Our Team

Kristie Campbell
Founder and Director Kristie Campbell

Kristie Campbell has been a part of the Effingham community since she returned in 2004 to create firefly grill with her husband, Niall. A self taught educator, Kristie began to define her vision for an innovative school when she was pregnant with her daughter Camden in 2011. Buckeye Friends School is based on a deep belief that all kids have limitless potential and a great opportunity to thrive when they are given the freedom to explore, create and pursue their own passions. Kristie wants Buckeye to be the most interesting place on earth for her students, and a space where the only reason they look at the clock is because they are afraid there won’t be enough time left in the day.

Starting their 4th year, the team is successfully executing this lofty goal. Buckeye students want to be at school more than anywhere else, they think summer is too long and that we have too many breaks. Though Buckeye has very little homework, students are constantly staying late to work on their projects, to read together, to work on their novels, to play Dungeons and Dragons and various sports and to choreograph dances for their troop. 

This year BFS was supposed to have its first graduating senior. In an unequivocal example of how well the innovative BFS curriculum works, this student did so well on her college entrance exams that she graduated one year early and is now a successful full time student in college. 

Buckeye is doing for education, what firefly did for food in Effingham County. Achieving the seemingly impossible to elevate what this amazing community has to offer. Not every school is a great fit for every student. Buckeye offers an alternative for families who believe that the assumptions of the industrial-age-models of schooling are no longer sufficient for children to thrive in the 21st century. 

Firefly was created to attract talent to Effingham businesses, it is the space where the majority of recruiting is achieved. Kristie hopes that BFS will also attract and retain talent for our community, countering the rural brain drain happening in small midwest towns. 

Carrie Huff
Co-founder and Co-learner Carrie Huff

Carrie Huff has been an educator for over 40 years. She began teaching middle school Language Arts in St. Louis in 1970 and then moved to Maine, where she taught Language Arts, Theatre, French, and Biology for 12 years. She and her family moved to North Carolina in 1992, where she joined the staff of the Carolina Friends School (CFS), a small Quaker school in the woods. During her 25 years at CFS, she was both a teacher and an administrator. After her retirement, Carrie and her husband Greg moved to Effingham in 2017, and she is the very proud mother of 3 grown children and 5 amazing grandchildren. Carrie is excited to be a part of the new Buckeye team!

Brian Weck

Integrator and Co-learner


Brian comes to Buckeye in a full-time capacity as Integrator & Co-Learner having served on our Board of Directors for the past 2 years.  He resides in Robinson, Illinois with his wife, Valerie, and three children – Harper, Landry, and Mason.  He has a background in elementary education, which was his first career and passion.  Following a 15-year career in the Healthcare Information Technology industry, he recently returned to his roots. In his educational roles, he has served as an elementary classroom teacher and reading specialist.  Brian enjoys camping & traveling with his family, being outdoors, staying active, gathering with friends, music, reading, and watching his children on the diamond, court, field, and stage.  Brian is excited to join the Buckeye community!

Dawn Hootselle
Before and After-School Program Director IMG_1376

Dawn has lived in the St. Louis area for most of her life. In 2016, she and her family relocated to Effingham so that her husband Tom could begin working at Dieterich Bank. They have two sons, TJ and Alex. Dawn has been working in the education field since 1995 when she graduated from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, IL (Go Cougars!). She has a degree in Early Childhood Education and Dawn has tremendous experience with all different grade levels and ages. It is with much excitement that Dawn joins the Buckeye team to run the before and after-school program!

Betty Jackson
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Betty Jackson left her Job as an Activities Director in a Retirement home in North Carolina to join the Buckeye team as a Co-Learner. As someone who struggled through the traditional school system, Betty saw value in the hands on learning experience that Buckeye provides to its seeds. “The traditional school system teaches us to follow the book and tells us there is only one way with one right answer and if you get it wrong, you fail. When I got out of high school I was practically waiting for someone to tell me what to do. I would catch myself freezing when faced with a new problem or situation. Afraid to act or ask questions. At Buckeye innovative and creative thought is encouraged and praised. If one way doesn’t work out, there is always another way! These are the kind of courageous thinkers the future of our world needs. We need more buckeyes!.” After spending time with the Buckeye seeds, Betty felt confident enough to follow up with her schooling and is pursuing a masters degree in psychology. Her dream is to open a day care center that connects the young with the elderly as well as make some changes in the way we currently deal with aging, death and dying in our society. In her free time, Betty likes to be outdoors or doing something crafty. She also holds local Death Cafes and grief support groups at the Hazel Jayne Village center a few times a month. “I took this position at Buckeye to help encourage kids on their path, but I had no idea how much they would encourage me on mine.”

Kody Czerwonka
Co-Learner IMG_7220 2 Kody Czerwonka comes from a family of teachers and so the desire and passion to continue learning is deeply rooted within Kody. Kody holds multiple positions within a couple of non-profit organizations with a focus on community. He is an original founding board member of the Tuscola GSA Booster Club whose mission is to “support safety, liberty and justice for all persons in Tuscola and the surrounding communities.” Kody is also the Vice Grand of the Tuscola Odd Fellows, an international fraternity that promotes philanthropy. Kody also has many other different passions including film, kayaking, hiking, reading, playing sports, and learning something new every day. Kody hopes to share these passions and learn more about the seeds’ passions in this school year. He is excited for this opportunity to co-learn, and not only help his seeds grow, but also grow himself.

Jessie Pritiken
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Jessie is new to the Effingham area this year, having moved from Idaho to be closer to her newly blended family. This year marks her 9th year in education with a Bachelor’s degree from Boise State University and a Master’s degree in progress! With certifications in Elementary and Secondary Education, Jessie has taught it all–Math, ELA, Reading, Economics, History, Psychology, Journalism, Health, and even more to add on this year! Jessieworked for 4 years in a dual language charter school and taught the previous four years in an arts focused charter school. Finding such a special and unique school in Buckeye couldn’t be a better fit! She is so grateful to continue her passion for learning alongside other learners (both adult and youth) and looks forward to all she will learn, create, and share with her seeds!