Faculty and Staff
Brother Bringhurst was born in Cedar City and raised in Hurricane, Utah. He served his mission in Columbus, Ohio and then attended BYU where he received a B.S. in mathematics and a M.A. in Educational Leadership.
He is married to Alaina Jesse and they are the parents of five children. He has taught seminary in Orem, Payson, Springville, Nephi, and St. George, Utah.
At present he is director of the St. George Utah Institute of Religion.
Ryan Wilkins was born and raised in Pleasant Grove, UT. During high school he participated on several athletic teams and he still enjoys athletics, pickleball being his major hobby these days.
From 1998-2000 he served a full-time mission in Hamburg Germany. He was raised in an inactive home so his mission set the tone for the life he wanted to live and the family he wanted to raise. After being home for about a year he married one of his good friends from high school, Melinda Francom (but everybody calls her Mini).
Mini and Ryan both graduated from Southern Utah University and it was there in Cedar City that Ryan began teaching seminary. He taught seminary for 17 years in Cedar City, Beaver, and St. George, and has now been at the St. George Institute for two years. Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in German and History from SUU and a master’s degree in Religious Education from BYU.
Together Ryan and Mini have five beautiful children, four boys and one adorable girl who Ryan unabashedly claims is his favorite. He currently serves as a member of his stake’s high council and as a stake institute teacher.
Brother Black was born in Kennewick, Washington and grew up in Monticello, Price, Bountiful, and Blanding UT. He served a mission in Spain and afterwards obtained a bachelor's in human development, a master's degree in marriage and family therapy, and another master's degree in divinity.
Besides teaching the gospel full-time, Brother Black is also a licensed therapist and works at Diamond Ranch Academy. He is also a chaplain for the Utah Army National Guard. He met Lori, his wife, at their college singles ward and now they have four beautiful children with one on the way!
Brother Black enjoys triathlons, mountain biking, Cafe Rio, Swig, and hanging out with his family at the lake.
Marshall McConkie moved to St. George when he was in fourth grade. After graduating high school, he left town, swearing he would never move back. He has lived in St. George for the past 16 years.
Brother McConkie served his mission in McAllen, Texas from 1997-1999. (Fun Fact, the McAllen, Texas mission is the only US mission that is completely bilingual.) He treasured his experiences there.
Following his mission, he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from BYU, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Valparaiso University School of Law in Valparaiso, Indiana. Following his graduation from law school he practice law for eight years, spending most of that time as a prosecutor. He finally decided to stop putting people in jail and teach the gospel.
He loves learning, reading, playing the piano, exercising, and being a part of the local theaters whenever time permits.
He is married to his wife Sue, and together they have 5 wonderful (sometimes) children. His two oldest are in college at BYU and BYU-I. His absolute favorite thing in the world to do is to travel with his family. Disneyland always calls to his heart, but feel free to ask him about his month long road trips. They’re his favorite.
Brother Thompson was born in Salt Lake City and grew up in the Sandy area. He married Kimberly in June of 1988, they have been married for 33 years and have five children.
He served in the Canada Toronto Mission. He has a B.S.in Psychology from Weber State University and an M.Ed. in Education from the University of Phoenix. The seminary program has taken his family to Arizona, Northern Utah, New Mexico, and St. George/Cedar City.
He loves teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and seeing how it blesses the lives of youth and young adults. He loves college football and fishing.
Brother Olson was born in Sanpete County and grew up in Spanish Fork, Utah. After high school he served a mission in the Canada Toronto East Mission. Following his service as missionary, he met his wife Janille at Snow College and the two were married in 2000. They have been blessed with 4 amazing children who are full of life and adventure!
Brother Olson graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in English from Dixie State University as well as a Master's Degree in Academic Advising from Kansas State University.
He has had many roles during his 23 years working on a college campus including time as a basketball coach, English Professor, Director of Academic Advising and currently holds the position of Associate Athletic Director and TV/Radio commentator for Dixie State Basketball; however, his favorite role has been teaching Institute!
He absolutely loves spending time with his wife and kids in the outdoors where they love to fish, hike, climb and everything in-between! Other favorites include following his sports teams (Red Sox, Golden Knights and the Jazz) and weekly trips for ice cream.
Bro. Coder was born in Alaska where he lived until he was about 7. He then moved to Washington state for a few years before his dad’s job took his family to Stockton, CA. A few years later, they moved back to Washington and he “grew up” in a little town called Adna. There were a total of 350 students in grades 6-12 and they all met in the same building. There were only 6 members of the church in that whole school so Bro. Coder got a lot of experience explaining how Mormon’s didn’t have horns, that we could drink water on Wednesday, and that we do not have magical underwear that grants wishes.
After serving a mission in Florianopolis, Brasil, bro. Coder attended BYU where he got a degree in Advertising. He also earned his Masters degree in Education from SUU.
He has a beautiful wife and 4 wonderful children. 3 girls and 1 little guy.
He taught in Cedar City for 10 years and has been very grateful to be teaching in St. George, Utah for the past 7 1/2 years.
Mindi Barker was born in Salt Lake City and raised in Sandy, Utah. She played basketball, sang in Madrigals, and performed in numerous plays at Alta High School then went to BYU where she did what she thought she would never do: get married her first semester, haha! She has been happily married to her “hunk of loveness” (Jason) for 25 years and they have six incredible children and one amazing son in law.
Mindi was blessed to be a stay at home mom while her kids were growing up then she started substituting seminary when her oldest was in college. She loves teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, sharing her testimony and being with youth and young adults. She genuinely wants everyone to feel loved and cared for and will do what it takes to put a smile on your face. She worked as an Administrative Assistant at Dixie Seminary for 3 years and worked 1 year as the Region Administrative Assistant; before switching over to teaching part time here at the Institute!
Mindi loves music! She plays the piano every day and sings all the time. She composes piano music and is currently a member of the St. George Chamber Singers. She loves to run Ragnars, play basketball, hike, kayak, paddleboard, waterski, play pickleball, study scriptures, play board games with her family, read and watch BYU football! She is a super fan and may need some intervention, haha! Her husband and children are her favorite on earth, but she loves everyone else too! Her favorite scripture is 2 Nephi 31:20.
Brother Marin, or, Christian Andres Marin Roman, was born in Bucaramanga Colombia, and he and his family joined the Church when he was 12 years old. When he was 16, he and his family moved to the capital of Bogota. At the age of 18, he served one year in the police force as his required military service in Colombia. He then served a full-time mission for the Church in Cali, Colombia.
After completing his studies in Colombia, he came to Dixie State Univeristy to participate in the English as a Second Language program. After completing the program, his plan was to return to Colombia, but instead, he met and married his wife Lana Franck and they have made their home in St George.
Christian enjoys tennis, golf, hiking, and hosting on the DSU radio station. He is currently taking classes at DSU and has goals to complete his Bachelors in Business.
brother and sister rynearson
Brother and Sister Rynearson met while attending their YSA Ward at BYU, we won’t mention how long ago. Yikes! Brother Rynearson works in Orthopedics, while Sister Rynearson delivers babies and takes care of new mom’s as an RN at Dixie Regional Hospital.
Together they have five children and seventeen grandchildren. They enjoy biking, trail running, hiking, and family. Brother Rynearson currently teaches Gospel Doctrine and was recently released from serving as Stake President of the St. George YSA 2nd Stake. Sister Rynearson teaches Relief Society and they deeply love the young singles of the Church.
At 10-years-old, I would study English on my own by listening to music in English like the 80’s song “Eternal Flame” from the Bangles. Music was a big motivation for me to learn English. At age 22, I was teaching English in Brazil for middle and high school students. I love language, music, dancing, and socializing with friends.
I was born in Minas Gerais State, Brazil and taught English and Portuguese as an occupation in Brazil. I also previously worked as an Educational Analyst for the Brazilian School district and had to supervise school’s development system and follow up teachers and students. I have written a chapter in a book about Education in Brazil for a Federal University.
I served as missionary in the Brazil Natal Mission from September,2015 to March 2017. I was married to my amazing musician Matt Stewart who also served a Mission in Fort Worth in 2009 to 2011 Saint George Temple, Utah in 2018, to Matt Stewart. Currently, I teach ESL at Pine View High School and had taught Portuguese there in 2019. I am a certified Portuguese Teacher and have a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Language Teaching Education with 10 years of experience I also have a Teaching Endorsement through Utah Valley University. I am happy to be part of Saint George Institute Program and helping my students learn the gospel in a fun and interactive way.
Makenna Loveless was born in Plano, Texas and raised in South Jordan, Utah. She later moved to St. george and graduated from Desert Hills High school. Makenna is a current student at Utah Tech University. She is over the marketing, graphic design, and social medias of the institute!
Outside of work, Makenna is very active. She enjoys to go on runs, play pickleball/tennis, golfing, soccer, and have dance parties with friends. Makenna loves to travel and spend time with family. She loves to visit different temples and attends temple sessions often (anyone is welcome to join her).
While at times it may seem like Makenna is an only child since she was the only child to live in St. George, she actually has 3 siblings, 1 brother and 2 sisters plus her mom and dad and she loves spending as much time with them if she can. In her free time she's typically with friends and family or facetiming her adorable nephew.
Chanda was raised in a small town in rural Utah called Delta. She moved to St George at the age of 15 and thought it would ruin her life FOREVER but as luck would have it, there was this guy that stopped her in the hallway her Sophomore year and asked for her name, he (Chris) would become her high school crush (yep, the whole school knew it too) and future husband. While in high school Chanda played Volleyball and Softball, sang in the choir (all for the Lagoon trips) and was on the Exec. Council. When Chris left for his mission to Brazil, Chanda made it a point to stay single and worked for a while as a nanny (in New York, GO YANKEES!), went to school at SUU and worked in a cool print shop in the Salt Lake area. When Chris returned, he convinced her that no one would ever make her laugh as hard as he could (and he was right!) and they got married on Cinco de Mayo in “their” St George temple.
They have FIVE kids and Chanda spends all her time making sure that each one of them think they are her favorite! Chanda’s favorite things to do include watching good movies, hanging with her family anywhere but especially at the lake, getting a tan, water skiing, tubing, and paddle boarding, watching her people do their favorite things, play all kinds of cards and board games, sitting on the back porch around the fire pit and she is always in for a SWIG or treat run!
J. Dressler was born in Orem, Utah. From there his family moved him to Las Vegas and eventually settling here in sunny St. George. After graduating HIghschool, he went to the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Combat Engineer at 2d CEB, Camp Lejeune, NC. After his honorable discharge from the military service he came back to St. George to start his degree in Music Education and is currently working on obtaining said degree at Utah Tech University. He currently volunteers as and is the founder of the St.George Institute Orchestra.