Our Team

Our amazing team of educators

Karine Veldhoen
Chief Learning Officer

Karine Veldhoen, M.Ed., is the founder of Learn Forward and a creative force in education.  She’s also the founder and Executive Director of Canadian charity Niteo Africa

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Karine Veldhoen
Chief Learning Officer

Karine Veldhoen, M.Ed., is the founder of Learn Forward and a creative force in education.  She’s also the founder and Executive Director of Canadian charity Niteo Africa, a former Education Consultant for Fresh Grade, and a modern day pilgrim.

Driven by her passion for teaching, Mrs. Veldhoen has been exploring the most important journeys of children through her professional, action research and meaning making for over two decades.

Her body of work with thousands of students, teachers and families in two states, two provinces and around the globe led to the creation and publishing of her first book, Learn Forward: An Invitation to the Most Important Journeys of a Child.

You can follow her blog for parents, teachers, and leaders at www.learnforward.ca, and follow her on twitter @Mrs_KV.

Sherry Parker
Assistant CLO + Educator

Grade 3

Ms. Sherry Parker began her career as a grade two teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School in West Kelowna. She graduated with distinction from the University of Victoria with a Bachelor of Education. She later received a Master of Education from Gonzaga University, Washington.

Ms. Parker…

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Sherry Parker
Assistant CLO + Educator

Grade 3

Ms. Sherry Parker began her career as a grade two teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School in West Kelowna. She graduated with distinction from the University of Victoria with a Bachelor of Education. She later received a Master of Education from Gonzaga University, Washington.

Ms. Parker loves being a part of the positive and student-centered environment of Willowstone Academy, where students have the opportunity to grow both academically and socially in a Christian-based environment. She hopes to empower her students to become confident, life-long learners who strive toward achieving their potential.

Away from school, Ms. Parker enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and spoiling her Persian cat, Cleo.

Jenn Knourek
Educator

Preschool

Jenn Knourek was born and raised in a tiny town in west central Saskatchewan.  After graduating high school in Saskatchewan and then attending college in Alberta, she slowly made her way west to BC to fulfill her dream of living in the Okanagan.  She began her career working with adults in the Mental…

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Jenn Knourek
Educator

Preschool

Jenn Knourek was born and raised in a tiny town in west central Saskatchewan.  After graduating high school in Saskatchewan and then attending college in Alberta, she slowly made her way west to BC to fulfill her dream of living in the Okanagan.  She began her career working with adults in the Mental Health sector, but always felt her true calling was working with children.  After taking the plunge and changing careers, Jenn worked with children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) for several years, both privately in home and in daycares/preschools before fully making the transition into the Early Childhood Education field.  “Teacher Jenn” believes her life purpose is to provide a fun and challenging educational environment for each child to grow in and to see each child blossom into their full potential in every aspect of their life.

Jenn is always thrilled to be welcoming students and their families to Willowstone Academy to begin their lifelong journey of learning!

When not at the preschool or daycare, Jenn enjoys reading, swimming, playing competitive soccer, and watching the Saskatchewan Roughriders win!

Misty-Rae Edwards
Educator

Pre-Kindergarten

Misty-Rae Edwards has had a highly fulfilling career in Early Childhood Education and Childcare since 1995.  She is passionate about ensuring every child is respected and nurtured to reach their full potential.  Her classroom is a safe, loving environment where children can learn, create, build self-esteem…

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Misty-Rae Edwards
Educator

Pre-Kindergarten

Misty-Rae Edwards has had a highly fulfilling career in Early Childhood Education and Childcare since 1995.  She is passionate about ensuring every child is respected and nurtured to reach their full potential.  Her classroom is a safe, loving environment where children can learn, create, build self-esteem and confidence while developing independence.  Everyday there are new opportunities for growth and learning in all areas of a child’s development!

Misty-Rae is excited to be a part of the passionate, caring team at Willowstone Academy, and getting to know the children and their families.

In her spare time, Misty-Rae loves to spend time with her husband and pets, and likes to camp, read, scrapbook, swim, boat, and do anything craft related.

Sara Lange
Educator

Kindergarten

Mrs. Sara Lange grew up in Southwestern Ontario, in a city named Sarnia.  She attended Brock University to complete her Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Studies, before attaining her Bachelors of Education from Niagara University.  Upon graduation, Mrs. Lange moved to London, England, and taught…

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Sara Lange
Educator

Kindergarten

Mrs. Sara Lange grew up in Southwestern Ontario, in a city named Sarnia.  She attended Brock University to complete her Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Studies, before attaining her Bachelors of Education from Niagara University.  Upon graduation, Mrs. Lange moved to London, England, and taught for two years in a variety of schools in the elementary years.  During the two years she also had the opportunity to travel all over Europe, visiting more than 15 countries.

After moving back to Canada she found herself here in Kelowna, following another passion; skiing and snowboarding, and decided to try and make Kelowna home. Mrs. Lange is very excited to be a part of the Willowstone Academy Team and for the opportunity to work alongside teachers who are truly embracing the learn forward approach.  She strives to help students embrace their individuality as they become critical thinkers.

In her spare time you will find her out on the golf links, up at Big White, or curled up with a good book.

Lori Taetz
Educator

Kindergarten + Music Specialist

Lori received her Social Sciences Bachelor of Arts and Teaching degree from Seattle Pacific University in 1990.  Since marrying her Canadian sweetheart, Rocky, and moving to British Columbia, she has taught both full and part time in classrooms ranging from Kindergarten through Grade 6, as well as teaching…

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Lori Taetz
Educator

Kindergarten + Music Specialist

Lori received her Social Sciences Bachelor of Arts and Teaching degree from Seattle Pacific University in 1990.  Since marrying her Canadian sweetheart, Rocky, and moving to British Columbia, she has taught both full and part time in classrooms ranging from Kindergarten through Grade 6, as well as teaching music.  In addition, Lori has had the unique experience of homeschooling her four children for several years while teaching online.

Music and education are Lori’s passion, motivating her to direct the Sonkidz choir for over 20 years, performing musicals and programs throughout the city.  She feels very privileged to have the opportunity to teach at Willowstone, where children are embraced as gifts from God.

While at home, Lori enjoys spending time with her family, walking her Pomeranian, Alfie, participating in aerobics and reading really good books.

Christie Johnston
Educator

Grade 1

Christie Johnston has a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of British Columbia and is a Special Needs Early Childhood Educator. Christie has been a lifelong educator and resides in Kelowna with her husband and three children.  She built a vibrant career in early childhood education and worked…

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Christie Johnston
Educator

Grade 1

Christie Johnston has a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of British Columbia and is a Special Needs Early Childhood Educator. Christie has been a lifelong educator and resides in Kelowna with her husband and three children.  She built a vibrant career in early childhood education and worked with preschool and school aged children for the past 17 years.  She also previously taught Kindergarten in School District 23, as well as in a Grade 2/3 class.

Her wide base of experience includes elementary classrooms, preschools, day cares, after-school care groups as well as private one to one therapy programs.  She is passionate about discovering each child’s unique goals, needs and interests.  As well, Christie strives to create a safe, caring and inclusive environment for all of the children in her care.  She comes to Willowstone Academy with a desire to work with families of young children to see them achieve their extraordinary potential.

Jessica Jensen
Educator

Grade 2

Mrs. Jessica Jensen was born and raised in Victoria, BC.  She graduated with a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia in 2005.  Mrs. Jensen began her teaching career at BC Offshore School in Dalian, China.  She has 9 years teaching experience at all elementary school grade levels.

Mrs….

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Jessica Jensen
Educator

Grade 2

Mrs. Jessica Jensen was born and raised in Victoria, BC.  She graduated with a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia in 2005.  Mrs. Jensen began her teaching career at BC Offshore School in Dalian, China.  She has 9 years teaching experience at all elementary school grade levels.

Mrs. Jensen considers it a privilege to be a part of the dynamic Willowstone Academy team and is looking forward to getting to know the Willowstone Academy community.  She looks forward to creating a safe, fun learning environment where her students can grow in all aspects of life.

When not at school, Mrs. Jensen and her husband Tyler love spending time with their three beautiful children, Grace, Anne and Matthew.  Mrs. Jensen enjoys traveling, baking, running, taking photos and knitting.

Janine Draper
Educator + Instructional Coach

Grade 3

Mrs. Janine Draper received her Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Manitoba, with a Major in English and in Music.  She joined the Willowstone Academy staff in 2005, working primarily in grades 3 and 4.  Having been a part of the Willowstone Academy community for over 10 years, there…

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Janine Draper
Educator + Instructional Coach

Grade 3

Mrs. Janine Draper received her Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Manitoba, with a Major in English and in Music.  She joined the Willowstone Academy staff in 2005, working primarily in grades 3 and 4.  Having been a part of the Willowstone Academy community for over 10 years, there is still no place where she would rather be!

Mrs. Draper brings with her an excitement for learning and a passion to model that enthusiasm to her students.  She loves developing themes and is energized by planning thematic units across the curriculum.  She carefully tailors her instructional methods to meet the needs of the individuals in her classroom.  Her desire is to inspire her students to love education and to become life-long learners.

When not at school, Mrs. Draper enjoys spending time with her family and friends, acknowledging reasons to be grateful, and to smile each day!

You can follow Mrs. Draper’s class on twitter @MrsDrapersClass!

Shandrea Tesoriere
Educator

Grade 4

Ms. Shandrea Tesoriere has a Bachelor of Education degree, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree, both from the University of British Columbia Okanagan. She has over 20 years of experience working with children in a variety of educational settings, such as nanny, tutor, visual arts teacher and classroom…

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Shandrea Tesoriere
Educator

Grade 4

Ms. Shandrea Tesoriere has a Bachelor of Education degree, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree, both from the University of British Columbia Okanagan. She has over 20 years of experience working with children in a variety of educational settings, such as nanny, tutor, visual arts teacher and classroom teacher. She enjoys learning with and from her students.

With a passion for literacy and art, Ms. Tesoriere strives to help students express themselves creatively and constructively, encouraging each child’s unique talents, strengths and interests.

When not at school, Ms. Tesoriere enjoys painting, reading, yoga, kayaking, hiking, camping and going on adventures with her dog.

Joseph Eapen
Educator

Grade 5

Joseph Eapen has over 15 years of experience in the teaching profession.  He received his Bachelor of Art and Education Degrees from the University of Manitoba and has taught Grades 4, 5 and 6 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  During this time he taught all academic subjects in addition to drama and social responsibility. …

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Joseph Eapen
Educator

Grade 5

Joseph Eapen has over 15 years of experience in the teaching profession.  He received his Bachelor of Art and Education Degrees from the University of Manitoba and has taught Grades 4, 5 and 6 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  During this time he taught all academic subjects in addition to drama and social responsibility.  He has additionally served as the Director and Senior Counsellor at Gimli Bible Camp in Manitoba as well as spending time in India as a missionary that he found to be an invaluable experience.

Joseph is of course a great lover of music.  He plays the guitar and drums and has been a drumming instructor.  He, his wife and 2 small children have recently moved to Kelowna and immediately fell in love with their new home.  He will spend the holidays facilitating youth group events over Christmas and New Years.  Joseph’s gentle demeanor is balanced by his sense of humour and his appreciation for the opportunity to teach at Willowstone Academy.  He is enthused to ensure that children have positive experiences with the performing arts.

David Balfour
Educator

Middle Years Humanities

Mr. David Balfour has his Bachelor of Education in addition to a Bachelor of Arts in English and History from the University of British Columbia Okanagan.  While originally a humanities specialist, an enthusiasm for interdisciplinary study prompted him to concentrate on middle school methodologies and adolescent…

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David Balfour
Educator

Middle Years Humanities

Mr. David Balfour has his Bachelor of Education in addition to a Bachelor of Arts in English and History from the University of British Columbia Okanagan.  While originally a humanities specialist, an enthusiasm for interdisciplinary study prompted him to concentrate on middle school methodologies and adolescent development during his Bachelor of Education.  Consequently, he has relished teaching math and science in the public school system while still retaining a love of books and literature.  Ultimately, Mr. Balfour is passionate about creating classroom spaces characterized by compassion and curiosity that support the unique development of adolescents in middle school.

Prior to a career in education, Mr. Balfour owned and operated an independent retail produce store and also served as the coordinator of youth activities for Glenwood Community Center in Edmonton, which focused on connecting church and non-church organizations to create a supportive environment for middle school students in the community.

Mr. Balfour, his wife and their four children are happy to call Kelowna their home and they endeavour to spend as much time camping, swimming, cycling, hiking, reading and laughing together as they can.

Karen Harris
Educator

Middle Years STEMx

Karen Harris
Educator

Middle Years STEMx

Tabitha Kee
Educator

French Specialist

Mme. Tabitha Kee was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta where she graduated from Mount Royal University with a Bachelor of Arts degree.  She then moved to Kelowna where she graduated from the University of British Columbia Okanagan with a Bachelor of Education degree.  Prior to attaining her Education…

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Tabitha Kee
Educator

French Specialist

Mme. Tabitha Kee was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta where she graduated from Mount Royal University with a Bachelor of Arts degree.  She then moved to Kelowna where she graduated from the University of British Columbia Okanagan with a Bachelor of Education degree.  Prior to attaining her Education degree she worked with children in a variety of settings including tutor, nanny, Girl Guide leader, Kid’s Club leader, Youth leader, and Boys and Girls Club leader.

Mme. Kee believes that at the heart of learning is a thirst for knowledge backed by an emotional attachment to the subject matter.  She hopes to build and strengthen that emotional attachment and inspire her students to be life-long learners.

When not at school, Mme. Kee enjoys spending time with her family and friends, playing games, reading, hiking and camping.

Robin Nettleton
Educator

Maternity Leave for 17/18 Year

Mrs. Robin Nettleton graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Education in 2011Before joining Willowstone Academy, she had the privilege of working in the learning resource room at Kelowna Christian School where she had the opportunity to work with students from all grade…

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Robin Nettleton
Educator

Maternity Leave for 17/18 Year

Mrs. Robin Nettleton graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Education in 2011Before joining Willowstone Academy, she had the privilege of working in the learning resource room at Kelowna Christian School where she had the opportunity to work with students from all grade levels who were either struggling learners or accelerated learners. This experience developed knowledge and skills that will help Mrs. Nettleton to pursue her passion of building a classroom environment where all students can have success.

Mrs. Nettleton is excited to be a part of the dynamic Willowstone Academy team and is looking forward to getting to know the Willowstone Academy community. She is incredibly thankful to be in a profession where she gets to see the excitement of children learning to read and write, to think critically and to become stewards of their classroom, school and community.

When not at school, Mrs. Nettleton and her husband Stephen, love spending time outside doing their favourite activities; rock climbing, kayaking, camping and snowboarding. She also enjoys figure skating on the Vernon adult synchronized skating team.

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