Meet Our Staff
30 Years of Teaching Experience in the Alexandria Area
Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction
North Dakota and Minnesota Teacher of the Year
Selected Twice as a U.S. Department of Education Teach To Lead Participant
College for Every Student (CFES) Grant Recipient
Presenter at CFES National Conference “Changing Life Trajectories”
Education Equity & Diversity Trainer
Created an On-campus Food Shelf
Program has been replicated state-wide
Designed, Implemented and Advocated for the On-Track Program 2003-2013
Joined the REACH Team movement in 2013
Now has over 50 programs
My background is in Exercise Science and Personal Training. Promoting health and well-being is something that I am very passionate about. When I am not in the classroom, I am home with my two-year-old daughter, working with clients, or exploring the great outdoors. I love meeting people and I don’t believe there is such a thing as a stranger, just a friend I haven't met yet. My background in personal training and my role as a mother inspire me to empower individuals through movement and education.
I love Kalon's mission to treat every student with respect and how important it is to every staff member to make each student feel seen.
Strengths: Woo, Positivity, Communication, Includer, Developer
From Kindergarten through college, I have been involved in education for over 20 years. When I read about Kalon Prep Academy, my heart leapt. I am grateful to be part of a team of professionals that honors students in such profound and practical ways. I am obsessed with the transformative and healing power of human connection, and I look forward to growing and learning with our students.
Fun facts about me: For more than 30 years, I have operated the famous Starbuck Dairy Queen… we have been on TV multiple times including WCCO’s Best of Minnesota and On the Road with Jason Davis. I love lake time and hanging out with my sweet family and snorty Boston Terrier Griffin.
Strengths: Empathy, Input, Positivity, Connectedness, Strategic
I am super excited to be a part of the Kalon Prep team and to be immersed in a school that supports and celebrates the individuality that each student brings. I look forward to fostering connection, creativity, self expression, and problem-solving skills among the students.
I grew up in rural Minnesota and received a BA in studio art and a K-12 teaching license in visual art from the University of Minnesota, Morris. I am currently developing Art Infusion Studios in Fergus Falls to provide my community with more opportunities for experiencing the thrilling world of visual arts education.
Fun Facts About Me: I am a mom, step-mom and grandma; and a lover of stories, people, community, education, art and puns.
I hold firm to the conviction that art can provide the impetus to better understand the world around us, the language to express the world inside us, and the motivation to drive change.
Katie (Chilly) Childers
I strongly feel that I was called to be a part of Kalon Prep Academy’s “Dream Team.” Blessed is an understatement of Chris taking a chance on me to impact Kalon in a positive way. I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher, however, I wanted to follow my own path, as my Mom is a stellar special education teacher and my Dad is an incredible retired business/sports marketing and work seminar teacher. I knew that health and physical education and/or special education is what I wanted to do. Before deciding to go back to school, I earned my health and fitness degree and have been in the fitness industry for over 10 years. I have been in education for 4 years now. I love being active, not just for the physical benefits, but the emotional and mental health benefits as well. I feel lucky to be a special education teacher as each student is unique and talented in their own way. I appreciate the trust that parents, students, and co-workers have in me to always do my best to meet the needs of each child. I will go to the end of the earth to ensure that each of my students and all students at Kalon feel seen, heard, and welcomed.
Fun facts About Me: I have a wonderful husband and two mini aussies, Jaxson and Harriet. I am an old soul at heart. I enjoy being around my family, working out and boxing, and photography. “Quality over quantity” is a quote that I have really embraced over the last 2.5 years as time with ones we love are never long enough.
Strengths: Relater, Individualization, Developer, Command, Competition
I have a passion for connecting with students and building strong relationships. I absolutely love working at Kalon Prep and have had the chance to work with some really awesome students.
Fun Facts About Me: I enjoy spending my free time with with my daughters, getting coffee with friends, and watching hockey.
Strengths: Input, Responsibility, Belief, Relator, Empathy
I am delighted to be invited to teach at Kalon Prep Academy! I recently retired from Alexandria High School where I taught music for 35 years. I graduated from Moorhead State University and earned a master’s degree in Choral Conducting from SCSU while working and raising a family in Alexandria.
Fun facts about me: If you see me in the summer, it will likely be on a lake. I love to draw. My cartoons, portraits, and illustrations have appeared in several noted local and national publications.
Strengths: Experience, Consistency, Dedication, Humor
I am so very proud and grateful to be a part of Kalon Prep Academy. I enjoy building relationships with students and learning about them while meeting their needs. I grew up in Southwest Minnesota, but have lived in the Alexandria area for over 20 years. The 2023-24 academic year is my 26th year in education, and I want to help students reach their goals and see their potential to succeed in life.
More than anything, I want to always be an authentic and passionate person. I love teaching. Connecting with kiddos and coaching them as they reach for all that they are on the cusp of grasping are the best parts of my job. I believe that being in a safe space–where we feel we belong, are accepted and respected–cultivates unbelievable growth. I look forward to growing with my students in just that kind of space at Kalon.
Fun facts about me: My husband and I were high school sweethearts and still adore each other over 20 years later 🙂 We have three amazing kiddos that bring loads of joy to our lives. We live just south of Carlos on a slice of the most beautiful green earth on the planet. Seeing the Milky Way in the night sky fills me with awe. Picking weeds is fabulously satisfying. Baboons will steal from you–they are especially fond of juice boxes.
Strengths: Achiever, Learner, Harmony, Intellection, Relator
Ellen Grossman has been working in the field of education for 17 years. She has served students in a variety of roles including behavior therapist, school psychologist, special education supervisor and positive behavior intervention and support coach. Ellen is currently serving students in the role of Director of Special Education. She has her doctorate in educational administration and leadership and is licensed as a special education director, k-12 principal and school psychologist. Ellen is committed to supporting the special education department and students at Kalon Prep. She is originally from the Brainerd Lakes Area and when not serving students she enjoys spending time with her husband and two young daughters.
I was asked to fill in at Kalon Prep for 11 days and almost a year later I am still here. In my 25 years working in various schools, Kalon is by far my favorite. The connections with students and the learning environment feels like being with family.
Fun facts about me: I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I love country music and attending concerts - especially outdoors in the summertime. I even met my husband, Tarin, at a concert. A relaxing Saturday to me includes reading a book and drinking a cup of tea. A thrilling Saturday includes adventures such as skydiving!
Strengths: Communication, Responsibility, Discipline, Belief, Arranger
I am excited to deepen my purpose as a teacher and as a person. I am thrilled to be part of the building process of Kalon Prep Academy. Students call me “Mama Kor”. I want students to know that it’s not IF you are smart, it’s HOW you are smart.
Fun facts about me: I served in the military, following in the footsteps of my grandpa and mom. My husband has been in the military for 26 years and we have four kids. I love spending time outside, kayaking, and watching my chickens.
I am so thrilled to be a team member of Kalon Prep Academy! I am most excited to get to know the new students and having the opportunity to make a positive impact on the students and our community.
Fun facts about me: I grew up in Alexandria and graduated from Jefferson High School. In May 2021, I was blessed with the title “Mom” to my son Mac. I love being outside — especially hiking with my family.
College & Career Readiness Coordinator
I am super excited to be a part of Kalon’s Team that prioritizes supporting the whole student while making meaningful lasting connections. Focusing on how each individual student is uniquely wired with strengths, to be nurtured and supported, will help propel students on the path of becoming the best version of themselves. I love being in a small community and I’m a firm believer that caring adults are the secret sauce to changing life trajectories.
Fun facts about me: I grew up on a dairy farm north of Itasca State Park. I enjoy painting murals and I’ve been told that my homemade chocolate chip cookies are amazing.
Strengths: Empathy, Achiever, Connectedness, Developer, Belief
I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to work at Kalon Prep Academy. I am an English teacher by trade, but I don't believe that books hold all the keys to life's successes. To be a teacher is to be an advocator and guide to bring out the very best in each individual. I believe that every student has something great to offer, and I am so excited to be a part of a school that takes that to heart by actively putting students first.
Fun facts about me: I graduated from Jefferson High School here in Alexandria, but my teaching career began in the Twin Cities area. I recently moved back, trading the busy city life for backyard bonfires and stargazing. I love to be close to nature and explore new places, though sometimes the best place to be is at home playing video games with my best friend, two cats, and a hot cup of tea. Some of my favorite hobbies include epoxy resin crafting and playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends!
Strengths: Learner, Positivity, Intellection, Input, Restorative
The thing that excites me most about Kalon is the chance to start my teaching career at this brand new school. I just graduated from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, MN, and will have the unique opportunity to grow and develop alongside the school. I’m looking forward to the school year and can’t wait to meet the students!
Fun facts about me: I have a two-year-old orange tabby cat named Hamilton, I love to watch superhero movies and have seen all of the ones in the MCU at least three times. I’ve been on a backstage tour of a Broadway show called Farinelli and the King.”
Strengths: Harmony, Positivity, Empathy
At Kalon Prep Academy, I’m what you’d call the “behind-the-scenes” person. (My day starts after the kids & staff have left for the day.) As Custodian, I take great pride in providing a clean & safe environment for the kids, staff & visitors. Watching the Academy progress has been a fun & exciting adventure, I can’t wait to see what the future brings.
Fun Facts About Me: I grew up in Gibbon, MN… the youngest of 5 kids. As a kid in a small town, we always had to use our imagination & creativity to find things to do. Currently, I try to exercise that creativity with different DIY projects at home. When time allows, I enjoy being outside hiking, fishing, camping or spending time with family & friends.
Strengths: Achiever, Harmony, Responsibility, Deliberative, Consistency
I am very excited to join Kalon and am looking forward to building valuable relationships with all of the students, families, and co-workers. Helping others to build confidence in their abilities has always been at the forefront of my career and something that brings me joy.
Fun facts about me: I grew up in Alexandria. "Mrs. K" (Chris) was my 8th grade English teacher.
My wife and I have four children, two girls and two boys. They are busy kids that we enjoy chasing around to a variety of activities. I enjoy spending time outdoors, especially in the summer.
I am a graduate from Jefferson High School and the University of Minnesota - Morris, where I received my degree in Secondary Education. I am licensed in the Social Studies field and enjoy working in reading and writing. I enjoy being outdoors, being with friends and family, reading and working on projects.
I enjoy Kalon for the close knit and supportive atmosphere.
Strengths: Restorative, Ideation, Input, Responsibility, Intellection
I’m most excited to build relationships with students, believing in them so they can believe in themselves. Understanding where they are at and helping them get to where they want to go.
Fun Facts About Me: I enjoy anything that involves family. Traveling to national parks, watching sunrises, baking, canning vegetables or enjoying our pets are all my favorite things!
Strengths: Empathy, Harmony, Consistency, Developer, Responsibility
Kalon is a new movement! A relationships, strengths-based approach. We will strive to integrate education, mental health and fun in our daily activities. This is all exciting!
Fun facts about me: I prefer to eat in opposite order. I am not affected by caffeine. Between both of our boys, I have watched approximately 750 baseball games. I love enjoying our Minnesota lakes with friends, coffee dates, and spending time with family.
Strengths: Analytical, Ideation, Harmony, Intellection, Developer
Molly Swenson, MA LMFT
I am a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with over 20 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and families. For the last 10 years, I have worked in private practice serving clients ages 6 to 76, as well as providing intensive therapeutic services to adolescents in residential placements, including group homes and juvenile detention. Prior to this, I provided mental health therapy to students ages K-12 in six different school districts in central MN.
As a therapist, I am intentional with creating a comfortable and safe space for my clients to share and process personal thoughts, life events, stressors, worries, or traumas that have impacted their lives. Often these experiences can be overwhelming and keep us from recognizing our value and capabilities despite the challenges and hardships. The goal is for each individual to feel seen, heard, validated, and to move forward with confidence. I am committed to providing compassionate support and encouragement, empowering my clients to identify their core values, recognize their gifts, establish goals, embrace their self-worth, and chase their dreams.
About me: I am married and have one daughter who will be a freshman in college in fall 2022! Our family seems to stay busy no matter the season! We enjoy all-things water related: boating, floating, fishing, skiing, wakeboarding, swimming. We also enjoy golf, hiking, down hill skiing, attending sporting events, concerts, traveling, and spending time with our family, friends, and 9 lb. puppy (dog), Maizy. My favorite hobbies include reading, walking, shopping, yoga, & travel.
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist: MN Board of Marriage and Family Therapy; Master of Arts, Adler Graduate School: Counseling / Psychotherapy; Bachelor of Arts, Gustavus Adolphus College: Psychology, Criminal Justice
Born and raised in Southwestern Minnesota in a village called Florence. There are more students in Kalon Prep Academy than in Florence. I went to a one-room school for the first six grades. This intimate teacher/student relationship taught me the value of one-on-one interaction which I use in my teaching as much as possible. I joined the Army right after High School and spent twenty years all over the world. One of my commanders was Colonel John Abrams. The main battle tank is named for his father, General Abrams. He taught me my main job was to make sure I did not let the troops fail. I was to do all I could to insure the troops were successful. This has been my mantra ever since.
I look forward to teaching at Kalon because I will have the resources and support to make sure my students are successful. We are going to make math come alive and be meaningful to each student. It is going to be a great year!
The biggest thing that excites me about Kalon is getting to help students learn in new and exciting ways! Not everyone learns in the same ways and I can’t wait to learn how each student learns the best.
Fun facts about me: I have a cat named Blaze who is one, I have eight younger siblings which is why I became a teacher, and my favorite pastime is sitting by a lake with a good book.