Presenter Bios

Heath Anderson is currently teaching English Learners at Pine Bend Elementary School in Inver Grove Heights. He has 19 years of teaching experience in the United States and three years of experience teaching in Taipei, 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 on Universal Design for Learning and Differentiation. He is excited about helping students and teachers add to their current understandings.

Doneva Batty is a 6th English Language Teacher in Bloomington MN as well as the Lead for the Middle School EL Department. She has taught EL students of each grade K-12. She has also co-taught in the content areas of Language Arts, Writing, Math, Science, and Social Studies at both the elementary and middle school level. Her experience includes being a SIOP trainer within a two-year training program for elementary, conducting staff-development sessions on EL strategies and best practice, and co-teaching with many content teachers for the last 10 years. Doneva has recently presented on co-teaching with her co-presenters at conferences in Minnesota and Iowa.

Rick Bell is an Assistant Principal, former Elementary Teacher and former Technology Integration Specialist at New Prague Area Schools. He is passionate about technology integration and is always searching for ways to enhance student learning with technology. Rick has a total of 12 years of classroom experience in 4th and 5th grades. He is married to Heidi and lives in New Prague with his three children Aidan (11), Sophia (8) and Ava (6). Rick loves spending time with his wife and children, as well as playing baseball and fishing and going for walks. He also coaches high school baseball and youth football.

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. She presents seminars and workshops in the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul and regional area, and 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 enables students to be innovators, critical thinkers and thriving learners.

Charlie Black has been a school counselor at Hastings Middle School in Hastings, MN since 2004. He is passionate about educating people about mental illness and reducing the stigma surrounding it. He has implemented the Signs of Suicide (SOS) – Suicide Prevention curriculum with 7th graders along with utilizing the depressions screener that accompanies it. Charlie has worked with his colleagues to utilize some creative strategies for bullying prevention and effective responses to support the victims and the students doing the bullying.

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 before becoming a peer coach this year. 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 the last 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-presenters at conferences and districts around the Midwest.

Brianna Buck is a Digital Learning Coach for the Shakopee Public Schools. She has previously worked as an Elementary Technology Specialist, Middle School Teacher and Digital Learning Specialist. In Shakopee, she assists her teachers and students with their district-wide personalized learning program. She has a passion for staff development, creating with iPads and presenting to others. As an Apple Distinguished Educator, Brianna enjoys sharing her love of technology with others and seeing the excitement of teachers and students when they have a great idea!

Renee Carlson has worked in the field of education for over 18 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 Spencer, IA. She teaches all grade levels, oversees the curriculum, and co-teaches 9th grade physical science. Jackie previously taught 6th grade EL at Valley View Middle School in Bloomington, MN, where she co-taught 6th grade science and implemented many modifications and supports for other curriculum. She is passionate about co-teaching and has enjoyed sharing its importance with teachers throughout Minnesota and Iowa. Jackie obtained a Master's in Education through the Second Languages and Cultures program at the University of Minnesota.

Sherri Citterman has over 20 years experience in the early childhood field. She has been in Early Childhood Special Education for the majority of those years. She has worked both in self-contained classrooms as well as well inclusive classrooms. She is trained in The Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children and the S.M.A.R.T. (Stimulating Maturity Through Accelerated Reading Training) strategies. She has applied these strategies along with others to create a learning environment that helps all students become successful in the preschool classroom.

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.

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.

Gary Eustice is a licensed psychologist with 40 yrs. experience working with trauma survivors. Gary has also been an adjunct professor of psychology for Bemidji State University for the past 20 yrs. He has crisscrossed the state passionately passing on the message of Trauma Informed Care. He is Socratic in his teaching approach with a great propensity to follow his Irish heritage and use stories to bring his lessons home.

Peter Fleenor has been a Technology Integrationist for Farmington Area Schools in Farmington, MN, supporting our district’s use of 1:1 iPads all the way from Kindergarten to Seniors. Before then I spent 13 years teaching Social Studies in Middle Schools in Minnesota, Arizona, and Kentucky in a variety of schools and settings. I have always loved using technology and games to augment the learning in my classroom. I’m currently working on my own tabletop game with my brother who lives in Hawaii and hope to continue to develop and build games for fun and for learning. When I get the opportunity, between teaching and my 2 children, I love to play games and support a great cause at the same time through the Extra Life Charity(

Amy Faust Fraser is currently a Professional Development Specialist at WIDA offering learning opportunities to educators across the country. She has 20 years of experience in a wide variety of teaching and learning environments including elementary classroom teacher, ESL teacher, Reading Recovery teacher, Literacy Coach and RtI Coordinator. She holds a master’s degree in reading and language arts in addition to a reading specialist license and CLAD (Cross-cultural Language and Academic Development) Credential. Having taught in both MN and CA, Amy is an advocate for all learners. Her passion is to accelerate literacy and language growth in all students.

Beth Flottmeier is currently the media director at Oak Grove Elementary in the Bloomington School District. Her previous work includes elementary curriculum coordinator, grade one and two classroom teacher. In addition to her media degree, Beth also has earned a reading specialist license and 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.

Kristina Goetze 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. With her EL and reading licenses, she encourages and challenges her students to expand their knowledge through literacy and language.

Sara George began researching English language development and acquisition through content teaching in 2002. She has taught secondary social studies and English learners in grades K -12. She holds a BA in Social Studies, an MA in ESL, and is now pursuing her Ed D. After 17 years of classroom experience, she now works at the Minnesota Department of Education as an ESSA Title Programs Monitor.

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's children experience in school.

Patti Greene, recently retired from Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools as the K-5 Elementary Curriculum Specialist. Her classroom experience includes kindergarten, second, fourth, and fifth grades. She serves as chair on Hamline’s Summer Literacy Institute Committee, and is an adjunct instructor for Hamline, offering literacy courses both on and off campus. Patti provides professional development in literacy practices in the metro area.

Rachel Gens currently works as the Lead Elementary Curriculum and Instruction Specialist in Bloomington. She also has experience teaching Kindergarten, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, and Title I literacy/math interventions and has served as a K-5 literacy coordinator. Rachel is passionate about literacy instruction and leadership.

Louise Griffith, an internationally-recognized speaker, 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 third printing.

Bob Hazen has almost 30 years experience in teaching secondary math, including Mounds View High School (1999-2015) and St. Paul Public Schools (1988-1999). He was also lead teacher of an elementary math pilot project using algebra, calculus, music, and manipulatives to teach first grade math to two classes of regular first grade 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. In 1995, Bob also founded SAI: the Summer Algebra Institute for Kids ( as a math enrichment program using algebra to get young kids turned on to math. More than 3,600 students as young as 3rd grade and of varying academic abilities have learned substantive, memorable algebra in SAI. 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 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

Jason Just is a science teacher in Lakeville Area Public Schools. He is interested in using technology to improve student learning across many disciplines and implements numerous pieces of device independent technology. Jason enjoys teaching young people to solve challenging problems while sharing STEM resources with colleagues across social and digital media. Jason is a Google Certified Innovator and received a number of awards and grants associated with teaching and learning. He teaches courses in chemistry, physics and technology. Follow @verticalcrush on Twitter.

Elida Kane is currently the Learning and Teaching Coordinator for Lakeville Public 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, her PK-12 Administrative License from the University of Minnesota, and is an adjunct professor at Hamline University in the Master’s of Arts in Education program. She is passionate about standards based learning and teaching, and in supporting teachers to ensure high levels of learning for all.

Barbara and Stefan Kavan While in eighth grade, Stefan Kavan had a goal on his individual education plan (IEP) addressing self-advocacy. Stefan put a short power point slide presentation together and delivered his message in front of 120 of his peers in the media center at his school. Shortly after that, Stefan and Barb began presenting as a mother-son tag-team. So began, "Educating Trainman," a story on autism and how it impacts us on a daily basis. We have presented to parent groups, general and special education service providers, and school administrators. Our message is one of hope and promise!The message and story resulted in our coauthored book called, TRAINMAN. Stefan's personal elementary experiences, published by the Autism Asperger's Publishing Company, focuses on acceptance and developing friendships through special interests. In 2010, the New England Book Festival awarded the book with Honorable Mention in the children’s book category. In 2012 the book received the Teachers’ Choice Award in the Children’s Book Category. Stefan is currently living in Minnetonka. Barb is retired from her position as Special Education Coordinator in Prior Lake MN. More information can be found at

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. 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 retirement. 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 sharing experiences.

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. Check out what she is currently reading by following her on Twitter: @mrsmalechareads.

Rachel McLaughlin teaches 2nd grade in the Atheneum Gifted Magnet Program in Inver Grove Heights. Prior to moving to Minnesota, she taught 5th grade at the American School Foundation in Monterrey, Mexico for three years. She enjoys trying out new strategies and ideas in the classroom, 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 20 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.

Sara Murr is a 30+ year teaching veteran and a SORLA presenter for over 10 years. Sara is a former grades 5 & 6 elementary teacher as well as an English and social studies teacher in grades 7 & 8. She has served as a dean of students, a middle level gifted education specialist, a district reading director and a district staff development/new teacher mentor coordinator. Sara currently teaches and loves her position as a middle school grade 6 Minnesota Studies educator in the Prior Lake-Savage Area Public Schools.

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 has a history of coming alongside teachers who seek to move further along the technology continuum, so as to best serve today's digital-native learners. Lee recently became a Google Certified Educator - Level 1 and has a goal to complete Level 2 sometime in 2018. 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.

Kelly Peterson is a licensed school psychologist. She received her bachelor's degree in psychology from St. Cloud State University and her Master's and Post Master's degrees in Education and School Psychology from the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse. Kelly’s professional focus has consistently centered upon improving the lives of children and adolescents. She spent several years working in the school environment with children in early childhood to high school. Her professional activities have encompassed work as an evaluator and diagnostician, behavioral consultant and individual and group counselor. Currently, Kelly is working as a regional speaker on children’s mental health and behavior intervention, as an adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls and as a school psychologist providing services to charter schools in Minnesota. She also enjoys spending time with her husband and three children Julia (9), Myles (7), and Reid (5) and working as a yoga instructor.

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 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. She and her children created a new STEM club in New Prague called the New Prague Newtonian Club. She was honored to be selected as a WEM/Synergy Leadership Academic Coach of the Year in 2017.

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.

Colette Ryan has been an occupational therapist in Inver Grove Heights Schools for 31 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.

Laura Ramsborg is a 7th grade reading teacher at Valley View Middle School in Bloomington and an Adjunct Instructor in the Education department at St. Catherine University. 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 freelance writer and regular contributor to Minnesota Parent magazine. Laura has a passion for education, literacy, and developing life-long readers. Follow her on Twitter @RamsborgWrites.

Jessica Rosenberg, E-RYT 500, YACEP, MID, RYS 200/500, Reiki Master, is committed to helping students live an inspired life through mindful happier hours. She is an author, a national yoga educator, a leader in the wellness community and a yoga veteran, teaching the wisdom practice of yoga for over 17 years and practicing since she was a teenager. Jes’s passion for mindfulness and movement has allowed her to cultivate a uniquely blended teaching style to help students of any age find alignment on and off the yoga mat. Jes has a ‘Live to Learn’ sunny, soulful, bohemian vibe. 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 is also creator of the award winning ‘Super Stretch Yoga’ app that came from her years of teaching The Adventures of Super Stretch Mindfulness & Yoga Fitness Program for children and the Strong Spirits Chair Yoga iBook. Diann Selin is a 1st grade teacher who has taught kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades at Christina Huddleston Elementary School in Lakeville for 24 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.

Nicole Tschannen Steinweg has been an English Language Teacher in Bloomington, MN for over 8 years. She currently teaches both Kindergarten and 3rd Grade EL students. She has co-taught in the content areas of Language Arts, Writing, Math, Social Studies, and Science at the elementary school level. She has co-taught and collaborated with classroom teachers and also tries to support students with small group instruction. She enjoys the nuances in language that are present every day.

Anne Wenisch spent the first twelve years of her teaching career as a fifth and sixth grade classroom teacher, and during the last twelve years, she has been a Reading Specialist in the South Washington County School District. Her current role entails that of literacy coach, Reading Recovery teacher, and literacy staff developer to numerous teachers across her district as well as in other Minnesota school districts.

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 11 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

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

©2016 South of the River Learning Academy. All rights reserved.