Meet Our Staff

   

 

Administration

Christopher Barr - Principal

Front Office - Room 128 - You can email Herr Barr at Barr_Christopher@asdk12.org

 Herr Barr was born and raised in West Virginia. He has a social studies education degree and a master’s degree in educational leadership. He was a middle school and high school teacher for nine years and an assistant principal for two years in North Carolina.

For the past two years, he has been the principal at the K - 12 school in Akiachak, Alaska. His wife, Amanda, is a high school math teacher.

Herr Barr says, "As an educator and administrator, I love building positive relationships with students, staff, parents and the community. My wife and I look forward to this opportunity. I enjoy radio broadcasting and listening to talk radio, spending time outdoors, playing soccer and cheering Bayern Munich to victory. I look forward to being a part of the Rilke Schule family."

 

Classroom Teachers

Michael Helgensen (Kindergarten English)

Room 101 - You can email Herr Helgesen at Helgesen_Michael@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
Herr Helgesen grew up on a farm in rural Iowa. As the oldest of 5 kids, he was considered the family story teller and clown. In 1986, Herr Helgesen moved to Los Angeles where he taught in South-Central Los Angeles for 4 years. (Most of the time in Spanish). From 1990-1992, he taught in Seattle and studied at UW (French, German, Russian and Norwegian). Having lived in Anchorage for almost a quarter-century, he is the longest featured male kindergarten teacher in ASD. Herr Helgesen is married to Yuliya, a local artist and art teacher and his boys, Ross (15) and Alek (10) attend Dimond HS and Rilke Schule respectively.

What do you do at Rilke?
Herr Helgesen teaches Kindergarten at Rilke Schule as well as running Smart Start in the morning and K-1 Homework Club after school. He also likes to tell bad jokes and sing.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
Rilke Schule demands everything from it’s teachers and I enjoy giving my best each and every day. Children are my life’s work and Rilke has offered me the opportunity to help build a school. I love being able to work before and after school as well. The best thing about being at Rilke was and is being at Rilke with my sons. Ross passed the B-1 and is now an engineering student at Dimond. Alek is in the 6th grade and is flourishing. As a parent, I appreciate what the teachers at Rilke have done for my sons over the past decade.

 

Nicole Crawford (Kindergarten German)

Room 102 - You can email Frau Crawford at Crawford_Nicole@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Austria.

What do you do at Rilke?
I teach Kindergarten on the German side.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I like best to see my young students enthusiasm to learn in German.

 

Hailey Morgan (Kindergarten and First Grade English)

Room 104 - You can email Frau Morgan at Morgan_Hailey@asdk12.org 

Where are you from?
I am originally from Bellingham, WA. I attended Western Washington University and earned a degree in Environmental Science. I decided to go to APU and just completed their certificate degree program.

What do you do at Rilke?
I teach English Language Arts and math to kindergarteners and first graders.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
Being at Rilke Schule fulfills my dream of sharing my love for arts and sciences.

 

Hannah Bertrand (Kindergarten and First Grade German)

Room 103 - You can email Frau Bertrand at Bertrand_Hannah@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
Although I was born in the south, I was raised in Anchorage and graduated from ASD.

What do you do at Rilke?
I teach Kindergarten German. I have also taught first grade German.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I have been involved with Rilke since day 1, when I was a senior in High School & volunteered in a K/1 German class. I loved the experience and knew that I absolutely wanted to teach that myself. I really believe in the importance of Immersion and the value of learning another language as a child. I love watching the children learn in German so quickly. I am fascinated by the process of learning a second language.

 

Bryan Bearss (Teacher in Charge, First Grade English - morning class)

Room 105 - You can email Herr Bearss at Bearss_Bryan@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
I grew up in Grayling, MI., however I have been in AK since 2003.

What do you do at Rilke?
I teach 1st grade English.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I really enjoy the strong community of Rilke Schule. Between the students, parents & staff I couldn’t ask for a more involved & supportive learning community.

 

Heather Tarrant (First Grade German)

Room 206 - You can email Frau Tarrant at Tarrant_Heather@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
Holt, Michigan

What do you do at Rilke?
Teach 1st grade German

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
What I like best about being at Rilke is the community feeling.

 

Kelsea Argenbright (First Grade English)

Room 208 - You can email Frau Argenbright at Argenbright_Kelsea@asdk12.org

 

Jeanne McDonald (First and Second Grade English)

Room 108 - You can email Frau McDonald at McDonald_Jeanne@asdk12.org 

Where are you from?
I am originally from Utah but have lived in Alaska for more than 30 years.

What do you do at Rilke?
I transferred to Rilke Schule to teach First and Second Grade English after spending many years at Abbot Loop Elementary.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I am enjoying the friendly staff and the camaraderie between them. I also am very excited about learning more about European culture.

 
 

Julie Slightam (First and Second Grade German)

Room 107 - You can email Frau Slightam at Slightam_Julie@asdk12.org

 

Lynette Brickwell (Second Grade English)

Room 109 - You can email Frau Brickwell at Brickwell_Lynette@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
I am originally from California, but have lived in Alaska since I was a small child.

What do you do at Rilke?
I teach 2nd grade language arts and math in English. I’ve also taught 1st and 3rd grade here at Rilke.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I was attracted to Rilke being a Charter School. I found it similar to the private school I taught at for many years. Rilke strives for academic excellence. I was also very attracted to the dress code and healthy lunch program. Most importantly, I believe learning a second language such as German is very important for students today to be competitive in today’s world.

 

Stefanie Stacey (Second Grade German)

Room 210 - You can email Frau Stacey at Stacey_Stefanie@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
Small village approximately 30 miles from Nurnberg, Germany in Bayern.

What do you do at Rilke?
I teach 2nd grade German Immersion.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
Love the ability to teach in my mother-tongue. Great educational opportunities for students.

 

Peter Birmanns (Third Grade German)

Room 209 - You can email Herr Birmanns at Birmanns_Peter@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
Aachen, Germany.

What do you do at Rilke?
Teacher of the 3rd grade.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
Students freely speak German.

 

Alison Knifper (Third Grade English)

You can email Frau Knifper at Annis_Alison@asdk12.org

 
 

Amanda Berger (Third and Fourth Grade English)

Room 206 - You can email Frau Berger at Berger_Amanda@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
Frau Berger grew up in Alaska. She was born in Nome, Alaska. She has lived throughout Alaska in Tok, Wasilla and in Fairbanks. She began teaching fifteen years ago in the Anchorage School District. She taught 8th grade, In School Suspension, Preschool and Kindergarten. Her desire to work with children also extended into coaching swimming and basketball.
She also enjoys many other hobbies that include digital machine embroidery, graphic designing, swimming, basketball, soccer and crafts. Eleven years ago, she married Herr Berger and she has an amazing son who will be entering Kindergarten this year.

What do you do at Rilke?
Frau Berger will be joining Rilke as a 3rd and 4th grade teacher. She is excited to meet the Rilke families.

What do you like best at Rilke Schule?
I like how the school encourages creativity and how it has amazing caring teachers, families and staff members.

 

Lisa Cooper (Third and Fourth Grade German)

Room 207 - You can email Frau Cooper at Cooper_Elizabeth@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
Great Falls, MT.

What do you do at Rilke?
I teach 3rd and 4th grade German.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I love teaching at Rilke because I am continually challenged to improve my German language skills. I also get to work with a group of dedicated colleagues and a wonderful group of students.

 

Shelley Biegel (Fourth Grade English)

Room 205 - You can email Frau Biegel at Biegel_Shelley@asdk12.org


 

Claudia Bittlingmaier (Fourth Grade German)

Room 204 - You can email Frau Bittlingmaier at Bittlingmaier_Claudia@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
I am from Schwäbisch Gmünd in southern Germany. I grew up there and came to Alaska in 1984.

What do you do at Rilke?
I teach 4th grade German.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I most enjoy being able to teach in German, my students, and the camaraderie amongst the teachers.

 

Birthe Kusche (Fifth Grade German)

Room 203 - You can email Frau Kusche at  Kusche_Birthe@asdk12.org 

Where are you from?
Southofen, Germany (Bavaria) A little town in southern Germany. 

What do you do at Rilke?
I am the German 5th grade teacher. 

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
As a former intern at Rilke and now as a teacher I have always felt welcomed and as part of a big family. I love to teach my mother language to kids and share the German culture. I love that Rilke hosts many German events, for example Oktoberfest, St. Martin Lantern Parade and St. Nikolaustag. I also love the close collaboration of the teachers.

 
 

BreeAnna Drumm (Fifth Grade English)

Room 202 - You can email Frau Drumm at Drumm_BreeAnna@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
I’m a product of the Anchorage School District. I attended Oregon State on a soccer scholarship. I taught 7th and 8th grade math at Romig Middle School for 11 years before coming to Rilke Schule.

What do you do at Rilke?
I teach 5th grade math and English language arts.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I enjoy working with the staff and being a part of a tight-knit community. I like connecting to the German community as well. I have two sons attending Rilke Schule and feel I made the right choice.

 

Middle School Staff (Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Grade)

The Middle School has a wiki available at http://rilkemiddleschool.wikispaces.com/

 

Tom Honer (Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Grade German Science and Academic Success)

Room 201 - You can email Herr Honer at Honer_Tom@asdk12.org

 
 

Branden Strauch (Sixth Grade English Language Arts and Math)

Room 217 - You can email Herr Strauch at Strauch_Branden@asdk12.org

 

Tobi Radke (Seventh and Eighth Grade Social Studies, P.E., and German)

Room 219 - You can email Herr Radke at Radke_Tobias@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
The Old World

What do you do at Rilke?
Teach middle school students and practice related survival skills

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
Watching soccer games of my favorite team, FC Bayern, with my students during German class.

 

Susan Oakley (Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Grade English Language Arts, Math, and French)

Room 218 - You can email Frau Oakley at Oakley_Susan@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska.

What do you do at Rilke?
I teach 6th, 7th and 8th grade math (6th grade math, pre-algebra, algebra) and 7th/8th grade language arts. I also sponsor Math Counts and Battle of the Books for middle school.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I enjoy being part of a community that is dedicated to German immersion education.

 

Sasha Johnson (Sixth Grade German Language Arts, Social Studies, and Academic Success)

Room 220 - You can email Frau Johnson at Johnson_Sasha@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
I am originally from Michigan, grew up in South Texas and attended university in Oklahoma.

What do you do at Rilke?
I teach 6th grade German language and middle school German Immersion science classes. I coordinate the science fair and help sponsor chess club, drama club and exploratory Arabic club.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I enjoy encouraging young people to become multilingual and helping to strengthen our community through educational opportunities. I value Rilke Schule’s international perspective and K-8 immersion program.

 

Specialists

 
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Amber Maddy (Kindergarten through Fifth Grade PE)

Room - 118 You can email Frau Maddy at Maddy_Amber@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
I was born in Michgan and I have live in Alaska for over 30 years. 

What do you do at Rilke?
I teach Physical Education to Kindergarten - 5th grade students.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
The Rilke students! 

 

Kevin Downie (Second through Eighth Grade Music, Choir, and Orff Ensemble)

Room 130 - You can email Herr Downie at Downie_Kevin@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
Anchorage, AK.

What do you do at Rilke?
Classroom music/choir teacher for 2nd-8th grades.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I enjoy teaching at Rilke because of the community connection between teachers, parents and students. I love the fact that music is taught in all classes, not just in the music room.

 
 

Ricky Lind (Kindergarten and First Grade Music)

Room 129A - You can email Herr Lind at Lind_Ricky@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
Dillingham, AK.

What do you do at Rilke?
K-1 Music

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I choose to be at Rilke Schule to help young music learners build a foundation of music knowledge through the use of folk songs, musical games and musical instruments. What I like best about Rilke Schule is the collaboration between parents and staff.

 

Mary Rannals (Second through Eighth Grade Art)

Room 131 - You can email Frau Collins at Collins_Mary@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
Though born in Monterey, CA., moved to Alaska at the age of 1.

What do you do at Rilke?
Teach art grades 2nd-8th.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
Seeing kids grow in their art ability through the years.

 
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Jill Doniere (Kindergarten and First Grade Art)

Room 132 - You can email Frau Doniere at Doniere_Jill@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
Grew up in Toledo, OH., but was born in Northern Kentucky.

What do you do at Rilke?
I teach art to K & 1.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I love working with the children and watching them develop as artists.

 
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Theresa Reich (Second through Sixth Grade IGNITE)

Room 132 - You can email Frau Reich at Reich_Theresa@asdk12.org

 

Resource

 

Jana Sudkamp (SpEd Teacher)

Room 222 - You can email Frau Sudkamp at Sudkamp_Jana@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
I have lived in Alaska since 1964. Actually came up the ALCAN at age 1, a few months after the earthquake.

What do you do at Rilke?
Special Education teacher.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I love the team camaraderie, how teachers work together, are flexible and like to try new things.

 

Related Services

 

Fadwa Edais (English Language Learner Services)

Room 223 - You can email Frau Edais at Edais_Fadwa@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
I’m from Amman, Jordan.

What do you do at Rilke?
I’m an English Language Learner tutor.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I like the multicultural and diverse students and staff.

 

Teacher Assistants

 

Amber Brewer

Room 221 - You can email Frau Brewer at Brewer_Amber@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Anchorage. Moved to Oklahoma for 9 years and just moved back home to Anchorage this year.

What do you do at Rilke?
I tutor students and assist teachers and staff with whatever they need.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
The kids are amazing. I love seeing them learn and grow in a multilingual environment.

 
 

 M.J. Younkins

Room 221 - You can email Frau Younkins at Younkins_Mary@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
I was born in WI. I was raised in Alaska from 2 years old to 13 in Eagle River. Moved back to WI in 7th grade and finished high school there.

What do you do at Rilke?
I am a TA, but I do everything.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I like a challenge. I like all the staff and teachers.

 
 

 Hilda Martin

You can email Frau Martin at Martin_Hilda@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Ohio, the eldest of five younger brothers. I attended college in Ohio. All family members have always been active in community service from one interest to another. I lived in Texas for 10 years where I worked and took more college courses of interest.

What do you do at Rilke?
I assist teachers with students that will need tudoring and whatever else is needed.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I appreciate the welcoming feeling I have received and patience for me to contribute to the team. The eagerness of other staff members that come along side of me and seek to work on what is necessary to reach the goals of the students.

 
 

 Samantha Lugo

You can email Frau Lugo at Lugo_Samantha@asdk12.org

 
 

 Christy von Kirchmeyer (Special Education TA)

You can email Frau Kirchmeyer at von-Kirchmeyer_Christy@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
Anchorage, AK.

What do you do at Rilke?
Special Education TA

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I like watching the kids learn and grow!

 
 

Lisa Raypold (Special Education TA)

You can email Frau Raypold at Raypold_Lisa@asdk12.org 

Where are you from?
I am originally from the Midwest and my family and I have spent 20 years in Alaska.

What do you do at Rilke?
I serve as a Special Education Teacher’s Assistant.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?

I really like Rilke Schule a lot and have become very fond of working with the students here.

 

 

Support Staff

 

 

Dana Graham (Administrative Assistant)

Front Office - Room 119 - You can email Frau Graham at Graham_Dana@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
Life-long Alaskan. Went to Chinook, Dimond and Service.

What do you do at Rilke?
Administrative Assistant

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I like being here for the students and staff. I also have a child at Rilke so it is a bonus that I am here with him and have seen first hand what an immersion school can do for a child that has only English spoken at home.
 
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Zulinet Perez (Secretary)

Front Office - Room 119 - You can email Frau Perez at perez_zulinet@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
I was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico and was raised in Brooklyn, New York.

What do you do at Rilke?
I work in the front office and handle registration, students schedules, and do my best to meet the needs of students and their families.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
The students and staff are warm and welcoming.  My daughter has been here for 5 years and we really enjoy being part of this community.

 
 

Robae Robinson (Nurse)

Room 122A - You can email Frau Robinson at Robinson_Robae@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
I was born in Gillette, WY and moved to Alaska when I was in first grade. My mother was a teacher and my father served as the principal in several bush communities.

What do you do at Rilke?
I am the school nurse.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
My great grandparents came from Germany and my grandmother lived during an age when she was discouraged from speaking a language other than English, though she had learned German at home. I feel at home in this community, due in part to my background. I believe strongly in the immersion process and my sons both went through the Spanish immersion program here in Anchorage. I myself also had one year of Yu’pik immersion while growing up in villages. Oh, and I naturally love working with kids!

 
 

Jacki Bond (Club Coordinator)

You can email Frau Bond at Bond_Jacquelyn@asdk12.org

Where are you from?
Born in Houston, TX. I lived in Bogotá, Colombia as a child and attended an immersion school. I have lived in Anchorage for 15 years.

What do you do at Rilke?
I am the clubs coordinator. 

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
The commitment and compassion of the staff.

 
 

Jo Sanders (Curriculum Director, Drama Club, and Samstagsschule)

Room 127 - You can email Frau Sanders at FrauSanders@alaskan.com

Where are you from?
I am originally from Iowa and moved to Alaska in 1972. I taught German at West High School and then transferred over to Bartlett, where I taught combinations of German and Russian over a 30 year span.

What do you do at Rilke?
I am the German Curriculum Director and I conduct Drama Club most quarters.

What do you like best about being at Rilke?
I am constantly amazed at how well and how quickly our children learn to understand and speak German. As one of our school’s founders, it is truly rewarding to witness this.