Chris Ruiter

Chris Ruiter serves as the Chief Academic Officer for Choice. He comes to us from Byron Center Public Schools where he was the Principal at Marshall Elementary. Prior to that, Chris served as a special education teacher for 14 years in Wyoming Public Schools (MI) and in Union City Community Schools. Chris received his Bachelor’s in Special Education from Calvin College, his Masters in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University, and went on to earn his Special Education Administrators Endorsement in 2012 from Grand Valley State University.

Chris lives in West Michigan with his wife Beth, and their four children; Addison, Holden, Weston, and Judson. A few of his favorite things are spending time with his wife and children, serving at their church, relaxing at the family cottage up north, hobby farming and reading.

When asked about his role, Chris said, “Coming to Choice was a great opportunity to serve students in need. In this position, I want to have an impact on the students who might otherwise get overlooked or left behind. Those students need to have every opportunity to receive the instruction that meets their needs. Being able to work with staff and school leaders to collaborate will help us to create an environment where kids can get everything they need,” Chris concluded.

Sarah VanderBaan

Sarah VanderBaan started with Choice as the Special Education Supervisor and is now the Director of Specially Designed Instruction and Student Services. Previously, Sarah was at National Heritage Academies as a middle school Resource Room Teacher and West Michigan Special Education Content Leader. Her teaching experience included 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 also received her Master’s degree in Learning Disabilities from Grand Valley State University. Currently, Sarah is receiving her Educational Leadership-Special Education Administrator degree 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.

Kristin Molyneux

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. 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.

Carrie Paddock Staff Member

Carrie Paddock

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!

Amanda Konopaska

As the Montessori Education and Communications Specialist, Amanda works with both the Communications and Curriculum departments for Choice Schools Associates. As an undergraduate, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from Wayne State University and has recently earned her 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.

Amanda’s Choice journey began in 2009, as a classroom teacher and emerged into leadership where she took on both active and interim Principal roles for two of our academies. Currently, she is the program coordinator and trainer of our Montessori Aligned Preparation Program (MAPP) and works one-on-one with our new Montessori teachers to help them grow as Montessorians. Additionally, Amanda continues to show her love for Montessori as the face behind “Montessori Rocks” a vibrant community of parents, educators, and students that are excited to share with one another their love of all things Montessori. Prior to joining the Choice family, Amanda worked at a private Montessori school as an upper elementary teacher.

Mandy Patouhas Staff Member

Mandy Patouhas

Mandy has been with Choice Schools Associates since 2009, starting as a Title I coordinator. Today, she oversees the School Improvement 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.

Nicole Tuinstra

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 and Curriculum Coordinator 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.”