We have assembled a team of leaders equipped to identify and nurture the individual strengths of our students. They are the perfect balance of kindhearted, fearless and grounded. Supported by a passionate network of administrators and staff, our team is a cohesive unit that works to empower educators and excite students.
Bill Kent Jr., President and CEO, has led Youth Learning Center (YLC) since its inception. Recognizing that so many of the boys he grew up with did not have the family support he enjoyed and that many of those boys ended up in prison, Mr. Kent was moved to leave his business career and dedicate his professional life to improving academic and life outcomes of youth from under-resourced backgrounds. He applied his background in business management to directing the original YLC building project in 2010 and the 2015 renovation. He has also overseen the development of programming from an all-volunteer organization to the current organization providing STEAM education through outreach programs and eventually the founding of The Biome School in 2015. The Biome School is a new kind of K-8 school for the next generation – one that offers customized, project based and student-centered learning opportunities with an emphasis on growth mindset and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) education. The Biome charter school creates a balanced learning ecosystem in which teachers work together with students to cultivate a growth mindset as they discover their unique gifts, talents and interests. Mr. Kent earned his Bachelor of Science from Lindenwood University and joined Youth Learning Center after serving as a manager and career insurance underwriter with Reliable Insurance Company for 13 years.
Julie Harris, Principal, comes to The Biome from John Burroughs School, where she currently serves as assistant head of school and principal for grades 7 & 8. As principal, Julie works closely with the faculty and staff to provide engaging learning experiences, which foster students’ curiosity, creativity, generosity of spirit, and genuine interest in and appetite for learning. Julie influences the development of these attributes and skills through her daily interaction with students (and their families) and through leadership of several specific programs, including a four-day orientation in southern Missouri for all 7th graders, annual 7th and 8th-grade community service experiences, and a weekly seminar course for 7th grade students, which she uses as a platform for discussions intentionally focused on diversity, identity, character development, kindness, community, and health and wellness. As assistant head of school, Julie has her hand on the pulse of school operations through her participation in weekly meetings with directors of the Business Office, Plant Operations, Communications and Advancement. As well, she attends Board of Trustees meetings and board-level committee meetings. Julie is the acting administrator in the head of school’s absence. Prior to joining the Burroughs senior administrative team in 2013, Julie was a full-time member of the school’s Mathematics Department, which she chaired for 3 years. From 1995 to 2013, she taught courses ranging from 7th grade math to Advanced Placement Calculus, and her experiences with students in math classrooms continue to inspire and inform her work in educational leadership. Julie holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Washington University and a master’s degree in education from Saint Louis University. She attended public school in the Shawnee Mission School District (Kansas City metropolitan area). A proponent and model of lifelong learning, Julie has participated in many professional development programs throughout her career. She is currently pursuing an educational specialist degree from Lindenwood University. Julie looks forward to working with the team of faculty, staff and families at The Biome to ensure rich and meaningful learning experiences for all students.
Mark Kent is a native St. Louisan. He received his Bachelor’s from Washington University and Master’s from DePaul University. Mr. Kent joined The Biome Foundation in the summer of 2016. He comes to us with a background in fundraising at Webster University and The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management. He previously spent the first half of his professional career as an Opera Singer, singing both domestically and abroad.
Through working as President of The Biome Foundation, Mark is driven by the capacity to make a daily impact on the lives of our students. In his spare time, Mark loves spending time with his family and running.
Debbie has been helping companies organize and improve their accounting functions for over 15 years. She received her B.S. in Accounting Information Systems from Maryville University in 2005, and has held positions in a variety of private industries, including legal, private funds, engineering, and construction.
Debbie joined our team in July 2016 and has been pro-active in understanding the challenges presented by both public school accounting and fundraising development. She has gone above and beyond to ensure the integrity of prior, current, and future financial data and reporting. Her goal is to continue building solid and efficient business processes for the multi-faceted entities of The Biome Foundation, The Biome School, and Youth Learning Center.
Lindenwood University – Belleville
Masters Degree, 2017
Bachelors Degree, 2015
University of Missouri – Columbia, 2018
Bachelor of Science Early Childhood Education, Birth – 3rd
Elementary Education Certified, 1st – 6th
Louisiana State University, 2020
Masters in Curriculum and Instruction
Spring Hill College, 2016
Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education
Concordia University, 2014
Masters of Education
Iowa State University, 2010
Bachelors of Liberal Studies
Chasity Douglas joined The Biome School’s staff in October of 2016. She is a native St. Louisan. Chasity has over ten years of working with children.
Part of our mission focuses on the physical environment that our children learn in. Chasity is a key component in ensuring that our children experience a clean and safe environment on a regular basis.
Leah Gregory is the Biome School’s social worker. She serves at the school’s Homeless Coordinator and is the Foster Care Point of Contact. Ms. Gregory can be reached by calling the school at 314-531-9916 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy Hoffman graduated from the University of Richmond with a B.A. in English and Sport Science and an Education endorsement. As a teacher, she has worked with students of various ages and ability levels in diverse educational settings. She truly believes that an experiential approach in instruction enables students to more fully master skills and develop a lifelong passion for learning. She is tremendously excited to be part of The Biome School because of the innovative and cohesive atmosphere and the focus on a growth mindset.
Originally from the East coast, she has lived in Saint Louis for quite some time. She loves reading and playing board games with her three sons. She treasures being out-of-doors at any opportunity, and spends a great deal of time walking, hiking, camping, swimming, and rock climbing. One of her favorite things to do on weekend mornings is to sit outside in her camp chair, with her dog beside her and a strong cup of coffee in her hands. What a great way to start a day!
Meghan Jones is The Biome School’s Student Services Coordinator. Ms. Jones is a St. Louis native who has turned her passion for children into a career in education. She has spent the last fifteen years dedicated to child development in a broad spectrum of environments. Ms. Jones is a special educator who began her work in residential care, focusing on kids needing extra social-emotional support, as well as children on the Autism Spectrum. Additionally, she is well-versed in children’s trauma and grief support. Meghan believes that building relationships with each student individually is at the core of their success.
In her free time, Meghan enjoys volunteering for local organizations and exploring all that St. Louis has to offer- you can often find her roaming around MOBOT or Laumier Sculpture Park. She has a love of art and design and works to spread that creativity to her students. Meghan received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Truman State University and earned a Master’s Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorder from Fontbonne University. As there is always something new to discover, she aspires to continue to grow, learn, and thrive in Special Education.
Carolyn Jordan is an enthusiastic educator passionate about motivating students to find success as readers and writers. Ms. Jordan holds over twenty years of experience in balanced literacy, reading recovery, and working with the reading process. She has spent her career in the Hazelwood and Parkway school districts and most recently directed field experiences for undergraduate students at Webster University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Missouri State University and a Master of Arts in Education from Maryville University. Further, she holds teaching certifications in Special Reading (grades K-12), Elementary Education (grades 1st-8th), and Learning Disabilities (grades K-9th). She is thrilled to join The Biome School community and delve back into her passion working directly with students and helping them become confident readers and writers.
Lindell Kent is the Facilities Manager for Youth Learning Center. He began working for Youth Learning Center in 2003 as the Membership Services Coordinator. Lindell enjoys working in a capacity that affords him the opportunity to serve others. He is currently a student at Lindenwood University where is working towards his degree in Counseling. He enjoys working around children and is committed to helping people.
Myles Keough has been a member of the Youth Learning Center team since 2007 when he began working as a summer enrichment teacher. Over the years, Myles has infused creativity into YLC classes by creating and executing classes in art, animation, video game design, digital painting, robotics, and entrepreneurship – he is a proponent and resource for all things STEAM. He has been responsible for leading teachers in professional development, researching and designing innovative strategies to engage youth in STEAM education, and helping to expand YLC/The Biome community partnerships.
In addition to his background in K-12 education, Myles is a well-regarded professional artist, showing his artwork in high profile galleries and shows in the St. Louis Metro Area for over 10 years. He holds a bachelor of fine arts in studio art and a bachelor of science in art education from Culver Stockton College. Myles is a firm believer in creating classroom experiences that every learner would enjoy, including himself! He hopes that each day every learner is excited to go home and share new discoveries from their classes with their families.
Don Knobbe is The Biome School’s Music Leader. He enjoys having the opportunity to combine two of his greatest loves: teaching and music. He and his wife, a sixth-grade science teacher, have raised three children, each of whom is a musician as well. Mr. Knobbe “retired” in 2017 after 35 years in public education. Upon graduating from St. Louis University, he taught children with learning disabilities for the Special School District. He spent the rest of his career teaching science and communication arts to sixth-graders in the Webster Groves School District. He also earned his Master of Arts degree in Education Administration at the Univerisity of Missouri – St. Louis.
Mr. Knobbe has been a musician even longer than he’s been a teacher. At his last school, he organized school-wide weekly music assemblies and coached hundreds of student performances over more than twelve years. He directed several plays and musicals for after-school clubs. In his free time, Don plays bass guitar and sings in a local band.
University of Missouri – St. Louis, 2018
Bachelor of Science, Psychology
Elementary Teacher Certification, Summer 2020
Truman State University
Bachelor of Arts, Psychology
Masters in Art Education, Elementary Grades 1-6
Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, 2016
Bachelor of Arts in English Literature
Shari Pittman joined The Biome School in October 2019 as the Executive Assistant and Office Manager. Prior to joining The Biome, Shari worked as the Faculty Affairs Manager at the Brown School at Washington University. She is a native of St. Louis but was raised in Raytown, MO. She returned to St. Louis in 2000 after obtaining her Bachelor of Art in Political Science at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She went on to obtain her Masters in Public Policy Administration at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. Shari enjoys spending time with her family and traveling as often as possible.
Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, 2014
Illinois Initial Elementary License, K-9
Emily Schiltz is The Biome School’s Speech-Language Specialist. Mrs. Schiltz (or Emily) has extensive experience working with school-aged children. She began her career with a focus on early intervention, working with the Missouri First Steps program, and several private preschools to serve children aged 1 through 7. In 2009, Mrs. Schiltz (Emily) began focusing exclusively on school-aged students when she took a position with a local charter school, where she has served as a speech-language pathologist to students in Kindergarten through 8th Grade since that time. She has also worked in private practice, and has specialized her skill set to focus on meeting the needs of students, families and teachers in the educational setting. Mrs. Schiltz (Emily) believes that all students have the right to meet their educational potential, that all parents can be supported to help their children’s skills develop at home, and that all teachers can be supported to help students with speech and language needs excel in the classroom. She is looking forward to serving the Biome community by providing private and group therapy, screenings and evaluations, consultation services, professional educational opportunities, and support and education for staff members. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree from Truman State University and her Master’s Degree from Saint Louis University. She is a certified member of the “American Speech-Language-Hearing Association”, and she is licensed in the State of Missouri.
Keonna Shelton is the Administrative Assistant and Family Coordinator at The Biome. She has experience working with children of all ages. She joined The Biome team in April of 2016. She is very passionate about helping children and their families in any way. Keonna joins The Biome after working as a long-term substitute teacher at Saint Ann Catholic School.
Keonna holds a Bachelor’s of Liberal Arts Degree from The University of Missouri, Kansas City, with high hopes of pursuing a Master’s Degree in the near future.
Brittany Sullivan is so excited to be returning to The Biome team as a First Grade Classroom Leader. She has been a member of the Youth Learning Center Team since 2014; during her time at YLC, she has taught reading, math, creative writing, play lab, and robotics.
Brittany was born in a town just outside Chicago, Illinois where she spent most of her life poolside. She took her first swim lesson at the age six-months-old then 15 years later became the swim lesson teacher. She went on to develop and implement her own swim lesson program for children with special needs. Teaching swim lessons was the spark that lighted the passion for teaching and education.
That passion for education led her to move to Saint Louis, where she attended Saint Louis University. She graduated from SLU with her Bachelors of Arts in Elementary Education and Special Education. She is looking forward to bringing her creativity and love of learning to her classroom.
Masters of Art, Teaching
University of Missouri – St. Louis
Elementary and Special Education
Bachelor of Science in Education, May 2016
Elementary 1-6, Certified
University of Central Missouri – Warrensburg
Master of Science in Education, June 2020
Educational Leadership K-8
University of Central Missouri – Warrensburg
Kristin Williams is a passionate and energetic teacher with several years of experience in early childhood education. Kristin holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration-Accounting and a Post-Baccalaureate degree in Early Childhood Education (Birth-3rd grade) from Missouri Baptist University, St. Louis, Missouri.
As an educator, Ms. Williams focuses on implementing instructional strategies that actively engage students in meaningful learning experiences to ensure the development of the learner’s fullest potential. She especially enjoys working with young children because she believes that’s when students can be molded and shaped into leaders of the future. Her mission is to uplift, encourage, nurture, and prepare students academically, socially, and emotionally for successful living.
In addition to her love for working with children, Ms. Williams also enjoys working out, baking, and serving as an active member in her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.