About the owners

Anna and Shari are two energetic educators dedicated to the success of students in the Grand Valley.  Together, we have over 70 years of teaching experience.
We specialize in coaching and/or tutoring students with learning needs and differences. Our specialty is working with students who have ADHD and/or Executive Skills difficulties.We will also act as advocates for you and your student when requested.

Anna Goetz, M. Ed.

Owner Operator

Shari VanderVelde, M. Ed.
Owner Operator


Shari VanderVelde began her teaching career in 1980 and has taught both special education and regular education students. She has worked as a Learning Facilitator and a Staff Developer and is currently a consultant for Colorado Writing Project. She obtained her degrees from the University of Northern Colorado and became a National Board Certifed Middle Childhood Generalist in 1998.  Her specialty is in the area of writing.  She has studied ADHD and Executive Skills issues and attended various conferences regarding those topics. Shari has a passion for learning and loves working with ADHD students as well as students with Executive Skills deficits.


Anna Goetz has been an educator since 1987, teaching middle and high school and serving as a learning facilitator, assistant principal and principal in Mesa County.   Anna obtained her National Board Professional Teacher License for Adolescent Literacy in 2000 and retired from District 51 as the principal of R-5 High School.  At the request of MCVSD 51, she returned to serve as the principal Wingate Elementary school.  She has experience teaching grades 6-adult students of all abilities and working with K-12 students in the area of social-emotional and behavioral issues.  She loves working with students who experience unique or new struggles in school and helping them discover their strengths and a renewed confidence in learning. 



Marcia Reesberg, B.A.

     Brandon Gregg, B.S.

Francine Kohl, M. Ed.
Maggie Sigle, Reading Recovery 


Fran taught third graders in District 51 for 34 rewarding years.  She received both her B.A.and MA in Reading from Adams State University.  She served on various committees, her school’s Leadership Team, earned her ESL Endorsement, taught summer school, as well as tutored. Fran is passionate about teaching reading and writing and has extensive training in these areas.  Since retiring she continues being involved with educating children by substituting and coaching.  She loves to be a part of the excitement of a child who is learning.

Brandon is a native of Grand Junction, Colorado, and a graduate of Tope Elementary, West Middle School and Grand Junction High School. He graduated with a double major in Math and Teaching Secondary Mathematics from CMU.  He currently teaches mathematics at GJHS and has done so for four years. Being versatile while maintaining a positive attitude and a solid work ethic are his keys in the quest for life-long learning. Brandon takes pride in working with students who are not confident in math and/or have a fear or hatred of math, as well as math anxiety.

Liz Mohler, M. Ed.
Josh Guddat, B.A.

Marcia Reesberg retired after 31 wonderfully fulfilling and successful years of teaching in Mesa County Valley School District. During her professional career, Marcia served on numerous District committees while teaching first, second, and sixth grades. She privately coached learners after her school day was finished and duing the summers. She is very excited to bring her passion for kids and learning to her work at Essentials in Learning.  Her goal is to help students become life-long learners!

Maggie is a native of Grand Junction and has worked for district 51 since 2008. She has had the opportunity to teach both fourth and first grade, but the majority of her work has been as a literacy interventionist. Maggie has been certified in Reading Recovery and specializes in working with primary children who struggle with literacy. It is her passion to help children gain the confidence and tools to become readers and writers.

Liz Mohler has been working full time in education since 1991. She spent her first 19 years as a classroom teacher in the primary grades (locally at Holy Family, Tope and Loma Elementary). She became Nationally Board Certified as an Early Childhood Generalist in 2006. Liz is also certified to teach special education through 12th grade, holds her principal license in Colorado, and is a certified trainer for Math Recovery.  In 2010, she moved onto the D51 Curriculum and Instructional Support Team. She was honored in 2015, receiving the state award for Mathematics Leadership for her work improving mathematics learning and teaching for Colorado educators by the Colorado Council of Teachers of Mathematics. She is currently the Elementary Math Specialist  for Mesa County Valley School District 51. Liz develops professional learning opportunities for D51 and Montrose teachers around mathematics instruction. She also teaches Educ 451 (Early Childhood/Elementary Mathematics Foundations) for Colorado Mesa University. Liz is passionate about the learning process and grateful to work in settings where she constantly finds opportunities to empower others who share in the mission of improving education for all students.

Josh Guddat enjoys supporting people of all ages as they work to meet their goals.  He currently does this in many ways.  Reading at home with his four children and helping with their homework is one of his joys.  As an instructional coach at R-5 High School, Josh helps teachers reflect on and improve their craft.  He also coaches students at R-5 to monitor and improve their learning in an orientation class and as an advisor.  Josh taught for many years at Grand Junction High School.  More recently, he taught middle and high school students from all over the world at an international school in China.  After 18 years of teaching, Josh continues to hone and improve his craft as he works to support learners

Ruth McKee, M. Ed

Brandon Pollard, B.S.

Mon-Fri 9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Ruth McKee has a passion for teaching adolescents how to take ownership of their lives and learning in order to achieve college and career goals.  She challenges students to develop strong reading, writing, speaking, and thinking skills, knowing that these are vital life skills.  She spent 14 years teaching middle school English language arts in San Diego, California, before moving to the Grand Valley where she has taught adolescent literacy for the past seven years and leads as a co-advisor of the National Junior Honor Society.  She recently completed her MS, Ed. in adolescent Literacy and Learning.  

Brandon Pollard has a strong passion for mathematics education and has been teaching at Bookcliff Middle School since 2013. Brandon’s path in education, however, started prior to that when he taught at the John McConnell Math and Science Center for four years working with students from kindergarten all the way through 8th grade. Brandon also has experience teaching high school, having spent a year at Grand Junction High School working with freshmen through seniors. His goal in education is to get students engaged and excited about mathematics no matter their previous experiences with the subject. Brandon wants to instill in students that everyone can do math. Brandon works to teach to the “whole child” and develop students’ skills so that they can become life-long learners and competent mathematicians.

Julie Hickman, M. Ed.

Amy Shepherd-Fowler, M. Ed.

Julie Hickman has been working full time in education since 1984.  She earned her B.A. in Elementary Education at Adams State College, and then earned her Masters in Multicultural Education through a University of New Mexico Graduate Internship.  She currently teaches first grade at Appleton Elementary and is proud to call herself an Appleton Bookworm.   Over the past 30 years, Julie has taught first, second, third and fourth grades in both Colorado and New Mexico.  She has also been a reading interventionist and has taught summer literacy programs k-5, art, gifted and talented, and science during the summers.  Julie loves seeing learners gain skills and build confidence as readers, writers, and mathematicians.    Julie enjoys having the opportunity to work one-on-one with students, as well as building relationships with students and families. She loves being part of the Essentials in Learning team!

Tracy Seremak, M. Ed  

Edith Bigum, M. Ed

Tracy’s experience includes teaching and supporting students in mathematics, study skills, and college preparation in the Chicagoland area (15 years) and District 51 (7 years). Her experiences as a mathematics (middle and high school) teacher, A.V.I.D. coordinator and teacher, administrator, and curriculum specialist have provided her with a wide variety of tools and insights into how mathematics can be learned and understood in a variety of ways. Tracy currently teaches mathematics at Palisade High School. She has a passion for helping everyone feel that they can learn and understand mathematics. 

Edith Bigum is certified to teach Elementary Education and Special Education, and she has a Master’s Degree in Reading. She is a Reading Recovery specialist and a certified Literacy Interventionist. Edith was honored with Outstanding Educator of the Year 2007. She retired in May 2020 after 30 years teaching kindergarten and first grade at Broadway Elementary in School District #51. She is excited about the opportunity to work one-on-one with students and meet their individual needs as learners. Edith believes it is critical for children who are struggling with literacy skills to have highly qualified teachers to support them in their early years.

Develop independence  for learning.
Establish self-extending strategies.
Experience academic improvement.
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