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!
  • Katie Ruby, Executive Director

    Katie Ruby

    Executive Director

    As Executive Director of the Sylvan Learning Center, Katie leads the center and community partnerships with initial family and community 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 is not at Sylvan you'll find her enjoying time with family and friends. 
  • Bree Koester, Director of Educational Growth and Development

    Bree Koester

    Director of Educational Growth and Development

    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 and is a Certified Leadership Coach. She has four kids ages 8 to 17 & is working towards her Masters in Organizational Leadership at Grand View University. When Bree isn’t at Sylvan, you’ll find her kayaking with her husband, biking, disc golfing or traveling.
  • Courtney Coakley, Director of Education

    Courtney Coakley

    Director of Education

    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. 
  • Celeste McQuistan, Executive Assistant

    Celeste McQuistan

    Executive Assistant

    Celeste, also known as CC! Is the Executive Assistant at Sylvan Learning Center of Johnston and Community Partnerships. CC assists the Directors with high functioning administrative work such as student and family scheduling and important customer services responsibilities. She also helps facilitate and organize community partnerships, keeping track of community programming, and officiating communications between Sylvan and community partners. She has recently graduated from Iowa State University and spends most of her time outside of Sylvan reading, writing, telling stories, and cheering for the Cyclones!
  • 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. 
  • 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!
  • 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. 
  • 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!
  • Trinity Borland, Certified Teacher

    Trinity Borland

    Certified Teacher

    Trinity is a tutor in Johnston, IA with a gift for working with kids. While Trinity has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy in math tutoring. She studied at Wartburg College. When Trinity isn't as Sylvan, you'll find her gardening, playing games, or fixing up her house.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Melissa Brannon, Certified Teacher

    Melissa Brannon

    Certified Teacher

    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! 
  • Maya Jackson, Certified Teacher

    Maya Jackson

    Certified Teacher

    Maya is a grad student at Iowa State University who has previously worked as a substitute teacher. While Maya has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy in math tutoring. She studied at Central College in Pella, IA. When Maya isn't at Sylvan, you'll find her enjoying the outdoors, spending time with friends, or reading books.