President: Frances Gooden

Southwest Region

Over the past 10 years, Frances Gooden, Ed.D. has been the director of Finley River School with the Ozark R-VI school district.  She and her staff worked hard to successfully change the school from a program where students are “sent” to a program where students request to attend. Over the past 10 years, nearly 200 students have graduated from the program The school has become well known in the community by working

with other schools and agencies throughout Ozark. Other responsibilities within the district include working with at-risk program initiatives including PBIS and RtI.


Prior to working in Ozark, Frances was a special education teacher in Bay Point, CA and Springfield, MO for a total of 9 years before spending 4 years in Springfield as the director of at-risk programs at Parkview High School.


Dr. Gooden is a member of the Missouri and National Associations of Secondary School Principals, Association for Supervision of Curriculum and Development, and National Alternative Education Association.  She received her Ed.D. in educational leadership from St. Louis University with a dissertation studying best practices in alternative education. She also received an Ed.S in Ed. Leadership, M.A. in Special Education, and B.S. in Psychology. Frances is an adjunct professor for Lindenwood University teaching Behavior Management at the Master’s level. This is her third year serving on the MAEN board.

Frances and her husband live on 20 acres outside Fordland, MO with their 3 dogs and numerous cats. Her spare time is spent either running or reading. She has 2 wonderful grown children and 3 brilliant grandsons.

SecretaryTreasurer: Julia White

Kansas City Region

Julia (Julie) White has been an employee of the Blue Springs School District for 14 years.  She has worked in the Missouri Option Program for the entire time.  She loves alternative education because it allows students who normally would not graduate to have a second chance.  Her favorite time of the school year is when she watches the students who thought they would never complete their education, walk across the stage in a cap and gown. 

Julie has represented the MAEN Kansas City region since the fall of 2016.  She enjoys working closely with her regional cohorts and learning what makes their programs successful.  She believes, strongly, that when like minds have a common goal, epic things can happen. Julie has a Bachelor’s degree from UMKC and a Master’s degree from UCM. 


Julie’s career life actually started out in banking.  She worked her way up from a teller to a banking officer who sold securities, as well.  She retired from the banking industry in 1998 and started a non-profit Christian teen club with her husband.  In 2004, she substituted in an alternative high school class and was hooked from there. 

Julie has been married for 34 years and has two children and 5 grandchildren.  These are the loves of her life and she spends as much time as she can with family.

Vice President: Gaelle Freer

Southeast Region

Gaëlle Freer has been in public education for 36 years. She currently teaches at the Poplar Bluff Graduation Center. This program targets students that for various reasons are in danger of not graduating. Through a computer-based credit recovery program, it allows these students to make up credits necessary for graduation. Her educational credentials include a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Secondary

Education from Hofstra University located in Long Island, New York in 1979. She completed her Master’s Degree in Reading also from Hofstra University in 1986.

The first five years of her career she taught English in New York. In 1986 she relocated to Key West, Florida where she continued teaching Honors English and Reading at Key West High school for 15 years. She also served as Department Chairperson for Language Arts and held the position of Language Arts District Coordinator for one year. While in Key West she met and married her husband, a Missouri native, and had a son.

In 2001 her husband, also an educator, retired and they decided to return to his hometown of Poplar Bluff.   After she moved to Poplar Bluff she received her Specialist Degree in K-12 Administration from Southeast Missouri State University. She lives with her husband of 28 years on a 91-acre farm. In her spare time, she loves to read, travel and spend time with her son who resides in Los Angeles, California and her stepdaughter, husband and three beautiful grandbabies who reside in Key West, Florida.


Current Board Members

Central Region

Allen Schwantes-

Kansas City Region 1

Julie White -


Kansas City Region 2

Michele Hamilton




Saint Louis Region 1


Saint Louis Region 2

Dan Davinroy - 

Past President



Executive Board Assistant 

Kristie Wilson-



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