Presenter Bios

Heath Anderson is currently teaching English Learners at Pine Bend Elementary School in Inver Grove Heights. He has 20 years of teaching experience in the United States and three years of experience teaching inTaipei, Taiwan. He has worked with students of all proficiency levels, pre-k through high school. Heath is licensed in k-12 ESL and in 7-12 English Language Arts. Further education includes a MAEd in curriculum and instruction with a research focus onUniversal Design for Learning and Differentiation. In addition to teaching Heath is a cross country running, Nordic ski, and track coach.He is excited about helping students be their best in and out of the classroom.

Alesia Arlandson has been in education for 20 years. She is in her second year as a Secondary Instructional Coach in Lakeville Area Schools. Prior to her current role, she was a science teacher, AVID instructor, and elementary teacher. One highlight of Alesia’s was being the Future City facilitator for her middle school team. She has recently completed her Graduate Certification in Engineering Education from the University of St. Thomas. She finds value in making learning authentic for students, and engineering naturally allows for that to occur.

Pat Bethke is a former Early Childhood Instructor from Lakeville Public Schools. She has a MAEd in Instructional Leadership with research focused on Social and Emotional learning. Pat is a Certified Advanced Nurtured Heart Approach® trainer who offers seminars, coaching and workshops in the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul and regional areas. She has been a featured speaker at the NH Global Summit. Several of her classroom experiences are illustrated in Howard Glasser’s book, Notching Up the Nurtured Heart Approach: The New Inner Wealth Initiative for Educators. To learn more about the NHA and how it is being used in education, visit Pat’s website @

Kerry Beton is the District Literacy Coordinator for Farmington Public Schools. Prior to this position, she taught Language Arts/Literacy at the middle school level for over 20 years. She has a Master’s Degree in Education and a Reading Specialist certification. She is passionate about literacy and how to provide instruction that honors student agency along with teaching students to be responsible, critical readers.

Erin Griffin Boyle is a peer coach and 6th grade science teacher in Bloomington MN. She has taught either high school or middle school science for 11 years and has been a peer coach for 2 years. Her EL experience includes TEAM UP in conjunction with the University of Minnesota, being a SIOP trainer and co-teaching with an EL teacher for 5 years. She is very passionate about co-teaching having seen the benefits first hand. Erin has been presenting the benefits and how-to’s of co-teaching and EL best practice with her co-presenter at conferences and districts around the midwest.

Renee Carlson has worked in the field of education for almost 20 years. She currently serves as the Associate Principal at Turtle Lake Elementary, which is part of the Mounds View School District. Previously, Renee worked for the South St. Paul Public Schools as an Evaluation Coordinator, Interim Administrator and Elementary Assistant Principal. Prior to going into administration, she was a first and fourth grade teacher at Parkview Elementary in District 196. Renee is passionate about providing strategy-driven professional development that equips and empowers her learners. In addition to presenting at SORLA, Renee offers customized staff development on effectively working and collaborating with parents for Minnesota School Districts.

Jackie Christensen teaches K-12 EL for Spencer Schools in Iowa. She teaches, oversees curriculum, and is the secondary co-teaching strategist. Jackie previously co-taught 6th grade science in Bloomington, MN. She is passionate about co-teaching and enjoys sharing its importance with teachers. Jackie has a Master’s in Education from the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Stephanie Clark has over 30 years of classroom experience in the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale school district from which she has recently retired. She has taught in the elementary classroom, as well as, gifted and talented youth through the district’s SAIL program and facilitating Young Scholars groups. She has a Master’s Degree in gifted and talented education and a Doctorate in Critical Pedagogy. Stephanie has facilitated many district continuing education classes through AFT’s ER&D (Educational Research and Dissemination) program. She has also presented at local, state and national conventions. Stephanie has a passion for social justice work and searching out practical strategies to support all learners.

Marty Conaty MSEd has a thirty-five-year history of providing education and training in a variety of public, private and care and treatment settings K-Adult. Marty/s graduate work focused on increasing resiliency and empowering youth toward self-control and self-determination which she has continued throughout her career. Marty has provided collaborative education services with mental health and community support agencies for students experiencing a high level of adversity in their lives and has worked tirelessly to coordinate various educational and brain-based philosophies and strategies to improve student achievement and relational competency. She currently provides consultation to area schools, families and children in the areas of behavior, self-regulation, restorative justice, trauma-sensitive classroom strategies, ASD and ADHD interventions and strategies. She is a member of the National Council for Social Studies, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development(ASCD) and the Counsel for Exceptional Children as well as local and national education associations.

Catherine Cranston is currently a fourth grade teacher in N.St. Paul, MN. Her experience includes 30 years of teaching grades 2-8 both in urban and rural districts. Her journey to being a Restorative Practices trainer started over a decade ago with the St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program where she facilitated circles and community Victim Empathy seminars. During the last decade she has trained teachers, administrators and behavior specialists in Restorative Language, Restorative Chats, and Restorative Community/School Circles. Catherine earned her Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education from Minnesota State University and her Masters in Educational Leadership from St. Mary’s University.

Lisa Edwards is currently the Director of Continuous Improvement for Farmington Area Schools. She oversees all the student programming in the district, with focus on student supports and interventions in literacy. She has served as an elementary principal in multiple districts, as well as a teacher in 3rd Grade and Kindergarten. She is passionate about literacy and helping all students achieve success through personalization.

Peter Fleenor is currently a Technology Integrationist for Farmington Area Schools. Pete has taught for the last 15 years, 12 in Middle School Social Studies and 3 as a Tech Integrationist and he firmly believes in the transformative power of technology when put in the hands of students and teachers. Recently Pete has been working to integrate game based learning into classrooms and also to pioneer personalized student learning opportunities from Kindergarten through High School. Personally, Pete enjoys playing board games and video games with family and friends, continually surprising himself with how increasingly nerdy he gets.

Beth Flottmeier is currently a literacy coach at Oak Grove Elementary in the Bloomington School District. Her previous work includes elementary curriculum coordinator, media director, and grade one and two classroom teacher. In addition to her reading license, Beth also has earned an Educational Specialist degree with administration licensure. She enjoys working with students and teachers to inspire their love of reading and learning. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her two children, reading, gardening and spending time with extended family.

Jean Grech is a retired elementary teacher with 40 years experience in grades 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6. She spent the last 16 years of her career delving into brain research which led her to interest in movement and its impact on students’ learning and performance. While studying to become a Brain Gym® instructor, she became interested in neurodevelopmental movement after studying with Svetlana Masgutova. She has had training in the S.M.A.R.T. program, Ready Bodies - Learning Minds by Athena Oden, Rhythmic Movement by Harald Blomberg, and Bal-A-Vis-X by Bill Hubbert. As she has continued to study, she has learned about the critical role movement plays in the developmental stages of infants and preschool children. She looks forward to sharing what she as learned and to providing insights into challenges many of today&rsquos children experience in school.

Louise Griffith, an internationally-recognized speaker, certified success coach, and former psychologist and classroom teacher, helps individuals get clear about what they want - and then achieve it. Under her spirited and practical guidance, they learn how to access their power, eliminate self-defeating behaviors, build on their strengths and tap into their passion. Louise challenges individuals to explore how their thoughts impact their actions. The result? Better choices, improved communications, richer relationships, life-changing insights and increased success. Her clients include individuals, educational institutions, associations and companies who want MORE! Her new book and accompanying journal, “You Are Worth It: 52 Weeks to Honoring, Loving and Nurturing Your Soul” are now in their fifth printing.

Molly Hammel is currently the Gifted Services Coordinator for Lakeville Public Schools and has been working in education for 16 years. She has taught elementary general education as well as self-contained gifted classrooms, in 2nd, 3rd, and 6th grades. Molly served for nine years as a gifted specialist/coach, supporting teachers through co-planning, co-teaching, modeling, and small group instruction. Ms. Hammel has her Master’s Degree from the University of Virginia, and her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois. She is passionate about differentiated instruction, as well as offering consistent critical and creative thinking opportunities to all students, K-12.

Kaetchen Haugen is currently a first grade teacher and Equity Coach in ISD 194. She began her teaching career in Oakland, CA after receiving her Master’s in Education with an Emphasis in Teaching from Mills College School of Education. Her love of teaching began a few years prior to that when she worked for Education Moving Forward, a nonprofit based in Oakland. Both these experiences as well as the wonderful colleagues she has had the privilege of working with have inspired a deep passion for equity work and teaching as an act of social justice. She spends her spare time with her two dogs, and she loves to cook for family and friends.

Bob Hazen has done a lot of things with math education, from early and upper elementary to middle school, high school, adult education, teacher training and staff development. He taught secondary math at Mounds View High School (1999-2015) and in St. Paul Public Schools (1988-1999). He was also lead teacher of a pilot project using algebra, calculus, music, and manipulatives to teach first grade math to two classes of regular students in a traditional school setting. End-of-year test scores showed students at grade level - but the tests didn’t show that most of the first graders had figured out basic multiplication and also knew how to perform algebraic factoring of quadratic expressions. Bob also founded SAI: the Summer Algebra Institute for Kids ( in 1995 as a math enrichment program using algebra to get young kids turned on to math. Almost 3,800 students as young as 3rd grade and of varying academic abilities have learned substantive, memorable algebra in SAI, while also acquiring a deeper grasp of arithmetic. At Augsburg College, Bob taught elementary math methods to pre-service teachers. He is passionate about training K-6 teachers how to deepen elementary math to better prepare students for an eventual Algebra-1 course down the mathematical road. His focus is on using broad, practical, kid-tested, teacher-friendly principles that reveal the unity and structures of math across grades and across topics. He has had frequent invitations to speak at regional NCTM conferences and state MCTM conferences. You can contact Bob at 651-645-4432 or

Elida Kane is currently the Secondary Director of Teaching & Learning for Lakeville Area Schools and has been working in education for 14 years. She has taught grades 3 through 6 in both urban and suburban settings. Ms. Kane has her Master’s Degree from Hamline University has completed her PK-12 Administrative License from the University of Minnesota, and adjuncts at Hamline University in the Master’s of Art in Education and K-12 Reading Licensure programs. She is passionate about standards based learning and teaching, and is passionate about ensuring high levels of learning for all students.

Kate Kienow is the Talent Development Facilitator for New Prague Area Schools and is in her fourteenth year of teaching. As Talent Development Facilitator, she serves students and teachers in a variety of different ways such as direct instruction of the Primary Education Thinking Skills curriculum to students K-2, providing coaching and professional development in differentiation and enrichment, promoting appropriate challenge and enrichment opportunities for all students, and supporting parents with resources to support their unique child. Kate has also taught Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade as well as served as an interventionist in both reading and math K-5. Kate received her K-12 Principal Licence and Master of Arts in Education from Hamline University and her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Gustavus Adolphus College. Her Master’s research focus was on building number sense in primary students and this topic has continued to be a passion.

Michelle Lange is an Elementary level Instructional and TDE Coach in Lakeville Area Schools. Prior to being a coach, she taught first grade at Eastview Elementary School for over 20 years. Her BA in education came from Gustavus Adolphus College and because she loves learning she went on to obtain her master’s degree from Saint Mary’s University. Michelle is a wife, a mom of two adult boys, and a dog mom too. She is an avid reader and loves to share ideas by collaborating with her colleagues.

Andy Larson is a 3rd grade teacher in Hastings Public Schools. He has a Master’s Degree in Teaching and Learning with a focus on reading instruction for young boys. He tries new ways to integrate iPads into his classroom every year, despite having a limited number of devices. The last two years, he has been the gifted cluster teacher for his grade level. He works as an adjunct instructor for Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and he has presented at TIES iPadPalooza. He believes that student engagement is the key to student success, and he works hard to get all of his students on board each day.

Cindy Litfin : After forty-two years of teaching I found myself excited and ready for a different career focus. My passion for lifelong learning and delivering professional development opportunities to my colleagues, began fifteen years ago when I became an American Federation of Teachers Professional Development trainer. Teachers training teachers is an effective delivery system which sparks authentic learning and professional sharing experiences. Being an active member, of one of the largest unions in the state, continues to give me the opportunity to serve fellow educators and sustain the feeling of belonging to something very special.

Caroline Little is the Director of Instructional Technology at Inver Grove Heights Schools. Before she started working in Inver Grove Heights in 2016, Caroline worked for TIES in the TIESed department focusing on professional development for educators around effective use and integration of digital tools. In addition, she has worked as an elementary classroom teacher, a technology coordinator, and middle school principal. Caroline is known for creating a positive and constructive learning environment focused on individualized learning that recognizes and values diversity. She loves working with educators and helping individuals grow in their use of all types of digital tools.

Jennifer Malecha is the media director at Valley View Elementary in Bloomington. She has previously worked as a middle school reading specialist and curriculum coordinator for Bloomington Public Schools. She earned her Master’s degree and reading specialist license from the University of Minnesota. Books of all kinds are her passion and you will never find her anywhere without one.

Rachel McLaughlin is the Gifted & Talented Services Coordinator for Inver Grove Heights school district. Previously, she taught 2nd grade in the Atheneum Gifted Magnet Program at Salem Hills Elementary. She enjoys trying out new strategies and ideas, and strives to make learning relevant and engaging for students.

Joe Melde has been teaching 3rd grade at Salem Hills Elementary in Inver Grove Heights for 21 years. He is a 2011 Ties Exceptional Teacher award winner. Joe enjoys finding ways to redefine how a classroom works with technology. Joe has a specific interest in using iPads in the classroom. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his family, golfing and watching and playing sports.

Dr. Charlene Myklebust, Psy.D. is President and Educational Leadership Consultant with Professional Education Pal, LLC. She was a regular and special education teacher, public school administrator, mental and chemical health provider, and Executive Director of Mental Health and Partnerships in Intermediate District 287 in the Minneapolis area. Char co-authored the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) teacher training series, "Early Warning Signs of Children’s Mental Health Disorders." She was recognized for "Outstanding Service" by the the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health (MACMH) and received the "Educator of the Year” award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-MN). As a Goldie Hawn Foundation regional consultant, she contributed to the development of Mind UP, a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum for children and adolescents published by Scholastic. She also oversees a grant through the Minnesota Department of Human Services, “The Minnesota School-based Diversion Model for Students with Co-occurring Disorders.” This program is designed to dramatically reduce student contact with law enforcement officers during the school day Dr. Myklebust, on behalf of MACMH and MDE, has developed a tiered intervention model for supporting youth with mental health disorders in the schools. Char speaks at national and Canadian conferences about topics related to children’s mental health; mindful education; brain development; trauma; positive psychology; restorative practices; Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs); social emotional learning; and alternatives to using exclusionary practices with youth.

Lee Nelson: Set free from a family of accountants, Lee began his elementary teaching career in 1997. He holds an Ed Tech Master’s degree and perennially looks for new ways to integrate best practices in teaching with technology. He is currently a Technology Integrationist in Bloomington. He has a long history as a classroom teacher who comes alongside others who seek to move further along the technology continuum. Lee is a Google Certified Educator - Level 1 and a Seesaw Ambassador. (Addressing him as “Ambassador Nelson” makes him feel uncomfortable, so please just call him Lee.) He enjoys family time, the outdoors, juggling and finding the balance between the benefits of a "tuned-in" world and the joys of just unplugging.

Jodi Prchal has a passion and love for all things STEM! She has taught 1st, 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th Grade, is the New Prague District Science Fair Coordinator for the elementary, middle and high schools and is the past director of the New Prague Camp Invention program. She incorporates hands on learning in her classroom, especially in the area of science and engineering and enjoys incorporating reading lessons and books into the lessons as well. She utilizes the outdoors for lessons as well as Responsive Classroom for Morning Meetings. Her children have been involved in 4H, robotics, Supermileage Car Challenge, Science Fair and the Rube Goldberg Challenge and are currently pursuing college degrees in the engineering field. She was honored to be selected as a WEM/Synergy Leadership Academic Coach of the Year in 2017 and a Fox 9 Top Teacher.

Laura Ramsborg is a Literacy Coach at Valley View Elementary School in Bloomington and an Adjunct Instructor in the Education department at St. Catherine University. Prior to her coaching role, Laura taught 7th grade reading and was a building literacy lead for several years. She has a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Hamline University; a K-12 reading license; and a 5-12 Communication Arts & Literature license. Laura has presented at the TIES Technology Conference and Hamline Summer Literacy Institute; she is also a regular contributor to Minnesota Parent magazine. Laura has a passion for education, literacy, and developing life-long readers. Follow her on Twitter @RamsborgWrites.

Stevie Ray has been a nationally recognized speaker and trainer for over 25 years, helping Fortune 500 companies and small organizations alike improve communication skills, teamwork, innovative thinking, leadership, and customer service. He has been a professional entertainer since his first comedy show at the age of nine. He is the Executive Director of Stevie Ray’s Improv Company in Minneapolis, a company that has provided training and entertainment since 1989. Stevie is a professional member of the National Speakers Association. He is also a nationally syndicated columnist for the Business Journal Newspapers and is the author of nine books. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and step-daughter. He learned his quick-thinking skills trying to win debates with them. It has yet to work.

Jessica Rosenberg is the ‘purveyor of the oxygen cocktail’! She is committed to helping students transform and live free from stress and anxiety. Author, educator and well-BE-ing teacher, her work empowers and inspires students to find joy and freedom from fear. For over 20 years, Jes has been offering people accessible tools to create balance from the inside out. Her passion for mindfulness, meditation, and movement has allowed her to cultivate a uniquely blended teaching style to find awareness and alignment on and off the yoga mat. An artist, a voracious reader, Jes has a ‘Live to Learn’ sunny, soulful, bohemian vibe. She loves to take walks around the lakes with friends. Her guilty pleasure is to rock-out singing 80’s Rock & Roll in the car. She finds teaching inspirational and is motivated by the Dalai Lama XIV quote, “As you breathe in, cherish yourself. As you breathe out, cherish all Beings.” Jes’s talents have been recognized in numerous national and international print and online publications including Yoga Journal. Download the ‘Super Stretch Yoga’ app on iTunes and Google Play that was created from her years of teaching The Adventures of Super Stretch™ Mindfulness & Yoga Fitness Program for Children and her Strong Spirits Chair Yoga™ Book researched by the Earl E. Bakken University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality & Healing. In addition to podcasting and public teaching, Jes brings mindfulness, breathwork and yoga practices to public schools and underserved populations.
Credentials: YACEP, E/RYT500, RYS200/500, Reiki Master, BFA, MID

Colette Ryan has been an occupational therapist in Inver Grove Heights Schools for 32 years. Prior to this she worked in a Birth to 4 program for 6 years. She has her Masters in Developmental Disabilities and an Autism Certificate….and lots of experience with behavior and self- regulation. She works with preschoolers through 5th grade; working with special educators, regular education teachers, paraprofessionals, parents and daycare providers. Teamwork, problem solving, collaboration and being creative are very important as we look at the whole child.

Diann Selin is a 1st grade teacher who has taught kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades at Christina Huddleston Elementary School in Lakeville for 26 years. She has observed tremendous growth in students when able to loop with the same students from 1st to 2nd grade. She has a Master’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in music. Diann is trained in the Orton-Gillingham kinesthetic approach to teaching reading and writing and has been using that method in the classroom and in. She incorporates this multi-sensory method into all aspects of her teaching to support authentic hands-on learning in her students.

Hayley Smith, Community Health Educator - Hayley joined NAMI Minnesota in 2017 to work on suicide prevention and health and wellness programs, largely in the area of smoking cessation for people living with a mental illness. Prior to working at NAMI, Hayley worked for the Marathon County Health Department , where she focused on tobacco prevention and control and community outreach. She also spent time educating professionals who work with adolescents on the Campaign to Change Direction’s Five Signs of Emotional Suffering. Hayley Graduated from the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse with a degree in Public Health and Community Health Education.

Katherine Snyder is the district wide Behavior Intervention Specialist for Inver Grove Community Schools. She has worked as an Emotional/Behavioral Disorder (E/BD) teacher for nearly 10 years. Previously, she led a self-contained E/BD program with kids K-5th grade. While she has experience in restructuring E/BD programs to incorporate social skill instruction alongside academic instruction, she has led professional development opportunities for her colleagues. As a facilitator, she has focused on best practices around trauma, intervention, responsive classrooms, and other mental health and behavior needs to better prepare other educators to support their students. Katherine earned her master’s degree in emotional behavioral disorders and works with students and staff throughout K-9th grade in her current position.

Kristina Streng is currently a middle school EL teacher in the Osseo Area Schools District. She has taught EL students from kindergarten up through high school. She also has her Masters of Arts in Literacy Education and is trained in ENVoY, WIDA CLIMBS, and SIOP. With her EL and reading licenses, she encourages and challenges her students to expand their knowledge through literacy and language.

Anne Wenisch spent the first twelve years of her career as a fifth and sixth grade classroom teacher. For the last twelve years, she has been a Reading Specialist in the South Washington County School District. Her role entails that of literacy coach, Reading Recovery teacher to first grade students, and literacy staff developer to numerous teachers across her district as well as in other Minnesota school districts. In 2013, she was awarded the Education All Star award in her district, an award voted on by peers and given as a result of dedication to her work. The award meant a great deal to Anne who believes she is simply lucky to work in a field that allows her to make a difference in so many lives.

Rick Yonker is currently the Science & Technology Specialist for the Farmington School District. He leads and facilitates the planning, implementation, and support of science and technology for learning and instruction. He also collaborates with staff and students to plan, model and integrate technology into the educational process. Rick is passionate about empowering teachers to go deeper using inquiry and personalized learning with their students. He has worked in this district for 12 years; 10 of these years as a Biology teacher at Farmington High School. Outside of school He loves to ride motorcycles, longboard and carve spoons out of wood.

Melissa Zey has 19 years teaching experience in Farmington Public Schools. She is currently teaching 4th grade literacy half time and spends the other half of the day as her building’s Facilitator of Instructional Support. She has taught grades 3-5, serves as an active member of the district literacy team and has a Master’s Degree in Education. Literacy is her passion, and she believes it is the essential tool for students to share their stories and connect with the world around them!

SORLA Sponsoring Districts:
All Saints Catholic School/Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis, Bloomington, Farmington, Lakeville, New Prague, Shakopee

©2019 South of the River Learning Academy. All rights reserved.