. Read and download the 
St. John-Emmanuel Curriculum.
SJE Continuous Learning Plan

Meet Our Faculty


Mr. Axel Gruen

From  Bremen, Germany and Beaverton, Oregon (suburb of Portland)

College  Concordia University in Portland, Oregon

Loved Ones  My wife Mary, our two kids Allison and Jared, and two cats Lucky and Emmy

Why a Teacher?  Teaching is a second career for me. I became an educator because I enjoyed working with kids in confirmation at my former church and being a Cub Scout/Boy Scout leader.

Fun Facts  1. I enjoy reading both for fun and professionally.

2. I also enjoy wine tasting and traveling with my wife Mary. Right now we are enjoying seeing what the Midwest has to offer.

Preschool 3's

Mrs. Lindsay Comer

From Ossian, Indiana

College Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana

Loved Ones  My husband Bart and daughter Lia (9), with our two dogs Pippa and Daisy and guinea pig Alex

Why a Teacher?  I became a teacher because I wanted to be a positive influence and make a difference in children’s lives. I want my students to believe they can do anything!
Fun Fact  My hobbies are cross-stitching, crocheting, and reading. I could spend my entire summer sitting on the beach reading books.

Preschool 4's

Mrs. Debbie Christian

From  Big Rapids, Michigan

College  Concordia College in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Concordia Teacher’s College in Seward, Nebraska

Loved Ones  My husband Pastor Christian, my son Joshua with his wife Alisha and son Levi (1), my sons Jacob and Matthew, and my daughter Elizabeth with her husband Coty and sons Hunter (3) and Oliver (3 mos.)

Why a Teacher?  I have always loved children and serving the church. Teaching in a Lutheran school ties these two loves together!

Fun Fact  My education has always come in pairs! I attended two elementary schools, two junior highs, two high schools, two colleges, and taught in two schools.


Mrs. Katherine Harris

From  Barrington, Illinois

College  Concordia University in Wisconsin

Loved Ones  My husband Josh, son Wyatt (3) and daughter Emelia (1), and 2 cats

Why a Teacher?  I became a teacher to share God’s love with others and to mold little ones' minds. I love to watch children grow and learn. I want to be a positive impact in other’s lives.

Fun Facts  1. Every summer my husband and I travel to Chicago to watch the Cubs play.

2. I love to be outside and enjoy God’s beautiful world.

First Grade

Mrs. Mary Hines

From  Midland, Michigan

College  Concordia College in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Concordia University in Chicago, Illinois

Loved Ones  I have no children, but I have a small dog named Ricky, whom I’ve had for 10 years. I have 3 brothers and 1 sister. One brother is in heaven and my husband is also in heaven.

Why a Teacher?  I felt called to be a teacher when I was in the early grades in school. I love seeing the “light” go on in a child’s brain when they understand something

Fun Facts  1. I play several instruments: organ, piano, cello, and guitar.

2. I love gardening and enticing bluebirds into my yard.

Second Grade

Mrs. Kim Priest

From  Hoagland, Indiana

College  Communication and Education degrees at IPFW in Fort Wayne, Indiana

Colloquy at Concordia University in Chicago, Illinois

Loved Ones  I am married to Dave Priest. We have 3 daughters-Jordan (26), Chloe (25), and Abby (23). Jordan lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. Chloe is married to Nate and they have 2 little boys, Hudson-2 1/2 and Parker, who was born on February 20. Abby is studying to be a teacher and is getting married in June to Wes. My husband and I have a pet Schnauzer named Bella Mae.

Why a Teacher?  I became a teacher because I have a passion to teach children to read. At our school I also get to teach about God and His promises.

Fun Facts  1. I would love to write a children's book!

2. One of my ancestors was Abraham Lincoln's 1st vice president!

Third Grade

Mrs. Sharon White

From  Fort Wayne, Indiana

College  IPFW in Fort Wayne, Indiana

Loved Ones  My husband Kevin, my daughter Courtney and her husband Brandon, my son Cody, my daughter Caylen and her fiancé Max, and my son Carson

Why a Teacher?  I want to bestow a love for learning in children and help them develop a desire to become lifelong learners.

Fun Fact  I enjoy spending the summer at our lake cottage with my family and friends.

Fourth Grade

Miss Catelyn Mefferd

From  Convoy, Ohio

College  Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana

Loved Ones  My parents Mark and Melissa, my siblings Carlee, Clare, and Cody, and my nieces Ellie and Charleigh

Why a Teacher?  I became a teacher to make a difference in the lives of my students and positively shape the next generation. Also, to help my students to always look to God on the good and bad days.

Fun Facts  1. I LOVE football season. Go Vikings and Buckeyes!

2. I only graduated with 69 students from high school.

3. I played soccer since the age of 4 and played through all 4 years of college.

Fifth Grade

Mrs. Dana Muehl

From  LaGrange, Illinois

College  Bachelors at Concordia University in Chicago, Illinois

Masters at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana

Loved Ones  My husband Mark, daughter Ashley, sons Zachary and Tyler, grandchildren Sebastian and soon-to-be #2, and our Newfoundland, Tasha

Why a Teacher?  Being able to share my faith daily with my students as well as help prepare them for life. It’s the best job ever.

Fun Fact  My family hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon for my dad’s 80th birthday. 17 out of 34 family members made the trip!

Sixth Grade

Mrs. Faith Greenmyer

From  North Dakota

College  BA in Secondary Education and a Comprehensive English endorsement at Concordia University in Seward Nebraska

Loved Ones  My husband 

Why a Teacher?  

Fun Facts

Seventh Grade

Mr. Adam Koch

From  Fort Wayne, Indiana

College  Concordia College in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Loved Ones  My mom Krista, dad Gene, and siblings Aaron (27), Sarah (23), and Hannah (19)

Why a Teacher?  Ask me in July! To help lead, grow, educate, and love the future generation as Christ does and to hopefully be a role model in a child’s transitioning time of need.

Fun Facts  1. I pick things up and put them down for a hobby.

2. You might’ve caught me suited up as Captain America on a mud racing course!

Eighth Grade

Mr. David Stellwagen

From  Sheboygan, Wisconsin

College  Concordia University in Chicago, Illinois

Loved Ones  My wife Debby and our three girls, Abigail, Kayla, and Alaina, along with our dachshund Tessa

Why a Teacher?  Honestly, I became a teacher for a reason I never pondered. Today, I wouldn’t do anything else. (That’s called ‘The Hand of God!’)

Fun Fact  What defines me? A Christian with an immense passion for the Pursuit of Happiness (a life of service), reaching my full potential (reading, deep thinking) and traveling the world with my family.

Music Teacher

Mrs. Cathy Werling

From  Utica, Michigan, Toledo, Ohio, and Brimfield, Illinois

College  Concordia College in Seward, Nebraska

Loved Ones  My husband Matt, daughters Anna (21) and Gretchen (18), and son Garrett (15)

Why a Teacher?  I’ve wanted to teach since I was small and especially in the Lutheran school system. I come from a family of Lutheran teachers and pastors so it was a natural fit for me.

Fun Fact  I love to travel and have visited 43 of the United States and 5 foreign countries. I hope to see more in the future.