The staff and leadership here at St. Mark Preschool and Childcare is comprised of men and women who love, care, and pray for every child and family that we are blessed to have. If you have questions for any of our staff, feel free to reach out and email them or call our main office to speak with them.
Center Director & 3-year-old Lead Teacher
email Mrs. Julie
My husband Mark and I live in Bellevue and have been married for 33 years. We have two children Matthew and Laura and a daughter in-law, Melissa, who all live in Bellevue.
My first teaching job was in Copperas Cove, Texas, a small town by Ft. Hood. I spent three wonderful years teaching 1st grade before moving to Germany where I ran a Co-op Preschool for the Department of Defense. After moving to Nebraska in June of 2000, I taught Preschool for two years and then Kindergarten for seven years at Pilgrim Lutheran in Bellevue, Nebraska. Prior to coming to St. Mark, I worked as a contractor on Offutt Air Force Base for Parents as Teachers Heroes at Home as an in-home visitor for children birth- to age-3-years-old. This is my tenth year at St. Mark Preschool and Childcare as the Center Director and Lead teacher for the 3-year-old class. I love being an early childhood educator and am honored to share the love of Jesus with children.
I enjoy reading, horseback riding, pottery, gardening and woodworking. My dad, siblings, and in-laws all live in Nebraska, so we are blessed to be able to spend time with our family.
Lead Teacher – 4 Year Old Class
I have over 25 years’ experience working with preschoolers and their families – starting in Iowa and then in Wisconsin, and most recently in Indiana.
I am from Omaha – a Burke High School graduate. I met my husband, Glenn, while attending Concordia Teachers College, in Seward, NE. I transferred to Valparaiso University and after graduation was consecrated as a deaconess in the Lutheran church. Glenn and I have been married for 40 years. After 34 years as a regular pastor, Glenn became an intentional interim pastor for the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. We were overjoyed that this allowed us to move back to Nebraska in 2015. We have three children and six grandchildren. Anna and husband, Kevin live in Placerville, CA and have 3 children; Rachel and husband, Aaron live in Waconia, MN and have 3 children; and Timothy lives in Taiwan working as an English and Bible teacher and missionary. My mother (St. Mark member, Ardis Bergquist) lives in Omaha and Glenn’s parents live in the Norfolk, NE area.
Glenn and I recently became members of St. Mark and have loved being part of God’s family here.
Teacher – Pre-K 5 Class
I grew up in Battle Creek, NE. I graduated from Concordia University, Seward with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I continued my education at UNO and earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work.
Shortly after graduation, I married Vincent Taylor and became an Air Force wife. We have lived in Texas, South Dakota, Florida, Louisiana, and returned to Nebraska in 2018. We have four children, Briel (11), Ryan (10), Xarion (7) and Aviana (5).
I had the privilege of being a stay at home wife and mother for the last 12 years. I spent my time volunteering in our churches and schools as a substitute teacher, classroom aide, Sunday school and VBS teacher, and served as a board member on parent/teacher and school board organizations. Most recently I have worked in the childcare and preschool at King of Kings Lutheran church, where my family and I attend worship.
I enjoy spending time with my family, playing games, reading, walking our dog Niko, and watching my children’s activities.
I have a passion for working with children, and I am honored to be a part of St Mark Preschool ministry. I look forward to getting to know your children and families!
I have lived in Nebraska a majority of my life and attended school at Millard North. I’m the youngest of 4 siblings. I am a dog and cat mom to Nova (my puppy) Winter (my cat) and Mazen (my kitten). I enjoy going camping, hiking, and sometimes fishing if I don’t have to touch the fish or the bait.
I always known ever since I was a child that I would be working with children. It’s always been a passion of mine. My first childcare job was in Fort Smith, Arkansas where I had the amazing opportunity to be the toddler teacher. I moved back to Nebraska about a year later for my family. I met Julie Kyriss at my part time job, Scooters. She came through the drive through and we talked about our views on childcare. I love working for St. Mark because I feel valued and supported.
Child Care Teacher/Music Teacher
Sarah Jay is a professional cellist and orchestral strings teacher with 20 years of experience.
Sarah graduated from the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music at Chapman University in Orange, Ca with a bachelor’s degree in cello performance. Throughout her educational career, Sarah has had the opportunity to train and study under several world-renowned cellists and pedagogues. Using her extensive training, Sarah has become an established and sought after performer and educator in her own right.
Sarah has a deep love for teaching and sharing the joy of creating beautiful music with students. This passion brought about the founding of Soli Studios Music Inc., a private company and professional music education provider owned and operated successfully by Sarah and her husband for over a decade. Sarah’s career as an educator has been built on private and group lessons for students ranging from preschool students to collegiate level music students. In example of her well-established career, Sarah has worked as the cello professor and small ensemble director at Concordia University (Irvine, Ca), the cello professor at Vanguard University (Costa Mesa, Ca), the director of string instruction at the Arts & Learning Conservatory (Costa Mesa, Ca), the music instructor for the Waldorf School of Costa Mesa (K-5), Montessori Schools of Irvine, Project Hope Alliance (K-8), and as the string director for several high schools and middle schools.
Shortly after moving to Omaha in 2017 as a result of her husband’s call to serve as pastor of St Mark Lutheran Church, Sarah was also asked to work and continues to enjoy her position as the string orchestra director for Concordia Lutheran Jr./Sr. High and Concordia Academy (K-5). As a professional cellist, Sarah has performed with many symphonic orchestras and ensembles. As a freelance professional musician, Sarah has performed with a number of well known recording artists including Stevie Nicks, Mandisa, Manheim Steamroller, L.I.T. and others.
Sarah and her husband, Pastor Eric Jay, enjoy God’s blessing of their three children, Lizzy, Jesse, and Hezekiah, and thank God for His calling them to be in Nebraska serving our Lord Jesus with the gifts and talents He has entrusted to them.
Lead 3 Year Old Teacher
Anna is a Concordia University Nebraska graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with Early Childhood, and ESL. After graduating in 2005, she worked overseas with LCMS World Mission and taught preschool and elementary students in Taiwan for five years. She then taught at Trinity Lutheran in Boone, IA for three years, during which time she married her husband, Kevin. They moved to Fort Wayne, IN where Kevin attended Concordia Theological Seminary to become a pastor. Kevin’s first pastoral call was to Placerville, CA where they lived for seven years. During that time, Anna enjoyed being home with their three children and homeschooling. In May 2022, they moved to Omaha when Kevin took a call to serve as pastor at River of Life Lutheran Church in the Benson area. Anna is thrilled to be back close to family (her mom is Mrs. Meyer, also on staff), and thankful to be a part of St. Mark’s preschool.
Anna loves music, singing and playing piano and guitar, sharing about God’s love, family time, walking her dog, and exploring God’s creation.
Lead 4 Year Old Teacher
I grew up in Arlington, NE. I graduated from Concordia University, Seward with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood. After graduation, I moved to Colorado where I spent three years in early childhood classrooms before opening my own in-home childcare business that I ran for 6 years. In the fall of 2019, I became director of a Montessori early childhood center in Denver, CO and in May of 2021, my family moved from Denver to Omaha.
I am a fun, out-going, creative person with a passion for teaching young children. I am excited to be a part of the St. Mark family.
Lead 4 Year Old Teacher
I am originally from Southern California and came to Omaha to go to college. I have a BS in elementary education and taught middle school/junior high for three years. My husband is in education as well and we have 7 children (6 boys, 1 girl). I have been in early childhood for many years as my children have grown up. My kids are involved in swim and basketball. I love reading with my kids and on my own. I also crochet when I have time!
I was born and raised in western Nebraska with two younger sisters. When I was a sophomore, my family moved to Tucson where I graduated H.S. I went to college in Flagstaff, AZ. and got a bachelor’s degree in advertising. I wanted to be an Elementary Ed teacher, but couldn’t pass College Algebra, so I gravitated towards Advertising because I fancy slogans and fun wording!
I met my husband by falling up the stairs and into his arms at a nightclub in Denver, (not on purpose, just clumsy!) He was supposed to be on a blind date, but she didn’t show up! Her loss, my gain! Twenty-five years later, he is still putting up with my shenanigans!!
We have two children: Jordin (24) who is getting her masters in social work at FSU in Tallahassee, FL., and Cade (20) who is a business major at UCF in Orlando. I was very fortunate to stay home with them while they were growing up. I have volunteered various places over the years- in my kid’s classrooms, at church nurseries, for a youth nonprofit and even owned my own gymnastics company for a while! However, my favorite job will always be being a mom!
I am honored to work at St Mark Lutheran preschool with a staff who is amazingly hardworking and equally passionate. I adore each and every child I encounter and have a child-like spirit, so I feel like I can relate to them. Thank you for entrusting your beloved children to us! We love them as if they are our own!
I grew up in Blair, NE and moved to Bennington in 2006. I met my husband shortly after and we have been together for almost 17 years. We have four beautiful children, three girls and one boy and a dog named Hank. I am currently going to school to get my Child Development and Associate credential. In the next two years I will continue to get my associate degree in early childhood education. I have worked with children for nearly 14 years and have worked with all ages. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, teaching is one of my greatest passions in life. I enjoy crafting, board games, fishing, and hanging out with my family.
Julie Nan Rife
I grew up as a twin in Sioux City, Iowa, the last of eight children. After high school, I attended Morningside College for a year, then Western Iowa Tech Community College and received a degree in Graphic Communications. I worked in the Graphics/Printing field for 10 years, while moving from Iowa to Hawaii to Omaha, Nebraska. I met my husband, Phil, at church during this time and got married. Several years later, we had our daughters, Michelle and Sarah. I was blessed to be a stay-at-home mom for 9 years. I then worked in a variety of fields, including school cafeteria, office, and paraeducator positions. Our church life has included teaching preschool Sunday School classes and a variety of other opportunities to serve. I enjoy reading, swimming, walking, movies, and occasionally a needlework hobby. Currently, I work at St. Mark Preschool and Childcare as the “lunch lady,” where I enjoy feeding the children and spending time with them in their classes, along with related planning and cleaning up. It’s a wonderful place to be!
Rev. Eric L. Jay
Pastor Jay serves as St. Mark’s Senior Pastor.
A Southern California native, Pastor Jay graduated with a Master’s in Theology and Culture as a student of St Louis Seminary via the Cross Cultural Ministry Pastoral Certification Program (CMC) located at Concordia University in Irvine, California. The CMC focuses uniquely upon equipping pastors to infiltrate strategic urban settings as church planters. Pastor Jay spent the the last 2 years of his seminary training and the first 3 years of ministry as pastor of The Gathering; a church plant of which Pastor Jay was founder. Simultaneously, Pastor Jay served briefly as the Interim Pastor at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Westminster, California. In 2012 he accepted the call to serve as sole pastor of St John’s Lutheran Church in El Segundo, Ca, and served there for 5 years before accepting the call to St. Mark in August 2017.
Pastor Jay and his wife Sarah met at and graduated from the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music (Chapman University in Orange, Ca) with degrees in Music Performance. God has blessed them with two children, their daughter Elizabeth and son Jesse.