Meet The Principal: Dr. Gerald Slemmer


Dr. Slemmer joins the Leading Edge Team with more than 40 years of experience in Education. He has  Bachelors and Masters degrees in education from Arizona State University and a Doctor of Education from Widener University. Over the course of his education career has has served as  principal, assistant principal, physical education department supervisor, and head football coach.

Dr. Slemmer brings all his experience to Leading Edge to help us continue to build the reputation we have for strong academics, athletics, performing arts, and extra curricular activities.


Principal’s Note

I am very fortunate  and excited to serve all of our students attending the Leading Edge Academy Gilbert campus. We at the Academy, are very proud of our excellent teachers and staff. They will deliver a rigorous and relevant curriculum designed to prepare students for the challenges they will face in the 21st century. It will also be our duty to help each and every student be successful in their academic pursuits.

We believe that all students can become independent lifelong learners and we will assist them in that effort throughout their years at the LEA Gilbert Early College campus. Citizenship and character is the foundation of our school and students are expected to take responsibility for their own learning. Students will have opportunities to  participate in seminars based on character and ethics as well as be involved in a community service program.

As part of the Leading Edge team, please feel free to share concerns, questions, and successes with our staff. We are here to help ensure all of our students have a successful school experience and that our families feel supported and part of the educational process.



Dr. Gerald D. Slemmer


Teacher & Staff Bios

GEL Office

Gilbert Elementary Office Staff

Assistant Principal

Erik Gray

Assistant Principal
Dean of Students

Vicky Schildgen

Dean of Students
Mrs. Jennifer Garcia has been the Business Specialist for the Gilbert campus since 2012. She comes to Leading Edge from the Town of Gilbert where she worked in Personnel and Risk Management. Jennifer's husband also works at the Gilbert campus and all 3 of her boys attend Leading Edge Academy.

Jennifer Garcia

Business Specialist
Administrative Assistant II

Johanna Geesey

Administrative Assistant II


Leading Edge Academy Gilbert Elementary Teaching Staff

Kindergarten teacher

Jennifer Clark

Kindergarten Teacher
Ms. Amanda Benham has her BA in Early Childhood Education with a dual certificate in Special Education. She is also SEI certified and has experience with both special needs and English Language Learners. She loves watching her first graders grow as readers and little productive members of society! When not teaching, she enjoys cuddling up with her puppy Sophie, watching movies&Netflix with her husband, and indulging in great food!

Amanda Benham

1st Grade Teacher
Mrs. Lourie Howart lives in Gilbert with her husband, two children, and two dogs. She enjoys traveling, going to movies, hiking, reading, listening to live music, and home improvement. She was born and raised in Arizona and attended both A.S.U and N.A.U., where she received her M.A. in elementary education. She has been teaching for 21 years, and is very excited to join the Leading Edge team!

Lourie Howalt

2nd Grade Teacher
Ms. Diane Krueger has taught 2nd Grade at Leading Edge Academy since the fall of 2011. She absolutely loves 2nd Graders and has spent almost all of her 21 years of teaching at this grade. She earned her BS in Education from Baylor University, holds her Arizona Department of Education Certificate for teaching at the elementary K-8 level, and is Arizona Highly Qualified at the K-3 level. She and her wonderful husband, Steve, have been married for thirty years. In her time away from the classroom, Diane enjoys learning more about education, reading, knitting, and finding treasures at local estate and garage sales.

Diane Krueger

2nd Grade
Ms. Marisa Ketchem has lived in Arizona since 2001, and has taught third grade at Leading Edge Academy since 2005. She has a broadcasting degree from Malone University in Canton, Ohio, and an elementary teaching degree from Cleveland State University.

Marisa Ketchem

3rd Grade
Ms. Cynthia Pierce joined the Leading Edge family in 2012 after teaching for 11 years in the private sector. She has a BSBA and AZ teaching certification and has taught K-8th grades (with the exception of second). While Cynthia is not busy teaching she enjoys traveling with her family, reading, gardening, and being involved in volunteer opportunities.

Cynthia Pierce

4th Grade
Mrs. Connie Tinkham loves teaching and stretching children so that they reach their highest potential. She enjoys teaching project-based lessons and literature studies. She has over 14 years of teaching experience, hold an Arizona teaching certificate, and is Spalding certified. Connie has been teaching at Leading Edge Academy since 2012. She is married with children. She was formerly a missionary in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Her heroes are Jesus Christ, Corrie Tenboom, and Deitrich Bonhoeffer. Her hobbies include reading, DIY projects, and frugal shopping. Her favorite movie is Lord of the Rings and favorite TV show is Stargate SG1...but any SciFi

Connie Tinkam

4th Grade
5th Grade Teacher

Shmeka Morrow

5th Grade Teacher
Mrs. Dallas Jandreau graduated from A.S.U with a B.A. in the Multilingual Multicultural program in Elementary Education. She has taught kindergarten at Monte Vista Elementary in the Creighton School District, was a substitute teacher in all grades K-7 in the Creighton school district, and taught pre-k at Totspot Preschool . She was hired at Leading Edge in December 2015 as a 6th grade teacher. Mrs.Jandreau loves the culture here at Leading Edge Academy and looks forward to helping your child become the best learner they can be, while building character within. While not at school, Mrs. Jandreau loves spending time with her husband and twin boys. She also enjoys polynesian dancing and camping with her family.

Dallas Jandreau

5th Grade Teacher
6th Grade Teacher

Michele Irvine

6th Grade Teacher
Elementary (K-2) PE, Art, and Music

Micah Garcia

Elementary Specials
Mrs. Katie Bradley received her BA in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Wichita State University, majoring in English with a minor in Speech Communication. In 2011, Katie received her Master of Arts in Communication. From 2005-2009, Katie was a starter for the Div. 1, Wichita State Shockers' Volleyball Team and went on to play for Arizona's professional volleyball team, The Arizona Sizzle from 2013-2014. Katie coaches the Spartan's Varsity volleyball team, winning the 2013, D2 State Championship and received the "Coach of the Year" award. With both parents as art teachers, it came natural to love and teach art to others.

Katie Bradley

Art & Yearbook Advisor
Mrs. Tracie Kruszeski and her husband relocated to Arizona from the Albany, NY area in September 2015. She graduated from the College of Saint Rose in Albany in May 1999 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education. Tracie taught in a 3rd-5th grade 15:1:1 classroom in Gloversville, NY at the beginning of her career. She later moved on to teach a 9th-12th grade 12:1:1 classroom in Stillwater, NY. Tracie took a break from the classroom and did in home teaching for special needs infants, toddlers and preschoolers through Head Start in Saratoga Springs, NY. She is excited to be teaching at Leading Edge Academy as well as being back in the classroom again.

Tracie Kruszeski

Special Education Teacher
Ms. Laura Lindstrom has her BA in Vocal Performance and Speech Drama from North Park University in Chicago, Ill. She holds a Provisional Career and Technical Education and Training Certificate. Ms. Lindstrom is a member of the NAfMe and the AMEA. She has been teaching for Leading Edge for over 10 years. Ms. Lindstrom currently attends Red Mountain Christian Center where she has been the Choir Director for over 20 years.

Laura Lindstrom

Music & Performing Arts