Specialists

ART

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. 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.

COMPUTER/TECHNOLOGY

Becky Albin

Elementary Computers
balbin@northstarcharter.org

Mrs. Albin came to North Star in 2014 after moving to Idaho from Colorado where she had lived most of her life. She received her teaching degree at the University of Northern Colorado and has been involved in education ever since. Mrs. Albin has a variety of teaching experience including various classes for K-8 grade students. She began her teaching career in 1985 as a 2nd grade teacher. She has been teaching computer applications for over 9 years. She believes it is very important for students to have a firm foundation of computer skills for school and life in this ever growing technological world. Mrs. Albin strives to balance students' computer skills with safety and wisdom that will help them to use technology for success in life.


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.

COUNSELING

Danica Hare

K-5 Counselor/IB Coordinator
dhare@northstarcharter.org

Danica Hare was born and raised in Spokane, WA. She grew up playing soccer and riding horses. She had a love for school and learning which guided her into the field of education and working with children. In 2012 she received a B.S. from Eastern Washington University in Applied Developmental Psychology. She then returned to Spokane and attended Gonzaga University where she received a Masters in School Counseling in 2014.

After graduation she traveled throughout Australia, Thailand, and Vietnam. This experience sparked a fire within her and she now aspires to someday travel to all 7 continents. Upon returning home she longed for more adventure and moved to Boise, ID in May of 2015! After spending a little over a year in Boise she has fallen in love with the city and its people. A large reason is due to her position her at North Star Charter.

Entering her second year she will not only be the elementary school counselor, but also the IB coordinator for the secondary school. She is excited for the challenge of learning about the IB and looks forward to building relationships with students from kindergarten all the way to 12th grade!


Buster Pettit

Secondary Counselor
mpettit@northstarcharter.org

Buster Pettit was born in San Diego, CA. He earned a BA in Political Science from Sonoma State University, located north of San Francisco. There he also earned his Teaching Credential for Social Studies, and a Master's degree in Counseling. He has taught, counseled and coached in California, North Carolina, and Oregon. Mr. Pettit has a passion for helping students to be the very best they can be, and to support families in the educational process.

Mr. Pettit enjoys sports and played college volleyball while getting his undergraduate degree. Until his knees failed him, he was an active doubles outdoor player in California. He has coached women's volleyball at various levels in different states and enjoys the game still.

He has always enjoyed traveling and has spent time in Latin America, Europe, and various places in the United States. Traveling has given him perspective and a new understanding of the freedoms that exist here in this country that many take for granted.

When he is not traveling, he is spending time with his family in the great outdoors. He is married and has two amazing boys age 5 and 7. They love exploring new places, and being active.


Karen Toerne

School Psychologist
ktoerne@northstarcharter.org

Karen carries a Master’s of Education in Counseling and an Education Specialist Degree in School Psychology. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. She has 12 years of experience working in the mental health field, ranging from work in the school system as a school psychologist and school counselor, to counseling and group work in a residential treatment center for teenagers and young adults. Karen currently has a private practice providing counseling to children, teens, and adults and she contracts with several charter schools in the area.

When Karen isn’t bouncing between schools or offering therapy in her office, you will find her hanging out with her family, walking her dogs, or practicing yoga. She has lived in Idaho most of her life, bouncing between the southern and northern tips, only to land in the middle of the state in the Fall of 2012. She loves hiking, biking, and anything that gets her mind and body working together in harmony. She is passionate about her work, and is happy to be a part of North Star Charter!

LIBRARY

Carrie Benton

Librarian
cbenton@northstarcharter.org

Growing up, Carrie was fortunate enough to have lived all over the states and overseas. After graduating from high school in Idaho, she stayed in Idaho to attend BSU. With a degree in psychology and a new husband, she decided to make Boise/Eagle her new home.

Carrie was excited to take on the role as North Star’s librarian in 2004. She loved the close-knit community and high achievement focus found at the school. A move to Tokyo, Japan with her family in 2009 necessitated her departure.

She continued her work in the library at the American School in Japan while she lived in Tokyo. The experience was life-changing and rewarding. After returning to Eagle in 2015, she was grateful to assume the role of North Star librarian once again this year.

Carrie has a daughter at Baylor and a son at BSU. When her son graduates, all members of her family will have graduated from BSU. Go Broncos!

MUSIC

Shirley VanPaepeghem

Elementary Choir & Music
svp@northstarcharter.org

Shirley Van Paepeghem first came to the Boise Valley from Coeur d ‘Alene in 1978 where she began working on her BA in music education at BSU. After teaching for one year in the Boise District, she and her husband moved to Bend, Oregon. During this time, Mrs. Van Paepeghem’s teaching experience included Jr. High choral music, K-8 general music and private voice. Since its 1997 inception until 2003, Mrs. Van Paepeghem developed and directed the Youth Choir of Central Oregon’s Debut Choir, which provided choral experience and vocal training to children in grades 3 through 8. Her area of teaching expertise is the young voice through adolescence. Mrs. Van Paepeghem is a Level Two certified Orff Music Instructor. In 1997, she served as consultant for a National Arts Assessment Pilot Program. She has been a guest presenter at both state and national music education conferences and performs regularly as a jazz vocalist. She is currently the Idaho Past-President of the Orff Schulwerk Association for music educators, the Repertoire and Standards chair for the state chapter of the National Association for Music Education (NAfMe), and she was a Co-Chair for the National Women’s Honor Choir for the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA).

After 19 years in Central Oregon, the Van Paepeghems and their children, Jake, now 29 and Mallory, now 26 returned to Idaho in the fall of 2003. She recently completed her Master’s degree through Lesley University in Integrating the Arts into the Curriculum. Since moving back to Idaho she has taught Music/Choir K – 12 at North Star Charter School in Eagle, Idaho. She one of 2 original remaining staff of NSCS which opened in 2003.


A.J. Davidsen

Secondary Music - 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. 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.


Kyle Downs

Secondary Choir and IB Music
kdowns@northstarcharter.org

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.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION/FITNESS

Georja Sawyers

Physical Education- Elementary
gsawyers@northstarcharter.org

Ms. Sawyers was born in Ohio , where she grew up in a very active lifestyle. She was naturally athletic and was the best in her gym class which helped create an interest to participate in many athletic endeavors. Being the only girl on a tumbling team in grade school created her love for gymnastics. She was also an acrobatic performer with the Akron water-ski team, and an equestrian rider with her horse, Caeser. These were the kind of hobbies only a girl could love. Playing volleyball on the varsity team in high school as a freshmen was her first experience playing in a team sport. Before Title IX allowed girls to have equal time in the high school gym, the local YMCA was the place she competed in beginning and intermediate gymnastic events. Being lucky enough to have a gym teacher in her high school senior year who loved gymnastics as well, made it possible to compete and qualify for the nationals in floor exercise and vaulting.

Ms. Sawyers graduated from Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Health, Physical Education and Secondary Education and worked out with the nationally known men’s and women’s gymnastic teams. She started coaching Beginning Gymnastics for girls ages 5-15 while a staff member at the International Gymnastic Camp at East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania , in the Pocono Mountains . There she was part of the coaching staff, along with previous Olympian contenders Abie Grossfield and Bruno Klaus. She loved helping girls and boys who wanted someday to compete in the Olympics themselves.

Teaching in Florida as a physical education teacher for several years from grades K-8 was a wonderful experience. She implemented health education which gave the students a better understanding of how health and wellness plays a major role in today’s world.

Ms. Sawyers loves to be with her daughter, Erin, as well as her family and friends. She also loves to snow ski, water ski, bike, hike, and workout.


Dan Conti

MS Physical Education and AD
dconti@northstarcharter.org

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.


Trevor Holladay

Health and Fitness
tholladay@northstarcharter.org

Growing up in the great outdoors of Western Montana, Trevor Holladay loves being physically active. Whether it is hunting, fishing, hiking, or playing city league sports such as volleyball and basketball, Trevor does it all. He is originally from Kalispell, Montana where he went to a private school K-12th grade. Following his passion, he moved to Bozeman, Montana and went to Montana State University and received his BS in Health Enhancement. Teaching health and physical education, Trevor wants to instill upon his students the same passion he has for being fit and healthy.

Trevor also has coached a variety of sports and enjoys seeing children active outside of school exercising and learning new skills. He has experience coaching basketball, soccer, has played volleyball and wants to get experience coaching that as well. Being a first year teacher, he is excited to meet new people and start enhancing the lives of students in Eagle, Idaho.

SCIENCE

Julie Handyside

Kindergarten/ Science 1st-3rd
jhandyside@northstarcharter.org

I was born in Laramie, Wyoming and grew up in Eastern Oregon. I earned my teaching degree at Eastern Oregon University in LaGrande, Oregon. I earned my Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction in 2012. I have lived in Idaho for the past 17 years and have taught fourth and fifth grades for the past 15 years. I am currently teaching ½ time kindergarten and ½ time 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade science. This will be my 3rd year in these two positions. And I am loving it.

I have two children. My son Nathan lives in Nampa and owns his own remodeling business. My daughter Kellie graduated with a BS in psychology and lives in St.Louis. I love being a parent and take pleasure in sharing their challenges and triumphs. I also love teaching; it is right up there with parenting.

Art is one of my passions. I enjoy oil painting, charcoal and pastel drawing, as well as ceramics. During middle school, high school, and college I took as many art classes as I could along with private lessons. I have a minor in art and enjoy teaching and encouraging my students to love and appreciate the many elements of art. In kindergarten we are able to explore a huge variety of mediums.

Other things I enjoy include reading, quilting, camping, fishing, white water rafting and horseback riding. I love to hike in the mountains or just sit by a lake. Anything outdoors and I’m game.


Patrice Rex

Elementary Science Grade 4-5
prex@northstarcharter.org

Patrice Rex was born and raised primarily in Utah, with a few summer excursions to Virginia where she worked as a full-time nanny. She spent her teenage years playing lots of basketball, volleyball, softball and running track, and particularly loved basketball and high jump. She has always been curious about the way things work and natural processes, especially human physiology and natural sciences. Mrs. Rex believes her love of science can be traced back to the times that she spent accompanying her grandfather on his Forest Service rounds throughout Utah and Idaho. She attended Brigham Young University on an academic scholarship and graduated with honors in 1998 with a degree in Zoology and a minor in Biochemistry. Mrs. Rex has taught and tutored science and math in Utah, Nevada and Idaho.

After her first child was born, she was a stay at home mom and part-time tutor for 10 years. She returned to teaching in 2009. She holds Secondary Teaching Endorsements in Biological Science and Natural Science. She also has an Elementary Teaching Certificate. Mrs. Rex is extremely excited to be teaching science at the elementary level and getting kids excited about science at a young age. She loves to do lots of “hands-on” lab work and watch students make discoveries.

Mrs. Rex loves to spend time with her husband of 22 years and her two kids (ages 16 and 12). Some of their favorite activities include traveling, camping, hiking, biking, swimming, playing games and doing puzzles. She also loves to read, play sports, watch college football, garden and take naps. She has been an Idaho resident since 2006 and loves living here.


Jill Hettinger

Science - 6th & 7th
jhettinger@northstarcharter.org

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.


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.


Harold Strom

Secondary Science
hstrom@northstarcharter.org

Harold (“Hal”) Strom teaches the two-year IB Biology (Higher Level) course to students in grades 11 and 12. In addition, he teaches the Standard Level IB Environmental Systems and Society to some students in grade 12. He also teachers grade 9 General Biology. He notes that the students in these classes clearly have excellent science backgrounds and are very pleasant to work with.

Hal grew up in southern California but had the good sense to marry Nancy, who grew up in Ashton, about fifty miles north of Idaho Falls.

Hal brings intelligent hard work to his science classroom and expects the same in return from his students. Recognizing that close cooperation between school and family is an important element of North Star’s academic program, Hal encourages parents to contact him (hstrom@northstar.org) or visit his classroom whenever they have questions or concerns. Hal received his Bachelor’s Degree from Stanford University. He did his teacher preparation work at the University of East Africa’s campus in Kampala, Uganda: the course work was designed and taught by Teacher’s College, Columbia University (New York) and London University as part of a State Department program to provide teachers for East Africa’s newly independent countries. After two years in rustic western Kenya, Hal moved from the Serengeti plains to the tropical coral reefs of the western Pacific. Taking advantage of a strong marine biology program, Hal earned an M.Sc. (Biology) degree from the University of Guam.

Much of Hal’s professional career was spent teaching the children of American diplomats and business families in overseas locations. As you might expect, the State Department sets very high standards for these schools. In 2009, Nancy and Hal returned to Idaho after raising their seven children overseas. In recent years, their children have turned Nancy and Hal into very proud grandparents.

Hal very much enjoys reading, photography, gardening, and playing with his dogs that delight in digging up his annual efforts in the garden. He continues to proof read professional papers in English written by geologists who are posted to the Russian Academy of Science’s Geology Institute in Vladivostok.

SPECIAL EDUCATION

Stephanie Braun

Special Education
sbraun@northstarcharter.org

Stephanie Braun was born and raised in Huntington Beach, California. She grew up swimming and playing water polo, which lead to her playing water polo for the USA Junior National Team and playing at the collegiate level at U.C.L.A. Stephanie received her B.A. in Psychology in 1998. Within a year of graduating from U.C.L.A, she pursued her K-8 certification and Master’s degree in Education from Pepperdine University.

While student teaching, Stephanie realized she was meant to pursue another certification from California State University of Fullerton to work with students with learning differences. Besides owning a tutoring franchise in Washington, Stephanie has been a middle school and high school resource teacher. Stephanie feels blessed to be part of the North Star staff and community.

Stephanie married her childhood friend whom she met at the age of 6 on their competitive swim team. They have been married for 15 years and have two daughters who are enrolled at North Star, Ellie (6th grade) and Alexa (1st grade).


Vicki Rannow

Special Education
vrannow@northstarcharter.org

Although Vicki grew up in sunny, Southern California, she and her family call Idaho “home”! Vicki and her husband, Randy, recently moved back to Idaho with their Golden Retriever, Stormy. They are happy to be back among Idaho’s beauty and wildlife, and enjoy biking, kayaking, and walking the dog by the river. Returning to Idaho also allows them to be “Aunt” and “Uncle” to 3 of the newest members of their family; Jackson, Alex, and Ben.

Vicki is new to North Star Charter and brings 13 years of teaching experience in both general and special education. She received her Master’s in Special Education at the University of Nevada, Reno and, her Master’s in Business at Colorado State University. Also, she carries educational certifications in both Autism and Teaching English Language Learners. She loves using creative strategies in helping students learn and adheres to F.D.R.’s philosophy that “happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort”!

SPEECH PATHOLOGY

Kelly Williams

Speech Pathologist
kwilliams@northstarcharter.org

Kelly Williams grew up in Battle Ground, Washington and lived there until moving to Boise in 2005. In her younger years she was very active in sports and enjoyed any sport she could play! She left Battle Ground in 1992 to attend Washington State University where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Hearing Sciences. She moved back to Vancouver, Washington to start working as a Speech Language Pathology Assistant for the Battle Ground School District.

After three years, she decided to pursue her Masters of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology from Portland State University. Kelly has 15 years of experience working with children in the private and school settings. In her spare time, Kelly enjoys running, hanging out with her family, going to the movies and reading. She enjoys helping students with their speech and language skills and feels blessed to be a part of North Star Charter!