Western Oregon University
Bachelors in Early Childhood/Elementary Education
Mrs. Barber teaches elementary technology classes for all elementary students K – 6. Her experience working in many different grade levels lends itself to her class that serves our entire elementary. Mrs. Barber and the elementary technology lab helps students be prepared with skills necessary to negotiate our tech-driven world.
“I love Jesus and love having the opportunity to talk about Him with the children I work with.” says Charlene. Teaching in a Christian school feels just right for her. In fact, all of her teaching experience has been in Christian ed.
Charlene and her husband, Ryan, were high school sweethearts. They are foster parents, sharing their home and the love of Jesus with children that God puts in their care. They enjoy sharing their love of the outdoors with family camping and fishing trips. They kayak and explore often. She also enjoys cooking and baking. She says, “I think that my family likes that I enjoy it too!”
Oregon State University – Master in Educational Technology
Oregon State University – Business Administration with a minor in computer science
Jay Barton has degrees in both Business and Education and has been a part of the Santiam Christian family since 2005. Prior to joining us, Jay taught in North Salem as well as doing some substitute teaching.
While in college, Jay found a sweetheart of a girl and they have been married for over 30 years. Together they have raised three children, all of whom have graduated from Santiam Christian. As a family they love to travel, attend sporting events and enjoy spending time in the outdoors.
Jay has actual business experience that extends beyond his classroom. This provides an additional layer of teaching he can pass on to his students.
The sports offered at Santiam Christian are what excite Jay the most. It’s not surprising that, outside of a work day, you can usually find Jay enjoying a good athletic event. In addition, Jay also enjoys old science fiction movies and reading.
Jay has valued his time and grown here at Santiam Christian. When asked what has kept him here, he replied, “Why would anyone teach somewhere else?”.
Western Oregon University – BA Geography/Geology
Sami Beam married her college sweetheart and received her Bachelors in Geography. She came to Santiam Christian in 2007. She views her work here as a ministry, as it is an opportunity to use her gifts and abilities to serve the students and the Lord. She appreciates the opportunity to work where her two daughters also attended school.
As a family, the Beams enjoy being in the outdoors together, usually hiking or biking. To relax and unwind Sami enjoys creating things, primarily by sewing and crafting. She likes the process of taking things apart, cutting them up, and putting them back together in a different way that creates something new and beautiful. This is the same type of skill that makes her good at her job – taking apart a complex problem and putting all the details together into something workable.
In her role at Santiam Christian, Sami enjoys the opportunity to advise students during high school so they will be well prepared for that next step in life. As a parent, she values the school coming alongside in the influence of her children.
“Countless times, my kids have shared messages from teachers or chapel that have reiterated what we are trying to teach them at home or what they are learning at church. We appreciate not just the quality academics and instruction, but that the values and beliefs being taught in school do not contradict ours.” ~Sami Beam
BS English – Corban University
Heather Bellinger loves a good story. As an English student at Corban University, her love of conveying stories went hand in hand with her love of the theatre. Creative character development, whether on paper or on the stage is part of her unique gifting.
After achieving her BS in English, many challenging roles in Corban productions, and the prestige of membership in Corban’s Honors Program, Miss Bellinger has returned to Santiam Christian, her high school alma mater. From some of her exciting SC stage roles like the lovely Belle in Beauty and the Beast, and the rotund and bossy sailor, Stephano in The Tempest, she has taken on the important role of SC Players Director. She says, “Theatre is an amazing way for a person to explore their creativity, learn and think deeply about God’s creation in all of our humanity, and challenge, serve and grown themselves and others through trust, grace and, of course, humor.” She loves getting to share the theatre production and process with her students.
Heather’s own personal experience as a student at Santiam Christian challenged her to think critically, have compassion continuously, to listen prayerfully to the Lord, and to know that she is not alone in her obstacles, fears and joys. We love that we are part of HER story. Now, as a teacher here at SC, she is excited to be part of other stories, and watch how God continues to use this school to reveal His glory and express His love to our students in a myriad of ways. Story after story – continuing to unfold.
When not directing shows and teaching classes, Heather is enjoying taking tap dance classes. She says it’s a fun mode of exercise AND ignites her creativity.
M.Ed. Education/Reading – Oregon State University
B.S. Education – Oregon State University
Many years ago, Steve Bittner taught in both public and private schools, but has been with our Santiam Christian family since 1998. He brought with him a Bachelors in Education and a Masters in Reading/Language Development.
Santiam Christian has been a big part of the Bittner family as Steve’s wife, Jeannie, is also a teacher in our Junior High and all four of the Bittner’s children are graduates of Santiam Christian. Their family loves to travel and finds adventure in experiencing new cultures and people. The Lord has allowed Steve to travel to many places around the globe and he believes that brings a unique perspective to the classroom.
With Steve’s love for travel, it is not surprising that he has a huge heart for international students and feels it is a great honor to be involved with them.
Steve is excited about the direction of the school and the addition of new staff members. He understands the sacrifice that families make in order to send their children here and stands by the philosophy that having our children spend all day in a place founded on a Biblical worldview is simply invaluable. In Steve’s own words, “I love the SC community and am so thankful to be a part of something that has the capacity to literally change the world!”
When not at Santiam Christian, Steve can be found enjoying his old VW van, hiking in the outdoors or just being with his family. All simple pleasures that bring him a great deal of contentment.
BS Elementary Education – Corban University
Minor in Biblical Studies – Corban University
Tiffany Braun graduated from Santiam Christian and went on to earn her Bachelors in Elementary Education with a minor in Bible. Along the way she got married, and she returned to us as faculty in 2012.
The smaller class sizes at Santiam Christian is invaluable to Tiffany. She believes this allows her to meet and build relationships with her students which also makes a huge impact in her classroom environment.
Tiffany grew up as an athlete and took on coaching as one of her first jobs in college. She believes teaching and coaching go hand-in-hand.
“I have learned a lot of my communication skills from sports. The ability to communicate with your athletes translates to talking with your students in the classroom. I truly feel if I would not have had one or the other I would not be as effective in my trades.” ~Tiffany Braun
BA Liberal Studies – Sacramento State University
Teaching Credential – Stanislaus State University
SC Freshman English teacher, Mrs. Buhrkuhl, has a rep. It’s that she is tough but fair, firm but kind, and really passionate about helping kids to know what they need to for the next step in their life journey.
“Every day offers opportunities to connect practical knowledge with eternal purpose and to help kids process life’s challenges through a Biblical worldview. It is a gift to be able to combine a job with ministry at a place like Santiam Christian!” said Brenda, when asked why she has chosen to minister at SC.
“As the gap between secular culture and Christian values widens, I believe it’s more important than ever to saturate our kids with truth from God’s word as they grow, so that they will be able to withstand the continual chipping away at their faith that they will face throughout life.”
As an English teacher, she has a way with words, doesn’t she. She eloquently says what we believe and why we are here. We are grateful that Brenda and her family have chosen Santiam Christian as their home, extended family and ministry!
Kathie Carley met her husband, Justin, in college and got married just two weeks after graduating from OSU. Now 20 years later, they have three kids – one launching into college and two others who are students at Santiam Christian. They are a busy, sports-minded family. They can be found either coaching or watching nearly every kind of SC sporting event. It’s no surprise that this Athletic Administration major has found a place to combine her love of sports with her talent for administrative detail, as the SC elementary administrative assistant.
One of the things about Santiam Christian that touches Kathie most is knowing that SC families are trading financial sacrifice for peace of mind concerning their kids’ emotional, educational and spiritual safety. She loves being part of that sense of safety.
Kathie and Justin are both involved in coaching at SC. Kathie’s many years as a competitive gymnast and later a college cheerleader at OSU have given her the talent and ability to coach the SC cheer team. She says that coaching is a great opportunity to help build deeper relationships with families and to help build strong character in her athletes.
The whole Carley family loves the small community atmosphere of Santiam Christian. Kathie is moved by the fellowship that comes from sharing the joys and challenges of school and sports alongside other parents who are choosing to make the same sacrifice.
Oregon State University – BS in Agriculture Sciences
He’s the real deal!
Mr. Coomer is an honest-to-goodness cowboy! Hard working, boot wearing, raised on a ranch in Eastern Oregon, cowboy! For him, agriculture education isn’t just a career choice. It is a combination of his upbringing, his insight into the agriculture industry, and passion for being a steward of what God, as the original Maker, has provided for us.
While studying at OSU for his BS in Agriculture Sciences, Luke Coomer knew of the successful FFA and ag science program at Santiam Christian. “I am incredibly excited to continue the standard of excellence set by our Ag ed and FFA programs. I look forward to coaching and mentoring my students as they learn and grow into strong men and women.”
When not in the classroom, Luke enjoys repairing and restoring cars and trucks, spending time in the outdoors, and dancing! Yes, dancing!! Not only does he like to dance himself, but he enjoys teaching others to dance, as well. He can drive a tractor, round up cattle, teach like a champion, mentor for the future and sashay around the dance floor, too. The real deal, indeed!
When asked why he would choose to invest his energy and talents at Santiam Christian, Luke told us, “Santiam Christian’s focus on community feels like home.”
MAT – Teaching – Concordia University
BS General Science – Oregon State University
Additional Coursework: graduate classwork in science education at Oregon State University
Erika David earned a Bachelors in General Science and has her Masters M.A.T. in Secondary Education. While in college, she also met her husband and together they are raising three children, all of whom attend Santiam Christian Schools. Erika briefly taught at Riverside Christian School in Yakima, Washington before joining Santiam Christian in 2015.
Erika gets enjoyment from being outside working in her garden or running to clear her mind. She also loves cooking, and food….although she says she sometimes enjoys them a little too much. As a family, you can find them spending time outside together enjoying God’s creation by doing a variety of activities like snow skiing, water skiing, hiking, fishing, swimming, kayaking and SUP-ing.
At Santiam Christian Erika is most excited about the continuing implementation of technology, and helping students navigate technology while becoming critical thinkers. Erika understands the rigorous academic load offered at Santiam Christian, but appreciates the family atmosphere as well. She loves being a part of a team of teachers that are invested in the students learning as well as growing them as leaders with character.
Erika values the small class sizes as it allows her to truly get to know her students. She also looks for opportunity to share her faith openly. When asked what keeps her here at Santiam Christian, Erika says it best, “We are a family here at SC!”
BS Elementary Education – Corban University
Kim Deskins feels that a calling has been placed on her heart to minister in a Christian school setting. Therefore, she used her Bachelors degree in Elementary Education teaching at Albany Christian School for many years before coming to Santiam Christian in 2013.
Kim is married and has two children. Her oldest is a graduate of Santiam Christian and her youngest is still attending. In keeping with God’s calling, she and her husband are actively serving in the children’s ministry at their church. Her family loves to go on hikes together or simply visit with family and friends. Kim has an interest in learning about history, so you may find her visiting different types of museums when she can.
Being a teacher and choosing to have her own children enrolled and influenced at Santiam Christian Schools shows that Kim firmly stands by her words, “The education received at Santiam encompasses not only the academic, but the spiritual. The Lord is brought into all areas and there are protections put in place that cannot be utilized in the public school setting.”
B.A. in Liberal Studies – Westmont College
Teaching Credential, Elementary Education – Westmont College
Rachel Eby is married to our very own Tim Eby. They met and fell in love while attending Westmont College and got married the day after Tim finished his teaching credentialing program. They have three children that are also enrolled at Santiam Christian Schools. They love to spend time as a family and they especially find enjoyment out in God’s creation.
Rachel received a Bachelors in Liberal Studies and taught at an Elementary School in Long Beach, California for four years. She and Tim both came to us at Santiam Christian in 2001. After a few years, Rachel took a break from teaching to make being a mom a priority. During that time she also taught piano and worked at her church. With her children in school now, Rachel recently joined us again as faculty.
Being in the classroom and getting to know her students is what excites Rachel. She loves seeing “the light turn on” when a student discovers something or finds a new interest or passion.
“I love that I can integrate my faith in Christ, in words and action, into every aspect of what I teach. I love that my own children are surrounded and embraced by teachers, staff, peers, and parents who seek to develop their walk with the Lord.”
Rachel believes the most important aspect of a child’s development is their spiritual life. At Santiam Christian, a student not only receives an excellent education, they spend the bulk of their day with others whose foundation is Christ. That will influence their choices as they grow into adults.
BS in Biological Science – Westmont College
Tim Eby grew up in a large family with adopted sisters and foster kids. While in college earning his Bachelors of Biological Science, he spent a summer term in Costa Rica.He met his wife, Rachel, at Westmont in Santa Barbara, California and they both joined us at Santiam Christian Schools in 2001. He describes himself, his wife and three children as “an outdoor family” as they enjoy taking road trips, camping and hiking.
What keeps Tim at Santiam Christian is the sense of Christian community. Where parents, teachers, and administrators work together for the common good of sharing and instilling Christ into the lives of the students. He sees that Santiam Christian meets the needs of the whole person, believing that education is not just about taking classes and participating in sports. It’s learning to follow Christ in all that you do.
Tim’s love and passion for what he does is evident in the excitement displayed in his classroom, “I love the discussions I have in all of my classes. Sometimes the content is controversial; that’s when class is most exciting.”
M Ed in Curriculum and Instruction – Concordia University
B.S. in Mathematics Education – Corban University
Minor of Mathematics – Corban University
Tyler Ferguson joined Santiam Christian in 2015 and has kept busy by not only teaching here, but simultaneously teaching evening classes at Corban University. He is fully using his Bachelors in Mathematics Education with a Minor in Bible and Math, as well as a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction: Mathematics Education. Tyler appreciates that he has had the opportunity to teach from middle school through the college level.
Tyler loves the people at Santiam Christian as the community feels like family to him. As parents consider the sacrifice required to have their children enrolled in this school, he believes parents should know, “We have high expectations for our students that allow them to have a goal. We see the potential in them and push them/walk with them to reach that potential.”
Tyler finds it very fun to interact with the students. He can be seen cheering on his students while watching the various sports offered here at Santiam Christian, but also loves to support all of the extracurricular activities his students participate in.
Tyler loves politics, board games and people. In addition to enriching the students’ lives here at Santiam Christian, Tyler is a volunteer in the youth program at his church and has said, “I love investing in young people’s lives. The vast majority of my life is spent with other people.”
BA in English – Oregon State University
GSD (Graduate Studies Diploma) in Biblical Studies – Western Seminary
“I have been married to my husband, Sean, for more than two decades.” Says HS English and Bible teacher, Leiah Greene. Together they have three beautiful girls, who all attend Santiam Christian. In their spare time they enjoy camping, white water rafting and playing with their dog, Luna.
Before becoming a teacher at Santiam Christian, Leiah and Sean appreciated the peace of mind that came from having their girls at SC, where they felt confidence in trusting the faculty and staff to show them love and grace every day. “The love they have for my children is priceless. I hope I give that same peace to my students’ families, now.”
With a degree in English and a background as a writer and editor in the corporate world, Leiah brings “real world” experience into her classroom. She feels blessed to be able to share her professional experience and expertise in a place of faith, Christian worldview and family atmosphere. She is excited to watch students as they grow in maturity, faith and humility. “I enjoy sharing my faith with students, which is something I would not be welcome to do in the public sector.”
In addition to spending time with her daughters, she enjoys “reading and drinking hot tea… daily.” She says, “As a life long learner, reading informs and educates me. It’s a hobby that either affirms or challenges my perspective, which I find healthy and stimulating.”
BA Elementary Education – Western Oregon University
Heidi Grosenbach earned a Bachelors in Elementary Education and began her journey into the world of teaching. She spent a year teaching first grade in Korea and then came back to the states where she taught at New Life Christian Academy for five years. In 1993 she came to Santiam Christian and we were privileged to have her a part of our family for six years. After some time off to be with her family, Heidi rejoined us in 2010 and we have been happy to have her with us since.
Heidi appreciates the community of like-minded people at Santiam Christian. People who strive to honor the Lord. She sees that children are valued and cared for by the staff, faculty and administration and believes that the learning that takes place affects the soul as well as the body and brain. Heidi adds, “It’s very exciting to watch the children start their journey of learning and get excited about what they can do.”
Heidi and her husband both serve on the worship team at their church, and together they have two beautiful daughters. As a family they simply enjoy being together, whether it’s working outside, playing with their pets or hanging out at the beach.
B S – Elementary Education, Oregon State University
B S – Exercise and Sport Science, Oregon State University
B S – Human Development and Family Sciences, Oregon State University
Additional Coursework: Gerontology – Oregon State University
BS in Elementary Education – Western Oregon University
Tina Jones knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was in the second grade. She has used her Bachelors in Elementary Education by teaching at other private Christian schools as well as in public school before coming to us in 2004. She loves being able to teach children about the Lord and feels He has called her to use her passion for teaching here at Santiam Christian.
She sees Santiam Christian as a family and an experience like no other. She appreciates partnering with parents to help their children become all that God has called them to be. She has had parents tell her over the years that one of the reasons they love Santiam Christian so much is because they know that their children are safe and loved when they drop their child off at the door every morning.
Tina has two adopted children who have had various educational needs. She understands what parents feel when they are not sure where to turn or how to best help their child who perhaps is struggling in some area. She knows that each child is precious and deserving of the best education and she feels that Santiam Christian does a great job with meeting the needs of children right where they are.
When not teaching, you can find Tina spending time with family and friends; laughing, hiking, reading, spending time in the Word, playing games, going to the beach or shopping. And as Tina says, “I am an empty-nester but don’t truly feel like an empty nester because of all the precious children in my class!”
M Ed in Educational Communication and Technology – Western Oregon University
English Major and Educational Media Minor – Western Oregon University
Esther Knaupp has Majors in English as well as Educational Communication and Technology. She taught for six years at a Christian school in Forrest City, Arkansas before setting down her roots here with us at Santiam Christian in 1984.
She sees Santiam Christian as a place where students are being taught a godly worldview that will be the foundation for the rest of their lives. She loves being in a place where she is able to work with students and impact their lives for eternity. Esther especially loves teaching Seniors and challenging them to follow God with all of their hearts.
Esther loves to grow roses and share their beauty with others. She shares a home with her mother and believes her life is an example to her students by giving them the perspective of how a single person can be happy and fulfilled.
BS in Electrical Engineering – Oregon State University
Teaching Licensure Program – Western Oregon University
Tracy Kniebuehler joined Santiam Christian as a teacher in 2011. She brought with her a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering as well as 17 years experience as an Electrical Engineer in the workforce. Tracy believes it’s her real-world experience that can be used in the classroom to help students understand math and science concepts even better.
Always willing to challenge herself and grow, Tracy gets excited about opportunities to teach new classes. She loves the family environment at Santiam Christian, the small class sizes, the personal interaction she can have with the students, and the opportunity to help students grow in their faith. She appreciates that Santiam Christian comes alongside families in watching out for the students, to help shape them into respectful, responsible, Christian men and women.
Tracy is married to her husband, Greg, and they have a daughter, Bailey, who is also a student at Santiam Christian. Together they love to travel and experience new things. Family is very important to Tracy, and she hopes that the students see that example in her as well.
M Ed – Early Childhood – Moreland University
BS – Human Development and Family Sciences – Oregon State University
Medical Transcription – M-TEC
CNA – Linn Benton CC
Certified Bookkeeper – National Assoc of Cert Public Bookkeepers
“I am so excited that I get to teach the truth!” says Mrs. Knox of teaching at Santiam Christian. After having taught in the public sector for several years, she loves that she can incorporate lessons about God’s love and faithfulness into her lesson plans here at Santiam Christian. “SC aligns with my beliefs. It is an honor and a blessing to get to serve the Lord and teach His children about Him.”
Angie recognizes that one of her passions is helping children exercise compassion for those who come from different backgrounds than their own. “I hope I can provide a different perspective and example of compassion, along with an awe and understanding of the amazing miracles that God can perform.”
Angie and her husband, Anthony, met while in college at OSU. They married and have four kids. While being a busy mom, Angie earned her teaching license and recently her masters’ from Moreland University. In recent years Angie and Anthony started a business together, Knox Ag Irrigation. After taking a little time to help get their business up and running, Angie went back to the classroom in our second grade.
When not working, Angie can often be found at one of her kids’ sporting events, or helping behind the scenes as her husband, Anthony, coaches basketball. She might cheer loudly for her family, but for her own relaxation, she likes quiet things like reading and crocheting.
BS in Apparel Design – Purdue University
BS in Consumer Science and Retail Management – Purdue University
Tina Longballa has a degree in Apparel Design and Retail Management. She worked for ten years as a professional apparel designer and artist, as well as being a Santiam Christian parent, helping in her children’s classrooms and working in the school office. She officially joined our Santiam Christian faculty in 2013.
As a parent and a teacher, Tina appreciates the fact that our school embraces community and school spirit through academics, athletics, and clubs such as Band, Choir, Drama, FFA, and the STEM program.Tina sees there is so much in the world today that tries to distract kids from living in God’s Word everyday. The environment at Santiam Christian keeps the students accountable for their actions and supports their spiritual growth. She believes that her work as a designer and freelance artist for many years has prepared her to help her students for the workforce and to encourage them to “Dream”, “Risk”, and “Create” a life that glorifies God.
Tina is married and is blessed with two wonderful children who are also students at Santiam Christian. As Tina says, “The heart of the mission and being a disciple of Christ is what keeps me at Santiam Christian. Having my own children enrolled at the school is an extra bonus.”
BA Elementary Education – Pacific Lutheran University
Jill Martinson earned a Bachelors in Education and spent nine years teaching school in Hawai’i before God clearly opened the door for her to join Santiam Christian in 1991. She was hoping it would be the kind of school where she would want to spend her entire career. She sees that it has been that and so much more! It has become her family and her home. She believes God called her to work with our 6th graders and it is her great joy to watch them explore, learn, grow, discover, blossom and flourish. It is not surprising to see her former students light up at the sight of her and greet her with a hug.
Jill stands by the idea that Santiam Christian is worth the sacrifices families make in order to send their children here. “I believe a Christ-centered education is one of the most valuable things a Christian parent can provide their child. At Santiam Christian, parents know their children receive an education that is not based on the world’s value system, but on a Biblical foundation of faith in Jesus Christ and the foundations of His Word.” ~Jill Martinson
M Ed in Curriculum and Instruction – University of Nebraska – Lincoln
B S – Secondary Education (Social Sciences) – Central Michigan University
Additional Coursework: Taft Institute for Two Party Government
Leah Maupin has a Bachelors in Social Science and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction. She taught in a junior high school in Lincoln, Nebraska and “some other venues along the way” before joining us at Santiam Christian in 2014.
She says she has been married to the same wonderful guy for over 30 years. They have four children that all received their education from Santiam Christian and feel they were well-prepared for college through that education.
As a parent, Leah firmly believes her children received the finest education in the area by professional teachers and authentic Believers who invested in her kids as eternal beings with a calling and a purpose. “They were taught well and loved deeply. We are blessed.” ~Leah Maupin
Leah believes having four adult, or nearly adult children, gives her a perspective on teaching that she didn’t have before. She feels that she understands teenagers better and genuinely enjoys them…even junior high students in large quantities!
In Leah’s words, “I love the students I work with, the people I work alongside, and the Lord who oversees it all! I definitely feel called to be here.”
Bachelors in Mathematics Education – Corban University
Melissa (Mac) McLain has a Bachelors in Education that she began using by briefly teaching at Albany Christian before joining us at Santiam Christian from 2002 until 2009. She then took time off to enjoy the priority of putting her family first and being a mom to her four girls.
Mac is a Santiam Christian graduate and says that she married her high school sweetheart 10 years after high school. With her girls now a bit older, Mac has rejoined us at Santiam Christian in 2017. She feels the fact that she went to school here and sat in the same classrooms brings a unique life experience to her own teaching. “I loved this place as a student – never a question that I always wanted to teach here. Great staff, students and families that make each day enjoyable. Freedom to talk about Jesus, be real, make mistakes, share important values with kids, etc.” ~ Mac McLain
Mac loves that her kids are hearing about Jesus each day and have teachers who care about them outside of the classroom. They are making friends who come from families who share the same values. Mac sees Santiam Christian as a place where kids can get a great education but also have students and staff who truly care about their character; people who care about the long-term for each student.
MAT in Education – Western Oregon University
B.S. Music Education – Western Oregon University
Annette Miller has a Bachelors in Music Education and a Masters in Education. She has taught in a variety of places in Lebanon, Lacomb and Albany and she joined Santiam Christian in 2002 when her own daughters started attending. Although her daughters have since graduated, Annette has not felt the desire to leave. She loves small schools and appreciates the family atmosphere and Christian focus at Santiam Christian. Annette is busy, as she currently is teaching with us here at Santiam Christian Schools as well as at Albany Christian School.
“Being able to worship Jesus freely in a school setting makes a huge difference. The small class sizes, caring teachers, administrators, and staff and the individual attention students receive is extremely valuable too.” ~ Annette Miller
Outside of school, Annette enjoys sewing, knitting, baking, walking, traveling, church activities, eating out, and reading. Her goal is to read 100 books a year! Her appreciation for music has been passed down as one of her daughters has also become a music teacher. Both of her girls play instruments along with Annette, and they have even been in a band together. Annette adds that her husband loves to listen.
“I’m very aware of how my role, as a teacher, helps build a student’s ability, self esteem, confidence and hope.” Mrs. Nelson takes that responsibility very seriously, but does it with a wide and tender smile.
SC first grade teacher, Shelly Nelson, feels passionate about nurturing the heart and esteem of her students. Her own challenge in early elementary school developed an empathy for the little ones in her class, and a deep desire to make everyday an encouragement to them. Balancing positive reinforcement and quality instruction have become her hallmarks.
Shelly has never shied from hard work. She is in the midst of completing her Master’s. While her bachelor’s is from OSU, she has studied at a variety of other top notch schools, including the Teachers College at Columbia University. She appreciates that at SC she can combine her education, experience teaching in the public schools, and the opportunity to promote morality and eternal hope with her students everyday.
The Nelson family, including Shelly, her husband and three children, love to spend time outdoors. Riding horses is a favorite family pastime. Their horses are a big part of their lives. Riding, watching her daughter compete and their everyday care are labors of absolute love. Shelly says she loves to ride horses and to read. “I feel like my love of reading shapes me. I’m always wanting to learn more.”
M Ed – Educational Leadership – George Fox University
Bachelor Degree in K-12 Education – Health and Physical Education – Western Oregon University
Peter Ness has a Bachelors in Education and a Masters in Administration and he joined our family at Santiam Christian in 2002, not long after marrying Kimberly who is also on faculty with us. Together they have four wonderful boys that have had the privilege of being a part of Santiam Christian their entire lives.
Peter believes the education at Santiam Christian is more than just excellent academics. The administration, faculty and staff are here to come alongside parents in the Christian raising of their children. Everyone strives for the best with the understanding that setbacks, and at times failure, is a part of being successful.
“I get to be a part of this process to the students here, and I consider being a part of this family/community a wonderful gift God has given me and my family.” ~ Peter Ness
Being with God’s people and the outdoors is what Peter wants to be a part of and where he wants to be. Building projects with others are some of his greatest memories. Climbing up a mountain or going down one on a snowboard or skis is refreshing and an amazing way for him to enjoy the company of friends and marvel in the outdoors. Peter adds, “I am only challenged/shaped by these experiences by knowing that God brought me to ‘that’ place with ‘that’ person at ‘that’ time to help me understand Him more.”
George Fox University – BS Biology
Matt Nosack has loved teaching and coaching since day-one. He holds a Bachelors in Biology and has been a part of our Santiam Christian family since 1988. He has two boys that are both graduates of Santiam Christian and a daughter that is currently enrolled here. Spending time doing anything with his family is what brings Matt the greatest joy. In his classroom he loves the interaction with his students and seeing that “now I understand” moment. On the playing field, Matt loves teaching character and seeing it implemented within the sport.
At Santiam Christian, Matt appreciates that Jesus is lifted up as who He is, The Son of God. With that, he sees teachers give so much of themselves, and are a fantastic outside-the-home influence to reinforce the Christian values, lifestyle and character that is being taught within the home.
When asked what has kept him at Santiam Christian for all of these years, Matt replies, “The ability to share Jesus with students and coworkers, and working with such great, committed people.”
BA in History – California Polytechnic State University
Teacher Credential Program and Minor – Psychology – University of Nevada
Laura Peterson says her life has not been particularly “unique”. God has blessed her with a very stable and healthy Christian family, and this is true for many in our student body. Laura wants those students to know that God uses them and their story as well. She feels God has called her, and students like her, to help those who carry very heavy burdens.
Laura met her husband, Eric, through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship while they were both studying at California Polytechnic University and she was earning her Bachelors in History. Together they have three children. Their oldest is a graduate of Santiam Christian and their younger two are still attending. As a family, they enjoy boating in the summers and watching the Seahawks. Before coming to teach at Santiam Christian Schools in 2009, Laura taught at public schools in Nevada as well as a private Christian school in California.
Laura enjoys working alongside supportive parents to ensure that a team is working together to help grow and mature students. Laura adds, “We are called to raise our children to be lovers and followers of God. This environment seeks everyday to help parents in that mission.”
B A in Elementary Education – Western Oregon University
Associates Degree – Chemeketa Community College
Marc Powell married his high school sweetheart from Woodburn High School. Their only son is married and set to graduate from Oregon State University. Marc adds that there are “no grandkids yet”.
Marc earned his own Bachelors degree in Education and did substitute teaching for Central High School for several years. He joined us at Santiam Christian as a paid assistant in 2015 and officially began teaching a year later in 2016.
Small class sizes and better student behavior is what Marc notices and welcomes at Santiam Christian. He appreciates the Christian-based education from teachers that truly love and care for their students.
Outside of the classroom Marc enjoys woodworking, cars and camping. These activities give him a sense of worth, enjoyment, and appreciation for God’s creation.
“I love watching Eagle baseball!” Michelle Riley is an Eagle Believer! Especially when her husband, Mike, is by her side and her handsome son is on the field! It’s just about her favorite thing!
Michelle is also an integral part of the SC Business Office. She approaches her work with diligence, along with an easy smile and infectious laughter. She feels that serving our SC families through keeping our financial accounts in order not only serves us, but also serves our Heavenly Father.
When asked what she likes to do outside of work, she says that she likes to go camping and spend time with her fellas. She also really appreciates quiet things like reading, crochet and cross-stitch, after a busy day at work.
MS Ed – Western Oregon University
Michelle Setniker has a degree in Elementary Education and officially joined our faculty in 2007. She and her husband have three children. Their oldest is a 2017 graduate from Santiam Christian and her younger two are still attending. As a family, they find the most enjoyment in being together outdoors.
A few years ago, Santiam Christian implemented schoolwide character education. Monthly character traits are carefully chosen to educate our students. Michelle values this education and has seen this bring about meaningful conversations in her classroom that focus on how to treat others and choosing behavior.
Michelle sees that Santiam Christian provides families with a Christian education in a setting in which students are truly loved and cared for. Small class sizes and a supportive administration allows teachers to reach students in a meaningful way and serve their individual needs. She believes that Santiam Christian Schools don’t just provide a quality education, but also provide a family atmosphere.
Speaking as a teacher and a mom, “My husband and I enrolled our daughter here for Kindergarten. We knew right away at our first tour of the school that this was where we wanted our children to grow. I was blessed four years later with a teaching position and continue to feel the sense of family and community that we did on our first visit.”
~ Michelle Setniker
M Ed – Curriculum and Instruction – Portland State University
Education Degree – Walla Walla University
Minors in English and Religion
Lisa Sheldrake has earned a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction. To say she has traveled a fair bit is an understatement. She went to college in England, traveled Europe, grew up in Alaska, lived in Mexico for a bit, and went on mission trips to various countries. She taught at Central Valley Christian School in Tangent for 16 years and at Grand Ronde Christian School for two years; a one room schoolhouse with all eight grades and a wood stove for heat! She settled in with us at Santiam Christian in 2014. She believes all of this helps her see things from different perspectives.
Lisa is married with three children, all of whom are enrolled at Santiam Christian. As a family they love to cook different ethnic foods from around the world. She says her kids love to eat everything and anything. Her family also appreciates music. Lisa plays the piano and guitar and her husband plays the trombone and stand up bass. There is always music playing in her home, “…whether we create it ourselves or we are listening to it. We often are found in the woods hiking or exploring. May the forest be with you….” ~Lisa Sheldrake
Lisa grew up with Cerebral Palsy and that has played a huge part in her not judging others because they are different. As Lisa says, “Different isn’t bad…it’s different!” As a teacher Lisa loves to challenge her students to look at life from different angles and outside their comfort zone. She finds it a privilege to pray for her students and finds it priceless that teachers pray for her own children as well.
B A – Fine Arts – Northwest Nazarene University
MBA – Northwest Christian University
BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from Eugene Bible College (now New Hope Christian College)
“What God reveals about Himself in The Word is the most amazing thing in the world to me and I LOVE talking about it.” Brandon Smith’s, passion for God’s word makes us excited that he is teaches JH Bible at SC!
Mr. Smith is like an onion – many layers! His educational background includes an MBA and he has worked in the news radio industry. He enjoys a vast variety of activities like running, cooking and photography. While he teaches Bible, he regularly incorporates drawing and creative writing into his lesson plans. Mr. Smith’s interests and background are diverse, but isn’t that like God to bring us a teacher to share about Him, who proves to our students that we’re each created with great complexity and vastly unique passions and interests? We love that!
Brandon Smith says of SC, “Living and working in an atmosphere where people are all pursuing God together is simply invaluable.” We’re grateful that Mr. Smith is pursuing God with us, and is reverently leading our junior high students back to God’s feet.
I have been in Christian education now for over 20 years; most of that time has been in leadership, serving as the Superintendent of three Christian schools. My vision is to strengthen Santiam Christian Schools’ spiritual and academic programs by focusing on best teaching practices, student academic and spiritual growth, facility improvements/development, and policies that promote our values as a Christian community.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1
Biblical and Theological Studies – Biola University
Kinesiology – Oregon State University
Jameel Tolbert has a Bachelors in Kinesiology and was a coach for three years before coming on as faculty in 2016. He sees an inclusive environment and strong values at Santiam Christian Schools; where guidance is given and directed specifically for each student and each one is treated as the unique individual they are.
Jameel understands the ups and downs of expressing true character during sport and physical activity. He uses this understanding to cater to each student and assist them in improving their self-control and/or leadership skills. He believes this builds a better understanding of enduring physical activity and how it leads to future successes in fitness and in life.
Basketball, art, music and fitness are Jameel’s main areas of interest even outside of work. “These things help me maintain a strong sense of self and provide me with a broad understanding of various aspects of life.” ~Jameel Tolbert
Bryan Twedell is our mild-mannered, Superman! His quiet, unassuming ways don’t even hint at the incredible feats of service and heroism that he performs each and every day!
After studying Christian Education in college, he ventured to the other side of the world as a staff member at Continental Theological Seminary in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw in Belgium, where he served for 11 years. His four years of study in Canada and total of 13 years in of ministry in Belgium working with international students has provided him with unique life experiences that give him insights far beyond our campus borders.
Bryan, his lovely wife, and two daughters returned to the US, where his youngest daughter attended Santiam Christian and graduated in 2002. He recognizes that those years in her life were transforming for her. Later in 2006, Bryan joined the staff of Santiam Christian. His desire is that SC will have impact in the lives of other students and that many more lives will be touched, as his daughter’s was.
Bryan brings his can-do attitude and heart of service to Santiam Christian, where we recognize that we are the blessed beneficiaries of his grace and patience. Bryan is the Physical Plant Manager, which basically means that he does everything, for everyone, all the time. When asked why he does it, he said, “My hope is that I can be a good example to the students through conscientious, cheerful and faithful work.”
BA in Elementary Education and Communications – Dordt Christian College
Amy Van Beek married her college sweetheart after they met at Dordt Christian College in Sioux Center, Iowa, where she was earning her Bachelors in Education. Amy joined us at Santiam Christian in 1988 and she and her husband also opened a small Christian school in Bellfountain, Oregon that educated her own children plus 70 other children from preschool through high school for 10 years. They own a dairy farm in Monroe and have raised two adopted children whom are both grown, married and have blessed Amy and her husband collectively with three grandchildren.
Amy grew up in Christian schools, raised her children in Christian schools, and deeply values the idea of raising children with a Kingdom mindset. “……I want to be a part of raising children to understand who the Lord is and how He is an integral part of our lives and learning. Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples and that is what I desire to do.” ~Amy Van Beek
As a teacher, Amy’s prayer is to make each child in her classroom feel safe, loved and successful. She has a younger sister with Down’s Syndrome and has Dyslexia herself. She has experienced trying to learn in a classroom where the expectations were the same for every child. She has raised a son with ADHD and some learning disabilities, and was a parent who had to advocate of her son to help him be successful. Over the last 30 years she has educated herself on how to make children successful.
Amy realizes we get one chance to influence the lives in each generation and she wants every child to be taught Truth. Parents can teach it at home, however those lessons need to be supported at the school and not contradicted. At Santiam Christian, teachers come alongside parents and educate in Biblical Truth. Amy believes you cannot put a price tag on that!
M Ed – Pacific University
Jodi Vetter views teaching, in a public or private setting, as a mission. She earned a Masters in Education, taught in the public school system, and then joined us at Santiam Christian in 2011. She believes teaching at Santiam Christian is a privilege that allows her the opportunity to serve by walking alongside families, assisting children in learning about themselves and the world around them, using the Word of God as a foundation.
Having the opportunity to teach a child’s heart is a privilege Jodi does not take lightly. At Santiam Christian, Jodi believes parents can have confidence that teachers are dedicated to supporting students academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually all through the lense of Scripture. Students learn to view their faith holistically and that their faith is not something that is only applicable in limited situations. Educating the whole child is priceless to Jodi.
“I am blessed to guide students every day to work hard, play hard, be kind and follow Jesus!” ~ Jodi Vetter
Outside of school Jodi enjoys exploring the outdoors with her husband and two children. Whether on two wheels or four, gliding on top, through or alongside the beautiful forests, lakes, creeks or oceanside of the Pacific Northwest, Jodi says, “This is what refreshes me and feeds my creativity.” Jodi sees how gritt, mindfulness, focus, and determination in her adventures transfer directly to her classroom, teaching students to keep stretching themselves to develop into the person God has created them to be.
B S in Religious Studies with a minor in Deaf Ed – Liberty University
Completion of Interpreter Training program: Certificate – 2 year
Additional Coursework: ASL Interpreting – Western Oregon University
For years, Gretchen saw her life as a series of random detours and experiences. Many did not make sense to her and she chafed against the haphazardness of it all. She is now understanding that God was using each of her experiences to grow her and shape her heart. She sees now that her story is part of His plan. She never dreamed that she would teach in a high school, but now she says, “….’teenagers are my jam’ and I now wonder how I ever thought I could be happy doing anything else.
Gretchen has a Bachelors in Religious Studies with a Minor in Deaf Education. She and her husband, Lance, came to Santiam Christian in 2013 after being a part of a couple of Christian schools in California and a public school in Colorado.
Her children came to Santiam Christian from public school. She believed her children were receiving a great education in the public school system, and many of their teachers were even Christians. She and her husband saw themselves as missional teachers in public school. After enrolling their children at Santiam Christian, Gretchen says, “Coming to Santiam Christian allowed me to see that the overall worldview my children were being taught [in public school] had influenced their thought patterns more than we realized. I know it is a sacrifice to have your students at Santiam Christian, but I believe that the worldview and truths of scripture they are taught here will allow them to grow up to be world changers….Santiam is committed to equipping students to live with purpose and mission.”
Outside of school, Gretchen loves to read, cook, bake, hang out with family, and run. She believes running keeps her sane, clears her head and allows her to reset. She also loves to spend time with her husband, exploring the Oregon Coast or just being together. She also loves spending time with her three kids, as she adds, “My kids make me laugh and keep me humble. I love spending time with them.”
M Ed Administration – Liberty University
B S in Mathematics – Evangel University
B S in Computer Science – Colorado State University
Lance Villers has Bachelors in Math and Computer Science as well as a Masters in Administration. He and his wife, Gretchen, both joined us at Santiam Christian in 2012 after working in private Christian schools in California and a public school in Colorado. Their family consists of three children, two that are graduates of Santiam Christian and are now attending college, and one is still attending Santiam Christian.
Lance believes his experience working in both the public and private education systems gives him a unique perspective on education. Lance compares his experiences in the public school system versus his role at Santiam Christian, “I don’t have the levels of bureaucracy I faced in the public system, and am not being forced to implement programs and philosophies I don’t agree with. I also don’t like the accountability systems in place in the public schools where everything is measured by test scores.”
Lance is most excited about the quality of students and families that are a part of Santiam Christian. He knows that students can get an academic education just about anywhere. What they can’t get is a Godly foundation that will shape them the rest of their lives. “I truly believe we are making a difference every day at Santiam Christian.” ~Lance Villers
When not at the school, Lance loves taking road trips with his family and visiting new places, especially places with warm sunshine. He likes to golf, as well as build furniture. He believes this gives him an outlet for the creative side of him that doesn’t always get uses in his day job.
B A in Spanish – Portland State University
Minor in Professional Writing – Portland State University
Additional Coursework: Microbiology at University of Washington
MAT – Walden University
B S – Education
Kapla West has had the opportunity to live in a variety of places; from growing up in a small farming community in Idaho, to attending college in the big city of Tacoma, Washington, and now Oregon. She earned a degree in Education and has taught in several different school settings, both private and public. She believes these opportunities provide her with life experience and stories she can bring into her classroom to help connect with her students. She has also attended professional development classes that have given her a wide range of teaching strategies she can use to help students be successful.
As a teacher, Kapla appreciates the small class sizes at Santiam Christian. She feels this allows her the ability to work with struggling students, giving them more one-on-one and small group instruction to meet their needs. Kapla loves having the opportunity to share Christ and His love with her students.
Outside of school, Kapla and her family enjoy being outdoors, camping, golfing and gardening. She and her husband have two boys that are elementary school age. Kapla says about having her boys enrolled at Santiam Christian and staying her herself, “…….[I appreciate] the opportunity for my boys to be at a Christ-centered school, developing friendships with families that share our same values.”