Notre Dame Regional High (NDHS) School’s faculty are, unequivocally, the heart and soul of the Bulldog experience.
Their intertwining of faith and academic rigor, along with personal attention, compassion, dedication, humor and the desire for each of their students to excel to the best of their abilities make them a special group remembered long after our students graduate.
As the 2021-2022 school year begins, we welcome our new faculty, bid a heartfelt adieu to our retirees and others who have moved on, and bring you up to date on those taking on new roles this year. The Notre Dame family wishes each of them the best on their new paths.
While bittersweet, we express our profound gratitude to the following faculty and staff retirees for their many years of dedicated service and commitment to our students:
Cindy Maher retired in May 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My favorite part about teaching was working with the Notre Dame students. They are hard-working, bright, polite young people with great senses of humor,” she said. “I think I miss laughing with them the most.”
She also treasures her former colleagues.
“I formed great friendships with the faculty and staff at Notre Dame,” she said. “These relationships are the best gift I received from my years at Notre Dame.”
Maher arrived at Notre Dame as a substitute teacher in August 2006, later taking a full-time role in 2008 as a full-time English teacher. During those 12 years, she taught Advanced English II, Poetry, and dual credit Interpersonal Communication.
After eight years, Shelly Powderly retired in May as director of the Notre Dame Library/Media Center and director of Instructional Technology.
“I started as a volunteer in the library two days a week in the fall of 2013,” Powderly said. “Towards the end of the school year, Brother (David Migliorino, former NDHS principal) offered me the director of the Media Center position for the next year. At the time, it was never my intention to go back to work full time, but I’m glad I changed my mind. I have been blessed to be a part of the Notre Dame family!”
In addition to her work in the Media Center, she assisted with Friends of the Library, was Textbook Coordinator and Federal Programs Coordinator.
“Every day was an adventure in the library, ranging from hosting book tastings and Real World Wednesdays to aiding students with their research,” she said. “My fondest memories were truly made building relationships with the students and faculty. As I disembark from Notre Dame, I will always miss seeing smiling faces at my desk each and every day.”
Dinah Seabaugh, ’81, retired in May, having served as head of the Publications Department and as a member of the Communication Arts Department. She began teaching at Notre Dame in 1996, taking a couple of years off while her children were young, before returning to the high school in 2002.
During her tenure, she taught Publications, Journalism, Yearbook and Creative Writing. She also served as the advisor to the “Hi-Lites” student newspaper and the “Silhouette” yearbook.
“I will never forget the connections made with my students over the years — many of whom I still keep in touch with today,” she said. “I hold these close to my heart.”
Seabaugh says her children drew her to Notre Dame, and they are the reason she stayed.
“My greatest memories of Notre Dame come from my dinner table each night with my own three children, listening, as they told stories of what had happened during their days and knowing I would understand who or what they were talking about,” she said.
Ann Welker, ’76, retired in May after completing a 40-year teaching career, including 27 years at Notre Dame. During that time, she served as head of the Communication Arts Department and taught Advanced English I and College Composition I and II. She also was the moderator to Quill and Scroll, and had Sophomore Homeroom 409.
When Welker began teaching at Notre Dame in August 1994, she joined a teaching staff, many of whom had been her own teachers. Along the way, they became her colleagues and friends. She came full circle as her time at Notre Dame drew to a close, she said, adding many of her now former students to that clutch of esteemed coworkers and friends.
“What a neat testament to a career,” she reflected. “I’ve worked with many talented teachers over the years. I truly value the advice, comfort and fun these incredible people have shared. We have laughed, cried, complained and forged ahead over the years, and I am grateful for the gift of these people God sent into my life.
“I have also worked with many incredible students,” she continued. “They are talented in such a variety of ways, but it’s not the talents I value; I value the laughter, insights and wisdom they have shared with me. I would have never lasted in this career if it weren’t for the students.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to retirement (especially since I can visit my grandkids more), but I will miss all the people at Notre Dame so much,” Welker said. “Thank you all for being such an integral part of my life.”
Officer Al Spencer
School Resource Officer Al Spencer retired at the close of the 2019-2020 school year after greeting every student, parent and visitor coming through the doors of Notre Dame for nearly a decade. During those years, the safety of Notre Dame’s students, faculty and staff was his utmost priority, monitoring all who entered from both the front and back of the building.
“Freshman parents had to get used to me and me to them,” he said. “I was very protective of my students!”
Spencer welcomed students every morning, sometimes in a crazy voice, he admits.
“But it let me see the students and how they are doing,” he said, which occasionally required working with the Guidance Department when someone was having a difficult day.
His greatest Notre Dame memory is of “family,” he said, adding he particularly enjoyed mingling with visitors at the annual craft fair, witnessing the “Senior Tree” going up in the lobby and the seniors hanging their ornaments on it, and serving as the boys’ volleyball assistant coach.
And then there was the “crazy stuff,” as Spencer calls it.
“I loved the lock-in, drenching the freshmen in water during the water balloon volleyball” game, he said. “I loved Halloween when the students wanted to know when the pumpkin was coming out. Activity Week was the hardest, but all the fun made it worth it.”
A highlight was when former Notre Dame student Clayton Eftink “talked me into doing Top Dawg with him his senior year. We did Wii Dance, which I have never heard of, and I beat his score!”
More than anything else, he said, “It was great watching the students grow up into young ladies and gentlemen,” with prom and graduation serving as annual reminders of the maturity process.
“I miss the people at Notre Dame, especially the office staff, and wish everyone there the best,” Spencer said.
New Faculty and Staff
As our retirees begin new chapters in their lives, so too does a new group of teachers and staff who we welcome to the Notre Dame family:
Assuming Welker’s vacated role in the Communication Arts Department will be Laura Edwards. She will teach Advanced English 1 and College Composition I and II. She also will serve as the faculty advisor to Quill and Scroll.
“After many years as a Notre Dame spouse and one year as a Notre Dame parent, I have come to see Notre Dame as a community of faith, family and immense school spirit,” Edwards said. “I am so excited that I will get to work in that community every day, and I am excited to help students to feel a part of it as well.”
Prior to her work at Notre Dame, Edwards taught a variety of English courses for six years at Jackson Senior High School. Earlier in her career, Edwards taught Composition as an adjunct instructor at both Southeast Missouri State University and Three Rivers College. She was also a Teaching Assistant at Southeast while earning her Master of Arts in English.
Edwards and her husband Ben Edwards, ’98, (NDHS Spanish II and Broadcasting teacher), are the parents of two sons, Michael (’24) and Emmett.
Filling Seabaugh’s role will be Tyler Dixon, ’09, who plans to bring his real-world media experiences to the classroom as Notre Dame’s newest Multimedia Coordinator. Dixon, originally of Mounds, Illinois, has spent the past several years as the sports editor at the Owensboro (Kentucky) Times.
“The idea of returning to my alma mater to teach is something I never imagined, but now that the opportunity has presented itself, I could not be more excited,” he said. “Journalism is something I could talk about every single day, and now I have the ability to do that with the next generation of media professionals.”
At Notre Dame, Dixon will teach Journalism, Yearbook and Web Broadcasting, and also will assist with the school’s social media outreach.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, and a Master of Science in Mass Communication from Murray State University.
Valarie Hulshof joins Notre Dame this year as the new Library/Media Center director, replacing Powderly who retired in May.
“I am an educator with a somewhat eclectic background,” Hulshof said.
She completed undergraduate and graduate studies at Concordia University in Nebraska.
“I’ve been blessed with experience in Christian schools, public schools, and charter schools,” she said, “but my heart remains in Christian education.”
She has taught a number of grade levels, beginning with Pre-K and now will add the secondary level to her experiences.
“I am excited to be serving students at Notre Dame as their librarian and hope to also be of use as a reading interventionist.”
Hulshof and her husband Brian Hulshof, ’98, are the parents of four children: Henry,7; and triplets Nora, Cora, and Heidi, 5, all of whom will attend St. Augustine Catholic School in Kelso, Missouri, this fall.
Jessica Jackson, who hails from southern Illinois, arrived at Notre Dame last fall and will continue in her role this year as the school nurse. She says her first year “was crazy” as the school navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have always enjoyed taking care of others,” she said. “This last year has been so difficult for many families, in many different ways. It has been an honor and privilege to try and assist the Notre Dame families through the difficulties.”
Prior to her work at Notre Dame, she served as a mental health nurse. Jackson and her husband, Jacob Jackson, ’07, are the parents of Owen, 2, and are expecting a second son, Tucker, in October.
Like Jackson, Koishor also joined Notre Dame last year as a guidance counselor serving juniors and freshmen. She continues in her position this school year but will shift her focus to assisting sophomores and seniors.
“I have loved everything about Notre Dame this past year and keep finding new reasons to love my role here,” she said. “I have a huge passion for mental health and helping students in this age group take on all of the challenges, successes, and whatever else is thrown their way. I have felt so much support and guidance from the faculty and students here.”
Koishor replaced Justin Keusenkothen in fall 2020 when he moved into the classroom to take on a teaching role. Koishor, of Perryville, Missouri, holds a Master of School Counseling from Southeast Missouri State University and is a Nationally Certified Missouri School Counselor. She also is a 2019 graduate of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in educational studies and analysis, and is a 2015 graduate of St. Vincent de Paul High School.
“Students face many different obstacles these days with loss from a pandemic, social stressors, mental health and many more everyday items that are always affecting them,” she said. “I hope to always be a resource and ally for the students who they can trust to help them.”
Also beginning his second year at Notre Dame is Casey Dodd, the school’s new resource officer, who replaced Spencer when he retired last year.
“My first year at Notre Dame was an absolutely amazing year. Going into the school year, I was nervous because I had never worked in a private school before and was unsure of what to expect,” Dodd said. “Turns out that there are many similarities to the public setting. I settled in fairly quickly and started interacting with other faculty and students on a daily basis. I am glad to call Notre Dame my new home. I look forward to many years of continuing my role at Notre Dame.”
In addition to providing security, Dodd says he makes himself available to students to discuss issues in their lives outside of the classroom.
“I want the students to be comfortable with me and be able to come to me with any problems they may have,” he explained. “Some students aren’t comfortable talking with me because I’m a ‘cop’,” he said, but “I want those students to understand that I’m a human just like them and that I’m here to help.”
Dodd’s law enforcement career has included serving as the Scott City R-1 School District DARE officer in 2005 and the school resource officer with the Woodland R-4 School District in Marble Hill, Missouri.
Robert Michael is beginning his second year as well as Notre Dame’s 1:1 Technology Coordinator. He also teaches Robotics, Computer Science, Advanced Technology and Information Technology. He replaces Ben Hinton who relocated to Kansas City after the 2019-2020 school year.
As the 1:1 Technology Coordinator, Michael is responsible for the organization, distribution and maintenance of Chromebook learning devices for all NDHS students and faculty. Last year was Notre Dame’s first year as a 1:1 school.
“I felt like it went very smoothly,” said Michael, who also assisted with live streaming and sound for various school activities, including school Masses, assemblies, the Fall play, the Spring musical and the Winter Extravaganza.
“It was fun learning all the ins and outs of how that works,” he said.
Michael came to Notre Dame after serving 16 years as the Director of Technology and PreK-8th grade technology teacher at St. Vincent de Paul School (SVS).
“It was tough for me to leave SVS because that felt like home to me,” Michael said. “I was a little worried about making the transition to a different school. I have to say the transition was really smooth, and everyone here at Notre Dame has made me feel welcome and part of the Notre Dame family. I also really enjoyed seeing the familiar faces of the students I have taught in the past at SVS and meeting new students from other area schools.”
His first year at NDHS also came as the school navigated learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Last year, I adopted the phrase ‘Faith Over Fear,’ and it helped me press on during the most difficult teaching year there ever was. Without faith, we wouldn’t have been able to have in-person learning this past year, and as a school, we ended the year strong,” he said.
Rev. Alexander Sutachan
Beginning his first year as a Notre Dame chaplain will be the Rev. Alexander Sutachan, the newly ordained associate pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish. Sutachan, who is also the Diocesan Regional Vocation Promoter, replaces the Rev. Brian Straus, who was transferred in July to serve on the west side of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.
Sutachan will join the Rev. Michael Casteel, lead NDHS Chaplain and pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Kelso and St. Joseph Parish in Scott City, in ministering to NDHS students.
“Five years ago, I came to the United States from my country, Colombia, and all this time has been one of learning and adaptation, learning the language and culture, and adapting to the place that I now see and feel as my home,” Sutachan said.
He’s looking forward to reaching out to Notre Dame students.
“I hope from my experiences to be able to help others to grow spiritually to strengthen their relationship with God in their life, and that despite adversities and difficulties, see and feel His love, mercy and company,” he said.
“Being part of Notre Dame has made me feel a deep joy. I also take it as a call from God to be his presence for everyone,” he continued. “So, from now on, I put each one of those who are part of this family in my prayers, and I put myself in your prayers, so that together we may find the presence, will and love of God in our lives.”
Another new face this year is Kyndal Fadler, who will join the Social Studies Department and teach Civics. She replaces Justin Keusenkothen who has shifted to teach Theology III this year.
“I am very excited to be Notre Dame’s new Civics teacher,” Fadler said. “I’m looking forward to meeting the students and fostering their understanding of civics and citizenship. I have already felt so welcomed by the Notre Dame family and cannot wait to make life-long connections.”
Fadler attended Jackson Public Schools and graduated in May from Southeast Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science in Education, social studies major. She and her husband, Matthew, along with nine-month-old son, Mason, are Fruitland, Missouri, residents.
In addition to the new faculty and staff, some familiar faces will remain at Notre Dame this fall, but with new duties and responsibilities:
As the 2021-2022 school year gets underway, Paul Unterreiner, ’02, will continue as an Assistant Principal, shifting from the Dean of Student Activities to Dean of Academics. He began teaching at Notre Dame in 2007.
“I’m extremely excited and grateful to begin my journey as the Dean of Academics,” he said. “I’ve spent the past several years on the Student Activities side and have enjoyed every minute of it. My good friend, Laura Halter, will take the reins on that, and she will be absolutely perfect. I’m excited to see her ideas and energy take our student activities to another level.
“On a personal side, I’m thrilled to jump into my new role as the Dean of Academics,” Unterreiner said. “I’m excited to do my part in lifting up our teachers and allowing them to do what they do best. We are blessed with the best faculty any school could ask for. I will do everything I can to help provide them with the tools they need to continue to be phenomenal educators and mentors for our students.”
He is equally as eager to continue building relationships with the students.
Strong relationships are key to every aspect in life,” he continued. “Academics is no different. Building genuinely strong relationships will allow for open and honest communication about schoolwork. My goal is to help put our students in a position to succeed once they walk out of our doors.”
Unterreiner also will continue to serve as Head Varsity Boys’ Basketball Coach, a position he has held since 2014.
Laura Halter begins a new assignment this fall as Assistant Athletic Director and Director of Student Activities, replacing Betsy Anders who will focus on special projects this year, and Unterreiner who is transitioning to Assistant Principal-Dean of Academics.
“I am beyond excited and ready for my new adventure,” Halter said. “I believe God always has a plan for us and places opportunities in our lives He has prepared for us. This year will be my 12th year at Notre Dame, and I have been blessed to have worn many different hats in the building that have prepared me for both of my new roles.”
Halter began teaching Psychology and Sociology part time at Notre Dame during the 2010-2011 school year. She later taught Biology and Theology III, while also serving as Senior Class Co-Moderator, Cheerleading Junior Varsity Head Coach, Emmaus Retreat Coordinator, Athletes Give Back Co-Moderator and Pro-Life Moderator.
“My work with all my senior classes and being Assistant for Student Activities over the years have definitely prepared me for the Director of Student Activities position. I am most looking forward to Activity Week this year and kicking off the school year with high energy fun!”
Being “Assistant Athletic Director may seem a little out of my realm, but anyone who knows me, knows I am a cheerleader of all things Notre Dame, especially our sports programs!” she said, noting she has previously assisted with girls’ basketball and soccer, and helped prepare for district games.
She will remain the JV Cheer Squad Coach this school year.
“I am looking forward to working with Coach Graviett (Athletic Director), our coaching staff and our amazing student athletes this upcoming school year,” she said.
Justin Keusenkothen, ’14, enters his fourth year at Notre Dame, this fall in a new role as a Theology III teacher. He replaces Laura Halter as she transitions into her new role.
Keusenkothen arrived in fall 2018, spending two years in the Guidance Department before moving into the classroom last fall as a member of the Social Studies and Theology departments while teaching Freshman Civics and Church History Through the Lives of the Saints. He also had Freshman Homeroom 406.
“I thoroughly enjoyed teaching both classes and working with the freshmen and upperclassmen,” he said. But when a Theology III faculty vacancy occurred, “of course, I had to take this opportunity,” Keusenkothen said.
“Having majored in theology at Franciscan University, it was always my aim to teach theology in some capacity,” he said. “Theology and philosophy have always piqued my interest because they deal with the fundamental and most important inquiries of human existence — the study of God and how best to live. I pray that with the grace of God, I may be able to impress upon my students a deep love and respect for truth and the teachings of Christ so that they may have the tools to pursue the universal call to sainthood and ultimately share in eternal joy and communion with God in heaven.”
Keusenkothen also will have a senior homeroom and serve as moderator to St. Joseph’s Club (formerly Men’s Club).
Betsy Anders, ’87, director of Communications and administrative assistant to Athletics, will transition offsite this fall while working part-time on several special projects for Notre Dame.
She will continue managing the NDHS website, assisting with graphics and marketing, and remaining on the Booster Board, while coordinating Booster-sponsored events, including the annual golf and bowling tournaments.
“I also plan to keep working with our corporate partners,” she said.
Anders began volunteering at Notre Dame as a “counting mom” during Activity Week and served as a substitute teacher during retreats in 2007 when her son, Ryan Aufdenberg, ’11, was a freshman. Initially, she also assisted with the website and in the library. Later, she moved into a full-time role in the library and helped with technology and athletic needs. Since then, she has been the Sportscasting Coordinator, Online Sales Coordinator, maintained online communications and was a member of the Substance Abuse Prevention Team.
“Notre Dame and the students challenged me every day to learn and grow,” said Anders, who is also the mother of Cody Aufdenberg, ’13.
She says she loved Photoshop class and working with such creative students. She also recalls the “energy and fun” she experienced with Broadcasting and Sportscasting students, and the privilege of teaching side-by-side with NDHS faculty who “work so hard — not only on academics but also on spirituality and the social aspect of high school for the students.
“I am so glad I have the opportunity to be involved in some way,” Anders said of her new role. “Most of all, I am looking forward to spending time with my family.”
After 15 years, Notre Dame bid farewell to Barb Tomaszewski who left at the close of the 2019-2020 school year to become principal of St. Francis Xavier School in Sikeston, Missouri.
Tomaszewski, of Scott City, Missouri, began as a secretary in the NDHS Guidance Department while also teaching Civics her first two years. In subsequent years, she taught American History. She says her greatest Notre Dame memories are of “building prom” with the juniors and the excitement of Activity Week.
Josh Green, a member of the NDHS Social Studies and Business departments, is now teaching American History.
As Tomaszewski begins her second year this fall at St. Francis Xavier, she said, “My new role is challenging, but I love the students and working in a Catholic environment.”
She is the mother of two NDHS graduates, John Tomazewski, ’06, and Aaron Tomazewski, ’09.
Notre Dame accepted the resignation at the end of the 2020-2021 year of Jeremy Brinkmeyer, ’05, after serving 13 years at his alma mater. Brinkmeyer has accepted a position as Head Boys’ Basketball Coach and physical education (P.E) teacher this fall at Kelly High School in Benton, Missouri.
“My time working at Notre Dame in one word was, ‘special’,” Brinkmeyer said, calling it a “second home” and the place where he matured in education, athletics and, most importantly, spirituality.
“Notre Dame was more than just a school to me,” he continued. “Notre Dame is where I felt love and support at my father’s funeral from an entire community. Notre Dame is where I met my best friends who are like my brothers to this day, and most importantly Notre Dame is where I met my wife (Meredith Brinkmeyer, ’07, NDHS Head Varsity Girls’ Volleyball Coach and Mathematics teacher). Notre Dame is a community of support that is hard to beat.”
Most recently, Brinkmeyer has served Notre Dame as head of the P.E/Health Department and Boys’ Basketball Junior Varsity Head Coach. He also taught Weight Training and was Freshman Class Co-Moderator. His greatest Notre Dame memories, he says, revolve around the people he’s met and worked with, particularly the students.
“The students are why I chose this profession,” he said. “The greatest part of getting my new job was the countless texts and messages from former players congratulating me. It’s great hearing from them.
Also having moved on is Ben Hinton, ’13, former technology specialist, who left NDHS following the 2019-2020 school year. He taught Robotics, Intro to Computer Science and Information Technology for three years, and provided day-to-day computer maintenance for the school. He is currently employed by Cerner Corp. in Kansas City, Missouri, where he supports the technology needs of several hospitals.
“Notre Dame is a great place,” Hinton said. “The sense of community I felt when I worked for Notre Dame is special. I have found that very few other places create the kind of environment that Notre Dame has.
“Teaching taught me so much in my three years,” he continued. “It was challenging at times, but rewarding. Getting to know all my students was a blast.”
Rev. Brian Strauss
Notre Dame also bids farewell to the Rev. Brian Strauss, former associate pastor at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, who served NDHS as a chaplain last year. Strauss who was relocated in July, now serves as Parochial Vicar of St. Peter the Apostle Parish and St. Mary Parish, both in Joplin; lead chaplain and faculty member of McAuley Catholic High School in Joplin; Director/Chaplain of Catholic Campus Ministry at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin; and Regional Vocation Promoter.
“In my short year as chaplain at Notre Dame, I was blessed to have such meaningful experiences with many of the students,” Strauss said. “Notre Dame will always have a special place in my prayers, so keep me in your prayers as well!”