Meet our Johnston Tutoring Staff


Great Teachers Inspire

Our tutors and staff in Johnston & Des Moines consist of passionate educators who love inspiring children to succeed. Warm, caring and great at relating to kids, our tutors in Johnston know how to engage and motivate each child in a personal way—building confidence and smiles, as well as skills and better scores. We selectively choose tutors who know local curriculum and can link Sylvan lessons to what’s being taught in school. Get to know our tutors and staff in Johnston & Des Moines!

  • April Samp, Co-Owner

    April Samp


    April Samp is the proud Co-Owner of all four Sylvan Learning of Iowa Centers. April is a graduate of Iowa State University and invested many years into the communities where she lived by covering and investigating meaningful stories as a journalist and News Director. April worked in TV News/Marketing and Advertising for 25 years at stations like WOI-TV, KGAN/KFXA, KWQC and WHO in Iowa, KCTV and WDAF in Kansas City, WAVY/WVBT in Virginia and KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City. April's love of education and everything it does for a person started very early. Both of her parents were educators. April and her son Cale live in Waukee and cheer loudly for the Cyclones and play golf whenever possible!
  • Jody Simpson, Regional Director

    Jody Simpson

    Regional Director

    Jody has been with Sylvan for over 20 years. Jody conducts conferences, assists families with their needs and ensures that our center is always upholding the Sylvan Pledge! She loves to build relationships with families and create life long partnerships. In her spare time (ha!) she volunteers at Van Meter schools, plays with her three kids, dog and husband!
  • Katie Ruby, Center Director

    Katie Ruby

    Center Director

    As Center Director of the Sylvan Learning Center of Johnston, Katie leads the center with initial family consultations,  manages the overall customer experience, and ensures high-quality operations are executed. Katie’s international education in both business and hospitality has allowed her to travel to several corners of the world. Through this international experience, she found a passion for helping children in their education while volunteering for several youth causes throughout her studies abroad. When Katie isn’t at Sylvan, you’ll find her enjoying time with her husband and 3 young boys where they enjoy outdoor activities and working on their garden and home! 
  • Bree Kruse, Director of Education

    Bree Kruse

    Director of Education

    Bree oversees the educational integrity of our programs, and manages and trains our team of tutors in Johnston. She studied education at the University of Iowa. She homeschools her 4 kids & is working towards her certification in Mentoring, Coaching, and Leadership Development at Grand View. When Bree isn’t at Sylvan, you’ll find her kayaking, traveling, hanging with her friends, family, and 4 kitties, and talking to her 100 plants.
  • Sara Pendry, Operational Specialist

    Sara Pendry

    Operational Specialist

    Sara is an administrative role in Johnston, IA with a gift working with kids. While Sara has many administrative duties, she finds the greatest joy in assisting the center and teachers with things they may need on a daily basis. She studied at Dmacc for her associates, Grandview for her bachelors, and finally her masters from Capella. When Sara is not at Sylvan, you'll find her crafting, being a dog mom, and spending time with loved ones. 
  • Courtney Crocker, Lead Teacher

    Courtney Crocker

    Lead Teacher

    Courtney has been a substitute teacher in Urbandale, Johnston, Kansas City, and Clarksville, TN, & was also a preschool teacher on an army base in Missouri. She is excited to be back at Sylvan after a few years away. While Courtney has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy in reading & math tutoring. She studied Elementary Education at Iowa State - Go Cyclones! When Courtney isn’t at Sylvan, you’ll find her spending time with her husband and son, Easton. 
  • Chelsie Lucas, Admin

    Chelsie Lucas


    Chelsie is the administrator in Johnston, Iowa, with a gift for multitasking and joy when working with kids. While Chelsie has many administrative talents, she finds her true happiness when she can be with the kids during transition time. When Chelsie isn’t at Sylvan, you’ll find her with her husband and two daughters, watching movies or swimming! 
  • Heather Eime, Certified Teacher

    Heather Eime

    Certified Teacher

    Heather is a middle school special education associate in Johnston, IA with a gift for working with young people. While Heather has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy in teaching Sylvan's Advanced Reading Skills course or study skills camps. She earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education at Simpson College, specializing in reading, instructional strategies, and social studies. When Heather isn’t at Sylvan, you’ll find her participating in church activities, playing games with friends and family, or enjoying nature.
  • Lisa Battistone, Certified Teacher

    Lisa Battistone

    Certified Teacher

    Lisa is a Special Education Teacher with Dallas Center-Grimes Community School District with a gift for working with kids. While Lisa has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy in reading tutoring. She studied at Drake University. When Lisa isn’t at Sylvan, you’ll find her reading a good book, and hanging out with her corgi, Stanley.
  • Bob Geurink, Certified Teacher

    Bob Geurink

    Certified Teacher

    Bob has been working at Sylvan for five years! He has taught in Iowa high schools for over 30 years, as an English teacher, the last 21 at Dallas Center-Grimes. He lives in Norwalk with his wife, Brenda, and their two youngest children 15,17 yrs. old). He also has two adult children.
  • Jennifer Schafer, Certified Teacher

    Jennifer Schafer

    Certified Teacher

    Jennifer has a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. She's owned a daycare, preschool, and is a published author. In her spare time, she likes to spend time with friends and family, listen to music, cook, and watch paranormal shows!
  • Paige Hohensee, Sylvan Certified Tutor

    Paige Hohensee

    Sylvan Certified Tutor

    Paige graduated from Iowa State University. Her favorite part about being a teacher at Sylvan is when tough lessons click for students and watching their confidence grow. When Paige isn't at Sylvan you can find her spending time her her dogs, traveling, baking, or doing yoga!
  • Destiny Warner, Certified Teacher

    Destiny Warner

    Certified Teacher

    Destiny taught early childhood and preschool for sixteen years in the Des Moines area. While she loves working with all ages, the youngest students will always be special to her. Destiny earned her degree in Elementary Education at Drake University. When she's not at Sylvan, she focuses on her son, sewing, and board games. 
  • Anie Salgado, Certified Teacher

    Anie Salgado

    Certified Teacher

    Anie is a high school English teacher in Urbandale, IA with a gift for working with kids. While Anie has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy in Writing tutoring. She studied at Drake University. When Anie isn't as Sylvan, you'll find her reading all things fantasy and spoiling her dog! 
  • Jonette McQuide, Certified Teacher

    Jonette McQuide

    Certified Teacher

    Jonette is a substitute teacher in Grimes, IA who enjoys working with awesome kids. While Jonette has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy in finding ways to corporate her love for science in tutoring both reading and math. She studied Elementary and Middle level Education at Illinois State University. When Jonette isn't at Sylvan, you'll find her on some outdoor adventure with her son and Golden Retriever or snuggled on the couch with a good book or favorite movie during the cold winter months. 
  • Melissa Brannon, Certified Tutor

    Melissa Brannon

    Certified Tutor

    Melissa is a training consultant in Des Moines, IA. While Melissa has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy in reading tutoring. She studied at William Penn University. When Melissa isn't at Sylvan, you'll find her watching her son play baseball, reading, writing, or playing with her dog, Coco! 
  • Kayla Gajewsky, Certified Teacher

    Kayla Gajewsky

    Certified Teacher

    Kayla is a 5th Grade teacher for DMPS. Her favorite subject is math. She graduated from UNI and is currently getting her masters at Drake University. In her free time, she loves to read, be outside, or spend time with her family and friends.
  • Abby Schaefer, Admin

    Abby Schaefer


    Abby is an Admin in Johnston, IA. In her free time she likes being outdoors, hanging out with family and friends, and watching Law & Order!
  • Valerie J, Certified Teacher

    Valerie J

    Certified Teacher

    Valerie was a high school Science teacher in Colorado. While Valerie has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy in Physics tutoring. She studied at Iowa State and the University of Southern California. When Valerie isn't at Sylvan, you'll find her throwing a ball for her dogs!
  • Elizabeth Van Camp, Sylvan Certified Tutor

    Elizabeth Van Camp

    Sylvan Certified Tutor

    Elizabeth is a tutor in Johnston, IA. While Elizabeth has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy in Elementary math and reading tutoring. She is currently studying at Upper Iowa University. When Elizabeth isn't at Sylvan, you can find her spending time with her two cats (Easter & Quinley), planning her next trip, and spending time with friends and family!
  • Brooke Marko, Sylvan Certified Tutor

    Brooke Marko

    Sylvan Certified Tutor

    Brooke is a studying at Graceland University to earn a degree in Education. While Brooke has many tutoring talents, she enjoys teaching reading. When Brooke isn't at Sylvan, you'll find her dancing as apart of Graceland's dance team, teaching dance classes at Dance-A-Cross, and painting. 
  • Noah Gorz, Certified Teacher

    Noah Gorz

    Certified Teacher

    Noah is a tutor in Johnston, IA. While Noah has many tutoring talents, he finds the greatest joy in reading and writing tutoring. He studied at the University of Minnesota and Adams State University in Colorado. When Noah isn't at Sylvan, you'll find him playing guitar and drawing in the margins of whatever paper happens to be in front of him!
  • Amy Sickels, Certified Teacher

    Amy Sickels

    Certified Teacher

    Amy Sickels has been a teacher for 24 years. She taught for 18 years at Oviatt Elementary in Norwalk, IA., working in kindergarten and 1st grade. She is currently teaching at King Elementary in Des Moines, IA. as a K-5 reading and math Interventionist. She lives in Indianola, IA. with her husband Mark and 3 boys, Cael, Bryce and Grady. Her biggest reward in this profession is seeing the students faces when they start to make growth and build confidence.