Our campus is open to all and our caring faculty and staff create a nurturing culture which reflected in how our students call their teachers by their first names. Our relationships are built on trust, honesty, and respect but also on love, fun, and sometimes even goofiness. With a student-teacher ratio of 5:1 every student gets the nurturing, and attention they deserve. And with the average years of teaching experience for our faculty being 15 years, our teachers have seen it all and can relate to just about anything.
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- Rosedale Bible College | AA
- EMU | BS in Health/Physical Education
- University of Iowa | MA in Counselor Education
- Morningside College | Adminstrative Endorsement
DWIGHT is known to the Hillcrest community for his unfortunate Cardinals fandom, his fantastic basketball coaching career, and his long tenure as Hillcrest Academy teacher then guidance counselor and athletic director turned principal. But this narrative misses one key ingredient: Dwight is also a wood worker and knows how to use a lathe. Who knew?! A hard-working, strong communicator, Dwight leads by listening and building relationships with students and staff–often through stories and humor. He sees God’s love every day through the smiles of those he meets and nature on his commute. He cares so much about the school that he’s often on the move. We hope one day the Internet and data will break down so he can have a relaxing day at the beach.
Rebecca Beachy MillerDirector of Enrollment
- Goshen College | BA in Business Adminstration
REBECCA was happy to get out of the house and join us as the new Director of Enrollment. She’s brought lots of energy and the desire to reconnect with our Hillcrest community in addition to building new relationships beyond the community. Rebecca has a lot of new ideas and was quick to reorganize the decor of our faculty lounge which had been somewhat neglected. She loves her husband and kids; they make her laugh and “do a lot of eye-rolling.” She sees beauty in her family, the trees and fields just outside her office window, and the family feel of Hillcrest Academy.
Theresa BlossomDirector of Finance
- Hesston College | AA
- Goshen College | BA in Business Adminstration
THERESA’s personality is in her name: she helps us blossom, of course! That’s why she’s at Hillcrest: to be a part of the lives of young adults at such a pivotal point in their growth toward adulthood. She keeps our finances in check and our office area balanced in her role as Director of Finance. When she’s not tromping across Europe with her family, she can be seen with them in their natural habitat: laughing heartily while quilting, sewing or watching a Marvel movie. She often wonders if sarcasm could be seen as an impressive skill and may be lobbying to categorize it as such.
Maria BoucherFood Services Manager
MARIA is the grandmama of Hillcrest. Not because of her age–she doesn’t look a day over 20–but because of her warm nature, patience, and tasty cinnamon rolls. She helps keep the school running by covering us with prayer and our tacos with spicy salsa (Taco Thursday is pretty much our favorite day of the week). A natural people person, Maria loves the “family-oriented” nature of Hillcrest and the “beautiful spirit of the kids.” Many students, especially those who work for her in the kitchen, come to see themselves as one of Maria’s kids. When they see her outside of school, she is more likely to hear, “Hi, mom” than “Hi, Maria.” She keeps our cafeteria seasonally decorated and our bellies eternally full. We love you, mom!
Sara BrennemanLearning Support
- Goshen College | BA in Physical Education and MA in Special Education
Tom CareySchool Counselor
- Briar Cliff University | BA in English/Secondary Education
- Wayne State College | MA in School Counseling
- University of Iowa | BA in Education, minor in Spanish
Tenemos un verso de la Biblia hoy? Is it Bible verse day? If you walk by the Spanish room, you might hear students asking that question to their teacher SIERRA. Sierra is known for her strong faith and storytelling ability. Verso de la Biblia days explore a Bible verse in Spanish which is accompanied by a story from Sierra about how God is working in the world. She loves sharing the Gospel through stories and seeing how those stories inspire her students. A bright presence at Hillcrest, Sierra can engage anyone in conversation and find joy in every situation. If we had senior superlatives for faculty, we’re pretty sure she would be Most Likely to Host an Inspirational Podcast.
Mitchell DreyHealth & Physical Education
- Iowa Wesleyan University | BS in Physical Education and MA in Management Leadership & Athletic Administration
MITCHELL has been arguing with teachers about their rules his whole life and now that he is one, he’s excited to see if making the rules himself works out better. A fan of cat videos and a semi-professional video game player, Mitchell says he would cry if the internet broke down. But the tears wouldn’t last long! He’d soon pick up a basketball or spend time staring at the love of his life: the ocean. Mitchell works hard to improve and loves the feeling of working toward that improvement. He’s a good-natured, fast-talking, newbie teacher and we’re glad he’s with us!
- University of Iowa | BA in Education
If you ever have a grammar question, ANDREA is your gal! She loves the Oxford comma, classic literature, and (most importantly) talking about Jesus. She was born an Okie from Muskogee, but grew up in the Wellman and Kalona area. She married her husband Mark in 1999. After graduating from the University of Iowa, she worked as a supervising teacher with the Mid-Prairie HSAP while homeschooling their three daughters. After a two-year stopover in western Iowa, the Farrier family moved to Guatemala for four years to serve as missionaries in an adult-education Bible school, a K-12 school, a women’s shelter, and an after-school program. They returned to the area in 2018 and moved to a lovely (but needy) old Amana home in fall of 2020. You will often find Andrea there hanging out with her family, gardening, doing home repair/renovation, and writing.
Joanna GonzalesFamily Consumer Science
- University of Caloocan City | BS in Secondary Education and Technology and Livelihood Education
- Bulacan State University | MA in Technology and Livelihood Education
- National University | MA in Special Education
- William Penn University | BA in Biology, minor in Chemistry
- University of Northern Iowa | MA in Science Education
Once a teacher, always a teacher. After retiring from teaching at Oskaloosa High School in May of 2020, Hillcrest Academy is blessed to have MIKE join our team. He is famous for beginning tests with the direction of: “Explain the question from the molecular level to the macro level.” His thorough knowledge of and experience with creatively teaching the subject matter are assets which he brings to our Science Department. With Mike, it’s not all about teaching. Having eight grandchildren, he stays busy babysitting, attending sporting events, camping, birthday parties, going on canoe trips, kayaking, and driving to the afore-listed. He would say his granddaughters only visit him to eat his famous grilled cheese sandwiches and see “Mags”, his yellow labrador retriever. Each fall, after a summer of competing in as many 3-D archery shoots as possible, you will find him sitting in a tree stand with his trusty Bear compound bow. Mikes says, “The solitude gives me time to feel God’s presence in His nature.” He bought his first archery deer hunting license when he was sixteen and seldom misses a season. This love for archery led to him being the advisor for (the first in the nation), high school Pheasants Forever Chapter.
- Goshen College | BA in Art Education
Art Teacher BRYN brings such a thoughtful, kind presence to Hillcrest – you’d never know he was a secret rocker and Jim Gaffigan fan. If you see him in the Hillcrest hallways and strike up a chat about faith and art, go ahead and pull up a chair, and perhaps a coffee, because you’re about to have a stimulating conversation. An adventurer at heart, Bryn’s imagination is wide, his love for art is deep, and his ability to scale rocks in the southwest is something we’ll have to take his word for. He knows more about his personality than most people know about the back of their hand and believes eating injera with his family is about the best thing in the world . . . and he has the best high school photo of all our faculty and staff.
Sheri MartinLearning Support
- Iowa Central Community College | AA
SHERI‘s first experience working with groups of children (other than her own family) was she used to breed and raise Half Arabian horses and was co-leader for her daughters 4-H group. But boy, are we glad she decided to step out of her comfort zone to attend the Richard Shrake clinic on horsemanship because it taught her confidence in herself (and her abilities as a rider), and a leader. Leadership qualities, that she now uses at Hillcrest, providing learning support for our middle schoolers. But that’s not the most exciting thing. Being part of the clinic, even though she rode horses all her life, she had the opportunity to do a flying dismount off my horse while the horse is in full gallop mode. When Sheri’s not at Hillcrest, in the summer you can find her in a kayak on a lake somewhere or maybe in her garden. In the Fall, which is her favorite time of year, she hopes to see some of you on the nature trails that she has yet to explore.
Ledru MillerCampus & Facilities Manager
LEDRU married his high school sweetheart – both part of the Class of ’98. What’s the big deal with that, a lot of people do that? The difference here is that he and his wife, Annette were born on the same day, at the same hospital. His future father-in-law even noted in his journal that he saw Ledru’s parents heading into the hospital as he was going to get the rest of the family to meet Annette. Ledru loves history podcasts and audio books which he used to consume in larger quantities when he was a painter. A member of the 1998 Fall Soccer State Championship team, he still loves to play soccer in various leagues, along with watching the English Premier League. And he’s not listening to a podcast or watching a soccer game, he’s tuned into Pat and Ron call a Cubs game.
Laurie MillerAdminstrative Assistant
If you see a bright, smiling face in the office with a look that says “I’d really like a good hug” you probably have just met our LAURIE. She is an alumna and is excited to return: “It is an amazing school and has not only impacted my life, but really has a positive impact on the students’ lives as well. I’m excited to get to know the students and staff at a deeper level!” she says. Although part-time at Hillcrest, Laurie is busy full-time raising three boys and breeding Goldendoodles on their farm. She experiences God in the beauty of nature and enjoys spending time outside with her family. We haven’t seen it in action yet, but we hear she can also talk with her mouth closed.
- Simpson College | BA in Mathematics & Spanish
- Viterbo University | MA in Education
NATE comes [back] to Hillcrest Academy with a boatload of teaching experience. The ’96 grad taught math at Ritenour High School in St. Louis from 2000-2004 and at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids from 2004 to 2022. When he’s not in the classroom, he often works on home improvement projects with his dad on the farm he grew up on just a few miles north of campus. Nate is very involved in his church and also spends a lot of time watching OR coaching his 3 sons in the various sporting events they are participating in. His wife Stacy, is also an alumna and together they enjoy traveling as much as they can. Both are lifelong Iowa Hawkeye and St. Louis Cardinals fans and they feel fortunate to be able to attend several games each year.
Marcus MillerSocial Studies
- EMU | BS in American History
- Temple University | MA in History
Santa Claus, boys’ soccer coach, wood worker, gardener, solar panel installer, bus driver, and RAGBRAI finisher: all of these are accurate descriptors of the Hillcrest Academy Social Studies teacher, MARCUS. As a Wellman Library Board member, he is so well-read that he captained and won first place with the Hillcrest Academy trivia team at a library fundraiser (more than once!). Marcus cultivates the love of learning in his students like he cultivates his beard: with care and a concentrated effort. He sees beauty in the “ground fog of low lying land”, flowers, and a bald eagle he often sees flying over the English River on his drive to work, but he does have the amazing ability to get lost even while using a GPS . . . which he calls “exploring.”
Chris NachtigallActivities Director
- Hesston College | AA
- Iowa Wesleyan University | BA in Sports Management
- Concordia University | MA in Coaching & Athletic Administration
Like a boomerang, CHRIS has returned to the Ravens team after 9 years away. A people-oriented person, Chris loves connecting with people of all ages in conversations and on and off the court. As a father, coach, and part-timer remodeler, Chris stays busy working and playing. It gives him joy to see others achieve success after he’s worked with them on something. From Chris’ perspective, sports, arts, and activities create those kinds of opportunities for success and life lessons. He sees Hillcrest as an opportunity to continue to keep Christ at the center of his career and life. We’re glad he circled back to our team!
- Rosedale Bible College | AA
- William Penn University | BA in Secondary English Education
If you see something hopping in a classroom at Hillcrest Academy, don’t worry. It’s nothing abnormal, just one of our English teachers, BRYAN, jumping with excitement for his content. Bryan is chock full of passion for Jesus, books, and student “aha” moments. His faith is why he chose Hillcrest: “Jesus intrigues me,” he says.. “His teachings both challenge and invite. His way of life is startlingly vibrant. . . . I love that we seek to follow him together at Hillcrest Academy.” A writer at heart, Bryan observes the world carefully and so discovers beauty in small moments from a sip of fresh coffee to a quiet conversation with God to a well-phrased sentence that a student just wrote. And if the internet were to crash tomorrow? No problem! Bryan would find a good book or shoot some hoops or play with his kids and be content.
Jeremy OursDirector of Advancement
- EMU | BS in Biology, Pre-Medicine
Early to bed and early to rise makes this “Jack of all Trades” who he is and getting a daily dose of The Andy Griffith Show helps to give his life perspective. JEREMY is a Renaissance Man with an old soul that is as vintage as the Land Cruiser he drives. A communicator, bookworm, designer, cyclist, husband, and father, just don’t ask him to play a board game. He’s an INTJ which primes his go-getter and proactive attitude toward most things in life. Jeremy brings energy to his role and loves being a part of the long history, tradition, and culture of Hillcrest. So much so, he married a 1993 grad.
Mike Severino-PattersonScience & Agriculture
- Oberlin College | BS in Biology & BA in Anthropology
- University of Iowa | MA in Education
If you were stranded on an island and could choose only one Hillcrest faculty to be with you, you would want Biology MIKE for three reasons: he’d help you avoid poisonous plants, is “pretty good with a machete” (we think he’s being modest here), and is just a really nice guy. A nature enthusiast, Mike and his classes can be found outside more often than inside a classroom. He loves “exploring the beauty and complexity of God’s creation with students” and spending time with his wife and two daughters. He and his family spend summers in Ecuador where his wife’s family lives and where he learned to speak Spanish and Kichwa. When back in the states, he keeps our campus greenhouse, compost system, and FFA club running.
It’s a beautiful morning at Hillcrest: the birds are chirping, the sun is rising over the low fog of the Joetown hills, and Custodian MIKE (not to be confused with Biology Mike or Chemistry Mike) is already hard at work. Mike is our house morning person; while some of us might require coffee before perking up, Mike is not one of those folks. He feels that every day is lucky because “God has given it to me.” With a cheery smile, he will always ask you how your day is going or how your weekend was. We love it when he has a birthday or anniversary because he frequently brings in treats for the whole staff. We’ve learned a lot about Ukranian culture and food (yummy!) from Mike. He’s crazy about his kids, wife, and landscaping and keeps things running smoothly at Hillcrest. He loves that we have chapel every day and can talk about the Bible in every class. We couldn’t do it without him!
Angela SnakenbergBusiness & Technology
- Northwestern College | BA in Business Education
“Kids Say the Darndest Things” is not just an ABC TV show–it’s the subtitle of ANGELA’s life. Angela splits her time between beefing up the Hillcrest Business Department and caring for her two adorable children. A mama at heart, she adds a warm energy to the Hillcrest faculty. When not with her kids or students, Angela can be found crafting or gardening. We are glad she joined us this year even if we can’t push Fareway shopping carts as impressively as her two-year-old and four-year-old.
Beth SwantzSixth Grade
- University of Iowa | BA in Elementary Education
- Graceland University | MA in Education
- University of Iowa | MA in Library Science
BETH is the other half of the sixth grade teaching team. You might say she’s the Batman to Megan’s Robin. She’s been a teacher for 35 years, first 4th graders, then teaching other teachers, and now back in the classroom with our 6th graders. One of the 4th graders Beth taught is now our Administrative Assistant, LeeAnn and currently she’s teaching her niece and great nephew in 6th grade. Beth is an alumni who married her high school sweetheart and both come from a long line of grads along with their children who are also alumni. When Mrs. Swantz isn’t at school, you will likely find her being called ‘Nana’ by her two grandkids. She’s not able to speak Spanish or French or German, but she does know sign language and hope to teach her students.
- Olivet Nazarene University | BM in Music Education
With the motto of “Life is no dress rehearsal,” so make each day count! MIKAYLA is a music and drama enthusiast who does a lot of singing but also does some talking on the side. Her goal as a music teacher is for her students to feel confident in themselves through music and be confident in the music they produce. She aspires for a classroom of connection and fellowship through praising God with music making. Her energetic and positive mindset keeps her going throughout the day . . . plus her three daily cups of coffee. When she’s not in the classroom she’s spending time with her family, including her mom who’s a 1988 grad and trying (what else) new coffee shops.
Megan WalshSixth Grade
- University of Northern Iowa | BA in Elementary Education
MEGAN is half of the sixth grade teaching team, trailblazing the way in 2023 as Hillcrest opened it’s doors to the new Middle School. She’s a huge Swiftie and seeing Taylor Swift in concert was an INCREDIBLE experience. Unlike rooting for the Minnesota Twins, in a town she lived and worked in while in college. But one team she is looking forward to rooting for is the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick stadium as a season ticket holder. When she’s not listening to music or cheering from the stands, you’ll find her hanging out with her best friend, a three year old Lhasa Apso named Wilson or in the kitchen. She’s a very amateur chef and baker and says, ⅔ of the time, her food is great 100% of the time.
Corben Weaver BoshartBible
- EMU | BA in Biblical Studies/Peace Building
- Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary | MA
After fifteen years of wandering across North America, CORBEN has discovered that there’s just no place quite like Iowa . . . and no school quite like Hillcrest. With an exuberant teaching style and a penchant for quiet contemplation, Corben brings a unique pastoral background to his role as our Bible teacher. He’s not just about teaching scripture; he’s about nurturing spiritual growth in our students, helping them find patterns and themes in scripture, and forming biblically rooted disciples. When he’s not leading engaging discussions in the classroom, you can often find him on the soccer field, where his love for the game shines as brightly as his passion for teaching.
Jane Widmer YoderLibrarian
- Hesston College | AA
- Goshen College | BA in English
- University of Iowa | MA in Library Science
If you see someone wearing a sock on their hand, it’s our good friend and librarian, JANE. (The sock is a creative way to dust her many bookshelves) An avid gardener, reader, walker, traveler (ask her about riding her bike across Europe in the 70s) and volunteer, Jane exudes balance, calm, and occasionally some sarcasm. Spending time in nature connects her to God and moments “when people are silly and don’t realize it” make her laugh. Jane sees the good in people and loves Hillcrest because of the “wonderful people and the exposure to many different subject areas.”