Meet the Faculty
Gaetano Brancaleone, Principal
Saaqat Sivungaq?! Whanga aatqa Qawaagpak (Gaetano David Brancaleone III) and this is my 8th year in Savoonga. I spent 2 years teaching 4th grade, 1 year teaching 2nd grade, and 4 years as the assistant principal in Savoonga. This year I am excited and humbled to be serving our community as the Principal. I am originally from Sint Maarten in the Caribbean but moved to Pennsylvania when I was 7 years old. I have the most wonderful wife, a son who I love to the moon and back, and a dog that is probably part seal who live with me on this beautiful island! I love to spend time with family, explore the outdoors, play VR, and learn new things everyday from our students, community, and staff. I am excited to team up and overcome any challenges this year has to offer, and I look forward to Building the Future Together!
Susan R. Nedza, Assistant Principal
I am excited about working with all of you and your children. I have worked with children of all ages for more than 25 years now. I have worked in Point Hope and Bethel as well as in New York as a School Counselor and Principal in the past. I hold a Masters Degree and Certificate of Advanced Study in School Counseling and a Certificate of Advanced Study in School Leadership.
I hope that we will meet soon and work together to make this a great year. If you or your child has a need or concern please let me know and I will work with you to help in any way I can.
HS English Language Arts
This is my sixth year teaching and living in Savoonga, but I am originally from the rural part of New York State. I have a Masters in Special Education, and am currently working on a Masters in Educational Administration. My hobbies are reading, baking, and hanging out with friends.
I am now on my third year as the k-12 Art Teacher in Savoonga. I'm originally from Colorado Springs, Colorado. I go there to visit my family over the summer while I go hiking and camping. I spend a lot of my free time working on my personal art work where I do large paintings or work on illustrating comics and children books. I believe everyone has a story that they can express through art and I love working with students to bring that story to life. My dog Rey is my best friend.
This is my 20th year teaching in Savoonga and my 10th year as the Early Childhood teacher. Prior to that I taught elementary. I spend my summers in South Dakota and am the youngest of 7 children.
Elementary Intervention Teacher
Hello, I am the intervention teacher for the elementary. This just means that I am excited to spend some time to help your child to get that extra help they need to be successful. This is my second year in Savoonga. I come from New Castle, PA and I am happy to be out of the heat. Summers can be pretty warm in PA. In my free time I enjoy crafts, especially sewing and crocheting.
My name is Mark Biberg and I am from Blackduck, Minnesota. I am a veteran Alaskan teacher having taught in the Lower Yukon, Yupiit, Iditarod, North Slope, and Delta Greeley school districts. I am new to Savoonga and am happy to have the chance to join the existing leaning community. I enjoy spending time with my 2 sons, Rafael and Sean (ages 12 and 10). In my spare time I like to read history and philosophy. I also enjoy watching football, coaching wrestling, and walking of any sort. As a young man I was in the Marines and fell in love with travel and experiencing new cultures. Now, as a teacher I try to learn about new cultures and use the structure of an existing culture to teach new things. (teaching through culture rather than just about it). I am happy to be here. (semper fidelis)
3rd Grade Teacher
This is my second year teaching for BSSD, and first year in Savoonga. This year I will be teaching third grade. I am originally from the east coast, born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania. The arts have held a huge role in my life. Growing up I was involved in various choirs, dance, theater, instrument lessons, painting classes, and more. In addition to the arts, I enjoy being outdoors, traveling, running, and spending time with those I love. I am very excited to be here in Savoonga and greatly look forward to sharing my passion of learning with my students.
My name is Heidi Secor. I have been teaching in Savoonga for 15 years. I taught first grade for 5 years, and this is my 10th year teaching Kindergarten. I am originally from Phoenix, Arizona. I love to read, and I love hanging with my dogs.
1st Grade Teacher
My name is Lauren Jeffrey. This my 2nd year in Savoonga. I’ve also taught in Teller, Shishmaref, and Wisconsin. During the summer, I enjoy spending time with my family as well as traveling. My goal is to visit all 50 states. When I’m not working at school, you can usually find me working on an art project, napping with my cats, reading, or watching movies. I’m looking forward to teaching 1st grade this year!
4th Grade Teacher
Bernardo Untalasco---been teaching here going on 11 years, taught 9 years in the Y-K Delta, I spend my summers in Juneau, Alaska where I was born and raised, and travel as well. My wife and I have two children, and two grandkids.
HS Math Teacher
I came from from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania to teach in Savoonga back in 2013. I enjoy spending my time playing video games and board games. Here in Savoonga, I love going out with my friends fishing, hunting, and riding.
3rd Grade Teacher
Kathleen Kerkhoff 3rd grade. This is my first year teaching and living in Alaska, though I have visited cousins in Hyder, AK many times. My husband, Ken, was a youth pastor for 31 years - we had kids in our home ALL THE TIME! He died suddenly five years ago; his death started me on the adventure which has led me to Savoonga.
I have three grown children: Cole lives in Albany, OR. Elle and her husband, Brandon, also live in Albany, OR. Madeline and her husband Corbin live in Chicago, IL.
I still have a home in Albany, where I enjoy gardening, biking, reading, hiking, antiquing, quilting, sewing, baking, travel, games, visiting friends, music, camping, and church activities.
2nd grade teacher
This is my third year teaching 2nd grade in Savoonga. I grew up right outside Philadelphia, PA and went to Temple University in North Phila. When I go to visit family over the summer I enjoy hanging by the pool, going to the theater, and singing karaoke! At home in Savoonga, I like to watch movies, enjoy a nice cup of tea, and am currently rereading the Harry Potter series.
MS Math and Science Teacher
Hello everyone, for those who may not know, my name is Scott Herrmann and I teach middle school math and science. This is my 12th year in Savoonga, and I’m looking forward to exploring a new activity centered science program with my students this school year.
I grew up camping, hunting, fishing, and berry picking in northeast Washington state. So, it should be no surprise to anyone who knows me that my summers are spent camping and wandering wilderness areas and national parks. The picture is taken on top of 13,000 foot Wheeler Peak located in Great Basin National Park, Nevada.
5th grade teacher
I graduated from Simpson University in 2012. My first teaching position was in St. Michael, AK. I have worked or volunteered in the school systems for 22 years. I have three children, Tessa age 30, Lane almost 19, and Sam age 16. I am going to be a Grandma next year!
MS Social Studies teacher
I'm a Mom to 8 and grandma to 20. I grew up on a ranch in Wyoming and worked as a chef for 20+ years. My greatest loves are cooking, gardening, knitting and doll making.
Hi! My name is Linda Boothe. I grew up on a farm near the town of Sycamore, Illinois, a small farming town about 60 miles west of Chicago. My family includes my husband Russ, our four children Heather, Scott, Ryan, and Todd and our four grandchildren. Heather has been teaching for 19 years and is married to Charles Swanson, who is a native of Koyuk, Alaska.
My teaching degree is from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I taught in Anaheim, California and for the Department of Defense Overseas Schools in the Philippines and Turkey. I returned to Illinois to earn my Master’s Degree in Reading Education. I then met my husband and settled in Deerfield, Illinois to raise our family. After teaching 29 years in Illinois, I retired and we moved to Chandler, Arizona. I continued teaching in Arizona and retired a second time in 2011. Since then I have been a substitute teacher in Phoenix, Arizona and for Bering Strait School district in the villages of Koyuk and Stebbins.
I am so happy to be in Savoonga! I want to learn more about your culture and customs and I am excited to meet my students.
HS Science Teacher
This is my 3rd year in Savoonga, but my 10th year in Alaska (also taught in Kipnuk, Tok, Barrow). It is my 13th year teaching. My summer home is in Hastings, Michigan. I am married to Larry Carlson and have one adult daughter, Sydney.
Whanga aatqa, Piitesighaghta. Growing up, I was amazed by the jars of gold nuggets that my grandmother had and the stories of how her father mined the gold in both Oregon and Alaska. When I was twelve, my family visited my aunt and uncle in Juneau for the first time. On that unforgettable trip our pilot crashed his 8 seater float plane, and while we waited for him to get us with his 4 seater we encountered an enormous grizzly bear on Admiralty Island. The glacier has changed a lot since then! If you visit Juneau, keep an eye out for my uncle Woodie's paintings. In my eighth year here in Sivungaq, I'm fulfilling a promise to my first class of students. I promised to watch them graduate, and I can't wait to see them in caps and gowns! As the Instructional Coach I work with teachers to reach their goals and strengthen their instruction so that all students can achieve great things.