Meet the Staff of

The Portage School of Leaders

Our dedicated team of educators is committed to providing an enriching learning experience for our students. With years of experience and expertise in their respective fields, our staff is passionate about helping students succeed. Get to know the faces behind the scenes who make The Portage School of Leaders a place of growth and excellence.


Ted Schrader

My name is Ted Schrader, and I teach Science at the Portage School of Leaders. I spend most of my free time building, renovating, and creating things out of nothing, which is why I love the projects we create here at the Portage School. I enjoy seeing our students generate ideas, then making those into actual physical products that solve problems.

In my free time I enjoy coaching soccer and being outdoors on our 15 acre Christmas Tree Farm in Southwest Michigan, growing, planting and harvesting trees for our neighbors homes during the holiday season.

Dean of Students

Zach Gillis

I’m Zachary Gillis and I’m honored to be the Dean of Students at the Portage School of Leaders! Having been in the classroom in various capacities, I’m very excited to be in administration. I’d like to say that I’m the type of Dean who focuses more on student development than student control, and I love that I get to be a champion for both students and teachers alike. In addition to my role at the Portage School, I’m one of the pastors at South Bend City Church where I serve in Art & Worship and Pastoral Care.

 After graduating from Bethel University, I served in Bethel’s Offices of Student Development and Diversity & Inclusion while earning my master’s degree in Intercultural Leadership from Goshen College. I have guest lectured in various subjects, served as a guest clinician and director for local school choirs, and, most recently, taught as the choir director of La Lumiere School.

I’ve lived in the Bend since 2009 and I’ve grown to love this city and her people a lot. A few of my favorite things include 90s R&B and Soul, singing, Mexican food, the color green, Trader Joe’s, my loved ones, big cities of the Midwest (e.g., Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis/St.Paul), and my Chihuahuas, Nemo and Topher. If I’m not at home relaxing and binging a show or watching a movie, you will most likely see me at one of South Bend’s local restaurants or coffee shops with a friend or two.

Social Science

Jamie Denten

My name is Jamie Denten and I am thrilled to be teaching history at the Portage School. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame and Loyola University Chicago, I began working as an educator and administrator in International Baccalaureate programs in Rome and throughout the Chicago area. My favorite part of our school day is when we gather the whole school together at “The Breakfast Club” every morning and students take the lead sharing about what’s in store for us. I am so excited to be learning alongside our students as they make history in the South Bend community!

English Language Arts

Amy Ryan

My name is Amy Ryan, and I teach English at the Portage School of Leaders. I’m a lifelong learner, so I feel very passionately about the ways that our model encourages the same for our students–it pushes them to think of themselves not merely as recipients of information, but as generators of new knowledge. Our focus on student agency and following their curiosity is what makes me excited to come to school. I also love how this is infused into so many different aspects of our day, like our student-led morning meetings and the many independent projects our students come to on their own. Our students are creative, driven, and endlessly incisive. 

Away from school, and if I’m not chasing after my two young daughters, my interests are extremely varied—I’m super invested in reading, being outside, working on freelance crime and science writing projects, studying the science of fragrance, singing, and tending to my plants. 


Jaime Rayburn

Hello! My name is Jaime Rayburn, and I am so excited to be a part of the staff here at Portage School of Leaders. I’ve been teaching high school mathematics in the South Bend area since I graduated college, my favorite class being an applied math course I taught for the past three years. I had the pleasure of being homeschooled K-12 and point to that experience as my main influence on how I teach. I strive to instill independence, self-reliance, and a curious mind in my students through collaboration with their peers and hands-on lessons. When I am not teaching, I enjoy any and all board and card games, my favorites being Monopoly and Magic The Gathering.

Front Office Receptionist

Michele Guernsey

Michele Guernsey is a dedicated professional with a passion for customer service and administration. She currently serves as the front office receptionist at the Portage School of Leaders where she plays a pivotal role in the daily operations of the institution. 

 Prior to her role at Portage School of Leaders, Michele worked as a part-time receptionist at Career Academy Middle and High School. This position allowed her to gain valuable experience in managing front desk operations and serving as a welcoming face for visitors, staff, and students alike. During her time at Career Academy Michele honed her skills in communication, organization, and maintaining a positive atmosphere in a professional setting.

 Michele’s experience in customer service and administration extends beyond her receptionist roles. She also worked as a Staff Assistant at Saint Mary’s College, where she further refined her administrative skills. Her time at the college equipped her with the ability to handle various administrative tasks efficiently and effectively, demonstrating her commitment to excellence in every role she undertakes.

Michele takes pride in being a part of the Career Academy Network of Public Schools. Her dedication to the education sector is evident in her role as a receptionist at Portage School of Leaders, where she contributes to the smooth operation of the school and helps create a welcoming environment for students, parents, and staff.

 Outside of her professional life, Michele enjoys her downtime with her husband and their four animals. Cooking and relaxing are among her favorite pastimes, which provide her with a well-deserved break from her busy work schedule. 

School Resource Officer

Lee D. Ross Sr.

 I am dedicated and experienced with over 37 years of background in safety and security, law enforcement, and pastoral leadership. 

At the Career Academy Networks of Public Schools, I serve as one of the School Resource Officers. In this role, I am responsible for ensuring the safety and security of students, staff, and visitors.I retired after 27 years with the South Bend Police Department, where I worked tirelessly to uphold the law and serve our community. This experience has undoubtedly equipped me with valuable skills and knowledge in public safety and security. This experience extends to various settings, including schools, churches, and public safety initiatives. I am a graduate of Indiana University in South Bend and C.H. Mason Bible College.

One of my motto’s in the security world is, “if you see something or hear something say something.”

Health Aide

Laura Jackson

My name is Laura Jackson, and I have had the privilege of being a part of the Career Academy Network of Public Schools for five years. I started my journey here as a substitute teacher, and over time, I have had the opportunity to work in various roles within the school system. Currently, I hold the position of health aide at The Portage School of Leaders and Success Academy at Boys and Girls Club. 

 My time at the Career Academy has been a truly rewarding experience. I have witnessed the school system’s evolution, and it’s been inspiring to see it transform and grow into what it is today. Being a part of this educational institution has allowed me to contribute to the development and well-being of our students, and I look forward to continuing my journey here, supporting our students in their educational endeavors for many years to come.