Middle School Faculty

GRADE 6

Casey Hawkins

Math - 6th
chawkins@northstarcharter.org

Mrs. Hawkins grew up in a rural town, Mariposa, CA, just outside Yosemite National Park. She has always been actively involved in sports and anything that has to do with the outdoors. Her love of children and passion for teaching has been with her since she was a young girl.

After graduating on the Dean’s List with a Bachelor’s degree from Sacramento State, and earning a teaching credential from Chapman University, Casey moved to Grandview, ID, in October of 1995. Midyear, after three months of subbing, she was offered a full time second grade position at Mountain Home AFB. She spent the summers of 1996 and 1997 teaching Spanish speaking migrant ed. preschoolers. In 1997, she moved to Eagle, ID and taught in the Meridian School District for the next eight years. She has also spent fourteen summers tutoring students in math. Every position she has filled with passion and excitement.

When her boys arrived into this awesome world, it was apparent that she needed to be at home more; however, as much as she loved being home, she also needed to keep her feet in the classroom. While getting her Master’s degree in Administration, she also shared a fifth grade teaching contract for three years with Mrs. Mariah Rodeghiero, one of North Star’s amazing fourth grade teachers. This was an incredible opportunity that she thought she would enjoy until retirement…until she stepped foot into her first charter school.

Upon viewing what charter schools could offer students, immediately she knew it was part of her next phase of life. She was impressed and excited about working with a group of teachers that were all grounded in the same beliefs. She has spent the past twelve years successfully teaching with some of her greatest friends at a charter school; her students’ enthusiasm towards learning and their ISAT scores prove that the method North Star has to offer is exceptional.

Casey has been married for seventeen years to her best friend, Dan Hawkins, Asst. Fire Chief at Mt. Home AFB. They have three adorable lil’ men (ages 16, 14 1/2 and 13), so life is incredibly busy driving kiddos to sporting events and enjoying quality family time. Together they enjoy biking, snow skiing, waterskiing, camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, swimming, jet-skiing, and spending time with family and friends.

Casey looks forward to her 23rd year as a teacher and can’t wait to meet and develop working relationships with her upcoming sixth grade students and their families.

Audrey Speicher

Social Studies - 6th
aspeicher@northstarcharter.org

Miss Speicher grew up a barefoot wild child on a bison farm near the one-stoplight-town of Bourbon, Indiana. She loves trying new things, which has led her to a vibrant and active life. Growing up, she loved musical theater, all sports, and playing in the woods with her brothers. She studied photojournalism at Indiana University while also being a paraprofessional instructor of outdoor adventure courses such as white water rafting, coastal kayaking, and backpacking. During college, she also got to travel the world as a creative problem-solving camp facilitator for children living on US Air Force bases in Japan, South Korea, and across the United States.

These experiences in college convinced her that she wanted to be a teacher, so after graduation, she moved to Houston, Texas, to live with family while she pursued a teaching certificate. After teaching 4th and 5th grade English Language Arts and social studies for a year in traditional public schools, she decided to spend her two-month summer break learning Spanish in Costa Rica. While there, she met a rowdy bunch of adolescents from a Montessori school in Houston, Texas, of all places! They invited her to be their teacher, so she took a leap of faith and began to teach 7th, 8th, and 9th grade English Language Arts, literature seminar, humanities, physical education, and project-based science at the small, private school.

In the meantime, most of Miss Speicher’s family decided to move to the northwestern United States, so she decided to follow by becoming a University of Idaho graduate student at the McCall Outdoor Science School field campus. There, she got to hone her ability to make science and learning fun and acted as the UL Diversity Scholar studying inclusive education practices. This was also where she was introduced to North Star Charter for the first time! North Star and the state of Idaho made such an impression on her that she decided to become a teacher here for good!

Entering her 5th year of formal teaching, she can’t wait to approach 6th grade social studies from a holistic perspective that encourages critical thinking, cultural appreciation, creativity, and collaboration. When she’s not teaching, you may find her rock climbing, playing the ukulele, or trying a new recipe.

Darci Stelzner

Science - 6th/7th
dstelzner@northstarcharter.org

Darci Stelzner was born and raised in Montana, spending her time riding and training horses, competing in gymnastics and rodeo throughout the NW, and enjoying country life! A couple of years after finishing her undergraduate degree from Montana State University, she moved to the Treasure Valley in 2002 to begin her professional career in the Nampa School District. She comes to North Star from Sage International School of Boise where she taught MYP Earth Science and MYP HPE. Darci obtained her Master's Degree in Biophysical Kinesiology from Boise State University, is certified 6-12 Biology, K-12 PE, 6-8 Health, and is IB MYP Level 1 trained.

Darci and her husband, Nick, have one son, Tyee, who will join North Star's 1st grade family. They live in Eagle and enjoy riding bikes to the foothills, the Boise River, and downtown Eagle for breakfast. As often as they can, they like to hit the road in their motorhome, rock hunt, and spend time outdoors. Darci is passionate about pollinators, flowers, soil science, and hydrology.

Tyrel Whitt

English Language Arts - 6th
twhitt@northstarcharter.org

The soft blanket of snow that had cascaded gently down the night before now crunched under the early morning footsteps of the Whitt family as they welcomed the newest addition, Tyrel Cole Whitt, to their family. Six siblings, a myriad of sports, and an adventurous outdoor lifestyle led to 18 years of valuable experience and precious memories as Ty grew up in North Pole, Alaska.

After graduating high school he traveled to Eugene, Oregon to attend a junior college that had offered him a basketball scholarship, and eventually a baseball scholarship as well. Albertson College, now College of Idaho, recruited Ty as a pitcher, and Ty received his first true taste of the beauty Idaho had to offer. He graduated from C of I with a degree in elementary education in 1999.

The next five years were an epic saga of life changing experience as Ty worked as a hotshot firefighter in 12 different states and traveled internationally to 3 different continents. He was fortunate enough to marry his gorgeously brilliant and talented wife Heather in 2004, the same year he began his teaching career. Ty now has two beautiful and precocious daughters, Zinnia and Poppy, who are 7 and 3 years old respectfully. An aspiring author, he happily spends his free time reading, writing, playing games, and making artistic glass mosaics for his and his wife's art business, r.a.d. Mosaics. With over a decade of time spent encouraging junior high students to understand, value, and wield the power of language with respect and careful thought, he is returning to North Star with an enthusiastic attitude and high expectations. Every day is a learning opportunity as we read, write, laugh, and reflect.

GRADES 7 & 8

Kelly Dillon

Math - 7th
kdillon@northstarcharter.org

Welcome to 7th grade math for the 2017-2018 school year. My name is Mrs. Dillon and this will be my 2nd year with the North Star family.

My husband and I moved here from Pocatello, Idaho where I taught 6th grade math. I love teaching because it is a constant challenge and I get to be creative on a daily basis. No day is ever the same which makes teaching all the more exciting. I take teaching seriously and work hard to give each student the opportunity to have a successful math year. This past year, Mrs. Ellis and I also began the the MathCounts program at the school which is a combination of a Math Club and a competitive team for any students in 6-8th grade. Any students who love math and want to be challenged and learn cool new things are welcome to join.

When I'm not teaching, I enjoy exploring the outdoors such as road biking, hiking, fishing, and camping. I also enjoy concerts and playing guitar and clarinet. I am excited to start the new year and get to know each of you.

Krystal Ellis

Math - 8th
kellis@northstarcharter.org

Krystal Ellis grew up in Cottonwood, Idaho and Moses Lake, Washington. After graduating from Prairie High School in Cottonwood, she attended the University of Idaho and took courses in Mining Engineering. She worked as an intern at a silver mine in Kellogg, Idaho for two summers before deciding that her passion lied in education. She took one semester of education classes and then took some time off to work. She enlisted in the Air Force where she served two years as a Korean Linguist and earned her A.A. Degree in Korean from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. After her honorable discharge, she moved to Ormond Beach, Florida where she ended up finishing her Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Central Florida.

Krystal moved back to the Camas Prairie in Idaho in 2008 after finishing her degree and began her career as a teacher for Cottonwood School District, first teaching 3rd grade, then 2nd grade, then finding her true niche in middle and high school math. Teaching at a small rural school, she was one of only two math teachers in the entire 7-12 junior/senior high school, so she taught 7th grade math, 8th grade math, Algebra, and Geometry. In 2013, she earned her Master’s of Education Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Idaho.

Krystal is married to her husband of 11 years, Tony, and together they have two children: Aidra who is 7 and will be in second grade this year at North Star, and Brody who is 4 and is a handful! She also has a step-daughter, Parker, who is in 11th grade and lives in Florida. Krystal loves spending time with her family and friends, playing softball and volleyball, watching football (go Jaguars!), reading, and watching TV. She absolutely loves teaching at North Star last year and treasures the relationships she has built with her new North Star family.

Jennifer Everts

Social Studies - 7th & 8th
jeverts@northstarcharter.org

Jennifer Everts was born in Vermont and spent her early childhood in North Carolina. At age six she moved with her family to Idaho. After coming to grips with the fact that she would never be a princess, she decided to turn her love of school into a life long career and began pursuing her goal of becoming a teacher (she was 9).

In 2008 she graduated Suma Cum Laude from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho and now holds a Bachelors Degree in Secondary Education/Social Sciences with a minor in History. While in college she discovered that, in addition to having a great love of history, she had a passion for the martial arts. She has been a practicing martial artist with White Lion Kajukenbo of Boise for several years now. Jennifer has also spent the last couple years working with Global Service Partnerships to make service learning and cultural expansion opportunities in the beautiful country of Belize available to North Star students and families.

Jill Hettinger

Science - 7th
jhettinger@northstarcharter.org

Jill is an Idaho native with teaching credentials in Elementary Education (K-8 All Subjects), Secondary Education (6-12: Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Physical Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Standard Mathematics), and Administration (K-12). Jill has Bachelor of Science degrees in Zoology and Secondary Education from the University of Idaho. She holds Master degrees in Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Leadership and a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction focused on STEM leadership (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) from Boise State University.

Jill has 13 years of K-12 public school teaching experience. Jill was the founding 1st-8th grade science teacher at North Star Charter School. She left North Star Charter in 2010, and returned in 2014 after completing her Doctor of Education degree. Her doctoral dissertation, titled Finding Success in Elementary Science across Socioeconomic Boundaries, was a statewide study that evaluated the quality of science instruction within high achieving low and high socioeconomic schools in Idaho.

While Jill was at Boise State University, she developed and taught a course titled Investigations into Sustainable Development offered through the Biology, Geoscience, and Environmental Studies departments. Her work in this class was featured in the book, The ACTivist Learner: Inquiry and Service Learning to Make Learning Matter. She also taught several education courses for Boise State University, including Elementary Science Methods. As a graduate advisor for the Boise State University Undergraduate Microgravity Research Team she helped guide students through the development of numerous outreach activities, development of a NASA reduced gravity research proposal, and fulfillment of their research agenda. She accompanied the team, composed of majors from Biology, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Computer Science, to Houston where they tested their research apparatus in a microgravity environment onboard NASA’s C9 airplane. Over the last two years at North Star Charter School she has directed the Student Spaceflight Experiment Project (SSEP). Over 500 North Star students participated in developing microgravity research proposals for SSEP and one student team had their experiment sent to the International Space Station to collect data. During the summer of 2017, Jill will be traveling to Hell Creek State Park to be a part of DIG field school in which she will get the opportunity to unearth a Tyrannosaurus Rex or a Triceratops.

Jill has an adventurous spirit that strives to engage her students in real-world application of science and opening their eyes to the world of opportunity that awaits them. She enjoys teaching and sharing her passion for science with K-12 students. Jill and her husband, Rob, have two children, Ayden and Tyler. They also share their home with a longhaired Weimaraner. As a family they enjoy skiing, camping, and traveling.

Daniel Hock

English Language Arts - 8th
dhock@northstarcharter.org

Daniel Hock hails from Bedford, England, but regrettably does not have the accent. Instead, he has lived most of his life in the Treasure Valley, save for a year attending the University of Puget Sound where he realized he wasn’t cool enough to hang out with those cats. He quickly came back to his home of Boise and graduated with a B.A. in Secondary English Education from Boise State University. He’s never been to a Broncos game (but will tell you stories of many a Steelheads game), still hasn’t visited the old state penitentiary, and will always get Twin Falls and Idaho Falls mixed up. But he’s rafted down the Snake River, rocked out during Treefort, and at one point knew the baristas at Java who knew his order. Idaho has grown on Daniel over the years, not without a good dose of teenage angst, but he’s glad to call it home.

Daniel is glad to be returning to North Star for his second year, and putting names to the faces of middle schoolers that roam the halls. He's lived in Eagle for two years and has three dogs: Aurora, a pit bull puppy; Emma, a chow/lab mix; and Coots, a poodle/yorkshire terrier mix. It's a true menagerie. His meager free time is spentfinding new literature to read, particularly modern and postmodern works; playing video, tabletop and card games (ask him about Magic: the Gathering!); and trying to finish that novel that every English major is trying to write.

Misty Ostrowski

Secondary Art and TOK
mostrowski@northstarcharter.org

Misty Ostrowski was born and raised in Alaska, where she began her path towards the arts. She attended both the University of Alaska Southeast and Northern Arizona University during her undergraduate years. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. After obtaining her undergraduate degree Misty retuned to the University of Alaska Southeast for her Master of Arts in Teaching, Secondary Education. Since then Misty has taught ceramics to adults and teenagers with developmental disabilities at a non-profit in Alaska, and a variety of studio art classes at a public high school in Arizona. Misty has been teaching primary at North Star Charter School since relocating to the Treasure Valley.

Stan Ostrowski

Bus. & Tech/IB Comp Science
sostrowski@northstarcharter.org

Recently retired from the State of Alaska, Stan Ostrowski recently move to Idaho after living in Juneau, Alaska for the past 37 years. While in Alaska, he attended the University of Alaska where he earned a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree, with emphasis in computer and natural science. Stan has worked with computer technology since 1984, with employment as a computer and network specialist, research analyst, database administrator, and other technology related positions. Stan enjoys working with technology, and teaching technology to others.

Stan lives close to Marsing, ID, with his wife of 38 years, where they have an extensive vegetable and berry/grape garden, as well as a variety of fruit trees, chickens, and two cats. Stan holds a Master of Education in Secondary Education, a Master of Education in Education Technology Management, and is currently pursuing other educational activities of interest.

Darci Stelzner

Science - 6th/7th
dstelzner@northstarcharter.org

Darci Stelzner was born and raised in Montana, spending her time riding and training horses, competing in gymnastics and rodeo throughout the NW, and enjoying country life! A couple of years after finishing her undergraduate degree from Montana State University, she moved to the Treasure Valley in 2002 to begin her professional career in the Nampa School District. She comes to North Star from Sage International School of Boise where she taught MYP Earth Science and MYP HPE. Darci obtained her Master's Degree in Biophysical Kinesiology from Boise State University, is certified 6-12 Biology, K-12 PE, 6-8 Health, and is IB MYP Level 1 trained.

Darci and her husband, Nick, have one son, Tyee, who will join North Star's 1st grade family. They live in Eagle and enjoy riding bikes to the foothills, the Boise River, and downtown Eagle for breakfast. As often as they can, they like to hit the road in their motorhome, rock hunt, and spend time outdoors. Darci is passionate about pollinators, flowers, soil science, and hydrology.

Tamela West

Speech
twest@northstarcharter.org

Tamela West was born on the windswept plains of northeastern Montana. When she was in junior high, she began teaching swimming lessons at the city pool. This was when she discovered she really enjoyed working with children and decided that when she went to college, she would pursue teaching. She attended Montana State University in Bozeman where she received a degree in teaching for speech, drama and English. After college Tamela moved to California where she worked in accounting for the defense contractor Teledyne Electronics.

After a few years, the allure of running streams and beautiful mountains proved to be too much and she moved to Idaho. Tamela taught speech, drama and English for 18 years at Bishop Kelly High School in Boise. During her tenure there she was awarded the Idaho Speech Arts Teachers’ Association award for Drama Teacher of the Year, and she was awarded the University of Idaho Excellence in Teaching award. Her extra-curricular activities included directing all of the main stage and touring plays for the Drama Club. She is also an artist and has designed a line of Native American dolls that she crafts completely by hand. She sculpts their faces, designs and sews their clothing, and looms all of the beadwork.

Mark Winkelman

Middle School Business
mwinkelman@northstarcharter.org

This is the first year for Mr. Winkelman to be teaching at North Star Charter School. However, Mr. Winkelman has taught at Nampa High School, Caldwell High School, and INSPIRE Connections Academy, an online Idaho public charter school. He has also been coaching high school athletics for over twenty years. Coaching football, girl’s basketball, and tennis.

Mr. Winkelman and his wife Sara live just south of Middleton, Idaho on a horse ranch. Right now most of his spare time is tied up in remodeling the home that they bought and moved into back in 2011. He and his daughter Leslie, are the “ranchers”. Leslie is a former Owyhee Rodeo Queen and the Caldwell Night Rodeo Queen. Together they train horses, and also have three horses; Eurovan Express (Vinny) is a retired racehorse from the racing facility at Del-Mar Track, Jetta, was brought in last Spring, and was trained by Leslie--Jetta is an exceptionally smart horse, and was able to perform with Leslie in the Idaho Stampeders, and is currently performing with Leslie in local rodeos. Then there is Royal Princess, she is the baby. She is a 3 year old that has just begun her training. “Wink” (Mark Winkelman) and Sara also have two sons; both live in Seattle and Cameron is a graduate of U of W, and is now in restaurant management, and Britain, who plays amazing guitar, works for his older brother.

This summer, Mr. Winkelman was given an opportunity to travel to Kigali, Rwanda and to Guesyni, Rwanda in Africa. Wink was able to visit the memorial to the some two million Rwandans that were lost in the 1994 genocide. This reduced the entire country's population to just over one hundred thousand people. He also went on an all day safari--seeing many varieties of antelope, water buffalo, the hippo, crocodile, also the giraffe, elephant, but no lions. Wink said that his guide loved to speak english and someday plans to come to America. But, it was the guide’s warning that made the team laugh:

“Do not worry about da hippo, you must watch for da crocodile! Because da hippo? Oh, he will kill you, kill you for sure. But, at least he won’t kill you and then eat you like the crocodile!, watch out for da crocodile!”

Although, there were very fun moments as a tourist--Wink was in Africa to teach. He taught adult education courses to men and women from three different countries--most either walked or rode a bicycle for several days, just to attend these classes.

“I am really excited to be here at NSCS, and to be involved in a school that is so focused on its mission, and its vision. I actually enjoy change, and having an opportunity to meet and engage with new people. The staff and administration at NSCS are an amazingly welcoming and friendly people, willing to help, and guide the new guys. I can’t wait to meet the students of these fantastic teachers!”--Mr.Winkelman

Victoria Woodward

Physical Science - 8th
vwoodward@northstarcharter.org

Mrs. Woodward has been teaching for 13 years. She came from being a Navy airplane mechanic on the F/A-18 to graduating with honors from BSU in Chemistry with a professional emphasis and a minor in Mathematics.

After working in research on anti-cancer drugs and then EPA testing for the City of Meridian and Nampa, she obtained her teaching certification and has taught all math levels from 6th grade through Calculus, AP, General, and Intro Chemistry, and Physical Science.

Music

A.J. Davidsen

MS and HS Band
aj.davidsen@northstarcharter.org

AJ Davidsen comes from the Great White North. He was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta where the influence of great band directors led him to pursue a degree in music education.

AJ graduated in April 2013 in the top 10% of the graduating class of BYU-Idaho. His main instruments are the piano and French horn. In February of 2013, AJ was given the “Outstanding Piano Soloist” award at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. AJ will receive his Master's degree in Piano Performance this year from Boise State University.

AJ met his wife Ashley at BYU-Idaho where she received a degree in piano performance. Ashley recently completed her Master's Degree at Boise State. Ashley and AJ are the proud parents of one daughter, Cleah Lynn.

Kyle Downs

MS and HS Choir
kdowns@northstarcharter.org

Kyle Downs began directing choirs at the age of sixteen. A member of the American Association of Choral Directors (ACDA) and National Association of the Teachers of Singing, he earned his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Puget Sound, where he studied conducting and choral literature with Dr. Steven Zopfi. Kyle holds a Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from Boise State University where he focused on developing a pedagogical model for the teaching of bel canto technique in the choir classroom. In addition to his private voice and piano students, Kyle is a frequent guest instructor throughout the Treasure Valley. He has served as a vocal coach, conductor, and artistic director for church, high school, adult, and community choirs in Oregon and Idaho.

As a performer, Kyle has sung on numerous studio albums, movie and video game soundtracks including Halo 3, and been a guest soloist throughout the Northwest. Kyle is active as a composer and producer and is passionate about developing the next generation of songwriters and artists in all genres, including pop, rock, hip-hop/R&B, and folk. Kyle writes and records with the Boise-area band, Interstate, who made their second appearance performing for fans at Centurylink Field for the Seattle Seahawk’s home win over Atlanta in October of 2016. Kyle lives in Boise with his wife, Julianne, and their two dogs.

Athletics

Katie Francis

Athletic Director
kfrancis@northstarcharter.org

Ms. Francis grew up in Northern California and that will always be considered her home. She completed middle school in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and then made her way to San Diego, California. She completed high school in San Diego, and then went on to attend San Diego State University for her Bachelor’s DegMs. Francis grew up in Northern California and that will always be considered her home. She completed middle school in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and then made her way to San Diego, California. She completed high school in San Diego, and then went on to attend San Diego State University for her Bachelor’s Degree

Her bachelor’s degree is in Recreation Administration and she has always loved working with children, especially working in camps and coaching. She completed her Master’s Degree in Teaching at Warner Pacific College in Portland, Oregon and is currently attending Boise State University for a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. This will be her third year at North Star and is looking forward to her new role as Athletic Director, as well as Coordinator of Teacher and Student Success. She is looking forward to the new opportunities that this will afford her to affect change within the North Star community.

Outside of school, Ms. Francis loves to read, but also LOVES sports. She is a huge football fan (Quack, Quack) and basketball fan. She has coached and played basketball and is very passionate about the game. Ms. Francis has one child, Jackson, who will be turning two at the beginning of the school year. She is one of North Star's biggest fans. GO HUSKIES!!!!