Georgette Benton, IT Coordinator
As the Technology Coordinator, Georgette keeps the network, computers, and devices updated and in working order. Georgette has earned her Associates in Computer Science from the Minnesota School of Business. In addition to her work with the Academy, Georgette previously served our country as a United States National Guard member in the 34th Infantry Division with the rank of Sergeant.
Louis Bakalars, Behavior Associate
Louie serves as a Behavior Associate at AOWL. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from the University of St. Thomas. Prior to joining Academy of Whole Learning, Louie was a Program Coordinator for Fraser’s Supervised Living Department.
Kate Drechsler, Classroom Teacher
Kate teaches in our lower school in the Minnehaha Falls classroom. Kate graduated with her Bachelors in Elementary Education from Australian Catholic University in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia and moved to Minnesota in 2015. She holds a Minnesota Teaching License in Elementary Education and has a passion for STEM education. Kate has been a member of our STEM grant team, receiving Innovation Grants from the Minnesota Independent Schools Forum (MISF). In fall of 2018, Kate presented at the annual MISF STEM Education Conference to share her knowledge with other educators.
Bill Durfey, Classroom Teacher
Bill teaches math in our upper school. He received his B.A. in Spanish Literature and M.S. in Systems and Industrial Engineering. Bill decided to switch from engineer to become a math teacher, then a STEM / PLTW teacher, and also a tech ed (wood shop and auto shop). He spent two years in Mexico teaching English and learning Spanish. He also apprenticed as a carpenter.
Mike Faeth, PhD Social Studies Specialist and Classroom Teacher
With over 10 years of teaching experience, Mike is entering his third year at the Academy of Whole Learning. Mike is a Social Studies Specialist and teaches in the St. Croix Falls classroom. He completed his coursework for a PhD in History from the University of Minnesota and holds an MA in History and BA in History, Political Science and Spanish. Prior to joining Academy of Whole Learning, Mike was an Associate Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and a Lecturer at the University of Minnesota.
Colleen Farley, Teacher Associate/Art Specialist
Colleen graduated from the University of Minnesota Rochester with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science. While in college, Colleen was involved in many leadership positions, such as the College Activities Board and College Government. In her free time, she volunteers on a 24 hour helpline and is active in her community. At AOWL, Colleen works with all groups of students through visual arts media. She also supports students and staff in the classroom as a teacher associate.
Jen Finger, Office Manager
Jen graduated from the University of Minnesota Morris in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. At AOWL, she serves as the front office manager and also assists with bookkeeping.
Lizzy Freese, Behavior Therapist/Teacher Associate
Lizzy serves as a Teacher Associate. She graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences with a triple concentration in psychology, human development, and Business administration. Lizzy is currently pursuing her Master’s of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She will Graduate in February of 2019 and will take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst exam in May of 2019. Prior to Academy of Whole Learning, Lizzy worked with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in-home and clinic-based ABA therapy programs.
Courtney Glazier, Classroom Teacher
Courtney teaches lower school students in the Cascade Falls classroom. She graduated from Minnesota State University Mankato in the spring of 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Special Education – Academic and Behavior Specialist. Courtney has a Minnesota Teaching License which allows her to educate all K-12 students with disabilities. In the near future, Courtney is planning on furthering her education to attain a masters degree in Special Education.
Paul Gloudemans, Director of Marketing and Admissions
Paul handles marketing and admissions efforts at Academy of Whole Learning. He received his B.A. in Advertising from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay and his teaching certificate from the University of St. Thomas. He possesses an extensive marketing background, working for Best Buy, LifeTime Fitness, and various ad agencies. Paul decided to shift his focus to education and has worked for Richfield High School and now Academy of Whole Learning.
Anita Haas, M.Ed. Classroom Teacher
Anita teaches in our lower school in the Gooseberry Falls classroom. Anita received her B.S. in Communication Studies and Theater from South Dakota State University and her Masters of Arts in Special Education from the University of St. Thomas with a teaching license in K-12 Developmental Disabilities and Birth-12 Autism Spectrum Disorders. Prior to joining the Academy of Whole Learning, Anita had many years of paraprofessional experience and teaching experience with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Cognitive Disorders. This is her sixth year teaching at AOWL
Elizabeth Hall, Teacher Associate
Elizabeth serves as a teacher associate in the Upper School. She got her bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina. Elizabeth worked for many years as an analytical development chemist in the pharmaceutical industry. More recently she worked as an elementary school teacher assistant in Rhode Island.
Mark Haverty, Maintenance Technician
As Maintenance Technician, Mark is responsible for the daily care, maintenance, cleanliness, and safety of the facility. His work history spans over forty years in facilities management and operations in both the private and non-profit sectors, including nineteen years as Facilities Manager with Nonin Medical Inc., located in Plymouth, Mn. and 12 years as Building and Grounds Supervisor for Opportunity Partners based in Minnetonka, Mn.
Lisa Janisch, Behavior Specialist/ Teacher Associate
Lisa received her undergraduate degree in Recreational Therapy from the University of La Crosse and her Master’s Degree in Behavior Analysis from St. Cloud University. She has worked in the field of Autism for 20 years doing Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. Lisa has been a Behavior Therapist, a Lead Behavior Therapist, Treatment Supervisor, and Clinical Skills Supervisor. She has provided 1:1 skills training, family skills training, implementation of skills, programming and managing challenging behaviors with children ages 2-18 years old.
Maggie Jensen, M.A. Sped. Classroom Teacher
Maggie Jensen is the classroom teacher in Wolf Creek, working with students in the Elementary grades. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from UW-River Falls and began working in the behavior therapy field upon graduation. Maggie returned to earn her graduate degree from Bethel University and graduated with a master’s in Special Education and her ASD teaching licensure. In addition to applied behavioral analysis and behavior management experience, Maggie has earned certification in the Orton Gillingham Language Arts model.
Boyden Lee, Teacher Associate/Behavior Therapist
Boyden serves the school as a Teacher Associate/Behavior Intervention Therapist. This year he is also taking on the role of Special Olympics Coordinator. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. Prior to joining the team at Academy of Whole Learning, Boyden was a Behavior Therapist working with children with Autism using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). He also worked as a Youth Counselor in a treatment facility for adolescent and teenage boys with problematic behaviors.
Anna Myrand, Classroom Teacher
Anna Myrand teaches English Language Arts in the Upper School. Passionate about working with students who have diverse learning needs, she holds teaching licenses in ASD, LD, EBD, and DD. She is also licensed in Teaching Communication Arts and Literature, grades 5-12. Prior to joining Academy of Whole Learning, Anna served as a high school special education teacher at a twin cities public school for five years. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Mike Onan, Accountant
Mike is the school’s accountant, responsible for all the accounting functions for the school and for working with families as they schedule payment of tuition and fees. He has an MBA degree in accounting and a BA degree in business teacher education from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
He worked in various accounting and finance positions at Cargill and US Bank for over 20 years before moving into non-profit accounting as Director of Finance at the United Way of Portage County in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, a position he held for 12 years.
Regina Porter, Teacher Associate
Regina serves as a Teacher Associate at AOWL. She graduated from S.U.N.Y. Cortland with a Bachelors in Elementary Education and a Masters in Reading. Regina has experience working as a Reading Specialist for middle school and high school students.
Karla Przybylski, Therapy Services/Human Resources Manager
Karla serves as the Clinical Services Manager/Human Resources Coordinator at Academy of Whole Learning. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Viterbo University in LaCrosse, WI. Karla has substantial experience in marketing, management, and small business operations. Prior to joining the team at Academy of Whole Learning, Karla was part of building and selling a successful startup company.
Mekinna Rahn, Physical Education Teacher
Mekinna serves as the Physical Education Teacher at AOWL. She is a University of Minnesota-Duluth graduate, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Health. Mekinna believes that in order for students to succeed academically, physical activity is the most important fuel the brain needs to grow and function. She also believes that every student deserves to learn at their own pace in an environment where they feel safe.
Hannah Ramberg, Teacher Associate
Hannah serves as a Teacher Associate in the Minnehaha Falls classroom. She recently graduated from the University Of Wisconsin River Falls with a bachelor degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders. During her summer, Hannah worked as a Personal Care Assistant in Summer School aged care programs. She additionally has five years of experience as a martial arts instructor.
Luella Ramberg, Head of School Executive Assistant
Serving for over a year as Executive Assistant to the Head of School, Luella provides administrative support to the Head of School, students, parents, and staff. Prior to her employment at Academy of Whole Leaning, she served as a Librarian at a community library, providing resources for individuals of diverse backgrounds. Lue also served as a leader of a 4H Club and on the 4H Leader Council, promoting the development of a wide variety of skills in young people between the ages of 4 and 18.
Carly Rasmussen, Director of Strategic Advancement
Carly manages our school’s advancement strategies and development. She graduated with high honors from the University of Minnesota. Carly is the founder of a 501(c)3 nonprofit called Peerly Social: An Autism Network, a buddy program for young adults with autism spectrum disorder.
Wyayn Rasmussen, Head of School
As the Head of School, Wyayn, advocates for the mission and vision of the Academy. Wyayn earned her Masters of Education in Special Education from Bethel University, a Masters of Art in Organizational Management from Concordia University – St. Paul, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Oklahoma. Wyayn completed her coursework for her doctorate in Educational Leadership in December 2015. She holds a principal’s license and a special education teacher’s license through the Minnesota Department of Education.
Greg Saunders, Director of Exceptional Learning
As the Director of Exceptional Learning, Greg supports the school’s vision as it relates to academics. His desire is to see all students flourish and reach their full potential within a safe and nurturing learning environment. Greg graduated from the University of Northwestern St. Paul with a degree in Secondary Education. Later, he received his master’s degree in education from St, Mary’s University in St. Paul. He has over 20 years of educational experience that include classroom and administrative roles. His instructional technology expertise provided him the opportunity to serve as an Innovation Coach helping teachers integrate technology in their instruction. Currently, he is attending St. Cloud State University for his administrative license.
Cindy Schriever, Advancement and Alumni Relations
At Academy of Whole Learning, Cindy works to advance our school by building and stewarding relationships that enable donors and alumni to deepen their learning, engagement and giving that reflect their values and philanthropic interests.
Cindy’s experience is in private school fund development in the areas of Annual Giving Campaigns, capital campaigns, educational endowment, major gifts and planned giving programs.
Cindy holds certificates in Special Education from the University of Northern Iowa and certificate of Fundraising and Fund Development from the University of St. Thomas Center for Business Excellence.
Mitch Sitzmann, Teacher Associate
Mitch serves as a Teacher Associate at AOWL. He received his bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State University with a major in Sport, Recreation, and Park Management and a minor in Business Management. His work experience includes The Boys & Girls Club of Brookings, SD, summer positions as a recreation coordinator for the city of Roseville and Carver County, and as a 7-12th grade paraprofessional at Martin County West High School. Mitch aspires to further his education and become a special education teacher.
Katie Thormodsgaard, MSW, LICSW, Director of Therapy Services
Katie serves as the Director of Therapy Services at Academy of Whole Learning. She received her B.A. in Social Work from Viterbo University in LaCrosse, WI and her graduate degree in Social Work from the University of St. Thomas/St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN. Prior to joining Academy of Whole Learning, Katie has worked in the field of Autism doing Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. She also has been a behavior therapist, a lead behavior therapist and a supervisor providing 1:1 skills training, family skills training, implementation of skills programming and managing challenging behaviors in children ages 2 to 19 years old. Katie has experience doing 1:1 outpatient therapy with children and their families within their home and office settings. She has developed a program that focuses on working with the family system to provide new skills, replacement behaviors and reducing challenging
Kelsey Toetschinger, M.Ed. Classroom Teacher
Kelsey teaches Science to the upper school students. She also manages Scholastic book orders and is the Vocational Rehabilitation Services representative. Kelsey collaborates with the state representative that works with eligible 11th and 12th-grade students. Kelsey earned her Bachelors in Early Childhood Education from Minnesota State University, Mankato and her Masters in Special Education from St. Mary’s University, Twin Cities. Kelsey has her LD, EBD, and ASD licenses and is licensed in both general and special education. Previous to Academy of Whole Learning, Kelsey has had experience working in a transition program. She was able to contribute her experience last year when helping students start AOWL’s first concession stand, Owl Foods. This will be her fifth year at Academy of Whole Learning.
Kelsey Wall, Teacher Associate
Kelsey’s serves as a teacher associate at the Academy of Whole Learning. She got her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Wheaton College, located in the west suburbs of Chicago. Kelsey just recently moved to Minnesota from Chicago and is loving the new area. Before taking this position at AOWL, Kelsey worked as a mental health counselor at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital in the children’s pavilion. She served a diverse population of kids with a wide range of mental illnesses and trauma.
Kaitlin Walsh, Beyond the Bell Coordinator
Kaitlin is the Beyond the Bell Coordinator, she previously worked for us as a Teacher Associate and ASL teacher. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech-Language-Hearing Science. Prior to joining Academy of Whole Learning, she was a Personal Care Assistant for children with developmental disabilities, a case manager at a vocational day program for adults with disabilities, and volunteer classroom assistant at Northern Voices Oral School for the deaf.
Eileen Walsh, Teacher Associate
Eileen is a Teacher Associate in our lower school. She has over 20 years of experience teaching students with ASD. Eileen completed her B.A. at Lake Forest College outside of Chicago and her graduate work at the University of St Thomas. She holds teaching licenses in the areas of Secondary Education, Social Studies, Elementary Education and Special Education K-12.
Amanda White, Classroom Teacher
Amanda teaches life skills across all grades and is the Cedar Lake advisor for middle school-aged students. She received her undergraduate degrees in K-8 Elementary Education and K-12 Special Education from the University of South Dakota and continued her post-undergraduate work at Cal State Sacramento.
In Oakland, Ca, Amanda taught at Spectrum Center, an ABA school, as an Autism-Specific teacher for students ages 12-21 for 5 years. After moving to Minnesota, Amanda worked at Lionsgate Academy, helping to create the foundation of the AIM transition program. While there, Amanda led the site’s behavioral team, had a hand in designing courses and related coursework, taught social skills, and organized regular trips into the community to allow for students to generalize skills learned across settings.
Now in her 15th year of teaching, Amanda has spent the last three here at the Academy of Whole Learning
Nicole Zickefoose, Grant Writer
Nicole writes grants for AOWL for programming and generating operating requests. Nicole has a BA in Technical Writing from Iowa State University and an MA in English from the University of Nebraska at Omaha; she has worked within the corporate and nonprofit arenas, writing and editing technical documentation, business documents, and grants. Nicole has a son in middle school at AOWL.
Molly Zupon, Performing Arts Specialist
Molly is taking on a new position this year as a specialist in the performing arts. She will still be teaching drama but also taking on music education as well. She received her K-12 Theater/Dance teaching license from Hamline University and taught at a Minneapolis Public School to kids in both general education as well as exceptional students in DCD and ASD. Before becoming a licensed teacher, Molly worked as a Special Ed paraprofessional in the St Paul Public Schools at Creative Arts Secondary, as well as in a program called Check and Connect at Northeast Middle. Molly has been a performer for 30 years this fall. She has two BAs; one in theater and one in vocal performance and can be seen singing and playing her violin in her Irish comedy improvisation band, The Dregs. She also teaches violin and viola to a small studio of private students from her home in Robbinsdale. During the summers, Molly serves as the Music Director for the Sabes Jewish Community Center musical theater youth camp.