My name is Christina Ratkiewicz. I earned a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Elms College and a Masters Degree in Early Childhood with Special Education from American International College. I have over 20 years of experience teaching young children. In 2015, I earned The Grinspoon Teacher of Excellence Award.
I am a parishioner of St. Catherine of Siena Church. My family and I live in Wilbraham. I am so happy to be part of the St. John the Baptist School family!
My name is Jennifer Hewes, and I have been the Kindergarten Teacher at St. John the Baptist School for the past thirteen years. I graduated from UMASS-Amherst in the year 2000 with honors. I have a double major in Elementary Education and Sociology. After completing college, I became an Applied Behavior Analysis Tutor for an autistic child for a year while also working at StonyBrook Children's Center in South Hadley as a preschool teacher. In the year 2001 I changed shifts a bit and accepted a job as a teacher at Academy Hill School for Gifted Children in Springfield, MA. I worked at Academy Hill School for four years and learned a great deal while working there. I enjoyed being able to differentiate the curriculum for children who were on various levels.
I accepted a job at St. John the Baptist School in the year 2005 as a Kindergarten Teacher. I was thrilled to be able to work in a nurturing environment, and I was even more thrilled to be able to have my twin daughters attend the as well. I love my job, and I enjoy teaching Kindergarten for so many reasons. I love the stories that the children tell, I love to laugh with them, and I love teaching the students and seeing their excitement each day when they learn something new! Teaching reading to Kindergarten students is my favorite part of the day. There is nothing more precious than seeing the children embrace the gift of literacy.
My name is Kelly O'Connell, and I am a recent graduate from the College of the Elms with a major in Education Studies and Liberal Arts.
My name is a Trish Pilon. I recently was working for the Springfield Public Schools in a kindergarten special needs classroom. I have worked with the Springfield Public Schools as well as the Diocese. I received my teaching certification from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. I am also working on my master’s in education at Springfield College. This certification will entitles me to work with students who have moderate special needs. Prior to this, I attended Bay Path University where I received my bachelor’s with a concentration education. Currently, I reside in the Springfield area with my husband and son. I have worked with the Boy Scouts of America. I also was a merit badge counselor, catechist, and served on the Catholic Scouting Committee for many years where I helped create many retreats at Camp Holy Cross, in Goshen. For several years, I have volunteered my time with the CCD program at Holy Cross Parish in Springfield. I have also worked with the Knights of Columbus as well in a variety of capacities.
Hello! My name is Laura Meneke. I am excited and looking forward to being your child's 3rd grade teacher! I am originally from Texas, but moved to Massachusetts a few years ago. I am certified in both Texas and Massachusetts in Elementary Education grades 1-6 as well as Mild to Moderate special needs, grades K-8. I also hold a Sheltered English Immersion endorsement. I have over twelve years of teaching experience, half of which was as an elementary classroom teacher and the other half as a special education teacher.
I’ve been married to my husband for 26 years. We have three grown children, two boys and a girl. We also have several pets. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, listening to music, working in my flower beds and relaxing by the ocean.
My name is Heather Gaj, and I graduated from Westfield State University with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a Bachelor of Arts in History. I am certified with the state of Massachusetts to teach grades 1-6. I have been teaching in the Springfield Diocese at St. John the Baptist for sixteen years. I belong to Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Granby. I am married to my husband Peter, and I have two daughters; Madyson and Kyrsten.
My name is Stacy Szwarckop, and I earned a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Human Resources from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. My experience includes working for the Department of the Navy, Judge Advocate General, as a Human Resources Manager and management analyst, which included supervision of its training program. Enjoyment of adult learning and education inspired me to redirect my attention to the foundation of learning. I returned to college to earn a Master's Degree in Education. Prior to joining Saint John the Baptist School in 2008, I worked at Saint Stanislaus in Chicopee, teaching 5th and 6th grade.
I’m Sister Jeanne Branchaud, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield. I have taught in various Catholic and public schools in Vermont and Massachusetts over the last 30 years. I have two BS degrees, one in Human Services and the other in Education. I also hold two Masters Degrees, one in Theology and the other in Special Education. I also just earned a Certificate in Woman's Leadership and Spirituality from Hartford Seminary. I have served as a campus minister and a chaplain for the Springfield Police Department. I also teach kayaking and rowing on the Connecticut River in my “spare” time.
My name is Wendy Willis, and I have a Bachelors of Science Degree in Chemistry from Western New England University. I have worked at Metals Analyst at Fountain Plating Co., Colt Firearms Corp., The Hartford Insurance Company and Con-Test Environmental Laboratory.
I worked as a substitute teacher while earning my teaching certificate. I came to St John the Baptist in 2006.
I have nine graduate credits in education.
My name is Maureen Jagodowski, and I was born and raised in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Graduating from Holyoke Catholic in 1967, I studied and earned my undergraduate degree and Master in the Art of Teaching degree from The College of Our Lady of the Elms. I taught for nineteen years at Blessed Sacrament School in Holyoke and have been a member of the St. John the Baptist faculty since 2005. Currently, I am president of a non-profit organization, For the Health of It in Western, MA, that is dedicated to suicide prevention for local middle and high school students presented by certified counselors through educational programs.
My name is Donna Nogueira and I am a Ludlow resident. My family and I are parishioners of St. Elizabeth. I am a graduate of SJBS, as are my three children. I received my teaching degree from AIC and a certificate of middle school math from the Elms. I began teaching at SJBS in 1982. Over the years I’ve held various positions. Presently I teach Religion, Algebra and Pre-Algebra to grades 7 & 8.
My name is Michelle Hamel, and I teach computers.
After receiving my A.A. in Visual Art several years back, I decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy. Through that experience, I visited many cultural meccas that carried me further on my art journey: Italy, Portugal, Israel and Turkey to name a few favorites.
Later, after staying home to raise my family, I felt compelled to go back to college to become a teacher. I went on to graduate with honors from the University of MA at Amherst, focusing on the field of Arts Education, and also obtained my MA PreK-8 Visual Art teaching licensure.
I feel so fortunate to be able to teach art to the wonderful students here at St. John the Baptist School. My husband, Craig, and I live in Ludlow with our two funny and creative children, Cecelia and Sam.
My name is Conor and I teach Physical Education as well as working in the extended care program. Previously, I volunteered at the Vacation Bible School camp (VBS) as the Games Counselor for seven years and enjoyed it immensely. I served as an Alter Server for over 10 years at my parish, Christ the King Church in Ludlow, and found it to be a rewarding experience. I attended college at HCC but temporarily halted classes when I enlisted in the Air National Guard and took a year off of teaching in order to complete my initial training. I currently work at Barnes AFB as a traditional guardsmen in addition to teaching at SJB. I love working with children in a setting where I can use my knowledge of Catholicism and my passion for exercise together to help children grow in the faith and knowledge of health and fitness.