ENCORE TEAM

During one or more of the class periods throughout the school day, students will be scheduled into Encore classes. These courses meet daily for either a quarter, trimester, or semester. All sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade students take these classes, but not all in the same twelve-week period. The 6th graders will have a semester of LA Plus with their core teachers and a quarter of Music and a quarter of Art. The 7th-grade Encore classes are LA Plus, Art, and Music. The 8th-grade Encore classes are LA Plus, Health, Art, and Tech Integration.

Encore Team Teachers: Greg Allen, Jeffrey Brauns, Jody Gaffner, Randy Gindler, Katelyn Hagarty, Matt Herndon, Maria Knedel, Courtney Sellers, and Shannon Wesselmann.

Mr. Allen holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a Master of Arts in Education from Greenville College. Greg is a third-generation school band director.

His maternal grandfather worked for forty-one years as a school band director in Hammond, Indiana. Both of his parents are retired band directors. A brother is a band director in Champaign and another brother is an administrator for the School Of Music at U of I. The Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award was presented to Greg in 2010. He was awarded the National Band Association Citation of Excellence in band performance for 2011. Mr. Allen was inducted into the American School Band Directors Association in 2012. Greg serves as principal tuba in Saint Louis Wind Symphony and prior to that, played for the St Louis Brass band. He performs as a free-lance musician throughout the St. Louis region. He has participated as guest conductor for Highland Municipal band, St. Claire County Honor Band, Madison County honor band and Greenville College band. He served as IMEA Junior Band chairman, hosted Illinois Grade School Music Association (IGSMA) solo contests and IMEA District VI Auditions.

Mr. Greg Allen
Director of Bands
gallen@highlandcusd5.org

Mr. Brauns earned his Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Greenville College in 1989, his teaching certification in 1992, and his Master’s degree in Elementary Education from SIUE in 1995. His teaching career began in 1992-93 in Highland School District at Grantfork, Alhambra, and New Douglas. He followed that up with three years teaching 5th grade at Highland Elementary. The past 25 years have been at HMS. He coached 6th grade, 7th grade, and 8th grade basketball. Currently, he is the JV golf coach for boys. He lives in Highland with his wife Susie and two children: Ben (21) and Jake (18). In his spare time, he enjoys golfing, biking, watching sports, and spending time with his family at the lake.

Mr. Jeffrey Brauns
Language Arts
jbrauns@highlandcusd5.org

Mrs. Gaffner graduated from Nokomis High School in 2005. She attended Millikin University and earned a BS in Physical Education/Health in 2009. She began my teaching career in 2009 at Pana Junior High School where she taught 6-8th grade PE, Health and coached 8th-grade basketball from 2009 - 2016. She joined the HMS staff in 2016 where she now teaches PE, coached 8th-grade basketball, and sponsors a variety of intramurals.

In her free time, she enjoys being outside as much as possible, attending sporting events, and spending time with her husband, family, and friends.

Mrs. Jody Gaffner
Physical Education
jgaffner@highlandcusd5.org

Ms. Shannon Wesselmann Choral Music Director, Grades 6-12 swesselmann@highlandcusd5.org

Mrs. Katelyn Hagarty graduated from McKendree University with a Bachelors in Health Education in 2009. Along with her Bachelor’s degree, she received a number of endorsements as well- Physical Education, Driver’s Education, Adaptive PE, and Middle School Health and PE. She earned her Master’s in School Counseling from Lindenwood University in 2013.

She began her teaching career at Mt. Vernon Township High School (2009-2011). Then taught Physical Education and Health Education at O’Fallon Township High School for 6 years (2011-20-2017). She joined the Highland Middle School staff in 2017. I teach 6th, 7th, and 8thgrade Physical Education and 8th-grade Health Education here at HMS. She is also the varsity volleyball coach at Highland High School.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two little boys, attending sporting events, and being with family and friends.

Mrs. Katelyn Hagarty
Physical Education/Health
khagarty@highlandcusd5.org

Mr. Matt Herndon graduated from SIUE with a Bachelors of Science in Physical Education in 1996 and received his Master's in Kinesiology with an emphasis on Sport Management in 2007. He previously worked at Wood River Jr. High where he taught physical education and was athletic director for 22 years. He coached boys and girls basketball at the jr. high while coaching boys and girls soccer at East Alton-Wood River HS for 24 years. He also served several years as the junior varsity boys basketball coach.

He came to HMS in 2020. He currently teaches 6th-8th physical education and is the athletic director.

In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Allison, and four kids (Katie, Kiley, Harper & Holden). He also enjoys watching his favorite team, the University of Illinois "Fighting Illini", watching college sports, and collecting sports memorabilia.

Mr. Matt Herndon
Athletic Director/Physical Education
mherndon@highlandcusd5.org

Mrs. Maria Knedel
Tech Integration
mknedel@highlandcusd5.org

Mr. Gindler teaches 6th and 7th Grade General Music at the middle school, as well as 5th Grade Beginning Band at Highland Elementary. Prior to coming to Highland, he spent almost 30 years teaching in the Pattonville School District in St. Louis County first as a music teacher and then as a technology specialist. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Music Education from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and has also completed an Educational Leadership program at SIU Edwardsville.

When not at school, Mr. Gindler is a professional musician in the St. Louis area and has performed with numerous ensembles including The St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra, The Gateway Festival Orchestra of St. Louis, The Alton Symphony, and The Highland Muny Band. He also works as a freelance musician in various orchestral and jazz ensembles and is a member of the Latin salsa band, Tropical Mood of St. Louis.

Mr. Gindler lives with his wife and son on a small farm in the area where they raise sheep, goats, chickens and honeybees. In his spare time, he enjoys fishing and biking.

Mr. Randy Gindler
General Music
rgindler@highlandcusd5.org

Mr. Robertson

Mr. Jay Robertson
Physical Education/Health
jrobertson@highlandcusd5.org

Mrs. Sellers graduated from Highland High School in 2006. She graduated from Webster University with a B.A. in Studio Art and a B.A. in Education k-12. Currently, Mrs. Sellers is attending Lindenwood University to obtain her Master's degree in Education Curriculum and Instruction. Mrs. Sellers began her art teaching career at COCA Arts Creative Camp in St. Louis in 2010. She joined the Highland Middle School staff in 2011. In her spare time, she enjoys her time with her two daughters, husband, and three dogs. She loves being outdoors, attending art galleries and fairs, thrifting, and vintage shopping, and drinking her weight in coffee.

Mrs. Courtney Sellers
7th/8th Grade Art
csellers@highlandcusd5.org