Upper School Directory
Upper School Directory
Mrs. Susan Bevington, Upper School Chemistry Teacher
Mrs. Bevington is the Upper School Chemistry teacher. With a bachelor’s degree in Textile Chemistry and master’s level coursework in Environmental Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia, she has worked in the areas of textile chemistry, analytical chemistry, and hazardous waste consulting. She has a Masters of Arts in teaching from Bethel University and enjoys sharing her love of chemistry and practical experiences in industry with Upper School students.
Dr. Jeff Biebighauser, Upper School Latin & English Teacher
Dr. Jeff Olsen Biebighauser teaches Latin and English in the Upper School. He holds a BA in Classics and Humanities from Valparaiso University and a MA and PhD in Philosophical Theology from the University of Nottingham. He has been teaching at Providence since 2010.
Mr. Dominic Bissonette, Manager of the Arts Center
Mr. Dominic Bissonette is the Technical Director for all Providence Academy Music and Theater performances. He teaches technical theater, middle school drama, middle school industrial arts and wood-shop. Mr. Bissonette holds a Bachelors Degree in Technical Theater from St. Cloud State University. Prior to Providence, he worked for the Children’s Museum, The Fargo-Moorhead Community Theater and at The Chanhassen Dinner Theater.
Mr. Benjamin Blackhawk, Math Teacher
Mr. Blackhawk joined Providence Academy in 2001 after teaching math at St. Paul Academy and Summit School for ten years, and in the Minneapolis Public Schools for six years. He taught Algebra for more than a decade in the University of Minnesota's Talented Youth Mathematics Program. He is an active singer of liturgical music and particularly enjoys singing Gregorian chant. He holds bachelor's degrees in Mathematics Education and Vocal Music Education from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.
Mr. Joshua Blonski, Upper School Dean of Students
Mr. Joshua Blonski started working at Providence Academy in 2014. He currently teaches Latin at both the Middle and Upper school levels. A graduate of Syracuse University and New Jersey native, Mr. Blonski previously was the dean of students in a private school setting where he also taught Theology, Latin, and Philosophy for 6 years in New York before joining the Providence Academy community.
Dr. Yvonne Boldt, Biology & Chemistry Teacher
Dr. Boldt teaches Biology at Providence Academy. She earned a doctoral degree in Microbiology from the University of Minnesota. She was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University and worked as a lead scientist for a biotechnology company, Incyte Genomics, in Sunnyvale, California. She has taught microbiology at the University of St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota, and brings special professional interests in contemporary questions of science and religion. Dr. Boldt has long been active with church youth groups, and has also taught religious education in her parish.
Mr. Richard Carrillo, Middle and Upper School Choir
Mr. Richard Carrillo combines both his passions for music and ministry as Upper School Choir Director and Campus Minister at Providence Academy. Mr. Carrillo holds a Bachelors of Music in Music Education from the Moores School of Music (MSM) at the University of Houston where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and the highest ranking graduate of the 2007 undergraduate MSM class. After graduation, he taught choir at Friendswood High School and sang professionally with groups such as the Houston Chamber Choir, Da Camera of Houston, Houston Ballet, and the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and the Cathedral of St. Paul. Choirs under direction have consistently receive Superior Rankings in MSHSL Large Ensemble Competitions and in 2016, the Providence Academy Chamber Choir was invited to perform for the Minnesota Music Educators Association annual state convention. Prior to his time at Providence, Mr. Carrillo served as a missionary with NET Ministries from 2009-2012.
Mrs. Colleen Carron, Physical Education
Mrs. Carron instructs a wide variety of ages in physical education. Mrs. Carron earned her bachelor’s degree in physical education from Mississippi State University. Most recently, Mrs. Carron served as the physical education and health teacher for students in Kindergarten through twelfth grade at Benton County Christian School in Arkansas, where she also coached the boys and girls basketball teams. Mrs. Carron brings more than nine years of teaching and coaching experience to Providence Academy.
Ms. Sherry Felker, Math Teacher
Ms. Sherry Felker instructs Middle and Upper School students in mathematics. Before joining the faculty at Providence Academy in 2008, she taught mathematics and computer applications to middle and upper school students in both public and independent school settings, including The Hun School in Princeton, New Jersey. Most recently, she taught mathematics at The Blake School. Prior to teaching, she was a database analyst with RCA. Ms. Felker holds a master's degree in mathematics from the University of New Hampshire.
Mr. Steven Firchow, US Math Teacher
Steven Firchow joined Providence Academy in 2013 and teaches mathematics in the Upper School. From algebra through calculus II, he has taught a variety of mathematics courses in Minnesota the past 10 years, most recently at Saint Agnes School in Saint Paul. Mr. Firchow holds a Bachelor of Science in both mathematics and physics from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater and a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of St. Thomas.
Mr. Chris Fussy, Physical Education Teacher
Mr. Chris Fussy teaches Physical Education in the Lower, Middle, and Upper schools as well as 7th grade Health. He has also coached middle school basketball here at PA since 2011. Mr. Fussy holds a Bachelors Degree in 5-12 Health Education and K-12 Physical Education from the University of St. Thomas. He completed his student teaching here at Providence under the tutelage of Mr. Seifert and Mr. Subialka during the fall/winter of 2011. He spent the following spring substitute teaching at various Catholic and Public schools in the area. He received his first teaching position at Community of Saints Regional Catholic School in West St. Paul where he taught Elementary and Middle school PE, as well as serving as the Athletic Director for their 5-8 athletics program. During these two years, Mr. Fussy continued coaching middle school basketball here at PA and felt very blessed to continue to be a part of the community. In the fall of 2014, he was hired as a Physical Education and Health teacher at Providence Academy and continues to coach basketball as well as being an Upper School student council advisor.
Mrs. Kate Gregg, Upper School Administrative Assistant
Ms. Diane Hagner, Upper School Math Teacher
Ms. Diane Hagner joined Providence Academy in 2006 with almost twenty years of teaching experience. She currently teaches mathematics in the Academy’s Upper School and, in previous years, taught both mathematics and physics and served as the Upper School Activities Coordinator. In addition, Ms. Hagner was chosen by an outside organization to work on the redesign of a standardized test . She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the College of Charleston and a master’s degree in operations research from the College of William and Mary. Before joining Providence Academy, Ms. Hagner taught mathematics for thirteen years at The Blake School. During her tenure at Blake, Ms. Hagner also served as the academic coordinator for ninth and tenth grades and as the upper school registrar. Prior to teaching in independent schools, Ms. Hagner was an officer in the United States Navy where she taught mathematics, chemistry, and radiation theory at the United States Naval Nuclear Power School. While in the Navy, Ms. Hagner was designated a Master Training Specialist and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for her superior performance as an instructor and teaching group coordinator.
Mrs. Martine Hegman, Upper School French Teacher
Mrs. Martine Hegman teaches French in Providence Academy's Upper School. As a native French speaker from Québec City, she is proud to be an advocate for her language. Her teaching career started in 2002. She has taught children and adults as an immersion first grade teacher, paraprofessional in kindergarten and as a private tutor. She recently graduated with a MN K-12 French Teaching License from Mankato State University.
Mrs. Ann Heitzmann, World Language Department Chair & French Teacher
Mrs. Annie Heitzmann chairs the World Language Department and teaches french in the Academy's Middle & Upper Schools. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in French and Education from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Before joining Providence Academy, Mrs. Heitzmann taught at South High School in Minneapolis, Middle School #51 in Park Slope, Brooklyn and Mahtomedi High School. Mrs. Heitzmann’s teaching and curriculum is enhanced by her experiences studying abroad in Belgium, South Africa and throughout France, as well as her experience leading student travel abroad.
Mr. Edward Hester, History Teacher
Mr. Hester has been teaching at Providence Academy since 2006. He currently teaches European History, Economics, and Current Events, although he has also taught Ancient, Classical, and Medieval Worlds, as well as various Religion classes. Mr. Hester holds a BA in Theology from Christendom College, and an MA in Theology from Holy Apostles College. Before becoming a teacher, Mr. Hester worked in various fields including industrial purchasing, restaurant management, home inspection, and construction. Mr. Hester also served in the US Army Reserves and the VA National Guard as a construction surveyor and an 81mm mortarman.
Dr. Arthur Hippler, Religion Teacher
Dr. Arthur Hippler is Chairman of the Religion Department at Providence Academy, where he has taught since 2006. He also teaches as an adjunct professor in St. Paul School of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas and as an instructor in the Harry Flynn Catechetical Institute for the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. A graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in California, he received his Doctorate in Philosophy from Boston College. He is the author of four books, two on Catholic social teaching and two iBooks on C. S. Lewis. He is married with five children.
Mrs. Sarah Hogan, Director of College Counseling
Mrs. Hogan brings nearly a decade of college administration experience to Providence Academy, having served most recently as Director of Alumni Relations and previously as the Associate Director of Admission and Financial Aid at the University of Dallas. As a college admission professional, she coordinated strategic planning efforts in student recruitment, supervising travel, programming, admission and financial aid policies and practices. She conducted numerous presentations nationally at high schools, colleges, churches/parishes, corporations and conferences. During her college admission tenure, she provided counsel to college applicants regarding admission and financial aid, academic advising and career options. She also contributed as a writer and editor of various publications, such as viewbooks, catalogs, and alumni/donor publications. She is a current member of the National Association of College Admission Counselors (NACAC) and the Minnesota Association of College Admission Counselors (MACAC) with certificates from the Rice University Workshop on College Admission and the Harvard Admission Institute. Mrs. Hogan holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Dallas.
Mr. Jonathon Janz, Religion Teacher
Jonathon Janz is an instructor in the religion department, serving both the middle and upper schools. He has also worked as an instructor in the science department. Mr. Janz earned a Master of Arts in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas, a Master of Science in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He has also completed coursework in doctoral-level programs for kinesiology and physical therapy, and has over a decade of experience training collegiate, professional, and Olympic athletes. He has been published in exercise science journals, magazines, and websites and has experience as an instructor, adviser, lecturer, consultant, and research assistant for various universities and private organizations. Mr. Janz is an Instituted Acolyte and helps to coordinate many liturgical functions at Providence Academy. He is also the ministry leader for altar servers at the Cathedral of St. Paul and serves as a master of ceremonies for major liturgical events in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Mrs. Angela Jendro, Religion Teacher
Mrs. Angela Jendro teaches Religion in the Middle and Upper Schools at PA. She holds a Master's Degree in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas and Bachelor Degrees in Theology, Philosophy, and Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas as well. In addition to teaching in the school setting, Angela has a long history of teaching in parishes both as a speaker for adults and as an instructor for Confirmation preparation. She has a deep appreciation for the gift of our Catholic faith, and loves the opportunity to share the joy of the Gospel with students.
Mr. Thomas Jones, Upper School Band
Mr. Thomas Jones directs the Upper School Symphonic Band, provides all Upper School wind and percussion lessons, and teaches 8th grade music history. Prior to coming to PA in 2012, Mr. Jones taught instrumental music in Southern California for eight years where he lead wind bands at all levels in grades 7-12, taught competitive field marching band, studio rock band, and music history. In addition, he served as a guest clinician and adjudicator for regional band festivals at the middle school level, and lead regional high school honor bands. He has performed as a member of The Bakersfield Winds, and a guest performer with the Bakersfield Youth Symphony. Mr. Jones holds a Bachelors Degree in Music Education from St. John’s University where he graduated with honors.
Dr. Kevin Keiser, History Department Chair & Upper School History Teacher
Dr. Kevin Keiser taught Latin and history for four years at St. Cecilia Academy in Nashville, TN, before coming to Providence Academy in 2013. He has also taught theology at Aquinas College and in the permanent diaconate formation program for the diocese of Nashville. He holds an S.T.B., a Masters in Thomistic Studies, and a Doctorate in Moral Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome, Italy. Dr. Keiser's favorite historical topics include the Assyrians, Achaemenid Persia, the Roman principate, paleo-Christianity, the expansion of Islam, the rise of the Normans, the Gregorian Reform, the Crusades, and the 14th century. At Providence Academy, he serves as the History Department Chair and teaches the history of Western Civilization and Senior Religion (Reason and Revelation).
Mrs. Ann-Marie Killion, FACS Teacher
Mrs. Ann-Marie Killion, Family and Consumer Sciences teacher, holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Home Economics at the University of Minnesota. She teaches Foods I & II in the Upper School, and the FACS course in the Middle School. Mrs. Killion also brings extensive textile industry experience, having worked in the fields of interior and apparel design.
Mrs. Karen Ostaffe, Upper School Mathematics Teacher
Karen Ostaffe teaches Algebra, Geometry and Data Analysis. Mrs. Karen Ostaffe joined Providence Academy in 2016 with almost 11 years of teaching experience. Karen has been a mathematics educator in both public and private schools during her career. She has experience in all levels of mathematics including AP Statistics. Karen is originally from central Illinois and attended the University of Illinois for her undergraduate degree in Mathematics Education. Karen also holds a Master’s in Education. In addition to her teaching experience, Karen has written textbook supplements for McDougall Littell and has been selected in the past to pilot new textbooks for the publisher. Before relocating to Minnesota, Karen taught mathematics at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL. She worked as a Core Leader in the mathematics department and was responsible for the Algebra and Geometry curriculum and team leadership, mentoring teachers, and technology in the classroom.
Mrs. Sally Peterson, Upper School Administrative Assistant
Sally Peterson started working at Providence Academy in 2014 and serves as the Assistant to the US Guidance Counselor, Director of College Counseling & Learning Support Services and Assistant to the Dean of College Counseling. She Graduated from the University of St. Catherine (St. Paul) with a Bachelor degree in Nursing. She was a Nurse Manager (RN) at Ophthalmology Associates, LLP - Southdale Eye Clinic in Edina for seven years.
Mrs. Kaitlin Pfiffner, Latin Teacher
Mrs. Kaitlin Pfiffner is a licensed Latin teacher. She currently teaches in the middle and upper divisions. Kaitlin is a graduate from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, where she studied Latin Education and Classical Studies. She has studied Latin and ancient Greek. Since starting at Providence Academy in 2012, she has taught in all divisions.
Mr. Michael Plucinski, Physics Teacher
Mr. Michael Plucinski came to Providence Academy in 2012 after teaching Physics and Physical Science for 5 years in Fairmont, MN. A proud faculty member of the Science Department, Mr. Plucinski teaches Physics and Engineering at PA and also serves as the lead mentor for PA’s FIRST Robotics Team, #4511 – Power Amplified! Mr. Plucinski is a graduate of St. John’s University where he earned a B.A. in Natural Science, with concentrations in Physics and Mathematics, as well as a minor in Secondary Education. He has also earned a graduate certificate in Engineering Education from the University of St. Thomas.
Mrs. Fran Ramirez, Spanish Teacher
Mrs.Ramirez teaches Spanish to Middle and Upper School students at Providence. She started working at Providence in the 2015-2016-school year. She came to the Academy from Rockford School District where she taught Spanish I and Spanish Cultures to the Middle school students and Spanish I and IV at the High School for five years. She was also the Diversity Coordinator for the district. Prior to that, she had also taught Spanish for 14 years at St.Stephen’s School in Anoka. She is originally from Costa Rica and has lived in Nebraska and Minnesota for the last 25 years. Sra.Ramírez holds a bachelor’s degree in Kindergarten education from the University of Costa Rica, a master’s degree in Emotional/Behavioral Disorders from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and holds a Spanish k-12 Spanish teaching license from Bethel University in Minnesota. She is very passionate in teaching Spanish and loves to share her Hispanic culture with the students.
Mr. Darren Rousar, Art Teacher & Technology Coordinator
Mr. Rousar brings over 25 years of experience teaching fine art to Providence Academy. He has previously served as assistant director and an instructor at Charles Cecil Studios in Florence, Italy and vice president of The Minnesota River School of Fine Art in Burnsville. During his tenure at The Minnesota River School, he also served as an instructor and led art-based tours of Italy, England and Spain. He attended Atelier Lack and Atelier LeSueur, both in Minnesota, as well as Studio Cecil-Graves in Florence, Italy. He has been a practicing professional artist for more than 35 years, focusing mainly on Christian themes. He is the author of six books about traditional art instruction. Mr. Rousar teaches art and is a Technology Coordinator at Providence Academy.
Mr. Christopher Santer, Art Teacher
Mr. Christopher Santer is an award-winning artist with an extensive professional exhibition and commission record. His original paintings and drawings have been included in a variety of gallery and museum exhibitions from California to Georgia. Prints of selected commissioned artworks for churches and schools hang in 46 states in the United States, and in Canada, Australia and England. Some honors include the McKnight Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists for 2004, and a featured profile in the national publication, New American Paintings, Volume 47. He taught studio art classes at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where he received a master’s degree in painting. His undergraduate degree in commercial design and illustration was completed at the University of Dayton, in Ohio. He has additional experience working with young people through four years of service with NET Ministries of West St. Paul, and through his work for the Minnesota Historical Society at the State Capitol. Mr. Santer teaches art for portions of the Middle and Upper Schools.
Mr. Adam Schmalzbauer, Upper School English Teacher
Mr. Adam C. Schmalzbauer serves as the chairman of the English Department at Providence Academy, teaching Upper School English. Responsible for instructing all Providence Academy seniors in the Senior English Seminar, Mr. Schmalzbauer will be teaching American Literature to sophomores again in the next school year. In the past, Mr. Schmalzbauer served the PA Community well by sharing his coaching experience with Providence Academy’s student-athletes, most recently on the basketball court and the gridiron. Mr. Schmalzbauer is an alumnus of Saint John’s University where he minored in Spanish literature while earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in Collegeville, before gaining his Bachelor of Science degree in English Teaching from Winona State University. Mr. Schmalzbauer, who came to Providence from Rochester Lourdes High School, holds the distinction of being a professional writer, having published a series of sports history books for students.
Mrs. Elise Sheehan, Upper School Science Teacher
Mrs. Sheehan came to Providence Academy in 2002 with twenty-four years of experience as a Medical Technologist and several years teaching experience at area Catholic schools. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the State University of New York at Geneseo, a master's in Education and a graduate certificate in Curriculum design both from the University of St. Thomas. She has been the science department chair since 2006 and is a board member of the Minnesota State Science Olympiad program. She has a great deal of passion for hands on applications of science and a devotion to Catholic education.
Mrs. Melissa Simmons, Theater Director
Mrs. Simmons (Theater Teacher & Director, Sr. Speech Coordinator) After receiving her bachelor's degree in Theater from North Central University, Mrs. Simmons began teaching Speech and Theater classes at PA during the 2002-2003 school year. Since that time the drama program has grown from three productions a year to five, including, the US Fall Show, MS Winter Play, US One-Act, MS One-Act, and the US Musical. In addition, she has also worked with the Children's Theatre Company, Illusion Theatre, Emmrich Theater Production Co., and Theatre Unbound. Mrs. Simmons is currently pursuing a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from St. Thomas.
Mrs. Megan Simonson, English Teacher
Mrs. Simonson teaches English in Providence Academy's Middle and Upper Schools. A graduate of Saint Mary's University in Winona, she has a bachelor's in English Literature and a master's in Instruction. She has previously taught at Lourdes High School in Rochester, and Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria. Mrs. Simonson has experience teaching a wide variety of English curricula, and is currently Providence Academy's Speech Team Coach.
Mr. Ian Skemp, Upper School History Teacher
Mr. Ian Skemp teaches history in the Upper School, coaches Knowledge Bowl, and serves as the faculty adviser for the Dead Directors Society. Mr. Skemp was hired fresh off of getting his MA in American Studies at the University of Dallas. Before that, he earned a BA in Art History with a History Minor from the University of Minnesota. While finishing his BA, he taught Art History during Chesterton Academy’s inaugural year. During his time at PA, he has taught US History I & II, Debate I, History of Western Art, and Modern Western Civilization. He enjoys his role as a teacher at PA because it is a great environment for cultivating young minds during their formative years.
Mr. Michael Tiffany, Director of Academics and Curriculum
Mr. Tiffany serves as Director of Academics and Curriculum, is conducting the Academy's accreditation process, and teaches College-in-the-Schools Latin. In prior years at the Academy, he taught College-in-the-Schools Ancient Greek, Debate, Photography, Publications, Industrial Art, engineering, science, and Studio Art I-IV. He also takes Latin students to Italy for two weeks every two years. He is accomplished in art, industrial design and drafting, classics, literature, speech, rhetoric, journalism, and computers. He holds degrees in English and Ancient Greek, from the University of Minnesota, and has completed all doctorial studies and exams in the Classics. Mr. Tiffany is a founding faculty member who came to Providence Academy from St. Paul Academy and Summit School in the summer of 2001.
Ms. Amelia Uppgaard, Upper School English Teacher
Amelia Uppgaard teaches Upper School Classical World Literature and American Literature, as well as advising the PACMAN club and Eta. Prior to joining the Providence community, she taught junior high and high school English and Theology at three different Catholic schools in Tennessee and Virginia. Ms. Uppgaard spent eight wonderful years in temporary vows with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia of Nashville, TN and credits them for her love of sharing Jesus with young people in the Catholic school setting. She is enjoying being back in her home state and spends her free time reading, cooking, running, and cross-stitching. Ms. Uppgaard is delighted to get to know all the Providence families and support them in their journey to know the Lord more deeply and live more intentionally.
Mrs. Beth Wolfe, Strings Teacher
Mrs. Beth Wolfe is the Strings Program Director and teaches a music appreciation class which is one of the elective offerings of our Middle School. She has been a professional performing artist and teacher in the Twin Cities for the last 40 years. Along with providing private lessons, she has taught in the Minneapolis Schools summer program, Breck School, Macalester College, Eden Prairie String Academy, and MacPhail Center for the performing arts. Mrs. Wolfe is a founding artistic director of the conductorless Philomusica Chamber Orchestra, a founding member of the Pentimento String Quartet and has performed with many professional groups including The Minnesota Opera, The Minnesota Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, The Minnesota Summer Pops Orchestra, The Duluth Symphony, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, The Chanhassen Dinner Theatre and many others. Mrs. Wolfe is a student and former assistant of the legendary Mary West, and has studied at the University of Minnesota with John Tartaglia, assistant violist with the Minnesota Orchestra, and Lea Foli, former Concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra.