A Classical Christian School Serving K-12 in the Greater Boise Area

Bridge Program Staff

HomeAbout BridgeBridge Program Staff
Mr. Kirk Vander LeestHead of SchoolM.B.A., Copenhagen Business School, B.A. in Philosophy and Literature from Seattle Pacific University. After 15 years in the business world - from corporate banking to entrepreneurial ventures - I accepted the post as Head of School in 2014. I also serve on the National Board of Directors of the Society for Classical Learning.

My family and I have been involved with the school in various capacities for over 6 years - board chairman, homeroom parent, and even recess volunteer. Over that time, we have come to an immense appreciation of Classical Christian education and the positive potential it holds for our children, our community, our churches and our world.

My wife and I have been married for 15 years and we have three children - all three of whom are enrolled at Ambrose. We love the outdoors and sports of all kinds so most weekends you will find us out at the soccer/lacrosse fields, paddle-boarding the river or running in the Boise foothills.

Church Affiliation: All Saints Presbyterian Church, Boise
Mrs. Heather JenningsAcademic DeanPh.D. in English literature, University of California Davis; M.A. in English literature, Boise State University; B.A. in government, Patrick Henry College.

My engagement with classical Christian education spans nearly twenty years, from taking courses on the literature and history of Greece and Rome in high school from Andrew Kern, a leading thinker and teacher in the cCe movement; to teaching 5th then 12th grades at The Ambrose School; to writing my dissertation on habits of learning in medieval England. I appreciate how classical Christian education situates learning as an expression of loving God with all our minds, equips students to be life-long learners by approaching education not simply as dispensing information but as the formation of habits, teaches students to make connections among all subjects they study, and prepares students to be culture-makers by engaging with the art and ideas that have shaped our world.

I grew up in Boise, Idaho, and spent the past six and a half years in the Sacramento and beautiful San Francisco Bay areas, pursuing my doctorate and teaching at the University of California Davis and Sonoma State University. My husband Brian and I have two preschool aged daughters; we love to read and discuss what we’ve read, entertain, do CrossFit, and spend time in beautiful surroundings by camping, mountain biking, hiking, and traveling.
Mrs. Melody TracyDean, Bridge ProgramOne year Bible course, Masters College; B.S., Liberal Arts, Gutenberg College; Accelerated Latin course, Cork College University in Cork, Ireland; Masters in Teaching and a specialization in reading instruction, George Fox University. Previous teaching experience: 5th grade, 9th grade Humanities, House Governor at The Ambrose School; high school literature at Founders Academy - a classical charter school in Las Vegas.

I have the best job because I get to read the greatest stories ever written and talk about them with hungry minds. These stories are so beautiful and profound, one cannot help but be changed by reading them. I love teaching at a classical school because the emphasis is not on job preparation, test scores or district standards (all which have their place) but on teaching students to be wise: to encounter and decipher the truth from error, beauty from perversion, and good from evil. My hope is that as we read, discuss and write that I get to be a part of forming my student’s minds and desires to love and search for what is good, true and beautiful beyond the classroom.

My husband, Ian, is currently pursuing his doctorate in Physical Therapy through the University of Las Vegas. When we are not working for our respective schools, we are mountain biking, CrossFitting, camping, fishing, traveling, bow shooting, playing Ultimate Frisbee and tending to our two fish, Brock and Brody.

Church Affiliation: Holy Trinity Anglican Church
Mrs. Mandi MooreBridge Program Administrative Team; 7th-8th Physical Science and Math (Pre-Algebra, Algebra)B.S. Multi-Disciplinary Science, Texas Tech University – College of Education; Texas Educator Certification – Secondary Science Composite (Grades 6-12); M.A. Physical Therapy, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

While prayerfully researching education options for our oldest child, my husband, Tim, and I became convinced that classical Christian education was the most effective method for raising our children to love the Lord whole-heartedly, think deeply from a Biblical worldview, discern truth, effectively communicate the gospel, and deeply influence the world. This conviction led us to serve on the founding board of Cross Classical Academy (CCA), the first of its kind in the Heart of Texas region, in order to make Classical Christian Education available to families of our community.

Our daughter and son attended CCA and I served as Administrator from 2010 through 2015, when my husband accepted a cardiology position at St. Alphonsus and we relocated to Idaho. Our family is grateful for the opportunity to continue our journey in classical Christian education at The Ambrose School, where we are deeply committed to the school’s mission and are daily blessed by the community of exceptional staff and families. I am excited to participate in the work to extend Ambrose to more families in southern Idaho through the new Shared Instruction Program.

As native Texans, it has been a delight to experience for the first time the many activities Idaho has to offer. From spending time outdoors hiking, mountain biking, running, rafting, snowmobiling, and skiing to savoring restaurants and fine arts productions downtown, our family ENJOYS Boise life and the amazing people who call it home.

All Saints Presbyterian Church, Boise
Cross Classical Academy – Board President
brandon 16 Mr. Ben BrandonBridge Program Humanities Chair;
7th and 8th Grade Humanities
B.A. Political Science: International Relations, M.A. History: European Civilization, Boise State.

I have taught homeschoolers at local co-ops (Aaron Academy, Boise Classical), and college courses at The Biblical Studies Center and Boise State. I have been teaching at The Ambrose School since 2014.

I love studying history and philosophy, especially that of the Greco-Roman world, and my greatest hope as a teacher is to pass on this love of learning to my students. As I’ve studied, I’ve seen how Christ is the fulfillment of true philosophy and the center of history, as He came in the fullness of time. I felt especially called to teach the 10th grade at Ambrose upon learning that the goal of the class is to teach the students “How God prepared the world for the Christ to come.”

I also enjoy history as it gives me an excuse to dress up in armor and play with swords. When not teaching, I hope to be scoring points in Ultimate Frisbee, or having philosophical discussions with my friends at local coffee shops. I also spend free time with my family, as my mother, father, and four siblings all live in Boise!

Church Affiliation: Boise Church of Christ
Mrs. Jamie LanginKindergarten TeacherB.S. in Nutritional Science from Seattle Pacific University.

I began homeschooling my kids in 2005 and have taught grammar and P.E. at a homeschool co-op for ten years. I also coached high level gymnastics for seven years at Cincinnati Gymnastics. When we moved to Idaho from Kentucky in 2015 I fell in love with The Ambrose School. I subbed everything from Kindergarten to 12th grade this last year at Ambrose.

I chose to teach at the Bridge Program at Ambrose because I believe classical Christian education challenges and prepares students mentally and spiritually. Every subject is rooted in the Word of God. I love that I get to come alongside parents in teaching their children. I want my students to enjoy learning and to learn to love Christ more every year.

I have been married to my husband Raoul for 19 years and we have four children, who are all blessed to attend The Ambrose School. We have lived in Idaho for the past two years and enjoy hiking and biking as a family in God's beautiful creation. I also love to do CrossFit, trail running, and coach youth track and field for Team Idaho.

Church Affiliation: Ambassador Bible Fellowship
Mrs. Becki Bervig1st Grade TeacherB.S. in Education from Pensacola Christian College, 2005; M.S. in Education Administration from Pensacola Christian College, 2007; M.A. in Biblical Exposition from Pensacola Theological Seminary, 2013.

I have taught for more than 12 years — from teaching individual and group lessons, Third Grade Theory, and conducting Third Grade Band at Pensacola Christian Academy in Florida, to running a private piano studio out of my home. I love teaching children and watching them grow in their love of learning. I chose to teach at The Ambrose School Bridge Program because I believe in the strong academic model of classical education and how it develops a deep a love for learning, enabling children to fulfill God’s calling for their life. I am humbled by the life changing influence that I am able to have on children and love being able to freely share the Lord, His Word, and guide children to a stronger faith in Christ.

My husband and I both grew up in Colorado, have been married for almost eight years, have two beautiful children, and are excited to have moved to the Boise area. We enjoy all the outdoor activities that Boise has to offer. We’re thrilled to see what God has in store for our family at The Ambrose School.

Church Affiliation: Bridgepoint Church
Mrs. Ann Kesl2nd Grade TeacherM.S. in Speech and Language Pathology with an emphasis in Developmental Disabilities, University of Nevada Reno

In the past, I worked within the special education system of the public schools, homeschooled my own children for 10 years, and taught 3rd grade at an University-Model program. I am excited to explore classical Christian education at The Ambrose School with my family and am impressed daily by the staff and students. I value the opportunity to work in tandem with parents, empowering them to provide the best education for their children within the Bridge Program model. It is my desire for children to walk out of my class not only knowing how deeply they are loved by Jesus but also to love learning.

My husband, Jim, and I have four children. Being a military family, we have had the pleasure of living in many places. We came to Idaho five years ago and finally feel at home. It is our plan to remain here permanently. When I’m not shuttling children around, I enjoy CrossFitting, reading under a snuggly blanket, and trying new foods.

Church Affiliation: Eagle Christian Church
Mrs. Jordan Douglas3rd and 4th Grade TeacherI earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University and a Master of Arts in Christianity & Classics from Knox Theological Seminary. I have served in teaching roles in various children’s ministries for more than ten years.

I am privileged to work alongside the staff and parents of the Ambrose community to apply the good news of the gospel to education. Ambrose is not merely focused on imparting knowledge, but on training the whole person, especially the heart, and encouraging students to love God and love others. As a parent and a follower of Jesus, this is my highest goal. I want my students to leave my classroom with a deepening confidence in the goodness of God's triumph over all things; our God is a great Redeemer who is working to restore His creation to beauty and peace.

My husband Brian and I have three children, all students at Ambrose. I am a library devotée who finds history fascinating and people and their stories endlessly compelling. Art, photography, films, and conversation refresh and inspire me. I am an Ohio native who has lived in Boise since 2008 and enjoy hanging out downtown, strolling the Greenbelt, and hiking in the foothills with my family.

Church Affiliation: All Saints Presbyterian
Mrs. Amy Cummings5th and 6th Grade TeacherB.S. in Nursing from BCIT

After working as a nurse for five years, I shifted gears to homeschool my children for five years, and taught French to students preK-4th grade.

I chose to teach at the Ambrose Bridge Program because it is a community where students are encouraged to pursue what is good and beautiful, and to study all things under the lens of Scripture. I am passionate about teaching from a place of joy and wonder, and passing on the love of learning to students. I want my students to be amazed at God’s world and to explore it from a place of faith.

I was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. After moving south of the border, I met and married my husband Mark in Moscow, ID. We have been married 11 years and have three children. When we are not reading and discussing books, we can be found hiking in the foothills or gathered around the dining table with friends.

Church Affiliation: Holy Trinity Anglican Church
Mrs. Jen Barbour7th and 8th Grade Composition
Mrs. Kathy ShanerArtB.A., Liberal Studies, CSUChico, 1987. Continuing education, including training in Classical methodology. I have taught in California public schools, Dept. of Defense schools in Europe, and private Christian schools since 1989; I started at the Ambrose School in 2007 and can honestly say this is the most dynamic, exciting place I’ve ever worked!

My introduction to Classical Christian education came through family whose daughter attended Ambrose; I saw immediately that this model of education reaches deep inside students, nurturing and stimulating much more than just their minds. Our students attain astounding levels of spiritual, intellectual, social, and physical growth through their interaction with centuries of great ideas. They learn to think honestly and with great skill and confidence, and they are uniquely prepared to make an impact on the people around them for the cause of Christ.

I am honored to be part of the work that God is doing at Ambrose.

My husband and I moved to Boise in 2006, and we love our beautiful surroundings— the four seasons, the abundant sunshine, the variety of outdoor activities available, the friendly people, and so much more. We can’t think of a better place to be!
Mrs. Michiko MillerMusicA.M. Piano Performance and Voice minor, Fukuoka Women’s College, Japan; Music Performance (Piano and Voice) Non-Degree Course for Graduates, Fukuoka Women’s College, Japan; English Teacher Certificate Course, Nippon University, Japan; Junior High School Mathematics Certificate Course, Nagasaki Board of Education, Japan; Special Needs Homeroom Teacher Certificate Course, Nagasaki Board of Education, Japan; B.M. Music Performance (Magna Cum Laude), Boise State University

I taught music and several subjects in the public school system in Japan for 15 years. At that time, I did not know of God’s existence. Later, after I came to know the Lord, He gave me a job teaching Japanese in two schools in El Paso, Texas. While there, I was also given the opportunity to teach music at a Classical Christian School in New Mexico. This was my first exposure to classical education. Reading “Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning” by Douglas Wilson helped change my approach to teaching music. Instead of focusing only on the improvement of musical technique, I began to also focus on how I can conduct my classes to please God and see Him working in the students. One of my favorite verses and my goal in my music classes is, “Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; sing the glory of His name, Make His praise glorious.” Psalms 66:1,2
Mrs. Anita WasdahlLatinLiberal Studies II, San Diego State University. I classically homeschooled my children for 15 years, before teaching Latin, Mathematics, and English at a Christian school in San Diego. I arrived at The Ambrose School in 2004.

I have the joy of working alongside a staff who seeks to encourage students in both excellence and in the love of a higher good. It is my privilege to be an active participant as students begin the shift from culturally based assumptions to Christ centered assumptions. Over the years, I have had the blessing of watching Ambrose students, including my own children, challenged and encouraged in all areas of their life.

My husband, Mark, and I have five children, the three youngest have graduated from The Ambrose School. We also delight in our four grandchildren. During the chillier months, I love reading books at Barnes and Noble, while enjoying a cup of hot coffee, and during warmer weather, I enjoy biking the greenbelt. Mark can often be found scorekeeping in both the basketball and volleyball Archer games.

Church Affiliation: All Saints Presbyterian Church

Classically Connecting Home and School