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Staff Biographies

The Midwest's only school solely dedicated to meeting the specific needs of twice-exceptional students.

Our Teachers and Staff

Leah Brzezinski

Founder/Enrollment Coordinator/Team Leader

Leah was born in New York and has been living in Minnesota for the past 16 years. She has a B.A. in Elementary Education, a M.S. in Speech Language Pathology, and an Ed. D. in Child and Youth Leadership with a focus on special... (read more)

Becky Lulai

Diagnostic and Therapeutic Consultant

Becky is a Speech-Language Pathologist with nearly 20 years of experience working with children and adults with communication concerns. She received her B.A. degree in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences from Minnesota State University-Moorhead... (read more)

Cat Mathieu

Art and Sign Language Teacher

Cat Mathieu received her B.F.A. from Columbia College Chicago in 2012 with a degree in Illustration and a minor in American Sign Language. During her senior year, she decided to pursue a career in teaching. After graduation, she... (read more)

Chris Gamble

Humanities, Leadership and Technology Teacher

Growing up in the mountains of Colorado, Chris has always been drawn to working with youth and young adults. With at B.A. and M.A. in Education, he has taught at the high and middle school levels at both public and private schools... (read more)

Curtis Wilson

Ecological Studies Teacher

Arete welcomed Curtis to the team at the end of the 2016/17 school year when he finished out the year teaching Life Skills. During the 2017/18 he will continue to teach Life Skills as well as Environmental Studies and Spanish.... (read more)

Dan Stern

English Teacher

Dan has earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Bachelor Fine Arts degree in Creative and Professional Writing from Bemidji State. As an intrinsically curious and avid learner, he has lived in four different countries... (read more)

Emily Ball

Elementary Teacher

Emily was fortunate to have had many influential teachers growing up, which in turn inspired her to be a teacher. She earned her B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire in 2008 and then moved... (read more)

Erica Bugenhagen

Coordinator of Support Services, Special Education Teacher, Reading/Writing Specialist, Evaluation Team Member

Erica received her B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota and her M.A. in Special Education - Learning Disabilities from Bethel University. She previously worked as an American Sign Language facilitator in Edina Public... (read more)

Haley Reese

Elementary Teacher

Haley received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota. During her last years of college, she realized her love of teaching and took the steps necessary to make her passion a reality. After graduating, Haley continued... (read more)

Hannah Johnson

Growing up, Hannah always knew she was going to be a teacher. She spent her days creating classrooms and "teaching" her friend's younger siblings. In 2015, She graduated with a B.S in Elementary Education and then applied for... (read more)

Jamie Teigen

Coordinator of Academic Services, and Humanities Teacher

Jamie Teigen received her B.S. in Secondary Education and History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2007. She is pursuing a K-12 reading teacher endorsement and Master of Arts in Literacy Education. Jamie loves to spend... (read more)

Jolene Gleason

Math Tutor and Teacher

Jolene has a M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering as well as B.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics from Iowa State University. She was named ISU's Outstanding Senior in Electrical Engineering in 1987 and received... (read more)

Katie Engstrom

Movement, Karate, Yoga Teacher, and Spanish Support Teacher

Katie has always been active in sports but when she started karate 15 years ago she found her passion. She has spent the last 9 years teaching karate through her school JK Martial Arts working with individuals that have learning,... (read more)

Lerida Jerez

Spanish Teacher and Communications Coordinator

Lérida Jerez was born in Mexico City, Mexico. She has a B.A. in Communication with an emphasis in Journalism from Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, and a certificate in Social Responsibility from Universidad Iberoamericana.... (read more)

Max Melby

Coordinator of Teacher Support, Naturalist, Science and Outdoor Learning Teacher

Throughout childhood, Max received tons of subtle (and some not so subtle) hints about what he should do when he grows up. There are a handful of teachers in his family and it seemed perfectly clear to them that Max was destined... (read more)

Mike Mellema

Engineering and Math Teacher

Mike received his Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 2005. After working in the nuclear power industry for a few years, he had the opportunity to pursue something that had been on his mind for... (read more)

Molly Dunnigan

Elementary Math Teacher

Molly is an elementary education teacher with ten years of experience. She grew up as an only child in Pittsburgh and went to Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania where she attained a degree in Early Childhood Development... (read more)


Therapy/Emotional Support Dog

Crosby serves as the therapy/emotional support dog for Arete Academy. Crosby's favorite thing in the world is getting cuddly and snuggling, but he has no problem letting loose and playing around. Crosby is trained to sit, stay,... (read more)

Greg Klotz

Website Manager, and Coordinator of Educational Technology Development

Greg taught English classes for five years at Iowa State University after receiving his B.A. and M.A. from ISU, dabbling in web development as a hobby. He then moved back to the Twin Cities and got into professional web development... (read more)

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