Tammie Knick | School Social Worker
I’ve been a School Social Worker for 20 years working primarily in traditional public schools. I have a Master’s Degree in Social Work from MSU, Mankato and am a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. In July of 2013, I joined the Technical Academies of Minnesota Board and started organizing a start-up advisory council for the Willmar location. In May of 2014, I was hired as the School Social Worker for DREAM Technical Academy in Willmar. My husband Doug and I live on a farm near Spicer with our 11 horses, 5 dogs and 1 cat. Between the two of us we have four daughters, their significant others, and five grandchildren. I enjoy spending time with family, reading, gardening, camping, and traveling. In the summer of 2016, Doug and I started our own business, Delta Equine Center, offering equine assisted therapy, riding lessons, educational programs and horse training. I chose to work at DREAM because I believe a small learning environment that offers individualized, project-based learning is what many students need in order to have a successful educational experience. I also like the staff-led school concept which allows the staff to make decisions collectively based upon what’s in the best interest of the students. If I were a student at DREAM my projects would be based on traveling to different parts of the country whether it be in person or virtually to learn about different cultures. My favorite quote is “Find something you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” This is my hope for students that they will follow their passions or their dreams which will lead them to finding a career they love.
Jaime Larson | Title I / Testing Coordinator
I grew up in the Willmar area and after graduating high school moved to St. Cloud to attend college at St. Cloud State University. I received my Masters in College Counseling and Student Development and worked as a Program Coordinator at SCSU for 6 years. I moved back to the Willmar area and left the education field for about 3 years until starting at DREAM as the Title One Community Coordinator/Assessment Coordinator last March. I choose DREAM because it brought me back to my passion of working with students. If I were a student at DREAM I would do a project on genetics and congenital diseases in children. I am married to my husband Josh and we have a son Henry and are expecting our second child.
Doug Knick | Advisor / Social Studies
“Education has succeeded when students learn to question answers rather than answer questions.”
Background: BA: Gustavus Adolphus College
Masters of Divinity: Luther Theological Seminary
BS: Mankato State University
EdD: University of St. Thomas
Teaching experiences: 10 yrs GFW
8 yrs Luther College
Choose DREAM: Public education should create space for students to explore, to reflect, to create, and to dream while striving to establish a more just society. DREAM offers each student this learning environment. I was also blessed to receive a two year leave of absence from Luther College to work at DREAM.
Project: Horses, specifically, how to integrate horses into the school setting daily. Other info: two daughters and four grandchildren. Next projects: Establishing an equine therapy center and continuing to write books.
Michaela Bengtson | Advisor
I was born and raised in Kandiyohi, Mn. I grew up on a dairy and crop farm, which has now transitioned into being a beef and crop farm. I love agriculture. I went to school to obtain my degree in Agricultural Education teaching. I completed my college by completing my first two years at Ridgewater College in Willmar, and the last two years at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Go Gophers! I enjoy all sorts of different activities from sports, painting, musicals, being outside,volunteering, playing with my niece and nephews and kayaking. I chose DREAM because it is the kind of school that I wish I would have had the opportunity to go to. I also chose DREAM because I will get to help students spontaneously explore the world around them to find their passions and dreams in order to prepare themselves for their futures! If I was a student at DREAM one of the projects that I would have picked would have been a project on looking at the ideal traits of a Red and White Holstein cow and then painting those traits!
Josie Olander | Paraprofessional
I’m Josie and I am a paraprofessional here at DREAM. One of my favorite things about working here is the creative environment that allows students to explore the things that they enjoy and want to learn about. Another favorite is when I have the opportunity to paint or be creative with a student! I like to help people. I also currently work at Copperleaf in Willmar which is a senior living facility. I have 2 cats at home which keeps life interesting. I also have 3 nieces and a nephew that I absolutely LOVE spending time with. They bring so much joy into my life! I enjoy writing, reading, wood burning, painting, and watching something good on Netflix in my spare time. I think the brain is fascinating so if I was a student, I would probably do a project on Alzheimer’s and what happens to the brain as the disease progresses… or anything to do with painting!
Luz Juarez | Paraprofessional
I’m Luz Juarez and I’m a para here at DREAM. I am on the school council and I represent our facilities. I graduated from Willmar before coming to DREAM I worked in a group home as a program coordinator. I worked with individuals with a wide range of disabilities. Then I went on to work in retail for a short time. I wanted to be a part of DREAM to make a difference in the students realize their potential, their passion, and their dream. My dream project would be to coordinate a homeless shelter in our community to help the less fortunate.
Vanessa Henjum | Paraprofessional
Hello I am Vanessa. I joined the staff at Dream at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. I grew up in Belgrade and graduated from Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa High School. I then moved to Duluth to attend the University of Minnesota Duluth where I majored in Biology. I now live in Spicer with my husband, two kids, dog, fish, and snake. I love the water! If I could, I think I would live in the water! I am so excited to be apart of Dream where I get to help students grow! If I could do a project, it would be a project about lake water quality.
Chris Sand | Paraprofessional
Hi, I’m Christine Sand, a para at DREAM. Growing-up in Clara City in the 60’s and 70’s was great! In my family, we worked hard and played with enthusiasm. I love music, teaching, and games.
Melissa Hoffman Bodin | Special Education Advisor
Hello! My name is Melissa Hoffman Bodin, but you can call me Missy for short. I grew up in Atwater and am a proud graduate of AGC, now ACGC. I have lived in Clara City for the past 22 years with my husband. We have three grown children and one granddaughter who has completely rocked my world! I am passionate about the outdoors, trail running, education, human rights, learning, traveling, living authentically and intentionally, and spending time with family and friends. I also love to read, write, climb mountains, and thrift shop. Prior to coming to DREAM I worked in community education and as a para in a public school system and most recently, I worked as the director of a non-profit dedicated to serving trauma survivors.
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from SMSU and a Master’s Degree in Education: Teaching, Learning, and Leadership, also from SMSU. I deeply value education and am super excited and extremely grateful to be part of the innovative and creative learning community at DREAM! I would have thrived in a school like this when I was growing up. So would have my children.
Current projects for me include: continuing my grad school studies regarding nature and the reflective process, writing regularly, and developing and leading nature retreats.
Leah Nagel | Mathematics Advisor
I have a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics Education from Bethel University, and have had the opportunity to work with both middle and high school students teaching anything from Pre-Algebra to Calculus. I love math so much that I named my middle child Trig, after my favorite topic. 😉 I grew up and currently reside in Litchfield with my three children and husband of 12 years. When I’m not teaching Math, I work with a company using Artisan-made accessories as a solution to poverty, and serve on the board for Stories Foundation- a non-profit working to raise awareness and funds to fight human trafficking. My hobbies and interests include good food and coffee, ethical fashion, spending time with friends, reading, writing, a good TV series, and watching sports (mostly hockey.)
Nikki Erickson | Special Education Advisor
Nikki Bettcher Erickson is a mom, wife, teacher and theatre artist living in Willmar, MN. Nikki moved to Willmar in 2004 and enjoys playing with her kiddos (Oliver, 8 and Fiona, 6), listening to live music with her husband and doing all kinds of fun stuff in the area! She directs at The Barn Theatre, teaches theatre classes through community education and has worked in theatre on three continents and has toured nationally as an actor in her younger days. Nikki has a lot of interests and enjoys hiking, being outside, cooking, exploring and doing anything that involves the arts or being creative. She comes to DREAM with a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre and Communication from Concordia College and a Master of Science in Special Education from the University of North Dakota. This is Nikki’s 6th year teaching and she is so excited to be a part of the DREAM team, to meet lots of new people and to work alongside many wonderful students!
Avery Winter | Paraprofessional
I’m Avery Winter and I am a paraprofessional here at DREAM. I enjoy working here because it allows students to fully participate in their own, unique educational journey by using a project-based learning philosophy. One of my favorite things about DREAM is the creative educational setting that helps students be truly themselves with a caring and supportive staff. I like to be creative, enjoy reading and writing, and spending time with family and friends. I also like to stay active and participate in sports. If I was a DREAM student my kind of project would be studying dance and music and how those two topics can help people come together.
Jennifer Landin | Special Education Administrative Assistant
Hi, I’m Jennifer! I chose to work at DREAM after working in very restrictive schools. I chose DREAM because of the care that is taken with the students, (and staff!). I wanted to be a part of helping to educate the whole student. Seeing them succeed and get prepared for real world life beyond school is fantastic! I love that DREAM is a welcome and supportive environment to work and for students to learn. It is inspiring to see students succeed and learn through project based learning. DREAM staff and students recognize and support each other for all of their talents and accomplishments. There is nothing better for my family and my doggos than to go camping. We love campfires, swimming, yard games and geocaching. In the winter we like to snuggle in and play any type of board or dice game or do a puzzle.
Paula Hjelle | Office Manager
I’m Paula and I am the office manager here at DREAM. I am excited to be a part of the DREAM Team! I really enjoy the variety here and seeing students interact with each other, building friendship. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, baking, card making, outdoor activities, and spending time with my girls. If I were a student at DREAM, I would do a project on childhood development with preschoolers.