Amanda Ronan

Writer, Editor and Educator

Amanda Ronan is a writer, an editor, an educator and a dreamer. Amanda has a master’s degree in education and taught students in elementary school for nearly ten years. While engaged with her work in the classroom, Amanda rediscovered her first love — writing. Amanda is the author of the middle grade series My Brother is a Robot. She lives in Austin, Texas with her wonderful husband and their two adorable pups.

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Leah Levy

Education Editor and Freelancer

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Danielle Lavold

Third grade teacher, Vista Unified School District

Danielle Lavold is a third grade teacher at Vista Unified School District in California. She has over nine years of teaching experience. Danielle received her B.A. in psychology from UC Riverside, and her teaching credential and M.A. in elementary education from Arizona State University. Before teaching in Vista, she taught both second and third grades at Cartwright Elementary School District in Phoenix, Arizona. She currently resides in Carlsbad, California with her husband Jason and their cats. When Danielle is not teaching, she enjoys traveling, singing and going to the beach.

Mary Moorman

Freshman Academy Principal, Ohio Virtual Academy

Mary is currently serving in her third year as an Academic Administrator with the Ohio Virtual Academy’s high school. Prior, she spent seven years teaching English in both online and ‘brick and mortar’ settings. She also enjoyed her time working at Earlham College as an adjunct professor for their Graduate Programs in Education. Mary earned her administrative license from Wright State University and her MAT from Earlham College. Working with educators is a passion of hers as she feels as though the growth she can inspire in them has a tremendous impact on their students.

Karen Ball

English Teacher, Northeastern High School

Karen Ball teaches language arts to all the ninth graders at her alma mater, Northeastern High School, in Fountain City, Indiana. She is also an alumna of Indiana University and earned her M.Ed. from Earlham College. Currently in her 20th year of teaching, Karen enjoys learning along with her students, challenging both them and herself.

Sheila Lees

Grand Canyon University Faculty, Online

Sheila Lees completed her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Arizona State University and her Masters of Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Sheila is currently pursuing her Ed.D in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Higher Education.

Sheila has eight years of experience in education. She began her career in K-6 and moved to Grand Canyon University in August of 2012, where she served as a Full-time Online Faculty Member and has since moved to the position of Manager for Online Full-time Faculty. Sheila is also an adjunct instructor for the ground campus for Grand Canyon University.

Rick Holbeck

Grand Canyon University Faculty, Online

Rick Holbeck earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Music Education from Bemidji State University  in Minnesota. He went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Southwest Minnesota State University and a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Technology from Grand Canyon University. He has also finished the coursework for a PhD in Educational Leadership at Walden University and is currently in a doctoral program at Grand Canyon University in Higher Education Leadership.

Rick began teaching adjunct classes for Grand Canyon University in February of 2010 and moved to a full-time online faculty position in August of 2010. Rick held the position of Manager of Online Full Time Faculty for about two years and is currently Director of Online Full-Time Faculty.

Mia Damiani

Grand Canyon University Faculty, Online

Mia Damiani has been working with ELL students for over 10 years in both teaching and coaching roles. Mia has had extensive experience working with ELL students in a dual language setting and the SEI classroom. She currently teaches full time as a faculty member at Grand Canyon University Online in the College of Education.

Leslie Foley

Grand Canyon University Faculty

Leslie Foley was born and raised in Arizona. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from NAU in 2006. She completed herstudent teaching on a military post in Garmish, Germany. After returning to the States, Leslie was a first grade teacher in the Chandler Unified School District for five years while completing her Master’s Degree from NAU. She graduated in May with my Ph.D in Language and Literacy from ASU.

She loves to learn and is excited to have the opportunity to be a part of the Grand Canyon family and be able to serve the Lord! Although she loves children, she has found her passion for teaching adult learners and is happy to bring her experience and knowledge to GCU!

On a personal note, Leslie has been married for three years and has three adorable fur babies (a Golden Retriever named Jackson, a miniature Dachshund named Winnie and a new rescue puppy named Stella). In her spare time, Leslie enjoys hiking, shopping and reading.

Emily Bergquist

Grand Canyon University Faculty

Emily Bergquist completed her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Arizona State University and her Master of Education, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, from Grand Canyon University. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction from Grand Canyon University with an expected graduation date in the spring of 2015. Emily has nine years of experience in education. She began in K-8 education and transitioned to Grand Canyon University in 2011. She currently teaches and manages within the College of Education, and is involved in field-related research and presentations at regional, national and international levels.

Brandon Juarez

Grand Canyon University Faculty, Online

Brandon began his journey in education as a coach and athletic director in a Phoenix K8 school (serving primarily in the middle school segment of the school). Brandon began his position at Grand Canyon University as a full-time online faculty in August of 2012 and expanded to the College of Education as an adjunct faculty on GCU’s ground campus in the spring of 2014. He received a promotion to manage a College of Education full-time online faculty team in April of 2013.

In addition to his position at Grand Canyon University, Brandon also enjoys supporting GCU’s academic mission through his involvement as an adjunct instructor for the GCU College of Education ground campus, serving as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) on special projects and site supervising Ed. Admin interns and secondary education student teachers. In his spare time he enjoys spending outdoor time with his wife and two children. He also participates as a league member to a municipal golf club and likes to fly fish and road cycle.


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Ben Vilkas

Grand Canyon University Faculty

Prior to teaching at Grand Canyon University, Ben Vilkas was a classroom teacher for 11 years. He primarily taught fifth grade for an Arizona public school district. Ben holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in English as a Second Language and a Bachelor’s degree from Grove City College in Elementary Education. He is currently completing his doctoral degree program at Grand Canyon University.