MEET OUR TEAM

Our team is dedicated to creating innovative learning solutions and maximizing educational opportunities in Kansas. Get to know more about us!

Our Staff

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Martha Maxwell

Program Coordinator

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Martha Maxwell

Program Coordinator

Wichita Parklane

316-440-8880 Email

Martha is program coordinator at the Orion Wichita Parklane Adult Diploma Completion Program, where together with her amazing staff, she serves over 400 students annually, many of whom are English language learners. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a master’s degree in Educational Administration and Supervision, both from Wichita State University.

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Craig Mellen

Education Consultant

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Craig Mellen

Education Consultant

Clearwater

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Craig grew up and currently lives in Clearwater, KS. He has Bachelors in Secondary Education from K-State and a Masters in Instructional Technology from FHSU. Craig began his career at St. Margaret Mary in Wichita, but has taught 6th Grade Social Studies for 10 years in Clearwater. He also coached football, basketball, track, and robotics. His wife, Mary, is the librarian at Goddard Middle School and his children Grant and Allie attend Clearwater schools.

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Bob Mellen

Teacher

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Bob Mellen

Teacher

North East

Email

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Shari Mills

Program Coordinator

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Shari Mills

Program Coordinator

Belle Plaine DCP

620-488-5638 Email

Shari is the Program Director/Teacher for Orion at Belle Plaine, an Adult High School Diploma Completion Program in Belle Plaine, Kansas. She has a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Emporia State University with Endorsements in Early Childhood Education and English for Speakers of Other Languages, PRK-12. She has been working in the field of education since 1984. Shari’s hobbies include her favorite three “G’s” — Grandchildren, Gardening, and Greg (her husband).

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Kris Misak

Assistant Executive Director/CFO

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Kris Misak

Assistant Executive Director/CFO

Clearwater

620-584-3300 Email

Kris is in her 20th year as the Assistant Executive Director/CFO for Orion Education and Training. She is SPHR & SHRM‐SCP certified, has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a master’s Degree in Management and Leadership. She has been the leading force behind the wellness program and has been involved in the program since its inception in 2007. Kris is involved in the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Kansas Association of School Business Officials (KASBO) and the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce, where she has served as President, Vice‐President, Secretary and Board Member.

In her free time, Kris enjoys spending time with her family (12 grandchildren and one on the way) and friends, traveling and spending time outside.

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Eri Mitchem

Teaching Assistant

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Eri Mitchem

Teaching Assistant

North East

Email

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Samantha Nickelson

Marketing Coordinator

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Samantha Nickelson

Marketing Coordinator

Clearwater

Email

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Tamara Patterson

Teacher

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Tamara Patterson

Teacher

North East

Email

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Dr. Brad Pepper

Executive Director

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Dr. Brad Pepper

Executive Director

Clearwater

620-584-3300 Email

Brad is the Executive Director of Orion Education & Training. He brings over 25 years of experience in the education realm, both classroom and administrative, to our organization. Brad earned his master’s degree and doctorate at Wichita State University and is now — yes, Dr. Pepper! He is fortunate enough to be able to work with the most amazing staff here at Orion and looks forward to coming to work every day! His greatest passion of all though is his family and spending time on new adventures with them on a daily basis.

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Leila Pratt

Teacher

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Leila Pratt

Teacher

Wichita SC DCP

316-733-5561 Email

Leila is currently an Odysseyware teacher at Orion Education and Training in Wichita. Prior to focusing on Odysseyware, Leila taught English to hundreds of Orion Wichita’s ESOL students. Before joining Orion, Leila taught with the Wichita Public Schools for 38 years as a middle school teacher. She received her BA in Education from Wichita State University. 

Over the years, Leila has received numerous awards, including Teacher of the Year, multiple Good Apple awards from Wichita schools, as well as the first Orion Wellness Warrior award. Leila’s students and co-workers love both her sense of humor and her sense of style. Although she is retired from Wichita Public Schools, she will never be allowed to retire from teaching at Orion Wichita! Leila’s interests are traveling, reading, and best of all, her grandchildren!

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Joani Purdy

Director of Virtual Education & Program Design

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Joani Purdy

Director of Virtual Education & Program Design

Wichita NE DCP

316-733-5561 Email

Joani is the Director of Virtual Education and Program Design at Orion. She has been an educator and technology enthusiast for over 25 years. Earning a bachelor's degree in Business and Computer Education from Kansas State University and a master's degree in Instructional Design Technology from Emporia State University.  She currently serves on the Orion Strategic Planning Team and is a member of the Kansas State Department of Education's Charter and Virtual Education Advisory Council. 

Joani loves learning new tech tools, traveling, walking, and spending time with her husband, two daughters, and pet schnauzer, Gus!

Vicki Smith

Vicki Smith

Teacher Assistant

Vicki Smith

Vicki Smith

Teacher Assistant

Rose Hill DCP

316-776-2000 Email

Vicki is the Teaching Assistant/Virtual Coach for the Orion Diploma Completion Program at Rose Hill.  She has an associate’s degree in Business from Seward County Community College. She specializes in math courses and has written many algebra and geometry helps for the students. 

Vicki has worked in the field of education since 1996. Before coming to Orion, Vicki taught middle school and high school math courses at Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita for 13 years.  She loves the Lord, her family (especially her four grandchildren), and her church. Vicki also has a growing photography business on the side.

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Maria Stueve

Academic Advisor

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Maria Stueve

Academic Advisor

Topeka DCP

785-228-2336 Email

Maria was born in Wichita and grew up in Gardner, where she met her husband and high school sweetheart, Zachary Stueve. In 2010, Maria received her Bachelor of Science in Secondary Math Education from the University of Kansas. After receiving her degree, Maria began tutoring part-time at Sylvan Learning and later stayed home to care for her two young girls. In 2017, she joined the Orion team (then New Directions Learning Academy) and in 2019, obtained her teaching license through Washburn University. Since then, Maria's family has grown by one when she had her son in the summer of 2020. In her spare time, she loves to teach herself new skills and crafts.

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Claudette Suffolk

Teacher

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Claudette Suffolk

Teacher

Wichita NE DCP

316-733-5561 Email

Claudette is the virtual teacher with Orion Diploma Completion. She is from Houston and is a dual certified secondary math teacher for Kansas and Texas. She enjoys attending church, creating organic healthy meals from scratch, working out in the mornings, and her job, of course.

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Nayelly Torres

Teaching Assistant

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Nayelly Torres

Teaching Assistant

Parklane

Email

Join our Team!

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