Team 6 Black Teachers

Meet the Team 6 Black Teachers: Robin Carlson, Amanda Holcmann, Karen Nave, Dena Geiger, Lana Ponce and 
Courtney Taylor, 

B.S. Education of the Deaf and Hearing Impaired, MacMurray College B.S. Education Learning Disabilities, MacMurray College; Social Emotional Disorders/Educable Mentally Handicapped Western Illinois University M.S. Instructional Technology/Curriculum Design, SIUE National Board Professional Teaching Standards, certified 2003 National Board Professional Teaching Standards, recertified 2012.

Mrs. Carlson has been obsessed with reading and writing since she was a child.  Her mother would not make her do chores if she would read to her younger siblings. Quite the deal for her!  She lives in Edwardsville with her husband, John and her black Lab, Lucy (the sweetest and most intelligent dog on the planet). Her favorite activities are spending time with her children Megan and Sean, reading, writing, and walking Lucy on the trails.

Mrs. Robin Carlson
English Language Arts

Education: Elementary Education, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, 1999 Masters - Education Administration, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, 2006 Previous Assignments:Highland Upper Elementary-grade 5, Alhambra Elementary-grade 4, Grantfork Elementary-grades 5 & 6.

Mrs. Dena Geiger loves to design and build most anything, so teaching math is a natural fit.  She and her husband farm between Alhambra and Grantfork.  Besides raising crops and hogs, they have raised three daughters – Sadie, a crop consultant with CPS, Claire and Olivia, who are both students at U of I. 

Mrs. Geiger enjoys sewing, woodworking, gardening, and cooking, along with leading the Grant Prairie 4-H Club and volunteering at the Madison County Fair. 

Mrs. Dena Geiger


B.A., Special Education Major, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, 2002 M.Ed., Elementary education, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, 2009 I began my teaching career at Highland Middle School in 2002. I have taught special education since 2003. My husband’s name is Chris and he works at Cooper B-Line in Troy. We have three children: Trent,  Madelyn, and Brayden. Outside of school I enjoy exercising, shopping, reading, and spending time with my family.

Mrs. Amanda Holcmann
Special Education

6,7and 8th grade Special Education Teacher

P.A.W.S Team

Education: B.S.,Elementary Education, Science Concentration, Eastern Illinois University Middle School Endorsement, McKendree University M.A.E.D., Teacher Leadership, Greenville College. Previous Teaching Assignments: 7th grade Science, Wesclin Jr. High, 5th grade Highland Elementary Community Service: Relay for Life, Highland Hope Praise Band Mrs. Karen Nave grew up on a dairy farm near Trenton. This upbringing led to a love of science and the outdoors. She and her husband have two children, Jessica, and Troy.  Mrs. Nave’s free time is spent at soccer games, with her horses, and singing with the contemporary praise band at her church.

Mrs. Karen Nave
Recycling coordinator

Education:  BS in Business Administration from SIUE, MA in Teaching, with a LBS1 endorsement from Greenville College.  

Ms. Ponce has worked for Highland Community Schools for 15 years as a substitute teacher, Program Assistant, and a Special Education Teacher at Alhambra Primary.  She grew up in Highland and has three grown children Brenden, Mitchell, and Amanda. She also had a shih-tzu named Cocoa. Ms. Ponce enjoys spending time with her kids and traveling.  In her free time she likes canning salsa and jams.

Mrs. Lana Ponce
Special Education

Mrs. Courtney Taylor joins the Highland Middle School faculty as the Team 6 Black Social Studies teacher. She comes to HMS with 4 years junior high teaching experience from Breese Elementary District 12. In 2010, Mrs. Taylor graduated from McKendree University with a Bachelors of Science in Education, and in 2015 she graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with a Master of Science in Education. Mrs. Taylor also brings with her, experience as an Instructional Designer and Technology Specialist from Greenville College and McKendree University. When not teaching, she enjoys traveling with her husband, spending time with her two dogs, reading, and working with technology. She is excited to bring her passion for history and love of teaching to Highland Middle School.

Mrs. Courtney Taylor
Social Studies