Get to Know the Messmore Staff! (2022-2023)
The Office Staff!
Fiema, Renee (Principal)
The students at Messmore are special and every day I am thankful to be their principal. I have been in education for over 30 years, and this is my 5th year at Messmore. I started my career as a kindergarten teacher and then taught first, second, and fourth grade. After seven years as a classroom teacher, I became a building literacy specialist for 8 years and then became an elementary principal. This is my 16th year as a principal and from my varied experiences and education, I can sincerely say that the Montessori practices work! I am blessed to work with amazing teachers and staff, supportive parents, and a school that practices the Montessori philosophy.
I have two children, my son is 21 years old, and my daughter is 18. Both are attending college together at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. My husband owns a business called Aquarium Shine, so we have a beautiful saltwater reef tank at home that I enjoy. After school, I like to work out at Lifetime Fitness, walk my two dogs, read, and journal.
Szadek, Sarah (Administrative Assistant)
Hello! My name is Sarah Szadek and I am the Administrative Assistant at Messmore Elementary. This is my first year in this position and I absolutely love my job! I also enjoy fishing, counted cross-stitching, diamond art, and watching TV and movies with my girls.
I have two beautiful daughters…..Lois and Andie. Lois is in 8th grade at Heritage Junior High where she is excelling in all her classes and is enjoying school. She is also on the 8th Grade Volleyball Team as well as Track and Field and Band! Andie is in the 6th Grade here at Messmore and she is also doing well and enjoying school!
I am a former Messmore student as well! I also went to Heritage, and then on to Stevenson where I was 8th in my class and one of nine valedictorians. I received a scholarship to Oakland University and obtained my bachelor’s in biology, with a minor in chemistry. I did a year of student teaching and received my teaching certificate. I did a lot of subbing in various districts but, unfortunately, the time was not right for me to get a teaching job, so I switched over to banking instead. I worked at Flagstar Bank for several years before being laid off due to outsourcing. I did the stay-at-home-mom thing for a while, until Lois was in Kindergarten. Then I started volunteering in her classroom and working in the lunchroom and out on recess. When the office positions opened up, I applied, and the rest is history! Being back at Messmore is fantastic and I feel this is my home-away-from-home. I love the parents, students, and staff and I truly believe I have the best job ever!
Hackert, Denise (Office Clerk)
I am married to my wonderful husband, Kevin for 15 years. We have a 13 year old son, Andrew who keeps us busy with boy scouts and his extra-curricular activities like bowling and tennis. I also have a spoiled 8 year old Goldendoodle, Biscuit. I enjoy spending time with my family, camping in our travel trailer, traveling, going to Florida, golfing, and fishing.
Barker, Amy (Preschool and Kindergarten)
Braley, Melanie (Third and Fourth Grade)
Grady, Pam (First and Second Grade)
Hello, my name is Mrs. Grady. I have been teaching at Messmore for 33 years, this year is 34. I also attended Messmore as a student. Yes, the building is that old! I received my bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan and my master’s degree from Oakland University.
I have a wonderful husband, John, and three children, Aaron 27, Joshua 25, and Samantha 22. All three of which attended Messmore. I believe that was the best decision we ever made educationally. Aaron graduated with a Business degree from Central Michigan University. His brother, Joshua graduated with a Sales Degree from (our rival school) Western Michigan University. Leave it to my middle! My daughter, Samantha is still in school and is pursuing a degree in the medical field.
My oldest son, Aaron got married this summer and we were blessed to add Jonna to our family. We have a dog named Archie who loves to snuggle all the time. I love teaching, going on vacations with my family, spending time in my pool reading a good book, drawing, and crafting.
Hannish, Riva (Third and Fourth Grade)
Hello Messmore Family,
My name is Riva Hannish. This is my 15th year in Utica District. I student taught here at Messmore Elementary to the best mentor teacher, Charlene Sonnenberg! I taught first and second grade for one year and then moved to West Utica where I taught first grade for 5 additional years. I came back to Messmore and have been teaching 3rd and 4th grade since then. I am married and have 4 children, 3 boys and a girl. Three of my children attend Messmore and my oldest just left and is at Holy Family. I am thankful for all the wonderful teachers they have had and feel very blessed!
Kiser, Deborah (Preschool and Kindergarten)
Hi Messmore Colleagues,
I am excited to be back home! I taught Preschool/Kindergarten here nine years ago for eight years. Except for being in a different classroom, new technology, and a few new faces, I feel like I never left!
I have two delightful daughters, two super sons-in-law, and two groovy grandsons. My grandsons are my hobbies. Luke, age 14, is always participating in a sport. Micah, age 3, just moved home from Oregon/California. With the colder days, he has declared that he does not like Michigan!
I have a spoiled dog named Bailey; she is a little Terrier Mutt and the best flea market treasure I have ever found. No... she found me!
Masinick, Jenny (Fifth and Sixth Grade)
Hi, my name is Jenny Masinick, I am a fifth and sixth grade teacher here at Messmore. This is my fourth year teaching this grade level. I live with my husband Ben and 14-yr old daughter, Amber. Most of my time is spent enjoying all my daughter's extra-curricular activities like band competitions, football games, swim meets, and dances. I love to read and hang out with my friends and family. My passion is being environmentally conscious and aware.
McKenna, Elizabeth (Third and Fourth Grade)
O'Brien, Amy (First and Second Grade)
Papadelis, Kellie (Fifth and Sixth Grade)
Papandreou, Dimitra (Fifth and Sixth Grade)
Hi! My name is Dimitra Papandreou and I began my teaching journey 17 years ago here at Messmore Elementary. I can truly say that I am lucky enough to have my dream job, and there is nothing else I would rather be doing. I love teaching 5th and 6th grade!
My husband and I share three amazing adult children and three beautiful grandchildren that we adore. My favorite memories involve spending time with family and friends. I also enjoy going on long walks, traveling to new places, reading, and gardening.
Papandreou, Melissa (Fifth and Sixth Grade)
Pecoraro, Lisa (Preschool and Kindergarten)
Schultz, Marie (Preschool and Kindergarten)
Sonnenberg, Charlene (First and Second Grade)
Vedder, Andrea (Third and Fourth Grade)
Hi, I'm Andrea Vedder. I have been teaching the past 24 years at Messmore Elementary. I have been teaching 34 years. I am originally from Ohio, but have called Rochester, Michigan my home for almost 30 years. I am currently an empty nester. Miles has just moved to Colorado to start a career in finance after granduating from Grand Valley State University. Simon is at Michigan State earning his degree in Engineering - Data Analysis. He is graduating next year.
I love being a teacher then and now. The challenges add to the adventure. I enjoy my family - I am the youngest of nine. I am the happy mom of Miles and Simon. If you see me, I am enjoying the outdoors - walking, hiking, skiing, and enjoying the sun on my face.
Witek, Christina (First and Second Grade)
Al-attar, Macey (Instructional Support Module (ISM))
I'm Macey Al-attar, I just graduated from Oakland University and this is my first year teaching. I student taught at Roose Elementary in Centerline and was virtual all year long with 2nd grade due to covid. It is nice to finally get the in person experience. I live with my parents, sister and my Pomeranian. I love traveling and being with my family!
Cahill, Brian (Gym)
I’m Brian Cahill and this is my 9th year of teaching Physical Education and Health and my 4th year in Utica Schools. I graduated from Wayne State University with a Master's in teaching. Teaching has been my passion for very long time as I began teaching swim lessons in my back yard pool.
Currently, I am am teaching here at Messmore and Davis Junior High School. I am really enjoying teaching in the district and cannot imagine teaching anywhere else. I have also coached swimming for the past 17 years and I currently coach the men's and women's swim team at Eisenhower High School.
Merriman, Lisa (Art)
This is my 31st year in Utica Community Schools! After teaching Nursery/Preschool, First Grade, Second Grade, Fourth Grade, special assignment of teaching teachers technology and then sixth grade I moved to the media center position 19 years ago and started right here at Messmore! This year I am at Flickinger Elementary every morning and Messmore every afternoon. My husband and I have three children, Will (age 26), Kate (age 24) and Hannah (age 22) who are all busy in their lives leaving us as empty nesters. We love to travel! When I'm not at school or on a tropical beach I can be found reading a book, painting, gardening or other fun things to keep me busy.
Buckley, Damien (Literacy Coach)
Hello, Messmore Mavericks:)
My name is Damien Buckley. I am the new Literacy Coach at Messmore. I've worked with UCS for 20 years. I've taught a number of grades at a number of schools. I feel blessed to be at Messmore. The students and staff are so welcoming and hard working. Literacy is my passion and the key to being a life-long learner.
I have 3 wonderful children with my beautiful wife. My wife is a 2nd grade teacher. My kids are in 7th grade, 4th grade, and 1st grade. If I'm not watching my kids' sports, I'm usually golfing or tackling some project around the house. I like solving problems with my hands.
I look forward to meeting all of you!
Cocco, Sara (Learning Center)
Hi Messmore Family, my name is Sara Cocco. I have been teaching for 23 years, all at Messmore Elementary. I am the special education teacher, but I also am the advisor for ATOM (Academically Talented of Messmore) and Student Council. I love my job because I get to work with all different age level of students. I feel extremely grateful to work at such a great school. I received my bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Central Michigan University and my master’s degree in Counseling from Oakland University. I have been married to my husband Anthony for 21 years. We live in Washington with our 2 daughters Chloe and Lydia. Chloe is a senior at Eisenhower High School this year. She loves tap dancing, teaching dance class and tutoring. Lydia is a Freshman at Malow Jr. High and she loves dancing. She is on the Eisenhower Junior Varsity Dance team. Our family spends lots of time at dance competitions (even Mr. Cocco who builds and transports all the props). I enjoy reading, shopping, watching TV and spending time with my family and friends.
Kasiska, Laura (English Learners Assistant)
My name is Laura Kasiska, and I teach EL at Messmore Elementary. I’ve been at Messmore for five years. Prior to this, I was subbing at Plumbrook in their POHI classes and was a lunch monitor for a number of years. I’ve been married for 37 years. My husband and I have four children and four grandchildren, with number five due in May. We love to travel, when we have the time, and spending time with our grandchildren. We also love watching our son play baseball and swim for the Stevenson swim team. In my spare time, I love doing photography and scrapbooking.
Nikollaj, Gabriela (English Learner (EL) Consultant)
Tear-Shelton, Jennifer (Speech-Language Pathologist)
Hello Messmore families! My name is Jennifer Tear-Shelton and I am so happy to be returning to your wonderful school for my third year as the speech-language pathologist in your building. I am in my 17th year working for UCS and love my job! It changes a little with every group of kids that I see, and I love making their speech therapy time fun. My husband, Cory, and I have two daughters named Caleigh (13) and Paige (4). We enjoy being outside in our yard swinging, jumping on the trampoline, going for walks or bike rides, and gardening. We have also started updating a vintage camper and love to take our girls to explore the state parks in Michigan, as my husband and I both grew up camping often. I am looking forward to another school year of meeting the families here at Messmore Elementary!
The Teacher Assistants!
Keyorkgy, Safaa (Mrs. Schultz's PM Assistant)
My name is Safaa Keyorkgy, and I am a very proud mother of three bright and talented children who were lucky to have had Messmore as their elementary school as well. With the guidance and important lessons from various Messmore teachers they have grown up to become amazing adults that any mom wishes their kids to be.
I have a bachelors degree in French literature. I speak three languages, Arabic, French and English. I worked as a Secretary to the Chief of Mission of the United Nations High Commissioner in Damascus, Syria, and after getting married in 2000 I moved to Michigan with my husband and became a mom of three.
Watching my kids flourish in this school with love and laughter put a smile on my face every day. Therefore, I decided to join the Messmore family as a GETA paraprofessional to pursue my passion of teaching and support the wonderful young students. I started my job in 2014 at UCS, and I love everything about Messmore!
Also, I enjoy traveling with family, doing crochet, knitting , biking, composing poems, and dancing.
Minello, Kristen (Mrs. Barker's AM Assitant)
Mirza, Donna (Learning Center Assistant)
Hello, I’m Donna Mirza and been with UCS since 2008. I started as a lunch Mom and substitute SETA. In 2010 I became a SETA full time. I have worked from High School to Early Childhood and made Messmore home 4 years ago. Just seeing a child laugh and smile makes my day!
My husband and I have one Daughter, she is currently in her second year of college. We all live in Sterling Heights with our two dogs.
Patel, Sarmistha (Ms. Kiser's AM and PM Assistant)
Shaaia, Anastasia (Mrs. Schultz's AM Assistant)
Shahane, Nikita (Mrs. Barker's AM Assistant)
The Support Staff!
Hooven, Svetlana (AM Sub GETA)
My name is Svetlana Hooven, but people call me Lana. My two children, Daniel (9) and Sophia (6) attend Messmore and my husband also went to Messmore, making us a second generation family.
I received two bachelor's degrees from Russian universities before moving to the US, in English and German and in Journalism and Public Relations.
I enjoy travel, painting, reading, and exercise. I have volunteered at Messmore in the past, but I'm excited to be able to help all year long this year!
Kachouh, Rania (Building Substitute Teacher)
Hello Messmore Family!
My name is Rania Kachouh and I am a Building Substitute Teacher here at Messmore. I have a Master’s in Counseling from Oakland University and have always enjoyed working with children.
My Messmore number is 13 years! What’s significant about that number you may ask? That’s how long my family will be consecutively attending Messmore between early childhood and elementary across our three children; we love it here! My Messmore family includes; my oldest Elijah is in 6th grade, Sophia in 4th grade, and Isaiah in 2nd grade. I have also been happily married to my incredible husband, George for 15 years.
My personal hobbies include traveling, shopping, and spending time with my family and friends.
Kinoshita, Yoko (Building Substitute Teacher)
My name is Yoko Kinoshita and I work as General School Support to help teachers and students.
I am from Nagoya, Japan, and moved to Michigan in 2008 after marrying. I am the mother of Keiko (7th grade) and Ryusuke (3rd grade). I enjoy baking, gardening, and camping/fishing with my family.
Oakie, Michelle (Security Specialist)
I am Michelle Oakie and I am one of eleven School Security Specialists at UCS. I have been assigned to Heritage Junior High School, Messmore, Harvey, Oakbrook and Collins Elementary schools since 2019. I am married and I have two children.
I have a BA in Journalism from Wayne State University. I worked my way through college as a dispatcher at the Roseville Police Department. After graduation, I felt that there was more for me to explore in the civil service field, so I became a police officer. Although this was not my original career goal, the twenty-five years I spent working for the department afforded me the opportunity to serve the public and make a difference in the community.
Razoky, Randa (Health Aide)
Hi Messmore Families,
My Name is Randa Razoky. I have been the Health Aide of the school for the last 5 years. This is my 7th year at UCS. I graduated from Department of Mechanical Engineering from University of Technology in Iraq. I am a mother of one boy. He’s a 12th grade student at Stevenson High School. I love painting a lot and I have participated in many exhibitions in Iraq and USA. I hope to continue working with your kids.
Romano, Cacee (Building Substitute Teacher)
Hello, Messmore families!
My name is Cacee Romano and I am the Building Substitute Teacher. This is my second year at Messmore. I am married to my wonderful husband Chris. We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary this year. We have two little Messmore Mavericks of our own, Amelia and Leo. We also have two fur babies at home, Lucy and Lincoln.
I very much enjoy getting to know the students and getting to help and work with the teachers and staff. Messmore is such a wonderful community and I’m so thankful to be a part of it.
Battaglia, Philip (Lead Custodian)
Hello Messmore staff, kids and parents. My name is Philip Battaglia. This is my 7th year as a lead custodian. What a lead custodian does is to make sure everything in the building is running orderly. I’ve only been here at Messmore Elementary for about 7 months.
I am engaged with no date set yet. I’ve been with my girl for 7 years, no kids. I enjoy what I do. Cleaning is my passion.
In my free time I love the outdoors, cutting grass, hanging out on the deck, cruising in my 1995 Trans AM. I love spending time with my family and friends, gardening and going to sporting events like The Tigers and Red Wings’ games. Also, I put God first!
Your Custodian Philip