The Missouri Military Academy Parents Committee is a dedicated group of cadet parents and family members who have come together with a common goal: to foster strong connections among cadets, faculty, and staff, while enriching the comprehensive 360 Degree Education provided at MMA.
To enhance the MMA experience for cadets, the MMA Parents Committee takes on various initiatives such as organizing special events, arranging thoughtful gifts, creating memorable holiday experiences, and more. By doing so, they illustrate the powerful partnership between family and the Academy, demonstrating through love and action that we are all collaborating in their growth and development.
Every current MMA family automatically becomes a member of the MMA Parents Committee.
Thank you to Jaymie "MieMie" Mitchell, Craig Lafferty, Shiela Miller, Matt and Amanda Gowin, and Shena Latcham for volunteering to help lead the committee this year. And thank you to last year’s committee president, Sherry Meyer, who will serve as an advisor to the committee this year.
President: Jaymie “MeiMei” Mitchell, grandmother of Cadet River Punab-Mitchell ’26
Welcome to MMA! My name is Jaymie Mitchell, and I am the grandmother of Cadet River Punab-Mitchell.
My home has been in Branson, Missouri for the past 16 years, but I was born and raised in a small town in rural Minnesota by entrepreneurial parents who had three children of which I am the middle. We are an incredibly involved, strong Christian family, and music is especially important to us. My father (age 90) is a beautiful tenor soloist who still sings and plays his saxophone. My mother (89) ran our furniture store and later became a mortgage banker. She was a church choir director for decades and still accompanies my father. I say this because River is carrying on the family's passion for music and is in the MMA chorus and developing into a beautiful baritone soloist with the assistance of the music teachers and his great-grandfather.
River will be in his third year at MMA as a sophomore. As a young man of 12 years of age, he decided he wanted to be in the Army. When we discovered MMA, he was thrilled that a school such as this existed. Leaving his parents, (Lindsay and Victor Hilsinger), his brothers (Dean (11), Aeon (15), and Orren (22)) and his home in Kodiak, Alaska was tough, but the result of that decision has been a stunning transformation obvious to all who have watched him these past couple of years.
What is so remarkable about MMA is the dedication of all the leadership, staff, parents, and cadets in their pursuit of excellence. My grandmother once said, “Children will strive to be what is expected of them,” and I see this happening at MMA. When our sons are supported, given the tools to succeed, and then earn awards and recognition for their efforts, they become confident and proud young men.
MMA Enrollment Counselor Michael Koontz said, “MMA knows boys!” That statement is absolutely true. They know what a young man needs — structure, discipline, and accountability achieved through the 360° Military Education Model — to be able to build the foundation necessary to succeed in whatever they choose to pursue as adults. River’s academics are outstanding, his physical and character development is remarkable, and his leadership and life skills learned at MMA have exceeded all our expectations. MMA is the best decision we could have made.
I have utilized my family’s entrepreneurial spirit in my professional career working as a business development director, marketing and proposal operations manager in 11 different industries. This experience is especially useful in my current position as an APEX Accelerator Procurement Specialist for the University of Missouri Extension funded by the Department of Defense. Counseling small businesses on how to navigate the waters of government contracting is right in my wheelhouse, and I enjoy it very much.
I look forward to supporting MMA leadership, cadets, and parents as the president of the 2023 Parents Committee. Thank you for this opportunity to serve. It is an honor!
Vice President: Craig Lafferty, father of Cadet Lafferty ’27
I am Craig Lafferty, father of three young men Sutton, Harper and Cadet Taylor Kyle Lafferty and daughter Cheyenne. we have enrolled members of the Rosebud and Oglala Sioux Tribes in South Dakota. In July 2000 I received my radiology degree from Creighton Medical Center in Omaha Nebraska in my bachelor's degree from Presentation College in Aberdeen, South Dakota.
It was then when I returned home to the Rosebud Sioux reservation and begin my federal service becoming the Director of Radiology at the Rosebud Indian Health Services hospital in Rosebud, South Dakota. I retired after 20 years to become a full-time father and enjoy our ranching trucking company.
Outside the hospital, we live out in the country on our little ranch with 200 head of Red Angus cattle. It is there where I get to spend time with my kids and teach them traditional or old school morals, values, and work ethic.
Now I am so impressed with MMA and what they have to offer my son as far as educational opportunities, social networks and a level of structure that will carry him through his lifetime.
It is now a privilege and an honor to be nominated and selected to the parent committee for 2023-2024 school year. I obviously do not have all the answers or know the handbook forward and backwards like the cadets do but you could always give me a call or send me a message, and I would be more than willing to help you find the answer as I to still have questions. Again thank you and welcome everyone let’s make a great school year!
Secretary: Shiela Miller, mother of Cadet Justyn Daigle ’24
I am Shiela Miller from central Missouri. Ed Skaggs, Cadet Justyn Daigle’s grandfather and guardian, and I have been involved in and attended several functions at MMA for the past two years. We are both retired and live in close proximity to Mexico which offers the flexibility of attending many functions at MMA.
Justyn, like most of the cadets that attended, hated the first few months and did not want to be there. Once they adapt to MMA and being away from home, they settle in and begin to grow. That is when you will know that MMA was the right decision. It is so awesome to see these boys growing into young men being more knowledgeable, disciplined, mannerly, and confident. They are pushed out of their comfort zones and shown that, with a little hard work, they can do whatever they put their minds to. MMA has a group of awesome boys from all over the world, and we are very proud of them and their accomplishments, with several of those being state and national performers and award-winners.
Justyn has excelled so much in his two years at MMA and loves using his leadership skills to help others. He is a member of the National Honor Society, was assistant choir director his junior year, went to state and nationals for his singing skills in choir. He was also on the swim team that broke several school records and served as S-1 on the battalion staff last year. He got a job working at MMA’s academic camp this summer as a camp leader and was able to use his leadership skills and help others. Justyn will be the company commander of Band Company for the upcoming year. We are excited to see what is in store for his senior year accomplishments, as he continues to overcome obstacles and conquer more achievements. We will also be there to support your MMA cadets as they travel through their MMA journey.
Treasurer: Matt and Amanda Gowin, parents of Cadet Samuel Stevens ’26
We are the parents of Samuel Stevens, a sophomore. Sam is going into his third year as a day cadet at MMA. We love the academic structure and how caring the staff and faculty are. Day cadets have a unique experience at MMA, and we are happy to be included on the Parents Committee to support all parents. With us being close to campus, we are also happy to assist in local recommendations or answer questions about the area.
Matt is community bank president for the Bank of Missouri in Mexico and Amanda is a professor at Westminster College in Fulton. Sam has three older sisters. Two of his sisters have studied abroad (Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands). Sam loves having “brothers” through MMA.
Standing Member: Shena Latcham, mother of Cadet Oliver Sparks ’27
Hello! My name is Shena Latcham and my husband’s name is Matt Sparks. Our cadet is Oliver Sparks, who will be a freshman at MMA starting this fall. Oliver began attending MMA in August 2021 when he started 7th grade as a day cadet. Although Matt and I are originally from Kansas City, MO, we moved to Columbia, MO, in 2002 and have lived there since that time. We also have a daughter, Amelia, who is Oliver’s twin sister, as well as two dogs and a cat. Our family loves sports and are big fans of the University of Missouri Tigers, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Kansas City Royals, and of course, the MMA Colonels!
I am very excited to be a part of the parents committee this year, not only because I will get the opportunity to know the MMA families and cadets better, but because I am excited to serve as a representative for all cadet parents. Thank you for the opportunity to help make the 2023-24 school year outstanding for your cadet and family!