EHHD Alumni Ambassadors

The College of Education, Health and Human Development has a new initiative to support our students’ success and provide guidance for prospective students. If you are a student and need some expert advice regarding how to navigate your learning experiences or want to know more about what you can do with your degree—EHHD Alumni Ambassadors can help! Browse the individual biographies and videos below and feel free to contact them at the email address or phone number provided.  Don’t hesitate-- ambassadors are interested in having a conversation with you and answering your questions.    

Are you an alum or do you know an alum who would be a great resource for current or prospective students?  Join our circle of EHHD Alumni Ambassadors!  Please contact Karen Funke at karen.funke@montana.edu for more information about the program

EDUCATION:

Jenny Combs 

  • 1994 BA in English and math education 
  • 1997 Masters in Curriculum and Instruction 

Jenny is the executive director of the Alliance for Curriculum Enhancement, Montana's leader in curriculum and professional development. She was raised and started teaching in rural Montana and has been working professionally in education for over 25 years. Jenny taught 7-12 math and English and a finalist for the Montana Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics. Jenny also has worked at the international and national level for a non-profit specializing in teacher induction, instructional coaching, and online content specific mentoring.

The revolving door of teachers she experienced as both a student and teacher made her driven to make sure that every school leader and the teacher feels supported.

Jenny knows that we can do better for our students by challenging our long-held traditions about grading and reporting. She is committed to having the courage and expertise to support Montana schools shift to research-based instruction, assessment, and grading.

Contact Jenny at jenikoterba@gmail.com

 

 

 

Ryan Foley

  • 2006 Elementary Education 
  • 2012 Montana State University Graduate Degree MSSE 
  • 2019 Montana State University National Board Certified Teacher Early Adolescent Mathematics 

Elementary Education 2006, MSSE 2012, National Board Certified Teacher 2019 Early Adolescent Mathematics. 12 years teaching. A Great Falls, Montana native, now living in Spokane, Washington. I have experience in both upper elementary as well as middle school. I’ve taught in three states: Idaho, Montana, and Washington. Building culture and engaging students are some of my strengths. I dig when teachers are motivated to improve their craft outside of traditional methods. I’m not a fan of the “I do, we do, you do teaching method”. I love piquing students' curiosity, teaching through rich tasks, and developing problem solvers- not memorizers. Effort is king and the ability to fail is a must. I love my family (wife and two young boys), running, skiing, and fly fishing. I am also a co-host for the R&R Cat Cast- a podcast dedicated to Montana State athletics.

Contact Ryan at ry.c.foley@gmail.com

 

 

 

Michael Harris

  • 1992 BS in Education
Michael Harris

Michael Harris

Contact Michael at Paris56bubba@gmail.com

I have worked with at-risk teens and special needs for 40 years. I have worked in housing projects in Indianapolis, JV group homes and taught in Belgrade and Roundup,Mt, Las Vegas, Houston, Indianapolis, Nashville, Greenwood, and Trafalgher, IN and in Charters schools.

 

 

Pam Birkeland

  • 1977 BS in Elementary Education
  • 1978 Library K-12
  • 2000 Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, K-12 Administration Endorsement
Pam Birkeland

Pam Birkeland

Contact Pam at pambirkeland@gmail.com

I taught every grade K-12 with the exception of 5th grade. I have taught in the regular classroom, music, and been a librarian for K-4, K-12, and 7-12. I worked for the Golden Triangle Curriculum cooperative as the assistant director in charge of technology integration. I was the curriculum and assessment administrator in Helena along with administering the Title and CTE programs for that district. I have also been an adjunct professor at MSU. After retiring, I worked remotely for the state in the assessment division, leading the formative assessment component of SBAC. Currently, I serve as the Madison County Superintendent of Schools. I have worked with/in an independent elementary school, a class C K-12 school, a class B school, and a AA school district. My plethora of experience is key to my being of assistance to those students wishing to enter our amazing profession.

 

 

Michelle Bigler

  • 1989 BS in Mathematics, teaching option and Physical Education minor
Michelle Bigler

Michelle Bigler

Contact Michelle at Michelle.Bigler@ColoState.edu

Michelle Bigler is enthusiastic and passionate about everything involved with teaching and learning. She graduated from Montana State University in 1989 with a mathematics degree, teaching option, and a minor in physical education. The strong initial teacher education Michelle received at MSU enabled her to begin her career in education at an Alternative High School in Colorado. With a desire to individualize her student's mathematics instruction, Michelle began to embed technology into her lessons in a variety of ways. Utilizing innovative instructional practices quickly caught the eye of district leadership which led to Michelle's roles as a technology integration professional development trainer for two districts. Earning a master's degree in Educational Leadership drew Michelle into an elementary principal role where she started each day with more than 300 hugs doing bus duty. Seeing children's growth that was fostered by dedicated and professional educators is one of the greatest joys of her career. Continuing to challenge herself, Michelle is now an instructor for initial teacher education for undergraduate and graduate programs concurrent with doctoral studies in the Education, Equity, and Transformation program. Her research interests involve student/family co-learning and intergenerational learning, using technology to enhance instruction, STEM education, and initial teacher education.

Michelle shares her time with her partner of 32 years, three adult children, a puppy, and a love for everything outdoors. You can often find Michelle gardening, hiking, skiing, or enjoying time on the patio. Michelle is excited to be part of the Alumni Ambassador program within MSU's College of Education, Health, and Human Development as working with aspiring and in-service teachers brings her joy and rejuvenation. She looks forward to meeting and mentoring current MSU students!

 

HEALTH AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT:

Erica Chapin

  • 2004 Health and Human Development, Family and Consumer Sciences teaching program

Greetings! My name is Erica Chapin, and I'm thrilled to say this is my 13th year teaching high school Living Skills. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Development with a focus on Family and Consumer Sciences in 2004 and received my teaching credential in 2005. I also have a credential in Mild/ Moderate Special Education. I grew up in Santa Rosa, California, and teach at Sonoma Valley High School, Sonoma Ca. I taught for 2 years at a non-public school in Santa Rosa, CA. Currently, I live in Santa Rosa with my husband and three kids. I am teaching 100% of my classes online right now Distance Learning and will be for the unforeseeable future. I love to read, travel, spend time outside, and often find my way back to Montana and MSU to visit.

Contact Erica at airsica@hotmail.com

 

 

Kathryn Fontana

  • 2020 BS in Community Health
Kathryn Fontana

Kathryn Fontana

Contact Kathryn at kfontana665@gmail.com

Hi my name is Kathryn Fontana. I recently graduated last May of 2020. I have a B.S degree in Community Health. For most of my time at MSU I was traveling from Helena to Bozeman to complete my course work. I have enjoyed meeting the student and staff.

 

 

Skye Arndt

  • 2013 BS Food and Nutrition 
  • 2014 Montana Dietetic Internship
Skye Arndt

Skye Arndt

Hello! My name is Skye and I have been working as an RD for 5 years 6 years now for oneHealth in Miles City, Montana. I did my internship with public health as they were merging with our local community health center into oneHealth. I have worked in many unique areas and positions building up my role in the organization. I do a little bit of everything from outpatient consults, WIC director, lactation counselor, marketing and outreach, and home visiting for ages 0-5 and pregnant mothers.
During my time at oneHealth, I have also worked with several classes of MDI interns and have sat on the committee to select intern classes, evaluating applications.
I have a strong passion for pregnant mothers, breastfeeding advocacy, and nutrition education for children. I also love advocating for what my organization does for a community and the importance of public health and community health centers.
Montana is my home and I have been born and raised on the East side of the state and am currently raising my son and daughter here. I believe there is so much beauty in Eastern Montana and the people are strong and passionate about their way of life. I love to help feed that and encourage small changes to a healthy lifestyle.
I love nothing more then to share my passions and would love to help future dietitians find theirs and discuss the pathways outside of clinical that an RD can take and how to build your own perfect role in an organization and community.

 

Bernice (Bernie) Mason

  • 1965 B.S. Home Economics Clothing & Textiles Business and Home Economics Education and Minor Health Education  
  • 1997 Masters MSUB in Adult Education 1997
Bernie Mason

Bernice (Bernie) Mason

Contact Bernie at bcmason2612@hotmail.com

Originally from Sidney, MT. Attended Concordia College Freshman year. Teaching experience: Sunburst MT, 1965-66, Libby,Mt. 1966-69, West High School Billings, MT 1985 & 1986, substitute teaching 1969 - 1987, Adult Ed. classes 1965 - 1988.
Began career with MSU/Yellowstone Co. as the Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Agent in 1988 and continued position for 25 years.
IMember of professional organizations, Montana & National Association of Family & Consumer Sciences and Montana and National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences and Home Economists in Business. Served in leadership positions in each organization.


I have been the recipient of many professional awards.


Currently write a bi-weekly recipe column carried in all Lee newspapers.


Volunteer Involvement in many community and professional groups and organizations.:
Marital status: Married 1967 in Libby, Widowed 1977
Children: Trumaine living in Seattle, WA. artist and Tiffiny living in Billings, Assistatnt VP in Technology for Wells Fargo -- Motther to 2 children 13 yrs and 10 yrs.