Meet Our Staff

James Gagner:

Principal and Executive Director

I am honored to be part of the Phoenix Academy Family. Each year, I look forward to meeting our students and their families. The success of your child depends on us working together, and it is a responsibility I take seriously. As the principal of Phoenix Academy, I embrace the opportunity to partner with you to provide our students with challenging, engaging and memorable school experience. As I enter my 28th year in education, I am fortunate to have had a variety of opportunities to prepare me for this one of a kind platform in my professional career. The bulk of my teaching experience was spent at the first grade level. After seventeen years of teaching, my career path led me into administration. I have spent time as a principal, executive director, and program coordinator. My Master’s Degree is in School Leadership through the University of Sioux Falls. With my Bachelors's Degree in elementary education from Southwest Minnesota State University. A few other items to know about me would be my service to our country as I enter my 30th Straight year of military Service. At this time, I am a proud member of the Air National Guards at the185th ARW, Sioux City Iowa. One weekend a month and 30 days a year, I go by Chief Gagner and not Mr. Gagner. I enjoy time as a sports official while refereeing to basketball and football. On a more personal note, I am the father of two beautiful daughters. Tiffany is married to my Son-in-law Eric Sackett and they both live in Temecula California. My daughter Ariel was silently born on the 17th of September, 2012. She is my little Angel. I love both of my daughters like crazy. I look forward to building strong relationships with parents, students, and community partners. I am committed to ensuring that every Phoenix Academy student is safe, loved and cared for when they reside in school here. Please know that my door is always open. Feel free to stop in, call, or email me to discuss any concerns, suggestions or ideas to help make this year the best year yet! I feel truly blessed to be part of such a special school community.

Delaney Walsh:

Kindergarten Teacher

Hi! My name is Ms. Walsh! I graduated from St. Cloud State University and earned my bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. This will be my third year of teaching and I am loving every moment of it. Outside of school, I love to spend time outdoors and with my family. I am looking forward to a great year!

Sonja Govednik:

2nd/3rd Grade Teacher

This is my 20th year in education.  I have taught grades k-6 and have enjoyed all age levels.  However, primary grades are my favorite. During my prior teaching career, I spent the majority of my time teaching Language Arts and Math Skills.  I love being a teacher!


On a personal note, I have an amazing husband named James who always makes me laugh.  I also have three fantastic kids. Zachary who will always be my 18 month old little boy that watches us from above each day, Abbie who loves to play softball and volleyball and Owen who loves to play soccer and football.


In my free time I am generally driving my kiddos to sports and school activities.  But I always try to squeeze in time for a good book. Maybe someday I will actually have some time to finish the book I have been working on for many years.

Joseph Worwa:

5th/6th Grade Teacher

Amanda Shoquist

Special Education Teacher

I am Amanda Shoquist. This is my first year teaching and I am very excited. I grew up and graduated high school in Chicago Lakes. After high school, I went on to attend Augsburg College and graduated in 2018 with my teaching degree. I currently live in Saint Croix Falls Wisconsin with my family. We welcomed our baby girl Cora in April 2019. In my free time, I like to camp, hike, and spend time with my family. I am very excited to see what amazing things are to come this year!

Katie Piehl

Front Office Manager

Heather Mench:


Amanda Schloer:


Erica Parrish:

1st Grade Teacher

I am so happy to be a part of the Phoenix family! I am looking forward to working with you and your child, and I know it will be another fantastic year in First Grade!


I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Minnesota in 2009. This will be my 7th year of teaching, and my 2nd year of teaching First Grade. I also have teaching experience in Second Grade (4 years) and Third Grade (1 year).


I enjoy spending time with family and friends, watching movies, camping, and traveling. I currently live in Forest Lake, Minnesota with my husband and fur child (a cat ironically named “Kitten”).


Feel free to stop in, call, or email me anytime to discuss any questions or concerns!



Erica Parrish

Mary Stamm

3rd/4rd Grade Teacher

I am so excited to be working at the Phoenix Academy of Arts and Science.  I have spent the last seven years working as a substitute teacher so I am thrilled to be teaching everyday and having a class of students to call my own.  I graduated with my Bachelor's degree in secondary education (Social Studies w/ an emphasizes in history) from St Cloud State University.  I recently earned my Masters of Teaching degree in Elementary Education from Concordia University, St. Paul.  This is my first year teaching 3/4th grade and I am having a blast.

On a personal note, I have an awesome husband named Jason and a sweet eleven year old daughter named Emma.  My favorite activities include: watching my daughter dance, spending time with my nephews, having coffee with my mom, and hanging out with my fur babies (two dogs named Scruffy and Mika).

Sarah Johnson:

Music and Theatre Teacher

I am Sarah Johnson, music and theater teacher at Phoenix Academy of Art and Science.  This is my second year at Phoenix, and my 11th year teaching music overall. I grew up in Richfield, MN and graduated from Richfield High School.  I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree at Gustavus Adolphus College, and I am currently working on earning my Masters Degree in Music Education at the University of St. Thomas.  


I am currently living in Cambridge, and make frequent treks to the city to visit my family and friends.  My mom still lives in Richfield, and my brother and his wife live in Woodbury. In my free time I like to read, play my ukulele and sing, cook, and take my dog Dawson for walks.  


I am really looking forward to a great school year!

Holly Pedersen:

Art Specialist

I am Ms. Holly the Art Specialist here at Phoenix Academy.  I have two children, my son Sevren (12yrs.) is a polite, quiet young man with a heart of gold, and then there is the miniature version of me whom I named Zayda (10yrs.), she is spunky,  very eccentric, and has an eclectic personality!

I have an AMAZING mom that made sure that my love for the Arts flourished, I went to City of Lakes Waldorff Art Academy as a youngster, had some amazing experiences there (best school I ever went to until I started teaching at Phoenix Academy). At 14, I started volunteering at Nursing Homes, which made me realize that I love helping others.  I went to school for my MA, worked in hospitals, nursing homes and homes for disabled adults.

I have always loved art, which is why I started my own art business ( I don’t really sell much, I just make things and tend to give them away---I’m a starving Artist so to speak ;-)  ). I also love Horses (I don’t have any though… but I have chickens so that’s almost the same thing!!!), swimming, figure skating, camping… I am always in the mood for coffee—the more shots of espresso the better, I like most chocolates (stuff with coconut in it is yucky), and my favorite color is Teal!!!

That’s all the important things about Ms. Holly!!!

Kelly Flores:

Food and Nutrition Director

Somehow I started my career early on in life not knowing this is where I would be! Since I was fifteen I worked in kitchens, restaurants and grocery stores. Not only was I good at cleaning and washing dishes, I have always had talent with cooking and baking. To say all of this, I am so grateful that I get to manage the Phoenix Kitchen! Also, being a mom of two girls, I understand the importance of making healthy meals a priority so that they have the potential to be their best in school!

Dionna Guider:

Lunchroom Assistant, Before and After School Coordinator

Dave Nelson:

Facility and Maintenance