Excel High School Staff
Lori Applegate, B.A., M.Ed
Lori lives in North Carolina with her husband and 3 children. She received a Bachelor of Education degree from William Carey College and earned her Master's in Education from Southeastern Louisiana University. Lori taught in Mandeville schools (Louisiana) for seven years. She worked and served on various curriculum committees within the school district to improve Language Arts/Social Studies teaching methods. Lori assisted with coordinating several Social Studies World Travel Days and served as a committee member for an event that helped local teachers enhance their teaching practices. Lori also mentored/trained high school students toward future teaching careers.
She has fond memories of playing college soccer with her twin sister. She continued with her interest in soccer by coaching at the local high school and select soccer travel leagues.
In her spare time, she enjoys jogging, reading, family time, and church activities. Lori is excited about mentoring and encouraging people for Excel High School. She truly enjoys each family with whom she comes in contact and provides “online” support and motivation for a successful Excel High School experience. Lori serves our students and team members with excellence and loves being part of the Excel team.
Chief Academic Officer / President
Dr. Mark Ulven, B.A., M.Ed, Ed.D
serves the critical role of President and Chief Academic Officer for Excel Schools. Mark is a State licensed educator and has taught both math and science for many years in the public school arena. Mark is passionate about education and online learning. Mark received his B.A. degree in Education from Bemidji State University, and received his M.Ed from St. Mary's University and holds a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Capella University. Mark joined the team at EHS to assist with the school's mission and goals related to continuing quality improvement and a student-centered approach to learning.
Prior to coming to Excel, Mark worked for Capella University, where he played a vital role ensuring student success.
Mark is married his college sweetheart, Jenn and they have two children.
Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Rod Clarkson, A.S, B.S., MBA
is the founder and CEO of Excel Education Systems. With a strong background in business, marketing, and technology, Mr. Clarkson realized the value of providing alternative, accredited educational opportunities for students in need of high-quality online education services.
Rod is a true visionary in the field of innovative online education. Rod leads the marketing team and business operations for Excel Schools. Mr. Clarkson has a strong background in executive leadership and genuinely cares about each student that we have the opportunity to serve.
Rod is passionate about serving others and volunteers with various community outreach efforts. Rod enjoys spending his free time with his family and close friends.
Rod holds an Associate of Science degree in Business Administration, a Bachelor of Science degree in Business with a concentration in Marketing, and Master of Business, with a concentration in Management. Mr. Clarkson believes in life-learning and plans to begin his Doctorate degree in Education at Capella University in the near future.
Chief Technology Officer
Mr. Koorosh Vaziri, B.S., M.S. Ph.D Candidate
has been with Excel since our inception. He is the talent behind our student information management system; and manages all aspects of the school’s technology infrastructure.
Mr. Vaziri has holds a B.S. and M.S. Degree in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota. Mr. Vaziri is currently working on his Ph.D in computer science at the University of Minnesota. He also holds several MS certifications. Koorosh is a vital part of the Excel team and works closely with the senior management team to make Excel a great school. Koorosh spends his free time with his wife and close friends.
Media Manager / Curriculum Coordinator
Mr. Robert Ulven, B.M.
is responsible for the accessibility, organization and archiving of the various types of educational media used within the coursework at the school.
Robert holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Industry, with a concentration on audio recording technology and music copyrighting, licensing and management.
Throughout Robert's professional career, his areas of media expertise expanded into video, with nearly 20 years of combined experience in television broadcast production and management. With another 15 years of print, digital and web media experience, Robert brings a versatile set of
skills to the school to enhance the student learning experience.
Robert is married with two children.
Dean Kindle, A.A, BA
came to Excel with many years of director level experience having oversight for two Job Corps locations, Mississippi and Minnesota, respectively. Dean has executive executive-level oversight experience with helping young adults complete high school and acquire life skills for success.
In his role as Registrar, Dean is the gatekeeper that ensures student records are accurate and complete. Mr. Kindle serves in an essential role in handling new student records and transcripts, as well as processing student graduations, employer verifications, and graduate military verifications. Dean's office is one of the busiest offices in our school system.
Dean has an Associate degree in Bible from North Central University, Minneapolis, and a Bachelor degree in Education from Concordia University in St. Paul.
Dean has two children and resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Student Support/Admissions Advisor
Mr. Paul Clarkson
Paul comes to Excel High School with over 30-years of management and customer service experience. Paul is highly dedicated to helping our students and parents with questions concerning the enrollment process at Excel.
Paul is here to support students/parents with the enrollment and school intake process. Paul's goa to to put new online students' and parents' minds at ease with the transition into online school. Paul is a fine ambassador for EHS and is willing to do whatever it takes to help students succeed with transitioning to online school.
Prior to coming to Excel, Paul was charged with supervising client relations and customer service for a large hotel system.
In his personal time, Paul enjoys being a husband and father. Paul also loves the Vikings and the Minnesota Twins.
Student Support Specialist, Math Tutor
Mr. Drew Eid, B.A.
is an adviser, educator, and wise council for Excel students. From math tutor sessions to answering "How can I get my High School Diploma?" he is a partner in your educational success.
Drew received his Bachelor of Arts in religion, psychology, and bio-medicine from St. Olaf College and advanced degree in Christian Ministry from The Crossing College.
With years of experience as a youth counselor, student tutor, minister, and cinematographer, Drew has a heart to see people strive to their potential and is passionate about about each opportunity to serve students.
Drew's zeal for giving and volunteer groups keeps him very active in his community. His dedication to his local church, community outreach, youth sports, young adult physical, mental, financial, and spiritual health, and global relief efforts are some of his most rewarding experiences.
Mr. Tim Elliott, B.S., MBA
Tim grew up in Plymouth, MN and now resides in Ramsey, MN. Tim is married and has two daughters. One attends Winona State University majoring in education and the other will be attending Augustana College in Sioux Falls next fall to continue her softball career and study Exercise Science.
Tim received his Bachelor's degree in Business from Augsburg College, where he also played Hockey.Time earned his MBA Degree from Capella University in Minneapolis.
Tim has 20 years of higher education experience working with career colleges in Minnesota as a Director. Tim has a passion for helping students and guiding them towards making a better life for themselves.
In his spare time, Tim spends time at his cabin in Wisconsin with his family, hunting, and fishing. He also spends a lot of time at the softball fields watching his daughter play softball all over the country.
Social Media Manager
Ms. Clarkson came to Excel Education Systems in 2016. Kate coordinates all of the school's social media activities to ensure that we stay connected to our students. Remaining engaged with our students is a top priority and Kate helps to ensure we are fully engaged with Excel's student community. Have a story or photos to share on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat? Email: kclarkson [at] excelhighschool.com
Derek Drago, BA, M.Ed,
has worked with Excel for many years in the Spanish Department. Derek has been essential in developing Excel’s Spanish program to ensure that students’ master their Spanish courses and are well prepared to meet foreign language requirements for university admission. Derek earned his BA in Spanish from San Diego State University and his Master’s degree in ESL, Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix.
Ms. Christoffer brings over 20-years of customer service and bookkeeping experience to Excel High School. Sheila has been with the school since 2009 and loves her job! Sheila works diligently to ensure that all student financial records are current and up to date.
In her free time, Sheila enjoys spending her free time with her family and friends.
Student Services Coordinator
Mrs. Stacy McNeilly, B.A.
Mrs. McNeilly is a valuable member of our school system. In her role as a Student Services Coordinator, Stacy is responsible for assigning courses for all new students. When a new student enrolls at Excel, Stacy works diligently to quickly assess student files and assign online courses in a timely manner. Each student's program is individualized and is unique, so Stacy takes the time required to review transcripts to ensure accurate course placement.
Stacy works closely with the Excel team to provide excellent service to our students. Stacy is relentless when it comes to student success! Stacy works tirelessly to ensure that all students get access to their online courses in a timely fashion. Stacy says that she is proud and honored to work for Excel Education Systems.
Stacy received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from William Carey College. Before coming to Excel Stacy spent many years in Business Management; directing and leading a club with over 40 families. She later worked for an insurance company as a Licensed Agent; coordinating and organizing training material for over 50 agents. Stacy was responsible for overseeing the handling of court documents and research for a successful lead program. Stacy consistently receives exceptional work reviews.
Stacy lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children. Stacy was a collegiate athlete, playing soccer with her twin sister. She still enjoys playing today and is also a committed referee of all ages at various talent levels. In her spare time, she enjoys walking her dog, church activities, jogging, fellowship with friends, and lots of family time.
Deanna McClay, B.A.
Deanna is a graduate of Wilmington University with a degree in General Studies. She also holds Associates of Arts degrees in both Biology and Journalism.
As an Air Force veteran, Deanna served as a Public Affairs troop and was the editor of the Airlifter, a 28-page weekly newspaper, efforts that earned her “Airman of the Year” in the Air Mobility Command.
Before her military service, Deanna worked in fields of photography and creative services and then went on to be a Natural Area Steward for the Department of Environmental Resources.
Here at Excel, Deanna grades students’ English submissions and provides feedback for 11th and 12th-grade students.
A wife and mother, in her personal time, she homeschools her two sons and teaches at a homeschool co-op. She also enjoys photography and traveling with her family.
Frank Laccone, B.S. M.S.,
Frank is originally from Illinois and has lived in five other states. Frank's professional background includes working as a Chimpanzee Caregiver in Mesa, Arizona. Frank cared for big cats at a wildlife park in Arizona. Mr. Laccone was a dolphin and sea lion trainer in San Diego, California and in Kingsland, Georgia. Frank began teaching science eleven years ago in Kingsland, Georgia and now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Frank has taught a variety of courses at various levels from elementary through college. Before starting his teaching career, Frank earned his undergraduate degree from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Frank was a two-time Division I all-American whDivisiontling for Purdue. Frank attended The University of Nebraska and earned his Masters Degree in Entomology.
Frank keeps busy with his awesome family. Frank has two sons, Isaac and Talon and is married to his wonderful wife, Shara. Frank enjoys hiking and camping. Frank has a true for love nature! Frank's favorite hobby is beekeeping. Frank has been a hobby beekeeper for the last four years; and also does some research with butterflies and moths.
Frank looks forward to getting to know each and everyone one of his students.
Josh Girardin, B.S., MBA
has over 15 years of business experience and 10 years in higher education. Josh holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Management & Marketing from Minnesota State University, Mankato and received his MBA degree from Capella University.
Prior to coming to Excel, he served as a Senior Academic Advisor at Capella University where he played an important role in ensuring student engagement and success. Josh has also worked in the Finance area at Ceridian and in the Quality Assurance area for a leader in the Health IT industry.
In his personal time, Josh enjoys spending time with his wife and two children. He is also a big Minnesota sports fan.
Mrs. Kara Hensley, B.M., M.M.,
lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children. She has a Bachelor of Music Education degree and a Master of Music degree from the University of NC at Greensboro. Kara was the Director of Bands at Western Middle School in Elon, NC, for three years, leading the program to contain over 300 students, while winning numerous awards and superior ratings. Upon having her first child, Kara chose to stay home to be a full-time wife and mother. While home, she also worked for an insurance company, handling the collection of court documents for the lead program.
Kara has also always homeschooled her three children and is completing her 10th year as a homeschool mom. She finds tremendous satisfaction in seeing her children grow in their studies while being able to lead and guide them during this critical time in their lives. Currently, she is also a lead instructor at Alamance Community College in the GED program at night. Kara is devoted to serving all her students, seeing that they all have the opportunity to find success. She is very thankful to be a part of the Excel team!
In her spare time, Kara enjoys spending time with her family, attending her children's activities, leading the children's choir at her church, and fellowshipping with friends.
Stephanie Harrison, B.S.
has called North Carolina home all her life. She is married to her high school sweetheart and is raising four sons. She graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and a Concentration in English.
Stephanie taught in the Alamance County school system before becoming a stay-at-home mom. She homeschooled her children for twelve years and was very active in the homeschooling community. Stephanie led her local homeschool co-op and taught various enrichment classes. She is a teacher at heart and counts it a privilege to be able to help students excel and continue to be a stay-at-home mom.
Stephanie enjoys teaching second grade Sunday school, spending time with family and friends, and dating her husband.
Math Resource - Student Support
Joseph G. Williams, B.A.
Joe joined the Excel team to help support our students with their challenging math courses. Mr. Williams has years of tutoring support experience at the college level and received his training and certification as a level 1 & 2 tutor through CRLA.
Joe earned his Bachelor Degree in Applied Mathematics and a BA in Music Composition from St. Cloud State University.
In his spare time, Joe enjoys spending time with family and friends. Joe can often be found composing and pursuing his love of music.