Our Staff

Dr. Lisa Snyder

Executive Director


Dr. Lisa Snyder has served in public education as a teacher, principal, technology director, curriculum director and superintendent. She is committed to continuous improvement and transformation in public education through innovation and personalized learning. Throughout her career, she has been instrumental in creating new opportunities for student-centered learning through career-focused programming, the development of choice and charter schools and transforming systems and schools. She serves as Executive Director for EdVisions, an organization that supports creating and supporting learning environments that promote personalized learning and teacher empowerment.

Mary Moening

Office Manager and Finance Assistant


Mary Moening, recently completed 26 years with Lakeville Schools, with the last 15  as the Executive Assistant to the Superintendent and Board. She has recently become an assistant to the Executive Director of Edvisions in an opportunity to continue her work with innovative educators who are promoting personalized learning and teacher empowerment.

Signe Swenson

Director of Finance and Operations


Signe is a creative problem solver who is passionate about enabling others to build and create. After working in higher education fundraising at MIT and the MIT Media Lab, she has a keen interest in innovative learning environments the tools that make it possible. Signe has a bachelors in studio art from Carleton College and a masters in arts administration and certificate in non-Profit Fundraising from Boston University.

Julene Oxton

Professional Development Director


Before joining EdVisions, Julene Oxton was the Innovation Coordinator for the Lakeville Area Public Schools in MN where she worked with teachers to transform educational systems. She served as the lead developer of Impact Academy which is a learning environment for about 450 students in grades K-5. The Teacher-Powered School opened in 2013 in Lakeville, MN, a suburb of the Twin Cities. Julene serves as an ambassador for Teacher Powered Schools, works closely with Education Evolving staff and is a member of the MN Community of Practice with the Bush Foundation. Julene received a Master's Degree in Teacher Leadership from the University of Minnesota and an Administrative Specialist Degree from St. Thomas University, MN. She started her career in Montana and moved to the Twin Cities area for most of her teaching years. 

Dr. Ron Newell

Director of Assessment


Dr. Newell is presently the Director of Assessment for EdVisions Schools, and has served as the Director of Learning Programs for the Gates/EdVisions replication efforts. Dr. Newell was a founder of the Minnesota New Country School and EdVisions Cooperative. He has published four books that explain the rationale and practices behind the learning program and governance of the EdVisions Schools. His work with development of coaches training, staff development and evaluation has lead to creation of processes and materials that enhance the development and sustainability of newly created charter schools. His work with Mark Van Ryzin in development of the Hope Study has lead to an assessment of school culture that is becoming nationally recognized.

Dr. Newell was a high school history teacher and coach, a mentor teacher, a college professor, a Director of Clinical Experiences at two universities, and is a founding member of the EdVisions Leaders Center. His interests are learning theory, adolescent development, alternative assessment, decentralized distributive education, use of technology in education, and development of new curriculum for the development of Life-long Learning Skills.

Dr. Newell graduated with a B.A. from St. Olaf College, an M.S. from Minnesota State University – Mankato, and an Ed.D. from the University of South Dakota.

Dr. Steven Rippe

Director of the Hope Survey and Organization Development


Dr. Steven J. Rippe has over 20 years of experience working with educators and school leaders designing and implementing innovative schools and programs throughout the United States. A successful teacher, principal and University administrator, Steven has worked with passionate educators to create nationally recognized schools and works with struggling schools to reinvent themselves into high performing, dynamic learning organizations.

Mark Larson

Hope Survey Sales and Marketing Advisor


Mark Larson, PhD has spent his professional career in education as an English teacher, principal, executive director of teaching and leaning, and most recently as a superintendent. His PhD dissertation was about the social and emotional impact on students whose school districts combined or consolidated. He is passionate about seeing public education improve and believes it will happen when we improve student engagement, hope, innovation, and personalized learning.

Scott Wurdinger

Research Partner


Scott Wurdinger, PhD is a professor of experiential learning and leadership studies at Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minnesota.  His early teaching experiences, with mostly middle and high school students, included non-traditional learning environments such as Upward Bound, Environmental Learning Centers, Psychiatric Hospitals, and Outward Bound. He has been teaching in higher education since 1992.  He has taught undergraduates, Master's and Doctoral students and is currently the Coordinator of the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program at the Mankato campus.  He has published numerous articles and books on experiential learning, project based learning, and education reform.  His research focuses on life skill development in experiential learning environments and his most recent book is titled Changing the status quo: courage to challenge the education system published by Rowman and Littlefield.    

Cadre Coaches

Our extended team of trainers includes seasoned advisors from EdVisions schools.

Carrie Bakken was hired with a team of teachers to open Avalon School in St. Paul, Minnesota, 2001, where she is now a Program Coordinator and teacher. Over the last few years, she completed a two year Aspen Institute Teacher Fellowship and won an Outstanding Educator in Ethics Education Award sponsored by the WEM Foundation. Carrie has a Master of Arts degree in Teaching from the University of St. Thomas and a Juris Doctorate from Hamline University. She completed her undergraduate work at Beloit College in Women's Studies and Latin American Studies. She is also a member of the CTQ Collaboratory and a Teacher Powered Ambassador Alumni.

Stephanie Korba is in her third year teaching at Impact Academy in Lakeville, MN. She is passionate about creating an environment for self-directed learning and strongly believes in student empowerment.  Stephanie is very fortunate to be teaching and working in an innovative education model that was created by a group of teachers. She really enjoys being a part of this collaborative model because it allows her to work closely with positive-experienced teachers and grow as an educator.

Nicole Luedtke co-founded Valley New School, an innovative, project-based, student-centered, technology-rich charter school powered by teachers that remains a lab and model.  Besides advising students, she practices in PLP’s, Advisory, PBL, and community/parent relations. She is a consultant, presenter, and coach for professionals. Previously Nicole revolutionized learning in public and private schools.  Her team opened a place-based school in Boulder, CO, where she specialized in school design. Nicole’s main interests are family, nature, and wellness.

Brandon Wait joined Paladin’s team in 2008 however, his involvement within the field of education has spanned for over thirteen years. Brandon has notable experience in a variety of sectors including non-profits, public schools, juvenile corrections and social services. Brandon has a strong background in student mental health and has built a supportive community that educates the whole child and meets the needs of all students. As a school leader, Brandon utilizes a collaborative approach to make ethical decisions and encourages the school’s community to always put the interests of the students first. When Brandon is not at work he is outside (no seriously, he loves the outdoors). Hiking, biking, climbing, broomball, yoga and a commitment to growing a quality beard are some of Brandon’s favorite hobbies.

Nora Whalen is one of the founding teachers at Avalon school.  Originally from Madison,Wisconsin, Nora started her life as a Minnesotan while at Saint Olaf College in Northfield. After traveling in the Middle East and India, she earned her degree from the Olaf’s Paracollege (much like Avalon’s project-based learning) in Teaching Social History.  Receiving a flyer in the mail to answer the question, "What is your Ideal School?", she jumped on board with Avalon and has never regretted the leap. Nora took some brief "holidays" to earn a Masters Degree at Columbia's Teachers College in NYC (2005-6), to experiment with retirement in Ireland (2007), and to juggle twins (2011-12).  She always finds her way back.

When Nora is not sharing an advisory with Tim or teaching a social studies seminar, she might be helping a new school get off the ground, observe other charter schools in action, train for a triathlon, or pick up her kids' toys.  All are remarkably connected.

Michelle Johnson has been in education for 23 years and currently teaches at Impact Academy in Lakeville, MN.  She is passionate about empowering students and teaching the whole child. She feels fortunate to be a part of the Impact Development team and to currently be working with dedicated colleagues.

Karen Locke has been in education for over 40 years.  She has degrees in Music Education, Music Therapy, and Special Education from the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas.  She's taught in St. Paul Public Schools, in private schools, and Minnesota New Country School. She helped start Edvisions Off Campus school in 2005 and currently works there as a Special Education teacher.  She has had training in Inner Family Systems work  (IFS) an evidence-based method of coaching and psychotherapy and is now a certified practitioner with a private emotional healing practice. She has taught classes at Hamline University and Bemidji State University about the learning styles of problem learners.

Kristyn Martin has been in the alternative education world for 15 years.  She's the Special Education Coordinator at Jennings Community School for the last 10 years, and has served on the Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs (MAAP) Board for four years as a Regional Director and Director at Large.   At Jennings, they follow the Community Learning Center model which incorporates a variety of "things" in to everyday school life. Some of the components of this model are project based learning, transformational outcomes, travel, student internships, personalized learning plans (PLP's), service learning, seminars, advisories, using students as resources, interdisciplinary approach, cooperative learning , restorative justice and utilizing technology.   

Tim Quealy started at Avalon School in the winter of the 2007-2008 school year as an Education Assistant.  In 2010, Tim was hired as a high school advisor, and now shares and an advisory with Nora Whalen. Tim also serves as Program Coordinator, with the enviable tasks of coordinating testing and trying to fix the internet. Though licensed in Language Arts, Tim loves math, bad jokes, and soccer. Previously, Tim worked for several years as a wilderness guide, leading canoe trips in the Boundary Waters and Quetico wilderness areas, kayak trips on Lake Superior, and hiking trips wherever he could find a trail.  Tim has also coached the varsity boys’ soccer team at another high school since 2008. When not at school, Tim can be found outside on the trails and parks of Minneapolis. Or sometimes inside, watching soccer. Tim earned an English degree from the University of Minnesota and a Master’s in Teaching from Hamline University.

Peter Wieczorek has spent the past 30 years as a teacher, outdoor educator and youth worker.  Peter has been with Northwest Passage Charter High in Coon Rapids for the past fifteen years - eleven years as a Biology Teacher and the past four years as Director. Northwest Passage is a project-based and expeditionary learning high school. Peter has taught a number of hands-on, field-based biology courses including Wolf Studies, Raptor Studies, River Ecology, and Fisheries and Wildlife Management. His students are also involved in several ongoing research studies including a reproductive study on critically endangered Red Wolves, and a Muskrat survey. His school leads 12-15 overnight learning expeditions each year, and he has taken students to Yellowstone  National Park, Alaska, Costa Rica, CanyonLands National Park, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. As a teacher, his passion is to help students understand the relevance of science in their lives. Peter is also involved in several educational organizations including the Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs, Edvisions, the Innovative Schools Network and Coalition of Community Charter Schools. When he is not teaching, he likes to spend his time with his family in the outdoors.