SFLS Staff



Mrs. Tia Esser - School Administrator

Year started at SFLS: I "officially" started in 2010 as the Administrator.

Most enjoyable aspects of your teaching ministry: I most enjoy the nurturing aspects of my work with students and teachers alike. Internally, I frequently ask, "How can I help this person discover and achieve God's will for his/her life?" Additionally, I enjoy "working the crowd" when classrooms of children line up outside of my office for PE, lunch, restroom breaks, etc.—it allows me to freely visit with them, and the conversations are priceless!

About you/your family: I am married to Paul and we have 3 children, Liz (married to Ross Owen), Tim (married to Kimberly), and Jacob. We also have 3 granddaughters—Sylvia, June, and Sophie.

Favorite Bible Verse: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” —Romans 12:2



Mrs. Brenda Bernard - K-8 Academic Principal

Year started at SFLS: 2019

Thing you are most looking forward to about joining the SFLS team: I am really looking forward to actively working with teams, including children, families, and staff, on a daily basis. Currently my office and much of my work is in an administrative building; I dearly miss being in a school assisting children, working alongside staff, and developing relationships with families. When I was offered the position at SFLS, I celebrated by purchasing a warm “recess” coat!

About you/your family: My husband Jim and I have one daughter named Leah.

Favorite Bible Verse: “…And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” —Micah 6:8

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Mrs. Kay Herrig -
Administrative Assistant – Secretary

Year started at SFLS: 1987

Most enjoyable aspects of your job: I love having an office job, but what makes it that much better are the people I get to work with and all of the children.

About you/your family: My husband Al and I have two daughters, Sarah and Jennifer, both of whom attended Sioux Falls Lutheran School.



Ms. Myrth Perry -
Administrative Assistant - Finance



Mrs. Megan Baedke - Admissions & Communications Director

Year Started at SFLS: 2016

About you/your family: I grew up in Amboy, MN. I graduated from Augustana University in 2013 with a major in Journalism. My husband, Mike, and I are members at Resurrection Lutheran Church. 

Hobbies: Playing the flute with the Augustana Blue & Gold Band, having "Gourmet Cooking Nights" with friends, spending time outdoors, and traveling whenever I get the chance to do so.

Favorite Bible Verse: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” —Colossians 3:12-14



Mrs. Mikela Iverson - Outreach Director & Librarian

Year started at SFLS: 2012

About you/your family: I’ve been married to Travis for 15 years. We have two daughters, Miah and Kenzie, at SFLS.

Hobbies: Traveling, being with family, kick-boxing, shopping, watching movies, organizing, doing fun projects with my girls.

Favorite Bible Verse: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” —Jeremiah 29:11



Mr. Frank Thuringer - Director of Educational Technology

Year started at SFLS: 2016

About you/your family: My wife Kim and I have two children named Allyson and Colin.

Hobbies: Reading and photography.

Favorite Bible verse: "...Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." —Joshua 1:9



Mrs. Kristy Bridges - Early Childhood Director

Year started at SFLS: 2007

Most enjoyable aspects of your teaching ministry: Sharing the love of Jesus.

About you/your family: My husband, Mark, and I have two boys named David & Eli.

Hobbies: Reading and watching movies.

Favorite Bible Verse: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” —Psalm 37:4

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Mrs. Sandy Tams - Preschool Teacher

Year started at SFLS: I have been teaching preschool at SFLS since 1977. 

Most enjoyable aspects of your teaching ministry: I love to share my love for Jesus with the children and their families. Being the first to “light the fire of learning” and then hearing, “I did it!” is just the best. 

About you/your family: My husband, Jim, and I have 3 children and 7 grandchildren ranging in age from 1 to 16 years old. They all live in Sioux Falls, so we are very blessed to be an active part of their lives. 

Education: BA in Elementary Ed from Wayne State University. Colloquy from Concordia University & Masters in Administration from University of Sioux Falls. 

Hobbies: My favorite hobbies are reading and walking. 

Favorite bible verse: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” —Joshua 1:9

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Miss Heather Miller - Preschool Teacher

Year started at SFLS: I started at SFLS in 1987 as a kindergartener and graduated in 1996. However, I began teaching at SFLS in 2011. This year, I will be teaching 3-year-old preschool.

Most enjoyable aspects of your teaching ministry: I enjoy sharing the love of Christ with the kids and their families.  My students are so exciting to work with, always make me smile and laugh, and are so curious.  It is fun to get to learn with them and watch them as they grow physically, emotionally, and most especially spiritually.  I also really enjoy the staff that I get to work every day.  It is a joy to work with other people who share my faith, whom I can learn from and pray with.

About you/your family: My parents and younger brother all live in Sioux Falls, so I get to see them often. My brother recently got married, and I have several young cousins who I enjoy spending time with.

Education: I have an Elementary Education degree from Dakota State University and a Masters degree from Concordia University Portland.  I also got my Colloquy from Concordia University Seward. 

Hobbies: I like to read, listen to music, watch movies, hang out with family and friends, and visit my grandpa's farm. 

Favorite bible verse: There are so many good ones to choose from. Currently, one of my favorites is: “You are the light of the world...let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” —Matthew 5:14-16



Mrs. Tina Lenz - Fantastic Fives Teacher

Year started at SFLS: I was called to help start grades K-3 at SFLS from 1979-1991. I returned in 2006, and I am currently teaching Fantastic Fives.

Most enjoyable aspects of your teaching ministry: I love the children in my class as if they were my own children. I want them to not only learn, discover, create and use their imagination, but also to know that Jesus loves them and will always be by their side. I enjoy seeing the children I've taught over the years and learn how God is using their lives to serve others. Seeing and talking with previous students warms my heart! God has truly blessed my years as an early childhood educator.  

About you/your family: I am married to Rod Lenz (college sweetheart). After 40 years in education, he recently retired from his position as the educational administrator for Children's Home Society. We have two married daughters. Andrea and Steve have three children and live in Wichita, KS. Ashley and Derek have one son and live in Des Moines, IA. Our four grandchildren are the lights of our life!

Education: I received my BA in Elementary Ed from Concordia-St.Paul, MN, and my Master's in Early Childhood from Concordia-Seward, NE. I have taught in South Dakota and Iowa.  

Hobbies: I love to shop, especially at places where items have been refurbished. I love to decorate our home, make crafts, go boating, visit with long-time friends and spend as much time as possible with our our grandkids!

Favorite bible verse: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” —Proverbs 3:5



Mrs. April Kusie - Kids Day Out Teacher (am) & Educational Assistant (pm)

Year started at SFLS: 2014

Most enjoyable aspects of your teaching ministry:  I love watching the kids learn and grow. One of my favorite things is watching the “I can’t” turn into an “I did it!”

About you/your family: My husband, Jim, and I have four children: Emma, Sam, Ben, and Katie.

Education: I graduated from the University of Sioux Falls in 2000, where I majored in Elementary Education and Early Childhood. I have taught preschool for the last 15 years, and I have also taken care of infants and toddlers for the past 14 years as the nursery director at my church.

Hobbies: When I am not teaching, I am a soccer mom traveling on the weekends to tournaments. I also sell Usborne books. If there is any time left, I enjoy reading, watching football (GO PACKERS!) and watching Netflix.

Favorite Bible Verse: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” —Jeremiah 29:11 




Mrs. Brooke Aker - Kids Day Out Teacher

Year started at SFLS: 2014

About you/your family: My husband, Corey, and I have four children: Alyssa, Ethan, Andrew and Ella.

Education: I have a Bachelor of Science in Elementary & Special Education, with endorsements in Middle School Language Arts & Social Studies from Black Hills State University.

Hobbies: I enjoy reading, singing, handbells, camping, golf, and playing cards. 




Mrs. Hiedi Johnson - Kindergarten

Year started at SFLS: I started at SFLS in 2018 as an educational assistant in kindergarten. I will begin my role as kindergarten teacher in the fall of 2019.

Thing you are most looking forward to about joining the SFLS team: The thing that I am looking forward to the most is the people. I enjoy teaching the students, meeting the parents and working with the staff. Everyone has made me feel welcome since the day I walked through the doors at SFLS. My goal is to make my kindergarteners and their families feel as welcome and important as I have since I arrived here. I am excited to be a part of this community!

About you/your family: My husband Scott and I have three children: Aliyah, Annabelle, and Brooks.

Hobbies: One of my biggest passions in life is running. In fact, my passion for running is the same as the passion I have for teaching. It is the fuel that drives me to accomplish my goals inside and outside of the classroom. My passion for running has taught me how to work hard and persevere, and I will use those skills to help my students become world ready and faith secure. I also hope that my passion for teaching will be visible in the classroom and make a difference in the lives of my students.

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Year started at SFLS: 2015

About you/your family: My husband, Justin, and I have two boys named Taten and Cohen.

Education: I graduated from Washington High School in Sioux Falls.

Hobbies: I enjoy shopping, spending time with family, and attending all sorts of sporting events including football, hockey and baseball. 



Mrs. Britney Vercruysse -
1st Grade Teacher

Year started at SFLS: 2017

Most enjoyable aspects of your teaching ministry: The most enjoyable thing I get to do every day is telling and sharing the little children about the love of Jesus.

About You/Your family: I grew up in Madison, Nebraska. I got married on May 26, 2017, to my wonderful husband, Scott. We have a chocolate lab named Dash and a daughter named Mabel.

Education: I graduated from Concordia University–Nebraska in 2014 with a B.S. in Elementary Education, an endorsement in Special Education, and a Lutheran Teaching Diploma. Before coming to SFLS, I taught first grade at St. Rose of Lima in Crofton, Nebraska. I was also a four-year member of the varsity women’s basketball team at Concordia.

Hobbies: I love gardening, traveling, and going for walks with my husband.

Favorite bible verse: “We have this Hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” —Hebrews 6:19



Mrs. Ann Herther - 2nd Grade Teacher

Year started at SFLS: I started at SFLS in 1998 and taught 4th grade. I became the 2nd grade teacher in the fall of 2013.

Most enjoyable aspects of teaching ministry: I really enjoy working with the staff and getting to know the students and their families.

Myself/My Family: My husband, Brian, and I were married in 1982. We have two daughters, Becca and Sara, who are graduates of SFLS. 

Hobbies: Walking, riding bike and swimming. 

Favorite Bible Verse: “...I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance.” —John 10:10



Mrs. Katie Mlnarik - 3rd Grade Teacher

Year started at SFLS: I started teaching at SFLS in 2015.

Most enjoyable aspects of teaching ministry: I look forward to being in the classroom to assist students as they explore and experience growing into young Christian leaders for our community.

Myself/My Family: My husband and I, along with our dog, Henry, moved to Sioux Falls in 2014. We welcomed a baby boy, Jonah, to our family in November 2015.

Education: I earned an elementary teaching degree with an emphasis in biology from Concordia University in Seward, NE. After graduating, I served for four years at Trinity Lutheran School in Billings, Montana as their 3rd grade teacher.

Hobbies: I enjoy playing sports, spending time outside, reading, technology, and traveling.

Favorite Bible Verse: "Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” —Isaiah 40:30-31 



Mrs. Jennifer Noble - 4th Grade Teacher & Art Teacher

Year started at SFLS: I started teaching in October of 2009. Currently, I teach 4th grade and art.

Most enjoyable aspects of your teaching ministry: The most enjoyable aspect of teaching for me is the children. They are so much like a sponge at this early age in their education, and I am blessed to help fill that sponge with knowledge, love, compassion, character, joy and the love of Jesus!

About you/your family: I am originally from Nebraska. My family and I have lived in the Sioux Falls area for almost 12 years now. I taught 3rd and 4th grade before having children of my own. I stayed home for 10 years with my children who are now 18, 14 and 12. My husband is the owner of Active Data Systems and very involved with the community.

Hobbies: My favorite thing to do is spend time with my family! I really enjoy being outside, scrapbooking, traveling, playing board/card games, watching movies and reading magazines. 

Favorite Bible Verse: I have two favorite verses:
“...Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” —Joshua 1:9
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” —Jeremiah 29:11



Mrs. Steph Hofmaier - 4th Grade Teacher

Year started at SFLS: I began teaching 4th grade math, science, and social studies at SFLS in 2017.

Most enjoyable aspect of my teaching ministry: I love the connections and relationships that I form with my students. I enjoy helping them discover and develop their God given talents.  

About you/your family: I am a Sioux Falls native! My husband, Adam, and I have three kids: Sophia, Cole, and Will.

Education: I have degrees from Augustana University (Business Administration & Economics) and the University of Sioux Falls (Elementary and Middle Level Education). My past teaching experiences include reading at West Middle School in Rapid City and 7th grade math at Patrick Henry Middle School in Sioux Falls. Most recently, while raising our young family, I have subbed, taught online, and tutored. 

Hobbies: Spending time with my family, reading, baking, going to Zumba, biking, gardening, and watching movies.

Favorite Bible verse: “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” —Psalm 118:24



Mr. Jon Pinn - 5th Grade Teacher

Year started at SFLS: 2001

Most enjoyable aspects of your teaching ministry: The most enjoyable aspect of my teaching ministry is integrating the Christian faith into all learning. It's such a blessing to see God at work in the daily lives of his children and this school.

About you/your family: My wife, Heidi, and I have been married for 18 years and have two sons named Adam and Daniel.

Hobbies: We love staying active with our kids activities which include baseball, basketball, running, and competitive swimming.

Favorite Bible Verse: One of my favorite Bible passages is from Colossians 3:1-4, where Paul encourages us to set our hearts and minds on things above.



Mr. Casey Raaen - 6th Grade Homeroom & 5th - 8th Grade Language Arts

Year started at SFLS: 2017

Most enjoyable aspects of your teaching ministry: I enjoy the privilege of watching students grow both in the content area and as individuals.

About you/your family: I grew up in Sioux Falls. My wife, Alison, and were married in 2016.

Education: I received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Secondary Education from Augustana University, as well as endorsements in middle school language arts and K-12 athletic coaching. 

Hobbies: I love sports and am a fan of Minnesota sports teams. I also enjoy weightlifting and reading.

Favorite Bible Verse: “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” —Matthew 19:26 



Miss Marli Ockander - 7th Grade homeroom & Middle School Science

Year started at SFLS: 2003

Most enjoyable aspects of your teaching ministry: Watching joy fill the hearts, faces, and actions of students who know Jesus as their Savior. Experiencing the "light bulb" moments with the students as they learn. Sharing knowledge and learning with students.

Hobbies: I enjoy Husker football, soccer, traveling and bird watching.

Favorite Bible Verse: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” —Philippians 4:13



Mr. Nicholas Deeter - 8th Grade homeroom & Middle school history - Athletic Director

Year started at SFLS: 2014

Myself/My Family: I grew up in Seward, NE. My wife, Dana, and I were married in 2017 and have a son named Emmitt.

Education: I spent a year at UNL and then attended Concordia University–Seward where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Middle Level Education with endorsements in math and social studies.

Hobbies: I enjoy watching and playing sports and spending time with family and friends.



Miss Leanne Holdorf - Middle School Math & Student council advisor

Year started at SFLS: I started at SFLS in 2009 as an AOK worker and now teach middle school and high school mathematics. I am also the student council coordinator and math club sponsor.

Most enjoyable aspects of teaching ministry: There is nothing quite like helping someone achieve an "ah-ha" moment and seeing the progression of self-reflection over time.

About myself/family: My parents, Kurt and Kathy, live here in Sioux Falls. I also have three older brothers, two sisters-in-law, and two nieces.

Education: I received my Bachelor of Science in mathematics, specializing in education, from South Dakota State University along with an endorsement in coaching.

Hobbies: I have always loved sports and technology. As a kid, I played baseball and have since moved into slow-pitch softball. And whenever I can, I like to fiddle with technology to see how things work.

Bible Verse: “Be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things He has done for you.” —1 Samuel 12:24



Mrs. Melinda Wood - K-8 Spanish

Year started at SFLS: 2017

About myself/family: My husband, Paul, and I have four children, Noah, Gracie, Sophie, and Ethan, all of whom attend SFLS.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Spanish education from University of Minnesota–Duluth. After my second child was born, I took time away from teaching to raise my family, and returned to SFLS as the Spanish teacher in 2017.



Mrs. Melanie Nelson - k-8 P.E.

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Mrs. Karen Dooley - Music Teacher

Year started at SFLS: I began teaching at SFLS in 1997 as the part-time band director. I now teach music classes for 4th- 8th graders, direct the band and choir, and help with our K-3 violin program and orchestra. I also teach private music lessons for piano, voice, guitar, violin, and band instruments.  

Most enjoyable aspects of teaching ministry: I love helping students discover and develop their musical, social, and spiritual gifts and abilities.

Myself/My Family: Quint and I were married in 1990. We have four daughters, all of whom attended SFLS through the 8th grade. 

Hobbies: Hiking, reading, playing piano, enjoying time with family and friends.

Favorite Bible verse: I have many favorites. One of them is: “...in your hearts honor Christ as Lord, always being prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have; yet do it with gentleness and respect...” —1 Peter 3:15

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Mrs. Kristi Prouty - Music Teacher

Year started at SFLS: I started teaching at SFLS in 2014. I currently teach preschool-3rd grade music, as well as private piano and voice lessons.

Myself/My Family: My husband, Jay, and I have two children named Grant and Elyse. They both attend SFLS.                   

Most enjoyable aspects of teaching ministry: I enjoy being able to share my love of music with the children at SFLS. And it is such a blessings to be teaching in the Christ-centered school where my own children are. 

Education: Bachelor of Music Education degree from Northern State University.

Hobbies: Reading, spending time with family and friends, watching sports, and playing golf. 

Favorite Bible verse: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” —Philippians 4:13

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Mrs. “Grandma Carol” Bonine - Transportation Driver

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Mrs. Linda Heyd - SCRIP Coordinator


Mrs. Jennifer Hintz - SCRIP


Mr. Mike Bakeberg - Head Custodian