My name is Amber Karpus, I’m excited to begin my teaching adventure at MLCS! I was born and raised in Sonora, 5th generation in my family. After graduating from Sonora High School I attended Columbia College receiving my AA in Liberal Studies. I transferred to CSU Stanislaus; graduating in 2006 with a BA in Liberal Studies and a concentration in child development. Then I began CalState TEACH, an online credential program through CSU Fresno. During the program I taught in 5th, 7th/8th, and mostly in 1st grade. While attending Columbia College I met my husband, Paul Karpus. We have two amazing children. Tyler, 8 and Kaylee, 6; they will be transferring from Columbia El. to Mother Lode Christian. It has been such a blessing to be a stay at home mom for the past 8 years. Recently, I started teaching again, substituting at Columbia Elementary. But, since I was a little girl I knew someday I would have my own classroom. Stepping out in faith and trusting God’s plan I accepted a teaching position here at MLCS. I’m excited to teach 1st grade, I have a passion for it and it’s where my heart belongs. I am looking forward to teaching your children and joining the MLCS team!
My name is Nicole Vondrak. I grew up in Sonora, California from the time I was 2 years old. After graduating from Sonora High School I attended Columbia College. Upon completion of my AA I transferred to Sonoma State University (SSU) where I got a BA in Liberal Studies. At that time I did a teacher’s credential program through SSU. After graduation I enjoyed working as a long term substitute. The grades I worked in included Kindergarten, 5th/6th, and 8th grade as well as doing many sub jobs in 1st and 2nd grade. While attending SSU I met my husband, Brad Vondrak. We have 2 children, Gracie who is 5 years old and Carter that is 3 years old. I had the great privilege to be a stay at home mom for 5 years. We choose to have a change in our family and move back to Sonora in 2015. My daughter is enjoying being a part of the 2015/2016 kindergarten class. I have had the great privileged of teaching second grade at MLCS. We love being a part of the Mother Lode Family. From a very young age I have loved to teach. I am passionate about inspiring students and helping them develop a love of learning. I appreciate a classroom that is full of respect, love, kindness, and joy. I believe that this school not only teaches the child academically, but also feeds their spiritual minds and hearts.
I was born and raised in Tuolumne County, surrounded by good friends, a solid church family and the constant reminders of God’s handiwork in nature around me. My first very first volunteer education job, at the ripe old age of 4, was teaching my younger sister Charity to read. She claims I taught her in self-defense to keep her from pestering me for just one more story. Whether it was self-defense or a heart for teaching, it has become my passion and my profession.
For my own education, I attended MLCS Kindergarten through part of 4th grade and then began homeschooling which continued through high school. High school was a mixture of homeschooling and Mother Lode Christian, including Mrs. Baer’s famous chemistry class. I attended Simpson University in Redding and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts and a double major in Diversified Liberal Arts and History and minors in Bible and English. I obtained my CA CLEAR teaching credential from Chapman University, attending classes on their campus in Modesto, while completing my student teaching in Kindergarten and 6th grade classrooms.
I have taught primarily 2nd and 3rd grade in classrooms in Patterson, at Columbia Elementary, in Dallas Texas and in several one room schoolhouse settings while also working with homeschool families through a local charter school. As an educator for the past 19 years, I have taught in public, private, charter and homeschool settings.
My 3 children Rebekah (16), Ruthie (13), and Ray (9) and I live in Sonora, quite near my childhood home. As a parent, my children have been in private, public, charter and homeschool settings for their education.
I am thankful for the wide variety of education experiences I have as a student, parent, and educator. I feel this helps me have a unique and unusual perspective on education, supporting our children as learners, and family school relationships. I am thrilled to be working with the amazing team of teachers and staff at Mother Lode Christian, and the precious children entrusted into our care each day.
I accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord during my high school years. I moved up to Tuolumne County in 1985, where I met and married John Baker, a local cattle rancher, and Tuolumne County native, in 1988. I had already received my Bachelor of Arts from Whittier College (1985), and completed my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Chapman University in 1990. John and I have 4 sons, all of whom have attended Mother Lode Christian School, K – 8th. I served on the MLCS school board, and volunteered as librarian for several years, before teaching in the classroom beginning in 2006, first as a long-term substitute and then in 2007 as a part-time teacher. In 2007/2008, I began teaching full-time in the 4th grade, and have been there ever since. The highlights of my MLCS teaching career include having had my two younger sons in the classroom, getting to know each of the kids as they come through 4th grade, and taking every class on great field trips, including our finale to Rock-n-Water’s 49’er Gold Rush camp in the spring. Teaching at MLCS has truly been my blessing!
Math, English/Language Arts, Social Studies
I have been blessed to call Tuolumne County home since my parents relocated here while I was in high school. I taught at MLCS early on in my career, and have since taught in the classroom for over twenty-five years. I have worked in public, private, and homeschool settings, both in the US and overseas. I have been able to travel extensively, having visited over thirty-five countries, and lived on five continents. I feel these opportunities have given me invaluable experiences in cultures and education. It is delightful to be back at MLCS!
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth. III John 4
I am the mother of three MLCS High School Alumni and four eighth grade MLCS Alumni. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Education and have worked with children and families throughout my life. I have been an Instructor for the Foster/Kinship program for Tuolumne and Mariposa Counties, developed and implemented curriculum for families who provide foster care and adoptive homes for children, I am a Commissioner for First Five of Tuolumne County and have held numerous volunteer advocate positions for children with disabilities and educational differences. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, gardening, reading, cooking and knitting.
Remembering that children are not empty vessels, waiting for the adults in their lives to “fill them up” with knowledge we believe they should have; yet beautiful, amazing, unique individuals, created by God, for His glory and honor, is a philosophy I practice daily.
Teaching at Mother Lode Christian School is one of the greatest privileges that God has blessed me with; I love partnering with families to build environments where children feel secure, valued, and loved, to explore their unique, individual strengths given to them by God. I look forward to being your child’s teacher.
My name is Laura Brinegar and I have the privilege of teaching Jr. High at MLCS. I graduated
from The University of the Pacific and completed my credential with a major in Education and a
minor in Music. As a the mother of ten I chose to home school for the years after college which
provided me with a unique opportunity to teach all grades and see my students develop year to
I have been involved at MLCS on and off for 23 years as a teacher or parent. God called me to
teach Jr. High 7 years ago and I have absolutely loved teaching these young men and women.
They are funny, creative, talented, interesting, and intelligent young people with an energy and
excitement that is wonderful to witness.
We have travelled across the country to Washington D.C., climbed mountains to study glaciers
and rocks, and dissected every specimen we could get our hands on. Every day I am
challenged and inspired by their love of learning and their willingness to try new things. Learning to succeed, and sometimes fail, but to always learn in the process.
I have coached and officiated multiple sports at the elementary and high school levels for the past 26 years. My most important goal has always been to allow children to enjoy a fun, safe and structured environment to learn more about themselves and God’s glory through exercise and sports. Mother Lode Christian School gives children this opportunity, through God’s glory, to build knowledge and experience through team sports and physical fitness.
Jr. High Apologetics/Bible Teacher at M.L.C.S 2014 to present.
I had the pleasure of attending Mother Lode Christian School from sixth grade through my Junior year and then graduated from Summerville High School in 2009. Upon graduating I moved to Turlock to attend California State University Stanislaus where I earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Mixed Media and a Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics. During college I worked as a gallery assistant, was art club president, and an art Europe trip leader. Since college I have worked as an administrative assistant at the Art Space on Main, was a substitute teacher, creative assistant, and served the City of Turlock as a commissioner on the Arts, Parks, and Recreation Commission. I met my husband Dominic at church during college and we got married in May of 2015. In June of 2016 God blessed us with our beautiful daughter Suzannamarie. I look forward to teaching Math and Art at my alma mater.
I have been teaching multiple subjects and grades for the past 25 years. I first became involved at MLCS as a parent, in 1983, and then stepped into teaching and subbing rolls within the past 10 years. I then decided in 2010, to become a specialized teacher which took me to Spalding Education International, headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, where I completed classes and was awarded specialized certificates for teaching Spalding English Language Arts. Spalding is an all-inclusive language arts program which is phonics based. Since then I have taught first through eighth grades using this method. I have also been working with learning challenged children for the past several years and I find great joy in helping them to achieve success in learning.
My husband Bill and I have lived in Tuolumne County since 1977, raising our eight children, and now enjoy spending time with our twelve grandchildren.