WEST/NCU PSEO Adjunct Professor Biographies

Brianna Flavin

  • Rhetoric & Research - ENG 124 - 3 credits

Brianna Flavin holds a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from the University of Virginia and a Bachelors in Creative Writing from the University of Northwestern. She is passionate about literature and writing because she believes learning how to communicate (to others, to God, to oneself) is an essential part of being human.

Brianna’s creative work has been published by Rock&Sling literary journal, Relief literary journal, Quiddity International and others. She worked as an academic writing tutor at the University of Virginia as well as an instructor of undergraduate poetry. She has taught, tutored or coached students all the way through a K-12 age spectrum in the last few years. Brianna is currently working on a manuscript of poetry while adjunct teaching and freelance writing. She genuinely believes that strong writing changes the world and loves to spread her delight in the English language. She’s thrilled to talk about books, poetry and gardening at any time of day.

Brianna likes to move around while teaching. She minored in theatre at college and has a great appreciation for the way inflection and emphasis can supercharge a lecture. She loves to learn from her students and believes the most powerful and effective education is one built around relationship.


Karen Heuer

  • Introduction to American Government - GOVT 224.T01 - 3 credits
  • Public Speaking - COMM 220 - 2 credits

Karen graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1984 with a B.A. in International Relations and a desire to go on to Law School. To get experience in the field, she worked at a law firm in Minneapolis for several years both prior to and during law school. She was at the firm of Zimmerman, Caplan and Reed, first as a receptionist, then legal secretary, and finally as a law clerk. She continued with this firm for a time as a law student until the opportunity to work as a law clerk supporting an in-house litigator became available at Control Data Corporation, in Bloomington, Minnesota. Wishing to become a litigator herself, representing clients in the courtroom, she seized this opportunity and continued at Control Data throughout law school. Karen graduated from William Mitchell College of law in 1989. She was immediately hired by Control Data Corporation as an attorney and began litigating cases for the company all around the United States. Karen was married in 1990 and began working for a new corporation, National Computer Systems, in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. At NCS, Karen still litigated cases and also began working in the area of employment law and patent law.

Karen and her husband Dean had two kids and Karen continued to work for NCS. However in 1999, upon having their third child, the Heuers decided to make a change and began homeschooling. The Heuers have been doing this ever since. They have graduated two children from their homeschool, both of whom are now in college. Their third child is still being schooled at home and is in 10th grade.

Karen is looking forward to teaching American Government because it fits with her interests, skills and background. She studied government both in her undergraduate program and, of course, in law school and has continued to learn during her homeschool career. She believes strongly in providing a clear understanding of our government--its founding, growth and current state; its structure and operations-- in order to provide students with the basis to participate meaningfully in our government.

Jack MacKinnon

  • General Psychology - PSYC 125 - 3 credits

Jack Mackinnon received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hope College in 2004 in Education (Political Science and History) and went on to earn a Masters of Education degree from Harvard University in 2013 (Human Development and Psychology).

Following the completion of his undergraduate work, Jack Mackinnon completed his student teaching qualifications and then taught History, Government, Political Philosophy, and Bible at middle and high schools in New York City, Western Michigan, and the Twin Cities. In addition to teaching courses in these subject areas, Jack also developed and evaluated curriculum for a range of different school types, including classical, public, charter, and home schools.

After witnessing the holistic needs of students in his classrooms, Jack became interested in learning how to support students psychologically and socially, in addition to academically. This interest led to positions developing and facilitating mentoring programs in the Twin Cities. These programs have included over 300 mentors and students. After taking a year to study Adolescent Development and Psychology at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Jack began his current position as the Youth Development Director for an exciting upstart mentoring organization named One2One in the Twin Cities.

In addition to his academic and career pursuits, Jack also enjoys walks with his wife around Cedar Lake, repairing his own clothing by learning how to sew, and blogging about European travel and history. 

Heather Kipp

  • College Algebra I - Math 125 - 3 credits
  • Practical Math - MATH 115 - 3 credits

Heather Kipp graduated with a B.S. from Northwestern College in Roseville, MN, majoring in Mathematics Education and Bible in 2000.  In 2014, she received her M.A. in Education from Bethel University in Arden Hills, MN with a concentration in Online Teaching. 

She has been teaching mathematics in various capacities for the past 15 years.  She has taught high school mathematics, ACT prep courses, tutored individual students, and started a tutoring ministry.  In recent years, she has been a stay-at-home mom and has been homeschooling her own children for the past five years.  She has a passion for teaching mathematics and enjoys helping students become life-long learners.  Many of her favorite tutoring experiences have been while ministering to students in the inner-city, and she is always blessed when she sees students overcome struggles and begin to thrive.

Her interests include music, reading, hiking, and gardening.  She is actively involved in her local church and at CityLifeWorks, a ministry in her North Minneapolis community.  

Vitalia Bryn-Pundyk. M.ED./DTM
  • Spanish IA - MLAN 141 - 4 credits
  • Spanish IB - MLAN 142 - 4 credits
Vitalia is trilingual with fluency in English, Spanish, and Ukrainian. Teaching Spanish since 1988, her teaching experience includes the Osseo and Hopkins school districts in Minnesota, where she was instrumental in developing the Spanish Language Curriculum in an Elementary World Language Pilot Program for grades 3-6.

Prior to her administrative position in El Dorado, AR, she was an Assistant Professor of Spanish at Camden County College in Blackwood, NJ, where she taught beginning and intermediate language courses until June 2001.

In August 2001, she assumed her previous administrative position as District Chair of Foreign Languages - El Dorado School Dist. #15.  With District School Board approval and the permission of the Arkansas Department of Education, Vitalia designed and implemented a unique foreign language program offering high school credit for middle school students.

Vitalia’s hobbies include reading, skiing, going to the theatre, beading, and traveling, but she most enjoys presenting leadership and communication workshops, as well as working with students of all ages, teaching Spanish culture and language.

She is well-versed in a variety of teaching methodologies that provide a fun and positive learning environment and believes in helping everyone maximize their potential, supporting student success!

Chris Ballentine

  • American Sign Language I - MLAN 150 - 4 credits
  • American Sign Language II - MLAN 151 - 4 credits

Hailed from Kalamazoo, Michigan and born deaf into a hearing family, I grew up wearing hearing aids and speaking English.  I then started learning Signed Exact English (SEE) until going to National Technology Institute for the Deaf college in Rochester, NY.  This was when I first learned of ASL and deaf culture thus began my passion for learning ASL and teaching it.  After graduation with a photography degree at RIT, I joined a full-time traveling drama Christian group called “The Tenth Coin” all over the U.S ministering to churches.  Later, I moved to Belize, Central America working at a Deaf School as an Assistant Administrator and interim Director.  After living abroad for 17 months, I returned to the U.S to marry my wife - we recently our 20th this past Fall.  We have 3 deaf children whom we love dearly and couldn’t be more proud of.  Our oldest will be graduating from high school this June.   

I have taught ASL in a wide variety places.  In Massachusetts, I taught at an Adult Community Center in Boston.  I also taught at North Essex Community College in Andover, MA and at Boston University for a few years.  Currently, I am an ASL instructor at North Central University, which I have been doing for the past 4 years.

I enjoy seeing students blossom through understanding of the language and am able to carry on conversations without the aid of an ASL interpreter.  I do throw in tidbits of deaf cultures to help my students understand what it’s really all about.  Watching students develop a respect for ASL and the deaf culture makes it all worthwhile of my time and investments.  Some of my former students have eventually become teachers for deaf children or even ASL interpreters.  One even became a missionary to deaf people in Africa!   That is my inspiration and passion. 

When I'm not working on lesson plans or teaching, I enjoy Netflix. I am a movie buff!  I also enjoy photography, going to my children’s sport meets and cheering them on, socializing on Facebook and keeping in touch with family and friends near and far.  Cooking is a must for me. I love creating new recipes from nothing!   I am excited to be working with your children at WEST and look forward building bridges!