Grade 6-8 Teachers
Alicia Bishop, Middle School English Teacher (Grade 7)
Alicia Bishop is a graduate of UW-Whitewater and has her Bachelor's degree in Secondary Education English, with a minor in Library Media. Prior to teaching at WIVA, she taught high school English and seventh grade English for the Madison Metropolitan School District. Alicia has been with WIVA since 2013, teaching eighth grade for three years and seventh grade for one year and continuing to enjoy watching her students grow. She absolutely loves working with middle schoolers and their families to ensure the best schooling environment for her students. She is also going back to school at UW-Milwaukee to earn her Master’s in Academic Leadership.
Michelle Carson, Middle School History Teacher (Grades 7 and 8)
Michelle Carson earned her Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science at Incarnate Word College, her Master’s degree from St. Mary’s University in International Relations (Conflict Resolution and Human Rights), both in San Antonio, Texas, where she grew up (and now, she just misses the tacos). She moved to Wisconsin to work toward earning a Ph.D. in Curriculum Theory (in Social Studies Education), at UW-Madison...WAHOO, she’s almost done writing her dissertation! Michelle has taught middle and high school social studies for over a decade! Her students are often entertained with stories of her ridiculous cat Ivan The Terrible, hobbies of baking and watching movies, and her love of all things Star Wars and the Marvel Universe. Michelle started at WIVA in 2016, but she taught online for two years before that, and really enjoys the challenge of teaching in a virtual environment.
Kaitie Gasser, Middle School History Teacher (Grades 6 and 8)
Kaitie Gasser earned her bachelor’s degree in English and History education at UW-Stevens Point. For several years, she was a substitute teacher, librarian, and stay at home mom, all of which enhanced her ability to think quickly and be adaptable. She came to WIVA in 2016 to teach American and World History. Kaitie has enjoyed the opportunities and challenges offered by online education and especially enjoys helping students discover new ideas and interests. She has two children, a husband who is a dairy farmer, and she loves reading, yoga, and trying new recipes.
Rachel Knuese, Middle School English Teacher (Grade 8)
Rachel Knuese received her bachelor's degree in education and English from Mount Mary College. She taught seventh grade language arts for four years at Oconomowoc Middle School. Then while being a stay-at-home mom, she worked part time as a parish administrator which helped her hone many interpersonal, problem-solving, and technology skills. In 2010, Rachel transitioned into online tutoring in English and essay writing for students in fourth grade through college, and that experience piqued her interest in virtual education. She started at WIVA in 2012 and has embraced the unique challenges and benefits of working with middle schoolers in an online environment. In addition to teaching English 8, Rachel is the Middle School Lead Teacher and recently completed a graduate certificate program in E-Learning and Teaching.
Sara Leonard, Middle School Math Teacher (Grade 8)
Sara Leonard received her bachelor's degree with a major in Finance and a minor in Math. After working as a trainer in many of her jobs in the finance world, Sara decided it was time pursue her passion for teaching. Sara received her Master’s in Education from George Williams College of Aurora University in Williams Bay. She had previously taught in a self-contained 5th grade class as well as being the Business and Economics teacher for a K-8 school in Milwaukee. Sara joined WIVA in 2016. Although she’s only starting her second year at WIVA, Sara is excited to begin the new school year and enjoys the uniqueness of teaching in the virtual world. Outside of school hours, Sara spends her time watching her son play basketball (and often fetching rebounds).
Jennifer Macdonald, Middle School Science (Grades 6 & 8)
Jennifer 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 has really enjoys 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.
Suzi O’Hern, Middle School Math Teacher (Grade 6)
Suzi O’Hern received her bachelor's degree in education with a math emphasis from Silver Lake College, Manitowoc. She also holds a reading teacher’s license obtained through taking graduate courses at Viterbo University, LaCrosse. Suzi taught 8th grade math and both 7th & 8th grade language arts for three years, followed by two years of teaching reading, and three years teaching k-8 students in the special education setting as a paraprofessional. She spent five years as a learning coach for her son while he was enrolled at WIVA. She also worked for six months as the lead teacher at a charter school for behaviorally challenged students. She has taught and continues to teach religious education through a tri-parish program as well as teaching vacation bible school. Suzi began teaching at WIVA in 2016. Her varied experiences allow her to work well with families and students from diverse backgrounds and those with special needs. She has an excellent understanding of the learning coach/student perspective in virtual schooling. Outside of work, Suzi enjoys camping, kayaking, walking, and spending time with her husband, her three adult children, five grandchildren, and her cat.
April Ruddell, Middle School English Teacher (Grade 6)
April Ruddell received her bachelor's degree in education with endorsements in language arts and reading from Ashford University. She taught language arts, social studies, and reading intervention at Jefferson Middle School in Madison, WI before she started teaching for K12 in 2016. She enjoyed incorporating technology into her brick and mortar classroom which helped lead her to teaching virtually. April values building strong relationships with students and making learning relevant and meaningful. When she is not teaching, April is traveling with her husband, running with her husky, fishing, camping, reading, and snowboarding.
Emily Satterstrom, Middle School Math Teacher (Grade 7)
Emily Satterstrom received her bachelor's degree in Business Management and Accounting. After working as a lender and a bookkeeper, she decided education was her calling. Emily returned to school, receiving her Master’s in Education from George Williams College of Aurora University in Williams Bay. She has taught 5th grade math, Middle School Science and Social Studies, and was a Reading and Math Interventionist. Emily’s undergraduate schooling was virtual, which allows her to have a better understanding of the students she teaches. Emily joined WIVA in 2016. She enjoys working with Math students and their families in a virtual environment. Outside of teaching, Emily stays busy cheering on her children at their different sporting events, spending time with friends and going for walks.
Gina Schwandt, Middle School English Intervention Teacher (Grades 6-8)
Gina started at WIVA mid-year of the 2017-18 school year. A recent college graduate, she jumped right into her role as ELA interventionist, helping support the English courses as well as holding small groups for reading remediation. Her technology and organizational skills and upbeat personality have been a great addition to the MS team!
Noel VandeBerg, Middle School Science Teacher (Grade 7 and 8)
Noel VandeBerg has a bachelor’s degree in Life science which she earned at the University of Colorado and an engineering degree, which she earned at the Colorado School of Mines. Noel loves to know how things work, but finds it is even more rewarding to explain how things work to other people. Noel worked as a veterinary technician during her college years. After graduating she worked for Lockheed Martin. A desire to get away from the big city took her to South Dakota, where she worked for a company selling air conditioning equipment. She came to Wisconsin with her husband and children and worked as an engineering manager for Carnes Company in Verona. They make the equipment she sold in South Dakota. After much thought, she decided that teaching was the best way to combine all of her life experience. She has two children, one in high school, the other is entering middle school. She loves bike riding and walking her dog in the summer. She hibernates in the winter.