Allison is a Michigan native who earned her BS in Psychology from Grand Valley State University. During her time at Grand Valley, she taught technology classes as a parent engagement coordinator for Grand Rapids Public Schools.
Allison earned her Masters degree in Higher Education at the University of Louisville, and served as Graduate Assistant in the U of L Athletic Department, gaining experience as an Academic Adviser for student athletes. She also served as Academic Adviser to the Indiana University Division I football team.
Allison currently serves as the Director of Academics for Total Package Hockey/MIPS student athletes in the Detroit area.
Why Allison chose MIPS:
"As the mentor for Total Package Hockey student athletes, I really love working for MIPS because I get to see my student-athletes chase their hockey dreams and goals while being able to still graduate high school online - it's the only thing that works with their schedule and they are always appreciative of our mentorship! Because of MIPS, students have so many tools at their fingertips for success. Our teachers and mentors want to see them achieve their goals, and help prepare them for life beyond us. Truly a great organization to be a part of."
TPH Director of Academics
Austin is originally from Hesperia Michigan, but recently relocated to Grand Rapids, MI where he is now the Director of Academics at Total Package Hockey. Austin earned his bachelor's degree in Health and Physical Education in 2020 from Grand Valley State University. For two years at Hesperia High School, he taught health and physical education classes, as well as 6 years of varsity baseball coaching and little league volunteer experience.
Hobbies include: playing and watching sports, golfing, hiking, camping, video games, and hanging out with his dog.
Why Austin chose MIPS:
"MIPS gives students an individualized learning experience and an alternative to the traditional learning style. MIPS allows students to operate at their own pace while bettering essential lifelong learning skills such as multitasking, time management, and problem solving. As a Mentor with MIPS, I am able to build meaningful relationships with my students and assist with any academic obstacles they may face. I find fulfillment in sharing my knowledge and experiences to better equip students with the tools needed to find lifelong success."
Lead Relationship Coordinator
Douglas Butler was born and raised in Highland Park, MI. He attended and graduated from Highland Park Community High School, 76th in a class of 476 students. After graduating high school in 1985, Douglas furthered his education on scholarship at Western Michigan University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice, Communication, and Sociology, as well as a Masters Degree in Human Resources Training and Development.
Douglas excelled at sports, he was All State in track and earned varsity lettering in basketball as a sophomore at Highland Park High School. He went on to play 1 year of basketball and 4 years as a track standout at WMU. Douglas’s remarkable performances in track led him to obtain a professional career in Athens, Greece.
Douglas brings an enormous amount of experience in working with young people. He was Program Director for the Detroit Behavioral Institute, where he currently serves on the Board of Directors as Treasure. He was also the Dean of students for Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences.
For the past 11 years, Douglas has been the Senior Pastor of Mayflower Church. Douglas is the youngest Pastor in the church's 90 year history.
Why Doug chose MIPS:
"I joined Michigan International Prep School because it offers today’s youth the opportunity to become accustomed to a College environment. The wide range of freedom it creates for students to utilize their time and become multi-task oriented.
The one-on-one conversations with students allows the students to operate at a pace that may feel less threatening than your traditional schools. A customized fit into the MIPS community is what sets this school apart from any other. The difference in the students brings out the creativity in the teachers and mentors.
Kristen is a mentor at Michigan International Prep School, based out of the Rochester Lab. She graduated from Oakland University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Before coming to MIPS, she was a substitute teacher in her local school districts. When she started a family, she decided to be a stay-at-home mom to her son and daughter. She loves watching her son pitch at his baseball games and her daughter shine on stage. She loves being able to be there for them when they need her. Now, with her children in middle school and junior high, she’s realized it’s time to make a change in her career.
In her free time, Kristen enjoys going shopping, watching movies, and spending time with her family and friends.
Why Kristen chose MIPS:
"I heard about MIPS from a friend who has her three children enrolled in the program. She has said nothing but wonderful things about the mentors and teachers. For the past two years, she has told me that I need to apply for a position at MIPS. I have been wanting to change careers and mentoring is a job where I feel I can truly be there for my students and help them succeed. I look forward to working with a team who wholeheartedly cares about the individual needs of each student. I am so excited to have joined the MIPS family!"
Alex is a high school mentor and ELL Specialist who is thrilled to work with students from all different backgrounds and strives to help students accomplish their goals. He received a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in History and later received a master’s degree from Oakland University in Linguistics, specializing in teaching English as a second language. This passion for working with international students and second language learners led Alex to teach at Northern Michigan University, Oakland University, and various community programs.
Alex currently lives in Marquette and loves exploring the Upper Peninsula. You can find him out fishing, running, hiking, skiing, and camping all year round. He also has a passion for working on cars and metal work. Feel free to ask him what he is working on currently or where the fishing has been good. He is an outgoing person that likes meeting new people and seeing what they are passionate about.
Why Alex chose MIPS:
“I chose MIPS because I have worked with them before and saw the opportunities that they give to students. I had some students in my former program that struggled immensely and were totally discouraged with their high school experience so far. MIPS made it their goal to see these students through and make sure they graduated. I loved this mindset and passion that the instructors and staff from MIPS had for my students. When the opportunity came to join the team, I knew I had to be a part of it!”
Zachary is a 6-12 mentor at MIPS based out of the Davison Lab. He received his Bachelor's degree from Oakland University and his Master’s degree from Wayne State University in Art History. Previously an adjunct faculty member at Wayne State, Zachary's main focus has been helping students improve their writing, reading, and researching skills through workshops and supplemental instruction. His primary research focus has been exploring the Trans-Atlantic connotations between frescoes of the Italian Renaissance and their impact on the Mexican Social Realist movement of the 1930s.
Zachary resides in the Auburn Hills area with his wife and three dogs--Finn, Pickles, and Gus. His primary activities reside around fishing, camping, and hiking with family and friends.
Why Zac chose MIPS:
"I chose to come to MIPS because of the staff we have and how we put our student's first. The MIPS staff works tirelessly to ensure we are doing the most for our students, while they receive a quality education. Because of this, each student has a team in their corner-- helping them achieve academic success!"
Kayari is a passionate individual who finds joy in working with children.
Her unwavering dedication to nurturing young minds has led her to pursue
a degree in teaching. She is known for her ability to connect with
students on a personal level, fostering a supportive and inclusive
learning environment. With a kind spirit, she effortlessly builds rapport
with her students and peers. In her free time, she enjoys quality time
with her daughter, partner, and their dog. They enjoy hiking, taking
walks downtown by the river, going to basketball games, and spending lots
of time with family.
Why Kayari chose MIPS:
"My decision to join MIPS was guided by a passion for education and
a commitment to adapting to the ever-evolving learning landscape. I
recognized MIPS as an innovative and forward-thinking institution,
aligned with my values. Joining MIPS allowed me to merge my love for
helping others with my belief that all students should have access to a
learning environment that suits them and helps them thrive. I
understand that all students have different needs and I'm so excited to
be a part of a school that recognizes that. I'm dedicated to curating
a learning experience for each student."
Frank Dame has been teaching and coaching secondary students for 35 years, mentoring and discipling along the way. He has eight children (seven of them daughters 😀), ages 13 to 29. His free time is filled with family, ministry, and sports. He enjoys coaching his daughter's soccer teams, playing guitar, and reading.
Why Frank chose MIPS:
"I chose MIPS as I see my skill set, such as it is, as a perfect fit with the goals and strategies of MIPS. I love the thinking-outside-the-box flexibility of the organization, and the strength of character of the leadership that I have met. "
Pathways Coordinator/ Mentor Teacher/BEBS team
Sonya Dudley is a secondary Health and Physical Education teacher at MIPS. Mrs. Dudley obtained a B.A. in Communication and Theatre, with a minor in Physical Health and Recreation from Saginaw Valley State University. She also has a M.A.T. from Marygrove College. Mrs. Dudley has been an educator for over 25 years in various different capacities. Youth have always played a special role in her life, and building meaningful connections with students and families is a natural habit for her.
Mrs. Dudley has an extreme yet equal love for sports. As a result she has taught, coached, and mentored students from elementary to college. She started coaching Track and Field right out of high school, and eventually took over her own program after getting her degree. She has also coached cross country, volleyball, cheerleading, and softball. You can easily find her at some sporting event intently watching while eating her favorite candy: Twizzlers!
Mrs. Dudley was born, raised, and lived in Michigan until recently. For 25 years, she has been married to her spouse Marc and together they have 8 children. In her freetime, Mrs. Dudley enjoys attending sporting events and spending quality time with family and friends.
Why Sonya Chose MIPS:
“Education is the ultimate kids’ business, and in that business we need to do what is best for kids. I always believed that students could be educated differently based on their needs. MIPS further fueled my fire for alternative thinking, teaching and practice for education. What I found is that MIPS not only looks at the whole child, but the family as a whole, then helps. MIPS feels like family. MIPS is family.”
Special Education Teacher
Nolan is an individual who excels in empathy. He
earned his Bachelor’s degree from Western Governors University in Health
Service Coordination. After receiving his Bachelors he earned a
special education certification in Texas. Nolan enjoys being outdoors
with family and friends.
Why Nolan chose MIPS:
"MIPS is the best fit for my family. The opportunity to work from home
allows me to be close to my 7 month old son while he’s developing
rapidly. I love that the staff is student-centered and I wouldn’t want it
any other way."
TPH Success Coach (Grand Rapids)
I am a mom of four kids who all play hockey. I was a teacher before
having kids, spending 6 years in the classroom. I taught in a mulitaged
Montessori classroom in Buffalo, NY and also spent four years teaching
second and third grade in Hamilton Southeastern Schools, in Fishers, IN.
Our kids are very close in age (Grady 13, Julia 12, David 10 and Jane
9.) I have spent the last 12 years staying at home and managing the
homefront. I have spent a lot of time volunteering at the kids' schools.
I've been a part of committees and led a girl scout troop. We are an
active family-we love boating, fishing, hiking, and my favorite thing is
cheering my kids on in all of their activities. This opportunity is the
perfect chance for me to step back into teaching. I'm so excited for the
chance to be back in the classroom!
Why Sarah chose MIPS:
"Two of my kids are attending TPH in the fall. I homeschooled my four
kids a few years ago and saw how online learning worked with my kids. I
felt like it gave us the gift of time to do other activities that
enriched their lives. I feel that MIPS and TPH will be the perfect
balance of allowing kids to work at their own pace and give them time to
work on what they are passionate about too, hockey. I can't wait to
facilitate and help the students at TPH through the MIPS program!"
Ms. Kerry Fleet is a creative and caring art teacher. She has more than nine years of experience teaching students of all ages, from kindergarten through 12th grade. She graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Art Education and a concentration in ceramics. In 2009, Ms. Fleet had the opportunity to travel to South Africa to teach art at The Ubuntu School in Pietermaritzburg. While there, she was able to share and grow her passion for the arts and learning. Ms. Fleet also worked as a graphic designer at the Indiana Geological Survey, where she developed an interest in digital art.
Ms. Fleet became an art teacher so she could inspire young people and broaden their appreciation of art in an encouraging manner. Her hope is to share the love of art that has been her passion since she was young. Ms. Fleet’s teaching style focuses on process and the art-making experience, as a higher priority than the finished result. She provides supportive guidance to each student she works with, so that they may develop creatively in their own unique way. She hopes to inspire children to appreciate and welcome their creativity and imagination through making art.
In her free time, Ms. Fleet loves to spend time with family, hike, and travel. She’s been to Ireland, South Africa, Mozambique, Peru, Alaska, Hawaii, and loves to practice her photography and art journaling while traveling. Creating cross-curricular projects with art and nature is something Ms. Fleet is very passionate about. While not teaching, Ms. Fleet also loves to draw, paint, and embroider. Her artwork has been displayed at art galleries and art festivals. She is eager to help further develop each MIPS student’s passion for the arts.
Why Kerry chose MIPS:
"I chose MIPS because it’s a school that values Arts Education. Art can do so many positive things, including increasing self-confidence, self-understanding, and improving communication skills, and MIPS is a school that realizes this. We offer so many unique classes and opportunities for our students to find their creative potential. I’m proud to be part of the MIPS Arts Team, to help guide and inspire students every day!"
Special Education Teacher
Megan graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor's degree in Special Education, teaching major in Language Arts and a teaching minor in English as a Second Language. After graduation, she spent the summer teaching in Cape Town, South Africa. Later, she went on to complete her master’s degree also at MSU in Teaching and Curriculum. She has taught for several years in Detroit and loved getting to know the community. Now, she has a 4 year old son and a 1 year old bernedoodle, who both keep her busy. She enjoys reading, long walks and rock climbing in her free time!
Why Megan chose MIPS:
"I chose MIPS because I am able to build relationships with students across the state of Michigan all from a variety of backgrounds. MIPS school community is holistic and innovative. We’re able to provide individualized learning opportunities for all students which is something that you can’t find many places and that is why I chose MIPS."
Christopher is a Mentor at MIPS, who has a passion in the personal development of students with a sharp focus on their mental well being and personal goal achievements. He was born and raised in Metro Detroit and currently lives in Bay City, where he volunteers at a local church encouraging students to reach their highest potential. Christopher earned an associate degree in ministry and hopes to use his degree at MIPS by bringing compassion and empathy that every student needs to thrive.
Christopher has worked with students of all ages. He loves the energy and creativity each individual student brings to the table and wants to cultivate a safe environment where they can take those attributes and apply them to their future.
He believes there are moments every day when someone can be impacted in a positive way. He wants to be a part of as many of those moments as possible at MIPS.
Christopher studied culture and discipleship overseas in Australia and Papua New Guinea doing mission work with YWAM. One of the biggest takeaways he learned is that every individual comes from a unique background that can affect them in a variety of ways. Understanding this emphasized an importance for him to bring an open mind in the workplace and how to accommodate each individual student's needs.
Why Chris chose MIPS:
“When I heard I could directly help students achieve their academic goals as a mentor at MIPS my heart started pounding! My passion for youth has been searching for a career that I can most effectively impact student’s lives as my full time job. I felt that MIPS is that place! I am excited to encourage students and walk with them towards their goals both academically and personally.”
Christina is a Detroit native and proud graduate of Renaissance High
School in the Detroit Public Schools. After taking a gap year, working
part-time and partnering with various organizations, she discovered a
profound enjoyment doing volunteerism and direct community action
engaging youth and having a positive impact in the community.
Focusing on youth initiatives, Christina worked as a youth program
volunteer for her home church, Church of Our Father Baptist, facilitating
community engagement events for seven years. Also, she has worked as an
Instructor with the Child Evangelism Fellowship program; her primary goal
was to spiritually enrich the lives of children in Detroit and
surrounding communities. Christina graduated from the University of
Michigan - Ann Arbor with a Bachelor degree in Cognitive Science.
Why Christina chose MIPS:
"I chose to work at MIPS, to further my career working with children. I
wanted a position I could grow in, and working with kids to achieve their
goals have always been a passion of mine. I also worked with a
mentorship program in college, and would like to explore this field more."
Assistant Director of Mentor Services
Candace earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work at Rochester College. She has worked in the helping profession for over 10 years and has had the opportunity to form many great relationships with families and the community through that experience. Candace has experience in Child Welfare, Criminal Justice, food pantries, and as an ABA Therapist (Applied Behavioral Analysis). For the past 3 years, she has been able to combine her love for education with her love for helping others by working in an online educational setting. Candace is super excited to be housed in the Detroit lab where she plans to connect with many students from the downtown area.
Outside of MIPS, Candace is the proud mother of a 10 year-old daughter. They love spending quality time together going on bike rides, camping trips, and doing fun painting projects. They have a 1-year-old Shih Tzu named Brownie who has some really awesome soccer skills. Candace loves expressing her creative side whether it be through painting, photography, or dance. She has been teaching hip hop dance classes in the Metro Detroit area for the past 20 years and finds joy in this form of self-expression.
Why Candace chose MIPS:
"For me, MIPS is a great opportunity to build relationships with students across Michigan. Through virtual learning, I am able to connect with a great group of students who all have such unique stories. I have always had a passion for making connections with people and helping whenever I am able. I love feeling like I am a part of something bigger and MIPS allows me to do that daily through the connections I make. It brings me pride to know that I can assist students with their needs, whether they be big or small."
Kim is a mentor at the Davison location. She graduated from Grand Blanc
High School and has lived in Genesee County her entire life. She
graduated from Baker College of Flint in 2010 and began her career as a
physical therapy assistant. She enjoyed working as a PTA for 10 years
until Covid hit. She decided to stay home during this time and found
fulfillment coaching her son through an online school for kindergarten.
This is where she found her passion for teaching and encouraging young
people. The past 2 years, Kim has been working at her son’s school as a
Title 1 Paraprofessional. She has gained knowledge in planning and
implementing guided reading groups to help kid’s reach their full
Kim lives in Grand Blanc with her husband, son, and 2 dogs.
She loves traveling and exploring what Michigan has to offer. She spends
most of her time outdoors practicing sports with her son, biking, hiking,
swimming, and geocaching. She is involved with her church in Flint, and
volunteers with all ages of the kids ministry. Kim's passion is to
encourage those around her through the ups and downs of life!
Why Kimberly chose MIPS:
"I wanted to come to MIPS because I believe in their mission! I like how
MIPS custom fits education to each student. They truly value their
students by offering one-on-one support. As a mentor, I aim to help foster
independence, responsibility and accountability for my students. I am
grateful I get to be a part of each student's journey to become their own
Allie is a Detroit native who graduated from Wayne State University in 2018 with her Bachelor’s of Science with a concentration in Psychology. Before attending Wayne State she graduated from Macomb Community College with her Associate’s.
Prior to her college career, Allie attended a charter school herself, a performing and fine arts high school called Arts Academy in the Woods.
With a background in childcare and teaching dance, Allie has always been passionate about working with children while building their confidence and exploring their strengths to reach their full potential and find success in everything they put their minds to!
Allie loves to dance, read, and be immersed in nature when she has free time. She has been taking dance classes for 27 years. Her favorite book to read is anything Star Wars. Hiking in the upper peninsula or swimming in a lake are some of her favorite places to be!
Why Alexandria chose MIPS:
“I attended a charter school known for being a safe haven for a lot of students that felt like they
could not fit in at other schools. I care deeply about being an advocate for children to reach their
absolute full potential by helping each one create the best strategy to succeed in their individual
and unique endeavors. It’s important to me to provide a safe and supportive environment for kids
to flourish in every aspect of their lives. I believe strongly in the power of community,
affirmation, encouragement, patience, and kindness. I am passionate about leading and
empowering young people while demonstrating a positive outlook that anything is possible as
long as one is willing to ask for help, put in the hard work, and stay consistent.”
HS Math Teacher/Curriculum Development
Nicole is a secondary Math Teacher and Curriculum Developer at MIPS. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education from The University of Michigan-Flint with a major in Mathematics and a minor in Psychology. She earned her Master’s Degree in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove College.
After teaching for 12 years, she became a stay-at-home mom for her two boys. When her sons began attending school, she worked as a paraprofessional and substitute teacher. As a paraprofessional, Mrs. Haynes was in charge of organizing, developing and facilitating math interventions. She was responsible for personalizing instruction for students and saw remarkable growth in each student over just a few short months. Being a substitute teacher and a parapro developed her ability to be flexible, patient and to relate to students quickly.
Nicole lives in Davison with her husband, their two sons, a red lab, and an old lady cat. In her free time, Nicole enjoys reading, baking, and spending time around a bonfire.
Why Nicole chose MIPS:
“I chose to join the MIPS team because of their vision to serve students first and their mission to create an individualized educational pathway for each student. Students are like snowflakes - no two are exactly alike. I love that MIPS embraces these differences and encourages individual growth.
My name is Gabriela Hormann and I am proud to call Michigan International Prep School (MIPS) my home. I have been teaching Spanish since 2013. I am a 2007 graduate of Adlai Stevenson High School in Sterling Heights, MI. I was born in Brazil and moved to the U.S. at the age of 14, and have lived in Michigan since 2003.
In 2013 I obtained a B.A. Spanish Literatures and Cultures graduate from Central Michigan University. In 2015, I continued with my studies and obtained an M.A. in Spanish Literatures and Cultures graduate from Central Michigan University. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I wasn’t sure of what age group, so in 2019, I completed the Post-Baccalaureate K-12 Teacher Certification program offered through Central Michigan University. Before teaching K-12 Spanish I started my career teaching Spanish at the college level.
When I am not teaching I like to spend time with my family. I love to cook, decorate the house and go fishing. I also manage my own Airbnb rental property for fun. I really enjoy hosting others at my house and making sure that they have a relaxing, wonderful space to make memories with their family.
Why Gabriella chose MIPS:
"We offer great education with flexibility, personalized care and convenience of wherever life takes us on the daily basis. We slow things down for those that need and we also advance the pace to those who need the extra challenge. MIPS is the first school where I feel very comfortable asking my colleagues questions or reaching out for help. They are my work family!"
Special Education Teacher
Alisha is a K-12 Special Education teacher who mainly works with our elementary aged students here at Michigan International Prep School. She has worked with children for many years, serving as a nanny, camp counselor, assistant preschool teacher, substitute teacher, and lead preschool teacher. Alisha holds a Bachelors Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Elementary Education and Special Education.
Alisha resides in the Ann Arbor area with her husband, their two young sons, and their dog and cat. In her free time, Alisha enjoys spending time with her family, being outdoors, and traveling
Why Alisha chose MIPS:
"As an educator, I truly believe that there is not a “one size fits all” approach to education. I joined MIPS because they strongly believe that individualized learning is one of the keys to providing students with success in their education and beyond. MIPS has allowed me to provide personalized education to my students and develop one-on-one relationships that I don’t feel I would have been able to form in a traditional learning environment. Being a part of the MIPS family has also given me the opportunity to work with other like-minded educators who all have the same priority- our students!"
Erica Karmeisool is a problem solver who gets excited about big ideas and cool projects. She enjoys creating things, from carpentry to sculpture using tools from computers to table saws. She believes in helping others to feel their own empowerment, which fuels her passion for working with young people.
Since 2017, she has worked in education, mentoring middle and high school students through academic and hands-on experiences. She was the founder and director of the former Makers Market of Ludington, an educational and service-based community workshop, generally referred to as a makerspace. She is the former executive director of the Ludington Area Center for the Arts and has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Michigan State University ‘02.
Erica is an advocate of the arts, innovation and critical thinking. She finds inspiration through experiences in nature, like hiking and camping, and parenting her toddler. She enjoys being with her family, doing fix-it or creative projects and traveling.
Why Erica chose MIPS:
“My left brain and right brain are best friends. They play well together and like to share. I had a project-based childhood fueled by a passion for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) before the STEM/STEAM acronym was a thing. When I wanted to pursue an academic path that combined those disciplines, traditional education told me that it wasn’t possible. I’ve been bucking that mindset ever since.
At MIPS, I see that value is placed on the students' goals and aspirations. I see pathways and possibilities. I see art, music and theater having a place at the table with math and science. I choose to be a part of a team that works to make those possibilities a reality for young people.”
Middle School English &
Language Arts Teacher
Ms. Klebba is a Middle School ELA teacher here at MIPS. She graduated from Oakland University with her Bachelor’s in Education and Language Arts in early 2018. Ms. Klebba is always trying to find new and innovative ways to keep her students engaged and make learning as fun and interesting as possible. She believes strongly in meeting each student where they are and that teaching with their interests at the forefront will lead to greater strides in student learning. Ms. Klebba knows that every student may not have the same love for reading and writing as she does, but she aspires to make everyone love it a little bit more.
When Ms. Klebba is not teaching or grading, she loves to travel and listen to her favorite music. She is a firm believer that seeing new things and experiencing life outside of your comfort zone leads to the greatest learning there is. Reading and writing are also passions of Ms. Klebba. She loves reading mystery novels and writing creatively and about her travel/life experiences.
Why Hannah chose MIPS:
"I just started at MIPS in the 2020/2021 school year and I am excited to begin this journey! MIPS educators have a passion for truly educating students and it shows each day. MIPS is structured in such a way that teachers can differentiate learning pathways for individual students. This allows students to shine in ways traditional schools cannot.
I love that here at MIPS, teachers can create impactful relationships with their students through 1:1 learning. This learning format allows teachers to get to know their students well and to create educational experiences that are meaningful to each student. One of the primary things to remember in education is that each student and their families have previous experiences that differ. My job as an educator is to meet the students and their families where they are and to build trusting relationships that will carry them through their educational career. MIPS makes my job easy by offering a platform for teaching and learning that allows just that."
Michael is a person who always strives to be better, always
working to learn and become better at everything he does. Michael enjoys
spending time with his boys (29 and 26) and his grandchildren (1 and 5). Michael
loves working with others and is someone who takes pride in connecting
Why Michael chose MIPS:
"I chose MIPS due to its high level of attention to our youth. This will
allow me to be the role model and mentor to so many that I have always
wanted to be in my career."
I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I received my BA in History from the University of Michigan and my MA
in History from Eastern Michigan University. I was a teacher for 32 years and the Social Studies
Department Chair for 20 years at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor. In the last four years, myself and the
English department chair developed a mentor course for struggling incoming 9th grade students to get a
strong start at the high school. This experience prepared me well to join the MIPS team as a mentor.
I continue to live in Ann Arbor with my husband and dog Kirby. I have two adult sons, one who is finishing
his senior year in college at the University of Toledo and another who works for the Detroit Lions. I enjoy
sports of all kinds as a participant and spectator! Primarily, I enjoy tennis, golf, biking and swimming. As
a spectator, we go to a lot of football, basketball and baseball games (Go Blue!). And, for all the State fans
among us, I do cheer for MSU when not playing Michigan!
Why Jennifer chose MIPS:
"I am excited to be part of the MIPS team working to not only help students learn how to be successful, but to recognize their own individual potential. The faculty and staff that I have had the pleasure to work with all have this goal in mind. The environment is nurturing and supportive of each individual student finding their path to maximize their educational experience. As a mentor, I want to be part of that supportive network for our students, whether that is celebrating victories or providing the tools to work through any obstacles or bumps that life often brings."
Special Education Teacher
Amy is a Special Education Teacher at Michigan International Prep School. She is a wife, mother of five children (ages 10-21), and a dedicated educator with over 25 years of experience. She earned her Bachelor's degree at Central Michigan and Master's Degree at Eastern Michigan University. She enjoys College Football (Go Blue and Roll Tide), cooking, golf, traveling, and Cricuting!
Amy has worked in a variety of school settings and positions over the past 25 years. The last nine years she worked as a virtual special education case-manager and administrator serving special education students statewide. During that time, she took the lead on developing the special education transition program for all virtual high school students with disabilities who are transitioning to adult life. The experiences of working with families from across the entire state and connecting them to local resources in their own community were invaluable, as it taught her about the diverse needs of students throughout every county in the state of Michigan.
Why Amy chose MIPS:
"I chose to work at Michigan International Prep School because their virtual education model offers unparalleled opportunities for students of all ages to reach their full potential. What sets MIPS apart from other virtual schools is their unwavering commitment not only to their students, but also to staff. It's refreshing to work with educators who share my values and who are dedicated to creating a supportive and enriching learning environment. I felt MIPS was the ultimate virtual education model in the state and welcomed the opportunity without hesitation."
Middle School Math Interventionist
Mrs. Ruth Manzella is our middle school math interventionist here at MIPS. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics Education in 1999 from Maranatha Baptist Bible College. She began her teaching career in a charter school in Detroit teaching high school math. She later earned her Master’s degree in Teaching and Learning with a specialization in Curriculum and Instruction from Nova Southeastern University through their online program.
Mrs. Manzella has been teaching middle school and high school math since 1999 in both brick and mortar schools, as well as in the virtual setting. She has taught math intervention since 2014. Mrs. Manzella is passionate about student success and loves when students begin to enjoy learning math.
In her free time, Mrs. Manzella loves to spend time with her family and friends. She likes to read books, go for walks, go to the beach, and play in the snow. She keeps very busy with her big family and their three dogs and two cats.
Why Ruth chose MIPS:
"I am so excited to work with a team of educators that care about students and families. I love the fact that MIPS works to meet the needs of each individual student. I am excited about collaborating with teachers and mentors to help students receive the math help that they need."
High School Science Teacher
Jennifer is a High School Science Teacher at MIPS. She graduated with her Bachelor’s degree from Ferris State University with a major in English and a minor in Biology.
Teaching for MIPS is Jennifer’s first teaching position and she absolutely loves the experience. Jennifer previously held a role as Head of Academic for TPH Grand Rapids where she helped students to maintain and monitor their progress while offering tutoring services throughout the year. In years previous to Jennifer’s educational journey, she has held roles as a stay-home-mom, food & beverage manager, cheerleading coach, and substitute teacher. Her variety of experience helps her to relate to students on all different levels.
Jennifer lives in Lowell, MI with her husband, two children, and their very large labradoodle. In her free time she loves spending time with her family, gardening, and reading.
Why Jennifer chose MIPS:
"I chose to join MIPS because I believe in offering all students the option to an education that best suites their needs. Every student should feel comfortable with the material they are learning and the environment in which they are learning. MIPS offers so many opportunities students that allow students to grow and develop into their unique selves."
Teneisha McDonald, a born-and-raised Detroit native, received her Bachelor's in Biology from Spelman College. Midway through her collegiate career, she joined the United States Army Reserves as a Preventive Medicine Specialist serving with the 322nd Medical Company. While she considers herself an enthusiast for all things related to health and science, Teneisha's greatest passion resides in the performing arts. She has over 20 years of dance experience, her professional career beginning at just 17 years old. She now teaches and performs nationwide with Detroit’s own Nanou Djiapo African Drum and Dance. A few other hats she wears in the community (time permitting!,) include competitive cheer coach/consult and yoga instructor. She continues to dedicate her spare time investing into the performing arts community with the conviction that this work is not only entertaining, but informative, transformative, and healing.
Why Teneisha chose MIPS:
"I chose MIPS because I believe it is a space that provides me the opportunity to encourage and support the youth in Michigan as they learn to master self-discipline, self-sufficiency, and self-love. My mantra will always be “each one, reach one, teach one.”
Clayton is a mentor who is dedicated to helping students achieve success while enjoying the learning experience. His goal is to present a positive and exciting environment for education to help cultivate a place where goals and dreams can thrive. "Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." -Harriet Tubman.
Clayton has a creative mindset with many different outlets, including game design, creative writing, storytelling, acting, and outdoor events. Clayton has three wonderful kids and a beautiful wife of 13 years. He loves the outdoors and the inspiration nature can provide. Clayton is a people person and loves interpersonal engagement on any level.
Why Clayton chose MIPS:
“When I heard about MIPS, I knew it was something I had to be a part of. To have the opportunity to help bring positivity and motivation to the lives of others was a dream come true. To be a part of uplifting the next generation to greater heights is an honor and a privilege for me. I spent a few good years as a mentor in a different role in the past, and since then it has always been my dream to pursue that further in my career and life. I feel blessed to be able to do what I do.”
Ms. Madison Meeron graduated from Hope College in Holland, MI with a Bachelor of the Arts in Theatre and a minor in Communication. She has worked in the theatre industry as an actor, director, teacher, artist, sound designer, and playwright. Ms. Meeron has performed in numerous theatrical productions and is currently working as a professional actor with Hope Summer Repertory Theatre Company. She believes that storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have as individuals so she can't wait to begin creating new stories to tell with her students!
Ms. Meeron discovered her love for the arts at the ripe age of 3 when she and her grandmother would act out The Wizard of Oz beginning to end! She was always Dorothy and her grandmother miraculously portrayed every other character. Since then she has been passionate about creating art. She seeks to bring joy to others the same way her grandma brought her joy through performance.
Why Madison chose MIPS:
"I chose MIPS because I am passionate about sharing my love for theatre in innovative ways. I am so grateful that I get to offer students all across the state an outlet for creative expression in an industry that typically requires face to face to face collaboration. Thanks to MIPS’ trust in me I have proven that theatre transcends the stage and can be taught and produced virtually. I chose MIPS because MIPS cares about students on the individual level and in doing so offers opportunities for students to discover their creative potential!"
Matthew (Max) Meyer, based in Omaha, NE, has been actively performing and
teaching for the past 15 years. He holds a Bachelor’s in Music
Education with a focus on the classical guitar from the University of
Nebraska at Omaha. Max joined Rave on Productions (Omaha, NE) in 2016
where he played in theaters all across the United States and parts of
Canada, as well as internationally and abroad though varied cruise lines.
Prior to touring with Rave on Productions as their lead guitarist, Max
played in locally and regionally recognized acts in the music scene
around Omaha. With a diverse educational and performance background, Max
has proven to be a versatile guitarist and musician.
Why Max chose MIPS:
"Through the guitar program at MIPS, I hope to create a unique and
exciting format that sets students up for a successful future. Guitar has
been a foundation in my life and I am honored to share what I have
learned with this opportunity. MIPS is doing something very special, and
I believe I have much to offer for all those involved and look forward to
our exciting future together!"
Erin is an individual who strives for improvement and growth. She has
worked in retail management for ten years, where she is driven to meet
goals and expectations. Working in sales has given her a passion for
meeting the needs of others. She thrives in fast-paced work environments
where there is always something to be done! In her free time, Erin enjoys
traveling with her husband and kids, baking, and singing with her church
Why Erin chose MIPS:
"The biggest reason I chose MIPS was because I wanted to help others. I
found a passion for tutoring in high school and college, and it has
trickled down to my children in recent years. I feel that being able to
help students reach their goals now, will push them into their future
with more confidence. The other reason I chose MIPS was because of the
scheduling flexibility. Raising 5 children comes with its share of
scheduling difficulties, so having flexibility on weekends and holidays
would be beneficial for our family."
Secondary Teacher for Mathematics & Science/Cybersecurity
Eric is a passionate educator with six years of teaching experience. He
graduated from the University of Cincinnati and is a lifelong Bengals and
Reds fan. In his free time, he enjoys going for hikes with his wife
Tessa and their two dogs, Wendell and Rio.
Why Eric chose MIPS:
"I chose MIPS because of the organization's dedication to personalized
learning. This approach to education fosters curiosity and allows kids to
express themselves and their interests through their work. My goal is to
help MIPS with the mission to provide every child with learning
experiences that are catered towards their academic and emotional needs."
Mrs. Murphy is easy-going, soft-spoken, and always thrilled to help. She also likes to vroom around on a Harley and has a pet rottweiler named Gus. We’ve never met Gus, but we assume he’s really great at math.
As the Math Instructor at MIPS, Mrs. Murphy’s enthusiasm for numbers is contagious. She’s passionate about her subject and about instilling that enthusiasm in her students.
Mrs. Murphy has a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics, a Master’s degree in Educational Studies, and a Secondary Teaching Certificate for grades 6th-12th from Oakland University. She resides in Oxford with her husband, Michael. They love traveling and experiencing new places during their leisure time.
Why Ashley chose MIPS:
“In school, I was an exceptional math student and always had a passion for numbers. I have teaching experience in the traditional public classrooms of Oakland, Genesee, Macomb, and Wayne counties. While I loved the in-person interactions I got with students, I wanted more for my students.
I joined MIPS because I wanted to personalize learning by providing valuable, student-focused, academic support. At MIPS, I teach students all around the state of Michigan and I now have the tools and time needed to help kids.
I believe in the MIPS way because I feel supported and comfortable where I work. MIPS is flexible so I can work from anywhere, even though I have an office I travel to five days a week. Our four Drop-In Learning Labs give me autonomy to meet with students from across the state, and provide a change of scenery when necessary.”
Amanda is native Michigander who has spent almost all of her adult life working with students. She has been actively involved with her church for the last 15 years working with youth and women’s ministries. She has a passion to see students succeed in their academics while connecting them with any resources they may need. She currently volunteers with the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program for Genesee county, and helps to support youth in foster care by advocating for their needs.
She has spent time as a medical photographer for a children’s hospital, and as an adjunct professor for Wayne State University. Both those jobs have prepared her for working with students and helping them feel comfortable about the tasks at hand, while encouraging them that they can be successful at the hard things.
She spent a few years in Georgia and will sneak a “y’all” in here and there, and call a pop a soda. She currently lives in Flint with her husband and daughter, and all their animals. She coaches her daughter’s softball team, and is active in her church. She loves coffee, camping, photography, and board games. You can often find her with a coffee in her hand headed on some kind of adventure.
Why Amanda chose MIPS:
I chose to come to MIPS because I love their philosophy of students first and individualized education. I believe that students will be successful when given the specific tools they need, and I am excited that I get to be a part of their school toolbox. As a mentor I am looking forward to connecting with my students all over the state, and making a difference in their lives.
MUSIC / PIANO / VOICE TEACHER
Ms. Lauren Oddo is a music teacher with fifteen years experience in classroom and private music lesson settings. Ms. Oddo obtained her BA in Music from Texas A&M University and continues her education through regular participation in summer music courses through Southern Methodist University. She enjoys the experience of being a student again while learning from expert music educators on best practices in teaching, performing, and compositional skills.
Ms. Oddo's teaching career has included directing school musicals, facilitating yearly elementary vocal and instrumental performances, and coaching private vocal and piano students, some of whom have earned lead spots in local musicals. Ms. Oddo's personal musical highlights include performing at World Youth Day in Toronto, Canada, contributing vocals and rhythm guitar to three recording projects, and singing at the Vatican with her college choral group, The Century Singers.
During her free time, Lauren enjoys all things coffee related, cooking, being in nature, spending time with her niece, sisters and family, and exploring beautiful hiking destinations across the US with her fiancé Bruno.
Why Lauren chose MIPS:
"Growing up with a mom who taught piano lessons in our home, my love of music started at a young age and gave me opportunities to informally create and explore music often. I believe exposure to high level music, ear-training, musicianship and literature from an early age can positively impact a person's musical potential for life. At MIPS, I love that each student is provided a plan for developing their unique love of music and the arts through an excellent, comprehensive and interactive program. I look forward to working with the incredible and innovative performing arts staff here as well as meeting MIPS students and families like you, who are at the heart of what we do!"
Genna graduated from Central Michigan University with a degree in Psychology. Ms. Peterson began her college career at CMU with the intention of earning a medical degree, but changed course to Psychology, discovering a passion for helping people. Genna worked 3 years in a Special Education classroom, which is where she became interested in the education field. When Ms. Petersen felt she was no longer making a difference through her work, she applied at MIPS because she felt it had great potential for working with and helping students more directly.
Genna loves to cook and bake, read books, and play with her 2 kitties, Leo and Enzo
Why Genna chose MIPS:
"I love working with students and feeling like I can make a difference in their lives. Education can be difficult when you feel like you are doing it all alone, I wanted to be there for students and let them know that they have a whole team of people that are here cheering them on!"
MS Social Studies Teacher
Emily graduated from Oakland University with a degree in History Education in 2019. She has been a middle school social studies educator since July of 2019, where she taught in both a traditional school setting and via a virtual platform. Technology has always been an integral part of her life and she loves innovating new ways to connect with and engage her scholars with this powerful tool. She loves learning about resources to best suit her scholars and reach them on their level. Individuality and creativity are her language and she strives to educate and assist her scholars with their unique needs while utilizing high leverage teaching practices.
In her free time, Emily loves to play video games, read books, draw, sew, and play disc golf. She also loves to travel with her husband and their fur babies. Traveling helps her learn about other people and cultures. These experiences are shared in her classroom to supplement learning about history and geography. As a lifelong learner, she hopes to inspire her scholars to continue to learn throughout their own lives."
Why Emily chose MIPS:
"I realize that education is not 'one size fits all' and when I met with the teachers and admin at MIPS, it was apparent that they are striving to make education individualized to the learner. Students are truly the main focus of this school. Education is about the students of today and their future goals; there is a great deal at stake. MIPS understands and prioritizes the needs of students, which is the way education should be."
HS Social Studies Teacher
Mr. Pilgreen is a high school Social Studies teacher at MIPS. He has worked in both virtual and in-person classrooms, and written curriculum for his former district. He started his career at his alma mater, Garner High School in North Carolina, and has spent the last 5 years teaching at a charter school in Austin, Texas.
His passion for history is evident in his teaching style (with a focus on primary source analysis and project-based learning), but the best days in his class are when he can engage his greatest strength: storytelling.
David earned his B.S. in History Education from East Carolina University, and is a diehard Pirates football fan.
He loves exploring the country in his 25 foot travel trailer with his wife, Kendall, and rescue goldendoodle, Mosey. He also enjoys watching and playing sports of any kind, smoking brisket in his Weber Smokey Mountain, and frequenting any historical monuments, museums and National Parks.
Why David chose MIPS:
"I chose MIPS because we are in a time where education can take shape in many forms and in many locations. I am enthused by the prospect of learning from co-workers and students about what works best for the digital classroom and how to bring the things I did well in traditional classroom to a virtual platform. School does not have to look like a Monday-through-Friday work week. It is exciting to be a part of an organization that realizes that school should be personalized to the wants and needs of each student, and does so while promising to provide a world-class education along the way.
Ms. Megan Poli has been teaching music for thirteen years at various levels and in various parts of the country for both public and non-profit entities. Among these roles, she has served as a children’s choir clinician, director for a non-profit children’s choir, presented music education research at the national level, and directed multiple musicals. She attended Doane University in Crete, Nebraska where she discovered her passion for sharing and teaching music with young people. During her undergrad, Ms. Poli sang in the top auditioned choir for 4 years, the jazz choir, and played in the symphonic wind ensemble. A few years later, she received her MA in Music Education from the University of Northern Colorado. Her drive and passion is to nurture the musician in all students, and genuinely care and value each individual child.
Mrs. Poli was raised in small-town America, where she found her love for all things music. She grew up performing and singing in children’s choir, church choir, auditioned choir, show choir, band, community choir, and community theater. Mrs. Poli is excited to be moving back to her midwest roots with her fiancé, dog, and kitten. She absolutely loves reading, embracing her inner nerd, cooking, all things outdoors, and is a dog enthusiast.
Why Megan chose MIPS:
"I am SO excited and feel so fortunate to be teaching music at MIPS. The fact that I get to teach what I love to young people, and provide a music education to those who may not otherwise receive one is extremely rewarding.
I chose MIPS because we truly put our students first. We really do what is best for our students and it is clear MIPS has our students' best interests at heart. I am excited to feel supported in that endeavor. I know I am supported, valued, and heard by my team and the MIPS staff.
We have the absolute best students at MIPS. I truly enjoy each and every one of my classes, and love sharing in the joy of music making with them. My students are the highlight of my day, and I am beyond thankful to them and their families for the positivity and commitment they bring to the music program."
6-12 Art Teacher
Mr. Casey Ramthun graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design with a BFA in Illustration and has worked professionally as a graphic designer and has also worked as a freelancing artist. He has previously taught Visual Arts with Grand Rapids Public Schools. Mr. Ramthun has always returned to drawing and writing as his favorite means of creative expression, with a focus on portrait drawing. In his free time, Mr. Ramthun can be found tinkering with some new hobby or creative outlet to broaden his artistic experience.
Mr. Ramthun has been fortunate enough to have been surrounded and encouraged by several outstanding artists within his family, all of whom have fostered in him a deep appreciation of the arts for as long as he can remember. It is this unwavering support structure that drove Mr. Ramthun to the classroom where he can provide his students, the burgeoning artists of the world, with that same encouragement during these pivotal years of their artistic journey. In his classroom, students will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to face new challenges, encouraged to be brave and take creative risks, and be provided a creative environment where all students feel welcome and recognized when they make that leap forward in their never-ending artistic growth.
Why Casey chose MIPS:
"I chose MIPS because the possibility of connecting with students from all over is exciting. As an artist I recognize that for many of us we are most creative and fearless in our own studio and creative space. Art is a personal journey and expressing it can take any shape within us, so for my students, I implore you to be open and ready to delve into your hobbies and passions, because I promise to encourage your creative outbreaks however they manifest."
Middle School Math Teacher
Kristy has been in education for over 18 years. She has spent the majority of her career teaching middle school students. In 2002, she earned her Bachelor's degree from Grand Valley State University and completed her Master's degree in mathematics and reading from Walden University in 2009. She enjoys spending time with her husband and six children. Her children range from 10 to 23 years old. Her two 17-year-old boys play at a very competitive level of soccer, and they travel outside of Michigan regularly for games. She also loves vacationing at their family cabin and spending time out by the pool.
Why Kristin chose MIPS:
"Over the past few years, I have been trying to find a school that aligns
with my personal and professional beliefs and values. When I looked into
MIPS by viewing their website, watching videos on their Youtube channel,
and speaking with some of the administrative team, I knew this was the
school for me. I love that they do what's best for students and their
Special Education Teacher
Anna is a kind and caring individual who enjoys working with kids. Anna
earned her bachelor's degree at Eastern Michigan University. She enjoys
spending time with her family, having game nights (board games and card
games, sometimes Nintendo and Wii). Anna is married to her beautiful
partner Nicole and they have an adorable 3 year old. In her free time she
likes to spend time outside, time in the garden, and taking pictures of
wildlife. Anna has been a teacher for 11 years, both in the brick and
mortar setting and in the virtual setting.
Why Anna chose MIPS:
I chose to work with MIPS because it sounded like a great opportunity and
team to be a part of. My former co-worker has joined the team and has
had nothing but nice things to say about this school. I enjoy that this
is a virtual setting, it will allow for me to grow my skills in being a
Michelle is a Mentor who is excited to help students achieve their goals and help students foster relationships with peers. Setting a plan can be challenging at times, but with the right support system in place, anything is possible.
Michelle attended Mott Community College and then transferred to The University of
Michigan-Flint. She has worked in many roles in brick-and-mortar schools from preschool assistant to substitute teacher before shifting to her favorite role as “Mom.” Michelle lives in her hometown with her husband and their three beautiful children; A daughter and two sons who attend MIPS. Michelle loves attending all her children's activities, from the stage to the baseball field. They keep her very busy.
When Michelle is not at her children's activities, she loves to spend time with her one-year-old niece, family, and friends, host parties, travel, and cheer on the Michigan Wolverines. Go Blue!
Why Michelle chose MIPS:
"The reason why I chose Michigan International Prep School was that the philosophy they share aligns with mine. MIPS puts students' needs first and offers a different learning style outside the traditional classroom. They understand that each student is unique and has their own learning style, and they've built a tailored village to support them and to ensure that each student who wants to succeed will. I’m so excited to be part of this team!"
Sharona is currently attending Bellevue University to earn her Bachelor's degree in business. She received her Associate's degree in general studies from Mott Community College. Her goal is to graduate from Bellevue with a better understanding of the business world. She has experience working with people of all ages due to her eight year career as a Library Assistant.
During her Library career, Sharona was able to discover her passion to help others through books and programming. She believes books are not only good for learning, they are also great for an escape. She ran the teen programming events and was able to connect with kids and teens on an artistic and social level.
In her spare time, Sharona loves to be outdoors, read, hang out with her friends, her family, and her dogs.
Why Sharona chose MIPS:
"I chose MIPS because I have a passion to help. I believe when you help someone better themselves, you become a better person in the process. I have worked with kids and teens in group settings, but with MIPS I am looking forward to making personal connections through one-on-one relationships. To be part of a team that is supportive and welcoming is what I love and appreciate the most."
Janie is a compassionate and enthusiastic person. She has worked with
kids throughout her professional career, including nannying and teaching at a
daycare. Janie enjoys spending her time camping and hiking or spending
time with her friends and family or her cats. Janie also loved gymnastics
and coached little ones for many years.
Why Janie chose MIPS:
"I chose MIPS to bring enthusiasm and excitement to the newly
revolutionized online learning journey and to further expand my
knowledge and work with kids. I’m excited for the relationships my position
will give me with the students and staff. I love helping kids and being
their extra support and encouragement in helping them perform to the best
of their abilities."
Renee is passionate about literacy, reading, and learning. She is an avid
reader and book collector and loves to have conversations about books
with anyone who will engage. She enjoys learning new skills and is
currently working on becoming fluent in Spanish. She spent several years
working in special education at Lake Fenton, and enjoys working with
students of all ages. She loves to travel and is aiming to visit all 50
states. Thus far, her favorite trip was to Mexico City for El Dia de los
Muertos. Renee is a mother of four, and considers raising her children to
be the greatest privilege of her life.
Why Renee chose MIPS:
"The school experience is different for everyone, and I don't believe in a
one-size-fits-all approach. I appreciate that MIPS understands that
students learn in a variety of ways and have a wide range of strengths
and weaknesses, unique interests, and different needs. I love MIPS's
belief that "the future of education is customized." Meeting
each student right where they are at, and helping them set and work
toward achievable goals is something I am passionate about. I know that
MIPS sees education through the same lens that I do, and I am excited to
be joining this amazing community of people."
Kiwanna is a middle and high school mentor who wants to help students every step of the way in accomplishing their educational goals and achieving the greatest academic success. As an enthusiast of history and politics, she is a few credits away from completing her degree in Political Science. Before entering the education field, Kiwanna worked in administration for local and state government, and campaigned for some local politicians. Those experiences helped to change her focus towards helping children, as she believes they are the core of the community she wishes to influence.
Kiwanna and her high school sweetheart recently purchased a “fixer upper” in Detroit, which they’ve worked tirelessly to renovate and make into a “home sweet home” for their son. Aside from volunteering in her community, she likes to watch DIY videos, draw, and attend family events.
Why Kiwanna chose MIPS:
"I struggled as a student during my childhood, and it was only through the encouragement and motivation of educators that I was able to achieve success. Joining MIPS is my opportunity to give back what has been given to me. After being welcomed into MIPS, I quickly learned that I joined a team that has no limit as to how far they’re willing to go in ensuring the success of a single student. It’s reminiscent of my own experience, and makes me grateful to be apart of such a dedicated team!"
Dennis is a lifelong learner who is always known to have at least one
book with him at all times. He earned his undergraduate degree in
Religious Studies and received his Master's degree in Biblical Counseling
from Luther Rice University. He has known that he wanted to be a teacher
of some kind since his high school years and has been able to teach the
Bible at his local church for over ten years. Dennis is also a podcaster
and missionary with an organization called InFaith. He loves discussing
philosophy, politics, and issues of faith with the people in his life.
Why Dennis chose MIPS:
"I chose to work at MIPS because I knew people who have worked for them,
and they've always spoken highly of the school and the culture that MIPS
has cultivated for students, parents, and employees. I have wanted to be
involved in educating the next generation for a while now, but I've never
felt that the public school system was the right fit for me. After
teaching in various contexts over the years and mentoring young men in my
ministry work, I discovered that MIPS offers a wonderful amalgamation of
all those aspirations I've held in the past."
Special Education Teacher
Mr. Theisen serves as a special education mentor at MIPS. Previously, he has taught for 14 years in brick and mortar schools. He spent the first ten years as a mathematics teacher for grades 6-12th and the last four years as a special education teacher. He holds a Masters Degree from Wayne State in Secondary Mathematics and a Masters Degree from the University of Michigan-Dearborn in Special Education.
Matt has a ten year old daughter, Ava. Together they enjoy living with many pets, including: Henry the rabbit, three parakeets, and axolotl salamander. Matt loves to plant flowers and follow local sports teams, especially the Pistons and Lions.
Why Matt chose MIPS:
“I chose to teach at Michigan International Prep School because it is an online school that offers diverse, flexible, and customized education solutions for all students. Additionally, MIPS allows students who have special needs to flourish and feel supported to do their very best.”
Adam VanWert is a 6th-12th grade mentor. Adam has extensive knowledge in the customer service industry, technology, and counseling services. Adam loves learning about other people's passions and what drives them so he can help them achieve their goals and dreams. He and his wife, Jolie, have four children and all of them currently attend MIPS or will attend soon. Adam enjoys going to the movies, playing video games with his children, and photography.
Why Adam chose MIPS:
I chose MIPS because I love the passion and drive I see from the other mentors who want to pour into students. MIPS has set a standard of culture you don't see in many places, and that is a culture of integrity and drive. The staff at MIPS are driven to succeed and share that success with those around them. They really talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to owning your sphere of influence."
Jolie was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming and grew up traveling in the Air Force, where her father served. When he retired, she completed her school years in Bay City, MI. She married her high school sweetheart and has four children. She homeschooled them up until she found the MIPS program a few years ago. Jolie took advantage of the “down time” of COVID to go back to school and earn her Bachelors in Elementary Education at Western Governors University. She has taught dance classes, music classes, and was a paraprofessional for a short time.
In her free time Jolie carts her children around to their various activities, including competitive dance, Brazilian Jiu Jitzu, MMA, soccer, play practices, and swimming lessons. She is an avid reader and enjoys a research project or a good beach day. Jolie loves to sing, and enjoys planning parties for her family and friends.
Why Jolie chose MIPS:
"As a parent, I searched for an online program that had the best of every world for my own children. I wanted the personal touch that catered to my children’s interests and personalities, while still focusing on a high-level of academic rigor. Finding MIPS checked off all my boxes for my children. Connecting with mentors and teachers encouraged me to pursue higher education for myself. Now I am getting to be part of the other side of the coin as a mentor, and I am so excited to be able to enable others to become future world-changers through the MIPS program!"
Zoie is a high school teacher who got her masters in special education online through Grand Canyon State University. Over the years Zoie has worked with students volunteering in girls on the run, a moment of magic, and best buddies. Zoie has worked in Special education for the past 6 years as a classroom aid, paraprofessional, elementary and high school age teacher.
Zoie resides in Michigan but enjoys traveling any chance that she can get. In her free time she spends time with family, friends, and her dog. Zoie enjoys camping, rock climbing, and hiking.
Why Zoie chose MIPS:
"I believe in the importance of connecting with students and families to find a unique approach to help each student be successful in their own way. MIPS allows me one on one time with students to best meet each student's learning preferences. From my personal experience with online schooling I believe it has wonderful benefits allowing students to not only have some flexibility as well as be in a comfortable and safe environment to help them succeed."
Bianca is a person who wants nothing but the best for everyone. She
strives to make an impact in her community and is ready to face any
obstacles that comes her way. Bianca is very family-oriented, and loves to
watch movies and make people laugh.
Why Bianca chose MIPS:
I chose MIPS because I was ready to gain more experience working with older students. After working with kids of all ages over the last 8
years, I felt it was time to grasp a better understanding of older students. I know I can learn a lot from them.
Director of Student-Athlete Services for USA Hockey
Lisa Vollmers grew up in Ann Arbor, MI. Lisa received her Bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University in History and Anthropology. She later earned her Master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University with an emphasis on European and American History. She taught at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor for 25 years, retiring in 2016.
While working in Ann Arbor, Lisa was also the district NCAA coordinator interacting with counselors and administrators at all five A2 high schools. In addition to her work in the schools, Lisa took on a part-time position with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program in 2004, working to support student-athletes in their academic pursuits while they participated in this elite program. Upon her retirement, she expanded her roll to further support the athletes, parents and host families involved with the NTDP.
Lisa and her husband, Jim, currently live In Dexter, MI. She has two adult children. Olivia played college soccer at Western Michigan University and earned a degree in Business Management and Economics. After five years in the United States Marine Corps, Spencer went on to attend WMU and is now in his final year, also earning a degree in Business Management and Economics. The Vollmers’ family pet, Mufaza, is a ten-year-old Golden Retriever. Lisa enjoys traveling, playing golf and being an enthusiastic spectator for college and professional football and hockey.
Why Lisa chose MIPS:
"In 2020, I discovered MIPS to be an amazing educational solution to the global pandemic. As the NTDP consists of 46 student-athletes, we needed to provide the student-athletes with an accredited, NCAA approved, asynchronous program to attend while training for the national team. After meeting with the administration and learning about the program, I felt confident partnering with MIPS in order to fulfill our students’ academic needs while working diligently to keep everyone healthy.
MIPS offers tremendous support and a wide range of challenging courses that truly prepare our students as they matriculate to attend leading Division I universities to pursue college degrees while they participate in varsity hockey programs. The MIPS staff is top notch as they consistently go the extra mile to meet their students’ needs. I continue to be impressed with the MIPS mission and enjoy our ongoing working relationship."
Derrick is a mentor for grades 6 – 12 and he acknowledges that those school years can be difficult and sometimes you just need some more help. The approach he takes with his role is to help students establish a goal and then to work together to help them achieve that goal. “To me there is nothing more rewarding than helping someone reach a goal that they have been working very hard to achieve.” -Derrick Whitaker
Derrick has a diverse educational journey. He is a proud Oxford Wildcat that graduated in 2003 with honors. He then went on to obtain an Associates in General Studies and an Associates in Arts from Mott Community College. Derrick received a Bachelor’s in science with a focus in Biology from the University of Michigan-Flint. Derrick obtained his EMS certification and became nationally registered for first responders. With the changes that have come in the world and in his own professional life, he ventured out from the health care realm and tried his hand in other areas. Derrick became a Realtor and was doing great but with the uncertainty of the pandemic decided to stay home and help home school his two sons.
Derrick has been together with his wife, Michelle, for 19 years and they share two sons. Together the family likes to go camping and taking relaxing vacations. In his downtime he loves video games and is passionate about disc golf.
Why Derrick chose MIPS:
“For me the choice to work for MIPS was an easy one when I broke it down. I stepped back and thought about what I wanted. I realized that I was always searching for that fulfilling feeling of making a lasting difference in someone’s life. When I look at my previous jobs and education, the essence of each path has been to help others. I am extremely excited to join the MIPS team because I like their approach to education and how it can be, and really potentially should be, different for each student.”
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