The new school year has brought new educators to Marco Island Charter Middle School.
Erika Thompson – Eighth Grade Complete Science Three
BS Biology, Augusta State University.
How long have you worked with the Collier County Public School System and what is your previous teaching experience? Five years as an educator: one at Lely High School teaching marine science and integrated science at AICE, one at East Naples Middle School as an assistant math teacher, and three years at the University of Florida, Fisheries and Aquatic Science Complementary Education Program.
What brings you to MICMS? I wanted to work in a school that felt more like a family. I found it here.
Why did you enter teaching and what do you find enjoyable and fulfilling in the profession? My favorite aspect of teaching is my interactions with students. They are often so quick-witted and full of humor. They surprise me daily with their unique ideas and creativity.
Family: I have two sons, Riley, seven, and Wyatt, six, and an eight-year-old Boston Terrier named Milo.
Hometown: Sylvania, Georgia.
Hobby: Play guitar, piano and flute. I love reading, I love the outdoors and I love naps.
If not an educator, what could your profession have been? A fisheries biologist.
Touria Friedhoff – Sixth Grade English Language Arts
A bachelor’s degree in English linguistics.
How long have you worked with the Collier County Public School System and what is your previous teaching experience? First year. I just made the switch after 28 years in the corporate world.
What brings you to MICMS? A great school where each student has the chance to shine.
Why did you enter teaching and what do you find enjoyable and fulfilling in the profession? I would like to give back to this community that I have called home since 2005. Helping students reach their full potential.
Family: Married to Denis for 17 years. Children: Sophia, 16, and Sarah, 13.
Hometown: Rabat, Morocco.
Hobby: Travel, reading, poetry.
If not an educator, what could your profession have been? Museum curator in Paris.
Kelly Joy Onanian – Eighth Grade English Language Arts
University education: BS in Journalism – Emerson College, Boston. A master’s degree in English teaching from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
How long have you worked with the Collier County Public School System and what is your previous teaching experience? Twelve years out of Collier County – glad to be here! He first taught in various towns on the “Southcoast” of Massachusetts, including Rochester and Fairhaven. Nine years teaching at Rising Tide Charter Middle School in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
What brings you to MICMS? A few years ago, a serious knee injury literally knocked me out of physical class. During this time, I moved back to Florida while running my own college coaching business. Last spring, I inquired about an ad I saw for writing tutors at MICMS, but it turned out to be a misleading ad for a school in Miami. What a happy accident! (Director of MICMS) Michele Wheeler kindly invited me to learn more about the opening of ELA and to visit the school. Now that I’m physically able to handle the demands of “in-person” classroom instruction again, the timing couldn’t have been better.
Why did you enter teaching and what do you find enjoyable and fulfilling in the profession? Long story short, I was a journalist in my early career and did my share of educational reporting in the Boston area. I realized that I would rather be part of the solution regarding problems in schools (and other areas), than just explaining them. I have also volunteered in schools and enjoy working with our young people. I started replacing and immediately knew it was the right career move.
There are so many things that are rewarding and enjoyable about teaching. I enjoy making my classroom a patient and welcoming environment that encourages students to challenge themselves and participate fully. It is not an easy task but rewarding when I see students taking responsibility for their own learning, progressing and gaining the confidence to contribute their ideas, questions and opinions. It is especially gratifying to see students fully appreciate the time and hard work put into reading, writing, and research. These are areas that students seem to be less interested in these days and that worries me, so when I see a glimmer of interest and students setting and achieving goals, it makes all the hard work worthwhile!
Family: My husband Scott and I have a beautifully blended family of three children, seven grandchildren and our amazing Cavapoo, Captain!
Hometown: Bradenton, Florida.
Hobby: Swimming, pickleball, travel, anything beach related, boating, and most importantly spending quality time with my family and friends.
If not an educator, what could your profession have been? I was a journalist before teaching and I still enjoy writing, especially human interest stories. I also thought about the US Coast Guard when I was younger and, as my students know, I love animals. I saw myself running my own dog shelter. Honestly, I have so many interests. Who knows what the future holds, but right now I’m exactly where I want and need to be.
Jill Hammond – Seventh and Eighth Grade Mathematics
Bachelor of Science in Education and Master of Education, both from The Ohio State University.
How long have you worked with the Collier County Public School System and what is your previous teaching experience? This is my 11th year teaching full time, including three years in Collier County. I was a substitute teacher for two years in the Columbus, Ohio area, then I taught for five years in Rio Rico, Arizona and for three years in Pickerington, Ohio. I took four years off from teaching (somewhat replaced in Pataskala, Ohio) and then moved here in May 2020.
What brings you to MICMS? Students and staff, and the reputation that precedes the school! It is an absolute honor to teach here.
Why did you enter teaching and what do you find enjoyable and fulfilling in the profession? I wanted to be a teacher since third grade because of my wonderful teacher, Mrs. Myers. I find it most rewarding to help students understand something they didn’t understand before.
Family: Married to Joseph for 17 years. No children and no pets.
Hometown: Mount Gilead, Ohio.
Hobby: Sewing, crafting, decorating our house, spending time with my husband traveling to distant places, on our boat or at home.
If not an educator, what could your profession have been? I probably would have been an accountant or maybe even done something with houses, like real estate or interior design.
Matt Huneke – Dean of Discipline and Athletics
University education: I have an associate’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in education, with a major in history, from Kean University in New Jersey and a master’s degree in sports administration from the University of Miami.
How long have you worked with the Collier County Public School System and what is your previous teaching experience? This is my ninth year teaching, all this time spent in Collier County. I previously worked in sales before changing careers in 2014.
What brings you to MICMS? I am a resident of Marco Island who truly believes this is one of the best places to live in the country. Working at MICMS gives me the opportunity to have a positive impact on our community through education and athletics.
Why did you enter teaching and what do you find enjoyable and fulfilling in the profession? Honestly, I got into the profession because of the schedule. My wife and I had two young children at the time and she traveled a week a month for work. Teaching has provided me with a stable salary and a flexible schedule. Once I started teaching, my passion for athletics and connecting with students in the classroom and on the field ignited.
Family: My wife, Katie, and our three boys, Grady, Finn and Ty.
Hometown: Toms River, New Jersey.
Hobby: Anything related to sports. If there is a golf outing in the area, I most likely play there, play tennis at the Y, shoot hoops at Mackle, run to practices and college/recreational league events, I plays men’s league softball Thursday nights at Winterberry Park, Sundays at Residence Beach or on the boat with a line in the water.
If not an educator, what could your profession have been? Something sports-related, maybe working in the front office of a professional sports team or professional sports league, like the PGA Tour.