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Our Team

Kara Kowalk

Kara Kowalk


Kara Kowalk is the Principal at Union Elementary School. In 2019, Kara joined Lakota Local Schools as the Assistant Principal at Union. She served in this role until 2021, when she became Principal. Kara is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and taught in Lexington, KY, and Fort Thomas, KY, prior to coming to Lakota. She taught 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grade during her 9-year career as a classroom teacher.

Kara believes in the power of building strong relationships and connections with the entire school community – families, students, staff members, and community members. Kara is dedicated to serving the Union family and believes that each new day brings the opportunity to learn, grow, lead, and inspire.

For any questions, comments, concerns, or new ideas on ways to keep moving our Union family forward, please contact Kara at or on her cell phone at (270) 321-0666.

Mary Warden

Mary Warden

Assistant principal

Bre Sambuchino is the Assistant Principal at Union Elementary. She serves as district representative for IEP and ETR meetings and oversees testing in the building. She loves building relationships with the Union Family and enjoys meaningful conversations around E+R=O.  If you have any questions, you may contact her at or (513) 777-2201.



Therapy Dog

Amy Burns


Amy Burns has been a counselor for 19 years. Prior to that, she spent 5 years in the classroom as a 5th and 6th grade language arts and social studies teacher. As the school counselor, Amy works with students, teachers and parents to ensure that each child is reaching their full potential.  

The elementary school years are a crucial time in the development of each student's character and self image. Through small groups and individual counseling, Amy works with students to achieve continuous growth and development of their character. Amy is also continuously working with the teaching staff and parents to collaborate on student's needs.

Mila Dobnicker

Innovation Specialist

Mila Dobnicker has served as the Innovation Specialist at Union since August 2021. Prior to that, she spent 19 years in the classroom as a 4th grade math and science teacher. Mila provides teachers with professional development and coaching related to Lakota’s initiatives on innovation and personalized learning. Mila also supports curriculum and instructional design and delivery, and the evolution of spaces such as the Innovation Hub to transform the learning experience for students.  
Mila collaborates regularly with other Lakota Innovation Specialists and with curriculum and technology departments to impact the K-12 learning experience for students.

Kelly Harp

Registered Nurse

Kelly Harp has been the nurse at Union since 2015. From medications to daily illnesses, Kelly runs the Union clinic and takes care of student needs each day. If your child has any allergies, dietary restrictions, or medication needs, please contact her.

Vickie Hughes

Office Manager

Vickie Hughes has served the Union Community for 22 years. She started at the old Union in 1999. As the Office Manager, she ensures the building office runs smoothly and efficiently in the daily operation. She coordinates and facilitates the flow of communications from the school to the parents, students, and staff. Vickie also takes care of the building facility usage, maintains the school calendar, and tracks changes in student transportation, along with other student- and parent-related items.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Vickie at (513) 777-2201 ext. 13010 or

Jay Kaznowski


Officer Jay Kaznowski is the School Resource Officer for Union Elementary. Officer Jay is first and foremost responsible for the safety and security of the students and staff at Union Elementary. He also investigates any criminal activity occurring at the school and works closely with the school administration during these incidents to determine the best course of action. He is not responsible for any type of school-related discipline. This is his full-time position and he is at the school each day that the school is in session.

Officer Jay also enjoys the opportunity to connect and talk with the students, primarily during lunch and recess.

Debra Roberts

Teacher, Gifted Intervention Specialist

Debbie Roberts has been a Gifted Intervention Specialist since 2013.  Prior to that, she taught grades 3, 4 and 5 as a regular classroom teacher for 18 years. As a gifted intervention specialist, she works with students and teachers in the building, encouraging students to stretch their thinking. She pulls small groups of students to work on thinking skills and specific content skills. She also helps support the Math Plus, ELA Plus and Advanced Classes Teachers.

Melissa Staples

Office Secretary

As the Office Secretary, Melissa takes care of attendance, scheduling, report cards, student entry and withdrawals, among other student-related items. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Melissa at (513) 777-2201 or