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Instructors

Mrs. Jenevieve Rannow

Born and raised in Montana, Jenevieve became a Minnesota resident after she received her bachelor’s degree in Social Studies education, major in Bible, and minor in Math from Northwestern University in St. Paul.  From an early age, God has given her a passion for training up youth, whether it is in the mountains of Montana, a gymnastics gym, the English school in China, or Sunday school classes in inner city Minneapolis.  Jenevieve spent 13 years teaching multiple social studies disciplines in the Osseo and Minneapolis Public Schools. The last few years, Jenevieve taught as substitute teacher at Maranatha Christian Academy where her older 3 boys attend.  The Lord has shown Jenevieve that academic knowledge of a subject (ex: Scripture, History, and Psychology of human behavior) has value for lifetime achievements.  However, the greater value comes from experiential knowledge (ex: a true relationship with Christ, applying historical lessons, and modifying human behavior).  As a result, her teaching style focuses on student centered learning where students are able to apply their knowledge and take ownership of their learning.  Jenevieve just gave birth to her 4th boy in March and enjoys spending time singing and traveling with her family.  God has given her a strong desire to support children in their Christian education and she looks forward to helping WEST students further their learning.

Ms. Elizabeth (Yoder) Smith

Liz Smith graduated with a Bachelor of the Arts in Theatre from The University of Northwestern St.Paul in 2012. Liz works around the Twin Cities as a theatre director/teacher. She has directed and taught theatre at Maple Grove Middle School, and now works at Waconia Middle and High School as a director and theatre coordinator. Liz has also directed with Bunce Backyard Productions and Cross Community Players over the past couple years. She loves to be onstage whenever the opportunity presents itself. Liz loves to tell stories, real ones and made-up ones.

When Liz is not in the theatre world, she enjoys days on a lake, reading books particularly biographies, road trips to the mountains and playing madnolin or stand-up bass with her family, friends and husband!

 

Mrs. Sandy Adler

Sandy Adler attended Riverdale Community College in Austin, MN to pursue an AA degree in Fine Arts, Minneapolis Community and Technical College for an AA in Graphic/Commercial Design, and Crown College for a B.A. in Christian Education.  She is currently a practicing and accomplished artist in both fine arts and graphic design.  She is the Director of Marketing, Advertising and Promotion as well as Vice President of Heart of the City Ministries, a non-profit organization led by Sandy and her husband for the purpose of bringing racial and denominational unity to the Body of Christ in the Twin Cities area.  Her paintings in oil pastel have been featured in businesses and ministries in the Twin Cities area.  She has been teaching art for the past 18 years in area home school academies and co-ops as well as after school enrichment programs in the local school districts, with over 160 students during the 2008-16 school years.  In 2006 Sandy won a grant through the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council to bring her oil pastels class into a select group of inner-city schools, in order to provide supplies and instruction to students living at or below poverty level. She has also implemented art programs by providing curriculum, supplies and instruction to impoverished communities in third world countries through three mission trips. 

 An 11-year home school veteran herself, Sandy’s passion is to make art instruction engaging and inspiring for students of all levels, to introduce students to the sheer joy of art even as they learn advanced techniques, and to help them truly learn to “see” the beauty of God’s world around them as they learn art basics and secrets that hone their own skills and abilities as young artists.   

See sample lessons on main Fine Arts page

Mrs. Carla Anderson

I studied Law Enforcement at Lakewood Community College and worked as a Police Reserve Officer for the city of St. Paul at the same time. This really instilled safety mindedness. Lack of funds kept me from completing school. I married and we have 4 children now young adults. I started homeschooling in 2002. My youngest graduated in 2012. I have been a Health a Safety Instructor since 2009; teaching for The American Red Cross and Partnership Homeschool Co-op. In the past few years I have been able to teach for a few more homeschool co-ops including WEST Classes. God has given me a memory for details in this area and an ability to communicate that information to others in a way that they can understand. I have taught persons of all ages; adults who have previously had bad experiences in learning environments have been successful in my classes. I have taught persons with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, deformities, persons with English as a second language and even persons with no English, all have been successful in my classes. I enjoy teaching kids the most; they are curious and always have such interesting questions. I have a little experience in drama through church and am able to bring that to my kid’s classes to help make their learning experience a bit more realistic and fun. I am able to customize classes and am willing to spend extra time with a student when necessary. I invite parents to observe at any time, you are always welcome

Mrs. Holly Anderson

Holly is the homeschooling mother of two crazy-creative, artistic kids who keep the artistic fervor alive in her home.  She is a great proponent of the notion that because God is creative, then we are also naturally creative.  Our art should reflect not only who we are, but who God is in us.  Art is naturally therapeutic but also pushes us to be more than we thought we could be.

Holly graduated with a degree in Graphic Design, but her greatest artistic passion is photography.  She thoroughly enjoyed running her own portrait studio for ten years, then set it aside to homeschool her children.  Her greatest joy in life (second to truly important spiritual matters) is to watch her children excel in their artistic expression.

Mr. Chris Ballentine

Hailed from Kalamazoo, Michigan and born deaf into a hearing family, I grew up wearing hearing aids and speaking English.  I then started learning Signed Exact English (SEE) until going to National Technology Institute for the Deaf college in Rochester, NY.  This was when I first learned of ASL and deaf culture thus began my passion for learning ASL and teaching it.  After graduation with a photography degree at RIT, I joined a full time traveling drama Christian group called “The Tenth Coin” all over the US ministering to churches.  Later, I moved to Belize, Central America working at a Deaf School as an Assistant Administrator and interim Director.  After living abroad for 17 months, I returned to the US to marry my wife - we recently celebrated 20th years this past Fall.  We have 3 deaf children whom we love dearly and couldn’t be more proud of.  Our oldest will be graduating from high school this June.   

I have taught ASL in a wide variety places.  In Massachusetts, I taught at an Adult Community Center in Boston.  I also taught at North Essex Community College in Andover, MA and at Boston University for few years.  Currently, I am an ASL instructor at North Central University for the past 4 years.

I enjoy seeing students blossom through understanding of the language and am able to carry on conversations without the aid of an ASL interpreter.  I do throw in tidbits of deaf cultures to help my students understand what it’s really all about.  Watching students develop a respect for ASL and the deaf culture makes it all worthwhile of my time and investments.  Some of my former students have eventually become a teacher of deaf children or even ASL interpreters.  One even became a missionary to deaf people in Africa!   That is my inspiration and passion. 

When not working on lesson plans or teaching, I enjoy Netflix. I am a movie buff!  I also enjoy photography, going to my children’s sport meets and cheering them on, socializing on Facebook, keeping in touch with family and friends near and far.  Cooking is a must for me, love creating new recipes from nothing!   I am excited to be working with your children at WEST and look forward building bridges! 

Mr. Andrew Banker

I grew up in Beijing, China for most of my childhood (13 of those 18 years). My parents worked as missionaries there, passing on Prayer Resolution counseling tools to Chinese christians. During my years in Beijing, I experienced my education through homeschooling, a 1-room schoolhouse homeschool-hybrid, and a christian international school. I have studied Mandarin through private tutors, high-school teachers, and university professors throughout my middle-school, high-school, and college years. My best teachers, however, were always the people on the Beijing streets and subways.
 
The Chinese language is beautifully complex, holding layer after layer of symbolism and culture in each character and phrase. I love sharing the depth of the Chinese language with all who get to know me.
 
I am recently married (yay!) and currently finishing my last year of university. I am completing my degrees in Education and Chemistry at Hamline University in St. Paul. Chemistry is a fascinating field of study, but empowering students through education is what really gets me going. Being a teacher is my chance to show students that they are worthy of care and that they are capable of doing difficult things.
 
In the classroom we will be talking to each other, making videos, performing skits, and writing on our own. I focus on community building so that students can feel comfortable learning alongside each other. In learning a new language, mistakes are what bring the best opportunities for us to master the content. Being comfortable with our own and others’ mistakes is therefore a big priority of mine. They give us the chance to reflect on how we are learning. Anyone taking a class with me will learn that high standards and reflective learning are my two big values as a teacher. This is how I also learn something every day I teach. I am excited to be on this adventure with you at WEST!

Ms. Penny Beard

Ms. Penny Beard was born deaf and raised in Washington State. She moved to Minnesota 11 years ago. She graduated with a bachelor of Social work (BSW) at Rochester Insititute Technology in Rochester, New York 24 years ago. She has been teaching ASL classes at North Central Univeristy (NCU) for 9 years. 2017 - 2018 is her first year teaching WEST PSEO, and she loves it! Her passion is to continue teaching ASL classes. She is studying for the Certified Minister thru the Global University. Her hobbies are reading, paintings, handwritings, travelings and artworks. She is married to an amazing deaf man, and she is a proud grandma with 5 beautiful grandkids. 

Mrs. Katie Beckman

Katie Beckman has had the opportunity to work for three Fortune 500 companies including General Mills, Procter & Gamble and Morgan Stanley.  As a financial analyst, she enjoyed learning about the different facets that make up a company and look forward to teaching that to her students.  After working in the business world, Katie went back to school and earned her MN teaching license.  She taught English as a Second Language for three years before staying home with her son.

Katie is married to Troy and they have two sons, Josiah and Jack.  She enjoys being involved at her church, spending time with family, playing tennis, running, exercising and being outside.

Katie holds a Bachelors of Business Administration degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a MN teaching license from Bethel University.  

Mrs. Connie Bendickson

Connie Bendickson is passionate - and gets very excited - about the beautiful foods God created to nourish our bodies.  Her desire is to feed her family with foods that will best nourish them for optimum health.   Though food is her passion, she doesn’t want to spend hours in the kitchen.  She loves to teach others how to get back to the basics and make healthy eating simple, nutritious, and delicious.

Connie grew up in her parent’s small town café, married her high school sweetheart, graduated from the University of St. Thomas with an accounting degree, climbed the corporate ladder for a few years, and is now a homeschooling mom to two healthy eating teenagers.  A life-long learner, Connie is currently a student at Trinity School of Natural Health.   

Mrs. Rebecca Bergren

Able to leap tall stacks of books and dodge life’s bullets, Rebecca is a home educator of fourteen years, a certified copyeditor, writing coach, and novelist. She has written for various blogs and worked with Trost Moving Pictures in the development, writing, and editing of the full-length feature screenplay Walk with Me (currently being shopped to producers). Her other screenwriting credits include several short films for Save the Storks and various movie promos. Rebecca has a passion for teaching others the power of words and art of storytelling. She inspires other members of her writers’ group, helping them develop their craft and learn to create richer characters. When you don’t find her with her nose in a book or putting her own characters in sticky situations, she's probably making new adventures at the park with her hubby, kids, and their dogs Silas and Molly.

Co-tutoring with Ms. Bridgett Powers - No villain or nefarious circumstance could keep these two superheroes from joining forces. In 2007, Bridgett's and Rebecca's worlds collided, and a new story-problem-fighting, coauthoring duo was born. In 2016, they made their editing and coaching exploits official with the launch of Light's Scribe Writer Services. Now, they can't wait to inspire the next generation of authors!

Ms. Kelsey Bjorkman

I was born in Washington State but have called Minnesota home since 1998. My interest in American Sign Language (ASL) began during my senior year of high school when a Deaf mother offered an ASL class at my homeschool co-op. Upon taking the class, I found a deep passion and love for the language, culture, and people of the Deaf community. I began researching career opportunities within the Deaf community and came across the idea of ASL interpreting. I began attending North Central University in Minneapolis and graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Deaf Culture Studies as well as a TEFL Certificate (Teaching English as a Foreign Language).

Immediately after graduation I was hired as a part-time teacher by the Minnesota chapter of Communication Services for the Deaf as part of their Adult Education program. Since the spring of 2012 I have been teaching English to Deaf immigrant adults in the Twin Cities area. I have also been teaching American Sign Language to homeschool students at various co-ops and locations since 2013. In the fall of 2014 I began classes at the University of Minnesota to receive my Masters and Teaching License in Adult Education.

When not working on lesson plans or teaching, I am usually running and cycling around my current hometown of St. Anthony Village. I also enjoy sewing, quilting, photography, and piano. I am excited to have joined the team of teachers at the WEST co-op! Having been homeschooled my entire life I am delighted at the prospect of investing in the next generation of students.

Feel free to contact me with questions you may have.

Voice/Text: 651-347-0467                                                                             Email: kelsey.joy3@gmail.com 

Ms. Patsy Brekke

A graduate of Moorhead State University with a BS in English, Patsy Brekke, a.k.a. “Ms. B.”, has been a licensed English teacher since 1987. She has taught English, Social Studies, Math, Science, Reading and Study Skills in Minnesota, Oregon and California. She has extensive experience with the California Achievement Writing Project and scoring timed essays, the Achievement Via Individual Determination Program (A.V.I.D.), The Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW), curriculum development, and leadership training. On two occasions, Ms. B. was nominated Site Teacher of the Year at Wilson Academy of International Studies in San Diego, California. She received the A.V.I.D. Teacher of the Year award from the San Diego County Office of Education in 1993. Ms. B. is the owner of Writing Foundations, Inc. and the author of the timed essay program Essays on Demand. She has taught writing classes at various locations since 2001. Accredited in 2008 by the Institute for Excellence in Writing, Ms. B. has received the highest ranking of Accomplished Instructor. She also works as a curriculum writer, consultant, speaker, and publishing editor. Ultimately, Ms. B.'s desire is to come alongside other home schooling parents and take the mystery and misery out of writing.

Mrs. Vitalia Bryn-Pundyk

Vitalia Bryn-Pundyk. M.ED./DTM

Vitalia is trilingual with fluency in English, Spanish, and Ukrainian. Teaching Spanish since 1988, her teaching experience includes the Osseo and Hopkins school districts in Minnesota, where she was instrumental in developing the Spanish Language Curriculum in an Elementary World Language Pilot Program for grades 3-6.

Prior to her administrative position in El Dorado, AR, she was an Assistant Professor of Spanish at Camden County College in Blackwood, NJ, where she taught beginning and intermediate language courses until June 2001.

In August 2001, she assumed her previous administrative position as District Chair of Foreign Languages - El Dorado School Dist. #15.  With District School Board approval and the permission of the Arkansas Department of Education, Vitalia designed and implemented a unique foreign language program offering high school credit for middle school students.

Vitalia’s hobbies include reading, skiing, going to the theatre, beading, and traveling but she most enjoys presenting leadership and communication workshops, as well as working with students of all ages, teaching Spanish culture and language.

She is well-versed in a variety of teaching methodologies that provide a fun and positive learning environment and believes in helping everyone maximize their potential, supporting student success!

Mrs. Vitalia Bryn-Pundyk (Essay Writing)

As an active member of both the National Speakers Association and Toastmasters International, Vitalia is an award-winning international speaker and published author who has worked with many businesses in a wide array of industries across the U.S. and Canada offering high-content, interactive leadership, sales training, and goal-achievement workshops that are filled with fun, humor, and teachable moments.

A graduate of the University of Minnesota with an M.Ed. in Spanish Education and a minor in theatre and speech communications, she helps numerous clients as a mentor and coach in the areas of persuasive and proposal writing, as well as speech development, composition, presentation skills, and industry knowledge of self-publishing, as well as the "Professional Speaking Biz".

As a mentor, consultant, and supportive friend to so many, Vitalia's main passion is to help others pursue their dreams and achieve their personal and professional development goals. Many have turned to Vitalia for guidance and direction to improve their own communication skills through more effective speaking and writing.  Vitalia is an energetic, enthusiastic, and engaging instructor, who helps her clients and students communicate for results!

Mrs. Jennica Burgh

Jennica is a home educator of 13 years and has a passion not just for teaching, but for helping students recognize biblical truth in their studies and discover practical application.

Jennica has a Master of Social Work degree with an emphasis in Mental Health and Family Therapy and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Anthropology.  She has been leading small groups in various settings and across age groups for over 20 years.  She loves the group dynamic and the power of learning from one another.

Jennica lives in Maple Grove with her husband of 20 years, Paul, and their two children.  In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, and gardening (flowers, not veggies).

Mrs. Chris Carl

Chris is the mother of 6 children and has been homeschooling since 1995. She has been sewing since she was 13 years old and has sewn everything from baby clothes, to elaborate costumes and dresses, and recently recovered her living room couches. She has been involved with Children’s Ministry for many years which has given her the opportunity to teach children in a classroom setting.

This will be her sixth year teaching Sewing at WEST.

Mr. Braxton Carvette

Brax Carvette completed his Associates degree in Christian Worldview in the spring of 2017. He is returning to Bethlehem Baptist College and Seminary to attain his Bachelor’s degree in Biblical and Theological Studies with a concentration in Biblical Exegesis. Brax is looking forward to either entering ministry or continuing his education into seminary once he completes his bachelor’s degree. Brax has been married to his lovely wife, Jessica, for one year and has a dog named Riggs.

Brax has been serving as a teacher at his church’s youth group for the past eight years. He hopes to continue to share his love of the Bible with students at WEST this coming fall.  God has truly gifted us with His word. It is imperative that we are equipped in our knowledge of the word as we engage with others in our world.

Mr. Craig Case

EDUCATION

Doctorate of Ministry in Culture & Theology Bethel Seminary, Begin June, 2014

M.A., Christian Thought Bethel Seminary, Graduation May 2014
Senior Project:  How Narratives Form & Stimulate Spiritual Formation

M. Div., Theology Bethel Seminary, May 2000
Senior Thesis:  Theological Statement of Faith

B.A., English Literature University of Minnesota, June 1992
English Honors Program

TEACHING EXPERIENCE

Adjunct Faculty, Crown College, 2003-2006
Taught the following classes regularly: Christian Theology, Apologetics, & Culture & Evangelism

Adjunct Faculty, Bethel University, 2006-Present 
Teach:  Reading & Responding to the Arts, Introduction to Writing, Academic Research & Writing, Introduction to Spirituality, Leadership in Ministry, Academic Research & Writing in Christian Theology, Understanding Worldview, Western Civilization

Adjunct Faculty, North Central University, 2013-Present
Teach:  Rhetoric & Writing

SERVICE ACTIVITIES

Bethel University Academic Affairs Committee, 2010-2013

Bethel University CAPS Chapel Committee, 2010-2013

Bethel University CAPS Program Directors Committee, 2012-2013

HONORS AND AWARDS

Phi Kappa Phi, University of Minnesota, 1992

Golden Key National Honors Society, University of Minnesota, 1991

HOBBIES AND INTERESTS

Reading, traveling, films, golf, running, Twins baseball, Golden Gopher football

Mrs. Sherelyn Chellin

Sherelyn Chellin is a licensed pastor and has her BS degree in Family Counseling from Northwest College. She has worked in children’s ministry for over 30 years. She is a certification ASL interpreter and has taught American Sign Language for 15 years.

Mrs. Kellie Cripe

Kellie Cripe graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1999 with a Masters of Arts in Communications. While at Northern, Kellie taught undergraduate level classes in Public Speaking and Debate. She also coached the NIU intercollegiate debate team. Through the years Kellie has continued to teach and tutor students of all ages: elementary, junior high, senior high, and college. Kellie has been homeschooling her own children since 2003. Most recently Kellie taught classes at STAR Academy (gifted and talented homeschool cooperative), Cornerstone Academy, Academy College in Bloomington, and privately through her company BloomThink. In addition to classroom experience, Kellie runs a thriving ACT and Study Skills tutoring service. Through tutoring and teaching, Kellie has helped many area teens achieve their ACT and academic goals. Kellie believes the goal for every student taking the ACT is for them to feel comfortable, confident, and calm. All students should feel comfortable with the material on the test, confident with a personal testing strategy, and calm due to preparation. Testimonials from former students "Mrs. Cripe was a huge help to not only my standardized testing, but my college search as well. She offers a great service that is definitely worth your money. If I had to go back and do the process again, I would do it. With her help, I was able to feel completely confident and prepared for ACT's tricks. I am going to recommend her to anyone who needs help with their ACT scores. " -Annelise, ACT prep senior "With the impact an ACT/SAT score has on college admission and financial aid it was important to provide the best resource for our student. During the summer our child was able to improve these results by 20%. Kellie has a unique gift to bring out the best in people through her proven methods and techniques. She is very professional, well-organized and the experience was a true partnership. I encourage any parent/student to utilize her services." -Adam, parent of ACT prep senior "My son John had a great experience with ACT Tutoring. Kellie has a wonderful knack for nurturing the kids' strengths and correcting areas that need work. She is creative, patient and relates well to the students. I recommend ACT Tutoring without reservation." - Casey, parent of ACT prep junior "Kellie obviously knows what she is doing! She did an excellent job and made my son comfortable with the overall experience. Kellie was able to boost my son's confidence and she was able to help him feel confident with answering the questions with the amount of time he had. My son felt ready to take the test and improved his test score by 2 points, we were very happy with the results. Kellie is an excellent communicator and was very accommodating." - Lisa, mom ACT prep senior

Mrs. Nancy Djerf

Mrs. Nancy Djerf, B.S.

Nancy is a seasoned homeschooler of seven children. The Djerf’s began their home school journey before it was popular, which makes Nancy one of the pioneers of the movement in Minnesota. She has taken delight in mentoring other mothers in their home school challenges and she continues to support families as they make educational decisions on behalf of their children.  She has been a home school consultant with T.E.A.C.H. Institute and was a co-founder of Teach Co-op.  She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. degree in Therapeutic Recreation and Child Development, worked as a Child Life Specialist at Minneapolis Children's Hospital, and she and her husband were youth pastors for a number of years.  Her skill as a teacher of the primary students is well established and she has skillfully taught IEW classes to middle and high school students as a Accredited IEW Instructor since 2008.  She has been affectionately called, "The Child Whisperer," due to her keen ability to reach and teach both the gifted student as well as the struggling student...and all the students in-between!  

Mrs. Diana Dutcher

Diana was born with a passion for cooking good food. She was raised in a kitchen at the family restaurant in Columbia Heights; which is closing its doors in 2017 after 45 years in business. The entire family is looking forward to having more time to embark on new endeavors. For Diana, that means continuing to teach at St. Thomas University as an adjunct professor in the Engineering Department’s graduate program for medical device design, teaching at WEST Academy, spending the days raising five young children, and growing a home-based business through teaching people how to reduce their toxin intake and live chemical-free.

Diana has been a volunteer at the Kitchen Window Culinary School since 2013, which allows her to be a teacher and a student. New skills, tips, and recipes are constantly being acquired so the WEST Kitchen will stay fresh and relevant.

Diana and her family currently attend Genesis Covenant when the kids decide to cooperate on Sunday mornings. Her other hobbies and interests include reading, cooking for friends and family, hosting do-it-yourself parties, and boating.

Mrs. Kristina Eaton

Kristina Eaton is very excited to be returning to WEST to teach World Religions. Kristina previously taught Speech and Public Communications at WEST in its inaugural year. Kristina also offered this World Religions course at the Partnership co-op last year. She enjoys creating a fun and informative class environment, with lots of space for questions and discussion.

Kristina has her B.A. in Biblical Studies from the Univ. of Northwestern St Paul, along with minors in Intercultural Studies and Ancient Languages. After graduating she followed her desire to expand her education and intercultural experience by getting her M.A. in Biblical Studies from Singapore Bible College. Her studies and adventures have brought her to more than a dozen countries on five continents as a teacher, a student, a missionary and a relief worker. She now lives in the metro area with her husband and fellow-world traveler, Scot, and their two year old son, Kenny. Kristina is happiest when she’s sitting in the sunshine reading a book, playing board games with Scot, or coloring while watching Star Trek or Doctor Who. She also blogs at daugherofsarah.wordpress.com

Mr. Mark Fierst

Mark has been a professional photographer for 8 years, with the last 2 spent as full-time photographer.  He specializes in weddings, but has strong experience shooting portraits, events, and sports photography.  Mark’s background is in education, having experience at the elementary and high school level, most recently having been a special education paraprofessional at Spring Lake Park High School.  He also has over 12 years experience as a high school tennis and basketball coach.  Mark has a long history in youth ministry at Vision of Glory Lutheran Church in Plymouth and at Spring Lake Park with Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Mark lives in Champlin with his wife, Steph, and their two boys, Jordan and Jackson.  When he’s not behind the camera, Mark is usually spending time with the family, playing sports, watching sports, or checking out the local food scene.  Mark’s website is www.markfierstphoto.com.  

Miss Brianna Flavin

Brianna Flavin holds a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from the University of Virginia and a Bachelors in Creative Writing from the University of Northwestern. She is passionate about literature and writing because she believes learning how to communicate (to others, to God, to oneself) is an essential part of being human.

Brianna’s creative work has been published by Rock&Sling literary journal, Relief literary journal, Quiddity International and others. She worked as an academic writing tutor at the University of Virginia as well as an instructor of undergraduate poetry. She has taught, tutored or coached students all the way through a K-12 age spectrum in the last few years. Brianna is currently working on a manuscript of poetry while adjunct teaching and freelance writing. She genuinely believes that strong writing changes the world and loves to spread her delight in the English language. She’s thrilled to talk about books, poetry and gardening at any time of day.

Brianna likes to move around while teaching. She minored in theatre at college and has a great appreciation for the way inflection and emphasis can supercharge a lecture. She loves to learn from her students and believes the most powerful and effective education is one built around relationship.

Mrs. Michelle Foster

Michelle Foster received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin- Stout with a concentration in Graphic Design in 1999. Prior to that she received a Bible certificate from Cairn University (formerly Philadelphia College of Bible at the Wisconsin Wilderness Campus). After pursuing her education, she worked as a graphic designer for 12 years. Her experience spans various projects such as gift bag lines, packaging lines, trade show design, advertising, photography and product development to major retailers. She resigned in 2011 after the birth of her first child and continues as a freelance designer out of her home today.

Michelle is married to Clint. She is currently a homeschool educator to her own two children, to whom she loves weaving all sorts of creativity into their lessons. When she has free time, she enjoys gardening, creating artwork, camping and hanging out at the lake up north with her family. She is looking forward to playing a role in helping PSEO students learn new insights that will impact and broaden their understanding of Art throughout history and today.

Mr. Hunter Fraser

Hunter Fraser is a Minneapolis singer-songwriter and worship leader. He is a professional freelance musician as a vocalist, guitarist, and keyboard player and has a background in classical and jazz piano. Hunter has been involved with churches in the Twin Cities area including Open Door, Rockpoint and others as well as with local artist Joel Hanson (PFR), the University of Northwestern - St. Paul, and his own music projects including the Hunter Fraser Band.  Since 2010, Hunter has been growing students in their piano and guitar abilities while at the same time, helping students reach musical goals they have set. Hunter has designed lessons to be engaging, and student-oriented.

Hunter graduated from the University of Northwestern – St. Paul with a degree in public relations.

Mrs. Robin Fraser

Teaching and empowering students with knowledge and the love of learning is a high value to Robin.  She is excited to interact with students in the classroom again.

Robin holds a degree in education – has taught a variety of subjects in the inner-city public schools at the middle/junior high level.   In 1993 Robin won the Sallie Mae First Class Teacher of the Year Award for Wisconsin.  She has also served as an inner-city youth director, has worked in the corporate world and has served in church:  council member/teacher/ministry lead and more.

Robin is a home educator of 14+ years.  She is the founder of a homeschool coop, co-founder of WEST and is a certified as a Spiritual Director.

Mrs. Whitney Grindberg

Whitney graduated from Metropolitan State University in 2015 with a BA in English Literature and an emphasis in creative writing. Her illustrious writing career began when she was just seven years old with the hand-illustrated masterpiece known as Eileen the Wondercat. This matured into a love for authors such as Jane Austen, J.R.R. Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis. Her love of books, both reading them and writing them, continued into adulthood, and God in his goodness began to bless her with jobs that miraculously had something to do with her degree, which includes two freelance writing positions and a fantastic tutoring opportunity. She is married to an amazing man who has an incredible beard, and the two of them have two cats, Mr. Buttons and Josephine, and a Golden Retriever named Cassius. 

Whitney also enjoys sewing, cooking, eating ham, and the occasional video game. 

Mrs. Kris Hage

Kris Hage and her husband, Marty, have eight children and are now grandparents! They have been home educating for more than 25 years, having graduated all but one of their children, who is a junior in the Hage homeschool. For many years, Kris has been active with her children in local homeschool co-ops, teaching many classes including cooking, Around the World, and high school composition. After her three oldest daughters had graduated from high school, they taught alongside Kris in co-op preschool and kindergarten classes. She is currently on the board of the co-op her youngest daughter attends.

Through speaking and writing, Kris loves to share all God has taught her over the years, encouraging parents to raise their children in God’s ways. Putting her love of writing to use, Kris writes an article on practical character training, complete with activities, three times a year for the Paper MACHE magazine. She is co-author of Growing the Fruit of the Spirit—A Guide for Family Bible Time and author of the Character Companion, a workbook accompanying the Miller Family Books by Green Pastures Press.

When she is not teaching, Kris enjoys studying Greek in God’s Word, many outdoor activities with her family, and editing her older daughter’s latest novel.

Mr. Martin (Marty) L. Hage

Together with his wife, Kristyn, Marty home educated his seven children. Marty is passionate about his Christian faith and the evidence for the God of the Bible that can be found in the physical universe in which we live. He has been employed as a research chemist designing, synthesizing, and formulating polymers for a variety of products. He has also worked as an engineering manager in the medical device industry establishing manufacturing operations in foreign and domestic locations. He currently teaches both general and organic chemistry at the University of Northwestern - Saint Paul. His publications include two technical articles in addition to ten US and foreign patents.

Mrs. Marhea Harris

Mrs. Marhea Harris was born and raised in Minnesota. She graduated with her BS degree in Early Childhood from Crown College in St. Bonifacius, MN in 2009. She has enjoyed signing since junior high. She took American Sign Language classes in college and eventually graduated with her American Sign Language Studies Certificate in 2005.

Mrs. Harris has been able to help interpret for church Deaf ministries and has had the privilege to go on a couple missions trips in which she has had contact with people who are Deaf. One mission trip was to Jamaica to a Deaf school. She has taught a Community Education ASL class for elementary students and has a passion for ASL as a language and teaching people the language to be able to connect with people who are Deaf. She also enjoys singing and/or signing music, reading, doing Counted-cross stitch. She is married and has a sweet 2.5 year old son.

Mr. Jeff Herringshaw

Jeff Herringshaw graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Azusa Pacific University in California in 1984, majoring in English and minoring in Biblical Studies. After teaching English in the People’s Republic of China for a year, Jeff returned to the U.S. to earn a secondary teaching credential for English and World History from Sacramento State University. He then went on to teach middle and high school writing and literature for four years. In 1992, Jeff and his family joined Youth With A Mission (YWAM), becoming one of the organization’s Discipleship Training School directors. For more than 20 years, he has taught young people, including his own three children, to embrace their faith, love God with all their hearts, and understand why they believe what they do. He recently completed his Master of Arts degree in Christian Thought at Bethel Seminary. His work with YWAM has taken him to more than 30 countries, giving him a well-rounded perspective of other cultures and worldview systems. It is his passion to teach young people to think clearly about what they believe so they can choose to live out their faith with their whole heart.

Mrs. Karen Heuer

Karen graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1984 with a B.A. in International Relations and a desire to go on to Law School. To get experience in the field, she worked at a law firm in Minneapolis for several years both prior to and during law school. She was at the firm of Zimmerman, Caplan and Reed, first as a receptionist, then legal secretary, and finally as a law clerk. She continued with this firm for a time as a law student until the opportunity to work as a law clerk supporting an in-house litigator became available at Control Data Corporation, in Bloomington, Minnesota. Wishing to become a litigator herself, representing clients in the courtroom, she seized this opportunity and continued at Control Data throughout law school. Karen graduated from William Mitchell College of law in 1989. She was immediately hired by Control Data Corporation as an attorney and began litigating cases for the company all around the United States. Karen was married in 1990 and began working for a new corporation, National Computer Systems, in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. At NCS, Karen still litigated cases and also began working in the area of employment law and patent law.

Karen and her husband Dean had two kids and Karen continued to work for NCS. However in 1999, upon having their third child, the Heuers decided to make a change and began homeschooling. The Heuers have been doing this ever since. They have graduated two children from their homeschool, their oldest boy is now a U.S. Marine, their daughter is graduating college in the spring of 2016, their youngest child is still homeschooling and in 11th grade.

Karen has taught American Government before and is looking forward to teaching again because it fits with her interests, skills and background. She studied government both in her undergraduate program and, of course, in law school and has continued to learn during her homeschool career. She believes strongly in providing a clear understanding of our government--its founding, growth and current state; its structure and operations-- in order to provide students with the basis to participate meaningfully in our government.

Mrs. Jennifer Holt

A graduate of the University of Minnesota at Morris with a Bachelor of Arts (an English major with Biology and Chemistry minors), Jennifer Holt loves learning as much now as she did then. The opportunity to serve as a tutor for WEST and a teaching assistant for Crown College allows her to share and pass on this enthusiasm for learning. 

Jennifer has a passion for engaging all styles of learners and enjoys incorporating that passion into each setting for classroom instruction.  Whether it is having a coffeehouse-style discussion, role-playing the class content, or using hands-on models, Jennifer’s goal is to make learning effective, fun, and memorable.  She is delighted to have served seven years at WEST, where she has tutored Biology, Chemistry, Anatomy, Study Skills, and Literature.  Jennifer looks forward to a new year of personally supporting students while communicating God’s power, beauty, order, and creativity.

Mrs. Brenda Howe

Brenda lives in Greenfield with her husband Brian and their 4 children ages 6-21, and has been homeschooling for 16 years.  Her father was a photography hobbyist, and she grew up with a darkroom in her basement, developing her own film and prints.  She became a  lifelong photography enthusiast and launched a part time portrait photography business 5 years ago.   She is thrilled to share with students her passion for seeing the beauty and uniqueness in their surroundings, and the skills to capture it!  You can see her work at www.brendahowephotography.com

Brenda also has an AA degree in Paralegal studies and worked as a Paralegal in Minneapolis for 10 years.

Mrs. Heather Johannessen

First and foremost Heather loves Jesus and wants live a full life of serving Him. Beyond, that, Heather Johannessen is married to Erik. They have homeschooled their 3 children for the last 16 years, who are currently 17-22 years of age. In 2010, while homeschooling her own children, she earned a bachelor of science from Bemidji State in Elementary Education with an emphasis in middle school math. Over the years Heather has taught everything from art to science. Her favorite part of teaching is working with the students, especially those light bulb moments. She has had the good fortune of tutoring a plethora of students in a variety of levels of math.

Outside of homeschool and education Heather loves spending time with her family, especially traveling, and playing with and taking photos of her 3 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels; Poppy, Brooklyn, and Tennessee. However, on any given Friday or Saturday night you would most likely find Heather in her movie room, with her family, watching a classic, action or comedy.

Mrs. Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA and came to Minnesota to attend North Central University. Shortly after graduating from NCU in 1988, I married a native Minnesotan and now call Minnesota my home. My husband and I have been married for 23 years. We have a daughter, who is a Freshman at NCU majoring in ASL Interpreting and Elementary Education, and a son who is a junior in high school.

I graduated from North Central University in 1988 with a B.A. in Pastoral Studies and a minor in Deaf Culture Ministries, Summa Cum Laude. I stayed at NCU for two years to work in the Deaf Culture Ministries office and completed my B.A. in Deaf Culture Ministries. I continued taking interpreting course at local colleges and in 1997 I obtained my certification as an ASL Interpreter.

In 1988 I began my interpreting career, interpreting at my home church in Bloomington, and shortly after accepting positions as an interpreter at Intermediate School District 287 and the University of Minnesota.  Since 1997 I have been self-employed as a free-lance ASL interpreter.

I have taught ASL as a substitute in several home school coops and have also individually taught students learning ASL. I also have enjoyed interpreting for many Christian events over the years such as Women of Faith; the Billy Graham Crusade and Luis Palau Festival, at which I was also the ASL Interpreter Coordinator for both events.

In my free time enjoy watching both my children play high school and collegiate sports, scrapbooking and taking Kay Arthur Bible studies.   

Mrs. Susan Kilbride

Susan graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in biology, Phi Beta Kappa, Cum Laude. Her first love was science and nature but as time went on she also discovered a passion for genealogy and history. She’s been a home educator for sixteen years and has taught both science and writing classes to homeschoolers in Hawaii. She’s the author of Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers and a series of historical chapter books on American history, the Our America series. She and her students in Hawaii wrote a book on Hawaiian culture, The Hawai’iana Project, that has been put in the Honolulu Public Library’s legacy library, where it is guaranteed to stay on the shelves for 100 years. Susan is also the author of a number of articles in various genealogical publications.

Susan’s goal is to make learning fun for her students so that they have a lifelong appreciation of whatever subject she teaches.

Mrs. Heather Kipp

Heather Kipp graduated with a B.S. from Northwestern College in Roseville, MN, with majors in Mathematics Education and Bible and a minor in Science in 2000. In 2014, she received her M.A. in Education from Bethel University in Arden Hills, MN with a concentration in Online Teaching.   

She has taught mathematics in a variety of capacities and levels - elementary math through college courses.  Prior to teaching at WEST she taught high school mathematics in the public schools, ACT prep courses, tutored individual students, and started a tutoring ministry.  In recent years, she has been a stay-at-home mom and has enjoyed the opportunity to homeschool her own children in addition to teaching PSEO math and ACT Test prep classes at WEST. She has a passion for teaching mathematics and enjoys helping students become life-long learners.  Many of her favorite tutoring experiences have been while ministering to students in the inner-city, and she is always blessed when she sees students overcome struggles and begin to thrive.

Her interests include music, reading, hiking, and gardening.  She is actively involved in the music ministry of her local church and serving the practical and spiritual needs of others at CityLifeWorks, a ministry in North Minneapolis. 

Ms. Joanna Krussow

Growing up in a large family, Joanna has always had her hand in the kitchen.  She was taught by her mother how to make good food from scratch, and has continued that passion with her own family.  She herself was a first-generation homeschooled kid, and has been teaching her own 6 children at home since 2002. Besides working in her own kitchen, she has had the opportunity to serve as the head cook at a Bible camp during the past several summers.  It amuses her to cook in large quantities, with gigantic appliances and equipment. 

Besides cooking, she enjoys serving in her church’s worship band, camping with family and friends, and a strong cup of coffee.

Mrs. Terri Kryzer

Terri LOVES teaching art and learning new things!!!  God has gifted Terri with the ability to teach art and glorify God in all that she does.  Terri considers herself blessed with teaching art to numerous students in a variety of homeschool co­ops since 2003. She has also worked with Young Rembrandt's. Terri’s classroom experience brings the ability to work all sorts of students – new, young, old and experienced. She provides classroom and private lessons – even during the summer months at times!

Terri has homeschooled two of her children from infancy through PSEO. Her family has been involved in missions. Terri has passion for women and youth. She participates and leads in women's Bible Study groups and chaperones youth events. Besides teaching art, Terri loves to see and help guide youth to live as Christ, become servant leaders, and walk out the gifts they have been given to shine His Light and bring glory to God!  Other interests of Terri’s include all types of art, traveling, cooking, sewing, knitting and loving on people!

Mrs. Melissa Kuch

Melissa Kuch received a Minnesota teacher's license in elementary education and middle school science in the fall of 2011 through the University of Minnesota.  Here is where she also completed several graduate level courses in education.  Her Bachelor of Arts degree was earned in 2001 through Northwestern College in St. Paul, where she received a major in both graphic design and Bible, and a minor in art.

Now Melissa enjoys combining her knowledge of Bible, science, and art to bring a creative classroom experience to students, based on both biblical and scientific knowledge. Making science fun for the students has become a passion for Melissa, as she enjoys bringing hands-on learning experiences to students while developing positive relationships. Working with the homeschool community has proven to be very rewarding for her, as she has been at WEST since 2012. Other teaching experiences she has had in the past include being involved in children's Sunday school programs, substitute teaching through the Elk River School District, and being a private piano instructor.

Ms. Kelly Lamkin

Kelly Lamkin was called into the teaching vocation at an early age and was influenced greatly to become an English teacher by her Aunt Audra who was a librarian and who frequently shared her love of books and words. Reading and creative writing have always been a passion and a means to explore her often vivid imagination. Sharing this passion with others has brought Kelly great joy in her life as a teacher. While Kelly enjoy all eras of literature, her favorite eras are medieval literature and American literature. Kelly finds the rich history (especially religious history) embedded in these two eras fascinating.

Kelly earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Science in Education through the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and a Master of Arts in English with an emphasis in writing through Mount Mary College in Milwaukee. She has had amazing opportunities teaching students from middle school through college over the past twenty-two years.

God has blessed Kelly with a wonderful husband, children, and grandchildren with whom she spends the majority of her free time along with her three very spunky Schnauzers.

Mrs. Stephanie Larson

Mrs. Larson graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in magazine publishing. She pursued reading and writing at a young age; by junior high, she was pounding away on her first “novels” with an electric typewriter, whiteout in hand.

Stephanie’s parents -- both journalists -- encouraged a pursuit of focused, purposeful writing. Her favorite childhood question was, “Why?” Eventually, her visual creativity merged with writing and photography to form a love for publishing and page design. She has written and laid out hundreds of articles, including a series for Farm Journal. She has also edited and laid out numerous fiction and nonfiction books as well as thousands of articles for reference works.

Stephanie’s goal in teaching is to make each session and exercise fruitful, engaging and fun, and to help students understand the relevance of the work in their own lives.

When not writing, editing and designing pages, Stephanie can be found on her family’s 12-acre hobby farm tending to cattle, goats and chickens; volunteering for 4-H; spending time with family; and, of course, reading. She has been a home educator since 2014.

Ms. Debbie Lawrence

I was attracted to the rich and separate world of the Deaf when a missionary came to my home church in Philadelphia and told about Deaf Missions. I obtained a book from him entitled, “Talk to the Deaf” and it captivated my imagination. My first Sign Language class was to hearing preschoolers during a summer VBS at my church. The little tots learned their bible verse and songs in Sign Language. Shortly thereafter, I received a divine calling from God to minister to Deaf people,” although I had never known anyone who was Deaf.” A few years later, I was overtaken with viral encephalitis and became temporarily blind and deaf. It was truly a miracle of God that not only was my hearing restored, but my sight, balance, and memory as well! My own personal experience of deafness deepened my calling. Upon being fully recovered I pursued some series of preparatory events from an in-home Sign Language class conducted by a pastor and his wife, volunteering at Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (PSD) in the classrooms, Deaf Adult Literacy program to the After school bible club for Deaf students.

In 1986, I married a man who was hard of hearing and who later, as the result of radiation for a glioma brainstem tumor, became completely deaf. ASL became our family’s mode of communication. During my husband’s decline in health we raised three children in our home who were birthed from our hearts. ASL became part of the curriculum for our junior high home-schooled student. The other two hearing children learned ASL at 10 months. Even our family’s collie understood and responded to ASL. I have gained my BA in Deaf Culture Studies, North Central University and most recently my MA Ministry degree and certification in Christian Ministry and Career Counseling. My career choice has afforded me the ability to work as a MnSCU adjunct faculty member for the St Paul College teaching an inaugural course for students pursuing their careers in Early Childhood Development and American Sign Language (ASL). I have also taught first year college students in Strategies for College Success. In my business, “Easy Signing, LLC” I conduct customized ASL training for local colleges and design ASL curriculum to teach traditional, Special Needs students and baby boomers who are experiencing sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Since being in the Twin Cities I have been featured on KARE 11News, M.E.N.S.A. Conference Presenter and a recipient of Neighborhood’s Development Center for the “Small Business of the Year” awarded by Mayor Rybak. As a MNCCR&R Certified ASL Trainer for The Program of Infant Toddler Caregivers (PITC) and a Certified Signing Time Baby Instructor, I bring my passion to train hearing families and professional Care Providers the beautiful language of ASL to open two-way communication for all ages.

Mrs. LeAnn Liberator

LeAnn has a national group fitness certification, a current CPR, AED and First Aid certification. She is a current coach for Special Olympics. She has a passion for helping every student feel valued and part of a team.

LeAnn has been homeschooling her two boys for thirteen years and understands the need for movement and team involvement. She is excited for the new school year and considers it a privilege to sow into the life of your student.

Her interests include hiking, biking, resistance training,  coming alongside others to motivate positive change.

Mrs. Linda Lindeen

Linda Lindeen graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education. She has taught classroom music, directed choirs and musicals for over 40 years in grades K-12 in public schools, Heritage Christian Academy (formerly Medicine Lake Lutheran Academy), local churches and in the homeschool community. Mrs. Linda has also taught piano and is a vocal coach. She and her husband are owners and directors of Front Porch Musical Theatre where they teach and train actors ages 5-18, many of whom are home educated.

They have 3 grown children and 12 grandchildren who are all home educated and fill their lives with joy!

Mrs. Lindeen loves to teach students of all ages the joy of music and theatre, while always maintaining a high standard of excellence. She is excited to see the growth of WEST and has loved teaching her students since WEST began classes.

Mr. Tim Lindeen

Tim Lindeen studied Speech and Theatre at Iowa Wesleyan College and Iowa State University from 1974-1978. He has acted in numerous plays and musicals for the past 35 plus years. Mr. Tim and his wife, Linda are owners and directors of Front Porch Musical Theatre where they teach and train actors ages 6-18, many of whom are home educated. Mr. Tim has been an active Realtor in the NW Twin City Metro area for the past 25 years. He and his wife, Linda will celebrate 37 years of marriage this summer. They have 3 grown children and 10 grandchildren who are all home educated and fill our lives with joy! Tim enjoys singing, playing guitar and acting in productions. Mr. Lindeen teaches with the highest standards of excellence while always striving to create a joyful experience for each student as they develop their acting and drama skills. He is known for taking each of his students at their current level of skills and stretching them as he teaches and directs them. He is passionate about continuing to teach the love of acting and appreciation of good drama to today’s generation.

Mrs. Jennie Lodien

Jennie Lodien is a graduate of St. Cloud State, Minnesota, with a B.S. in Business and minor in Graphic Design. She brings a love of learning and an amazement over Creation to her classroom where both bookwork and hands-on experiments help convey concepts about our physical earth. She won high marks as a science substitute at the YEAH Academy in 2009 and returned to teach the Apologia Physical Science course in 2011. She has taught and co-taught a variety of courses including Apologia General Science, Physical?Science and Chemistry, Intro to Logic, General Art, Survey of Literature Genres, Latin, Typography & Page Layout, and Algebra.

In 1992, after a 4-year run in the art department at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, she put out her shingle and has freelanced as a graphic designer in print production and WordPress website design ever since. Her work includes the self-published I Am Chosen lifebook for adopted children which has sold over 3,000 copies (www.IamChosenOnline.com). Along with home educating their three children since 1998, Mrs. Lodien has served in both teaching and administrative positions at the Heritage Home School Academy, Grace Fellowship, and YEAH Academy.

Mrs. Lolene Love

Lolene Love is married to Dr. Alan Love and has taught her four children, currently ages 12-19, for all of their school years. She graduated from Cornell University (in Ithaca, NY) with a BA in Biology, specializing in Animal Anatomy and Physiology. Along the way she successfully completed language courses and three semesters of college calculus. After college she lived in Romania for one year and then served with Campus Crusade for Christ for eleven years. In addition to math, she loves grammar and the materials from the Institute for Excellence in Writing. She has taught group IEW writing classes to a variety of ages for nine years. She enjoys the fun and energy of students in the middle grades.

 

Mr. Jack MacKinnon

Jack Mackinnon received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hope College in 2004 in Education (Political Science and History) and went on to earn a Masters of Education degree from Harvard University in 2013 (Human Development and Psychology).

Following the completion of his undergraduate work, Jack Mackinnon completed his student teaching qualifications and then taught History, Government, Political Philosophy, and Bible at middle and high schools in New York City, Western Michigan, and the Twin Cities. In addition to teaching courses in these subject areas, Jack also developed and evaluated curriculum for a range of different school types, including: Classical, Public, Charter, and Home schools.

After witnessing the holistic needs of students in his classrooms, Jack became interested in learning how to support students psychologically and socially, in addition to academically. This interest led to positions developing and facilitating mentoring programs in the Twin Cities. These programs have included over 300 mentors and students. After taking a year to study Adolescent Development and Psychology at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Jack began his current position as the Youth Development Director for an exciting upstart mentoring organization named One2One in the Twin Cities.

In addition to his academic and career pursuits, Jack also enjoys walks with his wife around Cedar Lake, repairing his own clothing by learning how to sew, and blogging about European travel and history. 

 

Mrs. Annisa Martin

Hello, my name is Anissa Martin, adjunct professor with North Central University. I have the privilege of teaching the Rhetoric & Research course – a great fit for me personally and a subject for which I am passionate! Communication is key not only as you consider success in college and your eventual profession, but also in building God’s kingdom. When I consider that God has revealed himself through words and text, and Jesus used story to communicate with the masses – I can’t help but get excited about helping students become better communicators. Rhetoric & Research is a foundational course in a student’s life, helping to build strong writing, speaking, and research skills that will empower a student to fulfill his/her God-given purpose.

Why is this class such a good fit for me? I have a B.A. in English, a M.A. in Theological Studies, and a Masters in Library and Information Sciences. In all of my educational endeavors I have had to write, present, and research at increasing higher levels. My English background encouraged a deep understanding of the language with all of it nuances. My Theological background has laid a foundation for seamlessly integrating my faith into all areas of life (which is something I do in my classes as well) and also required a high level of research and writing. My Masters in Library and Information Science has given me an edge in in-depth research and information resources, which I am able to pass along to my students. Above and beyond my degrees, I have developed a passion for learning and teaching that I desire to pass onto every student that comes my way.

In my personal time I enjoy spending time with my husband and three children. I am a voracious reader. I am actively involved in my church serving on the Women’s Ministry team and Discipleship Team. I also enjoy classical music, camping, and coffee. I am looking forward to interacting with and pouring into your students in the fall.

Mr. Jeff McCallum

Jeff McCallum has been a fulltime software developer for over 20 years. He has experience in creating both desktop and internet applications, as well as, extensive database programming experience. He is also a part time adjunct instructor at the University of Northwestern for 7 years where he teaches both math and astronomy.

Jeff is married to Stephanie and have four daughters. Their oldest daughter, Lilly, has attended West for two years. When he is not doing many and varied outdoor activities with his daughters, Jeff likes to study the interaction of science and theology.

Jeff holds a bachelor’s degree in Astronomy (Math minor) and a master’s degree in Physics from Minnesota State University (Mankato). He also holds a master’s degree in Christian Thought from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Mrs. Tiffany Miller

Tiffany is a graduate of Iowa State University were she studied Fashion Design and Spanish. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart, Matt. Together they have 3 children (15, 14, and 12). She is in her 9th year of homeschooling (just her 7th grade son this year, her girls are at the St Michael high school). Prior to being a mom, Tiffany worked downtown Minneapolis at Dayton’s (which became Marshall Fields) in the buying office.

Tiffany cooked her first meal at the age of 9…Pigs in a Blanket. She has been cooking for her family for the last 18 years. She loves REAL food + family dinners. If she could eat only one nationality of food for the rest of her life, it would be Mexican. Her favorite dessert is warm blueberry pie with homemade vanilla ice cream.

Tiffany’s dream day would include coffee, reading, and sewing. #introvert

Ms. Stephanie Moses

Stephanie Moses is a 2016 St. Cloud State graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Elective Studies. She is
currently attending Bemidji State University in a teacher licensure program. Stephanie has been
interested in science her whole life and loves to bring her enthusiasm, knowledge, and skills to the
classroom.

Mr. Casey Ochs

Casey Ochs has a Master’s degree in International Management (MIM) from the University of St. Thomas in St Paul and BA degrees in History and Spanish from the University of Minnesota. In addition, Casey holds a Certificate in International Trade from Anoka Ramsey Technical College.  For the last 24 years he has worked in International Trade Services with Wells Fargo Bank.  There he has been extensively involved in training for import and export customers as well correspondent banks, including financial institutions in Latin America.  He has conducted workshops and seminars for a number of trade organizations in the Upper Midwest and institutions of higher learning such as the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, and Minnesota State University - Mankato.  Casey is a Certified Documentary Credit Specialist through the Bankers’ Association for Finance and Trade, (BAFT)

Philosophically, Casey believes that students should be exposed to real world application of the knowledge acquired in school, whether it’s business, language study or history. In addition,  He believes that learning organizational and time management skills at this level is extremely important.  Classes should have a proper balance between lecture, student interaction, work outside of class and field trips when appropriate.  Casey’s personal interests include camping, skiing, biking, leatherwork and playing guitar with his family’s band “Cecilia’s Crossing.”  He is also a partner with his wife in their home based business, “Casey’s Cache.”    Casey went through a personal conversion in 1982 and committed his life to Jesus at that time."   

Mr. Josiah Okamoto

Josiah’s passion for people and for development have been the basis for his work in missions over the last 6 years. The ability to see ones’ eyes opened as they experience life through different lenses is what he truly loves about worldview. Living cross-culturally and multi-lingually have brought new perspectives about life and God in ways that were never before seen.

While during high school Josiah’s goal was to always attend college and initially study sports medicine, however, God had a different calling. At the age of 19 he joined the mission field full time after spending a year interning at his church and 6 months in Central America. This all led to a new found love of teaching, discipleship, and a new understanding of God’s kingdom and culture.

Josiah is newly wedded to a beautiful bride with whom he has no children but a rambunctious golden retriever/husky mix. He is very excited to transition into this role of teaching at West as well as transitioning back to living in the United States. He’s very passionate about not solely teaching what to think, or of the mindset of the Kingdom of God, but how to think and to create the ability to stimulate one’s own thoughts.

Mrs. Pam Patnode

Pamela Patnode is the instructor. She has lived with families in both Mexico and Spain, has worked professionally with Spanish in both interpretation and marketing, and will begin her fifth year teaching Spanish to home schooled students. In addition, Patnode home educates her own children, is the author of the book 5 Steps to Successful Home Schooling: How to Add Faith and Focus to Your Home Education Program, and is a speaker at the 2013 Minnesota Catholic Home Education Conference. She is very excited to join the WEST community this year!

Mrs. Tiffany Pavlish

In 1990, Tiffany Pavlish graduated from Normandale Community College with an A.A.S. degree in Office Systems and Management. While working as an Agency Secretary full time, she achieved a Business Education degree in 1993 from the University of Minnesota. Rather than teaching in high school classrooms, Tiffany choose the route of a computer applications trainer in the business world where she taught for 14 years before staying home with her four children. 

During her time as a trainer, Tiffany had the opportunity to work with large and small companies locally as well as across the country. A portion of that time was also spent at Normandale Community College, where she taught semester classes for 1.5 years. After Normandale, she taught with the Continuing Education departments at North Hennepin and Anoka-Ramsey Community Colleges respectively. In recent years, Tiffany has returned to the classroom teaching computer application tools to a group of homeschooled students and is excited to be a part of WEST.

The real-life examples Tiffany has gleaned from teaching in the corporate world and community colleges are what fuel her passion for this class. Her goal is to stretch your student beyond the basic computer application skills and look at tools that will explain how the software works. This background information will springboard your student into the next realm of confidence and skillset necessary to help them succeed when accomplishing school work, landing an entry-level office job, and/or excelling as a PSEO/college student.

With God as a compass, alongside with her husband, Tiffany has been homeschooling her children since 2006. Her heart bursts with joy when her students experience a “light-bulb moment” – when their eyes light up and confidence surges as they capture the information for themselves and understand its significance in the world around them – it grows self-assurance! 

Besides receiving joy through teaching, Tiffany also adores the book club she belongs to and meeting local historical Christian fiction authors in person. Tiffany has also learned through that group how to make soaps, lotions, and lip balm. She never stops learning and has quite the collection of books and curriculum!

Mrs. Giannina Posner

I was born in Perú and  I have been living in the USA for 20 years. I am married and have 3 children.  I started cooking when I was 9 years old while living in my country. Of course, I like to make Peruvian meals and also some dishes from Argentina.

Cooking for me is something that I am good at and really enjoy. My recipes are very simple, delicious and nutritious. My children have learned from me how to cook healthy and like it!  

I enjoy being in the kitchen with my daughter and sons and I look forward to being in the WEST Kitchen with you!

Ms. Bridgett Powers

Once upon a time in the faraway land of Louisiana, a little girl named Bridgett dreamt of becoming a teacher, being a mommy, and using words to take people to magical places. Then, she grew up and discovered her superpowers… In 1993, she graduated Cum Laude with dual Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education. After earning her Master of Education (MEd) degree in 1994, she began teaching in public schools, where she combined her superpowers of diagnosing students’ individual needs and teaching through multi-sensory techniques to save students from boring, frustrating lessons. Dream #1: check. Now, she spends her days in Minnesota as a mild-mannered editor, book formatter, published author, speaker, writing coach, and co-leader of a Christian writers’ group. When she isn't slaying evil grammar errors or rescuing lost commas in other people’s stories, she’s exploring fantastical worlds and the deep places in the human spirit for her own books. Dream #3: check. What about Dream #2? Well, she gets to play with and teach other people’s awesome kids, including those of her fellow superhero—um, tutor—Rebecca.

Co-tutoring with Mrs. Rebecca Bergren - No villain or nefarious circumstance could keep these two superheroes from joining forces. In 2007, Bridgett's and Rebecca's worlds collided, and a new story-problem-fighting, coauthoring duo was born. In 2016, they made their editing and coaching exploits official with the launch of Light's Scribe Writer Services. Now, they can't wait to inspire the next generation of authors!

Mrs. Colleen Prudhomme

Colleen Prudhomme is a business owner, certified personal trainer, certified running coach and track coach. She is a liberal arts (English major) graduate of the University of Minnesota. She brings her experience as a speaker, business owner, executive director of a nonprofit counseling clinic, and fitness professional to West Classes. She is motivated by goals, excited by challenges and driven by the desire to meet the need. She dares to reach beyond the “unreachable” and encourages her students to do the same. Colleen holds firm and fast to the truth that “Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like an eagle. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Colleen is jazzed about health and fitness activities of all kinds, but her favorite is running. In the past seven years, she has completed nine marathons, including the Boston Marathon. She also has competed in Olympic distance triathlons and is training to go the Ironman distance. In addition to this, she is a track coach for her local middle school and high school.

Colleen and her husband Scot met through the world of music (both were in bands at the time) and have been married nearly 19 years. They keep each other and their four-legged “children” (a springer spaniel and a beagle) feeling young by staying active while also knowing when to rest; eating nutritious food while also indulging in the occasional treat; and spending quiet time in prayer while also taking the opportunity to sing praises at the top of our lungs.

Ms. Victoria Pyron

Victoria believes in helping students discover hidden potential in themselves and in giving them the support and encouragement necessary to develop a strong voice, in both speaking and writing. 

She believes that a deep understanding of rhetoric-- and how people use it in our society-- is necessary to effectively interpret the many, differing messages thrown at young students today, that they may not be easily persuaded. Her goal is that each student leaves Rhetoric having a voice of his or her own, being aware of the power of language, and being able to engage in meaningful dialogue about what he or she believes is true, right, and beautiful, without being easily swayed. 

Victoria received her BA in English Literature and English Writing from North Central University, and she was given a full-time fellowship for her Master of Arts in English Literature at St. Thomas University.

When she grows up, she wants to be a few too many "-ist"s (theorist, philologist, linguist, psychologist, etc.), and a few too many "-er"s (writer, thinker, teacher, speaker, etc.), but right now she is focusing on learning to be an authentically deep Christian, wife, and friend.

Mrs. Susan Robinson

Susan Robinson has homeschooled for the past fifteen years and loves being a WEST tutor and PSEO Course Assistant. She has worked for several major universities as a certified Health/Fitness Instructor, coordinating programs, teaching classes and leading student development initiatives. She has additional experience as an exercise rehab specialist, corporate health educator, first aid/CPR instructor, elementary physical education and health teacher, coach, consultant, and presenter. She believes in service as “soul medicine” and is active in her church and community.
 
Filled with love for God and His creation, Susan continues to grow in her desire for all that is good, true and beautiful and hopes to inspire her students to do the same. She is passionate about seeing each student’s gifts and potential, then watching them work hard to achieve their goals. Susan has a B.S. in Education (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and an M.S. in Health & Physical Education (Virginia Tech), with concentrations in Exercise Physiology and Cardiac Rehabilitation. With several graduate classes completed in the field of counseling psychology, she brings an understanding of the whole person to her students and is able to meet them where they are and inspire them to attain their goals.
 
Susan loves life and see it as an exciting journey with all its twists and turns, and especially enjoys family time, recreation in nature (hiking, biking, walking, canoeing, you name it!), music, reading, crocheting, cooking, gardening, and just being. Prayer and experiential learning with students of all ages is the fuel that keeps Susan moving.

Mr. André Rodrigeuz

André Rodriguez is a multi-talented musician and teacher. Born in Rochester, Michigan, André started playing piano at the age of four and studied classical music throughout high school. He has studied with prominent piano instructors such as Juilliard graduate, Dr. Pauline Martin and Bethel University’s Dr. Herbert Johnson. In 2000, he moved to Minneapolis to study music at North Central University where he received his degree in music performance. ?André directed music at Twin Lakes Christian in Elk River for eight years and has been teaching private music lessons for the past thirteen years. In both 2006 and 2011, André was a semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Competition. In 2011, he released his sophomore album titled, Somewhere New, which has been used by shows on MTV, Showtime, and other TV networks. He currently lives in Minneapolis with his wife Lora and their two sons, Josiah and Riley.

Mrs. Mari Rodriguez

I am a graduate of Christ for the Nations Institute Mexico City with a degree in Biblical Studies and Missions. After completing my Biblical Studies, I served as a missionary in Argentina and worked with street children. I returned from Argentina to finish my Missions certification. Upon completing all of my studies, I went to the Philippines where I served as a missionary alongside Family Circus, a ministry reaching the children and youth of Davao City.

I have been married for sixteen years and have three children that God has given me the privilege to homeschool. My husband and I were children’s pastors at Grove Christian Center for seven years. The past eight years I have taught elementary Spanish, and Spanish I and II at WEST. It has been a blessing to get to know my students and build relationships with many families. I’m also a private tutor for students that want to present the Spanish CLEP test.

I enjoy teaching children and have been able to hear not only the students who have attended my classes communicating in Spanish but their parents as well, which gives me great pride. I love to teach my students not just the language, but also the important things that go along with it such as the food, dances, and songs from Latin American culture. It is an honor to teach at West and I am excited for the adventure that awaits us in each class!

Mrs. Jan Sands

For over 30 years Jan Sands has taught, tutored, and tested her own six children and hundreds more. She’s taught in public and private schools, one-room schools and single grade classrooms, tutored one-on-one and offered algebra classes in her home. She also administers an annual achievement test for homeschoolers. Jan believes her varied experiences makes her better at meeting students’ individual learning needs.

Her favorite subject is math, and she loves to share the joy of math with her students. WEST provides her with a uniquely wonderful opportunity to help many students succeed in math.

Besides a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, with a concentration in math, from the University of Minnesota, Jan Sands also holds a master’s degree in education from Winona State University.

Miss Megan Sands

This committee is facilitated, for the third year, by WEST graduate, Megan Sands. She brings experience, creativity, and vision to this project.

Ms. Robin Schaible

Robin’s love of literature started at the age of ten when after a move to a new town, she read S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders thirteen times. That passion for books continued right into her late teens and early twenties when classics like Jane Austin’s Emma helped her navigate her five years at North Central and Pride and Prejudice ushered her right into her career as a Corporate HR Training Manager.

While writing and conducting training manuals and programs paid the bills, Robin used her spare time to write bad poetry and short stories that were never quite as good as Flannery O’Conner’s works. At the age of 31, Robin stepped away from work to pursue motherhood full time and discovered the joy of leading and teaching at book clubs, Bible studies, church kid’s clubs, vacation Bible schools, and Girl Scouts.

Robin has one fantastic hubby, three unique teen daughters that she has both homeschooled and facilitated PSEO for, two spoiled but sweet Goldendoodles, two turtles, and 13 fish whom she hasn’t bothered learning the names of. Robin is excited to bring her motivated, upbeat style of teaching into the classroom and help students discover their own love of reading for a lifetime. You can catch Robin at her weekly storytimes at the Elk River Library.

Mrs. Cristen Schmalz

Cristen Schmalz has a bachelor degree in speech communication from University of Wisconsin - La Crosse.   She loves the power of words and learning how to construct messages that clearly communicate, inspire, and empower those around you.   She will help you to feel comfortable while growing in your skill of public communication.  Cristen and her husband, Gary, have four kids.  Together they homeschool and travel as much as possible.

Mr. Gary Schmalz

Gary Schmalz is a graduate from Minnesota State University with a degree in Secondary Education and Social Studies.  He is a history fanatic and especially loves to learn about World War II.  

He currently works in full time ministry to college athletes, through the ministry of Athletes in Action.  He and his wife, Cristen, have four children and have homeschooled them over the years.  

Gary loves to travel,  watch sports and documentaries.  

Ms. Kari Smith

Kari loves nature, color, adventure and pretty much anything having to do with fun and adventure. She graduated from St Cloud State with a degree in Elementary Education and really enjoys teaching and hanging out with students. She also loves photography, videography, film, graphic design, art and anything creative. She is also an avid camper/road tripper and finds any reason she can to be outside exploring new places. She worked for the last 12 years at an organization called Real Resources that is home to YouthWorks Missions and Youth Specialties where she served with both organizations. While there she served in a variety of capacities, including spending 7 summers out in the mission field in various remote parts of the United States. She attends Church of the Open Door in Maple Grove and is really plugged into the youth ministry there. When it is nice outside you can find her hanging out in her hammock enjoying creation.

Mrs. Tanya Stewart

German was my first language, followed quickly by English. I was raised bilingual by my mother who was born and raised in Germany. Growing up, we spoke German at home and traveled to Germany every summer.  I earned a high school diploma -- twice, once in the U.S. and once in Germany.  I studied at the University of Frankfurt (Germany). I earned my teaching degree at George Mason University in Virginia, where I also taught in the Fairfax County Public School system. Later, my husband and I and our 3 boys moved to Minnesota, where we have been home educating for 15 years. 

Teaching is a joy and a challenge for me.  Every student is unique, bringing a different story and different set of skills to the classroom.  Together we will seek to develop those abilities for the good of society and the glory of God by maximizing wholeheartedly the opportunities set before us. Soli Deo gloria!

Ms. Danielle Super

Danielle lives in Anoka and has been a Freelance Mixed Media Artist for the past 4 years. She grew up practicing a variety of mediums, and was surrounded by a family of musicians and artists who have always had a strong connection with nature, been immersed in a variety of cultures, and placed significant emphasis on the aesthetic value of life. As she has grown as an artist, acrylics, textiles and free-association in art have brought the greatest amount of joy and healing in her life. You can see her work at www.reclaiminglifeart.com.

Danielle also has an Bachelor's degree in Communications and Christian Studies and worked as a  Crew Member at Trader Joe's for 3 years.

Mrs. Anna Tucker

Anna received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from University of Wisconsin - La Crosse with a minor in Spanish.  She then went on to get her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from the same institution.  Anna currently works as a pediatric occupational therapist in Coon Rapids, MN.  Much of her current patient caseload includes children with mental health disorders.

Anna has a passion for teaching and mentoring others.  She has tutored elementary students, mentored high school students through her church, discipled college students through Cru, and has been a clinical instructor to occupational therapy students.  Anna values building relationships with those she is teaching in order to better understand each student's learning style.  She is looking forward to build lessons around her students' learning styles so they are able to learn and understand psychology. 
 
Anna lives in Maple Grove with her husband and daughter.  She enjoys spending time outdoors, traveling, and cooking.  

Mr. Nick Tucker

Nick Tucker, owner of Spark Music Studio in Maple Grove, has a bachelor's degree in percussion performance, and is a freelance performer and teacher, playing jazz, rock, country, and funk. He has played with Grammy nominated and Dove award winning musicians, as well as toured nationally with solo artists and bands.  Currently very active in the worship community, he plays at multiple churches around the twin cities from Open Door and Substance, to EagleBrook and WestWood.

Since 2008, Nick has been teaching student’s piano and drum lessons, and traveling around the US performing. With a passion for educating young and old musicians, and a devotion to creating a greater imprint in the community, he started Spark Music Studio. Nick believes the best thing a teacher can offer to a student is real life experience.  He feels that implementing and sharing what he has learned throughout his career speaks louder than any word from a text book.  Nick's passion for education doesn't end with him teaching, as he loves to learn and study with some of the greatest teachers in Minneapolis.   Time spent learning and performing with people ranging from Steve Goold (Sara Bariellis, Owl City, Ben Rector), Dave Stanoch (New Kids on the Block, Sheryl Crow), Dave Hanzel (Celine Dion), Gordy Knudtson (Steve Miller Band) and Joel Hanson (PFR), have been some of the most important educational experiences of his life.

Nick is a young, high-energy teacher who loves to have fun.  His goofy personality and hands on teaching approach will easily keep you engaged.  When he's not teaching or performing, Nick loves to go out and listen to other local musicians and spend time with his wife, Anna.

Mr. Bryan Vanthof

Bryan has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Bethel University and a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Cloud State University majoring in Finance and minoring in Economics.  Bryan is a Realtor and small business owner living in Plymouth.  As a small business owner, Bryan has had hands on experience with all aspects of what it takes to run a business from Accounting to Operations to Sales & Marketing and anything in between.  Bryan has had the fortune of training dozens of other real estate agents as owner of that small business and is looked to frequently as a valued resource even from more experienced real estate agents.  Bryan also spent many years as a securities trader for local brokerage firms.

 Bryan’s teaching style will be an interactive lecture format.  His goal is to keep the learners engaged in the subject matter by asking questions of the learners, small group activities, and other interactive projects.  Bryan believes people learn best by doing and so will be incorporating examples of real world application in the lecture.  He encourages questions whether in or out of class. 

Bryan believes Christian ethics are paramount in the business world and as leaders.  Christian ethics are the foundation by which all aspects of our lives are built and business is no different.  Our ethics are not left at the door when we enter the secular world.  Bryan’s personal interests revolve around his kids and their activities.  He also enjoys current events and traveling.   

Ms. Mariah Wilder

In 2006 I started my own photography business while I was taking photography courses from Hennepin Technical College in Eden Prairie. My particular area of expertise is portraiture with digital DSLR cameras in ambient lighting conditions, but my training goes beyond that. In addition to my own freelance work, I have been a wedding photographer with Wilson Aesthetics LLC since 2011. My experience includes engagements, weddings, maternity, newborns, family portraits, senior portraits, photojournalism and conceptual photography. Please feel free to check out my online portfolio at mariahjoyphotography.com. For nearly my entire educational career I was homeschooled, along with my older sister and younger brother. I loved it! I am really blessed to have had such a rich and positive experience. This is one reason why I have a strong desire to support other parents and their children in this amazing journey of homeschooling. I now have a BS in Urban Studies from Northwestern College, St. Paul. When I first picked up a camera, it was like discovering the language of my heart! The role of photography in my life has been a channel for glorifying God by being the artist He has designed me to be. It has also developed beyond self-expression – to an instrument of loving others and helping them to see themselves the way God sees them, and to see the world the way God sees it. It is a huge desire of mine to provide a healthy environment and the resources necessary for students to discover their talents and passions, and to explore photography to see if it is one of them. In addition to photography, in my spare time I enjoy bicycling, camping, writing poetry and research articles, playing cards and board games with my family, thrifting, being by the ocean, experiencing a good thunderstorm, travelling, and learning about other cultures.

Mrs. Linda Kaye Williams

This is my seventh year teaching at WEST and it is my pleasure to explore physical science. In addition to Physical Science, in the past I have taught Chemistry for WEST and Mathematics at The University of Saint Thomas. I like science and students. It is exciting to work with the minds of the future. I have previously taught polymer chemistry to high school students and was Chair of the 3M Science Training Encouragement Program, which was designed to introduce students to science and technology in industrial settings. I have also taught mathematics at The University of Michigan.

In industry, I worked as a Research Chemist and Process Engineer for 3M and IBM. I hold six patents in thermal dye technology. I have a B.S. in Biochemistry and a M.S. in Macromolecular Science and Engineering from The University of Michigan. Continuing education includes graduate coursework in polymer chemistry, engineering, polymer processing, and industrial chemistry.

I am blessed to have a husband and two high energy, intelligent children that have helped us optimize “hands on learning.” We made volcanoes after eating thanksgiving dinner. Thank God for gravy and science.

Mrs. Diane Windingland

Diane Windingland is a professional speaker, an author (http://smalltalkbigresults.com) and a presentation coach (http://www.virtualspeechcoach.com). A member of the National Speakers Association, she also has attained Toastmasters International highest educational award, Distinguished Toastmaster, which recognizes her for both leadership and communication excellence. Additionally, her speaking education includes improv, and stand-up comedy classes with Stevie Ray’s Improv School. Prior to becoming a professional speaker, Diane worked as an engineer and co-owned a small technology business. In addition to tutoring at WEST, her teaching experience includes presentation consulting with high school seniors at Maranatha Christian Academy on their capstone speeches, homeschooling her own children, teaching a homeschool speech class and organizing an introductory speech class for two 9th grade classes at Elk River High School. A second-degree black belt, Diane also has taught karate.

Ms. Julie Worthington

Julie has been homeschooling for 12 years and graduated from the College of St Catherine in St Paul, MN with a degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Communication and Interaction Disorders. After several years working in early childhood development as a preschool teacher and trainer for childcare professionals and parents, Julie was moved to start working with older students. Due to a love of literature, the first class for older students that Julie taught was a book club class. She had fun making books come to life with her students through discussion and lots of hands on activities. Since then, in addition to continuing book club she has taught classes such as strategy games and led middle schoolers in a group dynamics program. She has a passion for meeting students where they are and working with them to find strategies that work with each individual’s learning style.

Julie is excited to begin working with WEST in her first year as a tutor here.

Mr. Adam Woytcke

Adam Woytcke graduated from the Milwaukee School of Engineering in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Math. He works full time at a small medical company and has experience in multiple engineering backgrounds  including manufacturing, research, and design. Apart from his job, Adam also works as a freelance engineering consultant and has taught Computer Aided Design classes to homeschoolers. 

In his free time, Adam enjoys being being outside, camping, hunting, playing sports, and tinkering with 3D printers.

Adam’s goal in teaching is to give homeschooled students the opportunity to explore science and engineering concepts in a fun and engaging environment.

Mrs. Kate Yoakam

Kate has a passion for history and has devoted many hours, webinars, movie nights and vacations to the study of history.  She has been studying history most of her life, and is constantly researching and learning something new in her free time. She especially enjoys helping students make connections to history and see why it matters.   Kate enjoys challenging her students to engage with history thru project based learning, beyond the textbook, and loves engaging with primary sources and teaching students how to use them.   Kate currently co-leads a homeschool co-op where she has taught classes for 10 years.   She believes strongly that a firm understanding of history is vital in order to fully understand the issues facing our world today.

Kate makes her home in Otsego with her awesome storm chasing husband and 2 gregarious kids.  She has been a home educator for 10 years, and has loved the freedom and fun they have had learning together.  When she’s not engaged in research for fun, you can find Kate playing board games with her family and friends (her favorites are Catan and Agricola), Crocheting and practicing Israeli Dance.  She has a love for Israel and has recently realized a lifelong dream by getting to travel there on a ministry trip.   She’s already planning the return trip!