COVID Planning Update 8/19/20

Dear Parents,

Practice Now!Thank you for your patience as we continue to put together the many details on our fall 2020-21 reopening plans. Here you will find information about our new teachers and some solutions we are using to deliver quality education to all River Grove students. 

Again, remember that our decisions and the information presented here are subject to change prior to the start of the school year, and it is likely we will have to shift during the school year including changing learning models at various times in the year as COVID rates fluctuate.

The River Grove Team


Hybrid Model Groupings and Teacher Assignments to be Released Tomorrow (Thursday 8/20)

Tomorrow, we’ll circulate an information announcement schedule so that you know what to expect and when. 

Perhaps most importantly, please look in your inboxes tomorrow for our Hybrid Model groupings. Many important factors have been carefully weighed for the Hybrid groupings, such as keeping families together, maintaining even numbers and gender balance in specific cohorts, considering special learning needs, and teacher consultations. Because of the complexity, changes to the groupings are strongly discouraged. If there is a significant concern with your hybrid group or an error, please contact Drew Goodson, School Director (  

Dedicated Distance Learning Teachers and Flexible Grouping

Many of our parents expressed concerns about the work loads for our teachers during both Hybrid and Distance Learning (thank you!). The teachers and staff at River Grove want to deliver the best quality instruction to our students no matter how it is delivered, on-campus or 100% on-line. Our teachers want to be able to personally connect and fully support their students no matter where they are. With those reasons in mind, we have developed some flexible teacher-student groupings:

  • Erin Diedrich will be the dedicated on-line teacher for all fully Distance Learning K-2 students.

  • Emily Geffert’s hybrid groupings will comprise two grades: Group A (M, W) will be all 2nd graders; Group B (T, Th) will be all 1st graders. 

  • We are interviewing several candidates for a dedicated Distance Learning teacher for grades 3-5. 

    • If we are not able to hire a teacher, an alternative plan will be implemented which may include flexible Hybrid grouping.

  • Jody Dick will teach all 6th graders regardless of the delivery model. 

Please Welcome Our New Teachers!

In the midst of all the COVID-related changes, we’ve also welcomed four new teachers to River Grove!

Sydney Fuerst, Kindergarten

Welcome!Sydney has an Elementary Education and Special Education (Academic Behavioral Specialist) Degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. After completing her degree, Sydney worked as a naturalist at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center. At Wolf Ridge, she learned a lot about teaching through place-based and experiential learning. Sydney is very excited to bring this knowledge into her teaching at River Grove. Outside of the classroom, Sydney enjoys carving spoons (out of wood), knitting, hiking, biking, cross country skiing, and spending time with family and friends.

Madison Clepper, Second Grade

Welcome!Madison Clepper graduated from Bethel University in St. Paul with a degree in elementary K-6 education as well as a degree in early childhood/preprimary. Her previous teaching experience includes a position in St. Paul Public Schools as a second grade teacher. Madison loves to travel and experience new cultures! In 2018, she spent a month in England and Italy, where she volunteered in schools. Madison enjoys having fun and laughing with her students, seeing their “light bulb” moments, and sharing their excitement when they learn new things that interest them. She also enjoys spending time with friends and family, yoga, camping, hiking, traveling, and drinking lots and lots of coffee.

Eric McBride, Fourth Grade

Welcome!Eric began his journey into teaching in Indiana where he studied Elementary Education at Purdue University. During the summer months, Eric worked as a cabin counselor at two YMCA camps, Camp Tecumseh (IN) and Camp-Manito-wish (WI). Though Eric’s deep connection with nature was primarily strengthened as a wilderness trip leader in northern Wisconsin, he would accept his first teaching position in Washington State teaching 6th grade. While out west, Eric would earn a Master’s in Education at the University of Portland. He and his partner would ultimately find their way to Montana where he would spend the next ten years of his life as an administrator and teacher at two different rural K-8 schools. During the summer months, Eric would continue to harness his passion of working with youth in the outdoors spending time on the rivers as a fly-fishing guide. In 2014 Eric and his family (along with their newly adopted son and two dogs) would venture back to Wisconsin where Eric would begin his journey as a Montessori guide at Nature’s Classroom Institute. Though the school and philosophy were an immediate fit, Eric was eager to find his way back into the public sector, and after two years he and his family would relocate to Minnesota. For the last three years, Eric has worked as an elementary guide at Great River Public Charter Montessori School. He is thrilled to begin the next chapter of his life at River Grove, where once again the beauty of the idyllic campus setting will support his belief in the importance of allowing nature to inspire learning everyday.

Katie Owen, Special Education Teacher

Welcome!Katie Owen loves learning and exploring with students at River Grove. She has been working in special education here since 2017 and has over ten years of experience working with children. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Studies with a minor in business from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She’s currently studying to get her Master of Arts in Special Education from Bethel University. When she’s not working or studying, Katie loves to be outdoors: hiking, biking, playing tennis, and discovering new things with her four children. 

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