The Ulmus Team

Our Educational Philosophy

“The renewal of classical education is not a nostalgic return to the past- it’s a recovery of those methods that have always created the future.” - Dr. Christopher Perrin

Here at Ulmus Academy our educational philosophy is the renewal of classical education. Our educators blend classical pedagogy with modern educational sciences in order to create a learning environment that is student focused. By using the ancient and medieval understanding of the three stages of the Trivium- Grammar Stage, Logic Stage, and Rhetoric- we are creating an academic career for each individual child that is based on their developing abilities in the appropriate timing. We are growing a strong knowledge base in the grammar stage and modeling for them how to use that knowledge as they grow in understanding during the Logic and Rhetoric stages. By moving slowly through the early elementary stages, we have naturally prepared them for critical thinking.

“Teach How to Think, Not What to Think”

Meet our Ulmus Educators

Katherine Cross Zanger

Curriculum Director

“If you want a child to know the truth, tell them the truth. If you want a child to love truth, tell them a story.”- Andrew Peterson

I have studied and trained in Classical Education for the last decade finding real passion in Schole` (Teaching from Rest).  My education philosophy is really a mixed bag.  I follow Montessori, Classical and Traditional methods forming my unique thinking of, “I don’t care where a good idea comes from.”  Elementary education is a wonderful place for me because I love the wonder of the young student, and the opportunity to blend as many of their subjects together.  Everything clicks together and everything makes sense!  Whole student classical education creates a balanced scholar ready to move forward in their goals.

In addition to working in Classical classrooms, tutoring writing online, and tutoring reading I homeschooled my five children until enrolling them in Ulmus Academy.  Go Falcons!   

Connie Heberlein

Logic & Rhetoric Head Teacher

I have been an educator for over thirty years. Prior to coming to Ulmus Academy I taught 6th grade students all subjects and 7th grade students Language Arts. I love learning and, in turn, teaching what I’ve learned. I believe knowledge is extremely important—not only academic knowledge but also knowledge of self and how to live life to the fullest. It’s my hope that every student leaving my classroom will become a life-long learner and know that they are valued and loved.

One of the advantages of teaching and learning at Ulmus Academy is the classical approach, which is rooted in history and oriented around ideas that expose students to the great thinkers of the past. I agree with the Spanish philosopher George Santayana who wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” and Winston Churchill’s statement, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Remembering and learning from history are vital components to a healthy society.

At the Logic stage (also called Dialectic), 6th through 8th graders are beginning to demonstrate independent and abstract thinking. Using their natural tendencies to argue and question, I have the privilege of training students to support their ideas with facts, draw logical conclusions, and become critical thinkers.

So, thank you, parents and guardians, for entrusting me with your children. I truly value the partnership we have in giving your children what they need to help them succeed in life. Also, thank you, students. You are a joy, and I learn just as much from you as I hope you will learn from me.

Alexa McKenna

Pre-Grammar (Pre-K) Head Teacher

‘Ms. Alexa’ McKenna has 15 years of experience in early childhood roles, and has always wanted to create a safe place for kids to belong and grow. Prior to Ulmus Academy, she taught at the Bay Area Montessori Academy in Florida and Cuddle Bugs Daycare in Palmyra, MO. Ms. Alexa has been working with little ones her entire life and loves watching them grow and become independent. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see children slowly but surely learn to do tasks on their own,” said Alexa. “It also brings me a lot of joy when they get comfortable enough in the classroom to be themselves.” Ms. Alexa joined Ulmus Academy in 2022.

Kelli Lambert

Lower Grammar, K-2nd Head Teacher

Ms. Kelli (Lambert) has been working with children for 11 years and has 15 years of experience in clerical support and office management. Her areas of expertise are in elementary education, early childhood development, and project management. Prior to Ulmus Academy, she was head teacher, a teaching assistant, substitute teacher, homeschool parent, and director of a preschool and at-home tutoring business. “I enjoy classical education because it’s hands-on,” said Kelli. “Also, because of our mixed classroom model students are in a constant state of review as each grade learns the material. This really solidifies their foundation.” Kelli has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Western Illinois University. She joined Ulmus in the spring of 2023.

Liz Boyer

Upper grammar, 3rd-5th Head Teacher

‘Ms. Liz’ Boyer has 25 years of experience, 15 in bookkeeping and a decade in education. She has worked as a paraprofessional at QPS Early Childhood & Family Center, a special education aide for Belleville Area Special Services Cooperative, a homeschool parent, and in various roles within Ulmus Academy (K-2nd co-teacher, 3rd-5th TA and head teacher). “What I love about teaching is that I can be a force for good in a child’s life,” said Liz. “I can help them realize their worth, reach their full potential…and cheer them on as they grow into incredible humans!” Ms. Liz has a TA Certification from Southwestern Illinois Community College and is currently the Head Teacher in Upper Grammar at Ulmus Academy.

Vicki Hiland

Teaching Assistant, pre-Grammar & Lower grammar

‘Ms. Vicki’ Hiland has a decade of experience in early childhood roles, 11 years in healthcare and 15 years as a business owner in residential and commercial cleaning. Prior to Ulmus Academy, she ran her own in-home daycare and was a volunteer teacher. Ms. Vicki’s favorite part about working with children is their enthusiasm and excitement to learn. She joined Ulmus Academy in 2022 and is the Teaching Assistant for Pre-Grammar (Ms. Alexa) and Lower Grammar (Ms. Kelli).

Sarah Tarelli

Art History, Latin & Philosophy K-12th

Sarah (Mrs. Tarelli) has a decade of experience teaching, tutoring and serving as an education coordinator. Her areas of expertise are Art History, Philosophy, Latin and teaching education in the classical model. Prior to Ulmus Academy, Sarah taught and tutored in the Quincy Classical Conversations community and in the education department at Joann Fabrics. When asked about the classical education model, Mrs. Tarelli said, “I love this model because it teaches you how to think. It sets the stage for deeper conversations in the classroom because we aren’t teaching subjects in silos. We are teaching across all domains.” She joined Ulmus Academy in 2022 and teaches Latin, Art and Philosophy to students K-12.