• Niles New Tech Facilitators and Directors

    Facilitators at Niles New Tech are highly qualified educators who hold advanced degrees in their subject areas and have also received intensive training in project-based learning through the New Tech Network.  Niles New Tech facilitators spend hundreds of hours creating relevant projects that not only connect learners with their community and world, but cover rigorous curriculum that exceeds the expectations of the common core standards.  Facilitators serve as guides, content experts, and research specialists.  They also create a studio that empowers learners to become experts themselves. 



    Erik West

    With passion and abundant energy, Mr. West enters his second year at Niles New Tech and is excited to build upon the accomplishments of this past year in 9th grade mathematics. In 2011, Mr. West graduated from the University of Michigan, where he earned his degree in Business Administration and served as the Head Manager for the Michigan Football team. Upon graduation, he moved to Chicago working in the corporate sector until he accepted a position as a math teacher in Honduras. After spending one year teaching in Honduras, he came back to the U.S. where he pursued his Master's in the Art of Teaching from Western Michigan University. He is actively engaged in athletics and currently serves as a football coach for Niles. Mr. West's business and international experiences influence his lens of mathematics and he hopes to incorporate its real world applications even further this upcoming school year.

    Nikki Brown
    Nikki Brown is currently in her twelfth year teaching at Niles Community Schools. 
    She earned her Bachelor's degree in Special Education from Indiana University and her Master's degree in Guidance and Counseling from Andrews University. 
    She continues to be "excited about teaching 21st century skills through project-based learning," and "enjoys collaborating with the New Tech team."
    Matt Pagano
    Mr. Pagano is beginning his third year at Niles New Tech after three years of teaching biology at Elkhart Memorial. He earned a B.S. in biology at Hillsdale College in addition to a M.A. in Secondary Education at University of Phoenix. In addition to his academic accomplishments, Mr. Pagano also brings varsity coaching experience from Elkhart Memorial High School. Moreover, Mr. Pagano is "values the opportunity to work with such a dynamic staff and closely collaborate to make each other better and the learning experience more dynamic for the learners." 
    Brad Paquette
    Courtney Dwyer

    Ms. Dwyer started teaching ceramics at Niles High School in the fall of 2010 after four years teaching Art outside of Niles Community Schools. For the last four years, Ms. Dwyer has served as a facilitator at New Tech in the BioArt studio. She holds a B.A. in K-12 Art Education from Sienna Heights University and is currently midway through her M.A. Ed. in Educational Leadership. Ms. Dwyer is enthused about "being part of a team that develops challenging projects" that will challenge learners "to take responsibility for their learning and be accountable to themselves and others around them."

    Danae Rossman

    Ms. Rossman is a facilitator in the Math Math studio and excited about beginning her third year at Niles New Tech.  She graduated from Michigan State University with a B.S. in mathematics and a minor in chemistry.  Her education at Michigan State has helped her learn the importance of instilling in each learner a desire for life-long learning through applying content to relevant, real-life situations.  She uses her passion for mathematics to engage learners in developing college and career-ready skills such as critical thinking, work ethic, communication, and collaboration.  She has also helped coach is the track and basketball programs.

    Emily Krassow
    With a B.A. degree in secondary English and Secondary Education from Valparaiso University, Mrs. Krassow has taught English for 7 years along with her experience as a varsity cheerleading coach and Reading Apprenticeship teacher trainer.  She is a proud wife to her husband, Jason, and they are blessed parents of their adventurous 2 year old son, Carter.  Mrs. Krassow is returning for her second year at New Tech and is excited to continue her work in the American Studies Studio, and she is a true believer in the PBL process.  "I am excited to watch these learners grow into confident young men and women equipped with the skills to make meaningful contributions to their community," and she is "proud to be NNT."
    Maria Culbertson

    Mrs. Culbertson is starting her third year at Niles New Tech, with a prior year of teaching experience at South Lyon High School on the east side of the state. Mrs. Culbertson has a B.S. in Secondary Social Studies with a double minor in History and Psychology. She is certified to teach all Social Studies subjects and Psychology. She loves to travel and discover different cultures along with sharing her experiences with the learners and encourage their appreciation of cultures around the world.  Recently, Mrs. Culbertson traveled to the Dominican Republic with a group of learners on a service learning project.

    Email: maria.culbertson@nilesnewtech.org
    Kristin Adams-Bondy
    Mrs. Adams-Body joins New Tech for her fourth year of teaching after teaching English at the college level for four years.  She earned a B.S. majoring English in secondary schools while minoring in history.  Additionally, she earned a M.A. in literature from Eastern Michigan University. Theatre is an extracurricular activity Mrs. Bondy enjoys.  She is passionate about the New Tech model being the future of education and she loves working with young people to help them find their voices.  She has also directed the theater group the past two years.

    Jacob Verschueren
    Mr. Verschueren is starting his teaching career at Niles New Tech this year as a Scientific Modeling facilitator. He graduated from Hope College in May of 2016 with a bachelor's degree in Physics and Mathematics. Mr. Verschueren is thrilled to have the chance to work with learners on projects that involve their interests and the interests of the community. He plans to use his passion for physics to encourage his learners to become curious, thoughtful, analytical problem solvers. 
    Email:  jacob.verschueren@nilesnewtch.org
    Kristine Cooney
    Ms. Cooney is beginning her second year at Niles New Tech. She holds B.A. degrees from Michigan State University in History, Sociology, and Communicative Sciences and Disorders with certifications in history, social studies, English, and sociology. This year she is a Civic Lit and Modern Humanities facilitator for the juniors and senior learners at New Tech. With her passion for the humanities and social studies, she engages learners in relevant projects, to develop skills for learners to be conscious, critical, and contributing members of the world in which they live.
     Nic Hawley

    Nic Hawley

    Mr. Hawley looks forward to his fourth year facilitating at Niles New Tech and ninth year with Niles Community Schools. He has a B.A. from Aquinas College and is certified to teach Social Studies, Health, and Physical Education courses. Additionally, he has a M.A. in Educational Leadership from Grand Valley State University. Mr. Hawley enjoyed the opportunity of serving a fundamental role in nourishing the first graduating class the past three years and looks forward to their stories of success and growth in college and career. As a New Tech Network Certified Teacher and Trainer as well as a Network Advocate, he values the importance of building rapport with the learners through new techniques to deepen understanding for knowledge and thinking in addition to fostering life lessons demonstrating 21st century skills toward their journey as an ideal graduate. Mr. Hawley is actively involved in multiple facets within the school and district, serving as a coach, mentor, Yearbook coordinator, and Class of 2019 Class Sponsor. This adaptability allows him to look at multiple avenues to best service our learners which recently included a service learning trip to the Dominican Republic. Also, he enjoys showcasing school spirit and Viking Pride with his friend, Viktor the Viking.

    Catherine Tanck
    Ms. Tanck is beginning her teaching career as a math facilitator in the Scientific Modeling studio. She graduated from Hope College with a B.A. in Math Education and a minor in Psychology Education. Ms. Tanck is excited to explore project-based learning while instilling in her students a deep theoretical understanding of mathematics through real world applications. She hopes that through Scientific Modeling, her students will become better critical thinkers and creative problem solvers.
    Bill Prenkert
    Mr. Prenkert is a life long resident of Niles. He graduated from Niles in 1979 and attended Western Michigan University to major in Marketing, Advertising and General Business. He work for 26 years in the Business world before taking his knowledge and experiences into the educational field. He earned his Masters Degree in Career and Technical Education and is currently working on his Principal  Certification from the State of Michigan. He worked the first 4 years in education helping the district institute, and acted as a Team Leader, for the Alternative Education Program know as W-A-Y Niles. He is truly excited to begin his second year with the New Tech program and loves the collaboration and projects developed in the Health/Wealth class. He loves to see the imagination and ideas the learners create and how their connection to the community grows throughout the year.
    Jami Foster
     Ms. Foster has taught in the Niles School district for 20 years.  During her tenure with the school district she has taught at several elementary schools and traditional high school before joining the New Tech Team.  Ms. Foster holds a B.S Degree from Grand Valley State University and is certified to teach K-12 Health/Physical Education/Recreation, K-6 classroom and holds a 6-8 Reading endorsement.  She earned her Master’s degree in the Art of Teaching.  Ms. Foster is currently the Girls Cross Country Coach and in previous years was the head girl’s volleyball and track and field coach.  Ms. Foster enjoys facilitating in a building where trust, respect and responsibility are the core values taught as well as teaching students how to live a healthy life physically, mentally and socially through project-based learning.

    Christopher Van Kampen
    Mr. Van Kampen is a new facilitator in the 11th and 12th grade Math studio.  He graduated from Hope College with a B.A. and is certified to teach Math and Special Education.  Mr. Van Kampen is excited to get to know the learners and spark interest in the field of mathematics using project-based learning.  His goal is to create a positive learning environment for the learners and to grow along with them throughout the year.
    Email: christopher.vankampen@nilesnewtech.org 
    Mike Vota

    Assistant Director Mr. Vota has been with the Niles Community Schools for a total of 17 years in which he has served as a biology teacher, biology facilitator, Pbl Coach, and now Assistant Director.  Mr Vota came to New Tech in the inaugural year as a biology facilitator as he saw it as a chance to be a leader in educational reform in the Niles Community.  “We have a responsibility, as educators, to prepare our learners for success in college and career and this, more than ever, requires a unique skill set.  Through the New Tech experience, we are able to provide and assess the 21st century tools necessary for our learners to become the future leaders both locally and globally.”  Mr. Vota obtained his B.S. degree from Towson University in Baltimore, Md. and his Master’s Degree in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove College.  He also continues to serve as the varsity baseball coach, a job he has had in the district for 18 years. Mr. Vota enjoys the challenge of working everyday in the dynamic environment that New Tech provides and values the work done by Mr. Holtgren and all the facilitators.  “The entire New Tech staff is dedicated to getting the learners everything that they need to have success in life.  The staff is passionate about being the best school for learning and continually works hard to become the best.

    Jerry Holtgren
    Mr. Holtgren has served as the director of Niles New Tech for the past four years.  Prior to taking the role as the director, Mr. Holtgren served as an English facilitator at Niles New Tech and has been part of Niles Community Schools for 19 years.  He earned his B.A. Degree in English Education from Bethel College and his Master’s Degree from Grand Valley State University.  Most recently, Mr. Holtgren completed his Administrative Certification from the Michigan Association on Secondary School Principals.  He is passionate about education and works to expand innovative educational opportunities for all students by serving, along with Mr. Vota, as a speaker and trainer in project-based learning.  “Learning needs to be applicable.  By providing opportunities to create, collaborate, research, think, interact with content, attend college while in high school, and connect with business partners, learning becomes relevant, real, and enduring.” 

    Email: jerry.holtgren@nilesnewtech.org