Michael Durchslag – Director
Michael Durchslag is the Director of P.E.A.S.E. Academy (Peers Enjoying a Sober Education), the oldest sober school in the United States. He began working for P.E.A.S.E. in November, 1995 as the Social Studies teacher. Michael became the school’s Director in January, 2007. He is a licensed 7-12 social studies teacher and earned his Masters of Arts in Teaching from the University of St. Thomas in 2002. Michael also holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Beloit College (1991). His commitment to recovery schools goes beyond P.E.A.S.E. Academy as he also serves as a board member of the Association of Recovery Schools (ARS).
Amy Brogan – Administrative Assistant
Amy Brogan is the administrative assistant at PEASE Academy, with responsibilities in several areas. She came to MTS with many years of experience in psychiatric and chemical dependency, having worked for a treatment center in St. Paul. She earned an associate’s degree from Century College and is now completing her bachelor’s at St. Catherine’s University. Married and the mother of a daughter in college, Brogan owns three dogs and a cat and serves as a foster home for Minnesota Rescue. Working with paint, reading, music and drawing are her favorite interests.
Anna Shindler – Science
Anna Shindler has taught and shared science with students for 9 years. She’s worked for a large public high school, a small recovery school and the Science Museum of Minnesota after graduating from the U of M, Duluth in 2005. She loves working with youth in recovery because she believes they possess strengths that your average teenager does not. She’s currently completing her masters degree in science education at the U of M, Twin Cities. When she’s not planning lessons, washing beakers or grading science portfolios, she’s a mother to two children who loves cooking, bike riding, gardening, camping, fishing, and vacuuming the house (no joke).
Ellen Minzel – Math
Ellen Minzel is the mathematics teacher. This is her first full time teaching position after graduating from St. Cloud State University December of 2014. Prior to coming here full time, she was a long term substitute teacher in mathematics at PEASE Academy. For the past nine years, she has spent her summers teaching swimming lessons in her hometown, Mound, MN. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, being outside, and trying new things. She is excited for the school year to begin, and make a difference in the lives of the students.
Denise Simon – Special Education
Denise Simon is the Special Education Case Manager and Resource Teacher. This is her first year at PEASE Academy; however she has been a special education teacher with the MTS district for seven years. Prior, Denise worked in District 197 and DCALS as an English/Language Arts teacher. She decided to go to graduate school for a Master’s Degree in Special Education which she completed in 2011. She is the mother of two sons 17 and 21 years of age. In her free time she enjoys spending time cooking and eating with her Italian family, traveling, gardening and reading.
Saraya Dahlen – Social Worker
Saraya Dahlen is the School Social Worker. This is her first year at PEASE Academy; prior to working at PEASE she was working as a community social worker, providing school linked case management to families with children in the 622 school district. She also has experience working with families and individuals who were experiencing domestic violence and homelessness. Saraya completed her bachelor’s degree in social work from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2013. She is a licensed social worker (LSW) and school social worker (SSW) by the MN Board of Social Work and MN Department of Education. In her free time Saraya enjoys hanging with friends, traveling, and trying out new recipes from Pinterest! She is excited to get started in this new position and be a new resource for the students.
Chris Williams – Language Arts
A teacher since 2000, Chris Williams joined PEASE Academy in 2015. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Minnesota, received his master’s in education from the University of St. Thomas and is currently studying for a master’s degree in fine arts at Hamline University. Chris is a fantasy football fan and takes time out for baseball, music recording and composition, as well as household do it yourself projects. He is married, the father of three children and has a dog and a cat.
Jeff Schommer – Social Studies
Jeff Schommer, Social Studies- Jeff grew up in the dairyland pastures of southeastern Wisconsin and moved to Minneapolis in 1995 to earn a BA in Urban Studies from the U of M. He worked as a town planning consultant off and on for about 10 years, then made a career change in 2008 after obtaining his teaching licensure in Duluth. He has lived in numerous neighborhoods in South Minneapolis, at the south rim of the Grand Canyon, at the end of the Gunflint Trail, in a barn in northwestern Wisconsin, on the North Shore of Lake Superior and in a Toyota Corolla. He loves travel, hiking and camping, gardening and cooking, fermenting things, and exploring the world with his wife and son.
Rufus Brown – Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) and Board Certified Counselor (BCC)
Rufus Brown is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) and Board Certified Counselor (BCC). He has worked with youth in corrections, as well as homeless shelters for runaway and homeless teens. Rufus also has extensive background working with youth and adults in inpatient settings, outpatient programs, and residential treatment facilities. Rufus is a natural teacher and brings over two decades of experience to our team to help support, coach, and encourage our students.