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Our Volunteer Instructors

Pillar Foundation and the homeschooling community are proud of our wonderful volunteer instructors who give of their time and talent to supplement the education of our students. Many are career professionals and all come with a wealth of experience and a committed passion to raise up generations in the truth of God's Word and the Christian worldview.


Madeleine Castle


A former Pillar student, Madeleine Castle grew up in St. Louis, MO to a Christian homeschool family. She worked at Pillar for a short time, and was very active in the St. Louis Teen Eagles. Madeleine graduated in 2018 from The King’s College in New York City with a BA in Politics, Philosophy, & Economics. She now works as a St. Louis Field Representative for US Senator Josh Hawley, speaking before hundreds of constituents a week on the Senator’s priorities.


Larry Darby


Larry Darby, married to Gayle, is the father of three home-schooled adult children: Laura, Hope and Greg.  He has a B.A. from Rice University (History and Economics) and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago (Finance and Accounting).  Upon graduation from Rice, he spent a year in Europe on a Thomas Watson Fellowship studying worker participation in industrial management.  He began his career with Mark Twain Banks, where he became the President of the south county branch.  In 1984 he left the bank to form a company producing and marketing video and computer based training products.  He sold this business in 1992 and has been active in various church activities since that time.


Darlene Fallon


Darlene Fallon and her husband, Joe, have six children and have homeschooled for 12 years.  She has a teaching degree in mathematics from Missouri Baptist University.  She has been a youth and children's ministry leader at church for many years including directing several vacation Bible schools.  Her family has been blessed to take classes at The Pillar Foundation and is thankful to give back. She loves to spend time with her family, camp, fish, hike, work in the garden, and cheer on her daughters playing soccer.


Jim Hancock


Jim Hancock is an optometrist and father of five (adult) children.  Jim and his wife, Sue, homeschooled their own children for 21 years. They are now involved with the part time teaching and coaching of students at The Pillar Foundation and at Christian High School.  Jim grew up in St. Louis and attended the University of Missouri/St. Louis for both undergraduate education and optometry school.  His interests include reading, international eye care, motorcycle restoration, and encouraging young people to excellence.


Sue Hancock


Sue Hancock, wife of Jim Hancock, is a graduate of the University of MO, Columbia.  She homeschooled her five children for twenty-one years, and taught math at Christian High School and Christian Middle School for 6 years after that.  She also is the school's varsity swim coach for both the boys' and girls' teams.  Sue is passionate about all things math, and loves teaching it to others.


Robert Kirkwood


Bob Kirkwood and his wife, Carol, have three children, three grandchildren, and a great grandchild.  In addition to serving in the Air Force, he earned a B.A. in Microbiology, a Christian Studies degree, and a Doctorate of Chiropractic.  Along with supervising clinics and practicing chiropractic medicine, his teaching experience includes General Science, Biology, and Anatomy.  His desire is to see young people grounded in their faith in Christ and in science, which is an expression of God's creativity.


Loy Myers



Loy (Rusty) and his wife, Tere, have four children all of whom were either partially homeschooled or attended Christian schools.  The Pillar Foundation was an important part of their educational experience.  Loy immediately went to work for McDonnell Douglas upon graduating from University of Missouri at Rolla with a degree in Electrical Engineering.  He is now retired and enjoying giving back to the Pillar community by teaching young people about God's wonderful creation.


Shirley Morris


Shirley graduated with a degree in mathematics education from University of Illinois and earned a Master’s degree in mathematics from Illinois State University.  She taught for one year before starting a family.  She and her husband spent four years in Zambia where he served as a missionary doctor while she homeschooled their children and taught religious education in the local Zambian school.  She taught math, Algebra 1 and 2, statistics, and trigonometry in her local Illinois school, the local junior college, and at Methodist College in Peoria, Illinois before retiring in 2017.  She came to know Jesus Christ as her personal Savior when she was about eight years old.  Her first love is Jesus, but she also loves teaching math and always looks forward to working with homeschool students at the Pillar.


Jan Petzoldt


Jan spent ten years working in Business and Marketing for a large company before retiring to stay home to raise children.  Jan and her husband have homeschooled their three children (now young adults) through high school. She has been very active in many aspects of homeschooling and has been involved in teaching classes in several different venues including sewing, public speaking, music classes, private flute, ACT tutoring, etc.  Jan has been sewing since she was a teen and enjoys sewing as a hobby and teaching the skill to others.


Cathy Ruchte


Cathy and her husband Andy have been married for 36 years and are blessed with three married children and 13 adorable grandchildren.  She received a B.S. in Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia.  Having over 35 years of experience in the field of education, in both public and private Christian schools, Cathy’s greatest joy has been homeschooling her three children and guiding them into a greater understanding of God and the world around them.  Her desire as a grandmother is to continue to perpetuate Biblical truths to her grandchildren.  Cathy serves Lamplighter Ministries as a consultant and a home and Christian school convention representative.  She considers it a joy and privilege to serve the homeschooling community through The Pillar Foundation that has so richly blessed her family.


Nancy Sander


Nancy Sander taught high school English in the St. Louis area for thirty years.  She received a B.S.Ed. from Southwest Missouri State  (now Missouri State University) and a M.S. Ed. from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.  Since retiring from the Rockwood School District, she has served as a teacher and teacher’s aide  at Living Water Academy, taught writing classes at Pillar, and tutored home school students.  Through the years, she  has always harbored a passion for the Founding Fathers and the godly heritage of our country.


Kathy Side


Kathy, the wife of Brian and mother of seven, has homeschooled their children of which now are four college graduates, two college students, and one homeschool teen.  Kathy taught high school math and computer science in the public schools for seven years before retiring to be a stay at home mom. Besides being involved in theater, Kathy is a Sunday school teacher and huge sports enthusiast of homeschool teams.  As the producer and administrator for Take 3 Christian Theater, she is thrilled and humbled to have had the opportunity to work with such great cast members and their servant parents.  Through teaching at the Pillar, Kathy is also thankful to be able to be “give back” to The Pillar Foundation and their wonderful volunteer teachers who had sacrificially taught her own children since 2003.


Amber Sobery


Amber Sobery has been married for 22 years and has an 12-year-old daughter. Amber has a bachelor’s degree in Deaf Education from Fontbonne University and is a Missouri certified Sign Language Interpreter. For 18 years she has been an Early Interventionist working with both Missouri First Steps and Families First Intervention Program. She works with families who have young children with developmental delays and specializes in those who are deaf/hard of hearing. Amber enjoys spending time assisting the children’s minister at her church, working in her flower and vegetable gardens, learning in the ceramics studio and creating in front of the sewing machine. At any given time, you can also find her listening to an audiobook, reading an e-book or enjoying the smell and feel of an old-fashioned paper book.


Vickie Weller


Vickie Weller is a certified corporate etiquette consultant and seminar speaker.  She enjoys equipping students with skills for academic success, social success, and with valuable soft skills to help them to be successful in their future careers. She and her husband Bob, the organizers of A College Prep Home Education, provided information, counseling, and support to home educators desiring to provide a high school home education for their students.  Vickie is a graduate of the University of Missouri - St. Louis (Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration) and is active in ministry and the community.


Sandy Spence


Sandy and her husband, Thorne, celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary in 2021. They homeschooled their four adult children through high school. She served on the Pillar staff for nine years as receptionist and administrative assistant.


MO Assoc. for Creation


Staff  Instructors





CHRISTIAN SELF-GOVERNMENT...............Instructor: Daniel Hite

GETTING INTO GREEK...................................Instructor: Leah Hite

Staff bios are found on The Pillar Foundation Staff page.

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