Caribbean Mountain Academy Residential Staff
Our Christian Boarding School Staff
Our Caribbean Mountain Academy staff work with troubled teens at our therapeutic Christian Boarding School in the Dominican Republic. Through counseling and 24/7 personalized care, they work every day to change the lives of hurting teens. All counselors, teachers, and other key positions are licensed professionals and all staff make the physical and emotional safety of teens in their care their number one priority.
Andrew Stroup – Director
Andrew Stroup began a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in junior high, but really made his faith his own when he moved to college. There he changed his degree to Youth Ministry and Biblical studies. In January 2008 he began working at Lifeline Youth and Family Services as a direct care staff at Pierceton Woods Academy. His love for the youth and for the ministry there was contagious, and his wife Erin began working there in November 2009. Erin began a personal relationship with Christ at a young age of four and was burdened to see others come to know Him themselves very soon after. She earned an Associate of Arts degree in Biblical studies, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services. Andrew has been in program management at Pierceton Woods Academy for six years, and in that time became a certified Therapeutic Crisis Intervention Instructor for Lifeline/Crosswinds by the Residential Child Care Project based at Cornell University, and he was certified by INAJSOP as a CSAYP for working with Sexually Abusive Youth in Indiana. He will also complete his MBA in 2017. Andrew and Erin have been married for 8 years, and have four children together (Malachi, Levi, Selah and Naomi). They are both excited to begin the ministry at CMA!
Joel and Jennifer Harris – Therapist
Joel is a residential therapist at the Caribbean Mountain Academy. He has a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Huntington University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Asbury University. He has been working in the social services field since 2003. He is and wife Jennifer have 4 children. In his free time he likes playing basketball, watching sports, playing board games, or just jumping into a good discussion. Jennifer is Super Mom! Her laughter is a ray of sunshine to a room. At CMA, she’s looking forward to not only be the mom to OUR kids, but to the campus. With fourteen years of teaching experience and a degree in music therapy, she’s had plenty of experience in working with challenging kids.
Holly Sturges – Therapist
Holly grew up in Portland, Oregon. She enjoys walking and praying at the beach as well as playing the piano. She graduated in 2014 from Walla Walla University with a Bachelor’s in both Social Work and Religion and earned her Master’s in Social Work in 2015. She enjoyed a previous internship at Jubilee Leadership Academy in Washington working with at risk teenage boys and loves connecting with youth and supporting their growth. Holly is excited to work with teens at Caribbean Mountain Academy as a counselor and mentor. She looks forward to forming positive and uplifting connections with the students and working with their families to develop healthier relationships.
Troy Gerent – Residential Director
Troy moved down to Caribbean Mountain Academy in January of 2013. God led Troy to CMA through word of mouth by one of his wife’s coworkers while Lexie was a teacher at Doulos Discovery School. Troy has had a heart for missions from a young age. He was inspired to spend his life serving others by Jim Elliot’s life as a missionary pilot. Troy has enjoyed working with these teenagers and their families and seeing the impact this program can have on their lives at the crucial point. He is grateful to be where God wants them to be.
Lexie Gerent – Missions Manager
Lexie grew up in Switzerland as a missionary kid and has always had a desire to live outside of the States to serve the Lord. She attended Taylor University in Upland, Indiana and received a degree in Elementary Education. She moved to the Dominican Republic in July of 2012 to teach first grade at Doulos Discovery School. Doulos Discovery School is a private Christian English immersion school in Jarabacoa. At the beginning of 2016, God called Lexie to transition out of Doulos and work at Caribbean Mountain Academy as the Missions Manager. She now serves along side her husband Troy, who is the Residential Program Manager. Lexie really enjoys hosting teams from the States and being apart of their experience outside of America and watching the impact it can have on people.
Andrew Stuck – Lead Teacher
Andrew graduated from Bethel College with a degree and teaching license in Social Studies Education in 2008. Since then he has taught English in South Korea, worked in a Life Skills classroom, served as a residential trainer in an adult group home, and taught at Lifeline’s Pierceton Woods Academy. He is now serving as lead teacher at Crosswind’s Caribbean Mountain Academy. By God’s grace, he enjoys helping shape the hearts and minds of his students. When he isn’t teaching, Andrew enjoys helping his wife raise their three young kids. Their hobbies include decoding toddler gibberish, cleaning up disastrous messes, and thanking God for the blessings of little ones.
Jon Leyse – Pastor
Jon and Angie both grew up just south of Ft. Wayne, Indiana and have known each other since kindergarten. They were high school sweethearts in the big hair ’80’s and together have four daughters who now clog the drain with tons of hair of their own. Jon has a Ministry degree from Taylor University and has been a pastor at three different church plants over the past 20 years. He also helped launch a digital media company and loves to tell stories of changed lives through speaking, video and music. Angie is an nurse and loves to pour into broken and hurting people from other cultures. Their family has lived in India and recently hosted 3 children from West Africa who needed medical treatment they could not receive in their home country.
Ruth Anne Ackerman – Female House Staff
Ruth Anne Ackerman joins Crosswinds from Columbia, South Carolina. She has a heart for young people who are in difficult situations and has a brief background in children’s ministry. Ruth Anne is excited to see how God will use her to change the lives of youth at Caribbean Mountain Academy.
Cyndi Bontrager – Female House Staff
Cyndi Bontrager is originally from Valparaiso, Indiana and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). In the past she led the youth group at her church, worked in orphanages in Romania, and most currently she worked as a case manager for the State of Indiana. She enjoys traveling, reading and spending time with friends. Cyndi is passionate about working with youth and is excited for the opportunity to serve the teens at Caribbean Mountain Academy.
Heidi Elliott – Female House Staff
Heidi Elliot joins Crosswinds from Ohio after being raised in the mountains of Maine. She attended Rosedale Bible College for two years and has also studied abroad in Kenya. While in Kenya, she felt a strong calling to missions. At Caribbean Mountain Academy, Heidi will be helping troubled youth work through various struggles in their lives and with their families. Heidi likes to be a part of something greater than herself and wants to make an impact in the world around her. That is exactly how God is using her the Caribbean Mountain Academy.
Kaitlyn Ramsier – Clinical Manager
Kaitlyn Ramsier grew up in Roanoke, Illinois. She holds both a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in Social Work from Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois. Kaitlyn is also certified in Sign Language Interpreting. She has experience working in two teen residential programs—one based in Chicago one based in Leo, Indiana, Gateway Woods. For the past three years, Kaitlyn has been working as a home-based worker and therapist for Lifeline Youth & Family Services in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Kaitlyn loves being able to “do life” with the staff and students of Caribbean Mountain Academy, walking through daily struggles and triumphs together. In her spare time, she likes to spend time with friends and enjoy other laid-back activities.
Josh Ramsier – Male House Staff
Josh Ramsier is originally from Sardis, Ohio. His previous work with teens includes several summers of volunteering at Gateway Woods, a residential program in Leo, Indiana. Josh also has gone on several mission trips with Jamaica deaf ministries, making him a valuable resource for our mission program at Caribbean Mountain Academy. In his spare time, Josh enjoys meeting new people and relaxing with his wife Kaitlyn.
Brianna VanDyke – Female House Staff
Brianna is from Grand Rapids, Michigan and graduated from Kuyper College with a double-major in Bible/Theology and Interdisciplinary Studies, focusing on youth ministry and family studies. Since she was 17, she has been deeply involved in youth ministry and has grown to have a strong passion to pour the love of Christ into the lives of teenagers. Brianna loves being given the opportunity and privilege to walk through life beside teens. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the great outdoors, participating in several sports, being with friends and family, and reading. She looks forward to being a part of the staff at CMA and is excited to see how God reveals Himself to her and others through His work in the Dominican!
Richard Raposa – Facilities Manager
Richard Raposa first came to the Dominican Republic with a church team for two weeks to build a church in Jarabacoa. As his group was getting ready to leave, Richard felt called to stay and has been working with various ministries in Jarabacoa ever since. He eventually met and married a Dominican woman, who he now has two beautiful children with. Originally from Massachusetts, Richard has experience with church building, community outreach, and mission team management. Recently, he has enjoyed renovating and rebuilding the Caribbean Mountain Academy campus. When he’s not working to maintain or improve the campus, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and children and visiting close friends in Jarabacoa.
Alex & Damaris Garcia – IT Manager & House Staff
Alex and Damaris moved to Jarabacoa in 2012 where they have been asking God to provide a way to be used in His service. They are faithful members of a community church where Alex assists with evangelizing and Damaris works in the Women’s ministry. Alex is a Microsoft Certified Technician and has brought his expertise to work as the IT manager, and now house staff, at CMA. In his free time Alex likes to spend time with his wife, explore the outdoors, and work on electrical/electronic projects. Damaris has extensive experience working in the mental health field with both families and children. She worked for 8 years at the Florida Health Department as a Family Support Worker with the Healthy Start Program. Following that she worked another 8 years for an Outpatient Mental Health Center as a Psychiatric coordinator and behavioral technician. They are both very excited to be taking part in the bible studies and community that comes with being a part of CMA. To be able to follow God’s direction for their lives and grow in Christ as they impact the lives of the youth around them is their greatest desire.
Jamie and Virginia Walden – Male House Staff and Teacher
Jamie earned a B.S. in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration with a secondary focus in both Security Management and History after spending four years as a U.S. Marine. Jamie then spent time in law enforcement while obtaining a Paramedic Certification to work in Fire/Rescue and has continued to work as a Firefighter/Paramedic for the last five years. Virginia graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University and graduated with a B.S. in Elementary Education. After teaching in Ethiopia for a year, she moved back to the U.S. and became a bilingual teacher for four years until she had her first child. Since then, their family has grown to include three children. Jamie and Virginia are overwhelmed at the opportunity to see God move restoring, equipping, and sending forth the next generation in the truth and strength. The Waldens believe one of the most effective ways of ministering to others is by doing life with them. They look forward to bearing witness to the victories in the land that are of the Lord as well as sharing in sincere fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ.
Nick and Melyssa Geever – Male and Female House Staff
Nick and Melyssa Geever have both felt a call to overseas missions for most of their lives. They both attended Olivet Nazarene University in central Illinois, where they met on a missions trip to Honduras. Nick is originally from Central Illinois, and received a degree in Intercultural Studies from Olivet in 2015. His favorite pastimes include Ultimate Frisbee, hiking, and spending time with loved ones. Melyssa is from Central Michigan, and received a bachelors in Business Administration from Olivet. Her favorite things to do include playing the piano, having fun outdoors, cooking and watching movies with Nick. They are both very excited to work with the students at CMA and use their talents and passions for God’s glory.
Courtney Chapman – Staff Support Specialist
Courtney believes that CMA acts as a unique and powerful avenue for God to transform lives, to encounter the Truth of Jesus, and for His kingdom to break through. Her heart is to walk alongside others wherever they are at in this journey. Courtney loves being able to build meaningful relationships and opportunities for anything that might be deemed adventurous. She is originally from Leo, IN and holds a B.A. in Intercultural Studies from Bethel College.
Stephanie Larson – Female House Staff
Stephanie grew up in Northern Wisconsin and recently finished her Bachelor of Social Work with a major in Spanish at Olivet Nazarene University in Kankakee, IL. After spending the summer as an intern at CMA, Stephanie felt God pulling on her heart to continue her ministry there long-term. She sees her time at CMA as an incredible opportunity to be a witness of God’s Grace while being able to walk alongside students and staff and serve them in whatever capacity God allows. Stephanie is looking forward to continuing to pursue and deepen the bonds she began to build while in the DR during the summer as well developing new relationships. She also is excited to continue to enjoy the constant adventure that life in the DR provides.
Vini and Jerry Westfall – Teacher and Mission Coordinator
Vini grew up in Fort Wayne, IN and graduated from the Univeristy of Saint Francis with a Bachelor’s in Biology and has been a full time certified teacher for 4 years. “God made me the oldest child in my family, so I have always been a natural leader and love to help other people succeed and learn. I have wanted to serve God with my daily work since I was 16 years old. I made a promise to God when I was 16 that I would donate my life to HIS service. I believe the “best work is God’s work.” (Grandma Westfall). I’m excited to work as a Teacher at CMA because of CMA’s mission to promote the Word and service of Jesus Christ. If I’m going to work 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, then I want it to be for the purpose of spreading God’s Word.” Jerry grew up in Huntington, IN. This is his first long-term mission experience, although he has had several short-term mission trips before. “God led my church into a short-term mission trip opportunity, where I learned about CMA and CMA sounded like a great opportunity to serve. I’ve always really enjoyed helping people, and ministry has been on my heart for the last couple years. I’m excited to be serving as the Mission Coordinator because it sounds like a great opportunity for my family to be immersed in a spiritual environment where we can grow in God’s faith together.”
Tomra Cardin – Director of the Missions Program
Tomra ‘Tomi’ Cardin joined the Crosswinds team in August 2016. She serves as the Director of the Missions Program. Tomi has been involved in the local non-profit community since 2004. She has a heart for individuals and families who are struggling and need a hand to get back on their feet. She has served as a jail chaplain for over 13 years. She has worked with many great local agencies who strive to make a difference in our community. Some of them include Redemption House Ministries, Faith Based Mentoring Ministries, Associated Churches Rising Stars, and the Sheriffs Chaplaincy Conference. She serves on many boards and committees in an effort to strengthen her ability to make an impact and effect lives for change.
Tomi received her Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Supervision from IPFW and her Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of Saint Francis. Tomi’s passions include spending time with her daughter and her loved ones. She enjoys watching most sports and reading when she can find the time. Her many passions keep her busy but productive. She is very excited about the opportunity to help make the mission program at Crosswinds second to none!