Dear Salem Families,
We hope you are soaking up the sun and enjoying lots of quality family time this summer! We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new and returning students this fall, and we are very busy making preparations for the 2022-2023 school year. This is going to be a fabulous year, and we are so thankful God has blessed us with such wonderful families to go with us on this journey! We would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to our new staff members. We are so thankful God has brought these talented educators into the life of our school, and we can’t wait for you to get to know them.
Kindergarten - Julie Finke
Julie Finke has been serving in early childhood here at Salem for the last five years. She has many years of experience teaching children ages three through second grade. She really enjoys teaching and ministering to the youngest of Salem students and is very excited to be back in kindergarten this upcoming school year!
First Grade - Sarah Walquist
Sarah Walquist graduated from Concordia University Nebraska with her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education. She has seven years of teaching experience, including first grade, third grade, kindergarten-prep, and, most recently, kindergarten through fifth grade art here at Salem. In her free time, she is a professional photographer and also teaches piano lessons. She has a passion for young children, ministering to families, and is excited about joining the first grade team this year!
2nd Grade - Tiare Nieves
Tiare Nieves will be joining us as a second grade teacher. Mrs. Nieves was born and raised in Florida and graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2010, with a B.S. in Elementary Education. She has been married since 2013 and has two children: Gabriel (7) and Lana (3). She is ESOL certified and also has a reading endorsement. Mrs. Nieves has been teaching for eleven years and has experience teaching in all elementary grades from kindergarten through fifth grade! She also has teaching experience in a variety of types of schools, including charter schools, small and large private schools, and public schools. She truly loves serving her students and seeing them come to love learning as well. Her passion, though, is in Christian education, and she feels deeply humbled to play a part in her students’ spiritual growth. She does not take her calling lightly and will do her best to serve the Salem second graders this year! Her favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11-”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
3rd Grade - Laura Honeck
Mrs. Honeck is a Salem alumna and has served our Salem middle school students for the last twelve years. She feels so blessed to have had the opportunity to love them and have an impact on them by sharing Jesus’s love. She is very excited, however, to be moving to third grade this year! Her first two years of teaching at a Lutheran school in Florida, consisted of sequential years in 4th and then 3rd grade. She is so thankful for the numerous SLS teachers that poured into her during her own time at Salem. One of those teachers, our beloved Mr. S., who happens to be her dad, taught for over thirty years in third grade, and he has consistently provided her with support and will continue to be a source of guidance as the new school year begins. She looks forward to passing on the faith to this next generation of students at Salem. Her favorite Bible verse is Isaiah 43:1b- “Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.”
Third Grade - Kati Brandon
Kati Brandon will be joining us in third grade this year. Mrs. Brandon grew up in Federal Way, WA (outside of Seattle) and moved to Texas where she attended Concordia University. She has been teaching for nine years and has taught a wide variety of grades and subjects, including preschool three-year-olds, first grade, third grade, fourth grade, combined third and fourth grade, and fine arts for first through eighth grade. She will be joined by her husband, Mike, who will be teaching fourth grade here at Salem! The Brandons have two sons, Caleb, who is in high school at Concordia Lutheran, and Ethan, who is in fifth grade and will be attending Salem this year. She loves reading, singing, crafting, and spending time with her family. If Mrs. Brandon could teach her students just one thing this year, it would be that they are loved by God! Her favorite Bible verse is 1 Peter 5:6-7- "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you."
4th Grade - Mike Brandon
Mike Brandon will be joining Salem this year as a fourth grade teacher. He has seventeen years of experience in education. He began his teaching career at Pilgrim Lutheran in Houston where he was a 5th grade homeroom teacher and the Athletic Director. Next, he served at Trinity-Klein Lutheran School for many years, teaching middle school history, religion, and technology, as well as coaching various sports. After leaving Trinity, Mr. Brandon taught at Concordia International School in Shanghai China! While in China, he taught reading, writing, and social studies for sixth and seventh grade students. He has spent the last couple of years serving as the Principal at Immanuel Lutheran School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Brandons are very excited to be returning home to Texas! Mr. Brandon loves playing video games and sports, especially volleyball and rugby. His favorite Bible verse is Isaiah 55:9 - “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
4th Grade - Hayley Marks
Hayley (Johnston) Marks will be partnering with Mr. Brandon to serve our fourth grade students this year. Mrs. Marks was born and raised in Tomball, and she graduated from Salem and Concordia Lutheran High School, class of 2005! Mrs. Marks graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2010, with a B.S. in Elementary Education, with minors in both Special Education and English as Second Language Education. She began her teaching career with Tomball ISD as a kindergarten teacher and then worked as a Special Education Teacher. In 2015, she moved to El Paso with her husband and worked there as an ESL teacher for 5th-8th grade students at a charter school. After moving back to Tomball, she taught pre-k, kindergarten, first grade, second grade and special education in Spring ISD. She is a mother to two beautiful daughters: Vivian (3) and Lillian (19 months). They both attend Salem Early Childhood and love it! Mrs. Marks is absolutely thrilled to be returning to Salem! It has always felt like home to her and she is honored to serve as a staff member at her alma mater. Her favorite Bible verse is Lamentations 3:22-24- “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’”
Communications & 7th Grade Language Arts - Natalie Barletta
Natalie Barletta will be teaching seventh grade language arts and will be taking the lead with our School Communications. Mrs. Barletta graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S. in Education and taught elementary school for two years. In 2007, she graduated with honors from South Texas College of Law where she was a national champion moot court advocate and a member of South Texas Law Review. Mrs. Barletta also served as a Langdell Scholar for two years, teaching legal writing to first year law students. After law school, she coached as adjunct faculty in the nationally acclaimed South Texas advocacy program. Mrs. Barletta practiced oil and gas law and general litigation for nine years before returning to the classroom. Although the courtroom can be quite a thrill, she truly feels that teaching is her calling and believes nothing is more exciting than helping students realize their true potential.
For the last six years, Mrs. Barletta has taught a variety of subjects, including middle and high school English, middle school Debate, Debate I through IV in high school, and Federal and Texas Government at Lone Star College, Tomball. She also serves as adjunct faculty and curriculum developer for Hartwell University. She has been married to her husband, Chris, for seventeen years and they have a son, Riley, entering sixth grade, and a daughter, Lydia, entering fifth grade. Her favorite Bible verse is Isaiah 43:2- “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”