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Great Teachers Inspire

Our tutors and staff in Johnston & Des Moines consist of passionate educators who love inspiring children to succeed. Warm, caring and great at relating to kids, our tutors in Johnston & Des Moines know how to engage and motivate each child in a personal way—building confidence and smiles, as well as skills and better scores. We selectively choose tutors who know local curriculum and can link Sylvan lessons to what’s being taught in school.

Get to know our tutors and staff in Johnston & Des Moines!


April Samp


April Samp is the proud Co-Owner of all four Sylvan Learning of Iowa Centers. April is a graduate of Iowa State University and invested many years into the communities where she lived by covering and investigating meaningful stories as a journalist and News Director. April worked in TV News/Marketing and Advertising for 25 years at stations like WOI-TV, KGAN/KFXA, KWQC and WHO in Iowa, KCTV and WDAF in Kansas City, WAVY/WVBT in Virginia and KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City. April’s love of education and everything it does for a person started very early. Both of her parents were educators. April and her son Cale live in Waukee and cheer loudly for the Cyclones and play golf whenever possible!

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Jody Simpson

Regional Director

Jody has been with Sylvan for over 20 years. Jody conducts conferences, assists families with their needs and ensures that our center is always upholding the Sylvan Pledge! She loves to build relationships with families and create life long partnerships. In her spare time (ha!) she volunteers at Van Meter schools, plays with her three kids, dog and husband!


Katie Ruby

Executive Director

As Executive Director of the Sylvan Learning Center, Katie leads the center and community partnerships with initial family and community consultations,  manages the overall customer experience, and ensures high-quality operations are executed. Katie’s international education in both business and hospitality has allowed her to travel to several corners of the world. Through this international experience, she found a passion for helping children in their education while volunteering for several youth causes throughout her studies abroad. When Katie is not at Sylvan you’ll find her enjoying time with family and friends.


Bree Koester

Director of Educational Growth and Development

Bree oversees the educational integrity of our programs, and manages and trains our team of tutors in Johnston. She studied Education at the University of Iowa and is a Certified Leadership Coach. She has four kids ages 8 to 17 & is working towards her Masters in Organizational Leadership at Grand View University. When Bree isn’t at Sylvan, you’ll find her kayaking with her husband, biking, disc golfing or traveling.


Courtney Coakley

Director of Education

Courtney has been a substitute teacher in Urbandale, Johnston, Kansas City, and Clarksville, TN, & was also a preschool teacher on an army base in Missouri. She is excited to be back at Sylvan after a few years away. While Courtney has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy in reading & math tutoring. She studied Elementary Education at Iowa State – Go Cyclones! When Courtney isn’t at Sylvan, you’ll find her spending time with her son, Easton.


Celeste McQuistan

Executive Assistant

Celeste, also known as CC! Is the Executive Assistant at Sylvan Learning Center of Johnston and Community Partnerships. CC assists the Directors with high functioning administrative work such as student and family scheduling and important customer services responsibilities. She also helps facilitate and organize community partnerships, keeping track of community programming, and officiating communications between Sylvan and community partners. She has recently graduated from Iowa State University and spends most of her time outside of Sylvan reading, writing, telling stories, and cheering for the Cyclones!

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Grace Rubio

Program Coordinator

Grace started out as an in center instructor and Ace It instructor and is now the Program Coordinator. Her role consists of organizing and managing Sylvan’s after school programs in the area. While Grace has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy in kids learning in creative ways. When Grace isn’t at Sylvan, you’ll find her reading, attending to her fish tanks, and writing.


Bob Geurink

Certified Teacher

Bob has been working at Sylvan for five years! He has taught in Iowa high schools for over 30 years, as an English teacher, the last 21 at Dallas Center-Grimes. He lives in Norwalk with his wife, Brenda, and their two youngest children. He also has two adult children!


Jennifer Schafer

Certified Teacher

Jennifer has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She’s owned a daycare, preschool, and is a published author. In her spare time, she likes to spend time with friends and family, listen to music, cook, and watch paranormal shows!


Paige Hohensee

Certified Teacher & Marketing Director

Paige graduated from Iowa State University. Her favorite part about being a teacher at Sylvan is when tough lessons click for students and watching their confidence grow. When Paige isn’t at Sylvan you can find her spending time her her dogs, traveling, baking, or doing yoga!


Jonette McQuide

Certified Teacher

Jonette is a substitute teacher in Grimes, IA who enjoys working with awesome kids. While Jonette has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy in finding ways to corporate her love for science in tutoring both reading and math. She studied Elementary and Middle level Education at Illinois State University. When Jonette isn’t at Sylvan, you’ll find her on some outdoor adventure with her son and Golden Retriever or snuggled on the couch with a good book or favorite movie during the cold winter months.


Trinity Borland

Certified Teacher

Trinity is a tutor in Johnston, IA with a gift for working with kids. While Trinity has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy in math tutoring. She studied at Wartburg College. When Trinity isn’t as Sylvan, you’ll find her gardening, playing games, or fixing up her house.


Maya Jackson

Certified Teacher

Maya is a grad student at Iowa State University who has previously worked as a substitute teacher. While Maya has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy in math tutoring. She studied at Central College in Pella, IA. When Maya isn’t at Sylvan, you’ll find her enjoying the outdoors, spending time with friends, or reading books.


Cayla Curtis

Certified Teacher

Cayla is a math, reading, and writing tutor in Johnston, IA. Cayla has a gift for working with kids and helping them meet their academic goals. She studied at Iowa State University and adored walking the beautiful campus!

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Gemma Leitz

Certified Teacher

Gemma is a tutor in Johnston, IA with a gift for working with kids. While Gemma has many tutoring talents, she finds the greatest joy tutoring in reading. She studied at University of Northern Iowa. Gemma finds that she enjoys spending her time outside of Sylvan working for West Des Moines Community Schools as a Paraeducator,  working in the garden, and baking at home with her kids.

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Mindy Donovan

Certified Teacher

Mindy is a teacher at Sylvan in Johnston. She absolutely loves working with the kids! They truly bring her so much joy. Her background is in pediatric oncology nursing and she currently owns her own business. She has been married for 29 years and has 5 kids ages 28-18, plus two of the most adorable grandsons on the planet. In her spare time, she loves to do pretty much anything that involves being outside and with her family.

Start your child on the path to academic success today

Give us a call at (515) 398-9845 or fill out the form to discuss your child’s learning goals.


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