Meet Our Staff
Background: From 2001 to 2009, I served as the Executive Director of River Bend Nature Center in Faribault. Before my tenure at River Bend, I had a long association with the School Nature Area Project at St. Olaf College, starting as a regional coordinator in 1992 and taking over as Executive Director in 2000. I believe in being involved in my community serving on the boards of numerous organizations, including the Cannon River Watershed Partnership, the Rice County Historical Society, the Minnesota Environmental Education Advisory Task Force, and the Minnesota Association for Environmental Education. From 1997 to 2006, I also served as a regional editor for Green Teacher Magazine. I have a BA in Biology from St. Olaf College and a MS from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in Natural Resource Management Specializing in Environmental Education. E-mail Nalani
Cheryl Wendt (Assistant Director & Special Education Director) I grew up in Orono, Minnesota and have lived in various suburbs of the Twin Cities all of my life. I started my career as a school social worker in the Prior Lake-Savage school district, and joined the fabulous staff at CRSS in August of 2014. I have worked in the field of special education for 20 years, and enjoy helping students reach their full potential. I live in the Faribault community with my husband and 2 children.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I love to build a strong home-school connection. E-mail Cheryl
Cora Packard (Teaching & Learning Coordinator) E-mail Cora
Jessica Wiles (Kindergarten Teacher) This is my second year teaching Kindergarten at CRSS. I have a Bachelor of Science in elementary education, early childhood education, early childhood special education, and reading from Drake University. Prior to coming to CRSS I taught in various Head Start programs for several years.
I grew up and currently live in Northfield. I have 3 dogs (Milo, Mia, and Hova). We love exploring Carleton, St. Olaf, River Bend and Lake Byllesby. I also enjoy biking, 4 wheeling, Zumba, cooking, and I am an avid reader! E-mail Jessica
Lauren Girard (Kindergarten Teacher). I have been teaching at Cannon River STEM School since 2010. I am a graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato, and have a degree in Elementary Education with a Middle School Specialty in Science. Each year I hope to engage students in exploring science through all of the senses, learning math through real world experiences, reading by learning with the whole body, and working together as a team.
I grew up in Savage, MN, and am currently living in Northfield with my Husband and infant daughter. I am an avid swimmer, biker, and runner and have completed many triathlons. I enjoy everything that has to do with nature and the outdoors. I canoe, fish, swim, and hike in Northern Minnesota where I have spent many summers. I am excited to bring my love of nature and the outdoors to my classroom and excite my students with everything that can be learned right in the backyard of CRSS. E-mail Lauren
Terra Haugen (1st Grade Teacher) . I have been teaching at Cannon River STEM School since 2014. I taught Pre-school for many years, as well. I graduated from Winona State University with a degree in Elementary Education as well as Early Childhood Education. I believe parents and caregivers are a child’s number one teacher and I am here to help support. My dream as a teacher is for every student to become the best reader they can be.
I live in Kenyon with my husband Aaron, our three daughters (Audrey, Stella and Gretta) and our black lab, Diesel. I enjoy hiking at different nature centers. E-mail Terra
Melanie Donley (1st Grade Teacher) I am thrilled to be returning to Cannon River STEM School for another year of learning adventures. I have been at CRSS since 2014 and I am honored to be working with your children. I graduated from St. Cloud State University with an Elementary Education degree. I just returned to the work force full time in 2013. Prior to that my main job title has been “Mom” for the past 18 years.
I live in Burnsville with my husband Scott. I have two grown children, Emma (20) and Max (19) who are both full time college students. I enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors running, camping and hiking. I also love reading and spending quiet nights at home on the deck.
I look forward to sharing my love of adventure and learning with your children. E-mail Melanie
Devon Wolters (2nd Grade Teacher) E-mail Devon
(2nd Grade Teacher)
Tess VanZuilen (3rd Grade Teacher). E-mail Tess
Stacey Sandler (3rd Grade Teacher) Hello! I have been teaching third grade at Cannon River STEM School since 2012. Teaching at CRSS is a dream come true! I graduated cum laude from St. Catherine University in the spring of 2012 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education K-6, along with a preprimary endorsement and STEM certificate. Before going back to college to get my teaching degree, I had an 18-year career as a legal assistant.
I live in Northfield with my two children Wyatt and Willow. We also have a four-legged friend named Stella and six chickens. Our favorite place to be is outdoors biking, camping, canoeing, hiking, and fishing. I look forward to sharing my love and respect for the outdoors with the kids at Cannon River STEM School! E-mail Stacey
Sheila Sawyer (4th Grade Teacher) Hello to you, my new friends of CRSS. I am very excited to be teaching fourth grade at this amazing school! Mankato State University is where I earned my Elementary Education teaching degree. Previously, I taught 3rd, 4th and 5th grade in a small school in Owatonna for four years. I love teaching and experiencing the world with my students. My favorite time of the day is when all of us join together and dive into a book to embark on a new adventure.
I live in Owatonna with my husband Dan, my son Devin (21), my daughter Abby (19), my younger daughter Jessica (16) and our dog Yuki. We love to go camping, especially in the state parks of Minnesota. I also love to read, go to movies and hang out with my family. E-mail Sheila
I grew up in the communities neighboring Faribault, Kenyon and Northfield. I went to school at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities with a major in Foundations of Elementary Education. I lived in Minneapolis for 6 years while attending school and working. Moving back to my (smaller) hometown was refreshing but I still enjoy spending my time in the cities, experiencing the culture and entertainment of city life. In the winter, I enjoy reading and writing. In the summer I love to be outside as much as possible, enjoying Minnesota weather and Minnesota lakes. I love anything on the water!
I’m happy to be a part of the CRSS family and look forward to getting to know all the people and places that make up our great community. E-mail Madi
I strongly believe in the Responsive Classroom approach that we use here at CRSS and encourage my students to help create a caring community of learners and friends. We also work hard at leading by example and one way we do that is to not only notice acts of kindness, but to participate in spreading peace to those in our school as well as our communities!
Academically, we have fun focusing on erosion, engineering and new geometry concepts! We learn using many resources including manipulatives, computers, and of course, the outdoors. I hope to instill a love of learning and curiosity in my students that will elicit critical and creative thinking.
I graduated from St. Catherine University with a B.S. in Elementary Education and a concentration in pre-primary. Prior to finishing my degree, I was a special education paraprofessional for 10 years. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, riding my bike, playing volleyball and spending time with my four nieces who are 5, 7, 11 and 13 years old. Peace! Email Angela
Caitlin Robertson (5th Grade Teacher) I am really happy to be teaching at Cannon River Stem School, and am particularly interested in our school’s focus on Environmental Education. One of my favorite parts about being a teacher here is exploring the many hiking trails our campus has to offer. In my spare time, I love to write, read, garden, hike and camp, and play music and spend time with my family. E-mail Caitlin
Tanner Walters (6th Grade Teacher) I am so excited to be teaching 6th grade again this year at Cannon River STEM School. I graduated with a masters from the University of Minnesota and I have spent two years working in a Special Education setting. I also taught 5th and 3rd grade in St. Paul during my student teaching experience.
6th grade is an exciting year to build upon the educational foundations students have constructed since Kindergarten. It is a time for major social and intellectual growth. They will become great conceptual things and problem solvers. Mrs. Penning and I are thrilled to be a part of your child’s learning and support them throughout their journey.
I currently live in Lakeville with my wife, Mallori, and my dog, Bella. We enjoy swimming, traveling, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends. E-mail Tanner
Kim Penning (6th Grade Teacher) E-mail Kim
Chloe Moriarty An abundance of good fortune has led me to my third year of teaching at Cannon River STEM School, where I am truly blessed to be able to work with such dedicated staff and amazing families! Middle school grades are full of growth and challenges and I love helping my students find confidence and pride in their ever expanding abilities.
I attended the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities between 2008 and 2013 where I earned an undergraduate degree in Gender Studies and a Masters of Education in 5-12 Social Studies, both with honors. This summer I had the opportunity to earn my 5-8 English license, as well. I love sharing my passion for history and world geography with students and enjoy the harmony of our interdisciplinary approach to English and Social Studies.
I live with my husband, two guinea pigs, veiled chameleon, and two Ragdoll cats in Faribault. In my free time I love to camp and canoe, antique, and read. I also play violin for the local Cannon Valley Regional Orchestra and devote a portion of my time to teaching kids to play violin and viola. (7th & 8th Grade Humanities Teacher) E-mail Chloe
Kristin Guin-Grosse (7th Grade Teacher) E-mail Kristin
Lynn Hirschey (7th & 8th Grade STEM Teacher) Hello, I am so happy to be at the CRSS Middle School. I teach PreAlgebra, Algebra, Life Science and Earth Science. It is a wonderful experience to teach within the environment. Here, I can share my love of the Life and Earth Sciences through real-world activities to our ever transitioning 7th and 8th graders. Math is also a love of mine and I teach it here as well.
I taught Special Education at Kenyon Middle School/High School for 10 years but with Degrees in Animal Science-Research, Elementary Ed., and Middle School Science, as well as, Special Ed., the Cannon River STEM School was so appealing, I gladly joined the staff.
I live on a hobby farm close to Nerstrand and the Big Woods State Park. My many pets, including 3 dogs as constant companions, keep me busy. I enjoy gardening and canning, helping my farming neighbors, and volunteering. I also enjoy an occasional video game with my two grown sons. E-mail Lynn
Michael Berger (Music Teacher) I grew up in southeastern Wisconsin. I have played the trumpet for more than twenty years. I came to Minnesota in 2000 to study psychology at Carleton College. Since I graduated in 2004, I have worked as an educational assistant and in school-aged care. I finished a Master of Arts in Teaching degree at the University of Saint Thomas with a license in instrumental music in 2012. In my spare time, I rehearse and perform with the Cannon Valley Regional Orchestra (cvrorchestra.org) and I play strategic board and card games. I am very fortunate to be starting my teaching career here at the Cannon River STEM School where I can count on my colleagues for collaboration and support. E-mail Michael
Steve LeDuc (Physical Education – Health) I grew up in Oakdale Minnesota and live in Farmington, MN. with my wife Linda and three children, Lara (age 9) and Thomas and Todd (age 7). I earned my teaching degree in physical education and health education from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. I enjoy teaching and coaching. I like taking in football, baseball and basketball games with my family and like to play many varieties of sports as well as spending time with all of my family. E-mail Steve
Jason Soltis (Coding Teacher) Hello, I am thrilled to be teaching here at Cannon River STEM School. Prior to becoming a teacher I was a computer programmer for nine years. I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Bemidji State University and recently moved to Northfield to be closer to my wife’s family. I am so excited about getting to share my love of math, science and engineering with the students in my class. I feel honored to have been given the opportunity to work with the students here at CRSS.
When I’m not teaching I spend my time camping, going to car shows and spending time with my four young children. E-mail Jason
Susan Williams (Special Education Teacher) I have lived in rural Kenyon (on 12 acres) for the past 12 years and love it! I grew up on a small farm in Michigan as well as having spent summers in the Traverse City area of Michigan picking cherries and exploring the woods as we were part of the state forest. I also spent a couple of years living in Rhode Island during my high school years. Currently, I share my home with my husband, a foster adult, a dog and two cats. I have three grown children who live in the Twin Cities area. I enjoy spending time with family and friends as well as gardening, reading and enjoying the outdoors.
I attended college at Michigan State University and completed my Elementary Education at Crown College here in Minnesota. I completed my special education licensure(s) at Mankato State University. I have enjoyed spending many years working in public, private and charter school in Minnesota. I like to help students grow as a whole person which includes helping them to understand how they learn best and to be an advocate for themselves. E-mail Susan
Melissa Dobbs (School Social Worker) E-mail Melissa
Delica Caldwell (Middle School Reading Specialist) Coming from eight years of teaching older students who maybe did not want to be at school, to teaching here at CRSS, has rejuvenated me as a learner and as an educator. Middle Schoolers hold onto your seats, this TEAM of M. S. teachers will be taking you on a wild ride!
My husband, Scott, my daughter, Katja, my son, Bartholomew, and myself all have shining examples of how much we value education proudly displayed on the “college diploma wall” at our home. I hope to inspire my students here at CRSS to set a goal of college too.
I get students to read, “What’s Your Super Power?” E-mail Delica
Marcy Goss (Title I Teacher) As the Title 1 Teacher at CRSS I get to spend time reading great books with students who are eager to read. Watching them develop their reading skills, and build confidence as readers, is both exciting and rewarding.
I received a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a specialty in Communication Arts and Literature from Bemidji State University. Before joining the CRSS team I was a substitute teacher while raising 4 children.
I currently live in Northfield. My free time is spent reading good books, playing with my grandchildren, walking, biking, and getting together with friends. E-mail Marcy
Damian Baum (Information Technology Coordinator) E-mail Damian
Ashley Ringlien (Office Manager) E-mail Ashley
Karen Savig (Health Aide) E-mail Karen
Margie Wesling (Receptionist/Administrative Assistant) E-mail Margie
Kasey David (Meal Programs Coordinator) E-mail Kasey