Meet the faculty & staff at awakening seed school
Karysa Horst | Toddler 1s Assistant Teacher, After School
About: Karysa Horst was born and raised in Arizona. In the summer of 2015, she volunteered in Thailand for seven weeks teaching English to 4th graders. That experience changed her perspective on everything. When she came back to America in August of 2015, she was on a mission to give back to the kids she taught in Thailand. She started a successful clothing drive fundraiser, then decided to personally deliver the clothes to the kids in January 2016. Her trip inspired her to one day start her own nonprofit organization, helping those who can’t help themselves. Karysa has experience working with children prior to volunteering in Thailand. She was a daycare provider at Gold’s Gym and also worked as a private tutor at Club Z In-Home Tutoring. One of her favorite experiences was being a respite and habilitation provider for an autistic boy.
Education: Karysa graduated from Mesa Community College with an Associate of Arts degree in May 2014. After visiting Thailand, she decided to go to school for Nonprofit Management. She moved to Winston- Salem, North Carolina in August 2016 and studied at Salem College for a year. Karysa is currently a senior at Arizona State University and will be graduating in May with her bachelor’s degree in liberal arts. Her career goal is to start a nonprofit organization helping those in need, with a focus on third world countries and dogs.
Free Time: Although most of Karysa’s time is spent at school or work, in her free time she’s usually at the library or at home with her pups.She’s a dog mom to two pups, Olivia and Nala. Karysa enjoys traveling and exploring new cultures as well as spending time with her family. She’s super excited to be working at the Seed where her sister Gabbi works. She looks forward to learning the Seed’s innovative approaches and growing as a person and teacher assistant.
Bryce Gerrich | After School Staff
Edie Michelena | Toddler 1s Assistant Teacher, After School
About Edie: Edie was born in Phoenix and raised in Tempe. She married her high school sweetheart, and they have two wonderful boys, 15 and 19. She was able to spend thirteen years at home with her boys running an in-home day care. They always had activities going on: tie-die day, days at the park or zoo, and arts and crafts. She and her husband have always been very active in extracurricular activities, helping to coach t-ball and soccer. When the opportunity came for Edie to come on board at Awakening Seed, she couldn’t say no.
Education: Tempe High School.
Free time: In her spare time, Edia and her family love to connect and be together outdoors. They seize every chance they get to hit a dirt road wherever they are.
Alex Zapien | Toddler 2s Assistant Teacher, After School
Shannon Binder | Early 3s Assistant Teacher, After School Toddler Lead Teacher
Ashley Ruiz | Toddler 1s Lead Teacher, After School
About Ashley: This is Ashley’s fourth year working at the Seed. She has always found joy and laughter when it comes to engaging with children. She was very young when she learned how to take care of children and their needs in education. Since then, she’s come to learn that there is no greater feeling than to see the impact you have on the kids with whom you have grow close. Ashley is very excited to be the lead teacher in the Toddler 1s class, as well as help out at the front desk after school.
Emily Cleveland | Toddler 2s Lead Teacher, After School
About Emily: Emily has lived in Tempe her whole life. She discovered her passion for becoming a teacher by interning at the Seed summer art camp during the summers. As an intern, she could not wait until she was able to become a teacher.
Education: Emily graduated from Tempe Preparatory Academy in the spring of 2016 and is now attending Mesa Community College to receive her degree in early childhood development. She is thrilled to be leading the Toddler 2s and working a few hours after school!
Free time: In her free time Emily enjoys hanging out with her friends, spending time with family, going on bike rides, and hiking.
Chelsea Rusing | Preschool 3s Assistant Teacher, After School
About Chelsea: This is Chelsea’s second year at the Seed, and she is looking forward to spreading her roots to the Preschool 3s and bringing her magic to the school. She is an Arizona native, growing up in Scottsdale, as a tree climbing, fort building, big sister, animal loving, free spirit. She has always loved children, the arts, adventure, nature, exploration, and finding the best way to build a fort. Chelsea was the director of a Phoenix art gallery and has fifteen years experience as a nanny.
Education: Chelsea has a bachelor’s degree in Art History from Arizona State University.
Free Time: Chelsea loves hiking, camping, the great outdoors, creating art, reading, adventures, journaling, healthy cooking, traveling, playing games and all types of sports…..all with her fiancé and best friend, Scott! They have two furry side kicks, Pete and Moose.
Cylie Krenkel | After School Coordinator, K-1 Assistant Teacher
About Cylie: Cylie is the second oldest of nine kids, six boys and three girls. Cylie has worked with children as a daycare assistant, a nanny, and as a teacher’s assistant in a special needs classroom. This is Cylie’s fourth year at the Seed as the K-1 assistant and after school staff member. Cylie served as the interim after school director during summers 2017 and 2018, and the 2017-2018 school year. She is looking forward to spending time laughing and learning with the students, and leading the after school program. She is a hands-on learner who is always willing to take on anything new. She enjoys teaching children as well as learning from them.
Education: Cylie will eventually pursue a degree in education, as she wants to become a teacher one day herself.
Free Time: In her free time Cylie enjoys camping, hiking, fishing, and spending time with family and her husband, Josh.
Hannah Laugharn | 1st/2nd Grade Assistant Teacher, After School
About Hannah: Hannah graduated from Horizon Honors High School in 2017. She attended the Seed from the age of two through fifth grade, and interned in the Preschool 4s class for many years after she left. Hannah worked in the after school program at Horizon for a year and a half, and started subbing and working in the Seed’s after school program in 2017. The Awakening Seed taught her to be kind and compassionate. She is still friends with many of her Seed classmates.
Education: Hannah is attending South Mountain Community College working towards a psychology degree.
Free time: Hannah likes to spend time with friends, making art, and cooking.
Gabbi Horst | 1st/2nd Grade Lead Teacher, After School
About Gabbi: Gabbi is an Arizona native who grew up camping in the pines or at the lake most weekends. She always knew she wanted to be a teacher but felt that she finally found her true passion once she discovered the Seed. She feels fortunate to have found a school that provides such rich learning opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom. She finds joy in working with children, watching them learn and grow. She is inspired by their honest and open minds that are full of infinite creativity and possibility. She looks forward to continuing work and play alongside children throughout their learning experiences.
Education: Gabbi earned her Associates in Arts from Mesa Community College in 2014 along with an Arizona General Education Certificate. She graduated from Northern Arizona University in December of 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and an early childhood endorsement. She joined the Seed staff in 2017 as a teaching assistant, then assumed the lead position with the Early 3s in January 2018, before becoming the lead teacher for the 1st/2nd grade class.
Free Time: Gabbi enjoys traveling, camping, being outdoors, reading, and spending time with loved ones. She recently married her husband, Justin. They love playing with their rescue pup, Tucker, going on big road trips over the summers, and having game nights with family and friends.
Emily Richeal | After School Staff
About Emily: Emily attended the Seed from time she was 18 months old through 5th grade. Emily was one of the original toddlers in the Seed’s toddler program, taught by her mom, Sarah Balluff, and Kerri Tornow. She is the first second generation alum to be on the Seed staff. The most important thing that Awakening Seed brought her is friendships and how to be respectful. Emily is still friends with some of her classmates from the Seed. She likes working at the Seed because everyone is really friendly and exciting to be around.
Education: Emily is a 2017 high school graduate. She is currently a student at Mesa Community College, studying graphic design.
Free Time: In her free time Emily likes to be with friends, go on hikes, and eat food.