Our Teachers

Cathy Berna, M.A., Learning Specialist 

Cathy is our on-staff tutor, providing one-to-one help for a student needing academic reinforcement.  She has taught for 47 years at both public and private schools.  In the past she has coordinated the gifted and talented program as well as worked with accelerated math students.

Cheryl Blau, Ph.D., Middle School Teacher

Cheryl has two master's degrees in Humanistic and Clinical Psychology as well as Education and Instructional Technologies.  She has her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Restructuring Education. Cheryl has 20 years of experience as a presenter of cognitive neuroscience and 22 years of classroom teaching experience, K - 8. She has 20 years' experience as an undergraduate and graduate adjunct faculty member.  She developed the gifted program at Grosse Pointe Academy.  She is well-qualified and very passionate about teaching at New Morning School.

Marisa Downs, B.S., Preschool and Elementary Spanish Teacher

Marisa Downs is a graduate of the teaching program at Eastern Michigan University.  She has a Bachelor of Science degree, and minored in math, science, and social studies.  She has experience teaching through eighth grade, but has a natural affinity for preschoolers.  Her patient and loving personality, combined with her enthusiasm, make your child’s first school experience wonderful and exciting for the whole family.  She respects the thoughts, feelings, and ideas of children, and is able to nurture and support them on their learning adventures both academically and socially.  Marisa is a mother of two New Morning School students and her husband, Chad, is also a teacher.    

Rita Heaven, B.A., Art Teacher

Rita and her husband, Joe, were among the founders of New Morning School. She enrolled two of her children the first year the school was open in 1973. Her third son later enrolled. For thirty-seven years Rita was the head elementary teacher at New Morning School, developing most of the philosophy followed and curriculum used at the school. She has a bachelor's degree from Eastern Michigan University in elementary and art education. She is now our art teacher, instructing students in kindergarten to eighth grade. Her approach to art is open-ended projects where students create beautiful one-of-a-kind artwork each week.

Christine Jansen, M.A., Elementary Teacher

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Christine previously taught New Morning School's Me and My Shadow class. She earned her master's degree in Learning Disabilities at Madonna University. She taught at the Reading and Language Arts Center - a remedial reading tutoring service. She is trained in Orton-Gillingham, an approach that assists struggling readers.

Russell Lightfoot, B.A., Kindergarten Teacher

Russell is from the UK. His wife was transferred here with Ford. He has nine years of teaching at the equivalent of our kindergarten/first grade. He has a lot of experience with project-oriented learning and making learning authentic. He has a wonderful style and parents know that their children are in confident hands.

Fred Moss, Ph.D., Music Instructor

Dr. Frederick Moss is a member of the music faculty at Schoolcraft College where he teaches a variety of courses including music for Elementary School Teachers, Music Appreciation, Popular Music in America, and Instrumental Music Performance.  As part of his work with intending elementary teachers, Dr. Moss and his students provide music instruction to students in the elementary grades at New Morning School.  Dr. Fred, as many New Morning students call him, holds a bachelor of music in music education from Furman University; a masters of music in music education from Georgia State University; and a Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Also an accomplished clarinetist and pianist, Dr. Moss has performed on numerous solo and chamber music recitals.  He has taught in a variety of settings including public and private schools; public recreation departments; and rehabilitation centers.  Dr. Moss lives in Ann Arbor with his wife, Sandra, and their two cats - Ella and Loui.

Karin Oweis, M.A., Spanish Teacher

Karin Oweis graduated with a B.A. in Spanish from Calvin College.  She has also completed her Master's degree in teaching English as a second language at Eastern Michigan University.  She has taught Spanish for 12 years to first through ninth grade students in the Garden City Public Schools.  She enjoys the ongoing creative process of teaching, as well as getting to know each child individually.  She loves learning and helping others to learn, but her favorite pastime in the world is spending time with her family.

Michael Slaughter, B.A., B.S., J.D. Science Teacher

Michael Slaughter has a Bachelor degree with honors in political science from Michigan State University. He has his J.D. law degree from The University of Michigan, and a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University. 
After a career as an attorney, focusing on legal aid, he turned to his second love which is science. He has taught science for 23 years at the middle and high school levels, especially enjoying summer camps in environmental education with younger children. He has designed science activities, has acquired many grants, and is a published author of three scientific articles. 
Michael is a master teacher in teaching hands-on, inquiry-based science instruction. 

Jill Stanley, B.A., Preschool and Me and My Shadow Teacher

Jill is a certified elementary teacher with an endorsement in early childhood. She taught kindergarten in Detroit for three years, taught preschool and science in Farmington for two years and most recently she ran Plymouth-Canton's latchkey program, including kindergarten enrichment. She is well-qualified and very warm and embracing. 

Cynthia Weber, B.A.,  Elementary Teacher

Cynthia graduated from Michigan State University with a B.A. in Elementary Education with a major in Math/Science and a double minor of Language Arts and Social Studies.  Cynthia has also been trained in Orton-Gillingham, a structured reading method.  She has had the privilege to work at New Morning School first as an aide, while her son attended the school, and then as a teacher.  She is enrolled at Madonna University and is working on a Masters in Learning Disabilities in an effort to find ways to make learning accessible and fun for all levels of ability.  She also provides parent educational tips to assist their children at home on her website Parent Child Education. 

Linda Witzburg, M.A., Middle School Teacher

Linda Witzburg holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Tufts University in Medford, Mass.  She completed her Masters of Arts degree in American Literature at Eastern Michigan University as well as earning a Masters of Arts in Education there.  In addition, she has completed continuing education courses in mathematics education at Madonna University.  She was awarded a National Science Foundation fellowship to study research based astronomy at University of Arizona and various observatories in Arizona and New Mexico.  She completed the coursework for Project Atmosphere and also served as a mentor teacher for the program.  She has travelled to San Diego and Chicago to attend national conferences on brain-based teaching strategies and mathematics education. She has served on the board of directors of the Michigan Earth Science Teachers Association.



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