Grade 6-8 Teachers
Gina Brown, Middle School Teacher (ELA)
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!
Michelle Coleman, Middle School Teacher (History)
Michelle Coleman 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 and earned a Ph.D. in Curriculum Theory (in Social Studies Education), at UW-Madison. 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 Teacher (History)
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.
Abi Gonzo, Middle School Teacher (ELA)
Teacher bio coming soon!
Rachel Knuese, Middle School Teacher (MS Lead Teacher and ELA)
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 Teacher (Math)
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).
Suzi O’Hern, Middle School Teacher (Math)
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.
Barb Ridd, Middle School Teacher (Science)
Barbara “Barb” Ridd has a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education & Biology with a minor in Chemistry from University of Illinois-Champaign/Urbana. Her Master's degree is in Marine Biology/Ecology - Marine Oceanography from University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Barb shares that she is married, middle age, lecturer/scientist w/ 3 children. Her husband is a research chemist, born in Wales & currently living in Durham, NC. In addition to almost 15 years teaching in brick & mortar classrooms, Barb also lectures online for DePaul University and at a local college.
April Ruddell, Middle School Teacher (English)
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 Teacher (Math)
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.
Karen Schwaab, Middle School Teacher (Math)
Karen Schwaab is happy to say that she will be teaching at WIVA beginning in the 2018-2019 academic year. Karen’s Bachelor’s Degree is from Michigan State University’s James Madison College in pre-law. After living in Madison, she and her husband lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico for five years while he completed his residency, and Karen worked as a supervisor for Presbyterian Health, the largest employer in NM. (A headhunter found Karen the position after she helped with an IS system conversion at Physicians Plus.) After relocating to Illinois, she accepted a position in Research & Planning with McHenry County College, where she worked in statistics. Then their daughters came along! Karen left her position and finished her Master’s in Sociology from Northern Illinois University where she taught SOC101 and worked in the quantitative research lab. As a stay-at-home mom, Karen volunteered in their daughters’ dual language classrooms, chaired committees, led their girl scout troops, and taught at church. After student teaching fifth grade and finishing her Master’s in Education from North Park University in Chicago, Karen and her husband moved to Wisconsin in 2016. She has loved teaching in the Madison area, as a substitute and long-term substitute K-8. After school, Karen enjoys spending time with her family. She also loves to bake, read, and garden.
Noel VandeBerg, Middle School Teacher (Science)
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.
Matt VanEffen, Middle School Teacher (Social Studies)
Matt VanEffen received his bachelor's degree in Social Studies with an emphasis in Secondary Education from Lake Superior State University. After a year in the AmeriCorps Vista program, he accepted a teaching position at Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary Catholic School in Sun Prairie, WI. Matt taught middle school Social Studies for five years. During those five years, he earned his Master of Arts in Educational Administration from the University of Notre Dame. A year after graduating from Notre Dame, Matt became an elementary principal in the greater Green Bay Area for three years. After missing the classroom during that time Matt taught in the Social Studies department at De Pere High School for four years. Matt joined WIVA in November of 2019. He looks forward to sharing his passion for teaching to students in a virtual setting. Outside of teaching, Matt enjoys spending time with his family. He and his wife have two sets of twins! When he’s not chasing his kids around, Matt can be found running, reading, heading to the Upper Peninsula, or hopefully catching a cat nap.
Beth Watson, Middle School Teacher (Reading Interventionist and ELA)
Beth Watson, is WIVA’s Middle School Reading Interventionist and 8th grade ELA teacher. Beth has a lifelong love of both kids and words, which led her to become an English teacher for grades 6-12. Early in her career she became interested in working with students who had reading difficulties, and she pursued additional education in that field, as well as running her own reading tutoring business for the past 20 years. Beth has taught in the Waunakee and DeForest School districts as well as at private and parochial schools, most recently at Edgewood High School. She has been interested in WIVA for a number of years, and was thrilled when she was offered the opportunity to join the team. When Beth is not immersed in reading and writing with her students, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their two daughters, hiking, biking, cooking, and...reading and writing!