Excel High School Staff
Vice President of Operations
Ms. Lori Applegate, B.A., M.Ed
Lori has been with Excel Education Systems for over a decade and has worked through the ranks to become our Vice President of Operations.
Lori lives in North Carolina with her husband and three 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 school in Mandeville Louisiana for seven years. She worked and served on various curriculum committees within the school district to improve Language Arts and 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 and 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, Lori 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 Executive Team.
Chief Academic Officer / President
Dr. Mark Ulven, B.A., M.Ed, Ed.D
Mark 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 in Educational Leadership from Capella University. Mark joined the team at EHS to assist with the school's mission and goals related to continuous quality improvement and a student-centered approach to learning.
Before coming to Excel, Mark worked for Capella University, where he played a vital role ensuring student success.
Mark is married and has two children.
Chief Executive Officer/Chairman
Rod Clarkson, B.S., MBA, Ed.S.
Rod Clarkson is the founder, Chairman, 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 technologies. Rod leads the marketing team and business operations for Excel Schools. Mr. Clarkson has an extensive 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 two children 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 a Master of Business, with a concentration in Management. Rod attended Northcentral University for his Doctoral-level studies (Ed.S.) in Educational Leadership.
Chief Technology Officer
Mr. Koorosh Vaziri, B.S., M.S., Ph.D Candidate
Koorosh 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 a B.S. and M.S. Degree in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota. Mr. Vaziri is currently in the dissertation phase of 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 close friends and family.
Director of Operations
Lisa McDonald, B.A.
Lisa joined Excel Education Systems, Inc. in early 2020. Lisa oversees the day to day operations at Excel’s corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, MN. Lisa is passionate about ensuring Excel’s students are well supported with the highest levels of care and attention. Lisa strives to ensure the schools’ staff is thriving and growing in their roles as the school seeks to fulfill our mission.
Lisa has significant experience in the service industry. Lisa served as a pastor for 17 years at one of the largest churches in Minnesota. Most recently, Lisa was the Executive Director of a non-profit mental health clinic, where she has transitioned to the Chairman of the Board. Lisa genuinely cares about each person and their spiritual, mental and emotional well being.
Lisa received her bachelor's degree from the University of St. Thomas in Marketing and business communications. Lisa also graduated from Rhema Bible Training College. Lisa is married, has three children and her precious Coton De Tulear, Ginger.
Director of Digital/Media Services
Mr. Robert Ulven, B.M.
Rob is responsible for the accessibility, organization and archiving of the various types of educational media used within the coursework at the school. Rob plays a vital role in the development of EES courses and ensuring the efficient operation of our LMS.
Robert holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Industry, with a concentration in 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.
Director of HR/Training
Mr. Dean Kindle, A.A, B.A., M.Ed.
Dean came to Excel with many years of Director level experience having oversight for two Job Corps locations, Mississippi and Minnesota, respectively. Dean has executive-level oversight experience with helping young adults complete high school and acquire life skills for success.
Mr. Kindle serves in an essential role as part of the school operations team. Dean handles whatever comes his way with a positive attitude and a willingness to serve our students.
Dean has an Associate degree in Bible from North Central University, Minneapolis, a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Concordia University in St. Paul, MN, and a Master's degree in Education (M.Ed.) from the American College of Education Indianapolis, Indiana. Dean is married with two children and resides in Maple Grove, Minnesota.
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.
Success Coach/School Counselor
Ms. Rachel Schenk, B.A., M.S.
Rachel received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and her Masters of Science in School Counseling from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and is a licensed school counselor through the state of Minnesota. After being in Wisconsin for 6 years, she is excited to be back in Minnesota and working for Excel High School! Rachel has worked with students of all ages and her favorite part about working with students is being a part of their educational journey and helping them grow in all areas along the way. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, spending time with friends, family and her cat, and being active outdoors.
Ms. Kate Clarkson (BA in progress)
Ms. Clarkson came to Excel Education Systems in 2016. Kate serves an important role of auditing incoming transcripts. Kate's attention to detail and passion for keeping students on track ensures that incoming credits are processed in a timely manner.
Kate is currently finishing her BS degree in Management at Capella University and plans on attending graduate school in the Spring of 2020.
Ms. Kelly O'Dell, B.A., M.Ed.
Kelly Odell first served as an instructor for Excel High School before transitioning to a role in curriculum development. Kelly has over twenty years teaching experience in both the public and private school settings. Her diverse instructional experience includes social science, English, math and exceptional education in grades 6-12.
Kelly received her B.A. degree in History, from Rutgers University and earned her M. Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, from Virginia Commonwealth University. Kelly believes in lifelong learning and continues to participate in professional development coursework. She is passionate about education and the opportunities online learning provides for students.
Kelly grew up in New Jersey and made Richmond, Virginia her home after college. She enjoys practicing yoga, all things water-related, camping, and applying self- care strategies.
Kelly is excited to begin supporting her son in Cub Scouts, as well as, volunteering in the organization.
Student Support Services - Math
Ms. Rebecca Shafer, B.S.
Rebecca relocated from California to Minnesota in December 2018 and is excited to experience cold weather winters. Rebecca grew up in Orange County, California, and currently resides in Roseville, Minnesota with her parents, cat, and two dogs. Rebecca graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematics. Before coming to Excel High School, Rebecca taught school in California. Rebecca has a passion for teaching and loves helping students succeed. In her spare time, Rebecca loves to hike, off-road, and spend time with her friends and family. Rebecca is currently pursuing her Master of Science degree in Physics at the American College of Education.
Ms. Kelsey Brown, B.A.
Kelsey received B.A. degrees in both Neuroscience and Psychology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Since graduation, Kelsey has worked in a variety of schools and loves working in the field of education. She particularly enjoys working individually with students to help them succeed academically. In her free time, Kelsey enjoys running, doing crosswords, and being in nature. She also loves spending time with family, friends, and dogs whenever possible.
Academic Success Coach
Ms. Mary Ditter, B.A., B.S., M.A.
Mary is a state-licensed educator who taught 28 years in the public school arena. She is passionate about education and believes in empowering students to be the leaders in their own learning. She is a lifelong learner with a heartfelt mission to be of service to others. It is an honor and a great pleasure for Mary to serve as an Academic Success Coach, assisting students and families to navigate the online learning world.
Mary earned her B.A. in Psychology and her B.S. in Education from the University of Minnesota and her M.A. in education from the University of Minnesota as well.
In her spare time, Mary enjoys reading, hiking, working out, spending time with family and friends, and visiting small privately-owned businesses. Mary is married with two children and two cats.
Billing & Collections
Ms. Sheila Christoffer
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.
Ms. 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.
Student Support Services - Math
Mr. Joshua Dallman, A.S, B.S.
Before coming to Excel, Josh worked in the accounting department at Cargill Corporation. Josh discovered he had a passion for helping others learn and grow, so Josh went back to school and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Southern New Hampshire University. Upon earning his B.S. degree in mathematics, Josh decided to pursue a career in teaching. Josh has many years of math tutoring experience and enjoys bringing math to life. When not at work, Josh spends most of his time with his wife and children.
Success Coach - English Department
Ms. Emily Brandner, B.A.
Before coming to Excel High School, Emily worked closely with adult and ESL students at an adult education center. Emily finds fulfillment in helping nontraditional students reach their academic goals and particularly loves assisting adults in getting back into school. In the spring and summer, Emily loves dressing up to visit Renaissance festivals. Emily received her BA in English from Metropolitan State University.
Math Lead - Special Projects
Mr. 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's 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.
Ms. Nicole Drilling B.S.
Nicole is Excel's Registrar and she has one of the busiest offices in the school. Nicole is in charge of student records and processes graduations, transcript requests, proof of enrollment requests, proof of graduation requests, and helps to manage the school office. Nicole has a bright smile and loves to serve our students.
Before coming to Excel, Nicole worked for a career college where she served as the Campus President, Dean, and Registrar. Nicole has over a decade of experience as a Registrar.
Ms. Drilling earned her bachelor's of science degree in Child and Family Development from San Diego State University.
In her spare time, Nicole enjoys spending time with family and friends.
Student Service Coordinator
Ms. Myra M. Jackson, B.S.
Myra is responsible for new student enrollments in our Honors High School and Middle School program. Myra quickly accesses students' files and assigns online courses in a timely manner. Myra contacts and communicates with these families to ensure they are aware of the program expectations and specific guidelines for the program and courses. Myra works closely with our Excel team to provide excellent service and communication to our Excel families.
Myra resides in McMinnville, TN with her husband and their six children. Before becoming a stay- at- home mom and homeschooling her children, Myra was an Applied Behavioral Analysis Consultant for children with developmental disabilities. Myra earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology at William Carey University. As a Senior Behavioral Consultant and treatment specialist, Myra created and managed home programs for children with varying disabilities.
In her spare time, Myra loves spending time with her family, watching her children play soccer and is an avid runner. Myra is thrilled to be a part of the Excel High School team to support students in fulfilling their educational goals.