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 (Hybrid)
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.
Sydney Fuerst, Kindergarten (Hybrid)
Sydney has an Elementary Education and Special Education (Academic Behavioral Specialist) Degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. After completing her degree, Sydney worked as a naturalist at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center. At Wolf Ridge, she learned a lot about teaching through place-based and experiential learning. Sydney is very excited to bring this knowledge into her teaching at River Grove. Outside of the classroom, Sydney enjoys carving spoons (out of wood), knitting, hiking, biking, cross country skiing, and spending time with family and friends.
Jackie Henschen, First Grade (Hybrid)
Jackie Henschen graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, with a degree in English Composition and obtained her Education degree from Augsburg College. Jackie considers working with children an absolute joy and honor! She 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 has worked at River Grove for three years. Prior to her position at River Grove, she worked with children in several different aspects, from teaching in a traditional classroom setting for more than a decade to working with at-risk learners. Jackie lives in Marine and has been married to Jon for 32 years. She has two daughters, Hannah and Addison. She loves spending time with her family and in her free time, she is training her puppy to become a therapy dog. Gardening, beekeeping, hiking, fishing, camping, and spending time with her family at the cabin are among her favorite things to do in life.
Erin Diedrich, Kindergarten through Second Grade (Distance)
Erin Diedrich 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 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.
Madison Clepper, Second Grade (Hybrid)
Madison Clepper graduated from Bethel University in St. Paul with a degree in elementary K-6 education as well as a degree in early childhood/preprimary. Her previous teaching experience includes a position in St. Paul Public Schools as a second grade teacher. Madison loves to travel and experience new cultures! In 2018, she spent a month in England and Italy, where she volunteered in schools. Madison enjoys having fun and laughing with her students, seeing their “light bulb” moments, and sharing their excitement when they learn new things that interest them. She also enjoys spending time with friends and family, yoga, camping, hiking, traveling, and drinking lots and lots of coffee.
Emily Geffert, First and Second Grade (Hybrid)
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 be 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 teacher at River Grove and is looking forward to adventuring with the students this year.
Emily McDonald, Third Grade (Hybrid)
Emily McDonald has a Bachelor’s degree in Broad Area Art from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls. In the fall of 2015 she started serving as a math enrichment tutor at Lily Lake Elementary in Stillwater, through Minnesota Math Corps. During this experience she realized her passion for teaching and went back to school at Concordia University, St. Paul, where she earned her Masters in the Arts of Teaching. Once she obtained her teaching license she began subbing for Stillwater Area Schools as well as tutoring at Huntington Learning Center. Emily is looking forward to combining her passions of teaching, art, and the outdoors to inspire and engage her students in lifelong learning. She is very excited to finally have her own classroom and to be a part of the team at River Grove! Emily currently lives in Stillwater with her husband Jason, and their children Liz and Jörge. In her spare time she enjoys yoga, crafting, drawing, and spending time outdoors with her family.
Annie Beck, Third through Fifth Grade (Distance)
Annie Beck 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 nothing 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!
Eric McBride, Third and Fourth Grade (Hybrid)
Eric began his journey into teaching in Indiana where he studied Elementary Education at Purdue University. During the summer months, Eric worked as a cabin counselor at two YMCA camps, Camp Tecumseh (IN) and Camp-Manito-wish (WI). Though Eric’s deep connection with nature was primarily strengthened as a wilderness trip leader in northern Wisconsin, he would accept his first teaching position in Washington State teaching 6th grade. While out west, Eric would earn a Master’s in Education at the University of Portland. He and his partner would ultimately find their way to Montana where he would spend the next ten years of his life as an administrator and teacher at two different rural K-8 schools. During the summer months, Eric would continue to harness his passion of working with youth in the outdoors spending time on the rivers as a fly-fishing guide. In 2014 Eric and his family (along with their newly adopted son and two dogs) would venture back to Wisconsin where Eric would begin his journey as a Montessori guide at Nature’s Classroom Institute. Though the school and philosophy were an immediate fit, Eric was eager to find his way back into the public sector, and after two years he and his family would relocate to Minnesota. For the last three years, Eric has worked as an elementary guide at Great River Public Charter Montessori School. He is thrilled to begin the next chapter of his life at River Grove, where once again the beauty of the idyllic campus setting will support his belief in the importance of allowing nature to inspire learning everyday.
Adam Johnson, Fifth Grade (Hybrid)
Adam Johnson is thrilled to be starting his 4th year of teaching 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 a 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.
Jody Dick, Sixth Grade (Hybrid and Distance)
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.
Molly Kaliher, Special Education Coordinator
Molly brings extensive experience to River Grove! She has been teaching special education for the last 30 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.
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.
Katie Owen, Special Education Teacher
Katie Owen loves learning and exploring with students at River Grove. She has been working in special education here since 2017 and has over ten years of experience working with children. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Studies with a minor in business from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She’s currently studying to get her Master of Arts in Special Education from Bethel University. When she’s not working or studying, Katie loves to be outdoors: hiking, biking, playing tennis, and discovering new things with her four children.
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 band and orchestra and directs 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.