• Get Ready!
  • SELF Loan
  • Minnesota College Savings Plan
Minnesota Office of Higher Education
GetReady Banner
GetReady helps prepare students from low-income families with college planning, tutoring, & information on career and higher education options.

Our Staff

  • Tom Bartholomay

    Evaluation & Research Manager
    OHE

    Tom Bartholomay conducts program evaluation and research for the Get Ready program. He has been involved in education-related evaluation and research for fifteen years, after teaching general and special education for six years in the Minneapolis area and overseas. Previous to Get Ready, Tom was an evaluation and research specialist for University of Minnesota Extension for seven years. Prior to that he was a research fellow at the Institute on Community Integration, affiliated with the University of Minnesota. He holds two degrees, M.A Evaluation and M.Ed. Education, as well as multiple teaching licenses. Tom is an avid bicycler, biking year round to work most days. He has a wife, Kearn, and two kids, Derek (age 12) and Cameron (age 6). He lives with his family in Roseville, with 2 cats – named "Wonderful" and "Gypsyking" - and among neighbors and a park reserve in which Tom and his family regularly explore. Tom's favorite activity with Get Ready is working with its great staff and leadership and learning about the program.

  • Ashley Booker

    Program Director
    OHE

    As the Evaluation Specialist/Data Analyst, Ashley is focused on assessing Get Ready's strengths and helping to make improvements wherever necessary to ensure that students continue to receive high-quality services and programming. Ashley began working with Get Ready in June 2012, but she has worked in higher education and college access for a number of years. Previously she served as the Program Manager in Student Diversity & Inclusion Services at the University of St. Thomas, and as a Program Coordinator with College Possible.

    Ashley was born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and is a proud graduate of the Saint Paul Public Schools. She earned her B.A. in the Sociology of Law, Criminology, and Deviance from the University of Minnesota, and recently completed her Master of Arts in Education degree at Augsburg College. Ashley is particularly interested in the intersections of race, education, and criminal incarceration, and was drawn to college access work to help contribute to the closing of the academic achievement gap.

    During her spare time, you can find Ashley whipping up a new and exciting meal, adding to her extensive music collection, beating friends and family at every board game known to man, finding any excuse to dance, and always basking in her awesomeness.

  • Courtnie Conyers

    Education Liaison
    Washington Technology Magnet

  • Nina Englund

    Strategic Partnerships Specialist
    OHE

    Nina works for Get Ready to help students and families achieve success in their future goals around education and employment opportunities. Fun Fact: A fun fact about her is that she wears something pink every day in the month of April to celebrate her sister.

  • Kelly Gibson

    Competitive Grants Admin Assistant
    OHE

    Kelly has been working part-time with Get Ready for 4 ½ years now, and at the Minnesota Office of Higher Education for 7 ½ years working with various state and federal grant programs. She has worked for the State of MN at various agencies since 1985. Currently, she works closely with Joanna Schwarze in college field trip planning, making sure the buses are ordered for the college visits, lunch is ordered for all students and chaperones, and packets of information regarding the college visit are prepared for the Education Liaisons.

    Kelly is a native St. Paul resident, born and raised in the St. Paul/Maplewood area and still lives in Maplewood. She has two children--a daughter that just got married in September 2012, and a son that is currently serving in the Air Force in Japan. She also has two dogs (Shelties) that are 13 and 12, and a cat that is 17 years old!

    Her passion has and always will be music. She loves singing karaoke on the weekends with her karaoke friends! She also loves to travel to warm, tropical places, and has been seen visiting Puerto Vallarta, Mexico quite often these past few years. She believes there is nothing better than 80 degrees in the middle of winter! She loves to swim and enjoy many summer activities. She also enjoys concerts, especially 80's bands, and tries to get to a few every year.

     

     

  • Jackie Hayden

    Education Liaison
    Brooklyn Center High School

    Jackie works with 11th grade students at BC. She always tells her students, “My job is to get you to your dream job.” She feels really lucky to have such a meaningful and rewarding career that empowers students to fulfill their full potential.

    Fun Fact: She and her husband decided on their son's name while watching the Oscars.

  • Amie Jannetto

    Evaluation Associate
    OHE

    Because she works with the numbers of Get Ready, it's fun seeing how other staff are interacting with students. She whole-heartedly believes we are making a difference in the lives of underrepresented students and families.

    Fun Fact: she's been playing softball since she was 4....so longer than most staff have been alive....

  • Joe Kane

    Education Liaison
    Brooklyn Center Secondary

    Currently in his second year with Get Ready, Joe works at Brooklyn Center High School with grades 6 and 8. He is passionate about helping students be set up for academic success and is excited to be working with an innovative community schools model at Brooklyn Center High School.

    Previously Joe worked as a middle school special education teacher in Baton Rouge, Louisiana having moved there to work through a placement with Teach For America. Before that, he graduated from St. John's University with a degree in Political Science.

    In his spare time, Joe enjoys long distance running, biking, and cross country skiing. He has completed 8 cross country ski marathons and is looking to one day ski the famous races in Europe. He also enjoys live music and sports, especially college football. Geaux Tigers!

  • Matt Kiefer

    Education Liaison
    Brooklyn Center High School

    Matt works with 9th and 10th grade students at BC. He works for Get Ready because of the unique role it has within the school system. He looks at the EL position as a teaching hybrid role that incorporates classroom instruction, college and career advising, mentorship, and life coaching. For him, this hybrid role gives him a great opportunity to meet students where they are at in their lives and give them the individualized instruction or advice they need. He has seen the positive impact that Get Ready has on the students and the school community, and he would love to help continue that trend.

  • Sandra Kroger

    High School Counselor
    Roosevelt High School

    Sandra Kroger, nee Fabrizi, is a licensed school counselor working with the Get Ready Program at Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis since 2009.

    Her goal as a counselor is to collaborate with students, families, community members and school personnel to assure that all students realize and integrate their academic, career, and personal/social potential in order to develop and achieve an individualized vision of success.

    Prior to becoming a counselor she was an English teacher and a French teacher. She has taught in Minneapolis since 1992. She has taught English Language Arts (ELA) for grades 6-12 and French Level 1 and 2 in both middle and high school.

    Sandra is originally from Ontario, Canada. She received an Honors Bachelor of Arts from York University and she spent one year studying at the University of Bordeaux III, France. Sandra's Bachelor of Education is from the University of Toronto. Her Master of Arts in Education is from Hamline University. Her Master of Science in Education is from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls. Sandra is also a National Board Certified Teacher.

    She lives with her husband, two sons, and a dog in a suburb of St. Paul. She enjoys bicycling, movies, and spending time with family and friends.

  • Tobias Leuthner

    Evaluation Specialist
    OHE

    Tobias works for Get Ready to improve quality of life through education for all Minnesotans, especially those who are underrepresented in higher education. His professional interests include teaching, dis/ability studies, and critical pedagogy. Get Ready allows him to use his skills and interests to contribute to statewide efforts to improve postsecondary outcomes for all Minnesotans.

    Fun Fact: he loves to use all forms of public transportation (bus, light rail, train, etc.).

  • Esther McCallson

    Education Liaison
    Roosevelt High School

    Esther was born in Uganda and grew up in Saint Paul. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. Her parents moved to the United States from Uganda to pursue graduate studies when she was four years-old. Esther brings the dual perspective of someone who was the first person in their family to apply to college in the US.

    She keeps college and college access front and center. From her previous work with the Banyan Community, a small community development organization in the Philips neighborhood in south Minneapolis, and being a College Possible College Coach, the paths of getting to college is one thing she is well versed in. She has worked with youth as young as kindergarten and helped them think about their plans for higher education. She enjoys working with middle school students and high school students, helping them make their dreams of a college education realities. She is excited to bring her knowledge, compassion and humor to helping students reach their goals.

    When she is not working Esther enjoys playing basketball, watching crime-related shows, and being outside. She loves to cook and find new recipes to try based on the season. She is always creating something, either sewing it, making it, or cooking it. She is usually never bored.

  • Sheila Nelsen-Amado

    Curriculum Development Specialist
    OHE

    Sheila has worked for the Get Ready program for the last 15 years. She does this work because her work is grounded in self-determination, critical thinking and empowerment. She believes in and is committed to youth voice, anti-racism, LGBTQ inclusion, diversity and equity. They are the cornerstones of her work with GEAR UP students, families and community partners.

    Fun Fact: she is passionate about urban farming. Her garden- both straw bales and raised beds take up much of her yard. The five resident layer hens are providing the neighborhood with organic eggs. If she could only get a goat...!

  • Tenzin Nordon

    Program Development Specialist
    OHE

    Tenzin's parents have always taught her that education is the key to success in life. Her parents left Tibet by foot and arrived to India as Tibetan refugees. Then they immigrated to the US to provide Tenzin and her brother with an education, and other such opportunities, that they did not have for themselves. Tenzin also believes in the power of education and its ability to change people's lives for the good; that's why she loves working for Get Ready!

    Fun Fact: Tenzin learned Hindi (Indian language) as her first language despite being ethnically Tibetan.

  • Karlee Nussbaum

    Education Liaison
    Roosevelt High School

    Karlee Nussbaum works with 10th grade students at Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis. Karlee is incredibly excited to be working with students to create achievement-oriented mindsets and plans for their futures.

    Fun Fact: she taught Spanish for two years in Chicago, Illinois.

  • Becky Schmitz

    High School Counselor
    Washington Technology Magnet

    Idea girl, artist, and Get Ready Counselor at Johnson High School; Becky Schmitz is a country girl wannabe, a lover of cheesecake, a mother to one cupcake eating toddler and one lazy dog and wife to the best Wheel of Fortune playing husband ever. Her love for education and working with youth bloomed while enrolled at Bemidji State University.

    After graduating with a Master's Degree in School Counseling from Bemidji State, Becky made a few twists working as an art teacher, an admission counselor and international teacher in London, England. These fine careers not only introduced her to new people, big ideas and driving on the other side of the road, but have also helped shape her into the person she is today.

    Becky does not solely spend her time as a GR Counselor, she also won a local coloring contest at age 6, was a regional championship bowler at age 10, and swam with Great White Sharks off the coast of Africa at age 24. Nowadays, she can be found perusing Pinterest and food blogs while drinking coffee, and planning out her next 5K race.

  • Charlee Thao

    Education Liaison
    Olson Middle School

    Born and raised in Saint Paul, MN, Charlee loves that his position with Get Ready gives him the opportunity to work with students and watch them change and grow into future citizens of the world. Prior to joing the GR team, Charlee received his Bachelor of Science degree in Teaching from Saint Cloud State University. He really enjoys his job as an Education Liaison, but has also held positions as an Usher at Mall of America Theaters and a Computer Networking Assistant at Gemini Digital Products.

    In his free time Charlee loves writing stories and filming quick flicks. He is also an avid pc gamer. While in college, Charlee spent a semester in South Korea and would love the opportunity to someday travel there again to visit. "I wish to see my old friends and places again," he said.

    Currently, Charlee still resides in Saint Paul with his wife and Parson Russel Terrier, Tydus, who loves digging holes. He and his wife hope to someday have kids and will celebrate their second anniversary this June!

  • Marcio Thompson

    Outreach Coordinator
    OHE

    Marcio works with Get Ready because he asks himself the question, "I wonder if... we can eliminate the term, 1st Generation College Student?" Or if we could ensure college and career readiness for all students?" These are the questions that motivate him on a daily bases and drive him to do the work of sharing information with students and parents about the importance of postsecondary education. It is that same passion that drives him to develop opportunities for students to engage with careers in a way that will impact their futures.

    Fun Fact: Although, he thinks of himself as more conservative when it comes to fashion, he does like rather ornate bowties and socks.

  • Thown Thor

    Education Liaison
    Hmong International Academy

    Thown Thor is a Get Ready Education Liaison at Hmong International Academy in Minneapolis, MN. He works with 5th through 8th graders. This is his second school year at Get Ready and Hmong International Academy.

    Thown grew up in Minneapolis, and earned his Bachelor's Degree at St. Olaf College in 2007. Shortly after college, he became a High School Social Studies teacher in the Twin Cities.

    Thown enjoys spending time with his family, playing sports, such as tennis, basketball and football. He is also a huge sports fan and enjoys traveling.

  • Amanda Twite

    Program Supervisor
    OHE

    She works for Get Ready because it gives her a chance to assist students in their postsecondary planning. Realizing that no two students are the same, she, along with the student, can tailor a career pathway and plan specifically for them.

    If she could go on vacation anywhere, she would go to Phuket, Thailand.

  • Chang Dao Vang

    Parent Engagement Coordinator
    OHE

    Chang absolutely loves higher education! Like many of his students, he was the first one in his family to go to college which is one of the reasons he enjoys working for Get Ready As an Education Liaison, Chang loves that he gets to help students like himself get to college.

    Chang attended St. Olaf College and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work. While in college, he had the opportunity to study abroad in China and Tibet for a month. Now he can't wait to travel more! His destination wish-list would include: Hawaii, Australia and Thailand/Laos. His favorite hobbies are football and cars. Chang's all-time favorite food is pho, a delicious Vietnamese soup. If Chang could have any superpower, it would be instant teleportation.

  • Tria Vang

    Education Liaison
    Farnsworth Aerospace - Upper Campus

  • Nick Walker

    High School Counselor
    Patrick Henry High School (HHS)

    This is Nick's second school year working with the Get Ready Program. Prior to working with Get Ready, he worked as a middle school math teacher and counselor.

    Nick grew up in Minnesota and completed his Bachelor's Degree at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Shortly thereafter he and his wife moved to Texas and he started his Master's Degree at the University of Texas, Brownsville. After a few years they returned to Minnesota and he later completed his Master's Degree at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls.

    Nick values spending time with his wife Leann and son Christian. Together they enjoy biking, downhill skiing, going to movies, traveling and many other activities. They recently bought a "fixer upper" cabin in Northern Minnesota that was originally built in 1940 and have spent the much of the past year and a half working to make it usable once again.

  • Xong Yang

    Education Liaison
    Brooklyn Center Secondary

  • Mary Zehrer

    High School Counselor
    Washington Technology Magnet