Mrs. Debra Sell

Kindergarten Teacher and Preschool Program Director

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Mrs. Sell is our Kindergarten Teacher and Preschool Program Director.

Debra spent most of her childhood growing up in Sarasota, Florida and vacationing in Pentwater, Michigan.  She enjoyed exploring nature and playing outside for hours at a time with her big sister.  She was very musically inclined and enjoyed singing in the choir and playing several instruments.

Mrs. Sell graduated with her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of South Florida in 1997.  She married her best friend, Bill Sell, in the spring of 2001.  Later, Debra returned to USF to complete her Masters Degree in Teaching-Elementary Education in 2004.  Debra originally taught kindergarten at Garden Elementary in Venice, Florida.  She took time off from teaching to raise her two sons, Liam and Logan.  Once Logan was ready for preschool, she returned to the classroom teaching at Forty Carrots Family Center in Sarasota, Florida.

Bill and Debra decided to follow their hearts and move to Michigan in 2018.  Bill a became a Police Officer with Big Rapids Department of Public Safety and Debra began teaching kindergarten at G.T. Norman Elementary in Reed City.  Liam and Logan have been attending St. Mary School since  and the whole Sell family recently joined the St. Mary/St. Paul Parish in 2022.

Debra is honored to join the staff as the new kindergarten teacher and to be apart of the good work that is going on at St. Mary School and Church.

Dr. Courtney Piercey


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Dr. Courtney Piercey, Music –

I have been teaching college-level music classes since 2003, but started teaching K- 8 general music in 2018. I joined the faculty at St. Mary School in 2019. I love the relationships I build with my students and helping them find their own connection to the music around them. I am originally from New York and attended the Crane School of Music- Go Bears! , Boston University- Go Terriers!, and Arizona State University- Go Sundevils!
When I’m not teaching music, I perform in and musically direct Opera and Musical Theatre productions. I love to try recipes from around the world, with Indian and Italian being my favorite foods to cook! I have always loved sci-fi and fantasy books and films-The Neverending Story, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and the Marvel franchise are among my favorites. I am also an avid runner/walker who averages 10-20 miles a week. I live with my wonderful husband of 21 years and our three cats and dog.
Growing up Catholic gave me a strong relationship with God. My personal relationship with God in prayer and service to others guides my daily life and work.

Mr. Ken Ortegel

3rd Grade

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Ken Ortegel is our 3rd grade teacher.

Mr. O, as his students call him, recently retired from Grand Rapids Public Schools, where he consistently obtained “highly effective’ teacher ratings throughout his tenure in education.

Ken possesses strong skills in the protocols and strategies in student services and differentiation.  He has over 30 years of teaching experience and we are very fortunate to have him share his talents with us.

Mr. O. is a resident of Cedar Springs and a parishioner of St. John Paul II.  He loves sports and was a highly decorated coach in soccer and basketball, winning multiple district championships.

Mrs. Michaela Wood


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Michaela Wood is our Lead Preschool Teacher.

Mrs. Wood has been teaching Preschool for the last 5 years, most recently at Head Start in Montcalm County.
She is happily married to her husband Glenn, and they have 2 children together Alyvia(6) and Luke(4).
Mrs. Wood loves spending time with her family and seeing the world.

Mrs. Emily Theunick

2nd Grade

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Mrs. Theunick grew up in Big Rapids, always wanting to be an artist and a teacher. She attended Wayne State University, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fibers and is currently working on her masters in teaching in the AME program at Aquinas.
Prior to her full-time teaching position at St. Mary, Mrs. Theunick worked in her studio and substitute taught at area schools, including St. Mary School. In her free time, she volunteers for the Wheatland Music Festival and has volunteered for the Picture Lady Program in Big Rapids.
Mrs. Theunick is married to Josh who is a welder and works for the Lake County Road Commission as a HD Mechanic.  They live in Bitely and have recently finished building their house. Together, they have one daughter, Elsa, who is is a student at St. Mary School with Honor Roll merit.
They care for a menagerie of pets including; three dogs, four cats, chickens, and one fish.  Mrs. Theunick loves gardening, and ha sseveral flower beds, a vegetable garden and an excessive amount of houseplants.
Mrs. Theunick is thankful to be teaching second grade at St Mary School.

Mr. Scott Pieratt

Physical Education/Technology

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A graduate of Central Michigan University, Mr. Pieratt has been a teacher in Big Rapids for 18 years and has had the pleasure of working at St. Mary’s for the past 13. His wife, Sarah, is also a teacher and employed by Midland Public Schools. His 14 year old daughter, Eliza, and 12 year old son, Grady, attend Sacred Heart Academy in Mt. Pleasant where they reside.

Mr. Pieratt teaches Technology and Physical Education to grades 1st through 8th. He loves to see kids grow and work hard to improve their skills in both areas. In addition to the classroom work, Mr. Pieratt coaches cross country at the Big Rapids Middle School.

In his spare time, Mr. Pieratt enjoys coaching his children in various sports such as basketball, softball and baseball.

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Mr. Pieratt’s Website

Mrs. Carey Mathewson

Middle School Math

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Mrs. Mathewson grew up in Flat Rock, Michigan on the east side of the state. She graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelors of Arts in Secondary Education majoring in Mathematics and a minor in Group Science. After teaching a few years, she returned to school and received a middle school endorsement from Central Michigan University.

She moved to Big Rapids with her husband upon his graduation from the University of Detroit Dental School. Having both been given the great opportunity of a Catholic Education, they decided to continue the tradition with their three children. Brook, Chloe and Emily have all been students at St. Mary School.

Mrs. Mathewson’s responsibilities at St. Mary include teaching middle school math.  In addition to her traditional classroom responsibilities, she is a member of the Policy and Planning group for school board and the coordinator for our PALS groups.

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Mrs. Andrea Cooley

Middle School English Language Arts

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Mrs. Cooley has been working at St. Mary Catholic School since 2007.

She is an alum of St. Mary School and an active parishioner. Mrs. Cooley is married (Jack) and has three children who all attended St. Mary Catholic School.

Mrs. Cooley received her teaching degree from Western Michigan University and considers herself a townie – being born and raised in Big Rapids.

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Mrs. Angela Denny

4th Grade

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Mrs. Denny grew up in Grand Rapids and attended a Catholic School for 13 years. After completing the teacher certification program at Grand Valley State University, Mrs. Denny moved to Big Rapids in 2007 to begin teaching at St. Mary School. She met her husband, a St. Mary alumnus, at the St. Mary Gala in 2010. They were married in 2012. She and her husband, John, have one son, who attends St. Mary School.

Mrs. Denny has taught grades second through eighth at St. Mary School and is a member of the PTO.

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Mrs. Jennifer Vos

1st Grade

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Mrs. Jennifer Vos is teaching first grade for her 4th year at St. Mary School.  She and her husband Greg have a son, Ryan, who is a senior in high school, and a daughter, Brooke, who is married.  She has three beautiful grandsons.  Mrs. Vos enjoys this small knit community at St. Mary’s and values the Catholic faith.  “Teaching the faith to my students is such a blessing to me in this busy world.  I am very happy to be an important part of my student’s lives at St. Mary School.”   Mrs. Vos and her husband, Greg, belong to Christ the King St. Francis de Sales Parish in Howard City, where she teaches faith formation as well. She loves to garden and enjoys water sports, hike, camp and being outside with her family. A graduate of Grand Valley State University, Mrs. Vos lives in Pierson on a small lake and loves everything outdoors! She loves bringing nature into her classroom too.


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