Together, we are raising up a generation of passionate,
self-directed learners who find joy in exploration and discovery…

because it truly does take a village.

Once upon a time…

In the center of a village, there stood a school. This was no ordinary school. This was a place where wonder, dreams and imagination were embraced. Where classes such as cooking, art and movement were center stage rather than tossed to the side or altogether gone. The children spent ample time in the fresh air with the grass beneath their feet. They felt both at peace and excited to learn. After all, they had arrived not through crowded hallways but by way of a walk in the woods. The families adored this place because it allowed them opportunities to enrich their child’s education. Rather than driving all over town, pursuing an overwhelming amount of activities, they found it all in one place. Finally their children could dabble in watercolor, practice mindfulness in yoga, and learn about healthy eating without crisscrossing the metro.

Sound to good to be true?

Our Village School was born out of this fairytale and strives to make it a reality. We are redefining “school” as we create a fresh space to inspire a generation of lifelong learners. Our program encourages exploration in areas that are relevant, fun, and foster a love of learning. All while providing ample time outdoors in a beautiful natural setting. We strive to provide a place where the traditional model and homeschool model can coexist in harmony. Homeschool at your own pace in core subjects, enjoying the freedom and personalization of that model. Then come visit Our Village School two days a week for community, socialization and a deeper dive into the finer things of life. Finally a balanced model with the best of both worlds.

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Learn more about Our Village School

Meet Our Guides

Our talented guides are the heart of Our Village School.
They are the best of the best in our community – the Village Experts. This is a dedicated team of
individuals passionate about helping to raise up a generation of lifelong learners.

Maria Stalsberg

Founder/Director/KIds Inc. Guide
Our Village School is the fairytale I've been dreaming about for years. Holding my Master's degree in teaching, I adored my time in the classroom until it was time to step away and raise up my own tribe of Littles. However, after sending my eldest to traditional school for K, I found myself longing for a fresh approach to education. One that embraced the wonder of childhood and existed to cater to the individual learner—all while providing ample time outdoors. With the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, I stumbled into the fresh approach I'd been craving—homeschooling. Identifying with the fears of isolation and inadequacy when it comes to schooling at home, I set out to finally bring that fairytale to life.

Aaron Strawn

Aaron is an entrepreneur with a passion for drama. His 14-year career working with children and theatre inspired him to launch Drama Lab, an after school program that has enrolled over 1000 students in 40+ locations. Drama Lab is committed to helping kids grow in confidence and find acceptance all within an interactive and fun environment! When Aaron isn’t dreaming up new ideas, he loves to be home with his family, watch hockey, DJ weddings, and hunt down the most current techie toys.

Shannon Perez

Explorer Anchor (T/Th) & Nature
Shannon has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and biology. She has extensive experience working with children at daycares, as a nanny, and working with children with Autism, Aspergers, and Special Needs. She enjoys spending time with her husband and 2 children outdoors playing sports, hiking, camping, and swimming at the beach. At home she enjoys listening to scientific podcasts, learning about holistic remedies, gardening, home projects, candle making, bread making, and a variety of crafts. She looks forward to her first year at OVS and connecting with her Wednesday students!

Rita Ryan

Rita Ryan is a local artist who has showcased her pieces locally at the Lakeville Area Performing Arts Center. She is also a retired Lakeville teacher and most importantly a grandmother. Her passion is helping children unleash their creative spirit through art. She has a knack for developing and coaching budding artists to help them discover and refine their unique artistic abilities.

Sarah Lang

Sarah is a homeschool mom, personal chef and business owner. Sarah graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in Strategic Communications, and she finished college in Italy, where she completely fell in love with food. In 2014 she started A Simple Kitchen, which provides families with freshly prepared meals in the comfort of their homes, along with dinner parties and special events. Sarah loves to talk about food and is a regular guest on many local TV shows. She has partnered with local and national brands as a recipe developer. Sarah is excited to guide the kids at OVS in the joy of preparing and enjoying healthy and delicious foods. She also looks forward to helping expand horizons to appreciate food from around the world.

Liz Markel

Explorer Anchor (M/W)
Liz is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom. She has a Master’s in Teaching, has experience nannying, working with children with autism, teaching preschool, kindergarten, and first grade, and most recently taught kindergarten/first grade for a homeschool co-op. Liz loves being outside with her husband and three children, reading, and learning to Irish dance.

Kim Kvasnicka

Explorer Anchor (M/W)
Kim is a registered nurse and homeschooling mama who has been a part of the OVS community for two years. She enjoys being outdoors - hiking, biking, camping, running, and attempting to canoe correctly. Exercise and holistic health are also a few of her passions along with her darlings Mac and Morgan.

Ashley Siljenberg

Science (Thursdays)
Ashley is a science teacher and math tutor with a bachelor’s degree in Genetics and Math with experience both as a classroom teacher and as a curriculum designer. She enjoys getting sidetracked with science books, questions, and experiments and finds being in nature to be her happiest place. When not running her tutoring company, she spends time homeschooling her kids and having adventures with them and their miniature poodle. Ashley’s interests include bike touring, mountain biking, tennis, knitting, traveling, and making homemade pizza.

Jennifer Ackland

Adventurer Anchor (T/Th)
Jennifer is a Board-Certified Music Therapist & owner of Musical Safari. She has worked as a Music Therapist in a variety of settings such as Fraser School, ISD #196, The Wilder Foundation and numerous preschools, senior facilities and day programs in the south metro. She also teaches piano lessons. Jennifer lives in Apple Valley with her husband Brian and her two children. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, playing volleyball, going to movies and spending time with family and friends!

Kayla Ragborg

Kayla is a homeschool mom of 2 girls, Hazel and Violet. She is a registered nurse and has worked on an inpatient adolescent/child mental unit for 12 years. Kayla has been involved in sports all her life and has a passion for teaching kids about health and how movement is fun! In her free time she loves learning about all things health and fitness, mental health, and doing any activities outside!

Jessica Sieh

Jessica is a private piano and voice teacher. Before OVS, she taught K-8 music in both the Lakeville and Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school districts. She lives in Apple Valley with her husband, their baby boy (born in July 2023), and pooch.

Dave Stalsberg

Dave is considered the OVS handyman and a skilled maker! When he's not working his day job as a commercial real estate broker, he can usually be found tinkering with some sort of building project. As a former Young Life leader and dad to 4, he has a knack for connecting with kids and is passionate about equipping them with real life skills for their futures. He enjoys spending time with his family, their dog Jack, fishing & golfing.

Stephanie Millard

T/Th Explorer Anchor
Stephanie has a degree in early childhood special education, but pivoted into a role as an ASL interpreter after college. She worked as an interpreter for 11 years in the education setting, and loved the opportunities that came with that profession. In 2020, her career shifted into one of the most important positions she’s ever had...a homeschooling mama. Stephanie and her darling fam live in Northfield and have been a part of the OVS village for years.

Sarah (Lulu) Kjellsen

Sarah has worked with children her whole life as a babysitter, nanny, and counselor. She has a BA in Child Development & Family Consumer Sciences. She earned her Yoga certification and co-created a children’s yoga camp. Before moving to Minnesota she was an Assistant Teacher for 6 years at a small Montessori school in the mountains of Colorado; this experience inspired her love for Forrest education. She finds awe during all seasons of the year and fosters a child’s love of nature through encouraging a calm, loving, and peaceful environment.

Alicia Loomis

Alicia has been a crafter and maker her entire life. She loves teaching people crafting techniques and then watching their own creative process come to life. Alicia is usually working with wool, paper, and string, to create beautiful things for the home and for gifting, but also enjoys learning and conquering new materials and techniques. Additionally, Alicia loves gardening and cooking, and as a licensed acupuncturist and business owner, Alicia has a passion for helping people live a balanced and healthy life.

Zach Secrist

Adventurer Anchor (W) & Connect
Zach is a licensed school psychologist and father of two girls in the OVS program. Zach and his family have been living, working and traveling overseas for the last 14 years and are now settling back down in Minnesota to be closer to family. Zach does the primary homeschooling with his girls, enjoys mountain biking, camping, and gardening. His interests also include natural health/nutrition, biohacking and home renovation projects.

Jen Demetriades

Science (Mondays)
Jen is a former licensed public high school teacher turned homeschool mom. She taught chemistry and coached soccer for 6 years, and loves all things science, music, and art. Of all the daily adventures with her three boys, she enjoys traveling, camping, frisbee golf, and board games the most.