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WEST PSEO Instructor Biographies

Allison AndersonCourse Assistant In-Person

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

Allison graduated from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN, with a BA in Human Services. She thoroughly enjoyed her studies, learning about people, systems, culture and how it connects. She's looking forward to joining WEST PSEO students for the Sociology class on a journey filled with discovery.

Allison works at her church, coordinating ministry for kids and students, birth through senior high. She is a wife and mom to three. She loves music, reading, nature, deep talks, laughing...all the ways of connecting with God and His people.

Mark Fierst | Course Assistant In-Person

  • 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. 

Michelle Foster | Course Assistant In-Person

  • 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. 

Marhea Harris Professor Online and In-Person

  • PSEO American Sign Language I - MLAN 140.PW01 - 4 credits (NCU)
  • PSEO American Sign Language II - MLAN 240.PW01 - 4 credits (NCU)

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.

Heather Kipp | Professor Online and In-Person

  • Statistics - Hybrid Class - MATH.PWH - 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. 

Tiffany Pavlish | Course Assistant In-Person

  • Introduction to Computer Applications - IT 106 - 3 credits (Crown College)

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 2009, Tiffany returned to the classroom teaching computer application tools to homeschooled students and continue as a contract trainer. 

The real-life examples Tiffany has gleaned from teaching in the corporate world and community colleges are what fuel her passion for facilitating learning. 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. Besides receiving joy through teaching, Tiffany also adores the Christian book club she belongs to and meeting local historical Christian fiction authors in person. 

Mari Rodriguez | Course Assistant In-Person

  • Spanish I - LAN 255 - 4 credits (Crown College)
  • Spanish II - LAN 256 - 4 credits (Crown College)

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

Mari has been married since 2004 and has three children that God has given her the privilege to homeschool. Mari and her husband were children’s pastors at Grove Christian Center for seven years. Since 2012 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. Mari is also a private tutor for students that want to persue the Spanish CLEP test.

Mari enjoys teaching children and has been able to hear not only the students who have attended her classes communicating in Spanish but their parents as well, which gives her great pride. Mari loves to teach her 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 she is excited for the adventure that awaits everyone in each class!

Cristen Schmalz | Course Assistant In-Person

  • College Writing and Research - ENG 1510 - 3 credits (Crown College) 
  • American Literature - ENG 2510 - 3 credits (Crown College) 
  • Introduction to Public Communication - COM 1515 - 3 credits (Crown College)
  • Introduction to Literary Analysis - ENG 1512 - 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 | Course Assistant In-Person

  • World Civilizations - HIS 1510 - 3 credits (Crown College)
  • 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.  

Ryan Thornton | Professor Online and In-Person

  • PSEO Visions of the Good: Ethics & Worldview - CT 213.PW01 - 3 credits (NCU)

Ryan Thornton spent five years as a missionary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (ex-Zaire). During this time, he became fluent in French, Italian, and Spanish. The Congo is a French-speaking country that has several national and local dialects and languages. During his time in the Congo, Ryan also learned to understand Kiswahili (Swahili) well and to be an adequate speaker of this language. Ryan is greatly indebted to the five years spent in the Congo which helped him grow as a person and in faith. Ryan has taught language and French and is currently teaching around the metro area.

Ryan and his wife were married in 2018 and live in St. Paul.

B.A. in Romance Languages (2018), Wayne State University

M.A. in Philosophy (2020), Holy Apostles College & Seminary

Anna Tucker | Professor Online and In-Person

  • 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.  

Erica Woytcke | Course Assistant In-Person

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

Erica graduated in December of 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Northwestern, St. Paul. She has been teaching science classes since March of 2011 and also has over eight years of experience teaching and tutoring subjects one-on-one. Erica was homeschooled all the way through 12th grade and was taught early on how to integrate God and learning. She has led trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness with students to study things like ecology up close and personal and is constantly amazed at the intricate details of God’s creation. The ways in which it unendingly points to the incredible Lord we serve is her passion, and her desire is to help students to see how exciting science truly is!