Teacher Bios

Nichole Smith

Nichole and her husband began homeschooling because they wanted their children to learn who they were and what an amazing Lord we have. She also wanted her children to have the freedom to learn in a way that fit their unique personalities and to enable them to reach their highest potential. With a background in Engineering, Aviation and a Master of Science in Safety, Mrs. Smith has always enjoyed teaching math and science. She brings a unique blend of science and inspiration to the classroom - always seeking ways to apply math concepts practically. 

Nichole spent many years as a flight instructor, teaching people from diverse backgrounds to become professional pilots and instructors. It was homeschooling, and having children with learning disabilities coupled with amazing gifts, that gave her a true love for creative teaching. She has enjoyed tutoring students in math from middle school to college level for many years. She has taught math and science in co-ops, as well as spending several years teaching high school math in private schools. 

I love the moment after explaining a concept, sometimes four different ways, when a student's eyes light up and they say, “Oh, I get it!”.  I really want students to understand why we learn math and how it will help them in life.  In the classroom I do my best to tie math concepts to real world examples and purposes.  I also tie in historical references for perspective and biblical examples of mathematics.  I believe science and math are gifts from God to help us understand the amazing world He has created for us.


Rachel Worcester

Rachel Worcester is a home school mom with a passion to see her children walking in love, living with integrity, and well prepared for the future. As the mother of 11 children, she has been actively home schooling for the past 20 years. She absolutely loves teaching, especially her favorite subjects--Language Arts and Bible.

Rachel has been teaching composition, predominately classical composition, in a co-op setting for the past ten years. During that time, she has taught grade school grammar, junior high writing,  junior level composition/ grammar,  speech, college prep composition and advanced placement writing composition class. In addition, Mrs. Worcester has added an English Lit, and an America Lit course, combined with a world view and perspectives course. She has an upbeat, interactive teaching style intended to reach all learning types. She is able to break the complexities of English down into bite-size components that are more easily grasped,  

As a strong advocate for classic literature, I was grieved over the decline in writing and reading skills as I observed our culture shortening and oversimplifying most written communication. I was encouraged to find that Andrew Pudewa, IEW's founder, had developed a system that was very effective in transforming simplistic and chaotic writing into high-quality, compelling composition. Within a few years, I had studied and participated in any IEW training I could find. How inspiring to watch young students learn to communicate effectively--It was a blast!


Anoushka Riley

Anoushka Riley was born in Curacao in the Dutch Caribbean. She is blessed to be married 19 years to her husband, Curtis Riley, and loves to be mom to her two gifts from God. She has truly enjoyed homeschooling her son and daughter these last years.

Anoushka graduated from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma with a major in Management and a minor in Human Resources. She also studied four years Hospitality Management at Ryerson Poly-technical Institute in Toronto, Canada, and one summer in Switzerland at the university of Hotel Lausanne.  She has had the privilege to work for some years in many sectors of the Hospitality Industry and has enjoyed teaching Exploring Hospitality class to high school students at a home school program in Kansas.

It was in Curacao, an island that belongs to the Netherlands, that she was introduced to her love for languages.  She has worked in the hotel industry managing Spanish speaking employees, helping with translations from Spanish to English. But it was in Venezuela, studying and living in a Spanish speaking country, that proficiency grew almost fluent while studying tourism management there. In the last  6 years,  she has taught Spanish to many home school students in various co-op situations.

It is such a joy to teaching my students. My goal for the Spanish students is for them to get a better grasp of the language, and also to fall in love with the Spanish culture.The hospitality students will be exploring tourism & travel, lodging, and the food and beverage industry. Since acts of service and the ministry of generosity through hospitality is a passion of mine, I plan to introduce many activities throughout the year which will help students discover creative ways of serving one another.   


Alicia Boots

 Alicia has a degree in biology and health education. She worked in the Lawrence school district as a para, teaching remedial English. It is there that she discovered her passion for teaching, especially teaching struggling students. Before coming home to be a full time mom to her growing family, she worked for seven years with at-risk students through in-home mental health services. Alicia and her husband began homeschooling because they wanted to have deep relationships with their kids, while specializing learning for each child's unique needs.

For the past 6 years, Alicia helped to birth and administrate a co-op with as many as twelve families at a time. The families became one another's primary support before needs changed and many moved away.  Currently, she works part time at Redbridge YMCA where she is a swim instructor for all ages, pre-school through adults. She also works as a lifeguard and swim team coach. This provides the opportunity for connection to the diverse local community.

I love it when students try new things and find out they really do have what it takes. I love it when they are in a safe group of kids where they can be themselves, receive encouragement and discover who God made them to be. In the classroom, I try to create this safe environment where I can take a kid from where he is and see him get past challenges that hold him back. I love that in a co-op setting, we all get to share our passions and help each other raise godly kids.


Anita Weinzierl

Anita Weinzierl grew up on the mission field in Brazil, studying piano with a teacher from Austria.   She met her husband while part of the Calvary Chorale at Calvary Bible College. Besides a love for God and for people, music was a driving force for both of them. They worked as a team on Calvary’s small traveling group, with her husband, John, as music director, and Anita as his assistant and accompanist.  After Calvary, she worked 5 jobs, teaching and accompanying all around the K.C. area for several  years.  When their four sons were born, Anita chose to stay home, teaching a full piano studio from her home. Later, she homeschooled her sons in their primary years while teaching piano in the afternoons.  Their family eventually put together the Weinzierl Brass Quintet, playing for church events and weddings.

Anita received her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Calvary Bible College in 1986 and her Master of Music Piano Performance at UMKC Conservatory of Music in 1989.  After that she taught piano at Avila College, Barstow School, and the Toon Shop while she worked full-time as an accompanist at Grandview High School. Throughout the years she has served as Pianist, Organist, and Music Coordinator at Southwest Bible Church and Shawnee Bible Church. In addition, she has worked as an accompanist in the K.C. area throughout the years.


  • Member of Federated Teachers of Fine Arts in Kansas City
  • Full piano studio in her home, including working as occasional judge
  • Belton High School Band Accompanist for soloists and Pianist at her local church
  • Writer/Arranger for the Weinzierl Brass Quintet

I believe that humans are uniquely made by God to make music.  Music has given me confidence, character, discipline, inspiration, and fun in my life.  Music IS my life.  I strive to pass on my love for music to my students, hoping that they, too, can have a relationship with music that will be with them all their life.   And in so doing, we will become all that God intended us to be.


Tonya O'Brien

Scott and Tonya O’Brien began educating the first of their seven children at home over a decade ago and have now been part of various coops eight of those years. They have recently moved to a new community in Lee’s Summit, MO after many years in Grandview, MO. When she is not teaching, planning or preparing to teach, Tonya has an avid love for learning and she still appreciates indulging by studying such topics as healthy living and dietary health, childhood development, brain & biology, loving God and loving others, and much more. Her current favorite read is Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk.

In addition to having worked nearly two decades in children’s ministry at church, Tonya has devoted the last few years to teaching early elementary language arts, phonics, virtues, and mathematics. She prefers a multi-sensory approach and attempts to identify each child’s learning style inclinations to pull in supporting resources when needed. She especially enjoys making connections through teaching, endeavoring to demonstrate God’s love in educating. Scott and Tonya are long-time graduates of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and have taught the class multiple times as well.

God has utilized motherhood and teaching to educate me in several important lessons, and I look forward to many more. I am learning to value what He has already started in our children: a plan for each one with their own unique giftings, personalities and dispositions as well as their own distinct challenges and strengths. It is my desire to recognize, try to understand, and work WITH that plan in the education process.


Stephanie Powers

Stephanie is a homeschool mother of four who truly loves teaching children. She and her husband spent 16 years in Texas before moving to Kansas City three years ago. While in Texas, Stephanie served in many capacities in Children’s Ministry programs in their local church. She has participated in several co-ops through the years with varying tasks such as hosting, teaching, and coordinating.

Stephanie’s true love lies with teaching younger ages- those who are always so curious and ready to learn about the world around them as well as the One who created it all. However, as her children have gotten older she realizes that those curiosities don’t need to end. Every age group has a love of learning inside of them and when it is accessed and nourished it can grow into a life filled with new things to discover. This is why she loves to teach with hands-on projects, experiments, and any tangible item at all--no matter their age.

I am very excited about teaching history and science classes this year and joining in partnership with this wonderful group to help educate our children in a safe, Christ-loving place.


Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith is married and has four wonderful children. She has been a home­ educator for twelve years. In addition to thoroughly enjoying being with her children, Patricia’s desire to homeschool grew out of a passion to instill a Biblical worldview in them.

Patricia taught one junior high and two high school worldview classes at for the Kingdom Homeschool Cooperative in Lee’s Summit, MO, as well as two writing classes. Additionally, she taught a government class and a junior high worldview class at Prudentia Homeschool Cooperative. Patricia also works with fourth and fifth grade students in a before­ school program at Belvidere Elementary School in Grandview, MO.

I believe that to teach students a Biblical worldview is essential for at least two reasons. First, one cannot be truly educated without the understanding that God is and the recognition that He created all things. Even in the disciplines or subjects of science, language, history, mathematics, ethics, government, etc, we are simply discovering or learning what God has revealed and communicated to us in His creative and redemptive orders. These are not disconnected subjects, but they converge because they flow from the same Source. Second, everyone has a worldview. Our most basic beliefs that shape our view of the world and the basis for our decisions and actions are rooted in it. Imagine if we purposefully live in the reality that God created us for His glory?


Renee Mansingh

Renee Mansingh is married to an awesome husband with two energetic sons. Originally from Topeka, she now resides in Overland Park. She has several friends and a sibling who were homeschooled  and is discerning it for her kids when that time comes. Renee loves kids and started volunteering with them at church as soon as she was old enough. She has worked with elementary- aged and college kids but she has a special place in her heart for high school students. 

Renee earned a B.A. in Psychology and a B.A. in Religious Studies, with a minor in Spanish. She served as a missionary for two years after college and then spent six years teaching in an urban high school. She recently ‘retired’ from teaching to raise her kids but can’t wait to get back in the classroom at Red Bridge. A bookworm at heart, she is very excited to teach high school American Literature and English 10-11.

Many of my dearest role models were my teachers. To me, they were faces of Christ's love, both tender and tough. I hope that I can be a small reflection of him in my student's lives. They always impact me as much as or more than I impact them. 


Michelle Tharpe

Michelle Tharpe grew up in Monroe, Louisiana. She is married to Michael Tharpe and they have one daughter. She had the privilege of homeschooling their daughter through high school. While in Louisiana, she and her husband were youth pastors and worship team members for eleven years. They moved here in 2003 to be a part of International House of Prayer. She is currently an associate worship leader at a Nazarene church in south KC.

Michelle attended public school during elementary and high school with the exception of two years at a private Christian school. She has a BA from The University of Louisiana at Monroe. She taught at their church's A.C.E. school for three years. When their daughter was born, she became a stay-at-home mom, knowing from the beginning that homeschooling would be they way they would educate. They have been involved in co-ops through the years in which Michelle has taught Bible, History, Choir and other subjects.

I am really looking forward to working with preschoolers this year. I love that age; there is so much wonder at all the things they are learning. It is truly a joy.


Mary K Clinton

Mary K. Roberts Clinton was raised in Overland Park.  Her family is active in their neighborhood, in Shawnee Mission schools, civically involved, and attends Presbyterian church every Sunday.  They went to the Billy Graham Crusade held at Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium.  As a girl, Mary K. babysat for the neighbors’ children, organized a talent show fundraiser with neighborhood children for City of Hope, as a teen was a youth ministry leader, and during college, she was a lifeguard.  Awarded a scholarship for International Christian Youth Exchange, she lived in Germany and served in a kindergarten and retirement home, and assisted with a Lutheran junior high retreat.  After college, Mary K. was the children’s ministry assistant, a worship leader, led in short term mission trips to Guatemala and Mexico, and worked in office administration at her church.  

Mary K. and her husband, Greg Clinton, have been married for 26 years, and have five wonderful children, ages 23 to 15.  Mary K. and Greg chose to homeschool to provide an individually tailored education and consider the safety and well-being of each child, and to pass on their faith.  The Way They Learn and Every Child Can Succeed written by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias inspired Mary K.’s perspective as well as Dr. Geraldine Stites of The Moore Academy.  As a family at home, they were a “house of prayer”.  Little Pilgrim’s Progress by Helen L. Taylor was a family favorite.

Mary K. graduated from the University of Kansas, with a B.A. in Political Science with plans to pursue law.  Her teaching experience is with The Daniel Academy (K), Classical Conversation (ages 6-11), His Grace (8 and 9 yr olds.), Red Bridge Academy, and in the summer, VBS at Colonial Presbyterian.

“It is a privilege to learn” is a declaration spoken by students in an account I read.  I have, in turn, taught the same.  Thankfully, we can homeschool.  It remains, “a privilege to learn.”  Individual pace and process is highly personal and is to be respected.  Parenting and raising children is a marathon, and in this light, we are very grateful for Red Bridge Academy.


Marcola Smith

Marcola was raised on the expansive flat plains of western Kansas near golden fields of wheat and under never-ending skies.  Growing up in the church gave her an awareness of and a love for the deeper mysteries of life.   It made sense that she ended up marrying a talented musician-turned-pastor where they both serve in their church in Belton, MO.  Marcola has two delightful and entertaining boys from whom she loves to learn how to be childlike again.

Marcola received a dual degree from Manhattan Christian College and Kansas State University in Christian Education and Elementary Education.  She taught second grade at Whitefield Academy for six years before leaving to raise a family. Marcola earned her black belt in karate in 2015 and is also a certified personal trainer.  

A transformational concept I learned years ago as a first time teacher was to teach kids the love of learning. This idea has shaped my own pursuit of learning and it has inspired me to want to model how to love learning. Life is much more exciting through the lens of exploration, imagination, and the understanding that learning is life-long.


Cariane Knudsen

Cariane Knudsen originates from Texas. She and her husband have spent the last 7.5 years serving in East Asia with a Christian non-profit. Her two boys were born and have been raised overseas. She and her family have repatriated to the US this summer.

Cariane graduated from Houston Baptist University with a BA in Multidisciplinary Studies, Early Childhood-4th grade. Immediately after graduation, she moved to East Asia. While there she has taught in two international preschools and an in-home kindergarten/first grade school, Creative Foundations. The time teaching at Creative Foundations was a refreshing change from the other schools that she had experienced as a teacher. C.F. is run by a friend and fellow believer who is aware of each child's individuality and learning needs as well as implementing Kingdom values into each school day. 

For me, teaching is about the joy on a child's face when they have that "aha moment" in their learning. Those little educational moments scaffold to form and shape them. And my favorite part is being able to implement Kingdom values into these moments that in turn will solidify into a firm foundation. Proverbs 22:6


Cindy Westergaard

Cindy is a home school mom, who initially started this journey when her son was five and very active. Cindy and her husband, Kyle have since adopted four other children from Russia, Colombia, and South America. The three children from Colombia were all behind in school, and also had many gaps in education. Home schooling was the answer to help them all catch up in school and succeed. Three of the five children have since graduated from high school, and have gone on to college or the military.

Cindy has a degree in social work. She currently works part-time in the Raymore-Peculiar School district with Parents As Teachers. She has been a home school teacher for the past 16 years and has worked with children who did not understand any English and had learning difficulties.

I love it when a child realizes that they can succeed, even in a subject that had previously been very difficult for them. I really enjoy helping them open as many doors of opportunity as possible for their future.

Juliet Dunteman

Juliet Dunteman is a homeschool graduate and completed her last three years of high school at Red Bridge Academy. One of 7 children, she was born in Kentucky and grew up in Grandview, Missouri.

From an early age she gravitated heavily toward the arts, taking art classes at every opportunity and vigorously filling up sketchbooks. Starting in junior high she began to work for Sharon Jeffus of Visual Manna, a successful homeschool art curriculum, for whom she traveled with locally and nationally for the next four years assisting and teaching art. She taught multiple classes independently, online, and led classrooms of up to 40 students in drawing and painting projects. Since then she has completed multiple murals and works on art commissions between cleaning houses and raising her son, Dylan. 

Art is fascinating in that it channels emotion directly from the creator to the viewer. My passion is taking this medium and cultivating it to channel light and uplift the soul. Even grander is sparking excitement in others to build their own expression in excellence. Anyone can art!

Haley Regan

Haley Regan grew up in Belton, MO on the same street as her husband, John. They have been married for 18 years and have a house full of life: 3 kids, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and 1 turtle. The Regans spent several years as a military family which has given them a heart for others who serve. Haley worked alongside her husband as youth director at church and also has  taught children’s Sunday School for many years as well. Originally, the Regans had no plans to homeschool; however, when their children appeared to be losing their love of learning while attending private school, she and her husband decided to try homeschooling. The Regans are now starting the 6th year of their homeschool journey where they foster a lifelong learning and an ongoing curiosity.

Mrs. Regan has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Avila University. Nursing gives her the opportunity to be the “hands and feet of Christ.” She has been a nurse for 18 years, working in a variety of areas including Cardiac, Hospice, Wound Care, and currently, at The Missouri Baptist Children’s Home. In each of these areas, Mrs. Regan was required to educate patients and their families. Teaching is a considerable part of nursing, and has always been her favorite aspect.

I love to watch the light of confidence that comes over people when they finally understand a difficult concept. I’m looking forward to transferring my skills of teaching into the classroom setting. Whether they are my patients or students, it’s an honor to be part of the process of empowerment.

Isabella Purtle

Isabella Purtle grew up the oldest of five children in Kansas City, Missouri. As a homeschooled student, she attended co-ops throughout childhood until joining Red Bridge Academy in senior high school.  Isabella’s father has been a pastor for sixteen years, and as a result, she has enjoyed working with children and serving in ministry. As the oldest in her family, she often assisted with the education of her younger siblings.

During her senior year, Isabella was often responsible for managing groups of students and aiding in their care at the school. Since graduating from Red Bridge Academy, she has continued working with students through tutoring in pre-algebra and assisting in teaching 2nd and 3rd grade. Last year Ms. Purtle taught Latin I for Red Bridge Academy with great success.

I love learning new languages! They can be so handy. Knowing even at least parts of other languages can help so much with understanding and communicating with more people than you ever could with just knowing English. Latin is super helpful with learning new languages too! Knowing the grammar and structure of Latin helped me so much when I moved to Turkey at the age of 13. I’d encourage anyone to learn a new language!

Rosanne Marker

Rosanne attended the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, where she earned her Bachelor's degree in Consumer Science and Education with a teaching emphasis.  It was also there that she met the Lord Jesus, as well as her future husband, Mike. She and Mike are blessed with four sons, ages 15 - 23, who have been educated in a variety of forms, including public school, private schools, and homeschooling.  They sensed the Lord leading them to move to Kansas City in 2007, where they currently reside.

In addition to teaching her own children, Rosanne has substituted in elementary grades for two private Christian schools in the area.  She also assists in the 4-year-old classroom in her church on Sundays. She appreciates clear and effective communication and actually enjoys proofreading papers!

Believing that every person is a wonderful creation of God's (Psalm 139:14) and is extremely valuable to Him, I have a passion to communicate that truth to those I interact with, especially those still forming their opinion of themselves.  My hope is that those I teach will come away with not only skills and information that will be helpful in their future, but also a deeper understanding of how God has made them uniquely for His heart and purposes.