FACULTY

Grace Dickow
Principal & Founder

Grace Dickow's passion is to introduce students to a deep, close relationship with Jesus Christ. As an educator and founder of Valeo Academy, Grace empowers teachers and students to experience their God-given potential. Receiving her teaching degree from the University of Illinois, her down-to-earth communication style quickly removes barriers, making it easy for people of all ages to receive God's unconditional love and limitless power for their lives.

Dunia Baca
Vice Principle of Operations

Dunia Baca has been a self-employed tax consultant for the past 21 years and has served at Valeo as a staff member for over 10 years, 5 years of which she has been Vice Principal. As well as employing her formidable administrative talents to the glory of God at Valeo, she's taught Spanish, health, economics, consumer education, mathematics, and in the fine arts. All four of her children have graduated from Valeo! She and her husband, Galo, are also on the Pastoral Support Team at Life Changers Church.

Beth MACKINNEY
Pre-K Teacher, Lower School Faculty

Beth MacKinney has a degree from Evangel University and this will be her 3rd year teaching mathematics at Valeo. She loves Valeo because of its commitment to awakening academic and spiritual greatness in students. Beth is married and has four children, with her youngest being a Valeo graduate.

Kathi Goliszewski
Kindergarten Teacher

Kathi Goliszewski is excited to be starting her second year as our Valeo Kindergarten teacher. She has a passion to share God’s love and the Word with young children. She has been married for 25 years to her husband Jeff and has two children, who will be attending Valeo Academy again this year.  She has been attending Life Changers for 27 years and has served in Kids Town with preschoolers and in the nursery for 26 years!

Zaminee Bates
First Grade, Lower School Faculty

Zaminee Bates has been a part of our staff and team for three years and is looking forward to her second year as Valeo Academy’s First Grade teacher. She loves Valeo’s unique learning culture because it allows learning and teaching to feature student’s individuality. Zaminee received her Bachelor’s from Rust College and has served and worked with children for more than 16 years. She has been married for 17 years and is the mother of four beautiful children who also are attending Valeo Academy.

Mao Her
Second Grade, Lower School Faculty

Mao Her has been teaching at Valeo Academy for 13 years. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. She is a firm believer and practitioner of the Principle Approach and has all four of her children attending Valeo Academy this fall.

Karen Cleghorn
Third and Fourth Grade, Lower School Faculty

Karen Cleghorn is in her 7th year teaching at Valeo Academy. One of the many things she loves about Valeo is how students are not only challenged in their character development and academics, but also inculcated in God’s abundant love for them. She has her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois. She has been married to her wonderful husband, Neal, for 29 years, and they are blessed with five incredible children (one is currently enrolled at Valeo and three are alums)!

Patsy Shackelford
OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR, ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF

Patsy Shackelford has taught at Valeo Academy for 10 years. She believes Valeo Academy is a school where students receive a high-quality education by a team that is united with the same mission to provide a standard of excellence in an atmosphere of unconditional love. She sought her Master's Degree in education in order to be a master teacher and impact her students effectively with the principles, knowledge, and skills that will prepare them for their future station in life.

Suzanne Knoerr
K–12 Art Director, Junior Preparatory Literature & History

Receiving her BFA in Painting and her MA in Art Education at the University of Illinois, Suzanne Knoerr has been teaching art and drama for the past 25 years. It has been a privilege for 16 of those years to be at Valeo Academy as its fine arts and drama director. One of our school's signature events is our annual Shakespeare Festival, which is a celebration for everyone to come enjoy. It not only showcases our students’ hard work and dedication, but also is our way of reclaiming theatre and the arts for the glory of God. She is blessed to share her Valeo experience with both of her children, one who is entering 6th grade and one who just recently graduated Valeo, as well as and husband, a teacher in the High School.

Paty Rodriguez
Junior and Senior Preparatory Spanish

Paty Rodriguez has been the third and fourth grade teacher's assistant for 4 years, and this will be her 4th year teaching Spanish to the Senior Prep students. She has been involved with Valeo since its founding in 2004. Paty loves Valeo’s commitment to academic excellence and excellence in character. Paty is married to her high school sweetheart and has three children. Her oldest graduated in 2017, and was one of two students who graduated having started in Valeo’s very first kindergarten class.

Steven Knoerr
Senior Preparatory English and Literature

This is Steven Knoerr's 8th year teaching English Literature and History at Valeo, where he shares his enthusiasm for beautiful writing, insightful thinking, and great storytelling. His background includes studying Social Epidemiology at the University of Illinois in Champaign–Urbana, working in the publishing business as an editor and proofreader for many years, and owning a small closed-captioning business that served TV producers and advertisers. Steven and his wife, Suzanne, have two children one who currently attends Valeo and one who has graduated. He is exceedingly proud of the accomplishments of his graduates.

Talinda Iverson
School Administrator, Administrative Staff

Talinda Iverson has been working at Valeo Academy in the administration office for 10 years. She loves to spend time with her family, exercise, and cook. She has been a part of Life Changers for twenty years and has served on many volunteer teams! Her favorite thing about working at Valeo Academy is being a part of shaping future generations, including her own two children.

Chandler Avila
5-12th Grade Physical Education, Athletic Director

Chandler Avila is Valeo's 5th-12th grade physical education teacher and athletic director. This is his 3rd year with Valeo Academy. He has a Bachelor's degree in Sports Management from North Park University. His favorite things about Valeo Academy are the students and the Principle Approach to learning. He loves to coach track and field and to mentor young athletes.

Joanne Movsessian
K–12 Music, K–4 Physical Education

Joanne Movsessian teaches both music and physical education at Valeo Academy. Holding a BA in Mass Communication, Theater, and Voice, and a BS in Commerce! She loves that the moment students walk into Valeo they are awakened to what the Bible says about their worth to God. She loves her two beautiful children, who are funny, witty, love God, and are currently both enrolled at Valeo Academy. Her hobbies include tennis, the ukulele, and traveling.

Norma Hernandez
Junior & Senior Prep Spanish Teacher

Norma Hernandez started as a parent volunteer at Valeo Academy before joining the staff as the Administrative Assistant. She served in this role for 6 years before becoming the Senior Prep Coordinator & Office Administrator 4 years ago. She loves Valeo's commitment to building up the students in character and excellence and also the rigorous curriculum. She has three children with her eldest having graduated in 2017, who was also one of two students that graduated having started in Valeo's very first kindergarten class.