Picture of Jennifer Kalakay

Jennifer Kalakay

My name is Jenny Kalakay and I am a 2nd-grade teacher at CHA.  I am a native of the area as I was born and raised in West Branch.  I graduated from CMU with my degree in Elementary Education and an Early Childhood Endorsement in 2007.  I then went on to teach 2nd grade in VA for a year before moving back home.  Since then I have taught at a private preschool, 4th grade at St. Joe, and both kindergarten and 2nd grade at CHA. I also had the honor of being an instructional coach, reading specialist, and Title 1 Coordinator for a couple of years here at CHA.  I enjoyed my time outside of the classroom and am forever thankful for the opportunity to gain a different perspective on education. Furthermore, I was able to learn so much from our wonderful teachers during that time and was able to bring all that extra knowledge and energy back with me when I returned to the classroom in 2016. In December, I received my Master's Degree from CMU in Early Childhood Education.  I have a true passion for helping kids have a love for learning and an appreciation for each other. As MLK Jr. reminds us, “We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character- that is the goal of true education.”

Picture of Shelby Gardner

Shelby Gardner

I had the opportunity to attend Charlton Heston Academy and graduate in 2018. It’s a rather long adventure as to how I ended up in St. Helen, Michigan walking across that stage on June 2nd, 2018. I was born and raised in Neenah, Wisconsin. I moved to Lakeland, Florida my junior year of high school to be with my Dad, and then moved to Michigan for my senior year of high school to be with my dad’s family in St. Helen.

I chose to attend Charlton Heston Academy because my younger cousins did at the time, and I’m glad. I made a family at CHA that included both other students and faculty members. I had the opportunity to help create a theater program, and I met many astounding staff members. I was able to contribute to the 2017-2018 Historium, and I worked on a small portion of the yearbook. The most rewarding experience of being a student at CHA was tutoring other students who needed the help so they could graduate on time. I graduated from Charlton Heston Academy as 4th in class and was honored to be one of the speakers at graduation. After graduating, I became an employee at the school for the summer before college and I worked mostly with kindergarteners and I tutored middle school math.

Now I attend and live at Saginaw Valley State University, with the help of a scholarship from Charlton Heston Academy’s PTO. I am pursuing a major in Professional and Technical Writing and a minor in Business and will graduate in 2022. I am currently supporting myself with a job and I’m managing a 4.0 in college. I am extremely grateful for my time at Charlton Heston Academy because I learned many important life skills at CHA, and I will have friends that will last a lifetime. I will be able to pursue my dreams of being an editor and working with information design.

Thank you, Charlton Heston Academy.

Picture of Marti FInk

Marti FInk

Working at Charlton Heston Academy has changed my life. Growing up in Roscommon, I am very familiar with Saint Helen. I grew up with my older brother, Bob. My dad ran the local parts store, taught small engine repair and welding at Kirtland Community College, and also worked for the Roscommon County Road Commission until he retired. My mother took part in keeping the books up to date at the parts store and then transitioned into working for the Juvenile Court System. Recently, I took a trip to Las Vegas to marry my best friend, Randy Fink. I have three sons, Tommy, Brandon, and my youngest Patrick. The best decision I have ever made was to have Patrick go here from day one in 2012, when the school was opened, making him an original Patriot. I began working at Charlton Heston Academy in 2012 as the Food Service Director. Working here has changed my life in the best way possible. This job makes me happy. Given the scenario that I was offered the same job elsewhere, with more pay, more vacation time, I would decline because this school and the kids in this school mean more than any dollar size. For the past 7 years, I can say I love working here; kids have come and gone which breaks my heart but makes me proud to be apart of their young lives. The kids of Charlton Heston Academy are dear to me; the ones who call me mom, and even the ones that test my patience. I’ve learned a lot about my career and myself working at C.H.A. The rest of the staff her is a blast and I hope to spend many, many more years here.

-Marti (Hatley) Fink