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faculty

Lauren Jones

Lauren Jones

Administrator

Mrs. Jones joined the BHCA family in 2022.  She brings extensive experience as a classroom teacher, a focus on excellence, and a heart for serving the Lord by educating His children.

ljones@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Jody Merchen

Jody Merchen

Office Manager

Mrs. Merchen joined the team at BHCA in 2011. She has a love for serving children and their families. Her previous fifteen year experience in children’s ministry as a volunteer and children’s director, along with her business background, serve beautifully in her role as office manager. She looks forward to the new opportunities God has for her as she comes alongside the dedicated staff, the wonderful families, and the amazing children. She counts it a privilege and joy to be part of the BHCA family!  Col. 3:23, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”

jmerchen@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Heidi Carstensen

Heidi Carstensen

Office Assistant

Mrs. Carstensen graduated from SDSU in 2006 with a degree in Chemistry.  She is married to her husband of 12 years and they are delighted to have 3 little boys who attend BHCA.  She always thought it would be great to work in the office at my kid’s school, and she considers it a huge blessing that God has allowed her to come into this position at BHCA.  She absolutely loves her job!  The Lord is continually showing her the beauty of the cross, and revealing His grace in new and amazing ways throughout the ups and downs of everyday life.  Mrs. Carstensen loves the Lord more than life itself, and hopes and prays that all she does here at BHCA will bring glory to Him alone.

hcarstensen@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Darla Gates

Darla Gates

Building Supervisor + Lunch Coordinator

Mrs. Gates started at BHCA in 2018.  She’s a hard worker with a servant’s heart, eager to support staff and students with her skills.  Mrs. Gates’ willingness to help makes each day brighter for BHCA staff, students, and families.

dgates@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Brenda Karp

Brenda Karp

Preschool Teacher

Mrs. Karp joined the BHCA team in the fall of 2017. She has a degree in Christian Education from OK Wesleyan University. She has served with her husband in pastoral ministry for 20 years and has led children’s programs. “I am very excited to be at BHCA and to work in a place where I can help kids learn about Jesus and to grow into the people God wants them to be.” A favorite verse of hers is Philippians 4:6-7a, “Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand…”

bkarp@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Jamie Groneberg

Jamie Groneberg

Preschool Aide

Mrs. Groneberg joined BHCA in 2013. She attended Oklahoma Wesleyan University studying early childhood development. Mrs. Groneberg worked in a daycare for 3 1/2 years in Buffalo, WY, and later in a Christian Preschool until she had children of her own. She has two children that attend BHCA and enjoys the convenience of having the same schedule. Mrs. Groneberg enjoys working in a Christ centered school environment, and is excited about being an aide at BHCA.

jgroneberg@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Corin Humbracht

Corin Humbracht

Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

Mrs. Humbracht started teaching at BHCA in 2011. After years of teaching in daycare centers, children’s ministry at church, and currently raising her 3 boys and daughter; she enjoys being a part of the BHCA family. She loves teaching both academics and Biblical principles to the pre-kindergartners. A favorite Scripture is “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”  Mark 10:14b

chumbracht@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Lisa Blanchett

Lisa Blanchett

Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

Mrs. Blanchett joined BHCA in 2014. She has over 20 years of experience as a children’s church teacher and has served as Children’s Pastor at Dakota Life Center in Newell. Mrs. Blanchett is very happy to be part of BHCA and says, “It is awesome to be part of a school that is Christ centered and teaches the Word of God every day!” Surely, goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Psalm 23:6

lblanchett@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Reyna Torberson

Reyna Torberson

Pre-Kindergarten Aide

Mrs. Torberson joined BHCA in 2021.  As a former classroom teacher currently pursuing a master’s degree in counseling, Mrs. Torberson has a wide range of experiences that add wisdom and joy as she supports both students and teachers in the pre-k classrooms.

rtorberson@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Tyffany Johnson

Tyffany Johnson

Kindergarten Teacher

Mrs. Johnson joined us in 2019. She had been blessed to stay mostly at home raising her two daughters, who are now part of the BHCA family as well. She has always had a heart for children’s ministry since middle school, and joining BHCA has been an amazing extension of her passion for filling children with God’s truth! A verse she has found constant comfort in is Lamentations 3:23 “They are new ever morning, Great is thy faithfulness.”

tjohnson@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Beth Kozel

Beth Kozel

Kindergarten Aide + Office Assistant

Mrs. Kozel came to BHCA in 2011. She studied Elementary Education at Boise State University. She feels that her job at BHCA is a direct answer to several years of prayer. “It has been a long wait, but in His timing God provided the perfect place for me to work. As a mom of two very active kids, I feel very blessed to have a part-time job that works with my family’s busy schedule, is in a healthy Christian environment, and also allows me to work with children and a team of quality individuals like the staff at BHCA.”

bkozel@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Julie Lamb

Julie Lamb

1st Grade Teacher

Mrs. Lamb joined the BHCA team in 2022. She graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a degree in Christian Education and went on to complete her Masters degree from the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies. She and her husband have three daughters who each bring unique gifts and perspectives to their ministry in the local church. Mrs. Lamb’s favorite verses are Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

jlamb@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Brittany Robinson

Brittany Robinson

2nd Grade Teacher

Mrs. Robinson joined BHCA in 2010. She graduated from Black Hills State University with a degree in Elementary Education and has her South Dakota certification. Mrs. Robinson also works with elementary children on Sunday mornings at her church. “I love working and teaching in a Christian school! This is a place where I can teach on my favorite subjects while keeping Christ at the center. I am looking forward to blessing each of these children and helping them grow closer to Christ.” One of her favorite verses is Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

brobinson@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Alexia Schuldt

Alexia Schuldt

3rd Grade Teacher

Mrs. Schuldt joined the BHCA family in 2021.  With a degree in chemistry and a passion for science and inquiry of all types, Mrs. Schuldt brings enthusiasm and energy to her 3rd grade classroom.  Her favorite part of teaching at BHCA is the opportunity to build strong relationships with each of her students, and she loves to cheer her students on in their extra-curricular endeavors outside of school as well.

lschuldt@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Amy Carlson

Amy Carlson

4th Grade Teacher

Ms. Carlson joined BHCA as a substitute teacher in 2019 and became our 4th grade teacher in 2020. She graduated from BHSU with an elementary degree, and has taught in grades pre-k through 7 over a 20-year period. She has four grown children and two grandchildren. Ms. Carlson says, “Children of any age have always been a joy to me. They are energizing and just enjoyable to be around all day. Education is an important aspect of life and I love being able to foster it!”

acarlson@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Amber Weeks

Amber Weeks

5th Grade Teacher

Mrs. Weeks joined the BHCA staff in 2020.  She graduated from BHSU with a degree in English, and has found that teaching is her passion! When she’s not browsing the web for fun activities to do in class, you can find her reading a book or writing. She is very involved in her church and loves teaching at BHCA.

aweeks@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Katie Utecht

Katie Utecht

6th Grade Teacher

Mrs. Utecht joined the BHCA staff in 2022. She graduated from Concordia University in Seward, NE with a degree in Middle Level Education and emphasis in Science and Theology. Her mission is to love and serve her students while proclaiming the Gospel message of Jesus’ death and resurrection for them. 2 Peter 3:18 is a daily reminder for Mrs. Utecht: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

kutecht@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Paula Gruenwald

Paula Gruenwald

PE Teacher

Mrs. Gruenwald joined the BHCA family as a substitute teacher in 2020, and came on staff to teach PE in 2022.  Her passion for children started at a young age, when she loved to babysit. After high school, she received her child development associates. She taught pre-k for 5 years, and then was a director of a daycare for another 6 years.  She has been blessed to stay at home mostly to raise her two boys for the past several years. God has truly guided the Gruenwald family here to BHCA and Mrs. Gruenwald looks forward to encouraging children to be their best. A verse she sees within BHCA is Thessalonians 5:11  “Encourage each other and build each other up.”

pgruenwald@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Julie Esmay

Julie Esmay

Art Teacher

Julie Esmay joined BHCA in 2022. She has an art education degree from The University of South Dakota and is excited to share her passion for art with the students. She believes that both engaging in the artistic process and learning about art throughout history are important and strives to create opportunities for both in her classroom. Julie is thankful to work in an environment where creativity can be explored and cultivated as a gift from God for His glory. 

jesmay@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Kari Harter

Kari Harter

Tutor

Mrs. Harter joined the BHCA family in 2022.  With a wide variety of experiences in providing interventions for students of all ages, Mrs. Harter excels at researching and finding resources to serve her students.  Her calm demeanor, consistent expectations, and commitment to doing what needs done bring strength and excellence to her role at BHCA.

kharter@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Megan Lovitt

Megan Lovitt

Music Teacher + MS Agriculture Teacher

Miss Lovitt joined BHCA in 2022. She went to college at the University of Wyoming and worked with the Forest Service before coming to join us here. She felt called to teaching and is very excited to see where God leads her to in the future. A verse she holds dearly is 2 Thessalonians 3:13 saying “And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good”.

mlovitt@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Mrs. Lovitt Planbook

Nate Torberson

Nate Torberson

Life Skills Teacher

Mr. Torberson began at BHCA in 2022.  With a wide range of skills and areas of expertise, Mr. T brings energy and a sense of adventure to BHCA.  A strong and wise leader, Mr. T has spearheaded many projects at BHCA including the creation of a cross country team, the addition of a vending machine as a source of revenue for StuCo, and the student-led construction of a storage shed on our campus.

ntorberson@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Alysia McCord

Alysia McCord

Secondary Bible + English Teacher

Mrs. McCord joined BHCA in 2021.  She has an English Education degree from Mississippi College, and a Masters of Arts in Intercultural Studies from Southeastern College in Wake Forest, NC.  Mrs. McCord lives with her husband in Belle Fourche, and has 3 daughters.  It is her delight to teach Language Arts and Bible at BHCA.  Mrs. McCord loves sharing and learning about other cultures and people groups of the world. A passage central in teaching for Mrs. McCord would be, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:19-20

amccord@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Ms. McCord Planbook

Melita Quinonez

Melita Quinonez

Secondary Social Studies + Electives Teacher

Ms. Q started teaching at the secondary level at BHCA in 2022 when God directed her to move further into her calling of teacher. She graduated with honors in 2021 with her Masters in English and Creative Writing out of SNHU. She is a single mother to four children who attend BHCA and has watched them flourish under the care and educational excellence that has been their experience while being a part of BHCA. She is delighted to be a vessel as she dedicates herself to that same excellence, watching God continually move and grow her through the process. 

mquinonez@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Ms. Quinonez Planbook

Gregg Dennison

Gregg Dennison

MS/HS Math Teacher

Mr. Dennison joined BHCA in 2012. He has a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Colorado State University in mathematics. He has 20 years of experience teaching mathematics at the secondary level as well as 4 years experience teaching English as a second language to adults. He also holds a Master’s of Divinity degree from The Master’s Seminary in Los Angeles, California. “I am so thankful to have the opportunity and privilege of working with students, parents, and staff in a setting such as BHCA that seeks to honor Christ in the pursuit of instilling Christian principles with academic excellence. May He receive all the glory!”

gdennison@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Mr. Dennison Planbook

Jen Zoller

Jen Zoller

MS/HS Bible, Science Teacher

Prior to teaching at BHCA, Mrs. Zoller worked at Spearfish Middle School as an Education Support Person. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from BHSU in 2002 and then earned her teaching certificate from BHSU in 2012 specializing in Chemistry. She is also endorsed in middle school math and science. Zoller currently helps teach middle school-aged students at her church. For her to be able to talk openly about her Lord and Savior in school is such a wonderful thing.  Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

jzoller@blackhillschristianacademy.com

Mrs. Zoller Planbook

Abby Carlson

Abby Carlson

Extended Care Supervisor

Ms. Abby Carlson joined the BHCA family in 2022.  Currently a student at Black Hills State University, she brings enthusiasm, energy, and creative ideas to BHCA’s extended care program.

abbycarlson@blackhillschristianacademy.com