Steven D. Warren was born and raised in Chicago, IL. He grew up in the Auburn-Gresham community and attended Chicago Public Schools. He is a United States Marine Corps veteran. He has been a musician for nearly 50 years, and his primary instrument is the drums. He is married to Debra Warren. They have two dogs, Solomon (an English Cocker Spaniel) and Mia (a Toy Poodle). He is a novice bowler. He has been a Lutheran all of his life and a pastor since 2010. He has served the congregations of Zion Lutheran Church in the Roseland community, Zion Lutheran Church in the Washington Heights Community, and Faith Lutheran Church in the Auburn-Gresham Community. He presently serves as Pastor of St. Paul Austin.
Ashley Strong, PreSchool & Kindergarten
Ashley Strong was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She received her B.S. in Biological Science with a minor in chemistry from Northern Illinois University in 2013. She has been teaching at St. Paul since 2015. Her hobbies include reading, visiting museums, and traveling. Her favorite Bible verse is Ecclesiastes 9:11, “Again I saw under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.”
Trina Pongco, 1st & 2nd Grades
Trina Pongco grew up in Bloomingdale, IL. She attended Loyola University Chicago and received her BA in Advertising and Public Relations in 2019. Throughout her undergraduate studies, Ms. Pongco worked with children as a mentor. Following graduation, she discovered her passion for inspiring students while working as an assistant preschool teacher.
Ms. Pongco has a love for music and has been involved in it for over 15 years. Her instrument specialties include piano and flute. She also loves art, gardening, and cooking.
A Bible verse that resonates with her is Galatians 5:22, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
Tamara McClain, 3rd & 4th Grades
Ms. McClain has over 15 years of experience teaching at the elementary level. She has taught in private schools and in the Chicago Public Schools. Ms. McClain has taught all of the grades from Kindergarten through Eighth. Ms. McClain always wanted to be a teacher and has always felt called by God to the profession. After a great deal of soul searching, Ms. McClain pursued her passion and went on to receive a Master's Degree in Elementary Education.
When Ms. McClain has found herself lost and confused in life, one of the Bible verses she relies on to give her the strength and courage to move forward is:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."
Denine Garrett, 5th & 6th Grades
Denine Garrett is the current Reading, Social Studies, and Science teacher for grades 5-6. She has served in this capacity in previous years and as a substitute teacher in all grades.
Denine's journey with St. Paul began when she entered St. Paul as a 7th grade student. It progressed with her being active in sports, plays, and an American Legion award recipient, as she graduated 8th grade. She continues her journey with St. Paul as a wife and mother of St. Paul Alumni. She has continued to serve the school as the Gospel Choir Director and PreK-8 Music Teacher as well as Musical Theater Director and Praise Dance Choreographer. A proud accomplishment was coproducing and directing St. Paul's youth community choir, Young Voices In Praise (YVIP), as they recorded their CD entitled By Faith. Denine has a personal love for the performing arts, modeling, fashion braiding, and event coordination; she continues to nurture our children in these areas.
Denine's love for children extends beyond the classroom. For many years, she has advocated for children and families in the Illinois Child Welfare Department as a social worker, case manager, mental health practitioner, childcare supervisor, diagnostic treatment residential counselor, and teen parenting program developer/facilitator for infants through young adults. She accomplished these goals while obtaining her Bachelors in Social Work (Psychology minor and Education courses) from Northeastern Illinois University and AAS in Social Service (Child Development minor) from Harold Washington College of Chicago.
As a fully devoted Christian, she is committed to serving and supporting God's little children as they strive to look, feel, do, and be good in their walk with God and have great days.
Glen Kuck, 5th-8th Grades
Glen Kuck was born and raised on a farm in Michigan. He received his BA degree in 1972 and MA degree in 1973 from Concordia University in River Forest. He began teaching in 1973 and came to St. Paul in 1980. He served as the principal of St. Paul for 31 years.
His favorite Bible verse in Micah 6:8, "This is what the Lord requires of you: to love mercy, to work for justice, and to walk humbly with the Lord."
Mark Bersie, Principal, 5th-8th Grades
Mark Bersie was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. He received a B.A. in Elementary Education from Concordia University in River Forest, IL in 1978. He has taught at St. Paul ever since. He has taught in grades 3 and 4 and is currently teaching in grades 5-6 and 7-8. Math is his favorite subject. He is also the Athletic Director and coaches volleyball, basketball, and track. His hobbies include reading, computers, visiting with family and friends, and taking naps. His favorite Bible verse is Isaiah 40:31, “…but they who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings like eagles; they shall run and not grow weary; they shall walk and not faint.”