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
Zach Devine (Special Education Supervisor) I grew up in Columbia, Missouri and attended college at the University of South Dakota (USD) from 1997-2003 as a collegiate swimmer. At USD I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and Special Education, and Master’s Degree in Special Education. I was a Special Education Teacher in the South Washington County Schools (District 833) from 2003-2008 and 2012-2018. In my years in District 833 I specialized teaching the sciences and math at both the middle school and high school.
During my free time I enjoy spending time with my wife, 3 children and dog. When I have a few minutes to myself I enjoy running races (5k-half marathons), wood working, anything outdoors, and coaching swimming. I joined the CRSS staff in March 2018 and I believe in the mission of the school to interact with the natural world as well as enjoy the results of the responsive classroom practices. E-mail Zach
Jessica Wiles (Kindergarten Teacher) I have been teaching Kindergarten at CRSS since 2014. 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 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 and gardening. 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 and Max 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) Hello! I have been teaching at CRSS since 2015. Teaching at CRSS has been a dream come true! I graduated from Minnesota State University Mankato in the Winter of 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. I student taught in 3rd grade here in Faribault at Roosevelt Elementary. I currently live in Owatonna, which is where I grew up. My son Miles was born in 2017 and keeps me on my toes. I enjoy going on walks, crocheting, camping and spending time with my family in my free time. I am very excited to start a new year and see what adventures it has to bring! E-mail Devon
Brianna Bauernfeind (2nd Grade Teacher) E-mail Brianna
Tess VanZuilen (3rd Grade Teacher). Hello! I have been teaching at CRSS since 2016. Teaching at CRSS has been a dream come true! I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in the spring of 2016 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education, along with certifications in Middle Childhood Education and Special Education. I student taught in preschool, kindergarten, 2nd grade and 4th grade classrooms before becoming a 3rd grade teacher. I currently live in the small town of Medford, which is where I grew up. I enjoy going on walks, photography, camping and reading in my free time. 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 snowboarding. 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 friends of CRSS, as I am embarking on the 7th year of teaching. 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 (23), who lives in Winona, my daughter Abby (21), who is a senior at St. Scholastica College, my younger daughter Jessica (19), who is a sophmore at St. Benedicts College 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 where I received my undergrad degree and Masters in Education. I lived in Minneapolis for 6 years while attending school and working but am happy to be back to a smaller town and smaller community. 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 7, 9, 13, and 15 years old. Peace! Email Angela
I grew up in the small town of Lake City, MN. During school, I participated in band, national honor society, soccer, and student council. In 2015, I graduated from Winona State University-Rochester with a degree in Elementary Education and an endorsement in Middle School Social Studies. After graduating, I spent two years teaching fifth grade language arts and social studies at Twin Bluff Middle School in Red Wing, MN. Currently, I live with my husband in Lakeville, MN. E-mail Stephanie
Cassie Spartz (6th Grade Teacher) Hello! I am excited to be entering in my first year of teaching at the Cannon River STEM School as a 6th grade teacher. This previous year I worked as a Paraprofessional at CRSS and I have enjoyed watching the students grow academically and socially. It will be a joy to watch these students continue to grow and change throughout this next school year. I am excited to learn along with my students and help them reach their goals.
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics Education in December of 2015. I am thrilled to utilize this education to bring S.T.E.M. into every content area at CRSS. My passions for mathematics have strengthened my ability to learn other core content areas and has challenged me to try my hardest at everything I do.
I have lived in Faribault most of my life and I am excited to be back to learn more about this amazing town. It has been a blessing living and working in a town that I am familiar with. Some of my favorite things are running, hiking, kayaking, dancing, and leading youth group. I try to be as active as I can, in all that I do. E-mail Cassie
I firmly believe in the Responsive Classroom approach that we use here at CRSS – it really creates a sense of community in my classroom and the school as a whole. Recognizing acts of kindness and care are important things we will exercise in the classroom, and the greater communities around us!
What I am most looking forward to this year is all the time we will get to spend outdoors! I hope to instill all five of the CRSS Values into my students: Curiosity, Perseverance, Acceptance, Responsibility, and Respect.
I graduated from the University of Minnesota – Duluth with a B.A.Sc. in Elementary/Middle School Education and a specialization in Teaching Social Studies. Before coming to CRSS, I taught for two years in Albert Lea and one year in Willmar. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, playing golf, and spending time with my family and friends. E-mail Kari
Chloe Moriarty (8th Grade Teacher) This is my fourth 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. I have a dual licensure in English Language Arts. 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 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. E-mail Chloe
Kristin Guin-Grosse (7th & 8th Grade Teacher) I am overjoyed to return to Cannon River STEM School for my second year! When planning the transition from Colorado to Minnesota in 2016, I found the Cannon River STEM School website and knew this was the place for me. I am still amazed and grateful that I landed in the perfect school for creating fantastic learning opportunities for students. I have long held a special place in my heart for working with the students in the wonderful, wacky world of adolescence. Here at Cannon River STEM School I work with 7th grade students in the Humanities.
Many moons ago, I graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in secondary social studies from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. I have taught a broad spectrum of children and adults in a wide range of subject matter – from aquatics to mathematics to English and history. I love to learn and work outdoors with students. Along with teaching, I have competed in triathlons, traveled and lived in Japan, raised three children (they’re still growing!) and run a few small businesses.
Currently, I live in Northfield, MN where you can often find me biking with my husband or kids. I also volunteer at the Northfield Historical Society as a tour guide in the museum – stop down for a tour next summer! One of my favorite ways to relax is throwing the ball for our lovable yellow lab, Clay. E-mail Kristin
Rebecca Batchelder (7th & 8th Grade Teacher) Hello! This will be my first year as a classroom teacher and I am overjoyed to begin my career at Cannon River STEM School. I graduated from Winona State University in the spring of 2017 with a degree in Elementary Education and a focus in Middle Level Mathematics. My passion for education stems equally from my lifelong love of mathematics and the outdoors as it does from an appreciation for students’ social and emotional growth that takes place in middle school.
I am originally from Faribault and am happy to be back in a town that offers so much to our students, both in our culture and in our natural backdrop. I enjoy hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, and being captivated by good books.
I am ecstatic to be at Cannon River STEM School and look forward to embarking on adventures in the classroom (both indoors and out!) with your children this year. E-mail Rebecca
Lynn Hirschey (7th & 8th Grade 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 and Math, 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. I have taught music here since 2013. I am very fortunate to be starting my teaching career somewhere I can count on my colleagues for collaboration and support. 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 live in Northfield with my wife, daughter, and cat. 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 11) and twins Thomas and Todd (age 9). 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. I am very proud to coach my children in all of their sports and activities. 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. The coding program is going really well and I’m excited to see what students will come up with this year! 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
Tiffany Wells (Art Teacher) Hello, I am very excited to be teaching art at CRSS! I currently live in Northfield; which is where I grew up. I attended Greenvale Park Elementary School, Northfield Middle School, and Northfield High School in which I graduated from in 2009. I share my home with my mother and my two cats. I adopted my cats from a humane society about four years ago. Their names are Izzy and Otto and they are siblings. I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and painting.
I attended college at St. Cloud State University and completed my Bachelors of Science in Art Education K-12 in 2013.When I was at St. Cloud State University I was fortunate to also obtain a minor in special education. I am currently attending St. Catherine University to gain my Masters in Technology Integration.
After my college graduation, I taught math for one year in Northfield and then taught K-5 art in Eagan for two years. I am overjoyed to be joining the CRSS family! E-mail Tiffany
Susan Williams (Special Education Teacher) I have lived in rural Kenyon (on 12 acres) for the past 13 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
Larry Hoffer (Special Education Teacher) I grew up on a farm in northern Illinois to parents who were both educators. I moved to Texas in the early 1980’s and attended Southwest Texas State University earning a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. After a short time as a police officer, I changed careers to education. I later attended Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas and earned a Master’s in Education with an emphasis in special education. After teaching special education in Dallas, Texas for four years I moved to Minnesota to begin teaching. I also attended Hamline University for more educational studies. I come to Cannon River Stem School after 25 years of teaching special education in Burnsville and Lakeville. E-mail Larry
Amanda Reed (Special Education Teacher/Behavior Specialist) This is my first year at CRSS, and I am excited to create and implement a Multi-Tiered System of Supports, which includes a Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support program. I look forward to working with staff and students to provide social, emotional and behavioral learning tools to help students excel in and out of the classroom.
I have taught Special Education for 11 years, and have taught in various settings. I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from the College of Saint Benedict and a Master’s in Science degree from Minnesota State University-Mankato in Special Education. Starting Spring semester, I plan to begin coursework toward a Certification in Behavioral Analysis. I grew up in New Ulm, MN and currently live in Owatonna, MN. When I am not teaching, I can usually be spotted spending time with family and friends; coaching, playing or watching a hockey game; or just relaxing at home with a good book, TV show or movie. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. E-mail Amanda
Ben Rydberg (ELL Teacher) I grew up in Lakeville, MN and was very active in endurance activities and MN History day while in school. This lead me to pursue and complete my undergraduate degree from Winona State in Social Studies Secondary Education in 2014 while coaching cross country and starting my goal of running a marathon in each state. I recently completed my endorsement to teach English Language Learners from Augsburg College in the spring of 2017 after working as a long term substitute in both Social Studies and ELL in the schools around the metro area. Through these experiences, as the ELL teacher at CRSS I am excited to be able to work in multiple grades and content areas to help students strengthen their use of both academic and social language. Outside of school you will often find me running, Nordic skiing, or watching Broncos, Vikings, and Wild games. I look forward to working in this community of learners, SKOL Vikes! E-mail Ben
Melissa Dobbs (School Social Worker) This is my second year as the School Social Worker at the CRSSl and am overjoyed to bring the social work program with me. Before coming to CRSS I have worked with adults with disabilities, adult and children’s mental health, and child protection. I am a strong advocate for children and encourage them in finding their truth. I have a undergraduate degree in Social Work and am currently finishing my graduate degree in Educational Psychology. I am licensed by the Board of Social Work as well as the Board of Education.
I currently live in Kenyon with my husband and two children. I have a son in high school and daughter in middle school. In my spare time I enjoy antiquing, gardening, cooking, and spending time with family and friends. 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. Let’s utilize our creativity to read lots of different genres and work on perseverance to prepare well for tests!
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