Academic Faculty & Student Services
Karen Albrecht, Special Education Teacher
Ms. Albrecht joined SPCPA’s Special Education department in 2014. She earned her licensure in Specific Learning Disabilities and Emotional/Behavioral Disorders at Augsburg College, where she is currently completing her Master’s degree. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education, has completed coursework for Autism Spectrum Disorders at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, and is a highly qualified K-12 teacher in English, Language, Literature and Composition. Ms. Albrecht taught K – 8 music in North Central Wisconsin then worked as a sourcing/business analyst for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota before returning to school for her special education licensure.
Raymond Bailer, Social Studies Teacher
Mr. Bailer began teaching Government and Economics at SPCPA in 2013. He received his B.A. in Broadfield Social Studies for Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, and spent time at the University of Southern Cross in Lismore, Australia. Mr. Bailer taught U.S. History and a course called Modern Problems focusing on Economics, Sociology and Public Policy at Wayzata High School before joining SPCPA’s Social Studies department.
Stephen Dymond, Science Teacher
Mr. Dymond earned his B. A. in Art History from the University of Minnesota, his M. A. in Science Education from Saint Vincent College and is certified in K-12 Environmental Education, as well as 9-12 Life Science. He began teaching in the science department at SPCPA in 2014. He received an award for excellence in science education from Saint Vincent College.
Zach Flessert, Science Teacher
Mr. Flessert began his education career in 2014 at SPCPA. He earned his B.S. in Biology at University of Minnesota where he studied herpes simplex virus for his research thesis. He is currently completing his graduate work at the University of Minnesota. Mr. Flessert loves the Twin Cities for the rich and diverse culture, great river trails, expansive food scene, and amazing people. He is passionate about developing scientific and critical thinking skills for all students and creating equitable spaces to achieve that.
Katherine Forsberg, Science Teacher
Ms. Forsberg received her B. A. from Rutgers University, and her Masters of Science Education from Arcadia University. She has taught science for over ten years, working in a variety of educational institutions, including for the academically gifted girls in Caterburg, England, groups of at-risk youth in North Minneapolis, and at full-inclusion school in the middle of Amish Country in Pennsylvania. She joined the science department of SPCPA in 2015.
Lisa Flynn, Math Teacher
Ms. Flynn has over ten years experience teaching mathematics, developing many skills influenced by students, colleagues, and various curriculum. She gained her B. S. in Math Education from Minnesota State University of Mankato. Teaching in Fort Collins, Colorado public schools, students challenged her to link math to the real world, while colleagues taught her the importance of sharing best practices. While teaching at the Munich International School of Germany, Ms. Flynn collaborated on observing, discussing, and refining lessons. She prides herself on representing mathematics in a variety of ways, also teaching students how to communicate and reflect on math.
Noemi Garcia, Spanish Teacher
Ms. Garcia joined SPCPA’s World Languages department in 2014. She holds her Master’s degree in Education with an emphasis in classroom instruction and a Reading Endorsement from Concordia University in St. Paul. Ms. Garcia earned her pedagogy credits to obtain her teaching license from Bemidji State University. She has taught all levels of Spanish to a wide range of learners from beginners to advanced. Her educational philosophy lays on the belief that working together with parents, teachers, administrators and the community, we can all create the best educational environment for all learners to be academically successful.
Alison Green, Post-Secondary Advisor
Alison Green joined the SPCPA staff as a paraprofessional in 2013 and took on the role of Post-Secondary Advisor in 2014. A graduate of Colorado College with a B. A. in Economics, Ms. Green spent nine years in finance and marketing at 3M Company after graduation. Ms. Green has also received her Certificate in College Admission Counseling from Hamline University.
Molly Ireland, French Teacher
Molly Ireland earned her B. A. in French from the University of Minnesota, and her teaching licensure from Bethel University. Throughout the 2009 school year, she taught in Montpellier, and returned to France in 2014 to teach English to middle school students in Normandy. She joined the SPCPA staff in 2015.
Emily Johnson, English Teacher
Ms. Johnson earned her B. A. in Secondary English Education from Augustana College in Illinois, then her M. A. in English from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. She began teaching English at SPCPA in 2014. Prior to working at SPCPA, she spent six years in the English department in Sterling, IL, and was the Scholastic Bowl Varsity Coach for four years.
David Jovanovic, Science Teacher
Mr. Jovanovic began teaching at SPCPA in 2014. He studied Biology and Chemistry at Northern Michigan University and the University of Minnesota, and has done graduate work at Hamline University. Prior to becoming a teacher, Mr. Jovanovic worked in the biotech and analytical science professions as a biologist and chemist for seven years.
Jody King, Structured Study Hall Teacher
Ms. King joined the SPCPA staff in 2015. After receiving her B. A. in Elementary Education from Augsburg College, she worked with students grades 7-12 in St. Paul public high school-based clinics. Ms. King has taught many subjects in Minneapolis Public Schools for the past four years, including reading/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. Her experiences have guided her to helping students achieve academic excellence at SPCPA.
Caity Kissner, Special Education Teacher
Ms. Kissner joined the SPCPA team in her first year of teaching high school in 2015. She received her Bachelor’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. She continued for her Master of Education at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with initial licensure in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Ms. Kissner has four years of special education assistant teaching experience, working with preschool through junior high students.
Eric Lassila, English Teacher
Mr. Lassila joined the SPCPA English department in 2014. He earned his B. A. in English from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and his M. S. in Education from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. Mr. Lassila has worked in the education field for seven years in Illinois, North Dakota and Minnesota.
Matt Logan, Paraprofessional
Mr. Logan joined the SPCPA staff in 2014. He earned his B. A. in Spanish with a minor in Education and holds his Minnesota K-12 license in World Languages. He taught Spanish for two years at Highland Senior High School in St. Paul and spent one year in Spain teaching English.
Zachary MacLean, Social Studies Teacher
SPCPA’s long-term social studies teacher, Mr. MacLean earned his B. A. in Psychology and Reconciliation Studies from Bethel University in St. Paul. He received his 5-12 Social Studies License from St. Mary’s University, where he is in process of completing his M. A. in Instruction. He has taught Psychology and U. S. history courses in addition to three years teaching middle school Social Studies.
Rachel Miller, Science Teacher
Ms. Miller began teaching in the Science department in 2014. She earned her B. S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. Before joining SPCPA, she taught Biology, Chemistry and Wildlife Ecology in Baraboo, WI.
William Miller, English Department
Mr. Miller joined the SPCPA English department in 2014. He received a B. A. in English from Hamline University where he also completed a post-baccalaureate in secondary English education. Mr. Miller received his Master’s from St. Mary’s University in Winona. Prior to teaching at SPCPA, he was the director of drama at Highland Park Junior High, Mayo Senior High and Hmong College Prep Academy. He enjoys reading historical narratives, mysteries and teaching writing.
Aaron Nickel, Math Teacher
Mr. Nickel joined the SPCPA faculty in 2014. He earned his B. A. in Mathematics from Gustavus Adolphus College and went through the Graduate Teacher Licensure Program at Minnesota State University – Mankato. Mr. Nickel spent five years in a variety of long-term substitute teaching positions at schools including Farmington High School, Robbinsdale Armstrong and Cooper High Schools, Stillwater High School and the St. Croix Valley ALC.
Joshua Rains, English Teacher
Mr. Rains earned his B. A. in English Literature from James Madison University in Virginia. Before joining SPCPA in 2014 as an English teacher, he taught for five years, including internationally in Indonesia, Kuwait and the Northern Marianas Islands. Mr. Rains is currently enrolled in the Teacher Ready program from the University of West Florida, received categories 1, 2, and 3 I. B. PYP training, and attended the 2012 I. B. regional conference in Madrid, Spain. He also presented a workshop at P. E. A. K. (Professional Educators Association of Kuwait) in 2012.
Deb Rykken, Math Teacher
Ms. Rykken joined SPCPA’s mathematics staff in 2016. She earned her B. A. in mathematics education from Southwest State University in Marshall and her M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction from St. Scholastica. She brings 30+ years of classroom experience, 5 years as the K-12 mathematics content lead for Centennial schools, and has most recently served as an instructional coach in the Mounds View district. During summer months, she often joins the professional development team at the Science Museum of Minnesota in leading STEM institutes. Her hobbies include traveling, spending time with grandchildren, and playing the piano.
Tara Schifsky, Social Studies Teacher
Ms. Schifsky worked in the radio sales and advertising industry before joining SPCPA’s Social Studies department in 2014. She earned her B. A. in Journalism/Mass Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in Sociology from St. Thomas University. She later went back to school and earned her teaching license and a Master’s degree in Secondary Social Studies Education, with a concentration in Sociology, from St. Catherine University. Ms. Schifsky previously worked at Tartan High School teaching history, sociology and psychology.
Morgan Steele, French Teacher
Ms. Steele holds a B. A. from Cornell College in French and Secondary Education. She also holds an M. A. in Teaching with an emphasis on Teacher Leadership from Grand Canyon University. After graduating from Cornell in 2007, she began her career teaching French in Houston, TX, where she taught 5th and 6th grades at an International Baccalaureate School for two years before teaching high school French for five years, teaching French I through AP French Language and Culture. Mrs. Steele has served as foreign language department chair and has presented at many Texas Foreign Language Association conferences on her own and with colleagues. She is passionate about language acquisition at all levels and continues to research best practices in her free time.
Andy Thorson, Math Teacher
Mr. Thorson joined the SPCPA Math department in 2014. He earned his B. A. in Mathematics from the University of Minnesota in 2009 and is currently working on his Masters of Mathematics Education. He holds a Minnesota teaching license in 5 – 12 Mathematics Teaching. Prior to working at SPCPA, he worked as a tutor at the McNamara Academic Center at the University of Minnesota, Columbia Heights School, and at Mathnasium in Plymouth. Mr. Thorson spends his free time playing hockey as a goalie, practicing yoga, and plays cello with the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra.
Kristin Westby, Spanish Teacher
Ms. Westby began teaching in the World Language department at SPCPA as a Spanish instructor in 2013. She currently teaches Advanced Placement Spanish and Spanish 2. Ms. Westby received her B.A. in Spanish with a minor in Education and an endorsement in English Language Learning (ELL) from Luther College. Her Minnesota teaching license is valid for both K-12 Spanish and ELL. She spent a semester in college at La Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. Before joining the SPCPA faculty she worked with Putney Student Travel and National Geographic Student Expeditions as the director of Peru programming. Ms. Westby has teaching experience in Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana and Nevada, and has led community service trips to Peru and Costa Rica. Together with the World Language department, she is coordinating a travel program for SPCPA students.
Jillian Wirth, Special Education Teacher
Ms. Wirth began teaching at SPCPA in 2012. She earned her B. A. in Social Studies Education and M. A. in Special Education with EBD and LD licensure through Bethel University. In addition to teaching at SPCPA, Ms. Wirth works with adults who have developmental and cognitive disabilities through her job at ACR Homes. Before joining the SPCPA staff, she worked at Forest Lake High School as an EBD teacher and at Community of Peace Academy as a special education paraprofessional.