Faculty and Staff

Father Gregory Abbott
Position:
Pastor and Board Member
It is a blessing for me to be the new Pastor of the St. Dominic Parish and School family!
My parents’ blessed me and my three older brothers with the gift of a Catholic education at St. Matthew’s (now Community of Saints) Grade School in St. Paul and Archbishop Brady High School in West St. Paul. I earned a Business degree from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management and a Masters of Divinity from the St. Paul Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.
I have served as an associate priest at St. Michael in St. Michael and Epiphany in Coon Rapids. More recently, I served as the pastor of the clustered parishes of Ascension in Norwood Young America and St. Bernard in Cologne. Before I came to St. Dominic I served for 15 months as a chaplain at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis.
I love being a priest!  But if I didn’t become a priest I could see myself in a Catholic School as a Physical Education Teacher and a Coach because I love sports and teaching children life and faith lessons through sports. Growing up, I played lots of sports–football, basketball, hockey, baseball and tennis. I also enjoyed fishing, bicycle riding and hunting.
I look forward to meeting and getting to know all our students and families. I pray that St. Dominic School can play a vital role in assisting parents as they teach their children about God’s personal and profound love for them and about the marvels of His creation. I am especially excited to worship God with students, faculty, families and parishioners at our weekly Mass.
There is a beautiful passage from Luke 2:52 summarizing Jesus’ growth as a child. It says, “And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.” My earnest hope is that each of our St. Dominic students will do the same!
Dawn Biren, Principal
Position:
Principal

I am honored to be the principal of St. Dominic School!  Catholic education is a passion of mine both as an educator and a parent.  I have worked in Catholic schools within the Archdiocese since 2006, holding positions as a Development Director, Teacher, and now in my third year as a Principal.  I am excited to continue serving Catholic education in the Northfield community.

I grew up in Catholic education having attended Nativity of Mary in Bloomington for elementary school.  I then earned a BA from the College of St. Benedict, my MS in Education from the College of St. Scholastica, and my K-12 Administrative License from St. Mary’s University.

My family and I live outside of New Prague where my husband and I have raised our three children.  The College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University hold a special place in our hearts, and we are proud that our two boys have chosen also to attend SJU.  Our daughter is currently a student at New Prague High School.  Personally I know the dedication and commitment that Catholic school parents exemplify, and I am excited to be a part of St. Dominic School!

 

Kati Reak Sletten, Advancement Director
Position:
Advancement Director

Hello! My name is Kati Reak Sletten and I am the Advancement Director at St. Dominic School. My position at school is to work specifically in three areas: retention/recruitment, development, and marketing. I enjoy working with our staff, students, and families daily.

I grew up in Minneapolis and five years ago I moved to Northfield. I spent my formative years in Catholic education and I firmly believe that is what shaped my strong religious background and work ethic. I attended the University of St. Thomas and received a B.A. degree in Entrepreneurship and a minor in Communications. Professionally, I have experience in marketing and personal finance where I have fine-tuned a strong analytical skillset. In my free time, you will find me outside, sewing, and spending my time with my family; especially my three nieces and nephew. My husband and I are welcoming our first child in March of 2021 and we are thrilled about this next adventure!

This year, I look forward to building even stronger community relationships, enhancing our student and family experiences, and effectively communicating the unique opportunities that St. Dominic School provides our students and our school community.

Position:
Administrative Assistant

Hello! My name is Claudia Bauer, and I am the Administrative/Marketing Assistant. I will be the first person you see when you walk into the building. Before starting at St. Dominic School, I was the Latino Outreach Coordinator at the Archdiocese of St. Paul, Minneapolis.  My husband and I are parishioners of St. Dominic Church and have extensive knowledge of our parish and school community. I look forward to connecting with our families, especially our Latino families!

I am originally from Mexico. My husband, Kyle, and  I have two children (#3 on the way) and we live in Northfield.  In my free time, I love to spend time with my family going fishing, taking walks, and making home-cooked meals.

Position:
Preschool Teacher

Hello! My name is Jamie Larson and I am the new Preschool teacher at St. Dominic School. I started my early childhood teaching journey by obtaining a degree in Psychology from Bemidji State University. I had grand plans to be a high school guidance counselor but had the great pleasure to help out in my son’s Early Head Start classroom. Working with younger children became a passion, and I earned a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Concordia-St. Paul in 2015.

I have been teaching young children for almost ten years, and I am excited to become a part of the St. Dominic family. My children attended St. Dominic School for the first time last year, and it was such a blessing for our family. As a child, I attended St. Peter and Paul’s Catholic School in Mankato, MN, was involved in the youth group at St. John the Baptist and served as an usher for the church. I look forward to reconnecting to my strong Catholic roots and tying my love of teaching to my faith.

I currently live in Dundas with my husband Alex, who can be classified as a “Townie.” We have two children, Matthias and Natasha. In my free time, I enjoy reading and writing a wide range of novels and clinging to my inner child by playing video games.

Position:
PreKindergarten Teacher

Hello! My name is Kjersta Donnelly and I am the new Prekindergarten teacher at St. Dominic School. I was born and raised on a farm in Southeastern Minnesota. I attended Winona State University. I earned a BA in Elementary and Early Childhood Education this spring.

My husband and I live in Farmington and just got married in August. He is a farmer and works with his family. This spring, I student-taught in a Catholic school and loved the community and feel of it!

I grew up with seven siblings and many family members as teachers! I am excited to take all I have learned from them and bring it to my classroom, as well as take what the students will teach me and grow with them. I cannot wait to meet your children and be a part of their life!

Karen Lyons, Prekindergarten Aide
Position:
PreKindergarten Aide

I received a B.S. degree in Elementary Education from the University of Iowa and taught first and second grade at a Catholic school in Northeast Iowa. After getting married and starting a family, I decided to be a stay at home mom and provide daycare out of my home. In 1997, we moved to Northfield and I have been a part of St. Dominic School and Parish ever since! I have volunteered countless hours and have also done some subbing. A couple of years ago I assisted in the Kindergarten room and thoroughly enjoyed it. The PreK teacher, Anna Wagner, and my oldest daughter attended St. Dominic School together and are still the best of friends. I enjoy working with such an amazing teacher!

My husband Doug and I are passionate about providing a Catholic education to our four children. All three of our daughters graduated from St. Dominic School and our son, Thomas, will be in seventh grade this year. We love the small class sizes, excellent education, and the fact that students can learn about God and live out their faith daily. I adore working with young people and have a special interest in instilling the love of reading. Teach a child to love books and they’ll be a life-long learner. I can’t wait to get to know all of the PreK students and their families! It’s going to be a wonderful, faith-filled year at St. Dominic School!

Jackie Chatelaine, Kindergarten Teacher
Position:
Kindergarten Teacher

Hello! I earned my degree in Elementary Education from The College of Saint Benedict. This year, I am headed back to school to pursue my Master’s in Educational Leadership from The University of Concordia St. Paul.

This is my third year with St. Dominic School! I am excited to continue this journey and have a positive impact on my next group of students in education and faith.

Currently, I live in Lakeville, Minnesota, and attended Lakeville South High School. While in high school, I fully realized my passion for working with children. It was not until my student teaching and long-term subbing experience that I recognized my enjoyment and love of teaching primary-aged students. I love the genuine interest and excitement that children in the primary grades have and I hope to support that throughout kindergarten!

When I am not at school, I can be found spending time with my family and friends and exploring neighboring communities.

Jane Jeffrey, 1st Grade Teacher
Position:
1st Grade Teacher

My name is Jane Jeffrey, and I am St. Dominic School’s first-grade teacher. I grew up in central Iowa and attended college at Augustana in Sioux Falls, SD and North Texas State where I majored in elementary education with an emphasis in special education. Since then, I have earned many continuing professional hours of credit at a variety of institutions in both Iowa and Minnesota. I began my teaching career in Iowa where I taught children in grades K-4 with learning disabilities, and I also taught third and second grade there.

My family then moved to Minnesota where I taught third, first, and second grade in New Prague for several years. We moved to Northfield in 2004, so I am thrilled I will now be working in the community I consider home. St. Dominic School has been a longstanding asset to Northfield, and I feel very fortunate in becoming a part of that legacy. An additional bonus for me is teaching first grade again. It is such a wonderful time in a child’s life. As a teacher, it is extremely rewarding to see young children progress so much and be excited about their learning.

My personal time is spent flower gardening and working in the yard. I like to walk and go hiking whenever possible. A good book is a joy as is a crossword puzzle or two—not too hard! I am also a member of my church choir. (And yes, I have done binge-watching on Netflix.)

I look forward to my partnership with the St. Dominic staff and families as we guide the children’s academic and spiritual growth!

Position:
2nd Grade Teacher

Hello! My name is Judy Hefer and I am very excited to be joining the faculty and staff of St. Dominic School. My years serving as an educator in this diocese includes both teaching and being a principal. My recent teaching experience includes teaching 5th, 6th, and 7th grades on the Standing Rock Reservation at St. Bernard Mission School. When I returned to Northfield seven years ago, I expanded my work experience by working at Three Links Apartments as a Service Coordinator where the duties included my area of expertise – lifelong learning.

 

My husband and I raised our family here in Northfield over the past 20 years, and we are parishioners of St. Dominic. I think of Northfield as my home, however, I am originally from St. Louis, MO. When I have spare time I enjoy quilting and embroidery, playing cards and board games, going for walks, and traveling.

Position:
3rd Grade Teacher

Hello, my name is Courtney Gilomen. I am so excited to be at St. Dominic School and start my teaching career as a third-grade teacher. I graduated from Grand Canyon University with my bachelor’s in Elementary Education and K-6 licensure. Before that, I obtained an Associate of Science degree in occupational therapy, and I was an Occupational Therapy Assistant.

I want to tell you a little about myself. I have a wonderful husband and two amazing kids. My husband and I have been together for 12 years, our daughter is nine, and our son is six. As a family, we love to go camping and spend time outside on our property. Our kids keep us busy with various activities. Our daughter is in dance, softball and loves her horse. Our son is in hockey, lacrosse and also drives a race car. The race car hobby is something my son got from my husband; he also drives a race car! We also have lots of fur babies to occupy our time!

I am so excited to be in 3rd grade this year and be a part of the St. Dominic family!

Jennifer Klaers, 4th Grade Teacher and Middle School Math Teacher
Position:
4th Grade Teacher and Middle School Math Teacher

Hello!  It is an honor to be teaching 4th grade and Algebra this year at St. Dominic School! This will be my second year teaching here.

I am originally from New York and attended St. Peter’s Catholic school from K-8. I am the youngest of five and have three children with my husband Daniel. Prior to teaching, I was a design and product engineer for eleven years in the automotive industry.   Currently, I am enrolled at St. Mary’s University to obtain my master’s in education with a middle-level math endorsement.

Although it may look and feel different this year, I will continue to find ways to connect with my students and the St. Dominic community through hard work, respect, and flexibility.

Andrea Peterson, 5th Grade Teacher
Position:
5th Grade Teacher

I am so excited to be teaching fifth grade at St. Dominic School! I was a Northfield High School graduate, and I am excited to have the opportunity to be teaching in the community I grew up in! I was very active in gymnastics, cross-country, and many of the youth formation groups and activities at St. Dominic Church. Being on team sports and participating in activities through the church community in high school and college instilled the importance of teamwork, responsibility, respect, compassion, and faith in my everyday life and teaching.

I graduated from St. Cloud State and have my Masters in Literacy Education from Hamline University. Before moving back to Northfield, I taught 4th and 5th grade in Spring Lake Park for seven years. My husband Kris and I have two children – Walter and June. During my free time I enjoy exploring the Arb, watching Walter play baseball, June do gymnastics and dance, going on bike rides, going for walks, doing yoga, reading and spending time with friends and family!

I look forward to all the new experiences we will share this year!

Lori Beumer, Middle School Teacher
Position:
Middle School Teacher

I started teaching at St. Dominic School in 2001. I have a B.S degree in Elementary Education from the University of Minnesota Mankato, with a Coaching Certification, and a Health/Physical Education Concentration. I also have my Master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas in Curriculum and Instruction, with a K-12 Reading Certificate.

As most of my former students will tell you, I LOVE to read. It is my passion. I want to share this passion with all of my students. I try to show them it is not important what you read as long as they reading. My favorite moment is when you can match a reader with a book, and see that look in their eyes of true enjoyment. I am also passionate about math. I love to share this passion with kids who are hesitant or think that math is not one of their strengths. Once we start the process of breaking the problems down, they realize that they too can be a successful mathematician!

In my tenure here at St. Dominic School, I have taught 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 8th grade, and now I am in 6th grade. I loved each grade and I am always amazed at how much the students teach me! It is truly an honor to be work in a profession where we get to work so closely with parents to help educate their children. With this partnership, we can share in their child’s growth over the school year, both physical and academic. I look forward to new experiences that I will have this coming year and I am excited to be working with all of our amazing families!

Position:
Middle School Teacher

Hello! My name is Dusty Budd, and I am the new Middle School teacher at St. Dominic School. I was born and raised in Northfield, I am a St. Dominic Alum parishioner, and I substitute taught for the last several years at St. Dominic School. I recently graduated from the Graduate Teacher Licensing program at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN.

Before teaching, I was a news and sports radio broadcaster at KYMN 95.1, and I still make special guest appearances from time to time on the radio.

I currently live in Northfield, and I am a proud “Townie.” In my spare time, you will find me on the softball fields in the summer and at the bowling alley in the fall/winter/spring. I also enjoy watching and attending all the Minnesota sports teams. I am a member of the St. Dominic Knights of Columbus. I love Catholic education, and I am excited to bring fun and learning to Middle School. It’s good to be home!

Position:
Counselor
Hi, my name is Liz Szostak and I will be the counselor this year. I have many years of experience working in mental health. I am excited to begin working with students and families this year! I will be available Monday and Tuesday each week.
In my free time I like to read, watch movies and cook!
Brooke Johnson, Enrichment Specialist, Groves Literacy Coach and 4th Grade Social Studies Teacher
Position:
Enrichment Specialist, Groves Literacy Coach and 4th Grade Social Studies Teacher

I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2018, earning my Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education. I received my undergraduate degree at Vermilion Community College in Ely, Minnesota. While living in Ely, I fell in love with the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Spending time outdoors is a true passion of mine. When I’m not at school, you can also find me at Mainstream Boutique downtown Northfield, where I help empower women through fashion.

My goal as the Enrichment Teacher is to motivate and challenge all students to maximize personal growth and meet their individual educational needs. As an interventionist, I help our Kindergarten- 3rd-grade students build their foundation in reading using the science of reading Groves literacy method. It is so rewarding to watch them grow so much academically each year. I have recently taken on the job as St. Dominic’s in-house Groves literacy coach, where I help support and certify our classroom teachers.  In addition, I am excited to assist Mrs. Klaers and teach 4th grade Social Studies.

I feel blessed to be part of the St. Dominic School family, and I look forward to another wonderful school year!

-Watching students learn to read: magic.  Knowing how they got there: science!

Position:
Art Specialist

Hello! My name is Mary Quick and I am the new Art teacher at St. Dominic School. I was born and raised in Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. I earned a BA in Comprehensive Art Education (K-12). I have taught in both Catholic schools and public schools from Kindergarten through 8th grade.

My family and I are active members of St. Dominic Church. Through St. Dominic Church our family has grown in our faith with this community by participating in mission trips, helping with Faith Formation and ministry of service by being servers, singing in Joyful Noise, Mass Coordinators, and Eucharistic ministers. The St. Dominic community has always felt like home and I am very excited to teach art education at the school!

My husband Bernard and I live in Northfield and we have two college-age daughters and one adorable Goldendoodle! I am very passionate about providing all students the opportunity to explore and share their artistic creativity. I cannot wait to meet your children.

Melodi Van Roekel, Music Specialist
Position:
Music Specialist

The music of the children, their voice, their movement, and their ability to let the music take them to another place, another time, is genuinely heartfelt – so pure, simple and beautiful. As I guide and lead children in daily music lessons, I watch, listen and take from them – never forcing. I respect the capabilities of children and believe the experience of making music together enables children to grow and achieve a richer and more fulfilled life.

I am excited to begin my fourth year (back at St. Dominic) as the Music teacher! In 1991 Sister Lois hired me to teach K-5 music. I taught at St. Dominic for 7 years, growing a private piano studio while here and being very blessed with the support students and families gave to music education, the arts, and to me. After that, I taught K-12 music in South Dakota, Ohio, New Prague (MN), at Prairie Creek, and in Nerstrand. I received my B.A. degree in Music Education from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. I have also completed many classes at Hamline University and the University of St. Thomas towards my Masters in Music Education. I am a member and member at large of the American Orff-Schulwerk Associated and Minnesota Orff, I stand by the mission of our work as music educators dedicated to the creative music and movement approach developed by Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman.

Nick Bornhauser, Physical Education Specialist
Position:
Physical Education Specialist

I graduated from Northfield High School and Concordia College, Moorhead, where I obtained my B.A. degree in Physical and Health Education. I also played baseball all four years for Concordia College and was an Assistant Coach for the baseball team after I graduated from college.

I am looking forward to seeing the growth in skills and confidence of every student as they participate in physical education. I have enjoyed being physically active my entire life and it has shaped me into the person I am today. I hope to bring that same joy and excitement out in each student.

In my free time, I enjoy working out and spending time with friends and family. In the summer months, you will find me out on the baseball fields playing for the Northfield Knights and also coaching local high school baseball players.

Mary Lazaro-Hefer, Kitchen Manager
Position:
Kitchen Manager

Ever since I was a second-grader here at St. Dominic School I loved to cook and bake. It has always been a big passion of mine. After graduating from Northfield High School I decided to enroll in the culinary arts program at Hennepin Technical College (Eden Prairie Campus) and received my Associates Degree in Culinary Arts. Over the past 10 years, I have worked in a variety of foodservice settings and at that time I believe I have found my perfect fit.

My two biggest passions are kids and kitchens so a school cafeteria is ideal. I have many wonderful memories in this cafeteria and the school from when I went here as a child. It has shaped me into the person I am today and has left me with some of the strongest friendships a person could ask for.

I am very happy to have my son now in this school and to allow him those same opportunities. I am glad God lead me back to this school and look forward to getting to know all your children!

Karen Grieger, Kitchen Assistant
Position:
Kitchen Assistant
Position:
School Nurse

Hi, my name is Nica Patterson and I accepted the position as the school nurse at St. Dominic School. I’m a graduate of Northfield and went on to receive my nursing degree from Mankato State University. I’ve been a labor and delivery nurse for the past 9 years in Edina and am excited to pursue a new area of nursing. I have four kids, ages 14, 9, 7, and 9 months. I’m looking forward to getting to know your children and help make this school year a success!

Jen Saffle, School Custodian
I was born and raised in Farmington and graduated from Farmington High School. I lived there until February of 2020, and now my husband, Chris, and I live in New Prague, and we love it there! My husband, Chris, and I wed in 2014, and we have three dogs together.
Every weekend from spring till the snow flies, you will find me camping in our travel trailer just outside of Northfield with close family and friends.
I have been a custodian at St. Dominic School for a very short time but hope to be here for a long time.
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