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
Sydney Fuerst 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 explored teaching through place-based and experiential learning using the natural environment. Sydney has enjoyed integrating 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.
Elly Johnson, First Grade
Elly is a graduate of Bethel University in St. Paul with degrees in Elementary Education and Spanish Education. Her passion for being a life-long learner and love of children inspired her pursuit to become an educator. Elly taught Kindergarten for five years in the White Bear Lake school district where she grew up before staying home to raise and school her two young boys. During her time at home, she developed a nature-based preschool curriculum and joyfully taught and learned alongside her children. She enjoys spending time with her family traveling, reading, downhill skiing, biking, and boating. She is a lover of all water sports! When not skiing herself, she can be found teaching kids and adults alike how to waterski, wakeboard, wake surf and even (to the occasional brave soul) how to barefoot waterski!
Jaime Souza, First Grade
Jaime Souza graduated from the University of Wisconsin–River Falls with a Master of Science in Elementary Education. She also earned a Graduate Certificate in Natural Science and Environmental Education from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. Most of Jaime’s teaching experience can be attributed to a 20-year outdoor, environmental education career working as a Program Coordinator and Educator for inspiring organizations, such as the Tahoe Rim Trail Association, the Audubon Center of the North Woods (now Osprey Wilds), and the St. Croix River Association (now the Wild Rivers Conservancy). Jaime is passionate about student-centered, place-based learning. She finds incredible joy in connecting children with nature and encouraging a lasting love of wild spaces through observation and exploratory activities. Jaime is excited to join the River Grove team in 2021 as a new first grade teacher, and she is committed to approaching her curriculum writing and teaching with care, creativity, and innovation. Jaime is married to Jon and they have two kids, David and Ramona, along with a silly dog named Meyer. They are an adventurous family, often planning trips to National Park Service sites, hiking the Superior Hiking Trail, mountain biking, and paddling the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. Jaime also enjoys spending time with her kiddos, gardening (still working on that green thumb), watching professional cycling races, cooking (her husband is the true chef), baking sourdough creations (a pandemic achievement), daydreaming of future adventures and travels, and birdwatching (amateur at best, but her life list is slowly growing).
Madison Boesel, Second Grade
Madison (Clepper) Boesel graduated from Bethel University in St. Paul with a degree in Elementary K-6 Education as well as a degree in Early Childhood and 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 and seeing their “light bulb” moments. Madison is committed to having a student-centered classroom and loves sharing their excitement when they learn and discover new things that interest them. She is excited to share her love of the outdoors with her students to create a hands-on learning experience. Outside of school, Madison enjoys spending time with friends and family, yoga, camping, hiking, and drinking lots of coffee.
Emily Geffert, Second 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 be back 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 to be a teacher at River Grove and is looking forward to adventuring with the students.
Emily McDonald, Third Grade
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 Grade
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, Annie’s 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, Fourth 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 20 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.
Jo Heide, Fourth Grade
Jo Heide graduated from Bethel University with degrees in K-6 Education and Teaching English as a Second Language. Jo has taught 5th grade at Osseo Area Schools for the past three years, and loves the independence and curiosity of upper elementary students. She is passionate about empowering students to take ownership of their learning, as well as developing a love for reading! Jo loves spending time outdoors, and is currently in the Natural Sciences and Environmental Education program at Hamline University in St. Paul, and can’t wait to put her new learning into practice at River Grove! She enjoys hiking and camping with her husband, yoga, baking sourdough, and rewatching her favorite TV shows.
Adam Johnson, Fifth Grade
Adam Johnson is thrilled to be starting his fifth 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.
Eric McBride, Sixth Grade
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. Though Eric’s deep connection with nature was primarily strengthened as a wilderness trip leader in northern Wisconsin, he accepted his first teaching position in Washington State teaching 6th grade. While out west, Eric earned a Master’s in Education at the University of Portland. He and his partner ultimately found their way to Montana where he spent the next ten years of his life as an administrator and teacher at two different rural K-8 schools. During the summer months, Eric continued 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) ventured back to Wisconsin where Eric began 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 relocated to Minnesota. Prior to River Grove, Eric 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.
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.
Carley Maley, Special Education
Carley is excited to be joining River Grove this year! She has been teaching for eight years, six of those as a special education teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a Masters in Special Education from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus. She enjoys building relationships with students and creatively thinking of ways to spark excitement, self-motivation, and confidence in students. Carley lives in Hudson, WI, with her husband Jonathan and two children, Walker and Juniper. In her spare time she enjoys camping, hiking, snowboarding, reading, and spending time with her family.
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 making a difference in our special education department since 2017 and has over fifteen years of experience working with children. She’s currently finishing up her Master’s Degree in Special Education at 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.
Roman Lozano, Special Education
Roman Lozano is excited to be joining the River Grove family. He grew up in Minnesota and loves being in the great outdoors as much as possible, whether it is taking a hike with his wife, playing golf, or walking his cat. He has a passion for reading and finding books that students will love. Roman has spent the last two years teaching at a middle school in Cottage Grove. He also has experience working with students from Pre-k to 12th grade. For Roman, building lasting bonds with students and their families is very important.
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 five years. She has a passion for 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.