Teachers

April King
PreK Teacher
PreK Teacher

Mrs. April King teaches the Pre-K classes at St. Joseph School and has worked here for five years.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies K-8/Elementary Education K-6 from Western Governors University, and she is certified as a Highly Qualified Teacher. She loves so many things about SJS, including the care and compassion that the teachers have for each and every one of their students.   

In addition to teaching and coordinating the preschool programs here at St. Joseph, Mrs. King helps plan the Dr. Seuss Week activities.  She also serves on the Pre-K/Kindergarten Committee.

Mrs. King and her husband, Henry, have two children, both of whom attend St. Joseph School. They are members of Saint Michael's Church in St. Florian.  In her free time, Mrs. King enjoys spending time with her family and getting lost in a good book.

"All children can learn when their unique abilities, strengths, and interests are incorporated into the classroom and daily instruction."

Kathy Smith
Kathy Smith
Kindergarten Teacher

Mrs.  Kathy Smith is a part of a third generation family of St. Joseph Regional Catholic School.  She began her teaching career as a teacher’s assistant at St. Joseph while in college. Then, she spent two years as a classroom teacher in the Florence City School system and later returned to St. Joseph School and has remained here for the past fifteen years. She has held the positions of technology, first grade, and kindergarten teacher.  This is her fourth year to teach Kindergarten which is her true love. She graduated from the University of North Alabama with a Bachelor degree in Early Childhood Education, and she also holds an Early Childhood Development Certification.

In addition to several years of ongoing professional development, Mrs. Smith recently attended the Ron Clark Academy where she learned valuable researched based teaching techniques that she successfully uses with her students.  She is also a longtime member of the NCEA (National Catholic Education Association) and have benefited from their many resources including the annual National NCEA conference. Here at St. Joseph, Mrs. Smith helps plan our Catholic Schools’ Week activities and our Holy Childhood fundraisers.  She is also a member of the AdvancED School Leadership Team.

Mrs. Smith attends St. Michael's Catholic Church with her husband Heath of 22 years and our two children.  Her daughter is a senior at Florence High School and her son attends Florence Freshman Center. Both of her children are graduates of St. Joseph School.   She enjoys spending time with her family and helping out in the community.

“My true passion is working with children guiding their hearts, minds, and spirits to become the future servant leaders of our community and nation.”

Leigh Ann Franck
Leigh Ann Franck
1st Grade Teacher
Amy Glover
Amy Glover
2nd Grade Teacher

Mrs. Amy Manush Glover has taught the 2nd grade class at St. Joseph School for 30 years.  After completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education through Auburn University and the University of North Alabama, she was hired for her position in 1988 by her former teacher and principal, Sister Celestine Schaeffers, O.S.B.  

Along with teaching the 2nd grade class, Mrs. Glover helps coordinate many of the activities at St. Joseph School.  In April, she plans events for our school's Earth Day events. Each year, she helps raise money for Holy Childhood, an organization that helps those with both intellectual and developmental disabilities.  She also serves on the school's Science Committee.

Mrs. Glover attends Our Lady of the Shoals Catholic Church in Tuscumbia, where her family has worshipped for three generations, and where she serves as a cantor.  She, her brothers, and her son all graduated from St. Joseph School, and her father served on the Foundation Board for many years. Mrs. Glover enjoys reading books and watching programs about history and nature.

"Practice makes perfect," and "Patience is a virtue".

Julie VanVeckhoven
3rd Grade Teacher

Mrs. Julie VanVeckhoven is the 3rd grade teacher at St. Joseph School.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Louisiana Tech University.  In addition to her degree, she is also an Associate Training/AOGPE multi-sensory dyslexic educator.

Mrs. VanVeckhoven is the cosponsor/coach of the junior high Science Olympiad team, a team that has consistently made it to the state level of competition.  

She is married to Ben VanVeckhoven. They have three children.  Their oldest son received his Masters in Accountancy from The University of Mississippi and now works in Houston as a CPA for Ernst and Young. Their middle son attended and graduated from St. Joseph School in 2010.  He attended The University of Mississippi where he won the prestigious Taylor Medal as one of the top students at the university. He is a Summa Cum Laude chemical engineering graduate from The Honors College and The Center of Manufacturing Excellence. He now works in Baton Rouge at Exxon/Mobil. Their youngest son is a 2016 St. Joseph graduate who now attends Florence High School. He is a sophomore honor student who is on the basketball, cross country and track team. Last year, he was awarded the Freshmen Male Scholar Athlete of the Year.  Mrs. VanVeckhoven and her family attend St. Joseph Catholic Church.

“God use me as your instrument and work through me today.”

Jessie Underwood
4th Grade Teacher

Mrs. Jessie Underwood is in year two teaching fourth grade at St. Joseph School. She is a California native, but she’s lived in the Shoals area since 2005. She graduated Summa Cum Laude, and she has a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from the University of North Alabama, and she’s currently working on her Master of Arts in Education. She’s also AMSTI Math and Science certified, Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI) trained, and Disproportionality trained.  Last year, she was honored to be awarded the SJS Teacher of the Year by her peers.

Mrs. Underwood also has a heart for missions. Last summer, she traveled to Guatemala to teach K-8 grade math. The fourth grade class in Guatemala is also pen pals with the St. Joseph 4th grade class this year. It’s exciting to see Spanish speaking students work on their English and vice versa.  On campus here at SJS, she’s creating the new Fourth-Fifth Grade Robotics team. She has applied for the Auburn University grant for VEX-IQ Robotics and received funding and materials to start the program here.

Mrs. Underwood and her family are members at Highland Park Baptist Church in Muscle Shoals. There, she teaches the kindergarten girls class and attends community groups every Sunday.  

Jenifer Bissell
Jenifer Bissell
5th Grade Teacher

Mrs. Jenifer Bissell is the fifth grade teacher and has worked at St. Joseph School and has been a member of St. Joseph Church’s parish for 24 years.  She graduated from the State University of New York at Oneonta with a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education. While there, she played collegiate volleyball and was an All-SUNY Player for two years.

Along with teaching the 5th grade, Mrs. Bissell has a roll in many campus organizations.  In January, she helps direct the school-wide Geography Bee. She is also cosponsor of the junior high Student Council and serves on the school's English/Language Arts Committee and AdvancED Leadership Team. Utilizing her past experiences as a collegiate volleyball player, she also helps out with both the 5th and 6th grade volleyball team and the 7th and 8th grade team.  

She has been married for twenty-five years to her husband Bob, who is a principal for Tuscumbia City Schools. They are blessed to have two children, both graduates of St. Joseph School. Their son attends the University of South Alabama and studies mechanical engineering, while their daughter attends Florence High School, takes AP classes, and is a member of competition show choir and The theatre program. As a family, they love to travel, visit the Gulf Coast, and watch the New York Yankees play.

"St. Joseph is a special place that teaches students to grow spiritually, shine academically, and serve others."

Rita Magrini
Rita Magrini
6th Grade Homeroom Teacher, Junior High Math and Science

Mrs. Rita Magrini is the junior high advanced math teacher, science teacher, and 6th grade religion teacher. She has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, a Master of Science Education in Environmental Science, and has completed additional post graduate work in pre-med.  She is also Highly Qualified in both science and middle school mathematics. After teaching for several years in Pennsylvania, she and her family moved to Florence. Mrs. Magrini began teaching at St. Joseph in 1994, and she considers St. Joseph her “home away from home.”  

In addition to teaching at St. Joseph School, Mrs. Magrini is the Science Fair coordinator, American Mathematic Competition coordinator, and co-coach of the St. Joseph Science Olympiad team.   She also serves on the school's Science Committee, Math Committee, and AdvancedED School Leadership Team

When not in school, Mrs. Magrini enjoys spending time wither her husband, Gus, and visiting her three children and one grandchild.  She attends St. Joseph Catholic Church. Her hobbies include scuba diving, reading, cooking, and traveling with her husband and children. 

"I wish to enable each student to realize how beautifully and wonderfully God made them and to help each one realize their God-given gifts."

Katherine Crow
7th Grade Homeroom, Junior High Language Arts

Mrs. Katherine Crow is the junior high literature and English teacher and 7th grade Religion at St. Joseph School. She is an alumnae of St. Joseph, along with both of her parents and three of her grandparents; Mrs. Crow is devoted to the century-long traditions of St. Joseph school. She attended the University of North Alabama where she earned a degree in Secondary Education and English Language Arts. Currently, she is working on her Master's degree through UNA.

Not only has Mrs. Crow taught literature and English at St. Joseph School, but she has also served as the K-5 Spanish teacher.  In addition to teaching the junior high language arts classes, she is also cosponsor of both the Student Council and the National Junior Honor Society here at St. Joseph.  She also serves on the English/Language Arts Committee and the Dr. Seuss Day committee.

Mrs. Crow and her husband, John Charles, attend St. Michael's Catholic Church in St. Florian. In her free time, Mrs. Crow enjoys volunteering in her community, St. Florian. She also enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, camping, and traveling.

"I am passionate about helping my students, particularly in the areas of developing effective writing and communication skills, as well as growing academically, socially, and spiritually."

Courtney Magee
Courtney Magee
8th Grade Homeroom Teacher, Junior High Social Studies and Math

Mrs. Courtney Magee is the junior high math and social studies teacher and the 8th grade religion teacher.  Born and raised in Tennessee, she attended the University of North Alabama where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education before beginning her teaching career at St. Joseph in 2005.  While she is Highly Qualified to teach in grades K-6, she holds additional endorsements in Reading K-12 and Middle School Mathematics as well.  She has also completed additional post graduate work in Elementary Education.

Along with teaching, Mrs. Magee is also the advisor for the St. Joseph chapter of the National Junior Honor Society.  She is also the teacher coordinator for both the 6th grade and 7th and 8th grade Scholars' Bowl team.  Each year, she coordinates the Geography Bee at school, a bee that is affiliated with the National Geographic Society.  She also serves on the Social Studies Committee and the school's AdvancED (SACS) School Leadership Team.

When not in school, Mrs. Magee enjoys spending time with her husband, Bryan, a 1996 St. Joseph graduate.  Their three children attend St. Joseph School in grades 4th, 1st, and 3k.  They attend St. Michael's Catholic Church in St. Florian. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and cooking.  

"I want to make a difference in my students' lives and watch as they experience that 'light bulb' moment as they learn something new."

Terri Whalen
Terri Whalen
Guidance Counselor

Mrs. Whalen moved to the Shoals in 2005, having previously lived in North Carolina, New Jersey, and Hawaii.  She is married to Tim Whalen, M.D. and has one daughter and one step-daughter.

Mrs. Whalen earned her BA in Psychology in 1986 and a masters in Social Work in 1992 from Rutgers University in New Jersey.  She began working as a clinical social worker in community mental health, a substance abuse treatment program, and in schools and private practices.  She came to St. Joseph first as a parent when Erin started 3K, and two years later in 2012 was hired as the school's guidance counselor.

Mrs. Whalen loves working with children, both individually and in a class setting.  She assists in identifying any students or issues that need attention or intervention to ensure academic, social, and emotional growth and stability.  Mrs. Whalen works closely with all of the parents and teachers, as well as the administration.

Outside of school, Mrs. Whalen is President of Pets are Worth Saving (PAWS).  She has been working in companion animal rescue for 20+ years and has been an active animal advocate in the Shoals.  

 

Amy Tays
Amy Tays
Physical Education Teacher

Mrs. Amy Tays is the physical education teacher and athletic director at St. Joseph School.  She began teaching at St. Joseph in 2008. Before St. Joseph, she was a special needs preschool teacher at Brooks Elementary School and a Physical Education aide at Forest Hills Elementary School.  She received an Associate degree from Southern Union State Community College where she also played softball for two years. She then returned to her hometown of Auburn and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education from Auburn University.

During the physical education classes at St. Joseph, Coach Tays has the students work on coordination, conditioning, and being a team player. Along with planning and coordinating the PE classes at St. Joseph, Coach Tays also plans all sports practices and schedules games for the different teams at St. Joseph including basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, tennis, and cross country.  She is also the coordinator of the school’s school recycling program.

When she is not teaching Mrs. Tays enjoys spending time with family including her husband and two daughters.  She also likes participating in outdoor activities and cheering on the Auburn Tigers.

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing.  Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”  Lou Holtz

Angel Black
Computer and Resource Teacher

Mrs. Angel Black teaches technology to students in kindergarten through 8th Grade.  She has a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Athens State University.  She has taught at St. Joseph for 7 years. Mrs. Black loves teaching at St. Joseph, particularly the family-like, Christian atmosphere.

During computer classes, Mrs. Black has the St. Joseph students learn a variety of different skills.  Students learn the parts of the computer, how to type, how to create projects, and how to code. With the addition of our 1 to 1 program in grades Pre-K through 8th grade, Mrs. Black also has the responsibility of keeping the devices maintained and updated.  

As a member of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church in Florence, Mrs. Black is an active volunteer with the youth groups.  She is married to Sam, and they have 2 young daughters. She loves spending time with her family, traveling to the beach, and taking photos. Together with her family, they enjoy life on their mini-farm with 15 Japanese Silkie chickens, two ducks, two pygmy goats, a rabbit, two dogs, two cats, and two turtles.

"Each child is unique. No one child learns the same way as another, and they should be taught in the way that they learn in order to achieve academic excellence."

Jessica L Miller
Librarian
Kristen Montero
Music and Art Teacher

Ms. Kristi Montero is in her 29th year of teaching, with the last three being served at St. Joseph.  She teaches Art and Music. She received both her B.S. in Music Education and Masters of Education from the University of North Alabama.  She has been named teacher of the year for Weeden Middle School, Coffee High School, and St. Joseph School.

There are many different projects and programs that Ms. Montero allows the music and art classes participate in each year. In art class, she guides the students as they create masterpieces for the Renaissance Faire Art Contest in the fall and the Arts Alive contest in the spring.  There are also special art contests held within the Diocese of Birmingham in which the students participate. In music class, Ms. Montero helps direct the cantors for mass each week. In addition to this, the students also have opportunities to take part in the Christmas Program, Grandparents' Day Program, and Talent Show each year.  

Ms. Montero has one daughter and son-in-law and three grandchildren.  In her spare time, she enjoys DIY projects, gardening, playing with her dogs and the spending time on river. She attends and plays the piano for St. Joseph Church.

"Every child is capable of learning-one only has to unlock the best way to reach them."

Maria Nava
Foreign Language Teacher PreK-5th Grade
Elena Peralta
Foreign Language Teacher-Junior High
Elena Peralta
Elena Peralta
Secretary
Carmenza Gonzalez
Bookkeeper
Helen H Nichols
Cafeteria Manager

Mrs. Helen Nichols is one of the school’s wonderful cafeteria managers. She and her family joined St. Joseph Church and School in 2008 when her daughter first started Pre-K. She began helping with fundraising committees and eventually started working for the Extended Day Program. Mrs. Nichols has worked as an aide for both Kindergarten and Pre-K. In addition, she has worked for the church as a PSR teacher for 3 years and still helps with EDP.  

Outside of school, Mrs. Nichols works with her husband, Brad, at their business, the UNA Off-Campus Bookstore. They have been blessed with two children.

Thoi Do
Thoi Do
Cafeteria Assistant

Ms. Thoi works at St. Joseph as our cafeteria manager. She has been working at St. Joseph for five years. Ms. Thoi came to America in 1979 from South Vietnam. She has lived in Florence for 26 years with her family. She has two grandsons that attend St. Joseph.

Before working in St. Joseph’s kitchen, she owned a Chinese Restaurant in Florence. In her free time, Ms. Thoi enjoys yoga, walking, reading, and cooking.