Meet our Staff
Academic Dean, Bible & Social Studies
Brad (Braden) grew up in Wichita, Kansas. He earned a degree in Political Science from Wichita State and has his masters in Political Science from the University of Kansas, and a masters in Theology and doctorate in Religious Studies from Marquette University.
His family includes wife, Elizabeth and three children, Benjamin, Madelyn, and Katelyn. Brad’s hobbies include reading fiction and history, watching movies, playing piano and strategy games. His favorite event at Freeman Academy is Yuletide.
english and theater
Clara grew up in Freeman, SD. She received a degree in English Education from the University of Sioux Falls.
She is married to husband, Billy. Clara’s hobbies include baking, reading, and drinking tea.
When asked what her favorite activities are at Freeman Academy, she said, “I love all the music concerts; our students’ hard work and dedication to put them together never ceases to amaze me.”
Amber grew up near Menno, SD and received degree in Elementary Education and Music from Northwestern College-Orange City, Iowa. She is currently working on her master's from Northwestern College.
Her family includes husband, Mark, and four children, Abigail, Hannah, Jordan, and Sarah. Amber enjoys playing piano for church and leading the children's music. She loves singing and playing for weddings as music is her favorite hobby. Her favorite Freeman Academy activity is the 4th-6th science fair. “It is so much fun watching these students take ownership of their projects!”
Cindy grew up in Freeman, SD. She graduated from Freeman Academy and has degrees in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Sioux Falls College.
Her family includes husband, David and four children, Elliot (and Caitlin), Michael, Ashley (and Dillon), and Audrey (and José). She enjoys reading and travel in her spare time. Her favorite events at Freeman Academy are Yuletide and the musicals throughout the year.
Lynelle grew up in Goshen, Indiana. She received her degree in Elementary Education from Goshen College and has minors in Spanish and TESOL.
Her family includes husband, Josh, and two children, Gideon and baby #2 debuting in January.
Lynelle loves experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen.
When asked her favorite Freeman Academy event, she said, “Schmeckfest is probably my favorite-- it's hard to go wrong with good food, a good show, and lots of family and friends coming to visit!”
hofer vetch, amy
Amy grew up in Freeman, SD. She received a degree in Social Work and Music Education from the University of Sioux Falls.
Her family includes husband, Shane, step-daughter Morgan and her husband Tyler, and the late Jackson Vetch.
Amy enjoys trying new recipes. Freeman Academy school musicals are her favorite activities on campus. “Freeman Academy students take on all aspects of the production and work alongside volunteer adults. This includes acting, orchestra, designing, creating, building, lighting, sound and running the show.”
Visual Arts, Comm tech,
Bible & Social Studies
Joe Mason is a graduate of Grand View College with a B.A. in Visual Art, and Drake University with a M.A.T. in Art Education. He obtained a B.A. in Pastoral Theology from Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, Iowa. Joe pastors a small congregation in the area.*
Kelsey grew up in Freeman, SD. She is a graduate of Freeman Academy and received degrees in History and English from Bethel College. She also received her master’s degree in Education from the University of Sioux Falls.
Kelsey is married to “thee” Brett Pidde and enjoys singing with family or choirs in her spare time.
Her favorite Freeman Academy activity is Schmeckfest. “It is such a highlight. I enjoy the food, the show, and watching students interact with the community”
Donna Ries graduated from Hardin Northern High School then graduated from Bluffton College with a degree in music. Donna moved to Sioux Falls where she married Duane and moving to the family farm near Freeman. They have three grown daughters, Breanna, Brittney, and Brooklyn.
Donna is a member of Salem Mennonite Church in rural Freeman where she directs the chancel and handbell choirs and sings in the ladies’ ensemble. She enjoys playing trumpet, traveling, collecting antiques, gardening, fishing and spending time with family.*
Karla grew up in Springfield, SD. She received her degree in Elementary Education from Northern State University with an Early Childhood/Kindergarten endorsement. She also has her masters in Classroom Teaching and Elementary Administration along with a Middle School endorsement.
Her family includes, husband, Wade, and two sons, Tanner (and Katie), and Kade.
She enjoys camping and other outdoor activities with family. Musicals are her favorite events at Freeman Academy.
Carol Stastny returned to Freeman Academy after having previously taught the sciences here from 1998-2002.
She says that her previous stint at Freeman Academy significantly shaped her spirituality and she enjoys her time currently at our campus.*
Craig grew up on a farm near Menno, SD. He received his degree in Agiculture from Freeman Academy Junior College, and a degree in Mathematics Education from Tabor College.
His family includes, wife, Lois, and two daughters, Bethany, and Andrea. He enjoys leading worship music, farming, biking, hiking and photography in his spare time.
Craig enjoys coaching middle school volleyball most at Freeman Academy. He says, “they are such an energetic and fun-loving group to work with.”
Lynnelle grew up in Bassett, Nebraska. She earned a degree in Business/Communications from Hastings College and has her masters in Journalism from the University of Missouri.
Her family includes husband, Jay and two grown children and two left in the nest. She enjoys growing flowers in her spare time and her favorite events at Freeman Academy are the musicals including Mary Poppins, The Music Man, and The Boyfriend.
Head of School
Nathan grew up on a farm between Marion and Freeman, SD. He graduated from Freeman Academy and has a degree from Bethal college and a masters from the University of Sioux Falls.
His family includes, wife, Sheila, and two children, Kaitlyn and Connor. Nathan’s hobbies include watching sports and camping. When asked his favorite activity at Freeman Academy, he says, “Schmeckfest!”
Resident director, coach
Michelle grew up in Milbank, SD. She has a degree in Vocal Music Education, English, and German from Gustavus Adlophus College. She has a masters in Instrumental Music from the University of South Dakota and a license in Ministerial from the Church of God in Anderson, Indiana.
Her family includes, husband, Charles, and three daughters, Ashley, Alyssa, and Arianne. Her hobbies include playing the harp, reading, and performing in Schmeckfest musicals.
Michelle enjoys Freeman Academy’s Schmeckfest, musicals and coaching Oral Interpretation.
Judy grew up in Little Rock, IA. She received her degree in Business and Accounting from Freeman Junior College.
Her family includes, husband, Lindy, and two children, Lawson, and Lexi (and Carson). Judy’s hobbies include walking outdoors, reading, spending time with the kids, and watching college sports (Go Hawkeyes and Jacks!)
Her favorite activities at Freeman Academy include the Yuletide Banquet. “All the hard work put into it as it transformed into a beautiful evening is always worth it!”
Jill grew up in Mather, Manitoba. She received her associates degree in Horticulture/Landscape Design from Southeast Technical College, Sioux Falls. She is certified in Theological Study from AMBS, in Elkhart, Indiana and has (almost) completed her certification of Spiritual Direction from the Sioux Falls Seminary.
Her family includes, husband, Stan, and two sons, Cole, and Ian (and Hannah). Jill enjoys cooking, gardening, and hanging around the campfire with friends. Her favorite activity at Freeman Academy is the Fall Musical.
Food Service, Coach
Suzanne grew up near Freeman, SD. She has a degree in Animal Science from South Dakota State University. (Go Jacks!)
Her family includes husband, Todd, and four children, Andrew, Lillie (and Andre), Clara (and Billy), and Jada. Her hobbies include hiking and gardening. Her favorite activities at Freeman Academy include the Freeman Academy-Marion (FAM) Invitational Cross Country meet. She said, “Seeing our athletes race the walking paths with other teams in uniform through the prairie grass and lovely flowers of our Arboretum is soul filling”
Karen Schultz graduated from Scotland High School. She graduated from Lake Area Technical Institute with Computer Technology/Accounting in Watertown, SD. She followed her husband back home to the family farm located eight miles south of Freeman, where she lives today. Karen and her husband Stewart have three grown daughters, Chelsea, Carissa and Chandra and their growing families have added much joy with the arrival of grandchildren. Karen is a member of the Peace Christian Reformed Church in Menno. In her free time, you can find her enjoying a good book, golfing, cooking, gardening and spending time with family and friends. *
van ningen, meranda
Meranda grew up near Madison, SD. She has a degree in Public Relations/Mass Communications from North Dakota State University. (Go Bison!)
Her family includes husband, Adam, and two children, Blake and Piper. Her favorite hobbies are to travel, visit everywhere she can, and a good cup of coffee and conversation.
When asked her favorite Freeman Academy event, she said, “Yuletide – I love the low lights, stunning decorations, and angelic voices as we celebrate Christ’s birth.”