Veritas In Academia

Serving homeschoolers through Catholic tutors.

VIA Tutors' Biographies

Amy Bittner first dove into theatre when her mom played The Phantom of the Opera for her at age ten.  Curious about the Theatre, she played Boy Munchkin #3 in her first play at Spotlight Family Theatre, and has loved it ever since.  Amy now has a BA in Theatre Arts from Benedictine College.  Selected credits include: Much Ado About Nothing / Arden of Faversham (Ensemble), Charley’s Aunt (Donna Lucia), Twelfth Night (Olivia), Mother Courage and Her Children, (Yvette Pottier), Fuenteovejuna (Laurencia), and Laughing Stock (Mary).   Specialties include Performance, Stage Management, Costume Design, Props Design, and Hair and Makeup Design.  Amy loves spending time with her amazing husband, Josh, her two kids, reading books, listening to podcasts, and trying her hand at sourdough.

        Ana Grace is a native Spanish speaker, born in San Jose, Costa Rica. She earned a Master of International Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management, and a Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University. She has traveled throughout five continents, visited 26 countries, and enjoys learning about other cultures. She is the mother of six children (one in heaven) and has been homeschooling for 10 years.

Coming soon!

I live in Elk River, and have three married daughters and many grandchildren. I homeschooled my youngest daughter and help with homeschooling two of my grandchildren. I was the music director at Mary Queen of Peace Church for eleven years, where I directed the adult and children’s choirs. Presently, I am directing the VIA Homeschool Choir  and play the organ at St. Thomas Church in Corcoran on the weekends. I also teach piano lessons out of my home and at VIA. I love walking in our several, beautiful parks, and love to read, draw and paint, and of course play the piano and sing.

Home schooling for twenty years, Jen Kellar loves all things Catholic, child-related, classical, and deep. Her degrees are in psychology and English and she holds a Master’s degree in Vocational Rehabilitation.  In the secular world, this means that she helped people who were disabled either plan a path for training or work, or determine what career path they would be best suited to enter. The first year of college she spent her summer in a course that helped her understand how to study, organize her time,
establish priorities, and work under pressure. This course has come in handy her whole life!!  Her passions include Jesus, her family, reading, gardening, keeping up with friends, and working in youth ministry particularly in small group studies and coordinating retreats. She enjoys starting new ventures and cannot wait to meet you and your children to see what God has in store!

Jenni received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science (SCSU) with a minor in Mathematics.  During and after college, she traveled to 10 different countries, including working for nine months in Australia. Converting to the faith as a young adult made her passionate about sharing and defending the Catholic faith. She has spent many years doing that in various ways, such as in the church choir, as a lector, catechist, small group leader, and apologist – doing sought-after talks and classes for both youth and adults.  For nine years, she worked in the computer software field, rising from Programmer to Designer, to Customer Liaison, to Quality Assurance Manager.  When her son was born, she felt called to pursue homeschooling full-time and join her husband, Jeff, in their video and photography business, where she not only does photo and video but also handles the accounting, taxes, and contracts.  Having a penchant for leadership, she has helped lead the JP2 Homeschool Group, and coached an FLL robotics team for seven years.  Her FLL robotics team consistently performed well, advancing to the State level every year but their first and advancing to the World tournament in both 2017 and 2019.  As with all things she is passionate about, she loves sharing and mentoring.  She has helped start a new FLL team almost every year she coached, helped run the 4H STEM Club, tutors, and leads faith-sharing small groups.  In her little free time, she enjoys nature, arts and crafts, and spending time with her husband and two children

     Gladly spending time with little ones, high school students, and children in between, reminds Julia Johnson that faith and character development are more important than textbooks. Language Arts is Mrs. Johnson’s best-loved subject because combining words in special ways is definitely an art. She has earned licenses in Elementary Education and Language Arts but home school and classroom experiences are more joyful accomplishments. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson enjoy a fast pace with four boys, their eldest daughter who also teaches, and their youngest, Mary, who remains powerful against her four older brothers. Julia is passionate about teaching at VIA and looks forward to this fall with you!
       John earned his bachelor's degree, master's degree, and PhD with Electrical Engineering as a major for all degrees and with Physics as a minor for his graduate degrees. John then practiced engineering as his first career designing semiconductor processes, devices and circuitry for the disk-drive industry as well as designing focal plane arrays and developing image processing algorithms for the infra-red camera industry. John is a named inventor on multiple patents. John graduated from Hamline School of Law in 2010 and shortly thereafter embarked upon his second career practicing patent law. John first began practicing law at Thompson Patent Law and now has joined the team at Kinney & Lange. In his spare time, John loves being husband to his beautiful bride and being father to his adorable children.
    Julie Leighton is a homeschool mom of five children. She has a degree in Elementary Education and Studio Arts. Before homeschooling, she taught at St. Vincent de Paul and St. Stephen’s Catholic schools.  Her passions include drawing, painting, teaching, and being a mother, grandmother, and wife to her adoring husband.
Coming soon
Kathy Michael is a nationally certified Sign Language Interpreter. She has worked as a free lance interpreter for over 30 years. Kathy is the youngest of nine children, three of which are Deaf. Kathy has been signing ever since she can remember. She received a degree in ASL interpreting.  Kathy enjoys sharing her love of the language and Deaf culture with others.
    Jacob holds a masters degree in pastoral theology and a masters degree in philosophy with a concentration in ethics. He has worked in the Church for over ten years, has done mission trips to Ukraine, Latvia, and Wyoming and has lead pilgrimages to Poland and Italy. Jacob has a strong passion for education and political philosophy as well as social ethics. His classes will often take a socratic approach which means more discussion based exploration of the topic than lecture, depending on the topic and the necessity of lecture. He has also co-hosted his own radio program with Jonathan Stute and helped found an academic journal with his co-host. Jacob lives in Maple Grove with his wife and son and is expecting his second child in December of 2019.
       Jenna grew up in a homeschooling household. She is the middle (and best) child of the Leighton family. In 2014, Jenna earned her B.A. in Theology and Catechists with a minor in Philosophy from Franciscan University of Steubenville. During her college years she had the opportunity to study abroad in Austria, to join a women’s faith community called Madonna of the Streets, and to serve as the president of the Students for Life club on campus. She is currently serving at the Church of Saint Henry in Monticello as the Director of Youth Formation and Ministry (6th-12th grade). Jenna enjoys spending quality time with family and friends, playing with her niece and nephew, adventuring outdoors, running, play board games, reading, and sewing or doing crafts. She and her fiancé Ben are engaged to be married July 2021!
Jenny Meyer is a homeschool mother of 4 children, and aspires to become a Lay Carmelite. She has countless hours of practice in prayer, having begun her relationship with Jesus at the ripe age of 5. She loves it more than anything else (except for her wonderful husband and precious children). Jenny also has a great love for all children, and very much enjoys teaching and working with them. She began taking dance instruction herself when she was 3 years old, and danced all the way through high school. Many of the latter years she was in competitive dance. After a decade-long break, she greatly missed her passion and began teaching dance to children of all ages at a few different dance schools over the next 5 or 6 years. Around the same time, she became a member of a young adult competitive dance team at Dancin on Broadway where she again began receiving dance instruction. After these numerous years of teaching and competing herself, she decided "throwing in the towel" was the best thing for her family in order to have more time for her children and their activities. Now, after several more years have passed, she once again feels called and inspired to share her knowledge and talents with others and to work with God's precious children.
        Karyn grew up in a family of ten, and went on to receive her Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish, Catechetics, and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH in 2010.  In 2018, she received her Masters degree in Education from University of Mary in Bismarck, ND.  During her studies she spent an extended period of time living in Argentina and Chile, as well as visiting over 15 other countries along the way.  She taught middle school Spanish for one year prior to having children and she now stays home with her four little ones and enjoys learning and implementing the Montessori Method with her children within the home, as well as speaking Spanish to them from the very start. In addition, Karyn loves staying active and learning about healthy eating and she enjoys cooking everything from scratch.
I have been a Catholic homeschooler my whole life graduating in 2020. I have 6 younger siblings (all homeschooled) and love teaching music to children. I was in the JP2 co-op, and am currently Diana Anderson's assistant with the children's choir at the Sacred Heart co-op. She is also my family's piano teacher. I have just started taking students of my own this past year. I love all kinds of music, and I enjoy playing the piano and Irish whistles.
       Susan earned her B.A. in Classics from Gustavus Adolphus College. She has a love of all things ancient and spent seven months in Greece during college, studying and working on an archaeological excavation in Athens. After graduation, she taught Latin, Greek, Ancient History, Art History, and other fun topics at Trinity School at River Ridge before marrying her husband and happily settling into her role as the wife of a farmer. She has kept her connection with education through teaching at a number of Catholic schools in the western metro area, most recently at St. Francis Xavier School as the K-8th Latin Teacher. Susan is happy to focus her passion for teaching on her most important students: her three children. Homeschooling is a perfect fit for a farming lifestyle. Susan feels blessed that God has given her the opportunity to
share her passion for teaching with the students at VIA.

       Mrs. Weber earned her BA in education, is certified in all three levels of Montessori Training: Level I (ages 3-6), Level II (ages 6-9), Level III (ages 9-12) and in The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd: Levels I and II. She has many years of experience teaching in public Montessori grade schools and Catholic schools. She is passionate about being a catechist in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Atrium and a directress in the Montessori Children's House.

       Pat is first and foremost a husband and father.  Professionally he has spent more years than he's willing to admit writing, architecting, and building teams to create, software products.  His passions include working with teen aged youth with many years working with his parish youth group, preparing confirmation students, helping put Camp Veritas on, leading scouting high adventures, helping with theatrical productions, coaching track, and 19 years coaching baseball.  In 2014 Pat helped found, and continues to help guide, VIA.  Pat and his wife, Terese, homeschooled their four sons for 16 years, with Pat schooling the first seven and last one of those years.  He earned a BA in Quantitative Methods and Computer Science form UST and subsequently worked on an additional undergrad degree in mathematics and a masters in education, although both of these were interrupted just prior to completion by the family's first year trial into homschooling. 

      Shelly Westrich earned a Bachelor’s degree in Math with a minor in Quantitative Methods and Computer Science from the University of St. Thomas.  She has been homeschooling her kids for over 20 years and coaching  FLL robotics for 7.  She, along with older VIA students from both First Lego League Challenge and First Tech Challenge robotics teams will be working together to share their passion for robotics with the next generation.

      Sherry Zeisel used to teach math and science at Holy Spirit Academy, but traded that in for being a full-time mom a couple of years ago. While her children are still too young for school, she is still passionate about all things science, and is working on bringing Catholicism and science together for homeschoolers in a brand-new set of high-school courses, starting with biology. In private life, she is an incorrigible collector of skills, from music, to spinning and weaving, to gluten-free baking...because one can never have too many interests and hobbies, right? Sherry has a B.S. in Microbiology from MSU Mankato, and lives in Montrose with her family.