We'd like to welcome all the wonderful staff that have joined BCS this school year!
Ellery Garrison is a BWA advisory teacher in Southern Oregon. She worked for nine years as a K-8 language arts specialist in sunny San Diego. Once she moved to Oregon, she opened up her homeschool co-op! She is very passionate about individualized education and is excited to join BWA: “Not ANY child is created the same,” she says. “I see myself as part of a great team of innovators...” When she’s not working, she’s a soccer mom and loves watching soccer with her family. Her favorite color is Kelly green, and she loves good Chinese food. On a funnier note, she won an award for “best chicken impression while on the balance beam” on her high school gymnastics team!
Richelle Colenso is BEC's newest adviser! After graduation from Oakland University, she began a business career with Volkswagen. However, she soon realized that helping students succeed was her passion, so she worked as a school counselor. She took a break after that to be a stay-at-home mom. "This was by far the most difficult and most rewarding career," she says. Now she's back in her counseling career! BCS offers the perfect job for her because of its flexibility. "I often refer to my job as 'dreamy' because it fits my life as a professional and a mom so well," she says. She is very excited to connect with her students personally. "The high school years are like none other, and I am so happy to have this opportunity to be a positive influence on young lives." She is also learning to use newer technology and says that she feels a lot smarter! Her hobbies include camping, fishing, hiking, and exploring with her family. She also cheers on her sons' sports team and runs a dog sitting business (sometimes she has 25 dogs in and out of her home in a year!).
Nicole Pratt works as a student support staff member at the Eugene Student Drop-in Center. She studied Elementary Education at Southern Oregon University and worked at a charter school in Medford for six years. "I've been hearing wonderful, unique things about Baker for years," she says, which is what led her to find a job here. "I am super excited to be working at Baker. The staff is excellent and there is nothing like the opportunity to engage kids in learning and make a difference in their journey." Ms. Pratt is new to Eugene, so she is taking the time to get used to the new area, while taking care of her nine-month old twins! She also loves to travel with her husband, read, and take her kids swimming. "I L-O-V-E organizing and often work with friends on spaces in their homes," she says. "When I have extra time, I love to refinish old furniture." She also loves kittens, the color teal, and Mexican food!
Dawn Tornquist runs the West Portland lab, and she is also an advisory teacher and teaches many classes such as Intro to Coding, Entrepreneurship, Intro to Women's Studies, and many others. She studied Management & Business Information Systems and teaching at George Fox University. She is currently finishing a Masters of Special Education. She previously worked in a traditional classroom as well as another online charter school. She is very happy with her new job and loves that BCS offers classes on so many platforms and levels. "For example, I have a whole class for just one kiddo," she says. "Everyone I work with is exceptionally nice and it’s fun to be part of the team that is starting the new West Portland lab." When she's not working, she loves to read, cook and travel with her family. Her favorite animal is dragons and her favorite food is cheese: "I love all types, colors and flavors."
Danielle Coughlin is BWA's newest school counselor! She will be working with Ms. Vesbit to support students on Student Support Plans all over Oregon. She received a Bachelor's in psychology from OSU and a Master's in counseling. She previously worked in elementary public school as a counselor. Once she heard about BWA, she knew it was the job for her. "I had heard great things about BCS, and the more I learned the more I knew that I wanted to be involved!" she says. "I love how the school is continually evolving to ensure they are providing students with the best support and education possible." She loves going on adventures and traveling, and has visited Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Italy, and Holland. Now that she has a two year old, they enjoy going on more local adventures!
Angie Miller is the new Central Point Student Drop-in Center teacher. She studied at U of O (and played on the softball team!) and SOU and has taught in many Southern Oregon schools since 1999! Teaching in BWA is a nice refreshing break from traditional teaching because of the personalized instruction she can give students. "It has been wonderful so far!!" she says. It's also been great for her personal life, too. "Having more flexibility and less stress!! It's like a dream come true!" When she's not teaching, she loves to spend time with her family. They play water sports, go hiking, camp, or just go out to dinner together. She also loves to play volleyball.
Amy Mulvihill is a Central Oregon advisory teacher and middle school social studies teacher. She studied at Taylor University and taught in international schools in Russia, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia. She loves BWA and "I really like how we get to support students learning in such an individualized way." She was taught in Calvert School when she was in elementary school and had to mail in her assignments and wait for a letter from her teacher weeks later. "I'm so amazed by how much easier it is to do home-based schooling now!" she says. In her free time, she enjoys baking, traveling, spending time with her family, and mountain biking, which she started recently. She loves ice cream and her goldendoodle Juniper!
A school counselor and career and college readiness counselor, Shelley Penny is very enthusiastic about helping students follow their passions. She studied at OSU and PSU and worked for more than 10 years in Portland Public Schools. She wants to grow a college and career readiness programs for BWA 7-12 students. “…I like the independent, innovative atmosphere and I like the people here,” she says of BCS. In her free time, Ms. Penny loves to read and travel the world. “I like to plan trips then GO!” She and her family lived in China for a year, and she has developed a love for Chinese food!
Robert Jones is a BWA social science and economics teacher who found out about BWA through a teacher fair. He immediately knew that Baker Charter Schools was the perfect fit for him. “I really enjoyed the interview process and the openness and honesty of the answers that the people who were interviewing me provided,” he says. He’s very excited about learning through working in BCS. “There is a lot to learn and that excites me as a teacher because I feel like teachers should always be learning along with their students.” He has coached girls’ and boys’ basketball, cross country, and football. He’s currently the head Track and Field coach at Sam Barlow High School. In his free time, he loves to bicycle, run, camp, and spend time with his wife and almost-6-year old son.
Jill McKinley is a BWA elementary school teacher for Eastern Oregon. She and her family moved a lot in California before finally settling in La Grande after having their first baby. She taught in a traditional classroom for 12 years and is excited to try something new. She is very excited about this new chapter in her life. “I will get to watch my students finish their high school careers and graduate and go on to pursue their passions!” she says. “I get to work with my students and their families and they have been so kind and welcoming.” She loves playing softball, hunting, coaching, watching her husband coach and her kids play sports, reading, and drinking coffee (which she considers her spirit animal!). She always makes sure to ask for a “ridiculous amount of half-and-half” in her coffee, which is how her children learned the word “ridiculous!”
Peter Kane is a middle school BWA teacher for the greater Portland area. He studied political science and public administration in college and earned an Administrative License. He taught elementary school on the Puyallup Indian Reservation then moved back to his home in Portland to teach in an alternative school. He worked as a principal and administrator of several other schools. He says he joined BWA because he wanted to be a part of a program “where I could be a learner too… I am learning a lot of new skills.” In his free time, he likes skiing, surfing, and adventuring with his family. Once, when hiking with a group in a jungle in Guatemala, a group of howler monkeys in the trees rained down droppings on them! “Let's just say we didn't wait out the rain storm, but got on our way very quickly!”
Sarah Hall is a BWA school counselor. She studied at Pacific University and Lewis and Clark College and worked in the Oregon City and Canby school districts. She loves supporting student interests and making school relevant to students’ lives. “As a life long learner, it’s always exciting to have new experiences,” she says. “BWA is pioneering a different way of delivering education to people, it's fun to be part of the journey.” In her free time, she enjoys skiing, reading, camping, baking and eating cookies, and playing with her dog Maggie.
Morgan Willnauer is a BWA advisory and P.E. teacher. He grew up in Kansas and has a huge variety of world and cultural experiences. To pay for college, he worked summers in southeast Alaska driving tour buses for people. He saw whales, glaciers, flew in a float plane to a private cabin, and even went dog sledding. “Definitely my favorite job because I was able to do all those things for FREE.” He’s travelled to 11 countries so far and plans on visiting Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. He loves BWA because he can form relationships with students and watch them grow into adults, which is “something very difficult to achieve in the public school setting.”
Valerie Shelton is an advisory and social studies teacher in central Oregon. She went to Eastern Oregon University and Oregon State University to study education. She used to teach at Crook County Middle School, but wanted to teach at BWA to “work one on one with my students and expand the traditional boundaries of the brick and mortar classroom.” Once she called one of her students by the wrong name for a whole month: “She was very shy and didn't want to correct me. Doh!” Ms. Shelton loves to spend time outdoors: mountain biking, kayaking, fly fishing, hiking, and playing golf. Her favorite animal is the dolphin, and she loves eating chow mein!
We also want to welcome all the other BCS staff that have joined! We're very excited to have everyone!