K-5 Specialists

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

Daryl Erickson, Music Instructor Grades K-5


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Daryl Erickson has been with St. Ambrose of Woodbury from its inception in 2000. Mr. Erickson holds a B.S. in Vocal Music and a minor in Instrumental Music from Bemidji State University and has worked in graduate studies at the University of Minnesota and Hamline University. He shares his talents daily by exploring the the joys of music with the students. He has dedicated his musical gifts from God to bringing joy to others. Whether he is singing with the Minnesota Opera, conducting with Macalester College’s Festival Choral, or teaching students at St. Ambrose,Mr. Erickson is motivated by creativity.

Teaching in a Catholic school affords Mr. Erickson the opportunity to teach music in the fullest sense, blending faith and talent. He asserts music is something everyone can enjoy and participate in at any level. The sweet sounds of his kindergarten through 5th grade students are showcased twice a year, Christmas and Grandparents Day. Performance is supported in the classroom with a foundation of respect for one another and creativity which encourage each student to participate during class and at programs.

“Each student is a gift from God. Each student is different, no two are alike. It is inspiring to see students develop during their time at St. Ambrose, to discover who they are, to see what they do with what they have been given is a wonder to behold.” - Daryl Erickson

Jackie Gutierrez, Kindergarten - 2nd Grade Spanish Teacher

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Jackie Gutierrez has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and Journalism, as well as a Master’s degree in Education. She is a licensed K-12 teacher in the states of Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan. Her previous experience includes teaching Spanish at the secondary level in Catholic and public schools, and teaching elementary and secondary ESL.

Mrs. Gutierrez wants her students to look forward to going to Spanish class, so she strives to create a positive and fun learning environment. She wants to help them to become life-long language learners. Her primary goal as a Spanish teacher is to expose her students to the Spanish language and the cultures of the people who speak it, and hopefully plant a seed of curiosity and interest that pushes them to continue to learn and experience the language. She works hard to create a class that embraces an active learning environment by making real-life connections. She feels that students are much more likely to engage in Spanish if they believe that that language is important and relevant to them.

Learning a second language had a huge impact on Mrs. Gutierrez’s life. It allowed her to travel and opened her mind to other ways of thinking and doing things. This is what drove her to go into education - sharing that same life-changing experience with her students and opening up the world to them through language. She enjoys teaching in Catholic schools and feels it has been her most rewarding experience as a teacher. She loves the tight-knit community found in Catholic schools, and she also loves watching her students grow in their faith and share it with their family and friends.

When she’s not in the classroom, her favorite activity is spending time with her family—especially going for walks. Additionally, she operates her own travel planning business that keeps her very busy. (She especially loves when she gets to plan trips to Spain!) If she ever has spare time on top of that, she enjoys refinishing and repurposing furniture.

“I have learned what a huge impact we (as teachers) have on our students. I continue to receive notes from former students expressing thanks or talking about how I, or my class, have impacted them. That is what it's all about, and really is what pushes me to do my best for my students every day.” - Jackie Guitierrez

Mary Spohr-Barilla, Kindergarten - 2nd Grade Physical Education


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Mary Spohr-Barilla received her B.S. in K-12 Physical Education from the University of Minnesota. She taught K-2 Physical Education for eight years at a parochial school in St Paul, and also assisted with Athletics while she was in that position. She has additional experience working as a physical therapy assistant.

Mrs. Spohr-Barilla decided to go into education because she wanted to help children learn about their bodies and to teach them how to be healthy for a lifetime. She believes that bodies are made to move! So, she introduces students to several ways to move their bodies, both with and without equipment. She also likes to show students how their bodies work. By creating an environment where students are excited about learning, she hopes to make them feel comfortable enough to try new things. She wants her students to work hard and always do their best. Her favorite lesson to teach is rope jumping because it can be done at a very beginning level with one person and one rope, or at a more advanced level with multiple ropes and multiple people – it can be used as a lifetime skill for fun and for fitness!

One of the reasons Mrs. Spohr-Barilla is attracted to Catholic schools is that she can talk about God with her students, especially when it comes to conversations about sportsmanship. (Why do we do our best, play fairly and have good attitudes about winning and losing if not for the glory of God?) Mrs. Spohr-Barilla loves being active – especially outdoors! She enjoys playing tennis and riding her bike and recently completed a sprint distance triathlon. She hopes to be a good role model for her students by being physically active outside of school.

“One of my favorite parts about working with students in the early elementary grades is the excitement they have when they learn something new. I want them to always remember to have that love of learning and excitement with new discoveries.” - Mary Spohr-Barilla

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

Beth Salmon, Special Education


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Beth Salmon began her tenure at Saint Ambrose in 2000 teaching first grade. Prior to that, she had taught a variety of grades in the St. Paul area. Beth received her Elementary Degree from the College of St. Catherine, an MA from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, an ELL Certificate and a K-12 Reading License both from The University of St. Thomas. She has always known she wanted to be a teacher. She loves how excited children are about learning and credits them with making coming to work each day incredible. Teaching in a Catholic school allows Beth to be able to help form a religious, 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. Beth strives to create a safe and comfortable environment that facilitates an excitement to learn. By helping children learn to appreciate individual differences and encouraging them to reach their potential, students often reach their goal of getting a little bit better each day. Her students appreciate the saying, “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.”

Beth enjoys art, music, traveling, reading, learning about different cultures, and continuing her own education.

“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