Meet our Hiawatha Tutoring Staff


Great Teachers Inspire

Our tutors and staff in Hiawatha consist of passionate educators who love inspiring children to succeed. Warm, caring and great at relating to kids, our tutors in Hiawatha 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 Hiawatha!

  • 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!
  • Jenifer Carstensen, Director Of Education

    Jenifer Carstensen

    Director Of Education

    Jenifer oversees the educational programming at our Cedar Rapids center. An experienced teacher who has served in elementary, middle, and high school settings, she is equipped to ensure integrity at all levels of teaching and learning. She has degrees from Millersville and Drake Universities, as well as the University of Northern Iowa. Jenifer enjoys staying busy; when she's not at Sylvan, you can probably find her at a sporting event or planning her next travel adventure.
  • Kate Edwards , Director Of Education

    Kate Edwards

    Director Of Education

    Kate oversees the educational integrity of our programs, managing and training our team of tutors in Hiawatha. A former behavioral health caseworker in Cedar Rapids, Kate brings a wealth of knowledge to Sylvan of Hiawatha. She graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in K-12 Arts Education. When Kate isn’t at Sylvan, you’ll find her making art, playing ice hockey, or restoring antiques.
  • Sarah Davis, Tutor

    Sarah Davis


    Sarah is a tutor at Sylvan of Hiawatha and has a gift for working with kids. She received her Bachelor of Education at University of Northern Iowa. When Sarah isn’t at Sylvan, you’ll find her spending time with her husband and daughter, watching racing (all kinds), and sledding with her dogs. In her spare time she reads and scrapbooks.
  • Leslie Mottinger, Tutor

    Leslie Mottinger


    Leslie is a substitute teacher in the College Community and Cedar Rapids School districts. She graduated from Mount Mercy with a major in Elementary Ed and reading endorsement. When not working at Sylvan, Leslie works at Lake MacBride Golf Course. She also enjoys spending time with her family, husband Eric and daughter Rachel.
  • Janey Schmitt, Tutor

    Janey Schmitt


    Janey is a preschool teacher in Marion, IA. While Janey has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy in reading, phonics, and beginning reading tutoring. She studied at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN and Northwestern College in Orange City, IA. When Janey isn’t at Sylvan, you’ll find her watching and supporting her daughters in dance, show choir and of course school. 
  • Judy Bryant, Tutor

    Judy Bryant


    Judy has been teaching for over twenty years. She has taught in the states of Texas, Ohio, and Iowa with a gift and passion for working with kids of all ages. Judy is currently tutoring at Sylvan and will be substitute teaching in the area schools. While Judy has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy in tutoring Reading. She studied at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. When Judy isn’t at Sylvan, you’ll find her doing these favorite activities: babysitting grandchildren, hiking, and doing photography.  
  • Chris Carstensen, Tutor

    Chris Carstensen


    Chris is an elementary reading specialist in Cedar Rapids, IA. He has more than 20 years of experience teaching young learners and especially enjoys working with students who are improving their reading skills. An Iowa native, he earned his education degree at the University of Northern Iowa. When not at Sylvan, you can usually find Chris on the golf course or hiking trails.
  • Catherine Kratoska, Tutor

    Catherine Kratoska


    Catherine Kratoska is an undergraduate student at Mount Mercy University where she is pursuing a major in English. Her favorite subject to teach is reading comprehension. When Catherine isn't at Sylvan, you'll find her reading, writing, and spending time with her horses.
  • Emily Herbst, Tutor

    Emily Herbst


    Emily Herbst is a PH.D. candidate in math education at the University of Iowa. She received her bachelor’s in secondary math education from the University of Northern Iowa. Her favorite subject to teach is upper level math. When Emily is not at Sylvan, you can find her studying at her favorite spots on campus.
  • Sarah Leidigh, Tutor

    Sarah Leidigh


    Sarah Leidigh is a stay at home mom in Cedar Rapids, IA. Her favorite subject to teach is reading. She studied at Coe College where she earned a degree in education. When she isn’t at Sylvan, Sarah enjoys embroidery, puzzles, and taking care of her son.