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CTL: About CTL

What We Are About


The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at Northcentral University is dedicated to ensuring every student's academic success and providing faculty the necessary tools and resources to excel in teaching. The ultimate goal of the CTL is the creation of a culture of engagement.


The CTL is dedicated to supporting/advancing teaching and learning by working collaboratively with faculty, staff, administrators, and students to provide quality services, resources, and programs to improve the overall Northcentral University experience.  The CTL is a catalyst to a positive and collaborative university culture.



The Center for Teaching and Learning's objectives are:

  • Provide university-wide leadership, and coordination of activities, aimed at supporting excellence in teaching.
  • Promote engagement, and enhance the student learning experience, by supporting university technology and assisting faculty and other stakeholders in integrating cutting-edge technology.
  • Provide effective, relevant training and resources to all academic units of the university.
  • Nurture a culture of commitment to student success that stimulates dialogue, and fosters a sense of shared purpose across the entire NCU community.

Meet the CTL Team

Claire DeMarco, Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning

Claire has been with the Northcentral University family for over eight years and loves the innovation and excitement that comes with being part of a growing organization. Claire has spent  14 years in the field of employee development and 15 years in higher education. Outside of work, Claire is a proud wife and mother of beautiful Isabel. In her spare time, she likes to take family walks with her two rescue Chihuahuas: Dollie and Emme.

Katia Nyysti, Director of The Commons

Katia Nyysti is the Director of the Commons.  Katia's passion is learning that arises in conversations. Prior to NCU she spent 12 years consulting in the area of designing learning experiences from courses to communities of practice.  She had an opportunity to work with for profit companies, non-profit organizations and educational institutions. In 2010 she joined NCU as part of the Instructional Design team working on supporting course design. She had an opportunity to lead that team in 2011.  In 2013 as the university was looking at enhancing our virtual campus with a social engagement network Katia was excited to participate in this endeavor. Creating the conditions for insights and information to arise in communities inspires her daily.  She lives in Arizona with her husband my two youngest daughters.

Emily Spranger, Academic Trainer

Emily Spranger came to NCU as an Enrollment Advisor in 2013, she moved to serve on the Learning and Development team as a Training Specialist in 2014. She took some time to be a mother. During her time away from NCU, Emily taught Adjunct at Glendale Community College and was a Dance Director at a public high school. Emily has been involved with education in some form for 12 years. She has served in enrollment, teaching, training and development and has come back to NCU as an Academic Trainer for the CTL. In her spare time she loves to be with her husband and two girls. She likes dancing of any kind, hiking and adventures with her family. 

Esther Archange, Academic Trainer

Esther Archange is an Academic Trainer for the Center for Teaching and Learning at Northcentral University. Her work experience spans seven years in higher education at Florida International University and Palm Beach State College. She has assumed roles related to academic advising and adjunct professor. She has a passion for assisting students to overcome obstacles and navigate college. Esther received her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in Studio Art and Art History and her master's degree from Florida International University in Higher Education in Administration.

Jena Johnson, Academic Trainer

Jena Johnson came to NCU as a Compliance and Quality Analyst in the Office of the Registrar in the Fall of 2018.  Now, she is an Academic Trainer in the CTL.  Jena has spent the last 14 years in higher education, holding many different roles such as Registrar, Learning Resources Manager, and Director of Student Records/Learning Resources.  She has had the opportunity to work with both residential campuses and online divisions, allowing her to see the different perspectives of each.  Her work has been focused on reporting and analysis, creating and facilitating training, developing relationships, ensuring compliance, and enhancing or improving processes.  Jena is an Arizona native who enjoys taking walks with her Chihuahua rescue, Riley.  She also enjoys spending time with family and friends outside of work.

Michael Lynch, Academic Trainer

Michael Lynch began his career as an Academic Trainer for the CTL in the summer of 2018. Prior to joining NCU, Michael has experienced several professions over the years. He served as a post secondary instructor where he taught graphic design for over 20 years. He is also an award-winning graphic designer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and a Master of Arts in Education. Over the course of his career he has created several hundred book covers for a wide variety of clients including Wilt Chamberlain,  Jessie Jackson Jr., McGraw-Hill Scholastic Books, the L.A. Dodgers, and many more. Michael was also a professional musician who played bass in a blues band and traveled the country entertaining thousands of people. Michael has been married to the same lovely woman for 30 years, has two grown children that are the apples of his eye, and currently has 3 dogs, and 2 cats where he resides in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Nicole Kitchen, Academic Trainer

Nicole Kitchen came to NCU as an Academic Trainer in February 2019.  Nicole started her career in education and training as a high school health science teacher, which then led to teaching varying health science courses at the post-secondary level both online and on-campus.  Over the course of her career so far, Nicole has developed a love of instructional design and technology which has led to varying positions on corporate L&D teams to include Instructional Design Specialist, Lead Instructional Designer, and Director of Online Education.  In her spare time, she loves spending time exploring Florida waterparks, springs, and theme parks.

Jennifer Springer, E-Learning Developer

Jennifer Springer began her career as an Academic Trainer for the CTL in the summer of 2020. Jenn has worked in employee development in the Higher Education field for over fifteen years. A love of technology and a passion for inspiring light-bulb moments drove her career first in IT and then towards Instructional Design and eLearning Development. Her drive to understand and communicate with others led to undergrad degrees in Psychology and Visual Design. Outside of work, Jenn enjoys spending time with family and friends while traveling in her converted camper van throughout the SouthWest.

University Alumni Navigators

The CTL Navigators are all alums from an NCU doctoral program.

  • Dr. Angela Beck
  • Dr. Sammy Galvao
  • Dr. Calvin Gardner
  • Dr. Gary Walker-Roberts