Tara has devoted her career to helping people. She started out in the serving industry, worked her way up to management, to marketing, and finally becoming a sales specialist in the retail industry. She has a real passion for people! Tara is a customer service and sales expert with sixteen years of experience in the field, handling customer needs and delivering effective solutions to problems.
Tara received her 301 Masters certification through an MBA program. She has an unwavering commitment to customer service with the ability to build productive and long lasting relationships, resolve issues, and earn customer loyalty. Tara loves bringing energy into a room and not taking everything too seriously. According to Tara, she talks too loud sometimes and her jokes aren’t always funny…but she enjoys making people feel comfortable around her when she meets them.
Outside of the office,Tara is a dedicated wife and mother of three strong minded children that keep her running constantly. Tara describes her work as sometimes being her “escape…but when you believe in it…when you truly find that you are making a difference in kids’ lives…it doesn’t feel like work at all.”
Why Tara chose MIPS:
“Through my career I’ve realized that building relationships with people is what I was meant to do and what I’m most passionate about….which has lead me here to MIPS. Falling in love with your work creates something special about it. My “why” for being here with this amazing school isn’t something I can copy and paste from the internet….I myself am a mom of a middle schooler that has been ‘falling through the cracks’ for years.
My understanding for what virtual school offers to students just like my own child has opened my mind up to so many possibilities, when I honestly thought all of my options were exhausted. Is the virtual world the best choice for every child? No, it’s not! But is it the perfect fit for some kids that have lost all hope for school and need to feel successful again? You betcha!”
Enrollment & Data Entry Specialist
Before joining Michigan International Prep School as a Student Engagement Specialist, Annette served in the medical profession for 20+ years, most recently working as a supervisor in her department. In her current role at MIPS, Annette provides critical support to current and prospective MIPS students and families.
Annette is a wife and a mother of 3 children and has one new grand-baby. In her spare time, she enjoys camping and riding her ATV with close friends and family. She is a very family-oriented person.
Why Annette chose MIPS:
“I joined the MIPS team because I was looking for a new challenge and direction in life. I knew right away that joining MIPS was the right fit for me. In my own experience, I can relate to the parent’s perspective, having a child who struggled with school and ultimately turned to virtual education. The virtual learning model provides students with a low-pressure learning environment and an extremely flexible schedule - both of which do not come with face-to-face learning. I feel that the MIPS team is a vibrant and success-oriented team. My position here allows me to help students and parents daily, and gives me a sense of accomplishment.”"
Enrollment & Data Entry Specialist
Ruthanne is part of our Enrollment Team here at Michigan International Prep School and was hired to aid our families in Applications and Enrollment.
Ruthanne worked primarily in a hospital setting as a Certified Sterile Processing Technician during her career and retired from that position after 20+ years. She also was an Administrative Assistant to the Director of a business school after completing schooling.
She is a FAMILY FIRST believer and has raised four children to adulthood who now have families of their own. Good work ethic is very important to her and she is open-minded and caring. She will do her best to help any family in need.
Why Ruthanne chose MIPS:
"I had planned on retiring, but when I was offered the opportunity to continue working for an employer who put families first, I was thrilled. I am a people person at heart, and feel I have a sympathetic ear when it comes to family dynamics. There are too many schools that do not understand underlying reasons for student failures and the inability to thrive in a school environment. MIPS takes all of the OTHER STUFF into consideration when helping our families."
Enrollment & Data Entry Specialist
Charise is a mom of two great kids and a wife of 26 years. She has worked for the last 12 years in the food industry, and before that, she was a stay at mom for 10 years. Charise's experience in the workforce and as a mom give her a great deal of empathy, a strong work ethic, and a drive to get things done efficiently. Her love for kids led her to volunteering her time and energy with her own two children for 10 years with the 4-H program. She loved to see not only her children but all the participants succeed with their animals, and in all other categories of life as well.
Why Charise chose MIPS:
"I joined the MIPS team so I can help children succeed in their futures like I witnessed in the 4-H program. Our children are our future and we have to help in every way possible. I'm so excited to be part of the Enrollment Team here at MIPS"
Director of Adult Learning
Director of Academic Counseling Services Social Studies Teacher
Mrs. Sharkey is a secondary Social Studies Teacher/Mentor at MIPS. She has wealth of experience in education, having served as a teacher in traditional and online learning environments, adult education, and district program coordination in Michigan and Minnesota. With an intense commitment to student success, she embraces creative and holistic best practices and is always ready and willing to go the extra mile to serve the needs of her students. Becky received her Bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Central Michigan University, her Master’s degree in Liberal Studies in American Culture from the University of Michigan and a Secondary Teaching Certification in grades 6-12 from the University of Minnesota.
Becky is currently working to complete her M.Ed. She lives in Fostoria with her husband and son on their working farm, sustainably raising grass-fed cattle, free-ranging chickens, flowers and vegetables. When not pulling weeds and calves, Mrs. Sharkey likes to spend time with family and friends, read, hike, refurbish old furniture, practice yoga, and travel.
Why Becky chose MIPS:
“I joined MIPS because of their commitment to an individualized educational approach that meets the needs of each and every MIPS student and family. I believe strongly that meaningful teaching and learning is not a “one-size-fits all” process. In order to prepare all learners for the promises and challenges of the twenty-first century, we need to employ holistic, creative, “out of the box” strategies. I searched for a school which embodied these beliefs and in MIPS I found it!”
Mrs. Jaimie Barksdale is a licensed K-12 School Counselor at MIPS. She has experience working with students across the states of Michigan and New York. Mrs. Barksdale is a passionate, charismatic, and kind educator who prioritizes student success as the center of her work.
Mrs. Barksdale loves following and coaching students through their educational journey as a strong advocate and support. It is very rewarding when students graduate and look back on their academic career with pride. Mrs. Barksdale embraces Solution-Focused Brief Therapy as her core counseling strategy when meeting with students for Academic, Social/Emotional, and College/Career development. She believes every student has potential and she loves being that “Go-to” adult for students who need that an extra push, check-in, or word of encouragement.
Mrs. Barksdale received her Bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Services from the University at Buffalo, and her Master’s degree in School Counseling from Canisius College.
In her spare time, Mrs. Barksdale loves spending time with her husband, daughter, and two cats. She also enjoys traveling, candle-making, and watching a good movie.
Why Jaimie chose MIPS:
“I am so excited to be a part of the MIPS team because academics and family-life balance are important for our students, families, and staff members, and it is evident that this school focuses on a holistic approach to a child’s education. Having a healthy work-life balance (for students and staff alike) and being a high-achieving online school is what makes MIPS so unique. Everyone at MIPS is very friendly and willing to go the extra mile to make sure a student has what they need in order to be successful. I am happy that I am in the business of making students across the state of Michigan successful, no matter what their circumstance may be!”
Guidance Counselor (H-L) & Teacher
Cynthia Talbot has lived in Michigan her entire life, but has worked with K-12 students all over the United States for the past 15 years, starting out as a teacher.
She began her collegiate education at Baker College, where she earned an Associate’s degree in Business Administration with a major in graphics/visual arts. She continued her studies at Baker to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from their online accelerated program.
After that, Cynthia attended Ferris State University and graduated from their teacher prep program with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She then continued her education at Ferris to receive a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction, majoring in Special Education. After completing Grand Valley State University’s Counselor Education program, Cynthia received her K-12 School Counselor license.
Cynthia's combined teaching and counseling experience include developing and teaching a web design curriculum for MI Virtual University, a SPED teacher for online/onsite students, an advocate for a woman’s resource shelter, a volunteer teacher and counselor for YMCA teen program, and an online CTE teacher and school counselor for online schools throughout the U.S. As a solution-focused counselor, Cynthia helps students to reduce obstacles that prevent them from reaching their personal, academic, social and career goals. She gives students the resources, strategies and support they need to build a foundation for a successful and productive life.
Why Cynthia chose MIPS:
“I chose MIPS because I felt that the staff has a true and genuine caring and compassion for all
students. MIPS offers a wonderful live arts program that surpasses many other online formats,
and provides flexibility in student courses. I’m proud to be here at MIPS, where I feel I can truly
make a difference in the lives of students.”
Julie is in her eleventh year working in the School Counseling profession. She is enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge and passion for learning with families, staff, and students. Her focus is on ensuring students are taking the correct flow of courses in high school that match their interests and post secondary goals along with helping students sharpen their soft skills for lifelong success. Prior to working in a school setting, Julie helped youth struggling with substance abuse issues. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Substance Abuse Education and Master’s degree in Counseling from Central Michigan University.
Julie enjoys spending time with her family and friends outside of work. Spending time outdoors is how she stays refreshed and grounded. She has two teenage sons, a husband, two cats and two dogs to keep her busy at home.
Why Julie chose MIPS:
"I chose MIPS for the individualized student planning and flexibility. The support MIPS offers our students and families is inspiring!"
My name is Pamela Mitchell, Social Worker for MIPS! I am passionate about helping others in any way
possible through both work and volunteering. I have a background in social work and earned my
undergraduate degree at Eastern Michigan University and my master’s degree at Wayne State
University. I am a Licensed Master Social Worker with more than a decade of professional experience. I
have had clinical assessment and therapeutic positions throughout southeast Michigan.
I have also
served as a juvenile probation officer in both Wayne County and Livingston County. In recent years I
served as the program coordinator for a local adult homeless shelter.
My career focus has been working
with individuals and families and helping them to make positive changes to live more fully. Daily, I strive
to follow God’s lead, find the lesson and joy in all circumstances, and share that with others! A favorite
quote of mine is: “Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard
work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”
In my spare time, I love
anything creative including dance and music, all types of new and physical challenges, time with my sons
and family, reading and writing, and meeting new and old friends.
Why Pamela chose MIPS:
"I chose MIPS because of the innovative
approach to guiding and teaching young people! Everyone is unique with a special and personal set of
interests, talents, and skills. MIPS truly embodies that truth in education and I am excited to be a part of
that team and approach!
Ms. Adams is a Middle and High School Mentor at MIPS. She attended Central Michigan University and graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Family Studies in 2017. Elizabeth joined the MIPS family in November of 2018 and is excited about the growth she’s experienced since entering the education field. Ms. Adams is known for her warm, enthusiastic, and passionate care for students.
Elizabeth (Liz) enjoys reading, painting, and cooking in her spare time. She has an energetic Boxer-Terrier mix at home who loves to bury herself in blankets. She’s a Broadway musical enthusiast and would love to see Hamilton performed live someday. Liz likes to spend most of her time with friends and family.
Why Liz chose MIPS:
“Joining the MIPS family has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. I like that MIPS not only cares about providing a quality education, but also providing everything a student and their family would need in order to be successful. Instead of students having to try to live their lives around school, MIPS provides the flexibility needed in order to fit schooling into their lives and have the two blend perfectly.”
Krista is a School Psychologist, and she joined the MIPS family in the spring of 2020. Krista was born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI, and she ran cross country and track competitively throughout high school and college. She attended Central Michigan University where her interest in working with individuals with disabilities began. She worked in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis after graduating from CMU and while attending graduate school at Grand Valley State University. Krista is a licensed School Psychologist and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She has worked as a School Psychologist in the Mid-Michigan and Grand Rapids areas along with a handful of virtual positions with school districts across the state of Michigan.
Krista enjoys spending time and going on adventures with family and friends. She is the mother of two energetic young boys.
Why Krista chose MIPS:
"I joined MIPS because I saw a unique opportunity to work with a diverse group of students, family, and staff members. I value my role as a problem-solving team member. Working with MIPS has presented me with the wonderful experience of collaborating with others who are focused on the individual needs of each family and on consistent student growth. MIPS provides a strong system of support for its students."
School Social Worker
Annie is beginning her first year at MIPS this year as a School Social Worker. Annie has been working in schools for the past four years and is passionate about helping others in any way possible. She received her Bachelor’s of Social Work from Eastern Michigan University, and her Master’s of Social Work from the University of Michigan. She has a background of working with youth in areas such as after school programs, the Adolescent Diversion Program of Ann Arbor, and in traditional and non traditional school settings.
Annie worked with both adults and children in her time at LACASA (domestic violence shelter and counseling center) as a special service worker for four years before specializing in school social work. Annie’s favorite part of her job is making meaningful connections with her students and their families.
In her spare time, Annie likes to spend time with her husband and her two young children. Her family recently adopted a puppy who has kept them all busy this summer! Annie and her family love to take adventures together and spend lots of time outdoors.
Why Annie chose MIPS:
“I am so excited to be joining MIPS this year! I have loved meeting everyone so far, and have appreciated seeing their dedicated and supportive attitude towards their work and students. I chose MIPS because I love the flexibility it gives students and their families. I love the many different resources that MIPS provides to students and how the program helps provide families with real life skills that they can utilize while in the program and after. I am so excited to be a part of this wonderful team!”
Instructional and Family Support Specialist
D'Ann Rohrer understands the importance of finding the best educational partnership for children so their gifts and talents are sought and nurtured. She has taught in public education from preschool to sixth grade with her associates degree in Child Development from Ferris State University and Bachelors Degree from Grand Valley State University.
D'Ann chose to homeschool her two youngest children for two years and was an educator for a Big 10 University after receiving a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a Philanthropy emphasis from Ferris State University. While at the University she found herself following her passions by facilitating racial dialogues through Everyday Democracy, global cultural education with international exchange programs through 4-H and IFYE, and educating teens on healthy relationships through One Love Foundation. Her desire to serve was shared with youth and adults by teaching philanthropy education through a partnership with Learning to Give.
D'Ann became a facilitator for Mental Health First Aid and teen Mental Health First Aid through the National Council for Mental Wellbeing as a way to better prepare adults and teens to further help young people. All of these experiences have shown D'Ann the importance of listening to understand and most importantly seek the uniqueness in each child and the importance to educate them in a way that celebrates their individualism.
D'Ann lives on a small farm south of the Ludington area with five goats, 16 chickens, two rabbits, two dogs and two cats. She and her husband, of 32 years, enjoy working in their labyrinth garden during the Spring/Summer, raising meat chickens, hunting in the fall which produces their vegetables for their protein for the entire year. They have raised four children, an accountant, teacher, and two attending college majoring in chemical engineering and environmental sciences. She enjoys sports and has coached basketball, swimming, soccer, softball and track. D'Ann has competed in triathlons and was an All-American discus thrower. When time allow she enjoys traveling to learn more about cultural values throughout the world.
Why D'Ann chose MIPS:
"The draw to Michigan International Prep School was in the name itself, "International." After further inquiry it soon became clear that this forward thinking "School of One" was the next step in this journey we call life. All the prior professional and personal experiences have prepared me well for this next career shift. All my success and failures have all given me knowledge to be able to come alongside educators and families to support them in their individual journeys. I look forward to continuing learning in this virtual environment but also sharing a cup of coffee and a hug in our new partnership together."
Social Emotional Interventionist
Tony is part of the MIPS family of Academic and Social-Emotional Support Services. He is our Social Emotional Interventionist assisting students and families to navigate and develop self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success. Tony is a graduate of Spring Arbor University with a Bachelor of Arts in Family Life Education. He comes to us with a background in law enforcement, juvenile justice, abused and neglected youth, mental health, and education.
Tony enjoys spending his free time with his wife Wendy and five children ranging in age from adolescent to young adults. You can find the Tiggart household engaged in their church and community, various children’s sporting activities and hobbies along with entertaining three cats and two dogs.
Why Tony chose MIPS:
"I chose MIPS because every student deserves an opportunity to be successful. As a former high school dropout and at-risk student it took a team of supportive individuals being available to assist me. That team of individuals held me accountable to become a successful and productive citizen. The MIPS team is a family of supportive and caring professionals seeking to engage and grow lifelong learners beyond academics. I am a firm believer that the power of one person being available can make a difference and impact the world. Best practices encourage equipping students with strong social-emotional skills ensuring that they are able to cope with everyday challenges and benefit academically, professionally, and socially and this is how I measure success."
Director of Human Services
As the Director of Human Services, Charlie oversees the department here at MIPS making sure our staff has everything they need to flourish and achieve greatness for both themselves and the students they serve. Making MIPS a leading workplace in the state of Michigan is a passion of his.
Charlie also maintains close relationships with various charter school and school choice organizations and advocates for the vital need for online learning options and parental choice in education with legislators in Lansing often.
Charlie also works directly on the attainment and usage of all state and federal grants. (31a, 31o, 35a(5), Title I, II, IV, FCC ECF, ESSER I, II, III, as well as several other Covid era funding opportunities)
In previous roles here at MIPS, Charlie spearheaded the attainment of NCAA and AdvancED/Cognia accreditations along with being deeply involved in many facets of school compliance to both the state and federal departments of education.
Charlie has an extensive educational background, having served in various advising, teacher, and administrative roles. Charlie served as the Principal at NexTech High School of Lansing from 2012-2018 where he led the school from its inception and for six school years thereafter.
Charlie's favorite day of the year is graduation – there are few things as rewarding as seeing the look of accomplishment on a student’s face as they’re handed a diploma.
Charlie resides in Howell with his wife Kallie, and their sons, Maverick and Callahan. In his free time, Charlie passionately follows Big Ten athletics.
Indiana University - Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education, 2008
Purdue University - Master of Science in Educational Leadership, 2011
Central Michigan University - Master of Arts in Educational Technology, 2016
Why Charlie chose MIPS:
“I joined Michigan International Prep School because I am a big believer in school choice and that a highly engaging and effective school program can make all the difference in a young person’s life. Your zip code should not determine your education and MIPS lives and breathes that everyday by serving students and families all across our wonderful state! The flexibility and freedom of a program such as this provide students such wonderful avenues to use their time to pursue a musical or athletic interest, work, volunteer, intern, or even start their own business! When students are given autonomy and ownership of their learning and time, amazing things happen.”
Jared is a mentor who has a passion for building relationships with students and inspiring them to pursue their personal and academic goals. He has a talent for pulling people out of their shell and creating deep and meaningful connections.
Along with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Northwood University, Jared has experience in law enforcement and mortgage lending, both of which have ingrained in him the “art” of communication. His time volunteering with youth in the Flint area and his own experience with personal mentors has led him to MIPS, where he hopes to make a difference in many students’ lives.
and meaningful connections.
Jared enjoys working on renovation projects and camping with his family. His favorite way to spend time is to teach his young kids how to live and love well and to seek out new adventures with his wife.
Why Jared chose MIPS:
"I was so excited to join the MIPS family because of the personalized approach to education for each student. I know that everyone here is 100% invested in the academic and personal success of each student and family that we work with. Watching each member of the MIPS family go above and beyond for our students and families is inspiring."
Human Services Coordinator
Kimberly is an individual who strives to always be the best version of herself. She believes that it’s the little things in life that truly matter and have the power to make a big impact. Kimberly is currently enrolled as a senior at the University of Michigan for a bachelor's degree in Human Resource Management/Organizational Behavior. With this degree, she hopes to earn her way into a position that will allow her to utilize her strong communication skills and passion for working with the people. Holding over 5 years of experience working with children in an early child development center and 3 years in a managerial position have shaped Kimberly into the individual that she is today. She is an individual who is dedicated to the well-being of both children and adults alike. She has consistent motivation to support and encourage others to keep moving forward- no matter the hardships life may offer.
During her down time, Kimberly can be found either being crafty via painting or playing with her music. As well as making time to get active outdoors (kayaking, hiking etc.) and living for new life experiences that come her way.
Why Kim chose MIPS:
“I had come to a point in my life where I felt that what I was doing, in that moment, wasn’t fulfilling. I’ve always had this drive in me that wanted to do more - be kind, help others and make a difference. I love working with kids but wanted to find a position that allowed me to continue to work with them in a more influential way - and then I found MIPS. Being a mentor meant that not only could I continue to work with students of all ages, but I get to finally do “more” by working with them one-on-one and developing genuine connections which allows both myself and the student to grow and prosper together."
Director of Student Support
Mrs. Murray brings 18 years of teaching experience to MIPS, having taught a variety of elective courses in Florida and Texas. As an educator, she has a track record of building award-winning arts programs, but her passion is connecting with students. Based on her experience teaching students with various social-emotional and physical needs, she loves meeting students in their need and helping them grow. She is a natural at building relationships and helping students find their passions.
Mrs. Murray obtained a BA in Acting and Directing from Texas Tech University, with a minor in English and an MA from the University of Houston in Theatre Education. During her schooling, she studied abroad at the Richmond International University in London, and has completed summer course work at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (London), The Actor’s Studio (Chicago) and the SITI Company of New York City. She is in the process of completing a degree in School Counseling and has interest in the field of social services.
Mrs. Murray resides in the Great Lakes Bay Region with her husband, two boys and their goldendoodle. In her free time, Mrs. Murray enjoys exploring Michigan, hammocking, bicycling and spending quality time with her family and friends.
Why Amanda chose MIPS:
"I chose to work at MIPS because of its relevant and individualized approach to education and for the opportunity to connect one-on-one with students. I love that MIPS puts an emphasis on the social-emotional growth of students. So often in education, a holistic approach is lacking, and MIPS provides the opportunity to dive deep with our students to understand their various needs.”
Director of Technology
As the Director of Technology at Michigan International Prep School, Faisal is responsible for managing the installation of technology systems and tools, including both software and hardware. He monitors software access and permissions for both students and staff, and oversees the cybersecurity of school devices and networks. Most importantly, Faisal and his team are committed to providing the highest level of technical service to our learning community.
Faisal graduated in 2015 from Lawrence Technological University with a Master's degree in Computer Sciences. He also obtained His Master's in Business Administration in 2019 from Columbia Southern University.
Faisal is passionate about helping students to accell academically by providing them with the highest level of technical equipment and service. Before coming to MIPS, Faisal worked for Nemak, an automotive supplier company. He managed 5 locations in 5 states besides Michigan.
Why Faisal chose MIPS:
"MIPS has an excellent reputation for the quality of its teaching and the excellent behavior of its pupils. I'm thrilled to be a part of such a committed team and to add my own skills and experience to further strengthen the high-quality experience that this school offers to its students.
I'm grateful to feel that I can help to make a difference in the lives of MIPS students, and to contribute to a supportive and nurturing environment that allows every child to achieve greatness, regardless of the challenges they may face.
Systems Programming Administrator
Peter is a Systems Programming Administrator at MIPS, which means he works to tie different computer systems together to help make things work better for everyone else, and improve the experience for students. He also works with the computer science and information technology curriculum at MIPS, serving as an instructor in some computing-related classes.
Why Peter chose MIPS:
"I believe it's important that students and their families have access to
a variety of educational options to suit their needs. I'm proud to be
working with the wonderful people at MIPS to provide our students with
one of those options."
Originally from Davison, Jerod is a recent Michigan Tech graduate with experience in System Administration and Cybersecurity. He has previously worked on a project called H.A.C.K, a cybersecurity training course for middle school students. Jerod was also involved in the creation of MTU Esports, the first Varsity Esports Program in Michigan.
Why Jerod chose MIPS:
"I chose MIPS because I want to give back to my community and support online learning. I excelled in online classes during college and I know if I had the opportunity to attend MIPS in High School, I would have loved it. I also grew up in Davison, so I'm glad I get to support those attending in my hometown."
Director of Family Engagement, Marketing, & Legislative Advocacy
Amy Dunlap is the Director of Family Engagement, Marketing, & Legislative Advocacy. She comes to Michigan International Prep School with a wealth of experience in event planning, marketing organizations in a positive light, and fighting for equity in education at both the state and federal levels.
Amy is first and foremost an educator who realized that the one size fits all approach to education is not acceptable. She was ready to leave education until she found her perfect fit. During her career she has taught in many different settings including inner-city, rural, charters, traditional public, and fully online schools. After teaching for several years she moved into an instructional coach role. During this time, she also coordinated events for the organizations that she worked for, worked closely with their marketing teams, and spent lots of time at the State and National Capitol fighting for equity in education. She has been a resource for many districts looking to improve their school image as well as helped to establish online learning for traditional schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2022, Amy was named the 2022 Michigan Charter School Teacher of the Year. She made history with this award being the first virtual educator to ever receive it. Amy believes building relationships is the fundamental necessity to success in any part of your life and strives to ensure all families in the school have a personal connection to those they work with.
Amy is also the Outreach Director with P.A.C.E. (Parent Advocates for Choice in Education), an organization who helps parents find the perfect fit for their child(ren)’s education. She is also active with the National Coalition for Public School Options organization, as the Michigan Chapter President, who promotes virtual learning and choice for all. Amy prides herself on giving a voice to all children to ensure they have the best education possible to ensure the next generation is prepared to lead.
Amy has a Bachelors Degree from Western Michigan University in Elementary Education. She has a Masters Degree from American Public University in Educational Leadership.
When she is not working, Amy enjoys spending time helping with her son’s school and sports activities, being on their family farm, and taking pictures. Amy is married to her husband, Brad, and they have a son, Snyder.
Why Amy chose MIPS:
"I believe that all students (and educators) should be afforded the opportunity to find their perfect fit in education. Michigan International Prep School’s innovation sets us apart from other full-time virtual programs. I am excited to promote the innovation and well-being of all students while providing lots of great opportunities for social interaction and advocacy."
Student Care Specialist
Karen was born in Birmingham, AL and raised in Detroit, MI. During high school, Karen excelled in track & field sports. She was All-City and State for 4 years and MVP for 3 years. It was all worth the sacrifice being awarded a full track scholarship to Central State University (Ohio). After college, she worked for the first Target Dept. Store (customer relations) in the City of Detroit, while working for the City of Detroit’s Payroll Dept. for 20 yrs. She’s lived one of her dreams of owning and operating a Child Care center for 5 years as well.
Karen is a wife of 30 years, a mother of three daughters and three granddaughters. Karen enjoys a good laugh, outdoor roller skating, biking, meditating, community volunteering, and re-designing hats and bags as an entrepreneurial outlet.
Why Karen chose MIPS:
"I chose MIPS, like MIPS chose me! MIPS is a great fit for me because of the emphasis on teamwork, and a mindset that's committed to seeing everyone in the MIPS program succeed. Children are impressionable and I believe in leaving an honest and heartfelt impression on every child and person I meet. My title is Student Care Specialist, and caring for students is what I'm all about!"
Communications & Branding Coordinator
Ben Hoppe serves as Communications & Branding Coordinator for MIPS, overseeing school-wide communications and branded content development.
Mr. Hoppe holds an MBA from Purdue Global University, as well as a Bachelor of Music in Guitar Performance from Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, MI. He also studied performance and songwriting at the Contemporary Music Center in Nashville, TN.
In his free time, Ben enjoys songwriting, music production, art, soccer, and reading.
Why Benjamin chose MIPS:
“I believe the future of education lies in unique, custom-fit training. I personally was much more interested in creative, artistic pursuits, so I can relate to students whose interests don’t particularly align with traditional academia. At MIPS, we resist the tendency to make education a uniform, ultra-standardized experience. No two kids are the same, and we don’t feel that it makes sense to treat them as if they are. I’m proud to be a part of an organization that runs on integrity, excellence, and a genuine care for the success of students as unique, talented individuals. It’s a privilege to serve with these people!”
Community Engagement Coordinator
Cara graduated from Central Michigan University with a degree in Family Studies. Originally, she had entered college as an Elementary Education major. Having previously worked at a preschool, Cara spent three years in various capacities (substitute teacher, office aid, etc.) at Sacred Heart Academy. She also volunteered as a tutor at three different elementary schools and worked as a counselor at Point O’ Pines in upstate New York. All of this had contributed to her desire to become a teacher.
She enjoyed her classes as an Elementary major, but something wasn’t right. She wanted to do more for students at a more holistic level, and the teacher’s role was simply too restrictive. Halfway through her junior year, her frustrations came to a head; she marched into her counselor’s office and switched her major.
After some experimentation, her journey eventually led her to MIPS. As Community Engagement Coordinator, Cara works to cultivate an engaged community within the student body, and within the broader community.
In her spare time, Cara loves spending time with her dogs and with anyone else’s dogs. She enjoys being outside, camping, cooking, hiking, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
Why Cara chose MIPS:
"Before I joined MIPS, I did an internship with the Child Advocacy Center of Lapeer County. I loved this position, but hearing such difficult stories day in and day out was not something that I could do long term. All of this is what lead me to MIPS. When I changed my major, I had a hard time with a system that passed kids along with no extra help or relief for teachers. I told everyone that I still wanted to work in a school and be connected to students, but I did not want the title of teacher. That is why I am so happy to be a part of this team. This is exactly what I wanted to do! I get to be that voice and supporter for students who need someone to be there. I get to help students who have had trouble with school and help to direct them."
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