Get to know the Teaching and Learning Staff



Dr. Paula Hough - Director of Teaching and Learning

I chose to be in education because I had so many amazing teachers from the day I was born; my siblings, parents, informal and formal educators. I wanted to share my love of learning with others and show how exciting it is to learn new things and be resilient.

I am the youngest of six kids. We have one brother right in the middle. Those five people are my favorite people in the world. Also, I moved to Ireland for a semester so that my mom would travel abroad and see where her grandparents lived before moving to the US. It worked. She and two of my sisters spent 10 days exploring the country with me.

My favorite book (this week) is The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.

IMG_0084Dr. Lucas Shivers - Director of Elementary Education

Why you joined the world of education – Share the joy of learning 

Interesting/fun fact – I enjoy riding bikes, gardening and being with friends and family. 

Favorite quote and/or book - Good to Great by Jim Collins 



IMG_0103Dr. Jeanne Disney - Director of Secondary Education

I knew from an early age I wanted to become a teacher. I remember as a second grader “teaching” my stuffed animals how to read. I also remember using my window blind as a chalkboard (much to my father’s dismay!!). When I finally realized my dream and became a teacher, I couldn’t wait to greet my students and wanted to make sure that every student who walked through our doors had an excellent experience. I continue to have that same desire today and love having a job where I get to work with students, teachers and administrators every day.  

Fun fact: I have snorkeled with sharks (albeit Nurse sharks) along the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Favorite quote: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

 IMG_0096Shondra Gilliam - Administrative Assistant

Why you joined the world of education?

*I come from a family of educators, my mom is a teacher, my aunts are teachers, my brother is a teacher, as well as several cousins and other extended family. I love seeing the intelligence shine in kids eyes and knowing we are making an impact in their lives.

Favorite Quote?
* Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope – Maya Angelou

Favorite Book?

*Too many! I am currently reading Nora Roberts’, Under Currents

 IMG_0056Brooke Blanck - Director of Manhattan Virtual Academy






IMG_0068Deanna Borg - Administrative Assistant - Staff Development 

Why you choose a career in education. Family is very important to me, so I was looking for a part time job that would allow me to spend quality time with my family.  This position has taught me a lot and I see how we affect the lives of many.

Interesting/fun fact about you. I enjoy making quilts for family and friends and I am looking into donating some to charity. It brings me joy sharing my love through the warmth of a quilt. 

Favorite book or quote: Believe you can and you’re halfway there.

IMG_0088Emily Cherms - ESOL Coordinator

Education is a lifelong endeavor. Reflecting on the learning process and the influence teachers have led me to the field of education. With a passion for family engagement as well as culturally and linguistically diverse students, my journey began. Interestingly enough, my collegiate pathway began in business and accounting. While I still consider myself a person that loves checks and balances, the career did not offer enough diverse experiences or global connections. The world is represented in our hallways in Manhattan-Ogden USD383 and there is never two days alike. We have opportunities to reflect, learn and grow each day!   

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."  ~Nelson Mandela

IMG_0114Pamela Combes - Director of Grant Coordination

Favorite Quote:  To Believe There is Good in the World, BE the GOOD





IMG_0078Cynthia Emery - K-6 Instructional Coach

I chose a career in education because I believe that educating the movers and shapers of the future is important and I wanted to watch it all unfold.  

I compete in dog sports (agility, flyball, herding, and disc) with my border collie and Aussie.

I love to read anything written by Agatha Christie.


IMG_0090Tracy Emery - FIT Closet Coordinator

Why I joined the world of education:  I've always loved serving others, which makes the FIT Closet an absolutely perfect "fit" for me.  I am surrounded by an amazing team of volunteers, inspired daily by the clients we serve, and love the challenges and creativity involved with raising awareness and support of the FIT Closet in the Manhattan-Ogden community.

Interesting/fun fact:  I love to curate new recipes and try them out on my family.

Favorite quote:  "Be the change you wish to see in the world."  ~ Gandhi

Favorite book:  How can I pick just one?  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doehr; The Rent Collector by Camron Wright;  A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman

IMG_0051Duke Harmon - Instructional Technology Facilitator 

Why Education? I decided to go into teaching many years ago because I love science and wanted to teach that subject to others. Technology is a natural extension of my passion for learning. I am a problem solver and people person which serves me well in my current role.

Interesting fact: I am a licensed drone pilot and a decent fisherman.

Favorite quote: Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as you can. Hillary Clinton

IMG_0060Joanna Hohn - K-Link Family Literacy Coordinator

Why you choose a career in education:  I love helping others, and with children every day brings a new adventure!

Interesting/fun fact about you.   I love to travel!  I have visited 16 different countries and 12 National Parks.  

Favorite book or quote:  THE ROOTS of RAP by Carole Boston Weatherford.  Awesome picture book for all ages!!!

IMG_0110Jung Howard - Educational Data Specialist

Joined the Teaching and Leaning in September 2018, because USD 383 is the place for people and education.


I love to travel. I have been to 14 countries so far.


“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”-Theodore Roosevelt

IMG_0094Kari Q. Humes - Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coordinator

Why you joined the world of education:  I joined the world of education because of a strong desire to positively impact the lives of young people, offering them kindness and support that is free of judgment.

Interesting/fun fact:  Originally from Detroit, Michigan and spent 17 years living in Frankfurt, Germany

Favorite Book:  The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

Favorite quote:  "You don't need to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."  Martin Luther King Jr.

IMG_0072Jason Kazar - HUDL Head Coach

Why you choose a career in education: The Manhattan district was such a memorable experience for me growing up so I wanted to give back to the district that provided me so much.

Interesting/fun fact about you: Dancing is one of my favorite things to do.

Favorite book or quote: To lead is to serve


IMG_0076Michelle Larson - K-Link Instructional Coach

Whey I joined the world of education:  The money, of course LOL!!! 😊 I wanted to be a better teacher to students than some of the teachers I had.

Interesting/Fun Fact:  I have a songwriting contract with Paramount Group~Nashville, TN

Favorite Quote:  “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  ~Maya Angelou


IMG_0066Lucas Loughmiller - Director of Library and Media Services

Why I chose a career in education: 

Blame it on the teachers! I was fortunate enough to grow up in a small town in NE Kansas. I consider myself very lucky looking back at the teachers I had. By the time I graduated high school, I had it in my mind that a “career” in education was where I needed to be.

Interesting/fun fact about you:

I’m a HUGE nerd, on many levels. DC Comics, Star Wars and Transformers are my favorites, and my “man cave” at my house looks more like a toy museum, that is appropriately divided into themed sections, along with an accompanying library of graphic novels and YA Fiction.

Favorite Book or quote:

Be mindful of the future, but not at the expense of the moment. Keep your focus in the here and now, where it belongs. – Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn


IMG_0099Leslie Payne - K-Link Instructional Coach

Why you choose a career in education? If there’s anyone who is in a position to bring positive change into the world every day, it’s a teacher or someone with direct influence on education.

Interesting/fun fact about you: I’m the proud owner of Morocco, aka “Rocco” the therapy dog at Northview Elementary.

Favorite book or quote: I love so many books I can’t just pick one.

IMG_0062Brenda Randall - Student Records Clerk






IMG_0071Jan Slezinger - Textbook Inventory Clerk

Why you chose a career in education: My husband is an elementary music teacher in the district. After I retired from running a small digital print shop at K-State, I wanted something to do, so I went to work for USD383 as a custodian at Northview, then as night lead custodian at Eisenhower, and now my current position. I enjoy the diversity of work, and being able to support the teachers.

Interesting/fun fact about you. I play banjo in a bluegrass band called THE HAYMAKERS! And I play guitar, with my husband, Dave, who plays the cello. We call ourselves Dave and Jan.

Favorite book or quote. One of my favorite books is She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb.