CREA has added several new staff to our team. Take a moment to read a little about them.
Laura Beach, PD Specialist
My name is Laura Beach and I live in Hazen. ND. I have spent the past 9 years teaching high school English, 6 in Hazen and 3 in Montana, where I am from originally. I have dual bachelor's degrees in English Education and Literary Studies and a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction. I love to read, watch sports, cook,
and spend time with my family. I have a 5-year-old son named Reid who will be starting Kindergarten this fall. I am also recently engaged to my fiancé Austin, who has 2 sons, Attley and Allden. Our boys keep us very busy, but we wouldn't have it any other way.
Brianna Hedges, PD Specialist
My family and I live in Burlington, ND. We have a spunky 2-year-old daughter named Delaney, and we welcomed a sweet baby boy, Jayse, to our family in March. We like to be on the go, enjoying the outdoors, or spending time with family. I'm a Concordia College Alumni, but we are big Bison fans. I have previously enjoyed teaching 3rd-grade and most recently 6th-grade social studies. Working for CREA is an exciting change, and I am looking forward to working in Education in a new role!
Trista Zerr, SpEd Director/Suicide Prevention Coordinator
My name is Trista Zerr. I was born and raised in Harvey, North Dakota. After attending college in a larger city, I knew coming back home was going to be in my plans. I received my bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Minot State University. I obtained my master's as a Special Education Strategist from Minot State University two years later and have just recently finished my Director of Special Education degree from the University of Mary. I have been employed as a Special Education Strategist for Harvey Public Schools k-12 for the past nine years. I love working in Special Education. My husband Justin and I farm and ranch 5 miles North of Harvey. We have four beautiful children. Our family loves to farm, camp, and spend time on the lake. In my very little spare time I like to read, garden, golf, play softball and remodel. I enjoy going on walks and watching my children grow before my eyes. I am excited for my new adventure as a Special Education Director and being part of the CREA family.
Angel Opdahl, Early Childhood & Social Emotional Disorder Coordinator
I graduated from the University of Mary in 1997 with a degree in English Education. I returned to school at UND and graduated in 2002 with an MS in Special Education as an Educational Strategist. I worked the last 18 years for the Lonetree Special Education Unit as the Social-Emotional Behavioral Consultant and since 2010 as the Early Childhood Special Educator. I’m married to Kent and my husband and I run a longhorn cattle, quarter horse, and goat ranch. In my free time, I’m active with the Fraternal Order of Eagles and coach the Drama team at Harvey Wells County schools.
Ashley Gilstad, Speech-Language Pathologist
My name is Ashley Gilstad; I live in Minot, ND originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. I received a full-ride scholarship to play college softball for the Minot Lady Beavers and completed my undergraduate degree in Communication Disorders in 2009. From there I went on to play for the Canadian National Team where I was able to travel and world and represent Canada at the Olympics. I lived out my athletic career playing professionally in Europe then married my husband, Clint. We gave birth to our very premature son in 2015 at 28 weeks, which lead me to pursue a career in Early Intervention. I valued and cherished my time at the Minot Infant Development Program for 4 years where I was able to utilize my personal experiences as a mother and knowledge in early language development and feeding. It was through that experience and privilege that I was able to return to school and complete my Master's Degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2020. After graduation, I joined 2 separate private practices in Bismarck and Minot, where I gained an extensive amount of experience and was able to further develop my practice over the past year. In my spare time I love to spend time with my family, 3 dogs, and 3 horses, coach softball to aspiring youth, and paint. The love I have for art brings creativity and therapeutic balance to my life, where I am able to share my creations with the public through local art vendors and public events. I am extremely excited to be joining the team and embarking on new experiences within the public schools.
Ramona Westergren, School Counselor
My name is Ramona Westergren. I am currently a student at the University of Mary working toward my masters in School Counseling. I was given the great opportunity to start my career as School Counselor early and cannot be more excited! I am originally from Minot, ND but moved to Bismarck following the flood of 2011. I took a few years off of school to figure out what I truly wanted to do and then decided the helping field is what I am passionate about. I received my undergraduate degree from Minot State University in Psychology and went right into my master's program. I spent quite a few years working for Pride as a youth mentor and have since spent my time at Social Services working in the foster-care/in-home unit. My husband and I have two wonderful children, Tayah (8 years) and Jackson (9 months) together, with who we spend the majority of our time. As a family we spend our time at the lake, cooking dinner together and watching hockey or football. I spend most of my pastime doing crafts, going to the gym, and going for walks. I am very excited to meet everyone!
Raven Warren, Office Manager
Hello everyone! My name is Raven Warren. I am from a small town near Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. I graduated from Bemidji State University with a degree in Accounting as well as Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance. I am so excited to fulfill the role of Office Manager for CREA. In my free time, I enjoy concerts, travel, and working out.