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

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

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

Born and raised in small town Saskatchewan, Jenn Knourek now calls Kelowna home.  After completing her post-secondary education in Alberta, Jenn journeyed westward to fulfill her dream of living in the Okanagan.  Her career highlights include working with adults in the mental health sector, caring…

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Jenn Knourek
Educator

Preschool

Born and raised in small town Saskatchewan, Jenn Knourek now calls Kelowna home.  After completing her post-secondary education in Alberta, Jenn journeyed westward to fulfill her dream of living in the Okanagan.  Her career highlights include working with adults in the mental health sector, caring for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder both privately and in daycares/preschool, and now leading in the Early Childhood Education field where she’s taught over the last five years.

“Teacher Jenn,” as she’s affectionately known, passionately believe in her purpose: to lead through creating a fun, challenging educational environment where children can thrive.

When she’s not teaching the next generation at Willowstone Academy, Jenn enjoys reading, hiking with her dogs, playing soccer, and watching the Saskatchewan Roughriders win!

Rebecca Campbell
Educator

Pre-Kindergarten

Ms. Rebecca (Becca) Campbell was born and raised in Airdrie, Alberta, just outside of Calgary.  In high school, she discovered her love of working with children in a recreation-based setting, and upon graduating obtained her Childhood Development Assistant Certificate.  After a year of working in preschools…

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Rebecca Campbell
Educator

Pre-Kindergarten

Ms. Rebecca (Becca) Campbell was born and raised in Airdrie, Alberta, just outside of Calgary.  In high school, she discovered her love of working with children in a recreation-based setting, and upon graduating obtained her Childhood Development Assistant Certificate.  After a year of working in preschools and recreation programs, she knew she wanted to expand her education.  She moved to Prince Edward Island and graduated with her Bachelor of Arts.  After graduation, she returned to Alberta and received her Early Childhood Educator Certificate.  She worked as a special needs assistant at a preschool and privately, specializing in medically fragile children, and children with physical limitations.  She was promoted into a teaching position where she got to work with different disabilities as well as typically developing children.

“Ms. Becca” always knew she would work with young children and has developed a love of the educational field and helping children learn, grow, and reach their full potential.  She is looking forward to being a part of the Willowstone Academy Community.

Outside of school, Ms. Becca can be found with a warm cup of tea and a good book, out hiking and exploring nature, or finding new recipes to try cooking.

Teri-Lynn James
Educator

Kindergarten

Teri-Lynn James has a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science as well as a Bachelor of Education from the University of Windsor.  She also has a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of North Texas.  Teri-Lynn is the oldest of five children and comes from a long line of educators….

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Teri-Lynn James
Educator

Kindergarten

Teri-Lynn James has a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science as well as a Bachelor of Education from the University of Windsor.  She also has a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of North Texas.  Teri-Lynn is the oldest of five children and comes from a long line of educators.  As a lifelong learner and educator, she has had the privilege of helping to shape young minds from Pre-Kindergarten to high school for many years in Ontario and Texas.  Most recently, she was managing school libraries and teaching in Texas before relocating to Kelowna.

A firm believer in the power of positive early learning experiences to create innovative learners, Teri-Lynn creates hands on learning opportunities that encourage creative problem solving and invite collaboration.  These opportunities promote information exploration and contribute to shared discoveries in the classroom.  She believes that the classroom teacher should focus on the interests of the children in order to engage them in active learning situations.  Within this framework, children should be made responsible for their own learning experiences in an environment that is rich in creative experiences and acceptance.  This type of environment challenges students and encourages every child to attain his or her maximum potential.  Early learning experiences promote real world learning and give children the tools necessary to become responsible and ethical users of information as lifelong learners in the 21st century.

When away from school,  Teri-Lynn  enjoys spending time with family and friends in the great outdoors.  She is an avid reader and looks forward to discovering new bookshops and other hidden treasures in British Columbia.  She is thrilled to serve the families and faculty of Willowstone Academy and looks forward to a wonderful year of learning and growing together!

 

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 over 10 years teaching experience at all elementary school grade…

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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 over 10 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 a decade, 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 a decade, 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 creating a space that is rich with meaning.  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 school 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!

Robin Nettleton
Educator

Grade 3

Mrs. Robin Nettleton graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Education in 2011.  Before 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

Grade 3

Mrs. Robin Nettleton graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Education in 2011.  Before 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.

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

Bio coming soon…

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Karen Harris
Educator

Middle Years STEMx

Bio coming soon…

Stefan Montalbetti
Educator

Middle Years Liberal Arts

Stefan Montalbetti (Mr. M) received his Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University in 2014. Originally from Saskatoon, SK., he has been on a mission to immerse himself in the diverse culture and vast geography that is Canada. He has taught in classrooms, coordinated youth summer programs, facilitated…

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Stefan Montalbetti
Educator

Middle Years Liberal Arts

Stefan Montalbetti (Mr. M) received his Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University in 2014. Originally from Saskatoon, SK., he has been on a mission to immerse himself in the diverse culture and vast geography that is Canada. He has taught in classrooms, coordinated youth summer programs, facilitated experiences for groups of all ages, and even directed traveling theatrical pieces.

Before moving to Kelowna Mr. M was running extracurricular programs in the Greater Toronto area with a not-for-profit organization called Next Gen Men. His educational philosophy centres around the pillars of Creativity, Equality and Resilience.

Outside of Willowstone Academy, Stefan looks for any opportunity to get outside and play! Camping, hiking, cycling, and alpine sports in the winter. Also, you can occasionally find listening to the baseball game on the radio.      

Jerry Hesse
Educator

Middle Years Phys Ed Specialist + Grade 6 Math

Mr. Jerry Hesse was born and raised in Grande Prairie, Alberta.  Upon graduating from the University of Alberta with a Bachelors in Education, his teaching journey began in his home town where he taught for 7 years in the Public School System.  Mr. Hesse then travelled to Toronto where he continued…

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Jerry Hesse
Educator

Middle Years Phys Ed Specialist + Grade 6 Math

Mr. Jerry Hesse was born and raised in Grande Prairie, Alberta.  Upon graduating from the University of Alberta with a Bachelors in Education, his teaching journey began in his home town where he taught for 7 years in the Public School System.  Mr. Hesse then travelled to Toronto where he continued to teach for 12 years including Math, Science, and Health and Physical Education, as well as Senior Leadership roles.

When not at school, Mr. Hesse enjoys spending time with his wife, Courtney, and two wonderful boys, Mark and Nate.  They love to bike ride, hike, and explore everything the Okanagan has to offer.

Mr. Hesse is excited to be a part of the Willowstone Community and looks forward to creating trusting relationships that will foster life-long learning.

Tamara Priebe
Educator

Music Specialist

Mrs. Priebe received her Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta in 2001, and taught in Edmonton for nearly ten years before moving to Kelowna after marrying her husband, Kendall in 2010.  Despite the personal loss of her first husband to cancer in 2007, Tamara has always trusted God to provide…

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Tamara Priebe
Educator

Music Specialist

Mrs. Priebe received her Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta in 2001, and taught in Edmonton for nearly ten years before moving to Kelowna after marrying her husband, Kendall in 2010.  Despite the personal loss of her first husband to cancer in 2007, Tamara has always trusted God to provide for her, and she loves to share the awesome (and sometimes downright unbelievable) stories she has as a result (just ask her about coming back to work at Willowstone!).

She loves to see children in charge of their own musical journey, and hopes to help the students at Willowstone Academy excel in singing, playing instruments, and leading their peers in worship.  Mrs. Priebe brings knowledge of singing, piano, ukuleles, drums, recorders, tone chimes, Orff instruments, leading worship and more to her classroom.  She is excited to be involved with Chapels, Concerts, and running a Choir (these are a few of her favourite things…).  Tamara loves her students deeply and desires to see them succeed – in music, and in life.

When not at school, Tamara loves spending time with her husband, Kendall, and their children, Tristan and Selah.  She also loves a good walk on the greenway with her dog, Skippy, or cooking (or eating!) great food.  She enjoys playing piano and singing as a part of the worship team at Trinity Church, and has enjoyed helping with worship at First Lutheran in the past as well.  Tamara is excited to be back “home” at Willowstone all over again!

Jezabel Morin
Educator

French Specialist

Mme. Morin is a native French-Canadian who moved to Kelowna at the age of 10. She has always known she wanted to work with children and devote her life to making the world a better place. After graduating from the University of British Columbia Okanagan with a Social Work Degree, she worked with high…

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Jezabel Morin
Educator

French Specialist

Mme. Morin is a native French-Canadian who moved to Kelowna at the age of 10. She has always known she wanted to work with children and devote her life to making the world a better place. After graduating from the University of British Columbia Okanagan with a Social Work Degree, she worked with high risk youth and in the mental health sector.

With the intention to live and teach abroad for one year, Mme. Morin left Kelowna in 2010. She quickly discovered a passion for teaching and exploring the world. Over the last 8 years, she has taught elementary and middle school children in three different countries: Turkey, Colombia, and South Korea.

Mme. Morin is grateful to be part of the Willowstone Academy team. She looks forward to a great year of learning and growing as she gets to know each student. She strives to create an engaging, well-balanced learning environment for each student and she is deeply passionate about French-Canadian language and culture.

When away from school, Mme. Morin enjoys spending time outdoors doing a wide variety of activities such as snowboarding, trail running, hiking, and rock climbing.

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.

Sara Lange
Educator

Maternity Leave for the 18/19 Year

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

Maternity Leave for the 18/19 Year

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.

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