Staff & Instructors

Staff & Instructors

Our instructor staff have a diverse background in both education and in homeschooling...

Deborah Hargrove

  • Program Director

  • 1st & 2nd Grade Instructor

Deborah received her Masters in Social Work from the University of MO-St.Louis in 2009. She has had her clinical license in social work since 2012. She spent most of her years before kids as a therapist in various St. Louis agencies. In this role, she facilitated many child, adolescent, and family groups while also meeting with clients individually to work on social emotional skills. She joined SLT in 2019 as the kindergarten teacher. In 2021 & 2022 she taught the K-2nd grade class. Deborah loves to incorporate videos, art, and hands on activities while teaching. She also helps with administration of SLT. She has 3 girls, Lucy (7), Daisy (5), and Audrey (3). She has been homeschooling them since her oldest began preschool and all girls will attend SLT.

Sarah Hernandez

  • Program Assistant

  • Spanish Instructor

Hello, my name is Sarah Hernandez, and this will be my second year with SLT. I was homeschooled through elementary, so I appreciate being a part of such a unique experience at SLT!

I have a BA in sociology and a BA in Spanish language, having graduated from Greenville University in 2018. I studied abroad twice - once to Mexico City and once to Masaya, Nicaragua. I also completed a summer internship in Nicaragua.

I have been involved in a variety of volunteer youth programs, and I am going on 3 years of volunteering with a youth group in North County. I also have prior experience as a teaching assistant in both private and charter settings. I renewed my CPR certification in January, 2022.

In my free time, I enjoy learning about history and psychology, playing with my 3 cats, and working on puzzles.

Margaux Carter

  • PreK Instructor

This is Margaux's second year with SLT. While living in California, she completed her AA in Spanish and also received a Communication Certificate in 2006. In 2007, she became certified as a substitute teacher shortly before moving to Missouri. She has 9 years of experience homeschooling her two children. Since 2015, she has taught classes at another co-op, including preschool and history for elementary age students. Margaux has a variety of volunteer experiences as a youth leader, teacher, Bear Den leader (Cub Scouts) and is currently the president of her church's children's group. She has experience with food allergies, epi-pen protocol and is CPR certified. In her free time she enjoys gardening, reading, and music.

Linda Whittinghill

  • Kindergarten Instructor

Linda Whittinghill received an Associates degree in Early Childhood from Rose State College in 1993. She also worked at the Rose State Child Development Center during and after graduation. Since that time, Linda has continued working with children in a variety of settings, including Missouri Baptist Children's Home, as a live-in childcare worker for a year, and Special School District as a Teacher Assistant for ten years. In 2008, Linda became a licensed foster and adopt parent, and soon adopted two boys. They began their homeschooling journey in 2014, when the boys became school age. Linda and her husband Mark have five children all together, ranging in ages from 21-7. The youngest two are still homeschooling and also a part of SLT.

Linda became the Kindergarten instructor in 2021. She works hard to provide fun, engaging and age appropriate learning opportunities within an easy to follow daily schedule. Linda loves incorporating living books, hands on activities, and art and sensory projects. Her desire is for all the children to feel happy, safe, and excited about learning.

Jennifer Illardi

  • 3rd/4th Grade Instructor

My name is Jennifer Ilardi and I’m excited to be a Shared Learning Time Instructor. I have over 11 years of experience sharing information through stories and developing hands-on, interactive and educational programming for young people. I received my bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Maryville University and my master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Syracuse University. I also have a postgraduate certificate in Youth Experience from the University of Maryland.

One of my favorite things to do is own and operate a non-profit organization called Simple Positive Play where I help bring playful experiences to the community. I also love playing games and creating things with my family, reading fantasy books and biographies, and being outdoors, especially if there is a body of water nearby. I’m looking forward to helping students learn.

Alex McMullen

  • 5/6 Instructor

I am a former sped teacher who taught in Mesa Arizona and Lagrange Kentucky. I have a BA form ASU in Early education/math, and a BA in business from Mizzou. I taught in private and public school settings for 5 years and have homeschooled for 7 years. I have tutored and taught in the homeschool community during that time.

I love teaching! I love the challenge that each personality and learning type brings!

Ellen Wandzel

  • 7/8 Instructor

My educational credentials include: BA in International Business, a BA in Spanish, a Masters Degree in Secondary Education, and a Teaching Certification in Spanish, K-12. I taught High School Spanish for 4 years. Currently, I am a stay-at-home mother of 3. This year I began homeschooling my eldest. My interests include traveling to other places and experiencing their cultures. I lived in Spain for 1 year and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras for 3 years. I also enjoy being outside, bike riding, baking, reading, playing softball and pickleball.

Becca Bryan

  • Art Instructor

Hi! I'm a homeschool mom of 4. Since 2012 I have been working on the board and as an instructor of 2 different homeschool organizations and am a founding member of SLT. I have taught classes on everything from geography to journalism in a homeschool group setting. In 2006 I began creating art professionally and I'm still at it! In my free time I'm making something. It might be cookies it might be crochet! I'm excited to work with your kids and help them expand their classroom and creative experience.

Melissa Villalobos

  • Math Instructor

Melissa has a B.S. in Mathematics from Missouri Baptist University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. There she co-received the Mathematics Achievement Award for the class of 2004. While pursuing her Math degree, she simultaneously studied dance at Lindenwood University. After graduation, she danced with a professional modern dance company, Madco, for 4 years until becoming a mother in 2007. Melissa has had 20+ years’ experience tutoring Math students from K-Calculus, as well as teaching dancers ages 1-97. She is excited to use her skills to support and build up the SLT community, which she and her kids have been a part of since 2016.

Board of directors

Elise Park


Wife, Homeschooling Mom, and Certified Life Coach. I have 4 children. One who has graduated from SLT, and three who are still in the program.

Cathy TowlTreasurer