Teachers & Staff



Visit our Careers page to apply to join West Side Summit’s team of passionate, innovative, and mission-driven educators!

Meet the West Side Summit staff…

Elementary School


Hello, my name is Jennifer Sarff and I’m extremely excited for this to be my second year at West Side Summit. I absolutely love this school, community and scholars. I graduated from Metropolitan State University in 2013 with an Urban Education Degree. I have taught many grades in the past years but I love kindergarden the most. A little about me, I have a two year old daughter who is so amazing and funny and also two crazy dogs. I have a cute, old pug named Kasey-Jones and a huge, red fox lab named Stella. I recently got engaged and am excited for the new year!

First Grade

Hi! My name is Natalie Renschen. This will be my second year at West Side Summit as well as my second year of teaching. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a B.S. in Elementary Education. After graduating in 2016, I moved to St. Paul and spent a year substitute teaching until I found West Side Summit. When I’m not teaching, I love cooking, running, listening to music, and spending time with my friends and family.


Second Grade

Hello! My name is Jessica Backus. It’s my second year teaching 2nd grade at West Side Summit! I graduated from Metro State with a degree in Elementary Education. I love teaching 2nd grade and all the exploring, learning, and fun we get to have! In my free time I enjoy shopping, baking, yoga, swimming, and spending time with my friends and family. I’m excited for another round of fun this year at West Side Summit and look forward to meeting all of my new students!


Third Grade

Hi Friends! My name is Angel Crowley and I am one of the 3rd grade teachers at West Side. I started my undergraduate studies at the College of Saint Benedict where I played hockey, but then ended up transferring to Metropolitan State. I am so excited to have the opportunity to learn and grow with our wonderful scholars at West Side. Outside of school, I am obsessed with hockey and coach a U12 team in New Hope. I also love fitness and spend a little too much time at Lifetime fitness. Every Sunday I spend at a hip hop class which is very fun. I live in New Brighton with my wife Katie, our Great Dane puppy Brewer, our Black Lab puppy Dallas, and our 3 kitties Popper, Marli, and Spartan. We love all animals, and certainly have a busy household. I am so excited to be on board at West Side and I look forward to meeting all of you.

Fourth Grade

Hello! My name is Erin Holly and I am thrilled to be teaching at West Side Summit! I graduated from UW- River Falls in 2003 with a degree in Elementary Education but rather than immediately taking a teaching position, I started coaching gymnastics. I intended to only coach for one year, but ended up loving it and continued to coach for the next 14 years. I was missing the classroom and the diversity of students (I only coached girls!) so I resigned my coaching position last year and got happily got back into teaching. I live in Hudson, WI, with my fiance, John, and two beloved children, Natalie (11) and Brady (9). We share our home with a dog, two cats, and a very cranky chameleon. 🙂 I continue in the gymnastics realm as a judge, which takes up most of my weekends in the fall and winter! In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, running, yoga, playing pranks on my kids ;), and curling up on the couch with a good book.

Middle School

8th Grade Homeroom,
5th – 8th Grade Social Studies

middle-school-2My name is Jeremy Harder and I am super excited to be returning to West Side Summit for my 3rd year! The energy and character of my students and families and West Side Summit staff is what keep me coming back year after year. I have been a teacher for 11 years, after graduating from The University of Minnesota Duluth. I was married to my beautiful wife Denise in May of this year and am a lifelong Green Bay Packers’ fan. Denise loves that I play in several fantasy football leagues.


7th Grade Homeroom,
5th – 8th Grade Language Arts

Hello, my name is Anna Poltrack and I’m extremely excited to be working at West Side Summit this school year! I found my way here thanks to Teach for America, and I couldn’t be happier. I recently graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in English and film, and a concentration in creative writing. I’m really looking forward to bringing my passion for literature, film, and storytelling into the classroom! In my free time you will find me writing fiction, playing ukulele, or watching Star Trek.


6th Grade Homeroom,
5th – 8th Grade Math

Hello, My name is Julia Stenzel! This is my first year teaching at West Side Summit and I am excited to be a part of the new middle school program as the 5-8 math teacher! I graduated from Winona State University. In my spare time I love to read, be outdoors, go to antique shops and flea markets, and spend time with friends and family. I also love to travel and have been an intern working with children in Jamaica four times with a fifth, shorter trip in the planning stages. I am excited for the school year and look forward to the learning and many adventures ahead!


5th Grade Homeroom,
5th – 8th Grade Science

My name is Ms. Sell. This will be my first-year teaching at West Side Summit and I am super excited to be joining the team. I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Neuroscience and Cognitive Development and I am currently working towards a Masters in Teaching at St. Mary’s. I only recently moved to Minnesota from Michigan, so I’m still trying to find my way around. In my free time I enjoy taking my dog for walks (although I do most of the walking) and biking!



Academic Intervention, K-8
5th Grade Homeroom

I am Melanie Niewendorp, but you can call me Mrs. Niew, and I have the privilege of working with all the kiddos at WSS as the Academic Interventionist. How lucky am I?! I graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN and started teaching in 2004. I REALLY like school, so I went back and earned my Masters from Hamline University in 2012. I live in St. Paul with my husband, Joe, and our little pup pup, Weasley. In my spare time I enjoy reading (especially the Harry Potter series over and over again), spending time in the city with my adorable little family, hanging out with friends, playing games, and just having fun. I LOVE working with the amazing scholars at WSS. Their joy, passion, and all-around excitement make this place so incredibly special. I cannot imagine working anywhere else.


Physical Education and Health

Hello, my name is Kristi Moua. This is my second year teaching Physical Education, and my second year teaching at West Side Summit. I graduated from Hamline University in 2014. Previous to joining WSS, I both tutored and taught elementary aged students in St. Paul and abroad. I’ve also worked for nonprofits focused on promoting healthy lifestyles, and as an EMT for the city of St. Paul. In my free time, I love to travel, cook, play Ultimate Frisbee, and beat my partner in a game (or two) of cribbage.


Art Education

Hello there! My name is Jenny Bonnell. This is my first year at West Side Summit, and I’m very excited to join the team! I graduated from Luther College with a degree in Fine Art and a minor in K-12 Art education. This will be my 4th year teaching. I taught 2 years in Iowa in an elementary, middle and high school. Then made my way back to Minnesota to long term sub in Edina for a bit before I came across West Side Summit! In my free time you can find me drawing, painting, cooking, being outside, and spending time with friends and loved ones. I can’t wait to see what this year brings!


English Language Development, K-8

english-lang-devMy name is Robin Slaman. I have a B.A. in english literature from the University of South Carolina and did my licensure work at Hamline University. I also studied linguistics at Arizona State University’s Graduate school before moving to Minnesota in 2007. I studied teaching English as a second language at Hamline University from 2012-2015 while working as a substitute teacher for Minneapolis Public Schools. I started at West Side Summit in 2015, teaching English Language Learners. In my free time I like to tend to my garden, read Star Wars novels and make sure my 2nd grader does his homework.


Special Education Teacher, K-3rd

special-edMy name is Cassondra Rahn. I graduated from St. Cloud State with a degree in special education. I later earned my masters from St. Mary’s University. I have been teaching special education since 2004 with a primary focus in autism and developmental disabilities, but have worked with all categories. I recently joined the West Side Summit team and love the staff and students! In my spare time I love spending time with my husband, playing softball, singing karaoke, and hanging with friends and family!


Special Education Teacher, 4th Grade

Hello! My name is Eric Rhody and I am very excited to be returning for another year at West Side Summit! I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth with a degree in Integrated Elementary and Special Education in the fall of 2017. I spent the second half of last year teaching 4th grade at WSS but I will be transitioning this year into special education. I am extremely grateful that my degree gave me the flexibility to teach in both general and special education classrooms. I have spent time in a wide variety of different learning environments, including charter schools in The Bronx and Brooklyn in New York City. I am a firm believer in the philosophy that every child can learn and am looking forward to fostering that environment wherever I can this year. In my free time I enjoy fishing, spending time with family and friends, and watching the Minnesota Vikings break my heart on Sundays in the fall.”


Special Education Teacher, 5th-8th Grade

Hi! My name is Nicole Glickman. This will be my first year teaching at West Side Summit and my first year teaching Special Education. I graduated from the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities) in 2007 with my B.S. in Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences and I am currently working on my master’s degree in Special Education through Bemidji State University. I am a former Preschool Teacher and found my passion in special education while working as a Special Education Paraprofessional. I enjoy spending time with my husband and our two daughters, they are 7 and 4. I also love photography, reading, and doing crafty things. I was introduced to WSS by my older brother, Mr. H., and fell in love with the amazing community. I am so excited to be joining such an awesome team at WSS!

Student Support Specialist and Transportation Supervisor

My name is Leon Roberts I am a happy-go-lucky, 24/7 person. I love meeting new people and having great conversations. I am married to my beautiful wife Carla and have been married for five years this past March. I have been working with children for over 15 years. Part of that time I drove school buses for a number of schools including for the Minneapolis and Saint Paul Public Schools. I was recently at Higher Ground Academy were I served as their Transportation Director & Safety Supervisor. I currently attend Minneapolis Community Technical College in Minneapolis and soon will be transferring to Metro State University in Saint Paul. I love bike riding, working out at the gym, listening to gospel and jazz as well as classical music. I am excited to be here at West Side Summit Charter School and can’t wait for the school year to start up. I am excited to be working with great parents, scholars, teachers and staff here at the school. Go West Side Mountain Lions!!!



Hello, my name is Zita Thelen and I am the new receptionist to West Side Summit. I am married and have three kids. My oldest child is Maricio who is 23 and he just graduated from Augsburg College. My oldest daughter Maricella, who is 18, graduated from high school this year. My youngest daughter, Angelita attends West Side Summit and she is 12. I also have a dog named Luna and a Cockatiel bird named Chico. I enjoy spending time with my family and am super excited about being a part of West Side Summit.


Lead Education Assistant

Ryan (Mr. M): I’m looking forward to my second year here at West Side Summit, and first full year of being the Lead EA. Though I’m a licensed teacher, I’ve found the role of EA to be incredibly rewarding, challenging, and fun. The 20182019 school year will be my 11th year working as an Educational Assistant. When not at WSS, I enjoy reading, going on very long walks, cooking and baking, playing vintage base ball (no gloves!), watching and playing hockey, and going to local professional wrestling events. If you see me in the hallways at WSS – I’m known to give great high fives!

Education Assistant

I’m Justin Wilson I’ve been working as a paraprofessional for the last 3 school years at WSS. My goal for this upcoming school year is to continue building a great relationship with the students and staff members. We are all one big happy family here at WSS. My hobbies are being a DJ in my spare time and going to different sporting events around the city.

Education Assistant

Hello! I am Mr. Nicolas Lopez and I am an Educational Assistant at West Side Summit entering my fourth year at West Side Summit. During my free time, I like cooking and running. My native language is French. I am excited for another great year with WSS scholars.




Education Assistant

Hello! My name is Lauren I am excited to be returning to West Side Summit for my second year. I graduated from Missouri Baptist University with a degree in Human Services. I also played lacrosse throughout my college career. In my free time I enjoy coaching the women’s Varsity Lacrosse team at Eagan High School. I am looking forward to another awesome year at WSS.

Meal Assistant and School Custodian

Hi my name is Monique Williams and I am the Meal Assistant here at West Side Summit! Some fun facts about me are that I like arts and crafts and I love fashion.

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