Insights @ Faith Lutheran

New Teachers 2019

Posted by Mai Choy on Aug 7, 2019 6:02:15 PM

The first day of school is almost here!  Meet our new teachers in middle school and high school and learn about why they are awesome.

IMG_0493 - Brianna DagdaganBree Dagdagan


This year I am not teaching a specific class, but will be mentoring the theatre tech students in the different aspects of bringing a show to life.  I was born and raised here in Las Vegas and have one sister who lives and works here as well.  I graduated from Faith back in 2015 as part of the inaugural Theatre Conservatory class.  Just a few months ago I moved back to Las Vegas from Emerson College in Boston (and spent my last semester as part of their Los Angeles program), and graduated this past May.  I received my BFA in Theatre Design & Technology and focused mainly on scenic and sound.  As I am just out of college, I feel I have a fresh insight into the way theatre has changed over the years and hope to implement that into my work here at Faith.  My professors and fellow students became my family and we were a tight knit unit, and I hope to continue that here.  I absolutely love painting, and have my entire life, and recently have started to lean towards digital art as well.  Whenever I get the chance I enjoy hiking and hanging out at cafés with my friends.  I'm eagerly awaiting meeting and mentoring the students.  I was only gone for four years, and the school has grown so much, and I'm excited to be part of the culture here once again and be a part of that growth and moving the program forward.  I want to thank everyone so far for their support in my transition into this position and the trust in me to take this on, and I'm really looking forward to this year.


Whet Smith IMG_1886 - Whet Smith

This year I will teach History and Government.  I'm new to full time teaching, actually.  I have been an attorney in Houston for most of the last 13 years.  Houston is a pretty awesome place in general, but if you visit don't go in July or August.  It's like a sauna.  I personally think that the coolest thing to visit there is the USS Texas, the only remaining example of real World War I area dreadnought type battleship. But my favorite thing is probably the Astros...I basically grew up in the Astrodome.  I went to Georgetown University in Washington, DC and majored in Government with minors in History and Economics.  Aside from the great education, I took away some great friends and an obsession with Hoya Basketball (which has been really painful the last few years).  I loved everything about the place and my time there.  I also have a JD from Harvard Law School and a Master's of Public Affairs from the University of Texas.  I like sports (particularly baseball), good film and television (I am just now starting Game of Thrones so please don't spoil), reading, hiking, exercise, delicious food, and United Kingdom politics.  I am most looking forward to working with the students. 


IMG950547 - Jennifer Holmes

Jennifer Holmes

Mrs. Jennifer Holmes returns to Faith Lutheran to teach 7th grade American History and 8th grade Globalization.  She lives with husband Brian and two terrier mixes Sam and Rosie.  Mrs. Holmes taught middle school social studies at Faith from 2002 to 2012.  Her husband's job moved them to northern Wisconsin for four years.  They also spent two years in downtown Milwaukee before returning to Las Vegas.  Mrs. Holmes went to Concordia University Wisconsin and Majored in Social Studies Education.  She enjoys doing triathlons and half-marathons, camping and hiking, and exploring her crafty side with my new Circuit Maker.  She is most excited to work with the excellent faculty and staff and wants her students to know that sometimes she gets really excited about social studies and it's okay to ask her to slow down! 



Jonathan and Elizabeth McDanielScreen Shot 2019-07-30 at 4.10.33 PM - Jon McDaniel

Mr. Jon McDaniel will be the MS Dean of Students and Mrs. Liz McDaniel will teach MS Science and Health.  They return to Las Vegas with son Micah.  For the last four years they have taught and coached at Concordia International School Shanghai in Shanghai, China.  "Living in Shanghai and serving at Concordia was the experience of a lifetime! People, places, cultures, food, the list goes on. Our favorite thing about serving at Concordia was the students we were blessed to work with every day.  From all corners of the world, our students were respectful, hard-working and bright!  If you were to visit Shanghai, we'd recommend that you grab some Xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) and Sesame Noodles at Din Tai Fung!"  Both Mr. and Mrs. McDaniel went to Concordia University - Nebraska and majored in Education with a Lutheran Teaching Diploma.  Mr. McDaniel has an emphasis in Math and PE and Mrs. McDaniel has and emphasis in Science and PE.  Mr. McDaniel enjoys football, golf, grilling, mixology, and going out for nice dinners with Liz. Mrs. McDaniel enjoys quality time with friends and family, hiking, going to the beach, and date nights with Jon.  "We are excited to return and serve alongside such great friends and family.  Faith Lutheran gave us both our professional start in ministry; when we were here during our first stint, we were blessed to grow many relationships with people in the Faith Family.  To return and rekindle those relationships, while serving such wonderful students and families, is an opportunity we look forward too!  We're also very excited to raise our son, Micah, in this wonderful Christian environment.  And, we're very excited to watch competitive athletics again.  Go Crusaders!"


0E582100-5A53-48A7-B05D-A5AE2CE12736 - Stephanie Minarchan-1Stephanie Minarchan

Mrs. Stephanie Minarchan will teach high school Tap III and IV.  She lives with her husband Dennis, daughter Raygan and son Garrison.  She grew up in Spokane, WA and graduated from Mead High School, then received a Bachelor of Arts from UNLV.  Mrs. Minarchan studied with Henry Letang who heavily influenced the way she teaches tap.  She hopes to reach each child where they were at instead of just teaching to the whole class the same thing.  She enjoys spending time with her family including her church family at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship where she has been the last 20 years and met her husband.  Mrs. Minarchan looks forward to getting to know all the faculty and kids!  "I am thrilled to teach at a place where the love of Jesus is shared so openly.  I have a strong feeling that Faith Lutheran will have an even bigger effect on me than I will on it."


Dr. KrisTine Kuhn
88D67F67-AE95-40F3-89BF-66405B667B35 - Kristine Kuhn

I am teaching Advanced 8th and General 8th Grade English.  I am married to Dr. Bill Kuhn and we have two kids, Michael and Elizabeth.  You may know Michael as Mr. Kuhn, a teacher here at Faith.  My degree journey began at Valparaiso University, continued at Concordia Seward, and terminated with my PhD in Education from Capella.  So glad to be done!  After 20 years in Hong Kong, 17 years in Nebraska, and 8 in Washington, I've landed here.  Hong Kong cemented my love of cultural engagement, international travel, and exotic foods.  I'm ready to explore what Las Vegas had to offer.  Travel, exploration, research, singing, writing, and cooking keep me happy.  I'm ready to dive into learning and into getting to know the students here.  Something interesting about me is that I love to write hymn texts and have been honored to be published four times.


Cameron MerrillIMG_2589 2 - Cameron merrill

Mr. Merrill will teach high school Geometry and coach soccer.  He has two younger brothers and one younger sister who all attended/attend Faith Lutheran as well.  Mr. Merrill grew up in the Las Vegas area and he attended college at Concordia University Irvine.  "I majored in Mathematics, minored in Coaching, and received my California math teaching credential at CUI.  I also played soccer for Concordia and tutored math on campus.  One way Concordia impacted me is by helping me develop a greater love for mathematics.  Studying at CUI opened up an entirely new dimension of math for me, which helped me realize how amazing and interesting math can be."  Some of his favorite things are spending time with his family, soccer, coaching, going to the beach, going to Disneyland, Manchester United, U.S. Men's National Soccer Team, Vegas Golden Knights, LA Chargers, Star Wars, The Office TV Show, LEGOS, and video games.  "I graduated from Faith in 2014, so I'm looking forward to coming back to teach and coach here.  I loved being a student at Faith because the teachers, coaches, and staff were invested in my life and exhibited God's love towards me.  I'm excited to make a positive impact in my students' lives by demonstrating the sacrificial love and service exemplified by others at Faith and perfectly exemplified by Jesus Christ."


Alex Bagnara62131736_10216647083741805_8401587910859554816_o - Alex Bagnara

Mr. Bagnara will be teaching Faith 1 & 2 in the High School.  He and his wife Shannon, and their dog Martin, just moved to Las Vegas from Maryland.  They had been in Maryland for the last four years while Mr. Bagnara worked as a Director of Christian Education.  Mr. Bagnara and his wife were both born and raised in Southern California , and they both attended Concordia University Irvine before their time living in Maryland.  While at Concordia, Mr. Bagnara studied to be a Director of Christian Education.  He also had the awesome opportunity during his time at Concordia to be involved with the Around the World Semester as well as multiple other mission and service trips.  So if you have any interest in global mission work, do not hesitate to ask him!  The Bagnara’s are very excited to be coming back to the West where their families also live (It will make the commutes for holidays much easier and less stressful!).  They are also very excited to explore a new area and find new walks to take Martin on.  Mr. Bagnara will also be excited to escape the heat and enjoy the AC at the latest big blockbuster movie.


IMG_1037 - Jackie GerardJackie Gerard

I will be teaching American Literature Honors and Forensic Science for high school.  I lived in Houston, TX and worked at a high school in Tomball, TX.  I loved the diversity of Houston, the sports teams, and the arts that were offered.  For my undergraduate, I attended Concordia University Austin, majoring in English and Secondary Education.  For graduate school, I attended University of Houston with a Masters in English.  I love anything competitive, especially sports such as sand volleyball.  I also love music, especially hip-hop and EDM, and I try to attend a festival at least once a year.  I am excited to see some of my favorite artists and DJ's in Las Vegas while still being able to do outdoor activities.  I'm also excited to explore the states around Nevada because everything is so close.


IMG_20180921_173604-01 - Mary FelkerMary Felker 

Ms. Mary Felker joins Faith Lutheran to teach Studio Art.  She has been teaching high school art in Las Vegas for the past 6.5 years at Palo Verde and Western High School.  This past year Mary decided to transition into a full time artist and accept a part-time position at Faith Lutheran High School.  Mary works as local artist in the Las Vegas Community.  You can find her work on Instagram or Facebook @MaryOnAdventures.  Mary is excited to bring her knowledge of building an art department and industry experience as a professional artist to the Faith Lutheran Art Department.  When Mary isn't working in the art world you will find her hiking, mountain biking, or rock climbing in Red Rock Canyon or somewhere else mountainous in the world.




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Topics: teacher, faculty

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Faith Lutheran Middle School & High School strives to be the standard of excellence for Christian schools around the world. In addition, our mission statement is Everyone Prepared! Everyone Saved!  Insights @ Faith Lutheran gives you a glimpse into what we do and why we do it.  Subscribe to learn about our unique programs, best practices, and awesome students.  


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