Drew Goodson, School Director
Drew Goodson returned home to Minnesota after working for ten years in Arizona in a variety of charter school leadership positions. Prior to River Grove, his most recent job was School Leader at Mission Heights Preparatory High School. While there, he increased enrollment 20 percent, developed partnerships with community colleges, did community outreach, and implemented unique programs for students such as Youth Entrepreneurs. Drew has held charter school positions that included responsibilities for budgeting, technology, federal and state compliance, marketing, curriculum development, testing, and student discipline and behavior intervention. He has been a guidance counselor, teacher, coach, and athletic director, and has also been a volunteer with Big Brothers and Sisters.
Drew is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in strategic communication and history. In his spare time he enjoys playing and watching sports as well as spending time with his wife, Kelli, and two girls, Noelle and Everly.
Jessica Hansen, Kindergarten
Jessica Hansen is delighted to continue serving this community at River Grove elementary. Prior to being at River Grove, Jessica was Director and Lead Teacher at Red Bridge Preschool in Marine on St. Croix. She has a psychology degree from Bethel University, studied Latin American topics in Central America, and holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Minnesota. She has taught English language learners and is experienced in curriculum development.
Jessica is always learning something new and sparks curiosity in her students. She brings joy and humor to her classroom and loves creating collaborative relationships with families. Originally from Iowa, for the past decade Jessica has lived just north of Marine with her husband, Chris, and two children, along with a variety of bunnies, cats, and chickens. She has been an active volunteer in the community, and she enjoys gardening, singing, cooking, running with friends and exploring the country on family road trips.
Libby Bingham, Kindergarten
Libby Bingham has an Elementary Education degree from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, MN. While a student at St. Cloud, she was also a student-athlete playing on the Huskies softball team. Libby led her team as captain in her last season. Go Huskies! A native Minnesotan, Libby grew up in a south suburb of the Twin Cities.
Libby is most excited about sharing her passion for the outdoors, while also incorporating technology into the classroom. Outside of the classroom, she loves spending time with friends and family. She also enjoys hiking, camping, reading, and traveling.
Jackie Henschen, First Grade
Jackie Henschen graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles with a degree in English Composition and obtained her Education degree from Augsburg College. Jackie has a diverse teaching background, including experience in a home-school co-op, specializing in elementary science instruction; several years of experience teaching at parochial schools in both California and in Maplewood, MN; the Read Naturally program at Marine Elementary; and most recently at the Alternative Learning Center in Stillwater.
Jackie considers working with children a joy and honor! Jackie has an unwavering commitment to her students and is dedicated to creatively approaching her lessons so that students are eager about learning and discovery. She comes to River Grove elementary school having worked with children in several different aspects, from teaching in a traditional classroom setting for a decade to working with at-risk learners. She has been married for 30 years and has two daughters. She loves spending time with her family and in her free time, she’s training her rescue dog to become a therapy dog. Gardening, beekeeping, hiking, and being at the family cabin are among her favorite activities.
Erin Diedrich, First Grade
Erin Diedrich will be joining the River Grove team as our second first grade teacher alongside Jackie Henschen! Erin is a graduate of Northwestern University, St. Paul, with an Elementary Education degree with a minor in mathematics. Erin has been a Preschool Lead Teacher with Lake Area Discovery Center for the last three years. Prior to that she was an Elementary Intervention Specialist with Forest Lake Elementary and a third grade teacher with Minneapolis Public Schools. Erin’s passion includes helping all children reach beyond their own goals. She believes that we can learn something new every day and enjoys learning from her students like they learn from her. Outside of school, Erin can be found spending time with her husband and two rescue dogs, Niko and Millie. Together they enjoy camping, hiking, fishing and gardening. Erin also enjoys visiting the Minnesota’s beautiful state parks and is working toward her goal of visiting all of them over the next few years. She is excited to bring her love of the outdoors to her students at River Grove and incorporate the natural surroundings to make learning hands on for her students.
Renee Anderson, Second Grade
Renee Anderson is a highly qualified and experienced teacher who clearly is a master of her craft and will be a great mentor to other teachers and leader of kids. Renee’s most recent job was teaching second grade in Waseca, MN. She has taught in the Waseca area for 20 years, including grades 3 and 4, and has other teaching experience prior to that, for a total of 27 years of experience. Renee has been a leader in her school with integrating technology into her curriculum, but she is also excited by the learning opportunities that this forest setting provides. She has an Elementary Education degree from UW River Falls and Masters of Science, Teaching, and Learning from St. Mary’s University.
Renee’s passions include inspiring hope, igniting imagination, and instilling a love of learning in children. She continually learns new and imaginative ways to educate herself and others. She loves spending time with her family, which includes her husband, daughters, sons-in-law, and four adorable granddaughters. She also enjoys reading, walking, sporting events, and traveling, and is excited to be sharing this next adventure with the students at River Grove.
Wendy Cole, Third Grade
Wendy Cole will be joining the River Grove team as our third grade teacher! Wendy is a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, with an Elementary Education degree and a minor in psychology. Wendy taught kindergarten and first grade at Magnuson Christian School for seven years, and most recently was a special education paraprofessional this past year with the White Bear Lake School District.
Wendy is dedicated to helping all students succeed. She is excited to use her passion for the outdoors to foster their learning and success. Outside of school, Wendy can be found spending time with her husband and two sons. Together they enjoy baseball, camping, hiking, and gardening. Wendy is looking forward to getting to know the River Grove community and to begin this next chapter in her teaching career.
Annie Beck, Fourth Grade
Annie Beck is excited to start her new adventure as a fourth grade teacher at River Grove! She went to the University of North Dakota for her Elementary Education degree and Minnesota State University, Mankato, for her Masters in Experiential Education. Throughout her many years teaching in North Dakota, Minnesota, California, and Morocco, she has grown more and more passionate about project- and place-based education and is thrilled to be joining a school that shares her belief in this style of education. There is noting better than seeing the light in a child’s eyes as he or she makes a discovery and learns something! In addition to teaching, some of Annie’s other passions include skiing, hiking, camping, kayaking, board games, reading and anything that involves learning and exploring new things!. She also enjoys spending time volunteering for organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Relay for Life and coaching after school clubs like volleyball and Lego robotics. She can’t wait to get to know her new students and the River Grove community!
Jody Dick, Fifth Grade
Jody Dick has a Masters in Elementary Education degree from St. Catherine University. Prior to getting her degree in education, Jody studied cultural anthropology at Swarthmore College and then at Princeton University. Prior to joining River Grove, Jody taught fourth, fifth, and sixth grades at Afton-Lakeland Elementary in the Stillwater school district.
Jody is excited to share her passion for environmental education, cultural studies and literacy with the River Grove elementary students. Jody has lived in the Stillwater area for the past 19 years, and before that lived in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and all over the Midwest. She and her husband love traveling, skiing, and hiking with their two children, when they are not busy attending their cross country, tennis and Nordic meets, band and choir concerts, and musical theater productions.
Emily Geffert, Fifth Grade
Emily Geffert achieved her Elementary Education degree from North Central University in Minneapolis. She studied social studies and loves to see real-world connections to the past. She brings four years of overseas teaching experience where she enjoyed teaching 2nd and 4th grade in the Middle East, which also gave her opportunities to travel to explore new places. Emily is passionate about engaging students through exploration and inspiring discovery. Emily grew up in the Twin Cities and is excited to back and once again enjoying her hobbies of canoeing, hiking, and skiing. Emily enjoys spending her time with friends and family reading, drinking coffee, and cooking. Emily feels privileged and overjoyed to be a 5th grade teacher at River Grove and is looking forward to adventuring with the students this year.
Adam Johnson, Sixth Grade
Adam Johnson is thrilled to be teaching sixth grade at River Grove! Prior to joining River Grove, Adam taught fifth grade in Maplewood, MN, and first grade in Roseville. He received an Elementary Education degree from Augsburg College in 2013.
Adam is originally from up the river in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, and has been very familiar with the area his whole life. Adam is most excited about bringing the class into nature (he once took his school’s entire fifth grade on multi-day camping trip!) and the greater St. Croix River Valley community; getting to know the students that will make up our classroom community; and the freedom of teacher-powered learning. He looks forward to getting to know his students and welcomes any communication regarding the educational journey together. He added, “Bringing the world to your son or daughter is a fantastic responsibility and joy.” Outside of teaching, Adam enjoys playing guitar, trivia, biking, running, and camping.
Molly Kaliher, Special Education
Molly brings extensive experience to River Grove! She has been teaching special education for the last 28 years, most of which have been in Stillwater. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Masters in Education from St. Mary’s University. She has been trained in Berard Auditory Integration Training (A.I.T.), Therapeutic Listening, Advanced Listening with the Whole Body, Orton-Gillingham, “How does your Engine Run,” and Brain Gym. Molly is involved with Camp Avanti as an Administration Team Advisor and also provides Behavioral Support. Her hobbies include canoe trips, camping, and cooking.
Molly is always accompanied by her service dog Hope, a chocolate lab. Hope is trained to alert Molly when her blood sugar is out of range due to Type 1 diabetes.
Heidi Dettmann, Special Education
Heidi Dettmann has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin- Madison, and a teaching certification in Special Education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She has lived in the Stillwater area for seven years, and most recently worked as a paraprofessional at Withrow Elementary. Heidi is excited to return to teaching after time at home with her young daughters and is especially pleased to serve the Marine area community as a special education teacher at River Grove. She has a deep love of learning that she enjoys sharing with her students. In her free time, Heidi loves spending time with her family, friends and animals. She enjoys the outdoors and loves riding her horse Lissie. Heidi has interests in equine assisted therapy and holistic health and wellness.
RobinJo (RJ) Walcheski, Special Education
RobinJo (RJ) Walcheski brings eight years of special education teaching experience from a variety of charter and public schools in Minnesota, from elementary to high school level, traditional to project-based learning. RJ holds a Masters in Elementary Education from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus, as well as four teaching licenses in K-6 Elementary Education, 5-8 Mathematics, K-12 Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities and K-12 Learning Disabilities. RJ has had a variety of experiences over the years, including helping lead a group of high school girls through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, BWCA, exploring Washington D.C. and dog sledding in Northern Minnesota.
RJ enjoys spending time in and around the Stillwater area where she grew up and now owns a home where she lives with her husband, Joshua, and four dogs. In her spare time RJ enjoys exploring dog parks, playing games and watching cooking shows.
Shelly Vrambout, Special Education
Shelly Vrambout graduated with an Academic Behavioral Strategist degree from Augsburg University. Prior to joining the River Grove team, Shelly spent the last six years working in the special education department at Stillwater Area High School. Shelly believes that experiential hands-on learning not only promotes academic growth but essential life skills. She takes pride in developing genuine relationships with parents and students in order to provide intentional interest-based lessons in order to keep students engaged and excited about learning. Shelly enjoys spending time with her three children and dog Penelope. Shelly is excited to be a part of River Grove and looks forward to tapping into the amazing place based learning opportunities the school has to offer.
Erika Hammerschmidt, Band and Orchestra
Erika Hammerschmidt has over 27 years of experience teaching and performing instrumental music. She taught Elementary Band at Holy Rosary and Middle School Band at The Marshall School in Duluth. The College of St. Scholastica started their Concert Band under her direction. She ran the Orono High School Band program overseeing the Pep Band, Marching Band, Fall Musical, and Band Trip to Florida in 2000-01. Currently, she teaches the Middle School Orchestra and the Chamber Ensemble at the St. Croix Catholic School in addition to the Bands and Orchestras at River Grove. Erika plays French Horn professionally with the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra and freelances in the Twin Cities area.
Robin Iredale, Art
Katie Bruns, Physical Education
Katie Bruns is an outdoor recreation enthusiast. She has a Masters in Physical Education with an emphasis in Adventure Education and Outdoor Pursuits. She has been teaching physical education and health in the St. Croix Valley for the past four years. She is excited to join the River Grove teaching team and be a part of the process of creating fun and innovative outdoor activities for the students to learn and love living a healthy lifestyle.
She is originally from St. Croix Falls, WI, and has a passion for yoga, mountain biking, running, hiking, cross country skiing, and enjoying our beautiful river valley.
Photos courtesy of Jenn Cress