Phone: (209) 928-4126

Teachers

A Professional Christian Faculty Team

Kindergarten

Echo Howell

ehowellmlcs@gmail.com / 209-928-4126 ext 109

Thank you so much for welcoming me into the Mother Lode Christian Family. I am so excited to be joining this vibrant Christ centered community helping our young-ones grow as learners and grow in the Lord. I am originally from Reno, NV. I was born and raised in the “Biggest Little City” and I attended the University of Reno, NV where I received my bachelors degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in science. After graduating I taught fifth grade at Glenn Duncan Elementary for 5 years serving in one of the city’s most diverse and needy community. It was a joy to learn and give to the culturally diverse community. In 2007 the Lord asked us to move to California to work and serve full time at Hume Lake Christian Camps. At Hume I was the assistant to the Joshua Wilderness Institute where I was fortunate to see the Lord grow and shape many college students each year. After our first daughter Kiersti was born, we moved to Sonora, my husband’s home town, to be close to family and their church community. Since moving to Sonora we have had another daughter, Erilynn, and a son named Jayden. My husband works at Sonora High and in our spare time we love to be outdoors, hiking, camping, riding bikes, geo-caching, stargazing, playing games, reading, swimming, and being adventurous.

I have loved living in Sonora, and I have loved raising my children here. We are passionate about following the Lord, and I am so excited to serve your children educationally and help them grow in the great and awesome grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I look forward to an amazing year with you and your children.

1st Grade

Amber Karpus

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!

2nd Grade

Nicole Vondrak

nvondrakmlcs@gmail.com / 209-928-4126 ext 111

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.

3rd Grade

Chara Shopp

cshoppmlcs@gmail.com

4th Grade

Laura Baker

lbakermlcs@gmail.com / 209-928-4126 ext 105

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!

5th Grade

Jenn Taylor

jtaylormlcs@gmail.com / 209-928-4126 ext 115

Math, English/Language Arts, Social Studies

Education:                   

  • Sonora Union High            
  • Seattle Pacific University-B.A. 
  • Westmont College-Post Grad 

Educational Experience: 

  • Amazon Valley Academy 1st & 5th Grades 
  • Mother Lode Christian School -3rd & 6th Grades 
  • Hickman Charter 
  • HOPE International School, Elementary Administrator

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

6th Grade

Anna Noonan

anoonanmlcs@gmail.com / 209- 928-4126 ext 122

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. 

7th / 8th Grade

Laura Brinegar

lbrinegarmlcs@gmail.com / 209-928-4126 ext 119

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 

year. 

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.

David Stayer

Donnie Wright

dwrightmlcs@gmail.com / 209-928-4126 ext 129

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.

Dave Atkins

pastordave@ccsonora.com / 209-928-4126

Jr. High Apologetics/Bible Teacher at M.L.C.S 2014 to present.

    • M.L.C.S Alumnus
    • Married June 2003.
    • Associate of Theology (A.Th.) Calvary Chapel Bible College 2001.
    • Bachelors in Biblical Studies (B.B.S). Horizon University, 2008
    • Master of Arts in Theological Studies (M.A.T.S), Veritas Evangelical Seminary, 2014.
    • Serving at Calvary Chapel Sonora 2001-present.
    • Ordained Minister (Pastor) on October 24, 2010 at Calvary Chapel Sonora.
    • Calvary Chapel Sonora Board Member 2008 to present.
    • Small Business Owner: Ambassador Leather and Windshield Repair 2002 to present.
    • M.L.C.S Board Member November 2010 to present.
    • Parent of M.L.C.S students 2011 to present.

 

Art / Jr High Math

Hannah Walker

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.

English Language Arts Specialist

Helen Betzler

hbetzlermlcs@gmail.com

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.