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Cohort Advisors

Lyle Abeln
Lyle Abeln, M.A.
Education Advisor

After earning his bachelor’s degree in math and history and his master’s degree in educational administration, Lyle Abeln began his career as a math teacher and administrator at Minneapolis’ Sanford Middle School and Roosevelt High School. After serving as associate principal for eight years at Roosevelt, he then moved on to the same role at Minnetonka High School before coming to Saint Mary’s University and serving as associate program director of the Ed.S. program, specializing in the K-12 principals’ licensure program. Abeln has also served as the program director for Master of Arts in Educational Leadership program. In addition to these pursuits, Abeln served several years in the Minnesota House of Representatives and also on the Bloomington School Board. While Abeln currently works part time as a field specialist for the Graduate School of Education, he also spends considerable time biking as well as playing golf, volleyball, bocce ball and horseshoes.
Michael Benedetto
Michael Benedetto, Ed.S.
GSOE - Field Specialist

(612) 728-5131

Over nearly 45 years in education, Mike Benedetto has served as an elementary instructor, elementary principal, director of curriculum and instruction and superintendent of schools. The largest portion of his educational career was spent as an administrator with the Monticello Public Schools. After retiring in 2005, Benedetto began working for Saint Mary’s University as a site coordinator for the Master of Arts in Education program before shifting to a cohort advising role. He also currently holds the positions of field specialist for the Graduate School of Education Working for Saint Mary’s has allowed him to stay in touch with the education profession, and being a cohort advisor has given him the opportunity to help guide teachers to an advanced degree, which to him is extremely satisfying. Mike is a past president of the Minnesota Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and charter president of the Monticello Lions. He continues to serve on various community committees and activities in Monticello, and in 2005 he was recognized as the Monticello “Citizen of the Year” at the town’s annual celebration.
Susannah Devereux
Susannah Devereux, M.A.
Education - Adjunct Program Assistant Professor, GSOE - Cohort Advisor

Sue Devereux has taught communication and educational research courses at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota for the past six years. Sue appreciates the fact that Saint Mary’s is very student-centered, and she particularly enjoys teaching in the cohort model. Sue has also taught English, reading and multicultural studies courses at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College. Sue resides in northern Minnesota with her husband, Hal, and they have five children and nine grandchildren.
Dawn Hamel
Dawn Hamel, Ph.D.
Education - Adjunct Program Assistant Professor

Dawn Hamel has been involved in education in Minnesota for 40 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Administration at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Hamel began her career by teaching English for 15 years, and she has since served in administrative positions in curriculum, program evaluation, alternative programming, staff development, K-12 summer programming and middle schools in Anoka-Hennepin District #11. Dr. Hamel has also served on curriculum audits in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Texas. She especially enjoys supporting the teachers in the Saint Mary’s Master of Arts in Education program as they complete this invaluable professional growth experience. Dr. Hamel is committed to lifelong learning, and it is gratifying for her to nurture this goal in Saint Mary’s students, as well as witnessing the sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction the students experience as they complete their graduate degree. In her spare time, she enjoys golf and travel with her husband, as well as interior decorating and spending time with her daughters and grandchildren.
James Howard
James Howard
GSOE - Cohort Advisor

(651) 485-9944

Jim Howard is a former teacher in the Rosemount School District where he served as social studies coordinator for much of his 50-year journey through education. While teaching previously in Oklahoma, one of his highlights was bringing two high school state championships home as a boys’ basketball coach. Howard started his time at Saint Mary’s University as site coordinator and currently serves as a cohort advisor for metro cohorts.
Ann Kastler
Ann Kastler, Ph.D.
Education - Adjunct Assistant Professor

Ann Kastler has served as an elementary principal, elementary classroom teacher, secondary special education teacher, Saint Mary's University assistant professor, site coordinator and licensed homebound instructor. Kastler is a Vietnam veteran, and while in the military, she was a NAVY line officer when there were very few active women serving. She was also the first female principal in School District 196. Kastler loves being part of a university that is warm and responsive to students and employees. She loves that the curriculum is relevant and rigorous for teachers and that the cohort model encourages cooperative teaching.
Hugh Skaja
Hugh Skaja, Ed.D.
Education - Adjunct Professor, GSOE - Field Specialist

(320) 251-6343

Hugh Skaja is a field specialist and cohort advisor for Region 8 which spans from St. Cloud to Bemidji. Skaja is familiar with the region, as he has lived and worked in the area for his entire life. As a student, Hugh attended parochial schools in St. Cloud and is a graduate of Cathedral High School. After graduating from St. Cloud State University, Skaja did his doctoral work at the University of St. Thomas. He then went on to as a teacher and principal in the parochial school he attended, St. Joseph’s in Waite Park, and ventured out to be the principal of Eden Valley-Watkins Elementary School before returning to St. Cloud as the principal at Kennedy and Lincoln Elementary Schools. Hugh has been teaching and working with Saint Mary’s University since 1995.
Gregory Spath
Gregory Spath, Ed.S.
Educational Admin Licensure - Adjunct Program Instructor

(507) 449-0010

Greg Spath started his career in education as a social studies teacher in Balaton, Minnesota in 1969. In the early 1970s, Spath served as principal at Middle River High School before working the same role at Hills Beaver Creek High School. From there he went to United South Central (Wells, Minnesota) from 1993–2003, and subsequent positions have included stints as the principal at the Sober School in Freeborn, Minnesota and interim principal in the Faribault school district. Spath has served as a site coordinator, cohort advisor and adjunct faculty member for Saint Mary’s University since 2005. He thoroughly enjoys working with his coworkers and helping educators pursue post-graduate degrees.