Our Team

OUR PEOPLE

At the heart of any good company is good people. Choice is no exception. Our people come from all over the state and have a wide array of educational, professional, personal, and cultural backgrounds. We are all brought together by the shared passion of helping children.

We also focus on developing one another through meaningful relationships, challenging work, constructive feedback, sound professional training, and a true commitment to nurturing the career path of each team member.

Academic Excellence Support Specialist Jessica Carey
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Jessica works at Choice Schools Associates as the Administrative Assistant for the Academic Excellence Team. Jessica has years of administrative experience in the finance, higher education, and technology sectors. Prior to Choice, Jessica worked at Grand Valley State University, providing administrative support to planned giving, endowments, scholarships, and major gifts.
Environmental and Montessori Model Behavior Intervention Director Kristen Crawford
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Kristen joined the Choice Schools family in January 2020 as the Assistant Principal at New Branches Charter Academy and transitioned into her current role in August of 2023. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology from Liberty University, her Masters in Educational Administration and Supervision from Southern Wesleyan University, and is currently finishing up her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Liberty University. Prior to coming to Choice, she served at Success Virtual Learning Centers, opening and running learning centers in Grand Rapids and Lansing. Her transition to leadership came after a decade of teaching Health and Physical Education in both private and public schools. Kristen has a great passion for finding ways to support, engage, and meet the unique needs of all students so that they can grow to their greatest potential. In her free time, Kristen loves to travel, read, run, and ride her bike.
Director of Scholar Education and Development Amey Dryer
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Amey Dryer joined the Choice family in May of 2019. She previously worked as a Montessori teacher, Montessori school leader, and then Curriculum Consultant for charter schools throughout the state of Michigan. Amey has a Bachelor's in Elementary Education from Eastern Michigan University and a Master's in Education with a Montessori Emphasis from Chaminade University in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is excited now to join the Academic Excellence Team at Choice and support all of our wonderful office staff in the many processes and procedures they have in place. Amey and her husband Todd live in Brighton, MI with their two energetic boys Cole and Noah and their mischievous dog, Ruby. The boys keep them both very busy with baseball, ninja warrior, swimming, and gymnastics.
Online Solutions and Data Paul Ezel
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Paul will partner with each school to support their technology and data needs. Paul earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Central Michigan University and began teaching at Dove Academy. During his 17 years at Dove, he served as a teacher in multiple grades, including second, third, fourth, fifth grade, and the media center teacher before launching into leadership as the Dean of Students and most recently a Vice Principal. Just last year, Paul earned his master’s degree in teacher leadership from Oakland University with an education specialty. Paul lives in Grosse Pointe Woods and is married to his wonderful wife Carey and has two dogs.
Director of Early Childhood Services Rebeka Hays
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Bio coming soon!
Director of Montessori Education & Development Amanda Konopaska
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As the Director of Montessori Education and Development, Amanda works with both the Area Superintendent and Academic Excellence Team for Choice Schools Associates. As an undergraduate, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from Wayne State University and a Masters in School Principalship with a concentration in Charter School Leadership from Central Michigan University. Additionally, she also holds an Elementary II Credential from the American Montessori Society and has had formal training for Elementary I. Amanda’s Montessori journey began in 2009, as an Upper Elementary classroom teacher and emerged into leadership where she took on both active and interim Principal roles for two Montessori academies. Currently, she is the program coordinator and trainer of our Montessori Experience for all new teachers and works directly with Instructional Coaches at multiple academies.
Senior Director of Academic Excellence and Environmental Education Kristin Molyneux
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Kristin joined the Choice Team with a background in teaching. In 2004, she was a Kindergarten Aide with West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science, and then took a teaching position at the Academy and then taught for eight years. In 2013, Kristin became Choice’s Curriculum and Instruction Specialist, and in June of 2022 she became Senior Director of of Academic Excellence and Environmental Education. Her role involves multiple facets of curriculum: Oversight of the mentoring program, author and oversight of the Character Choices program, oversight of all of the preschool programs (both tuition and Great Start Readiness Program), supports and sets up training for curriculum, and compliance oversight of the Teacher and Administrator Evaluation system. Kristin graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and earned her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. Kristin and her husband have been married for over 14 years and have two blissfully beautiful children. Her family is very involved in their church and loves to spend time with family and friends. She enjoys taking her family to different parks, traveling, and visiting exciting places. It is always a learning moment in the Molyneux household.
Director of Literacy Carrie Paddock
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Carrie Paddock graduated from Manchester University in N. Manchester, IN with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education. She went on to receive her Master’s in Education with an emphasis in curriculum from Indiana Wesleyan University. She taught elementary for eight years in Indiana prior to moving to Michigan. In 2005, she took an elementary position at Creative Technologies Academy, a charter school in Cedar Springs. During her time there, she obtained her K-12 Administrative Certificate in 2013 and became the Principal for Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment for her last five years at CTA. She is so excited for the opportunity to be part of the amazing Choice team and to be able to impact so many students through curriculum and literacy. Carrie and her husband, Burt, have been married for 17 years and have two daughters, Hannah and Rylee. They enjoy basketball in the winter and beach time in the summer!
Director of State and Federal Programs Specialist Mandy Patouhas
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Mandy has been with Choice Schools Associates since 2009, starting as a Title I coordinator. Today, she oversees the Academic Excellence team, assisting with State and Federal Programs. A graduate of Ohio University with an undergraduate degree in Organizational Communication, Mandy offers support to the various schools of Choice in regards to Title I, Title II, 31A, school improvement documentation, homeless populations, and compliance with state and federal requirements. Mandy also received her teaching certificate and master’s degree from Wayne State University. After a brief career in Organizational Development, Mandy spent many years as a secondary English and speech educator. In her spare time, she creates memories with her husband, Paul, of twelve years, and their two sons, Max and Leo. Mandy’s vision and mission for Choice are to assist schools in building programs and systems that make great schools produce life-long learners.
Special Education Supervisor Nicholas Stage
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Nick has been with Bradford since 2011 as the Special Education Supervisor and resource room teacher, and has recently joined Choice Schools Associates' team under the same role in 2023. He graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in special education and earned his master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Grand Valley State University. Nick’s commitment to student development is unparalleled, and we look forward to seeing his passion for supporting students and staff to reach their highest potential this school year. Nick is intentional in focusing on relationships among staff, students, and stakeholders within the educational community. Nick’s wife, Jessica, also shares his passion for education and focuses on technology integration in the classroom setting. They have a five-year-old son Jonathan who is starting Kindergarten this fall, and a two-year-old daughter, who melts his heart every day. In addition, the Stage family stays busy creating memories outside and enjoying nature as much as possible. A fun fact about Nick is that he was ranked #1 in the Midwest in Rock, Paper, Scissors. He accepted sponsorship and was sent to Las Vegas to compete in the national championship and has competed seven times in the world championships (world ranking #65). If you want to challenge him, feel free to ask, but he will most likely tell you that he "only plays sanctioned matches".
Senior Director of Specially Designed Instruction and Student Services Sarah VanderBaan
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Sarah VanderBaan started with Choice as the Special Education Supervisor and is now the Senior Director of Specially Designed Instruction and Student Services. Previously, Sarah was at National Heritage Academies as a middle school Resource Program Teacher and West Michigan Special Education Content Leader. She also worked for Benton Harbor Area Schools and Wyoming Public Schools. Her teaching experience includes early childhood through high school general education and special education. Sarah received her bachelor’s degree from Aquinas College in Learning Disabilities and Early Childhood Education. Sarah received her Master’s degree in Specific Learning Disabilities from Grand Valley State University. Sarah also received her Educational Leadership-Special Education Administrator endorsement from Grand Valley State University. Sarah lived in Hong Kong for three years and taught at The American School there. She has traveled all over Asia, including Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Free time for Sarah includes traveling, yoga, and spending time with her family relaxing in Northern Michigan. West Michigan is where Sarah calls home. Volunteering is important to Sarah as she serves on the Executive Board of Family Hope Foundation. Sarah is excited to work at Choice and collaborate with general education and special education staff to meet the needs of all students.
Special Education Supervisor Nicole Tuinstra
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Nicole Tuinstra started with Choice Schools as the Elementary Special Education teacher at West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science and is now the Special Education Supervisor at Choice Schools Associates. Nicole received her bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University in Group Social Studies and Elementary Education and also received her Master’s degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Learning Disabilities and Cognitive Impairments. Nicole also has approval to be a Teacher Consultant. Nicole likes to bowl in her spare time with her family. She also has participated in the Shadblow Theater summer concert for the past 2 years. Nicole also likes to spend time with her husband and 2 daughters as well as her extended family. Nicole is excited to make the transition to Choice Schools Central Office. "I am excited to work with the Curriculum and Instruction team and the Special Education team. My new role will allow me to work with both general education and special education teachers, which will benefit all of our students."