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The Whetstone Boys Ranch Staff

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Jeremy Thompson at Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

Jeremy Thompson

Executive Director

Jeremy is a co-founder and the Executive Director of Whetstone Boys Ranch. Jeremy has been pursuing the vision of Whetstone Boys Ranch since 2001. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Construction Management and over 20 years of diverse experience working with teens. He has worked as a Direct Care Staff at several Residential Treatment Centers. Most recently he has worked as a Deputy Juvenile Officer.

He has served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate. In addition, he has volunteered and served as a Young Life Leader, Youth Group Leader, Camp Counselor, and served homeless teens and young adults with the Dry Bones ministry. Jeremy is a certified trainer of Therapeutic Crisis Intervention. Originally from Michigan, Jeremy currently resides with his wife of 11 years, Cari, and their black labs named Scout and Silvy in Mountain View, Missouri. Jeremy and Cari frequently pursue adventures in the outdoors like kayaking, fishing, and hiking. They also enjoy traveling, gardening, beekeeping, and reading.

Curt Cook with Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

Curt Cook

Program Director

Curt was born and raised nearby in West Plains, MO. He was blessed to grow up in an amazing and strong family who helped to mold him into who he is today. Around fifth grade, his parents gave him a leather-bound Bible. One of the first verses of scripture he ever highlighted in this precious book was Proverbs 27:17. Since then, it has shaped the course of his life. This verse has driven Curt to become a leader and mentor to others around him, helping them grow closer in their relationship with Christ. Over the years, this has been through many jobs: janitor, pizza delivery expert, youth pastor, caseworker, supervisor, manager of a team of thirty-some mental health professionals in a local community mental health center serving hundreds of individuals in seven counties, and now, Program Director at Whetstone. He holds a bachelor’s degree in youth ministry and biblical studies and a master’s degree in counseling.

Curt married his high school sweetheart and they have four children. They have a son in college and three girls ranging from high school to elementary. His daughters make fun of the way he dances in the kitchen sometimes. He loves listening to all kinds of music. Anything ranging from Damien Jurado to The Dillards and NF to Willie Nelson. Curt and his family all really enjoy reading, too. Some of Curt’s favorite books are Mark Twain’s “Roughing It” and John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley”.

His perfect date night is driving through McDonald’s while getting to talk to his wife without any of their kids listening in.

Brandon Maxwell with Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

Brandon Maxwell

Director of Development

Brandon is a co-founder of Whetstone Boys Ranch and currently serves as Whetstone’s Director of Development, in charge of overall program development and sustainability.

He graduated from Montana State University with a Bachelor’s in Construction Engineering Technology. He officially joined the Whetstone team in 2002 and has been working with at-risk youth since then. He and his wife Laura have been married for 13 years and have five children.

Katie Johnston at Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

Katie Johnston


Katie believes in the powerful force that mentors can be. In high school, her classmates used Proverbs 27:17 to describe her, and this has been the theme of her life. Her love for mentoring started with her love for teaching and coaching. She taught 6th and 7th grade Science and Social Studies for 11 years mostly in Georgia and 2 years overseas in Bolivia.

She has coached and mentored girls of many ages, including youth in her church, Upwards basketball, Middle School basketball and cheerleading programs, and High School basketball programs. She used her relationship with students to teach them the importance of teamwork on and off the court, the importance of building healthy relationships as well as emphasizing their importance in the world. After teaching, Katie worked as a mentor for missionaries all over the world. This took her to places she only dreamed of going. She holds a master’s degree in School Counseling as well as Marriage and Family Therapy. After graduating with her Marriage and Family Therapy degree in May 2019, the Lord brought her to Whetstone in September of the same year. Katie is excited to use what she has learned in school and in life to walk alongside the boys and families that come through Whetstone as we sharpen one another.

Gabe Newell at whetstone boys ranch for troubled teens

Gabe Newell


Gabe Newell hails from the great state of Nebraska, home of the Reuben sandwich and the College World Series, among other things…like corn. He and his wife, Hilda, married in 2004, and they have two children. His path to Whetstone has been circuitous to say the least. But who’s hasn’t? Have you read the other bios? 

Beginning with the pursuit of a theatre degree on scholarship at the University of Nebraska, he followed the Lord’s lead through long term stints as a sales manager at Menards, an animal control officer in Omaha, and then a stay-at-home dad. Always an avid outdoor enthusiast and Christ-follower, the Whetstone vision captured his attention as a member at Pomona Christian Church, where the boys regularly attend worship. Beginning as a mentoring specialist in 2018, he quickly moved into a full-time teaching role once he obtained his teaching license at Missouri S&T, along with a bachelor’s in Biological Sciences. In 2021, he took over as Headmaster of Whetstone Academy, and he is excited to lead our school into its second decade. 

Axel Liimatta headmaster with Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

Axel Liimatta

Ranch Advancement

Axel Liimatta is a co-founder of Whetstone Boys Ranch & Therapeutic Boarding School. After serving as its first teacher and headmaster from 2011 to 2021, he moved into the role of Ranch Advancement. In this role, he keeps busy managing issues regarding Communication, Public Relations, and Fundraising. Recently he co-wrote and edited Even the Wind: A True Story of Survival and Salvation, which examines the lessons WBR learned from a devastating tornado that tried to shut us down. In practical terms, his new role entails a lot of writing and photography – two of his life-long passions. If you see something that you like on our website or social media accounts, he was probably involved to some extent. (NOTE: If you see something you don’t like, he can assure you he had nothing to do with it.)

As a former debate coach and English teacher, Axel enjoys engaging in weekly discussions about film and music with the ranch boys, as well as joining them on field trips and disc golf excursions. He and his wife, Christine, have been married for 25 years and have 4 children. Originally from Pontiac, MI, Axel is a Detroit sports fan who enjoys listening to jazz, writing poetry, collecting vinyl records, and buying/selling sports cards on Ebay. 

Thomas Brown at Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

Thomas Brown

Senior Mentor

Thomas Brown has 23 years of direct care experience, working with challenging behaviors and associated trauma in adolescents from grades 2 through 12. He is passionate about creating and disseminating an anti-bullying curriculum, and he has directed or produced dozens of films and documentaries on the topic, as well as short films about athlete hazing, child abduction, and weapon safety. During the many years of presenting his anti-bullying awareness program, Thomas has appeared on numerous television talk shows and published a variety of essays and articles on the subject.

Directly, before coming to Whetstone, he worked for the Native American boys’ population at a Christian Boarding School in Arizona. During the pandemic, these children were not permitted by the Apache Council to attend the school, and so Thomas’ dorm was shut down and he was without a home or a place to work. After a lot of prayers, Thomas would eventually find himself at Whetstone, where he serves as a shift supervisor. “It is a very challenging and sometimes quite difficult position to have, but I am grateful and happy to have it, ” explains Thomas. “The Whetstone leadership and staff are so supportive of me; valuing my experience, and so unconditionally loving and dedicated to the well-being of these boys, that I would not want to be anywhere else.”

Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

Jeremy Patton

Skilled Trades

Jeremy was born and raised just south of Amarillo, Texas. Right out of college, he began his career as a high school coach and teacher. His years in public school have included teaching Geography, History, Social Studies, Speech, and Health, and coaching Football, Baseball, Basketball, and Track. He served as a faculty sponsor for students participating in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and volunteered for various roles in his local church. For the past 15 years, the Patton’s have called the Dallas suburbs their home. Jeremy always felt in his heart that he was called to coach, teach, and mentor young people. When he was a teenager, Jeremy learned to work in construction and found a love for woodworking that became a hobby and a passion in his adult years. He feels very blessed considering the opportunities he will have mentoring the boys at Whetstone and teaching them in the Woodshop.

Jeremy’s wife, Jackie, is an artist and teacher (his favorite partner on the many projects they design and create together). She looks forward to homeschooling their two daughters as they settle into country life in the Ozarks. They are excited to build a home on their family’s new Missouri homestead lovingly named Faith Haven Farm, a joint venture with Jackie’s sister and brother-in-law. Jeremy, Jackie, and their girls will always be “Texan” at heart, but they love their new life in Missouri. They feel blessed and grateful as they look back at how the Lord moved in so many detailed ways to bring them to this place, in the summer of 2021, to be part of the incredible life-changing mission and family at Whetstone. To God be all the glory and praise.

Ryan Harvey with Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

Ryan Harvey

Classroom Teacher

Ryan Harvey, his wife, and his four children recently moved to Missouri to fulfill a dream of living in the country and working at a Christian boarding school. In preparation for this dream, Ryan graduated from Grace College with degrees in Youth Ministry and Counseling.  He also attended Temple University and received his Elementary Education teaching certificate.  Before working at Whetstone, he worked for almost 10 years as a teacher at a mental health hospital.

Ryan wants to see students love Jesus, enjoy life, and be healed from past hurts.  His favorite verse is Psalms 27:13-14, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the Land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”  He’s excited to share this truth with the boys at Whetstone. 

Board Members

  • President: Gary Tucker
  • Vice President: Reyna Keller
  • SecretaryElise McCaully
  • Kevin Slack
  • Stefanie Popa
  • John and Mickie Beshk

Join the Whetstone Family!

Currently Hiring a Direct Care Shift Supervisor. Click here for more information!