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, Owner & Instructor
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.
Jesse Norris, Instructor
Jesse graduated from Quest University Canada in 2013 with a major in Psychology. He has since worked as a counselor and teacher at a residential treatment center for children and at an alternative high school in S.E. Portland. Jesse has seven years of coaching experience in basketball, coaching last season at Cleveland High School. He has many years of playing experience in basketball, football and baseball. Jesse believes in working towards goals as an individual and as a team. He is an incredible role model and strives to teach classes that inspire minds to create!
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!
Sydney Hinze, Instructor & Social Media Manager
Sydney was a competitive cheerleader for ten years beginning at the age of eight. She was a coach for the first special needs cheerleading team in Oregon. She is currently pursuing her degree in psychology. Sydney brings a fun and playful approach to her role as gymnastics instructor, while maintaining a structured environment. Growing up with a huge blended family Sydney loves being around kids. In her free time she likes going out with friends, camping, spending time with family and being with her dog! She is excited to be a part of the Spectra team!
Matt Springer, Instructor
Matthew and his wife Melissa moved to Oregon from Washington, D.C. two years ago to explore the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Matthew got his B.A. in Elementary Education from American University. While studying at American he found a calling to serve the needs of individuals diagnosed with ASD. After graduating, Matthew worked as a play therapy facilitator for pre-school aged children. Matthew also worked for a large community-based organization serving the needs of individuals diagnosed on the ASD as a job coach. In his downtime, Matthew is an avid whitewater kayaker (he’s also an ACA instructor) and studies and teaches yoga. Matthew’s teaching style is non-conventional and playful. He looks forward to meeting and working with the Spectra Gymnastics community!
Sara Waddell, Instructor
Sara grew up in the air force, living in Thailand and all regions of the US, she has always had a passion for people and cultures. Sara has a B.A. in English, and is working towards her master's degree in Special Education. Her extensive experience as a teacher has helped her build a unique skill set to teach social skills and engage in therapeutic play with her students. Sara is trained in multiple special education techniques, including ABA and has an observant sensitivity to handle behaviors that speak louder than words. Sara enjoys hiking, yoga and agate hunting. We love having Sara as a part of our teaching team at Spectra!