Middle School Faculty


Casey Hawkins

Math - 6th

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; her high school electives were always filled with acting as a teacher’s aide at the nearby elementary school.

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 thirteen summers tutoring students in math and LA. 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 eleven years successfully teaching at a charter school; her students’ enthusiasm towards learning and their ISAT and DWA scores prove that the method North Star has to offer is exceptional.

Casey has been married for sixteen years to her best friend, Dan Hawkins, Asst. Fire Chief at Mt. Home AFB. They have three adorable lil’ men (ages 15, 13 1/2 and 12), 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 22nd year as a teacher and can’t wait to meet and develop working relationships with her upcoming sixth grade students and their families.

Kelly Dillon

Social Studies - 6th

Welcome to 7th grade math for the 2016-2017 school year. My name is Mrs. Dillon and I am new to the North Star family as well as new to the Boise area.

My husband and I moved here at the beginning of the summer from Pocatello, Idaho where I taught math for the last 7 years. 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.

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.

Tyrel Whitt

English Language Arts - 6th

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 five and one 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

A.J. Davidsen

Secondary Music - Band

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. He is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Piano Performance 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.

Dan Conti

MS Physical Education and AD

Born and raised in New Jersey of parents who met in Paris during WWII. After high school I received my BS in Physical Education from SBU in western New York, and then moved to upstate NY to work. In a few years I moved to San Francisco and worked in outdoor recreation, first with municipal recreation programs than with Outward Bound Organization leading 30 day wilderness expeditions whose philosophy maintains that by facing the challenges the course offers, you will emerge physically and mentally stronger, with a better understanding of your own capabilities. With the idea to develop corporate fitness/wellness programs, I received my Master’s degree from the University of Arizona while working on a graduate teaching and research assistantship. I immediately started working for the Los Angeles County Occupational Health Service testing and training police, firemen, and lifeguards. By the next year I formed a small company Health Management Consultants and worked with corporations implementing wellness programs. In time we grew into a corporation, National Institute of Cardiovascular Technology, expanding into Health Fairs at over 60 Hospitals throughout California, managing cardiac rehab centers, and servicing physicians with their cardiovascular testing services. NICT was featured in Money magazine, Time magazine and Optimum Health. I was able to do research and publish in “The Physician and Sports Medicine” and “Research Quarterly”. I was appointed to the Board of Directors for the Orange County American Heart Association and served on committees with the likes of Buzz Aldrin and Pia (John) Wayne. I was asked to serve as chairman of the Worksite Wellness committee with the California State Heart Association for two years. With the changes in medical insurance, the increased regulatory environment and the addition of small children in my household, after 18 years I decided to get back to my true passion of teaching and coaching. I taught physical education and coached football, basketball, soccer, swimming, track, and water polo in Southern California. As an Athletic Director I was President of a 12 school athletic conference in Orange County for 5 years. Moving to Boise in 2002, I taught and coached in the Boise School District prior to joining North Star in 2005. I was nominated in 2012-13 for Athletic Director of the Year by IAHPERD. I have two sons living in Boise; Jonathan (28) is an award winning videographer, doing jobs for Micron, Porsche, Seattle Seahawks, and his favorite Oars Adventures where he has to spend weeks filming on location in Baja, Corsica, Patagonia, and scheduled this year for the Galapagos Islands. Jason (18) graduated this year from Capital HS and is working full-time for BSD IT department finishing his education as a productive citizen. Josh (26) lives in Utah where he is Special Agent in Charge of the Inter-Mountain Cyber Division of the FBI. All three pursue their fitness upbringing. Josh keeps fit by competing in MMA. Jon plays for a rugby team and with Jason train and compete in Spartan races. At home are the cats Bandit and Bela, the little dog Bear and the Famous Dog Blaze who will reach 1,500 consecutive pre-dawn workouts at the end of this school year.

Kyle Downs

Secondary Choir and IB Music

Kyle Downs began directing choirs at the age of sixteen. 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 solo voice technique in the choir classroom. In addition to his private voice and piano students, Kyle coaches the choirs at Eagle High School and is a frequent guest instructor throughout the Treasure Valley. Kyle is also conductor and Artistic Director of Common Ground Community Chorus in Boise.

As a performer, Kyle has sung on numerous major label studio albums, movie and video game soundtracks, 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, and is a member of the Opera Idaho resident company. Kyle and his wife, Julianne live in Boise with their two dogs.

Krystal Ellis

Math - 7th & 8th

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 10 years, Tony, and together they have two children: Aidra who is 6 and will be in first grade this year at North Star, and Brody who is 3 and is a handful! She also has a step-daughter, Parker, who is in 10th 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 loved her first year of teaching at North Star last year and treasures the relationships she has built with her new North Star family.

Katie Francis

English Language Arts - 7th

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 Degree. During this time she completed an internship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida and worked for “the mouse”.

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 at Warner Pacific College in Portland, Oregon and is currently attending Boise State University for a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. She has taught in Nampa, Las Vegas, and is looking forward to her second year at North Star.

Ms Francis is really looking forward to the coming year for so many reasons. This year she will be the Varsity Girl’s Basketball coach. She is truly looking forward to this season and helping to build a program here at North Star. Ms. Francis loves to read, but also LOVES sports. She is a huge football (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 one at the beginning of the school year. She is sure you will all get to meet him at the basketball games. GO HUSKIES!!!!

Jennifer Everts

Social Studies - 7th & 8th

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 - 6th & 7th

Jill is an Idaho native with teaching credentials in Elementary Education (K-8), 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 11 years of K-12 public school teaching experience. Eight of those years were gained as the founding 1st-8th grade science teacher at North Star Charter School. Jill returned to North Star Charter 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. She previously taught Elementary Science Methods for Boise State University. 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 created on board NASA’s C9 airplane. She served as the Boise State University Service-Learning STEM Coordinator for two years. In this role she worked with professors from Chemistry, Biology, Environmental Studies, Geosciences, and Engineering to integrate service-learning into their courses at Boise State University, and helped design a new teacher development opportunity called IdahoWatch: Teacher-Researcher Partnership.

Jill has had an incredible journey and is happy to be back teaching at North Star. Jill and her husband, Rob, have two children, Ayden (11 years) and Tyler (8 years). Their house is also home to a Longhaired Weimaraner. As a family they enjoy skiing, camping, and traveling.

Daniel Hock

English Language Arts - 8th

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 a fresh graduate and recent transplant to Eagle, with 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 spent finding new literature to read, particularly modern and postmodern works; playing video, tabletop, and card games; and trying to finish writing that novel that every English major is trying to writing. He student taught in another IB school, and is excited to have his first teaching job be at North Star. He still has a whole lot to learn! But learning is what happens at here--for students and teachers alike--and he couldn’t be any happier to continue his education and work with the great students of North Star.

Misty Ostrowski

Secondary Art and TOK

Misty Ostrowski was born and raised in Alaska, where she began her path towards the arts. After beginning her artistic pursuits in drawing and painting at the University of Alaska, Southeast, she transferred to Northern Arizona University and switched gears towards the ceramic arts. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, focusing on functional ceramics. After obtaining her undergraduate degree Misty returned 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 at a public high school in Arizona. Misty recently relocated to Idaho and is excited to be teaching at North Star Charter School.

Stan Ostrowski

Bus. & Tech/IB Comp Science

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.

Tamela West


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

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

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.