We Focus on Middle School

Hyla Middle School

Meet the Faculty


Suzanne Messinger – Head of School
Suzanne joined Hyla for the 2017-2018 school year and comes to the school with a rich and vibrant background in school leadership, community building, and teaching. Suzanne was formerly the Assistant Head of School at the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle (JDS), a position she has held since 2013. Prior to that, she served as their Director of Elementary Education, Curriculum Coordinator, and upper elementary teacher. In recognition of her accomplishments at JDS in visioning, strategic planning and teacher professional development, NWAIS identified Suzanne as an emerging school leader, and they selected her for their elite Pathways to Leadership Program. This 2-year program for women supports their professional development in school governance, finance, and leadership. Suzanne is one of three participants to be appointed as a Head of School this year. As an educator and administrator, Suzanne celebrates inquiry-based learning and prioritizes what she calls the “action phase of the inquiry cycle” by encouraging children to use the knowledge they acquire to make positive changes in their school community, environment, local community and the world. Her approach and values are an exciting fit with Hyla’s mission, philosophy and future. 

Kris Rogers Dean of Students and School Counselor
Kris joined Hyla in the fall of 2004 as counselor for students, parents, teachers and administrators. Kris comes to Hyla with a strong background in youth counseling and program administration at numerous local schools and organizations. Kris is counselor at The Island School where she formed the counseling program in 2000. She is also a consultant for independent schools in Seattle. Kris serves on the steering committee for The Holt Webster Fund, which serves “at risk” youth on Bainbridge Island. Kris is a board member for the Bainbridge Island Chapter of  “Make Some Noise, Cure Pediatric Cancer Research”. Kris worked as a counselor for Bainbridge Youth Services where she also founded and facilitated the BYS Youth Board, a peer education program where high school students worked with middle school students to promote drug/alcohol education and prevention. At Seattle Country Day School, Kris formed the counseling program, served as interim dean of students, worked in admissions, served as counseling consultant, and served on the board of trustees. During the early part of her career, Kris worked in the King County juvenile court system, at Seattle Children’s Hospital, a runaway shelter, a Seattle youth service bureau, and a community mental health center. She also had a private practice on Bainbridge Island for over 10 years. Kris has a BA in Social Work, and an MA in Psychology. Kris lives on Bainbridge Island with her husband Brad and daughter Maxsena (Hyla ’11). Her daughter Bridget (Hyla ’03) is now working in education.

Colleen Carroll – Assistant to the Head
Colleen grew up on Bainbridge Island, enjoying the beauty of the water and the mountains. With her father, Paul Carroll, as the founding Head of School, she also grew up at Hyla, from playing under classroom tables in the original Hyla building, to spackling classroom walls on summer vacation, and ultimately enjoying three years as a student before graduating in 2004. She went on to attend Middlebury College in Vermont, graduating with a BA in Geography and American Studies in 2012. Colleen’s interests are many and varied, from hiking and skiing, to art and baking, travel and Spanish. She has worked as a ski instructor, a baker, and cookie decorator, and also led student trips to Spain and Nicaragua. After college, Colleen lived and worked on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua, for 15 months, as the office volunteer for the Bainbridge Ometepe Sister Islands Association. Although she misses the warmth and beauty of Ometepe, she is happy to be back in the Northwest and happy to be back at Hyla. She served as the school’s librarian for three years and is happy to join the admin team to support our new Head of School. 

Carrington Quinn LannonCarrington Quinn Lannon – Office Manager
When you arrive at Hyla, Carrington will be the first person to greet you in the office. She is our control center at Hyla, working with students, teachers, parents and visitors to keep our daily schedule running smoothly. Wearing many different hats throughout the week – from office manager, to reception, to communications, to registrar – she keeps us informed and organized, all with a smile on her face. She also coordinates Pizza Wednesday, which any student will tell you is serious business. 




Jana MorrisJana Morris – Business Manager
Jana has been Hyla’s Business Manager for 12 years. She serves on the Finance Committee, and handles the school’s book-keeping and financials. She also manages facilities rentals for groups who use the campus for camps, family reunions, weddings and other functions. 





Katherine JohnsKatherine Johns – Communications & Development:
Katherine works with parents, teachers, staff, and the board on strategic planning, communications, and fundraising campaigns. She serves on the Board Development Committee and works with the Hyla Parent Association on parent volunteer projects throughout the year. 






Melissa Dempsey Humanities
Growing up in a family of educators, Melissa thought it was the last profession she would choose.  But after teaching theatre to groups of young adults who were trying to leave their gang activity behind, she was hooked.  She already had a BA in Theatre Arts and Italian from Lake Erie College in Ohio, so went on to get an additional degree in secondary education from the University of Denver and has been an educator ever since.  She began her career by teaching theatre and gifted and talented students at a middle school in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, where she found the vibrancy, and humor of young adolescents to be energizing. It was then she saw the promise and possibility of middle level education; these years being a crossroads where the life of an individual often makes up its mind. After Colorado, she lived and taught in East Lyme, Connecticut–a small town on Long Island Sound.  While teaching language arts there she was named Holocaust Educator of the Year and became a conference presenter for the New England League of Middle Schools.  She’s been a student of the Reading and Writing Project, Columbia University, New York since 2003 and moved to Seattle six years ago and is pursuing an MFA in fiction from Seattle Pacific University.  She currently holds professional educator certificates in Connecticut and Washington.  She chose to teach at Hyla because she saw happy children who not only had vibrant relationships with each other, but with their teachers as well.  Experiencing other cultures has always been a particular delight for her, some of the most memorable being studying abroad in Italy and helping train Russian teachers in Moscow.  She also enjoys writing, reading, anything pertaining to the ocean, hiking and swimming, but most of all she loves talking to friends over a cup of great Seattle coffee.

Mike Fosmark – Spanish
Mike found his way to Hyla in 2009 after teaching Spanish at Okanogan High School for four years. There he also coached the middle school wrestling team. Previously he instructed Math and Science at Maple Valley Alternative High School. He graduated in 1997 from Washington State University with a BA in Spanish Language and Literature and is currently pursuing a Masters Degree from the University of Salamanca in Spain. Mike first studied Spanish in junior high but fell in love with the language during a five month stay in Veracruz, Mexico as an exchange student. Mike later traveled to Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela during college which further enriched his Spanish language skills and his appreciation for the multitude of cultures in our world. Traveling, meeting new people, continually learning, and sharing what he knows are a few of the things Mike loves to do.

Jennifer Haase – History
Jennifer’s passions include American history and the outdoors.  In her college years she dove into the study of the Civil War and the far west at Gettysburg College where, in 1993, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree.  While working at the “Civil War Institute,” Jennifer was inspired by the honesty and hope that middle schoolers had and realized that she wanted to teach. She went on to graduate school at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania to get her teaching certification. In 1998, after teaching in Pennsylvania for three and a half years, she moved west to follow another passion—mountains.  Outside of school, Jennifer’s hobbies include backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, ice climbing and rock climbing, but most of all she enjoys introducing the wonders of life to her daughter, Nevi and son, Swift.

Cara Holmquist – Librarian
As a lifelong reader, Cara is thrilled to join Hyla as Librarian for the 2017-2018 school year.  Cara is drawn to Hyla’s culture of respect and support for the unique development of each student. Hyla’s library will continue to be a space for students to seek resources and ideas, and explore the connections between new ideas, themselves, and their communities. Cara brings a background of outdoor youth leadership and teaching in settings other than schools – retreats, workshops, and facilitating service-learning journeys. Originally from Montana, Cara graduated from the University of Montana – Western in 2005 with a BA in Social Science.  She spent a year volunteering in Colorado before moving to the Bay Area and completing an M.Div at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA.  She was ordained in 2011 and pastored a small congregation for four years. Cara also loves traveling and cycling.  She has lived in Greece for a year, backpacked the Albanian coast, camped in a van for two weeks in Iceland, and visited several other countries.  Having moved to Bainbridge in the winter of 2016, she just might have found the ideal setting for a coffee-loving bookworm who also wants to go ride bikes!  

Cami HoltmeierScience
An ideal day for Cami would be spent outdoors. As an undergraduate at the University of Nebraska, she spent several summers outside studying biology at a field station, as well as researching cricket genetics in a laboratory and population biology on a prairie reserve in Minnesota. Cami continued her education at Cornell University where she completed a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and did her field research in the Everglades and the Bahamas. After graduate school, she was a biology instructor for four years in Chicago at DePaul University. Before joining Hyla in 2009 she volunteered teaching science to kindergartners at St. Cecilia’s Catholic School and marine science to preschoolers at the Poulsbo Marine Science Center. In her free time Cami enjoys biking, hiking, camping, playing on the beach, gardening and observing the fascinating behaviors of her family’s large number of pets.

Andrew Lovejoy – Ultimate Coach, Electives
Andrew is a 1997 graduate of Hyla and a 2005 graduate of Carlton College. It was a life-changing day when former Hyla teacher, David Evans, invited Andrew to join the Hyla frisbee team. After years of playing competitive Ultimate, Andrew began coaching youth Ultimate camps and coaching the Ultimate Frisbee team at Bainbridge High School. He has also taught at the Trillium School in Indianola.  Andrew also plays the mandolin and sings, and we greatly look forward to his musical contributions to the elective program. Andrew lives in Indianola with his wife Kate and children, Oliver and Cicely.

Kate Lovejoy – Art
Teaching at Hyla brings together two of Kate’s lifelong passions – the arts, and working and connecting with youth. The desire to make connections with young people has been a driving force in Kate’s life since she herself graduated from high school. She was one of the founders of The Trillium School, a private alternative school in Indianola, WA, where she worked for 9 years. Since Trillium closed in 2014, Kate has continued to work with youth, teaching art camps and organizing and leading young women’s groups, while also pursuing her own education, earning a degree from Antioch University. As an educator, Kate is a strong believer in using the principles of Democratic education to empower students, giving them real responsibility, gentle guidance, and helping them to discover their own passions. Her goal as an art teacher is to help students to become brave artists, feeling confident and free to express themselves artistically without fear of failure. When she is not teaching, Kate loves making art, reading, playing games, being outdoors, running, and spending time with her husband and two children.

David Maron – Human Relations and Global Connections
David Maron was raised on Bainbridge Island, and it was this upbringing and place that instilled in him a strong sense of community. David attended The Evergreen State College, where he focused his energies on comparative religion and historical studies. Throughout his years as an undergraduate, David led outdoor trips and worked with disadvantaged youth in the Olympia area. After graduation David moved to DC and earned a master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution from American University, with a focus on Middle East studies. For several years thereafter, he worked on internationally oriented programs for DC schools, exposing students to a more global education experience. Since earning his teaching credentials in 2008, David has taught within the history department at Skyline High School in Oakland, California, where he focused on building community through a strong focus on classroom culture and restorative justice practices. David is very excited to return to the Hyla community – he worked here as a history teacher while Jennifer was on maternity leave about eight years ago. He is eager to help guide the school’s young people through their middle school years. Back on the island after 20 years away, David is pleased to cultivate his own family (a wife and two girls) here in a place that provided him such a solid sense of community.

Cooper Rooks – PE
Cooper was raised on Bainbridge Island, where his love of boats led to a deep appreciation for the outdoor activities of the Pacific Northwest. He has kayaked from Fay Bainbridge up the inside passage to northern British Columbia and sailed from Eagle Harbor to Auckland, New Zealand. This summer, he and his brother will compete in the Race to Alaska, a non-motorized, unsupported boat race from Port Townsend to Ketchikan. His educator mother inspired a passion for education, and he enjoys sharing creativity and respect through teaching art and athletics. Cooper received his B.A. in Education from the Evergreen State College. He taught ceramics, kayaking and skateboarding at Camp Orkila, and coached youth and masters rowing on Bainbridge. He is now one of the lead coaches for the Bainbridge Water Polo Club and high school programs, and has overseen massive program growth thanks to a positive and inclusive atmosphere. When not sailing or coaching, Cooper is also an accomplished ceramic, metal, and glass artist. He is highly motivated to work with middle school aged students and athletes in part because of influential teachers and coaches that helped him thrive in this often challenging time. He believes deeply that respect between students and teachers is a powerful catalyst for growth, and is extremely excited to join the Hyla community.

Cindy Schacht Math
Cindy’s sense of adventure and exploration has taken her many places in her life thus far. She grew up in New York and Pennsylvania, went to school in Boston (with a short stint in Australia), and then moved from Los Angeles to Seattle, to San Francisco, and back to Seattle again. After experiencing life in many different places, she has settled here on Bainbridge Island with a desire to stay put and raise her family.  Her husband David and two sons Ryan and Luke keep her very busy. As a family they enjoy the outdoors, gardening, biking, and co-exploring the island. Cindy completed her BA in math and education at Boston College, then later her MA in Multicultural Education at UW. She has taught middle school for over 10 years at The Overlake School,The Hamlin School, and Lakeside School. She has experience with a variety of ages, but her true passion is teaching middle school students. She loves this age group for their sense of fun, humor, and budding intellectual maturity. She is excited to be a part of the Hyla community.

Chris Soldevilla – Drama
Chris has worked for over 25 years as an actor, both on screen and on stage, and as a teaching coach, helping others find their voice and gain control and confidence. Most recently, Chris was in SPACEBOX theater’s production of David Mamet’s American Buffalo. He has also performed with BPA in True West, The Tempest, and Twelve Angry Men. He is a member of the improv group, The Edge.




Jeff Steele 6th Grade Math and Science
Jeff Steele was born and raised on the shores of the Puget Sound. He earned his Undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and began his teaching career in the outdoor environmental education program at Camp Orkila in the San Juan Islands, WA. He soon became their director of the Wilderness Expedition Program where he oversaw sea kayaking, sailing, rock climbing, back packing and mountain biking expeditions for several years. In this role he fully understood that unless we ask our children to do meaningful things with their young lives, we will have a difficult time fostering the sense of citizen-leadership that we would hope for from our next generation. He was married on Orcas Island and then began his Masters in Education at Goddard College in Vermont. He was awarded a teaching certificate in secondary science education and completed an original research study of schools as living ecological systems. While living in Louisville, KY he taught high school physics and gained a deep appreciation for the meeting of math and science. In Madison, WI he took a position in the Talented and Gifted department he did extensive work managing a 7th and 8th grade biology research cohort on Stem cells. He is excited to begin a long teaching career at Hyla Middle School and develop a deep relationship with the Bainbridge Island community. Through his various roles as an educator he has developed a vision of education that fosters and focuses a strong sense of curiosity about our world and ourselves and a practice of education that is deeply connected to what it means to fully inhabit a local community. Jeff, his wife Alyssa Knickerbocker, and sons Rowan and Remy live in Indianola and enjoying being back in the Pacific Northwest among old family and friends.

Kimberley Gorman Trick English & Global Connections
Kimberley grew up on the St. Lawrence River in Ontario, Canada.  After receiving a scholarship to study in the United States, she moved to Upstate New York to study English Literature at St. Lawrence University. Through her undergraduate education, Kimberley explored playwriting and theatre in London, England and government and law in Washington, D.C. These interests sparked her interest in continued education at Syracuse University where she received both her M.S.W. and J.D. Since then, she has lived in various states, including Alabama, Maine, and Maryland; however, she is happiest here in the Pacific Northwest and at her Canadian home on Rideau Lake in Ontario (mosquitoes notwithstanding). Kimberley has over thirty years of experience with youth.  She has served on the advisory board for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, developed treatment programs for incarcerated teens, managed group homes, worked in homeless and runaway shelters, and taught in independent schools, including The Barrie School in Silver Spring, Maryland and most recently, here at Hyla Middle School.  Kimberley shares her passion for learning through discussions and experiential-based class activities. Outside of school, she maintains a law practice focusing on family law issues; however, she is most excited about her new love of yoga and ayurveda.  She recently received her teacher training certification in Costa Rica and can be found guiding her students in yoga practice (and working) at Willowtree Market in Winslow. In her spare time, Kimberley is either on her yoga mat, whipping up some vegan fare in the kitchen, paddle boarding with her family in Eagle Harbor, or writing.