Veritas In Academia

Serving homeschoolers through Catholic tutors.

VIA Tutors' Biographies

Coming soon!

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.  Twelve years later, Amy recently graduated from Benedictine College with a BA in Theatre Arts. She has been involved both onstage and behind the scenes at Spotlight Family Theatre, Continental Ballet Company, Chesterton Academy, Chaska Valley Family Theatre, Benedictine College Theatre, Open Window Theatre, and The Classical Actors Ensemble.  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.  When not thriving around the stage, Amy loves spending time with her amazing husband, Josh, reading books, listening to podcasts, and almost anything involving lakes and rivers.

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, and she has spent many years doing that in various ways such as in the church choir, as a lector, catechist, and apologist – doing sought-after talks and classes for both youth and adults.  She worked in the computer software field for nine years 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, since 2013.  Her FLL robotics team has consistently done 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 every year so far, helped run the 4H STEM Club, and tutored.  In her little free time, she enjoys nature, arts and crafts, and spending time with her husband and two children.

       Julia Johnson has a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Language Arts. After years of teaching Catholic elementary school, Julia taught preschool so she could stay home with her growing family, almost full-time. Being with little ones and home educating reminded Julia that our Catholic faith and character development are more important than the pages between textbooks. Language Arts is Mrs. Johnson’s favorite subject because written and oral words make us think and often smile; especially children’s words.  Mr. and Mrs. Johnson’s eldest is also chasing elementary school teaching dreams, in college. She is one “bookend.” They keep up with four boys in the middle. And, their youngest is another “bookend girl,” named Mary.  Julia is passionate about teaching at VIA and looks forward to this fall with you!

       Mr. Joshua La Fond earned a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies degree from Magdalen College in and has various musical experience leading personal voice training, formal cantor training, children’s and youth choirs, academy choral programs, sacred scholas, chant workshops and scholas, polyphony choirs, full adult choirs including a men’s choir, performance choirs, and drama musicals. Well aware himself of the dry mouth, sticky palms and sheer panic which comes with performing music, Mr. LaFond’s ease with the human voice makes him easily help the inner singer come out!  Spreading the joy of the heart through music is a delight to him, and is evident in the students he teaches. He has yet to meet a truly “tone-deaf” student who cannot learn to sing beautifully.  His six children and wife all love to sing and offer a personal testimony to his love of the human voice lifted in song.  Mr. La Fond often quotes Saint Augustine’s phrase “He who sings, prays twice!” as well the music of King David in Psalm 98:  “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth: break forth into joyous song and sing praises!”

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!

       First and foremost, Robin is a Catholic daughter of God, wife, and mother of 6 here on earth and 2 little ones in Heaven. Not very long ago when she was young, she was inspired to teach Math after having had excellent examples of teachers in both high school and college. Math could actually be fun! She also liked that it was objective--no opinions about 2+2=4.  Truth is truth when one is seeking the true, the good, and the beautiful! She earned a B.A. in Mathematics with minors in Secondary Education and Business Management from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, and held a Secondary Math Education teaching certificate. She also taught a year of fifth grade at a parochial school in Virginia and privately tutored several students in various Math subjects over the years. When God called her to the vocation of marriage and motherhood, she stayed home to raise her kids. When she is not homeschooling her younger kids or taking care of the rest of the family and home, she assists in bookkeeping for the family business, because she can't get enough of numbers. To balance the right and left brain, she enjoys reading and discussing books with her Well Read Mom friends and, well, just socializing in general!

       Jenna grew up in a homeschooling household. She is the middle (and best) child of the Leighton family. In 2010, 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 St. Henry in Monticello as the Director of Youth Formation and Ministry (6th-12th grade). In addition to ministry, Jenna loves adventuring outdoors, sewing and paper-crafting, and most of all being a daughter, sister, and friend. 

       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.
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.

        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.

       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 three little ones and enjoys learning and implementing the Montessori Method with her children within the home, aa 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.
       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 dairy farmer. She kept her connection with education through substitute teaching at a number of Catholic schools in the western metro area. When her daughter entered first grade, Susan decided to direct her passion for teaching at her most important students: her three children. She and her husband have discovered that homeschooling is a perfect fit for a farming lifestyle. A parishioner at Sts. Peter and Paul, she feels blessed that God has given her the opportunity to share her passion for teaching with the students at VIA while still being able to home school her children. When not teaching, working in the barn, or taking care of her family, Susan loves to garden, read, hike, and dabble in sewing.

       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.  Currently she homeschools her sons and is passionate about teaching Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and being in The Children's House.

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 20 years and coaching  FLL robotics for 6.  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.  You can find more info about these VIA students and their teams at (JP2 Fireworks, JP2 Remix, and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back).