6-8 Specialists

Annie Chapel, Music Specialist 6th - 8th Grade

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Driven by the desire to teach young people to learn to see the beauty in themselves and in the world around them, Mrs. Chapel pursued a career in education. Teaching is a way for Mrs. Chapel to share her talents and creativity while introducing her students to music. She believes learning music helps people see beauty around them and creates a sense of community. Annie Chapel began teaching elementary and middle school music in 2007 after earning her B.A. in music and B.M. in music education from Saint Olaf College.

Joining St. Ambrose in 2009, her passion for teaching shines through in her classroom environment. Using her creativity, Mrs. Chapel engages her students with interesting and challenging lessons every day. From playing African drums in a drumming circle, to creating ethereal harmonies using hand chimes, to playing pop hits with ukuleles - the learning is dynamic! One of the most exciting lessons Mrs. Chapel conducts is teaching students to sing in harmony – as many as 3 or 4 parts at a time! Teaching music to young people and witnessing the growth in her students is fulfilling for Mrs. Chapel.

She strives to create a safe and comfortable environment in which students respect and value one another while learning through hands-on experience. The students have the freedom to create their own music as part of the music curriculum. Her hope is that students leave her having discovered the beauty in music and in life.

“I have learned that watching a student achieve success in something that they were sure they would never be able to do is very inspiring. I have learned that sometimes the best thing in the world is to bang on the drums all day. I have learned that if students know their teacher really believes that they can do something, they can do it. I have learned that no matter how young or small someone seems or feels they really do have something big to contribute and an important and valuable role to play.” - Annie Chapel


Tim Demco, Technology/Media Specialist

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Mr. Demco joined St. Ambrose in 2000 as our Technology and Media Specialist as well as our Athletic Director. Prior to joining SAW, he had the pleasure of teaching junior high English, literature, math, social studies, and computers and science at various schools in the Twin City Metro area since his career began in 1992. In addition, Mr.Demco held various coaching positions in a number of sports including high school football, baseball, volleyball, and softball. He keeps his officiating skills sharp by refereeing in the Minnesota State High School League, the Catholic Athletic Association, the cities of St. Paul and West St. Paul. Mr. Demco earned a B.A. from Winona State University and a Master’s degree in Teaching and Learning from Saint Mary’s University.

His love of sports initially motivated Mr. Demco to become a teacher. Fueled by the desire to teach English and to coach, Mr. Demco pursued his career in education uncovering a new passion, technology. Mr. Demco feels blessed to have a role in the Saint Ambrose community that combines his love of teaching and interest in technology.

Mr. Demco recognizes students want to learn and be successful. When students spend time in a classroom or on the field with Mr. Demco, his goal is to instill them with the skills and habits each day that lead to learning, success, and independence. His favorite lesson to teach is Microsoft PowerPoint computer software. Something wonderful happens in his classroom when students help develop each other’s skills. This interaction and enthusiasm between students ignites the curriculum. Students gain momentum while transferring the knowledge of this software program to the ensuing lessons. Mr. Demco creates an environment of productivity and consideration of others in the computer lab and the library.

“While kids may like different things, have different experiences and have various talents, they share the desire to one day be independent and self sufficient. Our role is to nurture them toward their adulthood and self sufficiency by modeling mature work habits, fostering mutual respect, practicing our faith, and developing the academic skills they will need for high school and beyond. I like being at Saint Ambrose, a Catholic school in a strong community with good people. I really feel like I belong here as a valued and trusted member of the Saint Ambrose family.” - Tim Demco


Josie Bertsch, Grades 5-8 Band Teacher

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Influenced by her experience with great band teachers, the joy of sharing her own musical gifts, and her love of children, Josie Bertsch developed a career teaching music. Mrs. Bertsch earned her B.M. in music education from South Dakota State University and complemented that with graduate credit in Saxophone Performance from the University of Colorado. Mrs. Bertsch began her teaching career in 1995 as a band teacher in New Ulm Minnesota, Chamberlain South Dakota, and Eau Claire Wisconsin. Joining St. Ambrose in 2007, Mrs. Bertsch likes teaching in a Catholic School because the classroom can openly celebrate and praise God, speak about Catholic faith, and pray together. She also values the wonderful people at St. Ambrose: students, parents, and faculty!

Mrs. Bertsch strives to create a safe, comfortable, and positive environment where students may pursue musical excellence through practice and self discipline. Though bands play together as a team, Mrs. Bertsch encourages each student as an individual musician as well. Whether a student is performing as part of the band or solo, Mrs. Bertsch wants the students to give the music their best effort, never give up, and ensures practice will yield improvements.

In her spare time, Mrs Bertsch enjoys swimming, tennis, pets, movies and music. She attends music concerts from all genres and performances by all types of performers which enhances her knowledge and experiences when teaching students. As a musical performer herself, she is better able to coach her students through the performance experience.

“Working with grades 5-8 St. Ambrose of Woodbury Band students is the best job in the world! It’s challenging, entertaining, and always fulfilling!” - Josie Bertsch


Miguel Irizarry, 3rd - 8th Grade Spanish Specialist

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Miguel Irizarry began his teaching career at St. Ambrose in 2002. He attended St. Olaf College where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Mr. Irizarry then completed his Pre-K - 6th grade licensure in elementary education and earned his Masters of Education from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Mr. Irizarry has studied in Hong Kong and visited Japan, China, and Thailand. Theses experiences inspired him to teach English in the United States. Over time, with his Spanish backgound, he shifted his focus to teaching Spanish instead. Mr. Irizarry put his talents to work at Camp Acoma, Blake Schools Day Camp for 10 years. In addition he has worked with students from a variety of backgrounds around the Twin Cities through Teaching Temps and extended day programs. Mr. Irizarry loves to listen and perform music from many genres. He stays active as a goalie for recreational broomball and enjoys playing football as well. He brings his Spanish curriculum to life relating learning music or sports to learning a language.

Mr. Irizarry believes that all students should be held to high expectations in any academic, social or spiritual setting. As a teacher, he models and develops these expectations in the students to poise them for academic success. Mr. Irizarry’s favorite lesson to teach is the basic structure for creating a Spanish sentence with the 4th graders. Subject pronouns, infinitives, bases, stem endings, singular, plural, masculine, feminine - the formula for a successful sentence. It is rewarding to see the students truly understand the pattern by understanding the conjugation process. By the time the unit is complete, students are amazed that they can come up with at least 140 possible sentences . Respect, responsibility, hard work and accountability are the staples for success in his classroom. Students should be allowed to learn in a safe, engaging, challenging and supportive classroom. “Criticism free community” is what Mr. Irizarry strives for in his classroom.

Teaching at St. Ambrose is wonderful because the families want to be there, they chose to send their children to this school. He appreciates the support from the St. Ambrose administration and his colleagues. As a teacher and bilinguist, Mr. Irizarry values the importance the school places on the Spanish requirement in the curriculum.

“As a teacher I can empathize with their situation learning a foreign language. I strive to be a fun and understanding teacher who wants the best from everyone. I have learned that I need to be patient, supportive, to have a sense of humor and to smile.” - Miquel Irizarry


Bruce Whynott, 3rd Grade - 8th Grade Physical Education and Athletic Director

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Bruce Whynott has a Bachelor of Physical Education, with a minor in Geography, as well as a Physical Education Specialist Certification and a Masters of International Education (School Leadership) degree. His past experience includes working as a physical education and health teacher for 10 years at the secondary school level. He also has a passion for coaching and has an extensive background coaching many sports including volleyball, basketball, soccer and track and field.

Mr. Whynott works hard to ensure his students develop a love for being physically active. He feels it is important for students to understand that physical education can and will play an important role in their health and wellness, which will impact their future. He believes that if students love being physically active now, then that passion will continue into their adulthood. Besides teaching kids to love being active, Mr. Whynott also wants to create an environment where kids feel safe. He wants students to feel confident to try new activities without worrying that someone will make fun of them if they’re not successful – if you never make mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough! Mr. Whynott loves the beginning of the school year when the class gets to know each other, learn the rules and discover his expectations for class. He enjoys teaching through games and feels students welcome games and often learn without even knowing what they are learning. He also works hard to teach students about sportsmanship and how they can live that lesson every day.

Mr. Whynott loves being part of Saint Ambrose and feels one of the best aspects of being a teacher at a Catholic school is the ability to foster the love of God in lessons. Instilling qualities of fair play, sportsmanship and the acceptance of others for who they are seamlessly links to the values afforded in a Catholic education. He also enjoys being involved in the school community and enjoys participating in the full variety of events offered at Saint Ambrose – not just those related to sports .

“I have learned that when working with students, a teacher needs to understand the impact he/she has on students. Small things that teachers do can often make a lasting memory in students’ minds. It is not only the lesson plans and formal education that impact students; it is also the hallway greetings, being an ear to listen or shoulder to support, participation in extracurricular activities, words of encouragement, etc. I cherish the times when students come up to me and say, ‘Remember when …’.” - Bruce Whynott


Geri Padellford, Kindergarten - 8th Grade Art Specialist

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Inspired by her high school art teacher and the creative environment in the classroom, Mrs. Padelford decided to pursue a career as an art teacher. Geri Padelford graduated from Winona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Art. She went on to earn a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from St. Thomas University. Mrs. Padelford has taught art for more than 20 years in Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, Arizona, and Minnesota. She began teaching at St. Ambrose in 2002.

Mrs. Padelford challenges her students to problem solve and communicate through in-depth art production. Knowing the inspiration that can come from the right classroom environment, Mrs. Padelford encourages students to creatively express themselves. She fosters an environment that will allow students to succeed, develop self-awareness, and self worth.

An Artist herself, Mrs. Padelford enjoys painting, drawing, jewelry design and construction, and embellishing glassware. She enjoys teaching at a Catholic school because she can keep God at the center of what she does each day in her classroom. Mrs. Padelford enjoys being a part of the community with the students, parents and teachers at St. Ambrose.

“Do not get so caught up in the process of something that you forget to have fun or be creative. Always think outside the of the box and color outside of the lines.” - Geri Padelford


Stephanie Shippy, 6th-8th Grade Special Education Teacher

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Stephanie Shippy received her BA in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She also holds a Graduate Certificates in Special Education and Gifted and Talented Education. As a special education teacher, Mrs. Shippy enjoys helping people advocate for themselves and watching their growth during the time she works with them. When not helping students at St. Ambrose, Mrs. Shippy may be found traveling or reading. Both activities expand her mind and help her to see the world in new ways. This experience enriches her knowledge so she may challenge the students to be the best they can be.

Mrs. Shippy believes all students can learn and that it is her responsibily to help foster their talents. She strives to create a safe environment where all students feel safe to express themselves and learn the material from their classes.

“Working with students in this age group is very rewarding and challenging at the same time. I would have to say the biggest thing I have learned is to be flexible. Getting to know the students on a personal level allows for flexibility in challenging them to stretch their minds.” - Stephanie Shippy


Jeanne Hoversten, Enrichment Coordinator

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Jeanne Hoversten earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Gonzaga University followed by a Masters in English from the University of North Dakota. Later, she earned her Graduate Teacher Licensure from the University of St. Thomas. Mrs. Hoversten chose a career in education because she loves the enthusiasm of young people, the opportunity to interact with them and the certainty that something interesting will happen each day. Prior to joining St. Ambrose in 2000, Mrs. Hoversten held varying positions teaching jr. high English, University English instructor, elementary gifted curriculum writing and a parent.

Mrs. Hoversten believes it is important to evaluate, select and promote worthwhile programs and to direct those programs in a way that encourages enlightenment and enthusiasm. She strives to create and atmosphere of focus, enthusiasm and respect. Her favorite classroom experience is leading students to use the fact they have acquired to draw conclusions through careful analysis and evaluation.

Enrichment Coordinator, Mrs. Hoverstean is unique position where she has the opportunity to work with students in various programs over several years. It is exciting to see the growth they experience from early elementary through junior high. She also has the chance to work closely with many parent volunteers, something she greatly enjoys.

“There is always a new way to look at a problem, or theory, or belief.” - Jeanne Hoversten


Beth Salmon, Special Education

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Teacher Webpage

Mrs. Salmon knew she wanted to be a teacher since kindergarten. She watched her teachers and thought, “Wow! They have a great job!” She loves how excited children are about learning and credits them with making coming to work each day incredible. She enjoys teaching at a Catholic school because she is able to help form a religious education as well as an academic and social education for each child. She firmly believes that helping children realize that they are not alone in this world, and that God is with them in their journey, is imperative to their success. Mrs. Salmon strives to create a safe and comfortable environment that facilitates an excitement to learn. She wants each child to appreciate individual differences, and encourages each child to reach their potential by helping them realize their learning styles and preferences – she feels this allows for self-discovery and encourages success.

Mrs. Salmon likes to teach children that there is nothing they can’t do or be. Her students appreciate the saying, “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.” She enjoys continuing her own education, learning about new cultures, learning new languages, reading and traveling.

“Children don’t forget! They also love everything! Children make each day exciting and fun. I have yet to experience a dull moment.” – Beth Salmon