About Balance Academy

Our Mission

Balance Academy has partnered with Midwest Gymnastics to provide elite level training, development and competition, while providing an educational experience that is characterized as a blended learning, project-based micro-school, focused on education and athletics.

Balance Academy provides a unique academic environment that is centered around student athletes to provide flexible personalized education. We are passionate about reaching each student and supporting them in pursuing excellence in academics and athletics.

Meet The Director

Jillian Doherty

Balance Academy’s founder and Director,  Jillian Doherty, is a dedicated and accomplished education professional with a passion for innovative leadership and student success. With a robust educational background and a wealth of experiences, Jillian is committed to shaping the future of education through thoughtful leadership, creative programming, community engagement, and continuous learning.

 

Jilian’s educational background 

Masters of Arts (M.A.) in Educational Leadership and Administration

St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN

 

Educational Specialist Certificate (Ed.S.)

K-12 Principal License, Director of Special Education, Superintendent License

St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN

 

Bachelors of Science (B.S. Comprehensive Major in Special Education (Learning Disabilities & Cognitive Disabilities)) 

University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, WI

 

Jillian’s additional training and accolades include a diverse spectrum of achievements that demonstrate her commitment to inclusivity and making sure Balance Academy is a welcome and supporting school for all students that want an innovative way of completing their academics while accelerating their training in interests outside of traditional education. 

 

Former member of the Agency, School, and Community (ASC) team for Washington County.

Former participant in the Restrictive Procedures Workgroup with Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and Department of Human Services (DHS).

Applied and accepted to the Interagency Pilot with St. Paul City School and MDE and DHS.

 

National Presenter:

Presenter at the National Conference for the Association of Specialists in Group Work (ASGW) in February 2018.

Invited to share insights about the Woodland Program, showcasing an innovative approach to delivering mainstream curriculum while addressing students’ mental health needs.

 

Technology Grant Recipient:

Successfully applied for and received a Technology Grant from Education Minnesota, demonstrating a commitment to providing equitable access to students in need.

 

Certified Instructor:

Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) certified instructor.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) certified instructor.

 

Dare to Lead Trained

Bringing Brene Brown’s research on courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy to leadership teams in private organizations, public school teams and now Balance Academy.

 

Equity and Inclusion Training:

Completed training from Teaching Tolerance and Equity Alliance, emphasizing a commitment to fostering an inclusive educational environment.

 

Jillian Doherty is not just an educator but a dynamic leader shaping the landscape of education through her diverse skills, community engagement, and a commitment to creating an inclusive and innovative learning environment. Jillian looks forward to meeting with future students and their parents to share more about her journey and the positive impact Balance Academy continues to make in the field of education

Meet The Coaches

Jess Graba

Jess Graba is the co-founder (1995) and owner of Midwest Gymnastics in Little Canada, MN where he coaches, guides, and inspires gymnasts. He is an olympic gold medalist coach. He coached the current all-around gold medalist Sunisa Lee to her victory in Tokyo. He holds two more Olympic coaching medals; women’s team- silver and women’s uneven bars- bronze. He also holds three World coaching mandals; women’s team- gold, women’s floor-silver, and women’s uneven bars- bronze. He has coached multiple athletes to full ride scholarships and successful collegiate careers. He has also guided and inspired many gymnasts up through the rants within USA Gymnastics. Jess is a USA Gymnastics National Developmental Staff member and runs Uneven Bar Boot Camp with Tom Forster. He is also the recipient of the USA Gymnastics 2022 Women’s Coach of the Year Award, which was voted on by his peers. Jess was nominated and served on the International Elite Committee (IEC) from 2019-2022 to help organize and develop the National Team and the women’s international elite program in the United States. Jess is dedicated to the sport of gymnastics and the growth and success of student athletes.

Alison Lim

Alison Lim is the current Gym Director of Midwest Gymnastics in Little Canada, MN. She joined the Midwest Gymnastics leadership team in 2005 and helped the business triple in size. Alison currently coaches athletes at the elite level including the reigning Olympic all-around champion Suni Lee. Alison has worked with athletes to get them on the National Team where they have represented the USA on the international stage as well as earned medal and podium finishes. She has coached over 50 athletes to get into college gymnastics programs with well over half of them receiving full scholarships. Alison has also coached athletes to successful careers and titles at the State, Regional, and National levels. She has been a clinician at regional and high performance camps where she has helped athletes improve and grow. Alison has also coached at National Team and Developmental Team camps where she has shared her experience, expertise and love of the sport with coaches and athletes alike.

Juan Corzo

Coach Juan joined Midwest Gymnastics in 2021. He has over 15 years of professional coaching experience. He currently coaches levels 6 through 10 of developmental team gymnastics. He became a gymnast at the age of five in his hometown, Cucuta, Colombia. Soon after, he became a part of the Colombian Junior National Team where his professional athlete career began. He advanced and became a part of the Senior National Team representing Colombia at the Central American Games, Bolivarian Games, Pan American Games, South American Games and many others. He placed at these games for the team and individually, he soon became world known for Parallel Bars, High Bar, and Floor. After wrapping up his career as an athlete he became the Boys Colombian National Team Assistant Coach. While exploring options to grow as a coach, he looked at the possibilities of moving to the United States. He ended up in Houston, Texas in 2014 coaching the Women’s Team. Soon after he started this new coaching job he became a part of the United States National Team Coaching Staff. After seven years, he decided to relocate to Minnesota to apply his professional knowledge with a new team. Coach Juan loves being a part of Midwest Gymnastics.

Meet The Teachers

Katherine Wagner

Katherine Wagner started teaching at Balance Academy in 2023. She received her bachelor’s degree in biology. She worked as a camp counselor and teacher in an orphanage in Costa Rica for years, which changed her passion to education. Katherine pursued her master’s degree in teaching and has worked in a variety of settings since. From inner-city schools to private institutions to homeschooling her own children. She is passionate about reaching each student and helping them develop a love of learning. Katherine loves to work with student-athletes since she was also involved in sports herself. She competed in swimming at Macalester College, where she broke three collegiate records. After college, she started competing in marathons and triathlons, including the Wisconsic Iornman. Katherine loves to work at Balance Academy where students are able to focus on their goals and have the opportunity to pursue excellence athletically and academically. She loves to support her students and help them excel academically and to encourage them in all that they endeavor.

Miranda Tranmer

Miranda Tranmer started working at Balance Academy in 2023. She received her bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from Northern Illinois University. Immediately out of college she worked as the Aquatics Coordinator and Head Swimming Coach with the YMCA in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. While she was obtaining her master’s degree in education she worked at a private, K-8 school, that focused on project-based learning. Miranda believes that all children learn differently and should have the chance to explore topics that they are interested in. After obtaining her degree in education she was hired as a middle school special education teacher, tailoring curriculum to meet each student’s individual needs. She is passionate about middle level education and how students engage with the learning process. Miranda was a competitive swimmer and national qualifier in high school and understands the hard work and satisfaction that athletics can provide.

Meet Our Education Assistant

Marissa Lopez

Hello, I’m Marissa, but everyone calls me Mitna. I have been a full time nanny for 12 years, nurturing childhood growth with patience, creativity, and a dedicated commitment to their well-being. My experience is complimented by my Minnesota Paraprofessional Certification. I am patient, organized, and creative in which I use to foster a structured yet nurturing environment for children. When I am not with the kids, you’ll find me outside playing with my dog or in my craft room, bringing the same creativity and energy to everything I do. My goal is to apply my blend of experience and creativity to Balance Academy to continue making a positive impact in the lives of children and their families.