Faculty & Staff

Faculty & Staff

The Mars Hill Academy staff consists of exemplary Christian men and women who love our students, and desire to serve our families and the Lord in all that they do. Get to know our staff by reading their bios below.

Administration

Mr. Mike McKenna

Head of School

Mr. Mark Cotterman

Director of Operations

Mr. James Waldy

Grammar School Principal / Dean of Faculty

Mrs. Lisa Cotterman

Finance Manager

Mrs. Patsy Hall

Office Manager / Admissions Director

Mrs. Lisa Knodel

Marketing & Communications Director

Mrs. Teressa Mahl

Advancement Support Coordinator

Mrs. Erin Edwards

Office Support

Mrs. Barb Weitzel

Office Support

Mrs. Emily Franks

Athletic Director

Mrs. Leann Gage

Bookkeeping

Faculty

According to the Mars Hill Academy Foundational Documents: MHA teachers will be bright, highly motivated, industrious, and humble. They will love each student in their classroom, viewing each child as a gift from God and teaching as an opportunity to sow seeds of grace and truth deep within the students’ hearts. They will also evidence a strong desire to grow intellectually and spiritually throughout their lives, and be eager to discover and implement classical teaching methods, knowing that recovering the lost tools of learning begins with them. Most importantly, they will possess a radically God-centered worldview that informs all they set their hands to do. They will not be perfect, but competent and teachable. They will not assume to know their students better than the children’s parents, but offer encouragement and helpful criticism as appropriate.

Dr. Michelle Augustine

Rhetoric School

Mrs. Monica Basil

Kindergarten

Mr. Paul Brinkerhoff

Rhetoric School

Dr. Michael Cernucan

Rhetoric School

Mrs. Lisa Cunningham

Fourth Grade

Mr. Lyn Cunningham

Rhetoric School

Mrs. Traci DeBra

Third Grade

Mrs. Laura Fazekas

Grammar & Rhetoric Schools

Mrs. Nora Frias

Rhetoric School

Mr. Tim Giese

Grammar & Rhetoric Schools

Mrs. Corrie Graham

Grammar School

Mrs. Tricia Hicks

Sixth Grade

Mrs. Ruth Hopson

Grammar & Rhetoric Schools

Dr. Christopher Jero

Rhetoric School

Mrs. Amy Kirk

Kindergarten

Mrs. Tracey Lang

First Grade

Mr. David Liebing

Grammar School

Dr. Laura Lucas

Grammar & Rhetoric Schools

Mr. Bob Maruna

Grammar & Rhetoric Schools

Mrs. Melanie Ruppersburg

Grammar School

Mrs. Claudia Smith

Pre-Kindergarten

Mr. Andrew Stapleton

Rhetoric School

Mrs. Abby Taylor

First Grade

Miss Betsy Thistleton

Grammar & Rhetoric Schools

Mrs. Natalie Walls

Second Grade

Mrs. Michelle Ware

Grammar School

Miss Hannah Weaver

Pre-K/Kindergarten

Mrs. Lynn Wong

Grammar School

Administration

Mr. Mike McKenna
Head of School

Mr. Mike McKenna serves as the Mars Hill Academy Head of School. He has more than 30 years of experience as an educator and Head of School with a focus on vision casting, parent communication, curriculum design, employee hiring and training, accreditation tracking, and budgeting. He holds a B.S. in Music Education, M.A. in School Administration, and and Master Teacher Certification from the Association of Classical & Christian Schools. He and his wife, Chris, have five grown children, who have attended classical, Christian schools. 

 

Mr. Mark Cotterman
Director of Operations

Mr. Mark Cotterman serves as the Director of Operations. He holds a B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Ohio University and spent more than 25 years in the business consulting industry. Mr. Cotterman and his wife Lisa have three daughters, all of whom graduated from MHA. The Cotterman family attends Hope Evangelical Free Church.

 

Mr. James Waldy
Grammar School Principal / Dean of Faculty

Mr. James Waldy serves as Grammar School Principal and Dean of Faculty. He also teaches astronomy in the Rhetoric School. He holds a B.A. in Elementary Education, an M.A. in Educational Administration from Tri-City Bible College, and an Ed.S. in Educational Administration from Bob Jones University. Mr. Waldy and his wife Tami have five children, all of whom have received a classical Christian education. Three of their children are MHA graduates. The Waldys attend Cincinnati Primitive Baptist Church. 

 

Mrs. Lisa Cotterman
Finance Manager

Mrs. Lisa Cotterman serves as Finance Manager, and teaches pre-algebra and algebra in the Rhetoric School. She holds a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.S. in Math Education from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Mrs. Cotterman taught math for five years in the Houston, Texas area before moving to Cincinnati. She and her husband Mark have three daughters, all of whom graduated from MHA. The Cotterman family attends Hope Evangelical Free Church.

 

Mrs. Patsy Hall
Office Manager / Admissions Director

Mrs. Patsy Hall serves as Office Manager and Admissions Director. She earned a B.S. in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Cincinnati. Before joining MHA, Mrs. Hall was secretary and Director of Children's Ministries at Faith Presbyterian Church. She and her husband Chris have two children, both MHA graduates. They are members of Grace Bible Presbyterian Church.

 

Mrs. Lisa Knodel
Marketing & Communications Director

Mrs. Lisa Knodel serves as the Marketing and Communications Director. She earned her B.A. in English from Covenant College. With nearly 20 years of experience in school district communications and journalism, Mrs. Knodel was a Warren County education reporter, school district community relations coordinator, marketing and communications consultant, and freelance writer.  She and her husband, Chris, have two children who both attend MHA. They are members of Southwest Ohio Reformed Presbyterian Church.

 

Mrs. Teressa Mahl
Advancement Support Coordinator

Mrs. Teressa Mahl serves as the Advancement Support Coordinator. She earned her B.A. in Organizational Communications from Cedarville University. With a background in higher education, Mrs. Mahl brings experience in communications, event planning, and alumni relations. She and her husband, Aaron, have twins enrolled at MHA. Their family attends Hope Church in Mason.

 

 

Mrs. Erin Edwards
Office Support

Mrs. Erin Edwards serves as an Office Assistant.  She is a graduate of Purdue University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.  Mrs. Edwards and her husband Keith have two daughters, both MHA graduates.  They attend Center Pointe Christian Church.

 

Mrs. Barb Weitzel
Office Support

Mrs. Barb Weitzel serves as an Office Assistant.  She graduated from International Business College, and has worked as an insurance underwriter and as an executive secretary.  Mrs. Weitzel and her husband Chris have three children, one MHA alumnus and two MHA students.  The family attends Kenwood Baptist Church.

 

Mrs. Emily Franks
Athletic Director

Mrs. Emily Franks, a biology major from Covenant College, brings a unique combination of experiences as a high school science teacher, student educational travel guide in the American Southwest, and Army wife. The military brought the Franks family to Ohio, and MHA kept them here. Mrs. Franks and her husband, Michael, have two children attending MHA and a younger daughter. They worship at The Gathering in Maineville.

 

Mrs. Leann Gage
Bookkeeping

Mrs. Leann Gage assists with bookkeeping for MHA. Mrs. Gage has a B.B.A. in Accounting from Baylor University and a Masters in Accounting from the University of Texas. She and her husband, Joe, have three children, including one MHA graduate and one MHA student. The Gage family attends North Cincinnati Community Church.

 

Faculty

Dr. Michelle Augustine
Rhetoric School

Dr. Michelle Augustine teaches logic and rhetoric and also serves as a Senior Thesis advisor in the Rhetoric School. Dr. Augustine holds a Ph.D. in Sociology, with an emphasis in Criminology and Research Methodology/Statistics, from the University of Kentucky. Prior to becoming a mom, she taught at the university level, conducted quantitative research, and published in academic journals. Dr. Augustine has since been a grant writer for various non-profits, including MHA. She and her husband Bill have three children at Mars Hill Academy. They attend Cincinnati Primitive Baptist Church.

 

Mrs. Monica Basil
Kindergarten

Mrs. Monica Basil teaches Kindergarten. Prior to joining MHA, she worked with typical and special needs preschool and elementary-aged children. She also is active in children's ministries at Hope Church, where she and her family attend. Mrs. Basil and her husband Nick have three children who attend MHA.

 

Mr. Paul Brinkerhoff
Rhetoric School

Mr. Paul Brinkerhoff teaches logic and Christendom in the Rhetoric School. He earned a B.A. in History from Wheaton College and an M.A.R. from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Mr. Brinkerhoff has previously taught and served in administrative roles in Louisiana and in West Virginia. He and his wife Bette have six children, four MHA graduates and two MHA students. The Brinkerhoffs are members of Covenant OPC.

 

Dr. Michael Cernucan
Rhetoric School

Dr. Michael Cernucan teaches New Testament Survey, rhetoric, and Spanish in the Rhetoric School, and serves as coordinator for the Senior Thesis program. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Wheaton College, an M.A. in Old Testament from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Bible and Ancient Near East from Hebrew Union College.  He and his wife Amy have three children, all of whom attend MHA. The family attends Providence Bible Fellowship.

 

Mrs. Lisa Cunningham
Fourth Grade

Mrs. Lisa Cunningham teaches fourth grade in the Grammar School. She has a B.A. in Music from Tennessee Temple University and a B.S. in Education from Shreveport Christian College, as well as 40+ graduate hours in education. Mrs. Cunningham homeschooled and taught in a Christian school in Houston prior to teaching at Mars Hill. She and her husband Lyn have six children: two current MHA students and four MHA graduates. The Cunningham family attends New City Presbyterian Church.

 

 

Mr. Lyn Cunningham
Rhetoric School

Mr. Lyn Cunningham teaches literature & composition, American humanities, and modernity in the Rhetoric School. He has an undergraduate degree in English and a law degree from the University of Houston. Mr. Cunningham left a 21-year-long career in law to join the MHA staff in 2011. He and his wife Lisa have six children: four MHA graduates and two current MHA students.  The family attends New City Presbyterian Church.

 

Mrs. Traci DeBra
Third Grade

Mrs. Traci DeBra teaches third grade. She holds a B.A. in English from Northern Kentucky University. Mrs. DeBra has taught literature and composition at the junior high and high school levels in public, private, and homeschool settings. She and her husband Josh have six children, including two MHA graduates and one current MHA student. The family attends Hope Evangelical Free Church.

 

Mrs. Laura Fazekas
Grammar & Rhetoric Schools

Mrs. Laura Fazekas teaches 4th-12th grade art.  She is an experienced art teacher in the classical method, as well as an accomplished artist who has received commissions including murals and canvas work.  Mrs. Fazekas and her husband, Jonathan, have five children, four of whom attend MHA.

 

Mrs. Nora Frias
Rhetoric School

Mrs. Nora Frias teaches Spanish in the Rhetoric School.  She is Venezuelan-American, grew up in a bilingual home, and attended schools in Washington D.C., Caracas, and Mexico City.  Mrs. Frias graduated college in Caracas with a bachelor's degree in Graphic Design and a minor in Business and worked for Procter & Gamble in Caracas before transferring to Cincinnati.  She loves teaching and has taught design, English, and Spanish.  Mrs. Frias and her husband have three young children and attend St. Gertrude Church in Madeira.

 

Mr. Tim Giese
Grammar & Rhetoric Schools

Mr. Tim Giese teaches fifth grade in the Grammar School and directs the choir and Chamber Singers in the Rhetoric School.  He holds a B.A. and M.A. in Music/Piano from Milligan College, and has completed some postgraduate studies.  Mr. Giese and his wife Mary have three sons, all MHA graduates. The family attends Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church.

 

Mrs. Corrie Graham
Grammar School

Mrs. Corrie Graham teaches Grammar School Music.  She holds both a B.A. and M.A. in Music Education from Miami University.  Mrs. Graham taught music in the public school system for nine years.  She and her husband, Mike, have three daughters attending MHA. The Graham family attends Northstar Community Church.

 

Mrs. Tricia Hicks
Sixth Grade

Mrs. Tricia Hicks teaches sixth grade in the Grammar School. She earned a B.A. in Secondary Education, with an emphasis in history and English, from Calvin College. Mrs. Hicks taught ninth grade English in Michigan, and seventh and eighth grade language arts in Virginia. She and her husband Matt have four children: two MHA alumni and two MHA students. The family attends North Cincinnati Community Church.

 

Mrs. Ruth Hopson
Grammar & Rhetoric Schools

Mrs. Ruth Hopson teaches fourth grade math in the Grammar School, and biology, earth science, algebra, and integrated math in the Rhetoric School. She holds a B.A. in Biology from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, and received training in classical teaching at Logos School in Moscow, Idaho. Mrs. Hopson and her husband Brian have three adult children (two MHA alumni), and attend Good Shepherd Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

 

Dr. Christopher Jero
Rhetoric School

Dr. Christopher Jero teaches Old Testament Survey, biblical interpretation, Latin, Hebrew, and Greek in the Rhetoric School. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree (violin) from the University of Northern Iowa, an M.A. in Old Testament from Columbia International University, and a Ph.D. in Hebrew and Cognate Studies from Hebrew Union College. Dr. Jero and his wife Rebecca have four children, including one MHA graduate and one MHA student. The family attends Bible Chapel of Delhi Hills.

 

Mrs. Amy Kirk
Kindergarten

Mrs. Amy Kirk teaches Kindergarten. She holds a B.S. in Elementary and Early Childhood Education with a concentration in English Literature from Miami University. Mrs. Kirk taught first grade for five years in private and public school settings, and then homeschooled her children for 10 years. She and her husband Stephen have seven children: two MHA graduates and five current MHA students. The Kirk family attends Hope Church.

 

Mrs. Tracey Lang
First Grade

Mrs. Tracey Lang teaches first grade in the Grammar School. She earned her B.A. in geography from the University of Cincinnati and M.A. in Teaching from Northern Kentucky University. Mrs. Lang taught for eight years in private and public schools before staying home with her two sons, both of whom attend MHA.  She, her husband Chuck, and their children attend Tri-County Baptist Church in West Chester.

 

Mr. David Liebing
Grammar School

Mr. David Liebing teaches sixth grade math and first through sixth grade P.E.  He also handles MHA facilities.  Mr. Liebing holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Cincinnati and has experience in purchasing and materials management; teaching experience in church, co-op, and homeschool settings; and biblical counseling. He and his wife Ellen (former second grade teacher) have five children, all MHA graduates. The family attends the Bible Chapel of Delhi Hills.

 

Dr. Laura Lucas
Grammar & Rhetoric Schools

Dr. Laura Lucas teaches third through sixth grade science in the Grammar School as well as eleventh grade chemistry.  She received a B.A. in Chemistry from William Jewell College (Liberty, MO) and went on to earn a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Kansas.  Dr. Lucas spent 12 years in Research and Development for the consumer products and flavor industries.  She and her husband Robie have two MHA students. The family attends Hope Church in Mason.

 

Mr. Bob Maruna
Grammar & Rhetoric Schools

Mr. Bob Maruna teaches fifth grade math as well as pre-calculus, physics, and economics in the Rhetoric School. He holds a B.S. degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and an M.S. in Psychology from Troy University in Alabama. Mr. Maruna and his wife, Tomi, have three adult children and attend North Cincinnati Community Church.

 

Mrs. Melanie Ruppersburg
Grammar School

Mrs. Melanie Ruppersburg teaches first and second grade geography and history. She earned a B.A. in Elementary Education, with Minors in Bible and Math, from Cedarville University. She and her husband Ron have two children, both of whom attend MHA. Their family attends Faith Bible Church.

 

Mrs. Claudia Smith
Pre-Kindergarten

Mrs. Claudia Smith is the lead teacher for the Little Highlanders Pre-Kindergarten. She holds a Master's degree in education leadership from Regis University. Mrs. Smith has experience teaching in both classical Christian and early childhood education, as well as developing a classical school's K-2 program. She and her husband Don have two adult children. The Smiths attend Calvary Church Cincinnati.

 

Mr. Andrew Stapleton
Rhetoric School

Mr. Andrew Stapleton teaches antiquity, apologetics, Greek, and worldview in the Rhetoric School. He holds a B.A. in History and Christian Thought from Grove City College, and an M. Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Mr. Stapleton and his wife Leah have three young children, two of whom attend MHA. The family attends North Cincinnati Community Church.

 

Mrs. Abby Taylor
First Grade

Mrs. Abby Taylor teaches first grade in the Grammar School. She earned a B.S. in Elementary Education from The Ohio State University and a Master's Degree in Education from the University of Dayton. Mrs. Taylor has previous experience teaching first grade, and also served as Women's Ministry Director at Hope Evangelical Free Church in Mason. She and her husband Steve have three children: two MHA graduates and one current MHA student. The family attends Hope Church.

 

Miss Betsy Thistleton
Grammar & Rhetoric Schools

Miss Betsy Thistleton teaches Rhetoric School math, including Algebra II, geometry, and calculus, as well as sixth grade Latin in the Grammar School.  She earned a B.S. with a double major in Mathematics and Religion from Hillsdale College, where she was a member of Kappa Mu Epsilon, a national math honorary, and a calculus tutor for the math department. Miss Thistleton graduated from Mars Hill Academy in 2012, and currently has four brothers attending the school.  She attends New City Presbyterian Church.

 

Mrs. Natalie Walls
Second Grade

Mrs. Natalie Walls teaches second grade in the Grammar School. She earned a B.A. in Elementary Education from Michigan State University and a Master's Degree in Middle Childhood Education from the University of Cincinnati. Mrs. Walls taught mathematics at Mason Middle School, and homeschooled her children before joining MHA. She and her husband Chris have three children at MHA. Their family attends Hope Church.

 

Mrs. Michelle Ware
Grammar School

Mrs. Michelle Ware is a third grade math and afternoon Kindergarten teacher.  She holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Wheaton College.  Mrs. Ware has three children, two of whom attend MHA.  The Ware family attends Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church.

 

Miss Hannah Weaver
Pre-K/Kindergarten

Miss Hannah Weaver serves in the Little Highlanders Pre-Kindergarten classroom and afternoon Kindergarten. She currently is studying Liberal Arts with a concentration in Humanities at Thomas Edison State University. She was homeschooled K-12 using the classical method and has tutored at both the grammar and rhetoric school levels. Miss Weaver attends Providence Bible Fellowship.

 

 

Mrs. Lynn Wong
Grammar School

Mrs. Lynn Wong teaches Pre-K through third grade art. She earned a B.A. in Fine Arts and an M.A. in Art Education from Miami University. Mrs. Wong has taught in both public and private schools. After serving as Art Director for Senior Citizens, Inc., Mrs. Wong developed Made in His Image, a home-based business teaching art to homeschooled children. She and her husband Arthur have two children, one an MHA graduate. Their family attends Center Pointe Christian Church.

 

Employment at Mars Hill Academy is open to qualified individuals who are Christians of good character, without regard or reference to race, gender, national or ethnic origin, color, age, or disability.  Mars Hill Academy is a religious educational ministry, permitted to discriminate on the basis of religion. All prospective and current employees must agree with MHA’s Foundational Documents, Corporate Bylaws, and all of the guidelines and expectations in our Employee Handbook, and be willing to conduct their lives in conformity with the school's Statement of Faith and the school's declaration and agreement to ethical and moral integrity.

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