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WEST PSEO Instructor Biographies

Michelle Foster

  • Art Appreciation - FAR 1560 - 3 credits (Crown College)

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.


Jennica Burgh

  • Sociology - SOC 230 - 3 credits (Crown College)

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).


Whitney Grindberg

  • College Writing and Research - ENG 1510 - 3 credits (Crown College)
  • Instruction to Literary Analysis - ENG 1512 - 3 credits (Crown College)
  • American Literature - ENG 2510 - 3 credits (Crown College)

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. 


Mark Fierst

  • Health and Wellness for Life - PED 1515 - 3 credits (Crown College)

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. 


Anna Tucker

  • General Psychology - PSY 130 - 3 credits (Crown College)

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.  


Heather Kipp

  • College Algebra I - MATH 125.PW01 - 3 credits (NCU)
  • Liberal Arts Math - MATH 115.PW01 - 3 credits (NCU)

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. 


Penny Beard

  • American Sign Language I - MLAN 150 - 4 credits (NCU)
  • American Sign Language II - MLAN 151 - 4 credits (NCU)

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. 


Susan Kilbride

  • Foundations of Biology with lab - SCI 1531 - 4 credits (Crown College)

Susan graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in biology, Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa. After graduation, she worked as a research assistant in Venezuela studying floodplain fish for two winters. 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 science, writing, and history classes to homeschoolers both in Hawaii and Minnesota. 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 and was co-author of an article in Biotropica, a science journal.

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


Casey Ochs

  • Spanish I - LAN 245 - 3 credits (Crown College)
  • Spanish 2 - LAN 246 - 3 credits (Crown College)

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."   


Cristen Schmalz

  • Introduction to Public Communication - COM 1515 - 3 credits (Crown College)
  • World Civilizations - HIS 1510 - 3 credits (Crown College)

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. 


Gary Schmalz

  • Topics in United States History - HIS 2520 - 3 credits (Crown College)

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.