Christine Deignan, 7th Grade English
Christine Deignan teaches junior high English at Saint Ambrose. She graduated from Luther College and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Education and Vocal Performance. Prior to joining the teaching staff at Saint Ambrose, Ms. Deignan served an admissions counselor at Luther College and worked at Edina High School. She also did her student teaching right here at Saint Ambrose.
Ms. Deignan decided to go into teaching because she believes that education provides a path to self-discovery. She feels that every student should become a critical thinker, a conscious consumer and a person who lives out their values. Ms. Deignan strives to create a positive environment in her classroom and wants to provide students a place where they are encouraged to take risks, try new things and push themselves. She wants her students to feel that every voice in her classroom is heard and valued. As a teacher, she feels it is her role to guide her students towards excellence by helping them make use of their strengths and gifts.
While she doesn’t have a favorite lesson to teach her students, she does love any lesson that involves creativity. Some of her favorites include a sensory poetry workshop using different smells, as well as a lesson about dialect where students explore the languages and dialects present in everyday life. She loves being part of a Catholic school community because of the closeness of its members and the shared values of staff, students and families.
When she’s not teaching, Ms. Deignan loves to read. She feels it’s one of the best ways for her to stay engaged with lifelong learning. (She loves it when a student recommends a book to her!) She also enjoys baking and finds it’s a great stress reliever.
“What I have learned from working with students is that every student’s voice is unique and beautiful.” - Christine Deignan
Charles Morgenroth, 7th & 8th Grade Social Studies
Charles Morgenroth teaches 7th and 8th grade Social Studies. He has a B.S. in Social and Behavioral Science from the University of Mary and is working on his M.S. in Geography Information Science at Saint Mary’s. Mr. Morgenroth has experience teaching 7th and 8th graders and has taught in both public and Catholic schools.
Mr. Morgenroth wants to help prepare students for life after school. He feels this encompasses not only academics, but also being a good person with a strong relationship with God. He works hard to create a structured classroom that emphasizes fundamentals and good habits. Most importantly, he wants his students to know he cares about them as people. When deciding to become a teacher, Mr. Morgenroth looked to some of his own teachers as inspiration. He enjoyed some of their classes so much that he decided he would like to do the same thing! He especially loves teaching students about the physical geography of the counties of the Eurasian land mass.
Some of Mr. Morgenroth’s hobbies include reading history and geography. One of the things he loves about being part of a Catholic school is getting to start each day with a prayer. He loves the family aspect that is unique to Catholic schools. He also loves hearing from his former students!
“What I have learned from working with students is that, like me, they are not perfect. However, every student is a true blessing. My life is immeasurably better from having known each one. I know that if I give them my best each day, they likely will reciprocate.” - Charles Morgenroth
Rhesa Freeman, 7th & 8th Grade Science
As a new teacher at St. Ambrose of Woodbury, Rhesa Freeman has found everyone to be welcoming, friendly and helpful. Prior to coming to St. Ambrose, she worked as a tutor, student teacher and project assistant in Minneapolis Schools. Ms. Freeman has her B.S. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of North Dakota and a Master in Life Science Teaching from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul.
By making the classroom as place of inquiry and exploration, Ms. Freeman finds students can explore their areas of interest while learning the subject matter. Creating life long learners is one of her goals. Whether introducing 7th grade students to a whole new microscopic world or teaching 8th grade students about meteorology, Ms. Freeman wants students to experience that “aha!” moment as they learn.
Growing up in a large family Ms. Freeman was always helping her younger siblings with homework. After graduating from college she had a job that gave her an opportunity to work with high school students. As she enjoyed this aspect of her job, she decided to pursue a teaching career. Being able to incorporate her faith into the curriculum is also something Ms. Freeman is looking forward to. She loves to read fiction, biographies and science journals as well as spend time with her nieces and nephews.
“My experience with junior high students is that they always have the ability to surprise me! For all that I plan to teach them, I know they will teach me just as much. They are a wealth of knowledge and are always ready to share what they know.” – Rhesa Freeman
Kim Soenen, 7th & 8th Grade Math
Kim Soenen received her undergraduate degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Notre Dame, as well as a second major in French. She received her Masters of Arts in Teaching from the University of Iowa. Mrs. Soenen earned a Graduate Certificate in Middle School Mathematics 5-8 from Walden University. Her additional coursework and areas of interest include Mindset Mathematics, differentiated instruction, classroom management, and brain based learning.
Mrs. Soenen believes that teachers must establish strong relationships with students in order to teach effectively, and they must meet students where they are in order to help them reach their potential. Mrs. Soenen knows that it is her responsibility to teach the whole child. Besides teaching math to her students, she supports students in their journey towards becoming responsible, independent, and faithful young men and women. One of Mrs. Soenen’s priorities is to ensure that all students are respected and accepted in her classroom.
Every child is capable of learning mathematics at a high level, but they must first believe in themselves! Mrs. Soenen’s mathematicians are encouraged to take risks, make mistakes, and persevere every day in her classroom.
Mrs. Soenen feels blessed to be part of the Saint Ambrose community as she loves to combine her passion for teaching with her love of the Church. In her free time, Mrs. Soenen loves to run and to watch her children play sports. An avid reader, she particularly enjoys reading about the Catholic faith. She also is interested in healthy eating and living and likes to discuss the importance of a healthy and balanced lifestyle with her students. Sharing her love of service with her boys is one of her favorite activities.
“Every day at school is an adventure! My students have taught me that I need to be flexible and willing to change my plans to meet their needs. Students have also taught me that the most important part of my job is getting to know each one of them as a person. Only then can I truly meet their needs. Students are enthusiastic, full of energy and often hilarious. Every day with them is a blessing.” - Kim Soenen
Melissa Schisler, 7th & 8th Grade Religion
Melissa Schisler has worked at St. Ambrose since 2012. She graduated from St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin where she majored in Elementary Education and minored in Middle School Language Arts. She received her Master's degree in Teaching and Learning from Saint Mary's University.
Creating an atmosphere where her students are challenged is one way Ms. Schisler encourages them to perform to their greatest potential. Also, because she feels laughter is the best medicine, why not use it in a learning environment to make the subject matter fun? Junior high is an exciting time and students have lots of energy. By channeling their emotions into a positive classroom environment, Ms. Schisler creates a community where each individual feels valued and free to express him- or herself.
Ms. Schisler has always known she wanted to teach. She had many great role models throughout her school years and was encouraged to pursue her dream. One of her favorite aspects of teaching is watching grow and change throughout the year. Watching hearts and minds expand with what they are hearing and learning from our Lord is incredible. She also enjoys partaking in service with the students that she teaches. Ms. Schisler also enjoys exploring her Catholic faith and sharing it with her students. Being able to pray every day with her classes is a blessing. To thank God for the good things, and the not so good, is a wonderful way to share her faith and connect with her students. There are so many amazingly holy people in the world. She tries to emulate that love and holiness in her daily life. In her free time Ms. Schisler loves to read, listen to music, cook and travel.
“I have learned a lot working with St. Ambrose students. First, it is often better to listen than to talk. Also, it is important to step outside your comfort zone. Finally, I have learned that being goofy makes life more entertaining!” – Melissa Schisler
Kris Woolsey, 8th Grade English & Literature
After teaching 7th and 8th grade English for five years in southern Minnesota, Kris Woolsey came to St. Ambrose in 2001. She has a B.S. in Secondary Education and English and a Master of Science in Education and English, both from the University of Wisconsin River Falls.
Mrs. Woolsey’s classroom is a place where students are taught the structure of English so they have a firm foundation that allows them to best communicate their creativity and express ideas. She directs and guides the students, but also works to foster an independent learning environment where students can work individually and cooperatively. Mrs. Woolsey enjoys seeing students make important discoveries about themselves and their abilities through the projects they work on in class.
Reading and writing have always been something Mrs. Woolsey has enjoyed and were the reason she initially wanted to go into teaching. She continues to enjoy teaching because she has found the energy and creativity of her students to be so rewarding. Teaching at a Catholic school helps Mrs. Woolsey to not only share her faith, but continue to grow in her faith. She finds St. Ambrose is a community that fosters the ability of students and teachers to see God in the people and world around them.
“Jr. High students have shown me how people of any age can make a difference in the world. I have seen students work toward a common goal to serve others and rise to the challenge with faith and spirit as the driving force behind their work – this is inspiring to people of all ages.” – Kris Woolsey