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 47 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
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. She became the Preschool teacher at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. Her hobbies include reading, going to 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.”
Tamara McClain, Kindergarten
Ms. McClain has 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 the grades from Kindergarten through Eighth grade. 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."
Tracey Brim, 1st & 2nd Grades
Tracey Brim was born and raised in the Garfield Park Community on the West Side of Chicago, IL. She earned her B.A. in Business Administration from Dominican University in River Forest, IL. She also has a Masters of Divinity from Midwest Christian College & Seminary and is on track to earn her PhD this summer in Biblical Studies from North Carolina Theological Seminary. In 1988, she began teaching in the Chicago Public Schools system at Leif Ericson Scholastic Academy where her four children attended. She also has a certification from the State of Illinois as a Domestic Violence Counselor. She has taught grades K-8. She currently teaches 1st and 2nd grades and believes she has been called to St. Paul in this season. She is committed to "doing life” with her students and their families.
One of her favorite scriptures is Philippians 4:6-7 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Nicole D. Ortegón, Ph.D., 5th & 6th Grades
Nicole D. Ortegón completed her Ph.D. in cultural and educational policy studies at Loyola University Chicago (LUC). She also holds an Ed.M. in technology in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dr. Ortegón has extensive undergraduate- and graduate-level teaching experience in the foundations of education. She formerly worked as a Pathways to Excellence for Teachers Instructional Coach for Concordia University Chicago's (CUC) Center for Literacy and adjunct professor at both CUC and LUC. This is Dr. Ortegón’s second year with St. Paul. She currently teaches grades 5-8.
One of her favorite bible verses is Psalm 18:2, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
Mark Bersie, 7th & 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.”