Meet the Staff

rs. Kim Mikolajczyk


Kim Mikolajczyk, principal of McDonald school loves the students, families and staff she works with each day. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Idaho, her Master’s Degree from Eastern Washington University and her Education Specialist degree from University of Idaho. After serving as the school counselor at McDonald for 10 years, Kim now leads our school.

She brings a wealth of knowledge about the children, their families as well as working closely with staff and programs within the school and community. Her positive and proactive approach along with getting to know and enjoying each student helps make McDonald Elementary a fantastic place to be!

Kim grew up in Vancouver, Washington, in her large family of seven children. She came to Moscow to attend the University while on a Track scholarship and has never left! She enjoys exploring new places, exciting foods and playing on the St. Joe river in the summer with her husband and two children while out of cell phone range of anyone else.

Classroom Teachers


Mrs. Heidi Palmer

Class website:

Heidi Palmer hails from The Dalles, Oregon and earned a degree in K-8 education and early childhood education from Western Oregon University in 1999. In 2009 she graduated from University of Idaho with a Master’s degree in Special Education.

In the fourth grade, Mrs. Palmer visited her aunt in San Francisco. While there she toured her aunt’s work place, which was a training center for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Over the next several years she raised four guide dogs. It was an awesome experience!

For Mrs. Palmer, being a teacher is a very fulfilling career. She loves watching the children grow socially, as well as academically throughout the course of the year and for years to come. She loves the enthusiasm for learning that Kindergarten children demonstrate each and every day.

Check out Kindergarten’s website:


Mrs. Brandi Urie

Class Website:

Brandi Urie was raised in Boise, Idaho but moved to Moscow in 2000. She has considered the Palouse her home ever since. She graduated from the University of Idaho in 2010 with her B.S. Education and looks forward to completing her Master’s degree with them as well (Go Vandals!). Shortly after graduation, Mrs. Urie taught abroad for two years in Kumamoto, Japan, where she worked with students as young as 3 and as old as 75.

Mrs. Urie enjoys reading, gardening, painting, and the occasional cross-stitch project. She can often be found heading out on grand adventures with her husband, Ryan, her daughter, Alora, and toddler son, Taran. Teaching kindergarten has been a lifelong dream for Mrs. Urie. She loves the unique and inspiring ways kindergarteners engage with their learning community and hopes to instill in all her students an enduring love of learning.

Mrs. Mitzi Wright


Mrs. Mitzi Wright was born and raised in Hutchinson, KS.  She met her husband while in college in Missouri and spent nine years in Oklahoma before moving to Idaho in 2003.

She graduated from Ozark Christian College with a degree in Christian Education.  She taught two years in a private school, teaching third grade and Kindergarten.  In 2002 she completed her elementary education certification at the University of Oklahoma.  When she moved to Idaho, she subbed in various districts for two years before working in the Troy School district from 2005-2018.  She spent seven of those years as a one on one aide and recently six years as a second grade teacher.

Mrs. Wright enjoys hiking, camping, fishing, kayaking, roller skating, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with her family.  She is the youngest of seven children.  Her siblings range from 12-24 years older than her.  Her family consists of the three amigos, herself, her husband, Eric who is a mental health counselor and her daughter Macie who will be in first grade.  Mitzi is a world traveler and did a small stint in roller derby.

When asked what she loves most about teaching, Mrs. Wright stated that teaching is rewarding and she loves to inspire the excitement of learning, creativity and helping students to think for themselves.  She enjoys seeing students be sponges by soaking up what they learn and use it to share with others.


Mrs. Kristine Fitze
1st Grade

Class website:

Kristine Fitze earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Education at University of Idaho. Following graduation she achieved her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Mrs. Fitze has taught at McDonald Elementary since 2001.

She loves the outdoors such as camping, fishing, boating, hiking, and walking her Yorkie. She also loves baking fruit pies, reading and scrapbooking.

Mrs. Fitze loves making a difference in a child’s life in some small way. It is always good when she is teaching and a student says or does something that teaches her something too!

Mrs. Gena Hudelson
1st Grade

Class website:

Gena Hudelson grew up in Northern Virginia near Washington D.C. along the Blue Ridge Mountains.  She earned her BS in Recreation & Resource Management from the University of Montana and her Elementary Education certificate with an endorsement in Literacy from Lewis-Clark State College.

When not in the classroom, she enjoys spending time with her family outside.  Whitewater, rafting, dry fly fishing and camping on the river are her favorite activities.  In the winter, Gena and her family can be found on the ski hill on the weekends.  She also loves to cook, work on photography, travel when she can and explore with her little ones.

Mrs. Hudelson has been a professional whitewater rafting guide since the age of 17.  Within that time, her greatest accomplishment has been floating through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River four times.  That is a total of 65 days spent in the bottom of the Grand Canyon!  It has become her most treasured places to visit.  Oddly enough, she has yet to see it from the top of the rim.

Gena loves providing an atmosphere that promotes an excitement for learning!  She enjoys making her classroom feel like a community that encourages acceptance and believe in students finding their individual interests through the power of reading.

Ms. Jana Horne
2nd Grade

Class website:

Jana Horne was born and raised in Texas. She received her Bachelor’s degree in science from Texas A & M University – WHOOP! She earned her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Idaho.

Ms. Horne loves the outdoors and spending time with family and friends. When time allows, she enjoys gardening and knitting. When she was younger she enjoyed playing sports. Basketball is her favorite sport.

Jana has one child, Connor and a lovable Golden Retriever named Dusty. Ms. Horne has rafted the Canning River in Alaska north of the Brooks Range and rafted the Middle Fork of the Salmon with a group of friends.

Ms. Horne stated “I love the challenge of making school fun and successful for every child.” Check out the second grade website

Mrs. Emily Spellman
2nd Grade

Class website:

Emily Spellman teaches 2nd Grade at McDonald Elementary. She was raised in a town outside of Philadelphia and moved to Moscow at the age of ten. She graduated from Moscow High School and went abroad to Nepal for her first semester in college. She learned lifelong lessons in Nepal and it was there that she decided to become a teacher after teaching English songs to kids in the villages. She graduated from the University of Idaho with a Master’s degree in Education along with a literacy and gifted & talented endorsement.

Other than her love for teaching, Mrs. Spellman loves to run, hike, backpack, travel and volunteer for the Humane Society of the Palouse. She has volunteered there for 20 years and been on the Board of Directors for the shelter for over ten years.

Emily enjoys spending time with her family and is married and has two young children, Maya and Reid. She is proud to admit that she is a McDonald Duck alumnus along with her husband. She stated that once her youngest child enters school her whole family will be Ducks, “once a duck, always a duck!”

Mrs. Spellman loves getting to know the students. She likes the opportunity to support them in their learning career and creating a safe and inviting environment for them to grow.

Mrs. Pepper Abbott
3rd Grade

Class website:

Pepper Abbott teaches 3rd grade at McDonald Elementary this year. She achieved her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Idaho in Elementary and Special Education.

Mrs. Abbott loves being outdoors! She enjoys hiking, biking, whitewater rafting, four wheeling, soccer, rock climbing, snowboarding and camping. If after all of this she has any spare time, she loves to quilt and knit, but top on her list is spending time with her husband, children and dog.

Some interesting facts that you may not know about Mrs. Abbott is that she spent four summers in Naknek, Alaska working in the roe room of a fish processing plant. She also fought wild fires for seven summers.

Mrs. Abbott loves knowing that she makes a difference in each and every student that she teaches.

Read more about what is happening in Mrs. Abbott’s 3rd grade class at