Student Support Team

The members of the Student Support Team support student success at Wisconsin Virtual Academy. Our team offers support to the student, including working with the family as a unit, by removing barriers to the child’s academic success. We work in partnership with your teachers to support your child’s active engagement and efforts in learning. Please take a moment to get to know your support team.

Our mission: The Student Support Services Team is committed to partnering with Wisconsin Virtual Academy (WIVA) and Destinations Career Academy of Wisconsin (DCA) students, families and staff to help each student achieve success through advocacy, engagement, and empowerment to become independent, lifelong learners.

 

Jodell Gagnow, Student Support Administrator (SSA)


Jodell Gagnow photoJodell Gagnow is passionate about transforming academic growth through motivation, encouragement, and supporting others in finding their inner spark. She has been affiliated with K12 Stride Learning since 2015. Jodell’s education consists of a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and she has a technical degree in Dental Assisting. She also continues to participate in continuing education.
Her personal mission statement is “fear not, every dawn opens hope and opportunity.” Jodell is an imaginative leader that focuses on an individual’s uniqueness as a strength. Jodell can often be found in the outdoors on a walk with her dog or sitting in the sun reading a book during her down time.

Justine Johnson, Community Engagement Support (CES)


Justine Johnson photoJustine Johnson came to WIVA at the beginning of the 2007 school year, bringing with her previous experience and expertise in leadership, not-for-profit business administration, customer support, sales and marketing, and executive administrative support. Her first endeavor was to assist in opening the WIVA high school, which launched in the 2007–2008 school year. In the years she has served at WIVA, she's been in the capacities of admin support, community development manager, state testing logistics, student/learning coach support, high school advisor and, now, SSA. In her role, she is excited to bring her knowledge of curriculum and systems and her focus on creating a community for Learning Coaches and their students at WIVA and DCA. She is committed to the students at our schools, and is dedicated to supporting Learning Coaches as they support learning and build fun and educational accountability for their children's schooling.

Jill Chandanais, Student Resource Coordinator (SRC)


Jill photoJill has dedicated over half of her life to helping kids of all ages as a teacher, a therapist, a social worker, and a mom. She has a Master’s degree in Social Work. Jill is a Licensed School Social Worker and also an Advanced Practice Social Worker. She is looking forward to helping students and families as a member of an amazing student support team.


Kerry Marren, Student Resource Coordinator (SRC)


Kerry MarrenKerry Marren has been working with at-risk middle school and high school students in Illinois, Washington State and Wisconsin for many years. Kerry received her degree in Communication Journalism from DePere University in Chicago. She left the corporate world to pursue her passion for helping students achieve success both socially and academically through positive educational experiences. Kerry is excited to continue serving students and families of Wisconsin Virtual Academy as the Family Resource Coordinator where she will continue to pursue her goal to help every student have the resources they need to succeed.

Traci Brande, WIVA Student Support Advisor


Traci BrandeTraci Brande joined WIVA during the 2019-20SY. Traci started her post-high school education with a 2-year Accounting degree. She worked in the business field until their oldest child was born and then chose to be a stay-at-home mom. Traci and her husband are the proud parents of 6 teenage children; one adopted at birth, two biological, and three adopted as “older” kids through the foster care system. Traci home-schooled their children for several years and loved it! She was able to help her children to discover their learning styles and strengths and watch them grow. Traci also has experience helping her own children with learning disabilities of various types as well as working through trauma. Traci and her family have been very involved in horse rescue over the last decade. They have intervened in over 60 horses lives to help them find safe places to land. The horses have played an integral part in healing for her children. Traci and her daughters love to ride and do so every chance we get. Other hobbies include reading, photography, scrapbooking and hiking with her husband and family.

Laura Dollar, K-8 Student Strong Start Lead


Laura Dollar photoLaura Dollar earned a bachelor's degrees in family resources and consumer science and education with a pre-K through 12th grade teaching certification. She has more than 20 years of experience in home-based education and five years teaching experience in a public brick-and-mortar high school. Laura is passionate about education and is enthusiastic about assisting families who choose WIVA to educate their students.

 

Nora Even


Nora Even photoNora Even earned her Bachelor’s of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. After staying home with her two daughters for a few years, Nora became a preschool teacher in 2015 in the Kettle Moraine School District, spending time in both the 3K and 4K classrooms. She has also been a licensed substitute teacher for 5 years and has enjoyed a variety of experiences with elementary classes in nearby school districts. She strives for all students to feel confident and supported, no matter where they are at in their learning journey. Nora also loves to see and celebrate the progress, no matter how big or small! Nora has a passion for dance and throughout the years has taught dance classes for a wide range of ages from 2 years old to 85 years old! She also worked as a Coach for Jump Bunch, a mobile sport and fitness company for children, that could be found at the Waukesha Public library summer program and many after school programs. Nora is excited to be a part of the WIVA team and looks forward to supporting students on their learning path. In her spare time, you can find Nora hanging out with her husband and 2 children. They enjoy spontaneous adventures up north, spending time in nature, as well as exploring big cities and tourist attractions!

 

Abby Haufe, WIVA Student Support Advisor


Abby Haufe photoAbigail Haufe has worked with children in Early Childhood Education for 15 years. She has also volunteered in youth horse therapy for children with disabilities, as well as established and coached youth soccer teams in Alaska. Abby has a Bachelors in Science Psychology from UWGB, where she discovered the truth of Aristotle’s words, “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”. One of her favorite things about working with children and families is the chance to specialize each interaction and ensure positive and proactive results are reachable. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and daughter.

 

Jennifer Macdonald, WIVA Student Support Advisor


Jennifer Macdonald photoJennifer Macdonald earned her Bachelor’s degree in Education with a minor in science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She did take three semesters of calculus as well. She taught elementary school for two and a half years on the Tohono O’Odham reservation outside of Tucson before having the first of four sons and staying home to raise them. During that time, she provided in home daycare and taught step aerobics classes at the local YMCA. She moved to Wisconsin in 1997 and has moved once again since then but luckily stayed in WI. When her youngest entered kindergarten, she began substitute teaching and subbed in all classrooms throughout her home district. This gave her rich and varied experiences working with students in all grade and ability levels. She joined WIVA in 2016 as the math intervention teacher and transitioned to middle school advisor in the 2019-20SY. Jennifer has really enjoyed the online environment and getting to know the students with whom she works. She runs 42 miles per week outside all year long and loves the time she has spent over the years watching her sons play soccer, football, hockey and baseball.

Colleen Podbielski, HS Student Strong Start Lead


Colleen Podbielski photoColleen received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Marquette University. Her work in education began when their two children went to a parochial school and she started as an aide in preschool and then moved on to being the school librarian/building substitute. When it was time for a change in their education, they found Wisconsin Virtual Academy. Both Colleen’s son and daughter started at WIVA in elementary school, graduated from WIVA and are attending college at Concordia University.
In her spare time, you can find Colleen watching their two children compete in taekwondo events, hiking, gardening, or reading. Colleen has seen firsthand the difference a virtual education can make for children, and is excited to join the WIVA and DCA team!

Mary Price, WIVA Student Support Advisor


Mary Price photoBefore coming to WIVA and DCA, Mary Price worked in a pharmaceutical manufacturing company as a Purchasing and Inventory Control Manager. She has extensive background working with youth as an AWANA Commander, and also teaching lessons to youth at her church. She enjoys forming relationships and has a passion to serve others. Mary is a strong advocate for education and is excited to begin her journey with students of WIVA and Destinations Career Academy. She is looking forward to serving others as a part of this team.

LeaAnn Steenis, WIVA Student Support Advisor


Lea Ann photoLeaAnn Steenis is excited to join the WIVA Student Support team. She comes to WIVA with a strong customer support background. LeaAnn also graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic as a Chiropractic Assistant. In her free time, she enjoys camping with family and spending time with her grandkids.



Rachael Trittelwitz, WIVA Student Support Advisor


Rachael photoRachael has worked in education for 18 years as a paraprofessional helping special education students and teachers. She loves showing students just how much they can achieve when they know someone believes in them. She and her husband own and operate a riding stable with the help of their three children. Rachael runs a confidence and leadership program through the riding stable to show people how animals can teach them many things in their lives. She has an Associate’s degree and has taken many education classes when she was working towards her special education degree. She has put that on hold to follow her dreams of owning the riding stables and teaching people about horses. When she is not working at WIVA or working at the stables she is watching her children play hockey, softball, and baseball. She has been working with WIVA students since 2019 SY and looks forward to continuing to show her students all the great things they can accomplish with hard work and dedication.

Erin Wermeling, WIVA Student Support Advisor


Erin Wermeling photoErin Wermeling joins the WIVA team with previous learning coach experience. She also coached students from 1st grade through 11th in the local and state competitions for Odyssey of the Mind. Two years in a row the teams she co-coached earned a trip to World Finals. Erin received her bachelor’s degree in Business through Viterbo University online program. Because of this, Erin completely understand the technical difficulties that can occur with online learning. She is looking forward to helping the 8th grade students and families work through any issues that may arise.
Erin enjoys knitting, gardening, reading and spending time with her family when not working. They are still working out the kinks of their new home that was built on the farm she grew up on. The entire family is looking forward to being back out in the country and being closer to her mother!