Meet Our K-8 Teachers

Team Up with Professional, Minnesota-licensed Teachers

Teachers at the Minnesota Virtual Academy are among the best in the state for online education. They are your partners in your children's education, and are available every school day to help you and your children through any challenges you may face. Here are a few of the regular education and special education teachers you'll get to know at the Minnesota Virtual Academy.

Elementary Teachers (Grades K–5)

Michelle Allmon holds a bachelor's degree in science and English and a master's degree in elementary education from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. Michelle earned her Certificate in Urban Teaching from Hamline University in 2006. She taught for six years in Bloomington Public Schools, where she served on the district’s Math Quality Assurance Team and Diversity Advisory Council. Michelle joined the MNVA staff in 2008, and she enjoys having the ability to work closely with families to bring out the capabilities in each student.

Jenna Bearden joined MNVA in 2013.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood and elementary education from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.  Prior to joining MNVA, she taught 4th grade for the Triton Schools in Dodge Center for three years.  She also taught preschool in Rochester and at-risk kindergarteners in St. Charles.  Jenna really enjoys getting to know all of her students and families at MNVA, and working with them to create the best educational plan for their students.

Rana Bell has been on staff with MNVA since 2004. She holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of Wyoming and a master's degree in special education from St. Thomas University. Before joining the Minnesota Virtual Academy, Rana worked as an Early Childhood teacher for Prior Lake–Savage area schools. She continues to attend workshops and courses to further her education.

Robyn Christopher has been an MNVA teacher since 2003. Robyn graduated from the University of North Dakota with a bachelor's degree in elementary education and an endorsement in English as a second language. She has enjoyed being a part of this exciting option in public education. What Robyn enjoys most about her job is connecting with and getting to know MNVA families, and making MNVA a successful school choice for students.

Jodie English joined Minnesota Virtual Academy in the winter of 2011.  She graduated from the University of St. Thomas, with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.  In 2002, she earned her master’s degree in guidance counseling from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.  Before joining MNVA, she taught at Odyssey Charter School in Las Vegas, Nevada where she taught K-7th graders and later served as the Guidance Counselor.  Jodie loves working for MNVA because she enjoys individualizing each student’s education and helping all students reach their full potential.

Patty Herman earned her undergraduate degree in elementary education, with a minor in math, at St. Cloud State University. Before joining the teaching staff at MNVA in 2004, she taught third grade in St. Michael, Minnesota. Since then, she has enjoyed watching MNVA face many challenges, changes, and grow from a school of 300+ students to 800+. Patty's favorite part of this job is getting to know the families.

Roberta Hop has been with MNVA since 2005. Originally from the United Kingdom, Roberta earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education in 2004 at Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Roberta then moved to Minnesota and continued her studies and earned a master's degree with specialization in K–6 reading and mathematics in 2008 at Walden University. Before moving to Minnesota, Roberta served as substitute teacher in Northern Ireland. Following her overseas move, Roberta worked as a paraprofessional in the Minneapolis area while waiting for her teaching license to process in Minnesota. Roberta then joined the MNVA team and enjoys individualizing each student's education and helping all students reach their full potential.

Holly Packard (English Language) joined Minnesota Virtual Academy in 2013. In 2008, Holly graduated from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls with a degree in both TESOL education and Spanish Education. In 2013 she received her K-12 reading teacher licensure from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. Before teaching with Minnesota Virtual Academy, Holly taught elementary English language classes for five years in Austin, Minnesota. She currently enjoys working together with students and their families here at MNVA to give language learners the tools needed to have success both in the classroom and in everyday life.

Todd Randall joined the Minnesota Virtual Academy in 2009. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1991 from Hope International University in Fullerton, CA, and a master's degree in elementary education from the Claremont (CA) Graduate University in 1994. Todd taught for 17 years in the classroom, mostly in low-income and inner-city schools in California. He has taught elementary school, middle school, and alternative high school. Todd especially enjoys working closely with MNVA families and empowering parents to provide a great educational experience for their children.

Deb Rokenbrodt has been a teacher with MNVA since 2006. She holds degrees in elementary education (grades 1–8) and mathematics (grades 7–12), and a minor in computer science from the University of Wisconsin–River Falls. Her 17 years of teaching experience cover a variety of grades and topics including elementary classrooms, high school mathematics, and district computer coordinator for grades K–12. She taught in a mixed-age elementary classroom on the island of Madagascar for three years. Deb enjoys the variety and challenges that teaching in an online setting gives. Answering questions on a wide range of topics on a daily basis keeps the job fun and interesting. The part that she likes best about online education is the opportunity to work closely with students and parents to individualize instruction to meet the needs of each student.

Joslyn Runyan has taught with Minnesota Virtual Academy since 2003. Before moving to Minnesota, Joslyn taught third grade in Grand Forks, North Dakota. She graduated from the University of North Dakota, with a bachelor's degree in elementary education and an endorsement in English as a second language. In 2003, she completed a master's degree in elementary education with a cognate in reading education. She grew up in Sioux Falls, SD, where she taught with the district enrichment program for six years before transitioning at graduation to a full-time teacher and graduate assistant at UND. She is a licensed K–6 teacher and enjoys the options and opportunities each student has at MNVA.

Amy Sollie joined the MNVA staff in the fall of 2011. She earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education with a specialty in Spanish (K–8) from Bethel University. Before joining MNVA, Amy taught Spanish and preschool at a charter school in St. Paul. She has spent the past two years as a nanny for two young children. She is looking forward to working with families to help their children be successful.

Cary Whittington has been with MNVA since fall 2008 as a K–6 elementary teacher. She received her bachelor's degree in elementary education and English, with a minor in studio art from the State University of NY at Potsdam. Cary taught drama and speech for grades 5 and 6 in Ft. Worth, TX for 2 years, then spent time in the corporate world in Texas and Ohio before moving to Minnesota in 2008. What she likes best about her job is the opportunity to work with students and parents in a relationship to meet the individual needs of her students. Cary continues to attend workshops and courses to enrich her knowledge in education.

Jessica Winter graduated from Bemidji State University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and middle school mathematics. Jessica has worked as an online teacher since 2009 and in the education field since 2004. Her prior experiences were with the Aitkin School District and the Minnesota Center of Online Learning. Her teaching experiences have given her the opportunity to work in a variety of grade levels using innovative strategies, technologies, and solid curriculum. She is dedicated to building a successful experience and education for all of her students.

Middle School Teachers (Grades 6–8)

Aneesa Adams has been teaching art and design courses since 2004. Before joining MNVA is 2010 she held a tenured position at Centennial High School in Circle Pines and taught for Minneapolis Public Schools. She holds a bachelor's degree in art education with a French minor, and a master's degree in media design and technology education. While earning her master's degree, Aneesa collaborated online with colleagues around the country, using emerging technology to create effective and enjoyable online learning environments. In addition to teaching at MNVA, she also hosts a nationwide K12 Duct Tape Art online club.

Tammy Bartz has been with Minnesota Virtual Academy since 2003. She received bachelor's degrees in elementary education and vocal/instrumental music from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, in 1994. In 2009, Tammy completed her master's degree in education, specializing in integrating technology into the classroom. Her previous experience in brick-and-mortar schools includes nine years of teaching K–12 vocal and instrumental music in Houston, Minnesota. Tammy enjoys working in the virtual setting and teaming with parents and their children.

Jason Carrier has been a teacher at MNVA since 2003. Before joining Minnesota Virtual Academy, he taught reading and was the gifted/talented coordinator at Houston Elementary School in Houston, Minnesota, for one year. Jason earned his bachelor's degree from Winona State University in 1998 and his Master of Arts in instruction from St. Mary's University of Minnesota in 2002. Jason is active in the Houston School district as junior varsity football coach, varsity boys' basketball coach, junior high baseball coach, continuing education committee member, MNVA staff development/grant committee member, district staff development committee member, and founder and coach of the "Hurricane Hoops" youth basketball program.

Kevin Condit holds a BS degree from Minnesota State University, Moorhead, with a K–12 certification. In addition, he has an MA degree in studio arts with an emphasis in graphic design from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and an MFA degree in studio arts with an emphasis in interactive design from the University of Minnesota. He has more than 10 years of teaching experience, which includes students in elementary school through university courses. Kevin has been with MNVA since 2004 and believes that MNVA is a great program that provides excellent educational opportunities for students throughout Minnesota.

Anthony DeCamillis holds a bachelor of arts in secondary social studies education from Bethel University with a minor in history. He has taught upper-level high school courses in south Florida, as well as middle-level social studies in Minnesota. Anthony completed International Baccalaureate training and taught both IB and Advanced Placement courses in History and Psychology. He began his online teaching career in the fall of 2007 with the Minnesota Center of Online Learning, teaching courses in AP U.S. History and AP Micro/Macro Economics before joining the MNVA team as a teacher for seventh- and eighth-grade students.

Deirdre Diggins began teaching Latin for MNVA in the fall of 2008. She is a graduate of Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she earned a bachelor's degree in classical languages. She earned a master's degree in classical languages from Villanova University in Villanova, Pennsylvania and has taught Latin at both the middle and high school levels for over 12 years. She has enjoyed her venture into online teaching and looks forward to imparting her love of the Latin language to students in the program. She also began a Community Service Club at MNVA and hopes to see this group grow and spread their passion to serve others throughout Minnesota.

Heidi Erickson teaches middle school math.

Kelsy Flowers graduated from the University of Wisconsin River Falls in the spring of 2009 with a double major in health and physical education. She joined MNVA-HS in the fall of 2009 as the health and physical education teacher. Kelsy has worked with students since she was in high school. Prior to joining MNVA, she worked on an elementary program with the Rochester school district. She chose to teach at MNVA-HS becasue she enjoys learning about and using technology. "Technology is what this generation grew up on and I am excited to be a part of a program that caters to this generation's needs and interests. I also enjoy wokring with middle school-aged students, and I look forward to working with all of my students on an individual basis."

Melissa Friberg joined the MNVA staff in 2007. She received her bachelor's degree in elementary education from Bemidji State Univeristy, with a middle school endorsement in science. She is currently working on her certificate in Gifted and Talented education through St. Thomas University in St. Paul. Before joining the MNVA team, Melissa was the director of the Sylvan Learning Center in Brainerd. Melissa enjoys being part of the academic team to help each student reach his/her full potential.

Sara Gibbs teaches middle school science.

Amber Hackman started at MNVA in the fall of 2014 and teaches middle school Spanish. She holds a BA in Spanish with an English minor from UW-La Crosse and a Master of Arts in Instruction from St. Mary's Univeristy of MN as well as a graduate cerificate in K-12 Reading Instruction also from St. Mary's. She started teaching in 2003 and has taught all ages from infants in daycare to undergraduate courses. She holds teaching licenses in K-12 reading and Spanish. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, cooking, reading, playing flute, and spending time with her two young boys.

Jennifer Harding teaches middle school history.

Erin Holey has been with MNVA since 2010. She has degrees in math and biology and completed the MAI program at Saint Mary's University. Erin loves the one-to-one time that she is able to give her students at MNVA and loves to get to know students and their many hobbies from all over the state!

Alicia Katka joined the MNVA staff in November of 2008. She earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education and a 5–8 math endorsement from Carthage College in Kenosha, WI. Prior to working for MNVA she taught 7th grade math for the Anoka-Hennepin school district and worked as a substitute teacher for local school districts.

Elsbeth Krumholz-Stark teaches middle school Language Arts.

Jami Kruschke was an artist for over 15 years before pursuing her BS in art education from Minnesota State University, Mankato. In her art career, Jami was involved in graphic design for over 10 years with 6 of them owning her own design company as well as owning and operating a bakery with her husband. Additional mediums she frequents are acrylic and airbrush painting, illustration, and ceramics. New mediums include sculpture and printmaking. Jami’s experience with middle school youth is found in the classroom and other extracurricular events. She has been with MNVA for four years and continues to be excited to oversee the creative process within her students.

Kristine Nitti joined MNVA as an English teacher. She is a dually-licensed teacher in English and social studies and has a master's degree in education focusing on brain-based education strategies. Kris has worked in education for many years in both faculty and administrative capacities. Her teaching experience includes four years of computer training for faculty, staff, and students at the University of St. Thomas, five years teaching middle and high school students in various subjects, and one year teaching at Globe University. Kris's academic interests include: literature, grammar, writing, world hisotry, U.S. history, cultural anthropology, sociology, psychology, and philosophy.

Alexandra Peterson teaches middle school social studies. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the Univeristy of Minnesota with a majoy in sociology: law, crime, and deviance. Alexandra then completed the graduate teaching licensure program through the College of St. Scholastica in St. Paul, focusing on social sutdies for grades 5-12. She completed her masters of education is 2012. She has worked with MNVA-HS and middle school since 2010.

Jennifer Saathoff teaches science for grades 6–8. She earned her bachelor's degree in middle school science education and elementary education from the University of St. Thomas. Her teaching career has been focused on teaching middle school science. Before joining MNVA in the fall of 2009, she taught in Bloomington and South St. Paul. Jennifer is excited to share her love of science with her students.

Dean Sonsala teaches middle school physical education.

Kathy Undeland graduated from the University of Minnesota, Duluth with a major in secondary education. Licensed to teach French and math, Kathy joined MNVA-HS in fall 2008 as MNVA's French teacher. She also has extensive experience teaching a variety of courses for grades 7–12: French I–IV, AP French, Math 7–8, Pre Algebra, Algebra I–II, Geometry, Algebra Topics, Geometry Topics, Advanced Algebra Topics, College Algebra and Trigonometry, to name just a few. She says, "I have always been interested in technology and everything it has to offer students and teachers—and in the field of education in general. I believe that technology is an extremely important method of communication between people, and that Minnesota Virtual Academy High School is a forward-looking school, making the future with technology a reality. I am so glad to be a part of this team!"

Becky Wilfahrt received her bachelor's degree in Secondary English Education along with a minor in middle school education from Minnesota State University at Mankato. She also holds a master's degree in education from St. Mary's University, MN, and a master's degree in family studies from the University of Minnesota. Becky has experience as both a student and a teacher in the online environment and thoroughly enjoys it. Before joining MNVA in 2008, Becky taught middle school and high school English in the traditional school setting for 11 years. In addition to teaching for MNVA, she also is a as an adjunct instructor for a few area universities.