School Board

April Grabanski
April GrabanskiBoard Chair, Teacher
Date Seated: 7.1.13
Date Term Expires: 6.30.20

April Grabanski graduated Summa Cum Laude from North Central University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a concentration in Communication Arts. She helped start the Junior High program at Life Academy in Bloomington and worked there for seven years. In June of 2011, she finished her Master’s Degree in Education through Walden University. This is her eighth year teaching 5th grade at Eagle Ridge Academy. She has been on the Board of Directors at Eagle Ridge Academy since 2013 and has served as secretary, vice-chair, and chair during that time. She has two children, Gabriel (6th grade) and Esther (5th grade), who have both attend Eagle Ridge Academy since kindergarten. She is committed to Classical education and has earned a Classical Certificate from Nova Classical Academy, attended several seminars on Classical education, and is currently enrolled in the Classical Teacher Certificate Program at Eagle Ridge Academy. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening with her husband Matthew, playing with her dogs, watching her chickens, going to Twins games, and biking.

John Schwirtz
John SchwirtzVice Chair, Community Member
Date Seated: 1.13.15
Date Term Expires: 6.30.19
John Schwirtz has been associated with Eagle Ridge Academy since the fall of 2004, when he entered the school as a 7th grader. As an ERA student, he was active in Student Senate, Mock Trial, and Junior Classical League. After graduating from ERA in 2010, he attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota where he studied in the Great Conversation program and eventually majored in Political Science with a concentration in Middle East Studies. His senior year, John served as president of the St. Olaf Student Government association. He currently works at Exosite, a Minneapolis-based Internet software company. A vocal proponent of classical education since his days in high school, John is excited to use his perspective as a young alumnus to partner with the board and the broader ERA community to ensure the success of its mission.
Ken Kulus
Ken KulusTreasurer, Parent
Date Seated: 7.01.17
Date Term Expires: 6.30.19
Ken graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a BA in Financial Management and a minor in Marketing Management. His working career began in the Medical Malpractice Insurance and Personal Banking industries before spending the past 18 years at United Healthcare and Express-Scripts as a Sr. Business Analyst, Project Manager and Program Manager within their IT Divisions. Ken and his wife, Judi, reside in Shakopee, MN and have four children; ages 13 – 24yrs. The Kulus’ began attending Eagle Ridge Academy in 2010. Shea is now entering 9th grade and Khaia will enter 8th grade. Ken is fully supportive of Eagle Ridge Academy’s admirable mission statement and core set of values. He is grateful for the privilege to send his children to Eagle Ridge Academy, and to now be elected to serve on the Eagle Ridege Academy Board. In his spare time, Ken enjoys coaching his children’s sports teams, building sets for the ERA Theatrical performances, tackling large home construction and landscaping projects, and rebuilding late model vehicles.
Ann Watanabe
Ann WatanabeSecretary, Parent
Date Seated: 7.1.13
Date Term Expires: 6.30.19

Ann Watanabe is employed by Optum, a health services and innovation company; she has previous experience in consulting, has worked for a Fortune 50 consumer electronics retailer, and the University of Minnesota’s Academic Health Center. Her background spans vendor management, managing data privacy, licensing, safety compliance, business ethics, as well as contract negotiations, executive recruitment, and human resources. She is a past officer of Eagle Ridge Academy’s PTO, is a founding member of the Playground Committee, and was involved in various Administrative Search Work Groups at Eagle Ridge Academy, and the Governance Work Group, prior to being elected to the Board. Ann holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota in East Asian Studies. She believes it is important to serve all constituents of Eagle Ridge Academy as a Board member and endeavors to continue to build upon the mission and vision of the Academy. Ann, her husband Hiro, and their two children live in Eden Prairie. Both children attend Eagle Ridge Academy, one in the School of Grammar, and one in the School of Logic.

Julia Demakis-Haustein
Julia Demakis-Haustein Teacher
Date Seated: 10.24.17
Date Term Expires: 6.30.19

Julia Demakis-Haustein graduated from St. Olaf College with a major in Medieval Studies and a minor in Environmental studies. She then received a Masters of Arts in teaching from Bard College with a certification in English Language Arts. She has been teaching since 2010 and for the past two years has taught Lower School Latin here at Eagle Ridge Academy. She is now back to teaching secondary English and couldn’t be more thrilled. At home, she lives with her husband, infant son, and their three dogs.

Rahul Deep
Rahul DeepParent
Date Seated: 7.01.18
Date Term Expires: 6.30.20
Katie Katzner
Katie KatznerTeacher
Date Seated: 7.01.17
Date Term Expires: 6.30.19

Katie Katzner has been with the Student Services Department at Eagle Ridge Academy, as a paraprofessional and now a special education teacher since April 2013. In 2005, Katie earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Early Child Education from the University of Duluth and in 2015 Katie earned a Masters of Education in Special Education from the University of St. Thomas. Since her time at Eagle Ridge Academy, Katie has developed the special education behavior program and looks for ways for her students to grow into well-rounded citizens, by being to reach their highest potential in their social emotional and academic growth. Katie and her husband Aaron enjoy sea kayaking together and looking for the beauty found within the world around them.

Kathy Oberstar
Kathy OberstarParent
Date Seated: 7.01.13
Date Term Expires: 6.30.20

Kathy has worked at Cargill for the past 19 years in a variety of business and IT roles; she currently serves as the IT Service Manager for North America. Prior to working at Cargill, Kathy spent several years in Uganda, East Africa training community development workers. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy from the University of Minnesota. Kathy is passionate about bringing teams of people together to accomplish great things. She is looking forward to partnering with the board, and the entire Eagle Ridge community, to ensure we continue to bring alive and live out the mission and vision of the school. Kathy and her husband Peter live in Richfield with their two children. They have two children enrolled in the ERA School of Logic.

Lisa Johnson
Lisa JohnsonTeacher
Date Seated: 7.01.18
Date Term Expires: 6.30.20

Lisa Johnson has been teaching art, and sometimes other courses, since graduating from Calvin College in 1986. She has taught at Northern Michigan Christian School; as a teacher with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Colombia, South America; Calvin Christian school in Edina; and at Eagle Ridge Academy since the school opened in 2004.

With degrees in Art, Education, and Humanities, she has found her calling at Eagle Ridge. Her kids are older and she now likes to travel more and experience great art—sometimes leading student trips to such countries as Spain, France, Italy, and Greece.

Austen Rockcastle
Austen RockcastleTeacher
Date Seated: 7.01.17
Date Term Expires: 6.30.19

Dr. Austen Rockcastle received his B.A. in Mathematics, along with his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy, all from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. He began his teaching career at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he taught Philosophy (primarily Logic and Ethics) for 6 years. He went on to teach at Trinity School, then in Bloomington, Minnesota, for 7 years, St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights (1 year), Central High School in St. Paul (1/2 year), Eagle Ridge Academy in Eden Prairie (6-1/2 years) and Chesterton Academy in Edina (4 years) before returning to Eagle Ridge Academy for what will be his tenth year overall at Eagle Ridge. Throughout his high school teaching career, especially, Dr. Rockcastle has taught a wide variety courses, including 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Humanities, Philosophy, Latin, French, Logic, Rhetoric, Algebra 1 and 2, Geometry and Pre-Calculus. And he is scheduled to teach Pre-Calculus and Functions this year. He has also taught in ERA’s Excellence Club, and has mentored students in extracurricular activities such as Film Club and Robotics.

Jane Wegener Venema
Jane Wegener VenemaTeacher
Date Seated: 7.1.16
Date Term Expires: 6.30.20

Jane Wegener has been a Humanities teacher at Eagle Ridge Academy since the 2010 – 2011 school year. She has also taught a variety of writing elective courses and has founded and directed the Eagle Ridge Academy Improv Club. In 2010, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education and English/Language Arts from Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. Since beginning her career at Eagle Ridge Academy, Jane has grown to love Classical education for how it challenges students to take their education beyond the classroom and to grow in virtue as students, citizens, and individuals. She looks forward to serving the school and its mission as a member of the Board of Directors. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, running, cycling, and going to sporting events with friends.

Jason Ulbrich
Jason UlbrichExecutive Director
Ex Officio Member
No Expiration Term