Joan Pingel is a lifelong educator with more than twenty years of experience in teaching. She loves to watch the moment when one of her students, especially one who has been told they will never succeed, looks at their work with pride and smiles with new-found confidence. In 2004, Joan led the first group of women missionaries from the People of Praise to move into the Lakeside neighborhood. While there, she has participated in Bible studies with neighborhood women and worked as staff for summer programs. She never left and doesn’t plan to. A native of South Bend, Indiana, Joan loves to watch college football, especially Notre Dame. When she’s not teaching, she can also be found playing volleyball and baking complicated desserts.
Pre-K Kindergarden Teacher
Although she joined our faculty in the fall of 2018, Mary Grams has worked for Praise Academy since our doors first opened in 2015. Prior to teaching, she was employed as the school's Director of Finances. She studied architectural and urban history at Mount Holyoke College and earned her bachelor’s in General Studies at Indiana University South Bend. She brings with her a wide range of work experiences such as managing a boutique luxury hotel, serving as a missionary in southern Indiana, and directing operations for a website development and design company. Mary finds her varied work experience prepared her well for adapting to the unpredictable nature of 4-6 year olds! She loves working with her young students at Praise Academy and seeing their unique and unrepeatable selves come alive in the classroom.
Maggie joined our faculty in the fall of 2018, exchanging the cold Minnesota climate for our warm Louisiana weather. Before teaching at Praise Academy she taught in the Burnsville, MN school system for 18 years. While there she taught elementary and high school special education. Whether she was using games to teach reading or teaching math with a trip to the grocery store, Maggie loved finding creative ways to help those who were struggling the most. She earned a dual undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from the College of Steubenville and received her Master’s Degree in Education from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. When she’s not preparing lessons, you may find her working on a puzzle, spending time with her husband, going to her son's basketball games or enjoying the warm weather with her grandkids.
Gianna Priolo joins us after teaching English, Art and Spanish at Evangel Christian Academy for two years. Gianna graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2009 with a degree in Spanish and a minor/certificate for teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). For years before moving to Lakeside in 2014, she was a frequent visitor who helped with neighborhood fix-its, kids' camp, girls' group and mission work. She enjoys the moment when a student completes their work, sees they created something of quality, and are proud of it. In her free time, Gianna likes to do artwork, enjoy the outdoors, or read a good book.
Pre-K - Kindergarten Teacher Assistant
After 31 years teaching at The Montessori Academy in northern Indiana, Lori Twining moved to Lakeside to join the Praise Academy team in 2016. Her expertise is in early childhood education; she enjoys the surprise of discovery so characteristic of young children. She has long had a heart for mission in the People of Praise and is excited to join the work in Lakeside. In her spare time, she enjoys watercolor painting and bird watching—the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher has already caught her eye.