Our passionate, highly trained staff are committed to helping our students thrive as gymnasts and individuals. It is our mission to create an environment where all children can play and grow.
Karissa Johnson, Founder & Owner
Karissa is the proud founder of Spectra Gymnastics. She has been teaching in the gymnastics industry for the past 15 years in a variety of roles throughout her career. She holds a B.S. in Psychology and has worked as an ABA Therapist since 2008. With her blended background of gymnastics and behavioral therapy, she has created specialized programs at Spectra to teach a variety of social, emotional and communication skills through the movement of gymnastics. She has an undying passion for creating inclusive environments for all abilities and diverse learners. “It is such an honor and privilege to work with our community of learners at Spectra. I believe in using a variety of approaches and strategies to guide our students into reaching their fullest potential”.
Karissa gives presentations on her programs and experience through USA Gymnastics' Regional and National Congresses each year.
She is currently developing online coursework that will be the building blocks to creating inclusive gymnastics programs worldwide.
Ellie Wirth, Instructor
Ellie is currently an optional level 9 gymnast at Oregon Metropolitan Elite Gymnastics Academy, also known as Omega. She has competed in gymnastics in the U.S. Junior Olympic program since she was six years old and holds many state titles. Gymnastics is her passion and favorite sport, and she loves every minute she spends in the gym. Ellie volunteered weekly at Spectra from 2015 through 2017 and is now a proud member of the Spectra teaching team! She enjoys coaching other athletes who are also diagnosed with ASD (and related disorders) and she loves every minute of teaching others.
Kendra Weisner, Instructor
Kendra has been working with children for almost 15 years and has a background in ABA and Early Childhood Education. Her teaching style incorporates a fun approach to skill building, by using a little bit of humor and a lot of imagination. Her experience as a mother has developed her appreciation for the strength it takes parents to raise children with special needs, and she is honored to be a source of support for these amazing families. Kendra is a firm believer that world would be a far better place if we all worked a little less and played a lot more!
Robin Freeman, Administrative Assistant & Instructor
Robin Graduated from the University of Oregon in 2016 with a B.S. in Communication Disorders and Sciences. She has a specialized skill set in teaching speech sounds, literacy skills and phonetic development and has a background in Early Childhood Education. Robin has taught in specialized inside the classroom and has also worked on private Learning Adventures for phonics, music and developmental creative play. With 5 years of gym experience she can help to achieve an enriched fun educational environment. Robin is goal driven and has a passion in helping others reach their milestone goals. She loves the great outdoors and hiking in the great Pacific Northwest. She is ready to help your child thrive!
Brian Thomas, Instructor
Brian is an Oregon native who used to live and breathe gymnastics, competing for ten years, coaching all ages and levels for another six years, and judging competitions. He has spent the last fifteen years developing a career in the tech industry, but has never lost his love of gymnastics or teaching. During a two year stint teaching English in Japan, Brian got the chance to work with middle school special needs students, and was hooked by their spirit and enthusiasm, and willingness to exchange cultures. Apart from work, Brian loves table tennis, book clubs, and Japanese tea ceremony, but will always be a gymnast at heart. Brian feels that gymnastics is a fun and wonderful way to foster growth and confidence in children.
Hailey Rinne, Camp Counselor
Hailey has participated in a peer tutor program that allowed her to work closely with kids of varying ages and abilities on the spectrum. This experience has sparked her interest in working with children with special needs and has inspired her to continue working to explore her own professional development in this field. Hailey first started working at Spectra as a volunteer and we saw her energetic potential and has joined our team as a camp counselor. She enjoys building relationships with our kids and scaffolding their learning environment during camps. In Hailey’s free time she loves outdoor activities like running and water sports. She also loves to read and does so every chance she gets
Hannah Farmer, Spectra Sensory Play School Instructor
Hannah moved to Oregon over a year ago from Puyallup Washington. She is currently finishing her Bachelors Degree, then moving on to graduate school to become an Occupational Therapist. She finds it incredible that children can learn so much through the simple use of playing. Her passion began twelve years ago when her aunt adopted a boy with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Since then she has volunteered in special needs classrooms every year of her schooling. She was an inclusion camp counselor for three years and has over 60 hours of Occupational Therapy observation hours. Hannah is a dedicated and patient problem solver who values hard work and looks forward to her future at Spectra.
Emily Dawes, Instructor
Emily has had a passion for working with the special needs population for 7 years now, after instantly becoming best friends with a boy on the spectrum in her painting class. She also has previous experience as a teachers assistant in special needs classrooms, working as the assistant director of an inclusive camp, and volunteering in any events possible. She was fascinated by the different ways of thinking and sparked her passion to attend Portland State University, working towards becoming a pediatric occupational therapist. She loves helping others feel like they belong and doing what she can to make sure everyone’s needs are met.