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Dana Gurganus - Principal


  • Eastern Michigan University: Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education
  • Grand Valley State University​: Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership

Previous experience

  • South Pointe Scholars: Dean of Y5K–2nd grade 2012–2014
  • Metro Charter Academy: Kindergarten teacher / 2nd grade teacher 2006–2012
  • Monroe Public Schools: 1st grade teacher 2005–2006 

Personal information

When I’m not at Grand River, I enjoy spending time with my husband and 4 children. I enjoy traveling, playing outside, reading, and serving at our church. I am blessed to have amazing family and friends that I enjoy spending time with as well.

Amy Pogorzelski - Dean of Lower Elementary


  • Bachelors and Masters in Early Childhood from West Georgia College in Ga.

Previous education experience & number of years in field

I was a teacher in GA for 8 years before coming to Michigan. I taught 3rd grade all of those years. I moved to Michigan and taught 1st grade for a year at Hunter Elem in Gibraltar. I then got involved with the charter school movement and I left teaching to join a team of educators who were in the process of getting a charter for an already well established Montessori school. After being the liaison between the business and education worlds, I became the director of Creative Montessori which is in Southgate. I worked there for several years and then became a stay at home mom. I then was asked to come back and join the charter initiative and help to get American Montessori Academy up and running. I did and then became principal for 10 years. My passion is to coach and mentor teachers so that is why I decided to make a career move and become a Dean for National Heritage Academies. This is now going to be my 3rd year at Grand River where I will oversee the Young Fives and Kindergarten through third grade.

Why did you choose education as a profession?

I always wanted to be a teacher from the time I was old enough to play school in my parents garage with the neighborhood children. I want to make a lasting impression on children so that they will pay it forward in their life-time. I want to help kids be successful so they can go out and have a positive impact on society.


I am a Georgia Peach through and through.  I was born and raised in the south. Southern hospitality is something you are born with so I have those roots....  Will some day get back there where all my family resides but for now I am busy raising a teenager and taking care of the Chloe our cat.



Kimberly Johnson - Dean of Upper Elementary


  • Masters of Science in Educational Leadership from Concordia University – Ann Arbor, MI.  
  • Certificate of Education – University of Michigan – Dearborn
  • Bachelor of Science in Management – Davenport University (formerly Detroit College of Business)


Previous education experience and number of years in the field: 

  • Wayne-Westland Community School District - 5 years as Long-Term Guest Teacher
  • Metro Charter Academy (Romulus) – Algebra Long-term Guest Teacher
  • Warrendale Charter Academy (Detroit) – Middle School ELA Teacher
  • South Pointe Charter Academy (Ypsilanti) – Middle School Math/Algebra Teacher

Why did you choose education as a career?

I am passionate about learning.  I want others to experience the joy of learning as well and accomplish goals.


My faith and family are very important to me. Ron, my husband of 24 years, is wonderfully supportive of each endeavor I pursue.  We have two adult children, Joshua and Jessica.  


Susan Crist — Dean of Middle School


  • Bachelor’s degree in history/academic study of religious and secondary education -  Adrian College
  • K-12 reading specialist, elementary endorsement -  Eastern Michigan University
  • Master’s degree in administration with a specialty in educational leadership - Madonna University 


Previous Experience:

2016-2017 will be my 18th year in education. I worked at St Martin de Porres High School in Detroit as a 9th-11th geography, history, and world religions instructor for 2 years. Next, I came to NHA working first at Canton Charter. I worked there for 11 years in various roles including a 4th and 6th grade teacher, a K-8 instructional coach and a 3-5 Dean. Then I moved over to South Canton Scholars where I served 2 years as the middle school dean and one year as an interim principal. I have been proudly serving as a dean here at Grand River for 2 years now.

Why did you choose education as a profession?

I choose to work in education because I love children and I have a passion to see them succeed.

Mallory Harbitz—Academic Intervention Coach

Stacie O'Niel — Dean of Special Education


Joni McCarthy — Registrar


  • Judson University  
  • William Tyndale College
Joni looks forward to being a part of a team atmosphere committed to seeing each child succeed and helping new parents understand the vision and passion of NHA schools. 

Tracy Schlotta — Office Administrator


  •  Bachelor’s degree, secondary education - Central Michigan University
Tracy is excited to be working with new students to help Grand River Academy be a successful school.
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