2018 Finalist Profiles
View the finalists by category below for the 2018 Engaged in Excellence Awards!
Who will take home the Golden Apple? RSVP for the event here to see!
- Excellence in Teaching - Elementary
- Excellence in Teaching - Middle School
- Excellence in Teaching - High School
- Excellence in Teaching - New Educator
- Excellence in Student Services
- Excellence in Service & Support
- Excellence in Volunteering
- Excellence in Leadership
- Excellence in Teaching Support
- Excellence in Teamwork
- Excellence in Coaching & Advising
- Excellence in Substitute Teaching
- Alumni Excellence Award
- Excellence in a Community Partnership
Michelle Bond, Physical Education, Tonawanda Elementary
Michelle Bond impacts her Tonawanda students from Kindergarten to 5th Grade as a physical education teacher. Michelle forms incredible bonds with her students and has a major impact on them as she watches them grow throughout their time at Tonawanda. She serves as a confidant as she engages with parents and colleagues, and teaches her students that physical education is about movement and not competition.
Mindy Graser, 2nd Grade, Brookfield Elementary
Mindy puts forth extraordinary effort to reach all students in her 2nd grade classroom. She is continually positive, always engaging, and seeks opportunities to ensure that the needs of the students in her classroom are met. This year she transitioned from KG to 2nd Grade, led her school’s Sunshine Club that supports staff needs, and made a significant impact on students, families and staff at Brookfield Elementary.
Mike Marinello, 4th Grade, Swanson Elementary
Mike is a positive, dedicated and extremely funny teacher. He takes the times to really understand each one of his students so that he can challenge them to exceed their own expectations and gain in their skills. Mike has constant communication with parents and students in order to go above and beyond in building relationships with them. Mike reaches out to parents to share good news about their child, not just if there is an issue. Humor and communication are common themes discussed throughout the multiple nominations for Mike.
Kayla Moffatt, Special Education, Burleigh Elementary
Kayla's tireless efforts to support students in fully inclusive settings is beyond compare. She meets challenges through her direct, specially-designed supports as well as ongoing collaboration with parents, teachers and related service providers. She is continually looking for ways to refine her intervention efforts in a way that supports student success in the classroom and fosters the highest levels of independence for even the youngest of learners. Kayla has established herself as a special education leader in her school and our district.
Kate Spadoni, 4th Grade, Dixon Elementary
Kate Spadoni is a natural teacher that generates excitement in her classroom and has a passion for teaching in her voice. She has high expectations for her students and strives to be inclusive and meet her students needs in all her lessons. Outside the classroom, Spadoni initiated the H2H Heroes Coding Club to allow students to build programming skills that will set them up for future success.
Dean Alberswerth, Mathematics, Pilgrim Park
Dean teaches math to his 6th grade students in a way that is personal and easy to understand. Dean’s students are successful because he builds relationships founded on care and concern. While he has been consistently excellent over his many years in Elmbrook, Dean’s leadership in deploying math workshop, as well as his sustained commitment to co-teaching, has had a significant impact on his teaching colleagues at PPMS.
Michelle Simons, Reading, Wisconsin Hills
Michelle has increased student engagement through authentic learning and her innovative mindset. Michelle led the 7th grade team in developing enrichment experiences based on the Design Thinking Process in which students combine their passions and interests with different forms of service. This year, Michelle focused on creating business-based learning opportunities including a Shark Tank-style project. Michelle serves on the school-planning team and has been a leader in bringing the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Program and PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports) strategies to her building.
Robert Swick, Language Arts, Wisconsin Hills
Robert Swick builds a community in his classrooms that is inclusive and promotes student independence while setting high expectations. He adjusts his approach and searches for resources that will ensure success for each of his students. Robert helps his students grow academically and emotionally and has an incredible rapport with students and staff alike. He is thoughtful, reflective and has a big heart.
Jennifer VanAcker, Mathematics, Pilgrim Park
Jennifer connects with students, even those not in her classes, by living the slogan All Means All. The student engagement in her 6th grade science and math classroom is “off the charts,” achieved through relationship building, creative projects and the occasional handstand. This year’s Greek Food Truck activity explored the economics, math and history of ancient Greece and brought the content to life in a fun, 21st century way. Through her dynamic teaching, Jennifer earns the respect and attention of all students.
Patrick Coffey, Social Studies, Brookfield East
Patrick Coffey teaches social studies in a way that stretches and supports students to their fullest in the classroom. He makes government and history come alive in his lessons, and serves as a model practitioner in his field. Patrick has served as an educator for over 20 years and is always looking for ways to improve his teaching in benefit of his students.
Kari Doepke, Choir, Brookfield East
Kari Doepke is a choir teacher that has built one of the most inclusive choir programs in the nation. She takes her students from where they are at their strengths and helps them find the confidence to thrive in their abilities. Through her work, Kari has become a regional leader in music education and has created a best-in-class choir program.
Megan Fisher, Business, Brookfield Central
Megan Fisher has been providing real-world learning opportunities for her students with passion and energy in her teaching. Megan lead the way in developing the Lancer Lounge coffee shop to echo the lessons of her Personal Finance class and takes her students under her wing to help foster their learning. This year, she was involved with helping students apply their education to real-world business projects through the new LAUNCH program.
Ryan Osterberg, Computer Science, Brookfield Central
Ryan Osterberg has been helping his students gain real-world experiences that allow them to apply the concepts they learn in his classroom. Osterberg has been teaching his students complex programming lessons that they have then used to build software for local nonprofits under his supervision during the summer months. The data management software that Ryan has led his students to develop has helped benefit nonprofits for children and adults with special needs and veterans seeking job placement.
Alecia Krutz is a first-year teacher whose energy and passion for her students fills her classroom with excitement for learning. Krutz faces challenges head-on and is always professional and supportive in her interactions with parents and students, with a manner well beyond her years in the field. She supports all of her students and helps them to feel welcomed and loved within their school environment.
Dylan Mallas, Language Arts, Pilgrim Park
Dylan Mallas combines good teaching with great fun which results in an awesome and productive class. He has strengthened his department’s approach to English and Language Arts through his work with Readers and Writers workshop, and his positive, encouraging and often humorous approach engages all students. Dylan’s energy and enthusiasm inspires students to give their best, every day.
Erin Rademacher, Art, Pilgrim Park
Erin Rademacher continues to shine at PPMS. Her art elective enrollments continue to skyrocket, and her reach extends far beyond the classroom. Erin is an active member of her school’s Academic Career Planning team and Culture and Climate Committee, focused on student and staff culture. Erin also volunteers her time to support the greater Elmbrook community through FACEBrook, connecting the arts to the monthly book topics.
Brynn Rohde, English Language, Dixon Elementary
Brynn Rohde is an English Language teacher that supports students with 32 different home languages, and is positive in all interactions with students, families, and colleagues. Rohde is constantly seeking and establishing supports for her students to ensure that they are successful in the classroom. Outside of school, Rohde worked alongside this year’s HeritageFest as a coordinator.
Hannah Ziesemer, 1st Grade, Brookfield Elementary
Hannah Ziesemer is a fantastic 1st grade teacher who seeks opportunities to innovate on behalf of students. Hannah is a constant learner, seeking feedback from coaches and administrators so that she can improve. She is the first to volunteer and this year committed her time to learn about Universal Design for Learning with her school’s 4th grade team so that she can absorb, learn, deploy and share new approaches to accommodate learning differences in classrooms across Brookfield Elementary.
Andrea Jungers, Psychologist, Brookfield Elementary
Andrea Jungers has made a significant impact on students and staff as a psychologist and leader of several student support teams. Andrea is an active participant in the classroom, evaluating appropriate student supports and developing staff in their ability to meet the needs of all students. Andrea contains a wealth of knowledge, and through her work with staff, the number of student referrals for special education has been dramatically reduced over the past two years.
Karen Kaltenbrun, Physical Therapist, Fairview South
Through her multifaceted work in Elmbrook as a Physical Therapist, Karen Kaltenbrun serves numerous students with a variety of challenging needs. Karen goes above and beyond with her leadership, direction, care for and belief in her students to ensure that they are meeting and exceeding the physical expectations placed upon them. She is dedicated to the inclusivity of her students, communicates proactively with families, develops staff, and has a contagious positive attitude in all the work that she does.
Cindy Lakatos, School Counselor, Pilgrim Park
In her role as a counselor, Cindy Lakatos demonstrates her care and concern for students and staff by being present and fully-engaged at all times so that she can help identify a next step, solve a problem, or provide timely guidance to those in need. Cindy’s impact is far reaching - serving as a District trainer for Restorative Practices, a leader on the academic and career planning team, and by creating a Discovery Retreat for 8th grade students to learn about themselves and how to positively impact their school community.
Jason Lippold, School Counselor, Brookfield East
Jason Lippold is a relentless student advocate in his work as a counselor, and is connected with universities to help his students thrive beyond high school. He goes above and beyond to meet the needs of his students that struggle the most, and exudes academic and human excellence in all he does. Jason was recognized in 2017 as one of the top counselors in CESA 1.
Jessica Premo, School Counselor, Brookfield Central
Jessica extends an amazing amount of wisdom and care to her students and families. She has provided new solutions to challenging situations, and has connected with parents, students and peers in a way that is approachable and progressive. Jessica knows how to take on a challenge, develop a plan and implement change all while bringing stakeholders with her. Her empathy is her strongest attribute and she is a fantastic counselor and educator.
Lori DiMiceli, Data Analyst, Central Administrative Office
Lori magically balances her work as a Data Analyst between Brookfield Central, Wisconsin Hills and Central Office. Last summer, due to a staffing change, Lori supported the scheduling and startup needs of all four secondary schools with her usual calm demeanor and passion for service. Lori’s knowledge of Infinite Campus has proven invaluable as she has trained several new staff members at her two schools this year.
Greg Fenske, Custodian, Burleigh Elementary
Greg is dedicated to excellence in service and support as a member of Burleigh's custodial team. He has a can-do positive attitude while supporting all educational endeavors. He is approachable, gentle and friendly with staff, students and families. He takes great interest in all students and notices their progress. He is always willing to go above and beyond to accommodate all requests.
Eric Hagen, Communications Assistant, Central Administrative Office
Eric’s passion and commitment to the District drive his work in the Communications Department. Most notably, Eric has single-handedly executed the District’s alumni vision; interviewing graduates, writing profiles, building a LinkedIn network of 1,000 followers, and launching a new online network that has over 300 members in just two months. Eric’s service to parents and school and district staff is stellar, highlighted by his follow-through, high-quality work and engaging personality.
Tracy Rink, Student Services Assistant, Brookfield Central
Tracy is the first face you see when you walk into the BCHS student services department, and her approachable and supportive demeanor immediately puts everyone at ease. She creates a safe place for those students, families and staff who need one, with her genuine care and openness. Tracy has extensive knowledge of the courses offered at BCHS as well as those offered through other institutions and the progression of each to ensure students align their coursework with future learning and work experiences. Additionally, Tracy offers her time to be an advisor for National Honor Society and the Sophomore class. She is the heartbeat of the Student Services team.
Micho Sucevic, Custodian, Wisconsin Hills
Always smiling and positive, Micho Sucevic takes excellent care of Wisconsin Hills. He takes extra care of the building to ensure that all obstacles to student learning are removed. Micho builds connections with students and staff and is always willing to help in any way he can. His care for the building and sense of humor makes it a great place to work.
Ginger has been an active member of the Burleigh community for the past 7 years where she has volunteered countless hours to many activities both during and outside of school hours. She has been instrumental in the success of the Stuff the Bus program. Due to her efforts, over 125,000 pounds of food was donated to the Hunger Task Force. This year she worked to lead the charge with collection of nutritious foods through a program called My Plate, which focuses on the donation of healthy food items for children and families in need. Ginger has also been instrumental in the implementation of the Destination Imagination program for students in K-5 at Burleigh.
Amy Dvornik, Brookfield Elementary
Amy is a tireless volunteer who is willing to take on any task to help the students of Brookfield Elementary. Amy is respectful, kind and creative and seeks to find solutions to new challenges. Her latest effort involves working with the Principal to select a book that will serve as the focus for the next parent book club. Whether it benefits students, staff or Brookfield Elementary families, Amy is ready to serve!
Martha Klinker, Brookfield East
Martha is an active and engaged leader of the Friends of Fine Arts at BEHS. Martha serves as a role model among her peers in all that she does for Brookfield East. She is a true champion of fine arts education in Elmbrook and serves as the president of the annual Craft Fair that raises upwards of $30,000 that goes back into helping the fine arts department succeed for students.
Spencer Mayhew, Tonawanda Elementary
Spencer is the President of the Tonawanda PTO and is connected to each part of his school and greater community. His work helps Tonawanda and its students, families, and staff to function and thrive at an incredible rate. Spencer takes charge in education and supports students through his initiative work in the PTO, setup of the school’s online directory, by helping in the lunchroom, and through involvement in seemingly all school activities.
Angela Zuniga-Meyer, Pilgrim Park
Angela serves as the PTO President and is the consummate volunteer. Her organization skills contribute positively to Pilgrim Park’s culture through successful student dances, supporting a new vision for the library, or streamlining fundraising. She cares deeply for the students and staff at PPMS and is willing to do whatever it takes to support their great work.
Brett wears his school pride on his sleeve, celebrating the individual and collective accomplishments of the BC students and staff through his prolific tweets or daily announcements. Brett knows each student by name, and uses his relationships to demonstrate genuine care and concern in hallway conversations and in times of great need. Brett’s energy and passion helps build relationships with families, who are inspired to give of their time and resources in support of their children and Brookfield Central.
Kristin Olson, Principal, Tonawanda Elementary
Kristin is the proud Principal of Tonawanda and a natural leader with a heart for all students. Kristin’s leadership elevates in times of crisis, caring first for her students, staff and families through personal communication, attention to detail, and tireless energy. Kristin is loved by her school community and serves as a role model for her students and peers, focusing on student growth and setting a tone and culture of inclusivity within her school.
Deanna Wellens, Associate Principal, Pilgrim Park
Deanna is an expert communicator who demonstrates flexibility and leadership each day in her role as Associate Principal. Deanna has guided the work of teams deploying PBIS and Restorative Practices, and has built relationships across departments to promote collaboration and problem solving for students with complex needs. At the heart of her work is a moral character that provides her with the ability to care for her students and staff in a job that stretches her to use every ounce of energy she has, every day.
Amy embraces each student that walks into the Kindergarten classroom as if they were her own children. She has a wonderful rapport with staff and creates inspiring relationships with all students. Her work is a model of inclusive practices and she strives to ensure that all students feel a part of the classroom community and are included in all activities. Amy works hard every day to help students make progress both academically and emotionally.
Tracey Gates, Special Education Teaching Assistant, Brookfield Central
Tracy has one of the most challenging jobs in the district and takes on each day with a vigorous and optimistic approach. Her job requires to her be mentally, physically and emotionally prepared at all points during the day. She has found multiple ways to learn to meet students needs. Tracey is a highly organized, caring person who provides the structure and routine, along with the care and compassion that our students need.
Carol Heim, Educational Assistant, Tonawanda Elementary
Carol works with a contagiously-positive attitude whenever and wherever she is needed. She has worked in a number of capacities and will do anything to benefit her students. She collaborates and coordinates instruction and interventions with classroom teachers spanning grades K-5, and brings ideas to her team to continuously offer suggestions for improving learning opportunities. Carol makes sure that every minute of teaching counts.
Andy Vrakas, Learning Support, Wisconsin Hills
Andy goes above and beyond in supporting the 6th grade math department at Wisconsin Hills. He is flexible, takes initiative in his work, and steps up to do whatever is needed. Andy gives up his own free time to work with students and through this he is able to create authentic connections with them. He collaborated with library staff this spring to create a proposal to enhance the makerspace room in the library which was recently funded by the Elmbrook Education Foundation.
Meredith Wafle, Kindergarten Teaching Assistant, Swanson Elementary
Beginning the school year as a full-time Kindergarten Assistant, Meredith Wafle had a year of transitions. Meredith helped to support a long-term substitute teacher and eventually had to take over teaching for the class she was supporting. She has helped to train new assistants and was continuously flexible in her undertaking of new responsibilities. The effort and professionalism Meredith has shown in tandem with ensuring she provides only the best service and instruction for all students and parents is inspiring.
The magic happens in the classroom and the Third Grade Team at Tonawanda Elementary strives to help every student thrive and grow in their learning. The team's ability to get the most out of their students through shared ownership of student growth is exemplary and their efforts have resulted in highly engaged students and strong academic growth in a caring and positive environment. This team began a grassroots effort at their school that has propelled them to leaders in classroom intervention and prevention fields throughout Elmbrook and beyond.
Food Service Team, Brookfield Central
The Food Service team has created an amazing and impeccably clean environment that offers diverse menu options for the staff and students at BCHS. These women are kind, welcoming and always smiling! They work with the students in Key Club providing the annual Senior Citizen Thanksgiving Luncheon. They also collaborate with Student Council to prepare items for taste testing with students to gather feedback regarding which items they like and what types of items they would like to see served whereby increasing participation greatly.
Teaching and Learning Specialists Team, Pilgrim Park
Dan Gebauer, Adam Jensen, and Leann Glaser have leveraged the relationships they have built with staff over the past three years to drive instructional coaching and best practices across the school. This team recognizes its individual and collective strengths, and flexes assignments based on teacher needs and coaching skills, personalizing the approach and broadening their impact. Teachers value their feedback and place great trust in their support.
World Languages Department, Brookfield East
The BEHS World Languages Department is a high-functioning, high-achieving, supportive and collaborative team of colleagues that are always student-centered in their vision. The team works long hours to overcome any challenges in the way of student learning. This year, they worked to recreate their courses with the inclusion of new resources that had an online component to allow students to work independently on their own learning.
Ronn Blaha, Key Club Advisor, Brookfield Central
Ronn Blaha has been the dedicated and experienced advisor of the Brookfield Central Key Club for a number of years. Blaha has changed students’ lives through his selfless work and has helped to build and maintain participation in the largest Key Club in the entire world. His positive energy and unwavering support of the students he advises has led him to several accolades across the District and the region over the years. This year, with Ronn’s oversight, Key Club raised over $10,000 in their Walk for Hurricane Harvey Relief and $4,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in the Key Club’s Dance Marathon. Despite his many past accolades, Ronn continues to raise the bar for himself and Key Club every year.
Tammy Dentice, Fun Friends & Roots Gardening Club Advisor, Wisconsin Hills
Tammy Dentice is the advisor of two successful student clubs - Fun Friends and Roots Gardening Club. Tammy is committed to embedding success, empathy, self-control, and perseverance in all of her students and always seeks the best in others. She is sought out by students for her honest, supportive, and approachable manner and has a contagious energy for building leadership and confidence in her students. Her realistic view, positive attitude and student-centered nature make her the heart of Wisconsin Hills.
Lisa Farley, Girls Track & Field Head Coach, Brookfield East
Lisa has been the head coach for the 115 member BEHS Girls Track and Field team for the past four years and has built one of the finest programs in the entire state of Wisconsin. Her focus on character-building, positivity and togetherness makes her impact felt by her athletes, colleagues, and parents alike. Under her leadership the team has captured two State Runner-Up awards, multiple conference victories and proudly coached multiple individual state champions. Lisa meets with every girl to reflect on their season, set goals and discuss ways to balance academics, sports and work. She goes above and beyond to make each and every girl feel like they are a welcome and valued member of the team.
Mike Rakowiecki, Head Wrestling Coach, Pilgrim Park
Mike Rakowiecki has built a successful wrestling program that inspires loyalty and appreciation from his athletes long after they leave PPMS. As one parent wrote, “Mike is such a positive force with all of his kids and goes above and beyond to help them grow, not only as athletes, but as students, humans, and community members.” There is a place for everyone on the wrestling team, and through Mike’s ability to “Breathe life into all of his athletes,” he inspires them to give all they can for the betterment of themselves and their team.
Joseph Rux, Head Basketball Coach, Brookfield East
Joseph Rux is widely regarded as one of the best basketball coaches in the state, and recently led his team to the state championship game. Rux quickly transformed a program that had not qualified for state in over 30 years into a state contender. He inspires his players to work hard and contribute to a culture of leadership at Brookfield East. Rux was recently named Coach of the Year by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Julie Coombs, Brookfield Elementary
Julie Coombs is committed to making every school day meaningful and challenging for her students. Julie has completed both long and short-term assignments at Brookfield Elementary this year, and quickly creates real bonds with students of all ages. Julie is also a parent volunteer in the school, and it is not uncommon to see her approached by adoring students who embrace her or call out to her across the hallway.
JoAnn Flood, Wisconsin Hills
JoAnn Flood is a retired educator that is flexible, adaptable, and always glad to step in and teach. She is a staple at Wisconsin Hills and never misses a beat with the students she teaches. WHMS relies on JoAnn for the high-quality, uncompromising value of her teaching, and her incredible work with students and expertise in education.
Tammy Knowles, Burleigh Elementary
Tammy was an elementary school teacher in Elmbrook for many years, retired, and now can be frequently seen teaching as a substitute teacher. She can always be counted on whenever there is a need. She puts 100% effort into everything she does and treats the students she works with like they are her own. She is one of the first teachers to arrive at school and one of the last to leave to ensure she meets the needs of students, parents and other staff members.
Kayla Walsh, Tonawanda Elementary
Kayla Walsh is a one-term first grade substitute at Tonawanda whose transition into the classroom was seamless. Kayla’s students adore her and her presence at the school has become an important part of Tonawanda’s culture. Her work as a substitute teacher continued to allow students to thrive in a learning environment that was identical to what they had become accustomed to.
Mitch Weber, Brookfield East
Mitch is not your typical substitute teacher; he is an incredible student-centered, lead teacher. He assumes a leadership role and allows students to grow academically and personally. He comes in early, stays late, and leverages technology to meet student needs at all times. A long time substitute at Brookfield East, the school is grateful for Mitch’s contributions and the learning environment he has created and fostered.
The recipients of the 2018 Alumni Excellence Awards will be:
Angela (Werner) Graf
Brookfield Central Class of 1990
Angela is an alumna who has dedicated her career to teaching and giving back to the community where she was raised. She is a is widely respected 2nd grade teacher at Burleigh Elementary. She has the unique ability to focus in on the needs of each student. She sees the good in all children, regardless of their challenges, and inspires them to do their best - always focusing on the positives. Angela and her husband Chuck (BCHS ‘90) live in the community where they have raised their three sons. Read Angela's full Alumni Spotlight profile here.
Brookfield East Class of 2011
Evelyn is a Brookfield East alumna who works in the district she grew up in as a Speech and Language Pathologist at Burleigh Elementary. Admiring the coaches and educators that made an impact in her life during her time at Elmbrook, she knew it was the only place she wanted to work. In addition to her work at Burleigh, Evelyn is a member of the United States Triathlon Team and helped start a running club at her school for her students. Her goal is to ensure every student has the opportunity to be successful and competent in their abilities.
United Heartland was one of the first companies to commit its support towards Elmbrook’s new LAUNCH program in order to create new opportunities for students. Led by President Steve Cooper, United Heartland employee lead, Alexis Fielek, has donated her time as a guest presenter and project management coach. The company’s influence across the region has inspired various other corporations to engage with and support LAUNCH. Through their contributions to the program, United Heartland has given students real world learning opportunities in marketing, analytics, and business strategy.