Megan Smith, 7th Grade English & Literature
Mrs. Smith comes to Saint Ambrose as the 7th grade Language Arts teacher. She attended the University of Saint Thomas, where she received both a Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Arts degree in English. She currently is working on her Masters of Teaching certification and is part of the Graduate Teacher Licensure program, with an emphasis on Communication Arts and Literature for grades 5-12.
Mrs. Smith is passionate about engaging her students so they can access their full potential. She believes a teacher has an obligation to teach every student to be a lifelong learner, and that it is her job to maximize student potential and support their strengths. She also wants to help them grow their understanding of literature and composition, so they are prepared for high school and beyond. In Literature classes, she enjoys class discussions, especially teaching students how to use active listening skills and speaking techniques in order to have an effective dialogue about the subject. In English classes, her favorite lessons include writing workshops and learning activities that engage students in the writing process. These lessons allow students to be creative with their thoughts and words within a structure that teaches them to be active participants in the classroom.
She strives to create a classroom environment where students can think critically about the subject matter. She works hard to create a dynamic of growth and support within the classroom – teacher and students assist one another and work together. Mrs. Smith believes it is important to know, respect and attend to each student and their specific learning needs. She is mindful of the development of students in middle school and works hard to provide scaffolding to build connections between what they know and guide them toward new learning objectives. Her goal is to build literacy through critical thinking skills within a classroom community. There is a dynamic of growth and support within the classroom: we assist one another and work together.
Mrs. Smith enjoys being part of a Catholic school because staff members are able to incorporate lessons from their faith tradition into daily learning – not only in the classroom, but in our interactions with one another. She looks forward to embracing the Saint Ambrose Way into my daily life and being a role model for my students. Some of her interests and hobbies include extensive reading and writing. She worked in a variety of academic and professional roles that emphasized these areas and she seeks out innovative methods to enhance the educational experiences of students in the Language Arts classroom.
“I have learned a variety of lessons from working with students, especially the importance of positive feedback and recognition for each unique learner. I have high expectations for my students, and they have high expectations of me. If the classroom is infused with kindness and respect, creativity and learning will follow!” – Megan Smith
Maegan Earnest, 7th & 8th Grade Social Studies
Maegan Earnest came to St. Ambrose in 2008 with a B.S. in Elementary Education and a Master in Curriculum and Instruction. Before St. Ambrose, she taught Middle School in South Carolina and interned at Kennedy High School in Bloomington.
Mrs. Earnest believes providing a strong foundation in social studies, and a safe, welcoming and structured classroom, will best serve her students. She strives to foster Christian values and help students develop self-advocacy, self-confidence and integrity. Mrs. Earnest works to create a positive and challenging environment that allows all children to learn and succeed.
When deciding on a career, Mrs. Earnest looked for one that would allow her to continue to “go to school” and expand her knowledge everyday. She wanted to be able to experience learning with others while continually challenging and motivating herself, and others, to improve, think outside the box and challenge their thinking. Mrs. Earnest also loves to work with Jr. High children so choosing teaching, as a career, was a perfect fit. By teaching at a Catholic School, she is able to share her love of God, be an active intentional role model and share in the Mass experience with her students. The smaller class sizes also make it easier to form strong relationships with her classes.
In her free time, Mrs. Earnest loves playing with her daughter, reading, gardening, scrapbooking and attending Mass.
“Jr. High students have taught me that every day is different! They are changing all the time. Their attitudes, feelings, opinions, friends and interests change from day-to-day, but this is what intrigues me and keeps my classroom unique and interesting.” – Maegan Earnest
Rhesa Freeman, 7th & 8th Grade Science
As a new teacher at St. Ambrose of Woodbury, Rhesa Freeman has found everyone to be welcoming, friendly and helpful. Prior to coming to St. Ambrose, she worked as a tutor, student teacher and project assistant in Minneapolis Schools. Ms. Freeman has her B.S. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of North Dakota and a Master in Life Science Teaching from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul.
By making the classroom as place of inquiry and exploration, Ms. Freeman finds students can explore their areas of interest while learning the subject matter. Creating life long learners is one of her goals. Whether introducing 7th grade students to a whole new microscopic world or teaching 8th grade students about meteorology, Ms. Freeman wants students to experience that “aha!” moment as they learn.
Growing up in a large family Ms. Freeman was always helping her younger siblings with homework. After graduating from college she had a job that gave her an opportunity to work with high school students. As she enjoyed this aspect of her job, she decided to pursue a teaching career. Being able to incorporate her faith into the curriculum is also something Ms. Freeman is looking forward to. She loves to read fiction, biographies and science journals as well as spend time with her nieces and nephews.
“My experience with junior high students is that they always have the ability to surprise me! For all that I plan to teach them, I know they will teach me just as much. They are a wealth of knowledge and are always ready to share what they know.” – Rhesa Freeman
Kim Soenen, 7th & 8th Grade Math
Kim Soenen received her undergraduate degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Notre Dame, as well as a second major in French. The received her Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Iowa. Her additional graduate coursework includes differentiated instruction, classroom management, brain-based learning and diversity education.
Mrs. Soenen has always been happiest and most fulfilled when she’s teaching and believes that it is her responsibility as an educator to nurture and teach the whole child. Besides teaching math to her students, she also feels she needs to help students in their journey towards becoming responsible, productive and faithful young men and women. She feels that teachers must first establish strong relationships with students in order to teach effectively, and that they must meet students where they are in order to help them move forward to reach their own potential. She believes all children are capable of achieving excellence, but each child will do that in a different way. Mrs. Soenen wants to make sure all students are respected and accepted in her classroom, and hopes that all of her students will feel safe asking questions and asking for help, whether it’s for academic reasons or personal reasons.
Mrs. Soenen is excited to be part of a Catholic school and loves to combine her passion for teaching with her love of the Church. When she’s not teaching at Saint Ambrose, Mrs. Soenen loves to run and be outside with her children. She enjoys reading, especially about the Catholic faith. She also is interested in healthy eating and living and likes to discuss the importance of a healthy and balanced lifestyle with her students. She loves to do service projects, especially ones she can do with her family.
“Every day is an adventure! My students have taught me that I need to be flexible and willing to change my plans to meet their needs. Students have also taught me that the most important part of my job is getting to know each one of them as a person. Only then can I truly meet their needs. Students are enthusiastic, full of energy and often hilarious. Every day with them is a blessing.” - Kim Soenen
Melissa Schisler, 7th & 8th Grade Religion
Kris Woolsey, 7th & 8th Grade English & Literature
After teaching 7th and 8th grade English for five years in southern Minnesota, Kris Woolsey came to St. Ambrose in 2001. She has a B.S. in Secondary Education and English and a Master of Science in Education and English, both from the University of Wisconsin River Falls.
Mrs. Woolsey’s classroom is a place where students are taught the structure of English so they have a firm foundation that allows them to best communicate their creativity and express ideas. She directs and guides the students, but also works to foster an independent learning environment where students can work individually and cooperatively. Mrs. Woolsey enjoys seeing students make important discoveries about themselves and their abilities through the projects they work on in class.
Reading and writing have always been something Mrs. Woolsey has enjoyed and were the reason she initially wanted to go into teaching. She continues to enjoy teaching because she has found the energy and creativity of her students to be so rewarding. Teaching at a Catholic school helps Mrs. Woolsey to not only share her faith, but continue to grow in her faith. She finds St. Ambrose is a community that fosters the ability of students and teachers to see God in the people and world around them.
“Jr. High students have shown me how people of any age can make a difference in the world. I have seen students work toward a common goal to serve others and rise to the challenge with faith and spirit as the driving force behind their work – this is inspiring to people of all ages.” – Kris Woolsey