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2019 Finalist Profiles

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View the finalists by category below for the 2019 Engaged in Excellence Awards!

Who will take home the Golden Apple? RSVP for the event here to see!

Excellence in Teaching - Elementary

Angie Fell, 1st Grade, Dixon Elementary
Angie believes in never giving up on any student and is a positive role model for other teachers. She plans diverse learning opportunities for her students, setting high expectations and personalizing her teaching so each child can feel successful by achieving their own learning goals. Angie uses singing in her classroom to help students learn facts and makes learning fun.  

Karen Lampe, 4th Grade, Tonawanda Elementary
Karen is a member of a high-functioning 4th Grade team at Tonawanda. She engages students through strong reading practices and facilitates an inclusive environment in her classroom. In addition to coordinating a mentorship program for new students, she started a book of the day club which fosters strong participation among both staff and students. During a recent snow day she challenged students to make a reading fort instead of playing Fortnite and encouraged students to share pictures of their reading forts with her.

Dave Peterson, 5th Grade, Burleigh Elementary
Dave Peterson is a superstar at Burleigh and his administrators consider him irreplaceable! His students describe him as encouraging, respectful, kind, and caring and often come back years later to visit him. He has blazed a path by incorporating 6th grade math into their curriculum to help transition his students to middle school. David is respected by his peers for mentoring and sharing his ideas with his colleagues.

Sandy Rasmussen, 1st Grade, Brookfield Elementary
Sandy Rasmussen’s positive demeanor influences both her students and colleagues. Sandy reinvents herself every year, and her extensive planning and preparation creates an environment where every student can be successful. Sandy has been critical in the on-boarding of two teaching colleagues on the first grade team over the past three years, believing that their success is just as important as her own.

Erin Sanger, English Language, Swanson Elementary
Erin Sanger is a classroom leader with a monumental impact on each student she works with. Her skill as a teacher has shown through in all of the grade levels and teaching positions that she has held, making connections with students throughout her building inside and outside of the classroom.

Excellence in Teaching - Middle School

Tom Freesmeier, Social Studies, Pilgrim Park
To walk into Tom Freesmeier's class any hour of the day, is to see 30 eighth graders completely engaged in learning about today's world. Tom uses discussions, videos and storytelling to connect with students, and his Facebook Live session on our first Virtual Learning Day was featured by local media. Tom’s influence on the PPMS community is widespread, serving as NJHS and ski club advisor, as well as AVID and National Board Cohort lead.

Susan Liberman, Reading, Pilgrim Park
Susan Liberman is a reading interventionist who has transformed Pilgrim Park’s approach to supporting all students. She instills skills, strategies, and mindset in students to enhance success in all academic areas. Her reach extends beyond the classroom as a climate and culture builder for all students and staff, and she is the advisor to many popular student clubs including the Board Game Club.

Trish St. George, Math, Wisconsin Hills
Trish St. George is a leader at Wisconsin Hills, teaching math across all grade levels with care and attentiveness towards her students. Her creative and engaging lessons reach all students that walk into her classroom. Trish is reflective of her work and always looking for best practices. Trish's constantly positive attitude makes learning a joy for all her students!

Deb Uttech, Language Arts, Wisconsin Hills
Deb Uttech is a solutions-focused teacher, serving as a leader in the classroom and throughout Wisconsin Hills. She is a District literacy leader and begins every day in her classroom with a community-building circle. Deb is always looking for new ways to grow in her teaching, and her ever-present positive attitude makes her beloved by her students and peers.

Excellence in Teaching - High School

Rachel Broge, Art, Brookfield East
Rachel’s focus on the whole student, allowing her to use art as a way to build relationships with her students. Students are excited to be involved in the art program due to her inspirational and supportive nature. Rachel inspires excellence in all of her students. Both parents and students recognize Rachel’s amazing ability to teach, mentor and lead by example.

Pat Coffey, Social Studies, Brookfield East
Pat is beloved by all those in his building and received a multitude of nominations from students in his quest for the golden apple.  Students appreciate that he pushes them to be the best version of themselves through his care and compassion for each student’s well-being. Pat’s instructional practices ensure that lectures are engaging and relatable to every student in the room, making his government and history come alive in his classroom!

Joy Conway, Special Education, Brookfield Central
Joy has a special way of working with students that motivates them and makes everyone feel important. She does excellent work, always speaks with kindness, and makes a positive influence on her students and on the entire program. She oversees the Lancer Lounge, BCHS’ coffee cafe, where she oversees and patiently helps students serve their customers. Joy is described as a special person who deserves to be awarded for great service.

Angie McGuire, Special Education, Fairview South
Angie has taught with Elmbrook for 14 years and has been the Lead Teacher at Fairview South School for the last two years. She emphatically believes that school should be a place where children feel safe, supported, and that they belong. She leads with heart, professionalism, fairness and humor. Angie excels at positively influencing each child’s life and is an exceptional leader making sure her staff feel appreciated and supported. Described as an exceptional person and educator who is engaged in excellence, she has dedicated her career to enhancing the lives of the students and leading her staff to do the same.

Pat Perez, English, Brookfield Central
Principal Gruetzmacher described Pat as “one of best educators I have ever had the privilege of calling a colleague”. Pat works tirelessly in his classroom and is always trying to improve his craft. He has the utmost respect of his students and his colleagues. Students in his class will learn to critically read rigorous texts and defend their opinions through writing or speaking. Pat has been instrumental to the instructional integrity of our LAUNCH Program and learns alongside of his students. He is a trusted sounding board and uses his student-centered common sense as his compass.

Excellence in Teaching - New Educator

Nicole Enger, World History, Brookfield East
Nicole joined Brookfield East High School midway through the 2017-2018 school year and quickly became a favorite among students. Nicole received multiple nominations from students who describe her as; fabulous, engaging, informative, outgoing, creative, approchable, kind, respectful, nice, positive. She loves to have fun, but also shows how the educational content of the curriculum can easily be related to the daily lives of many. To quote one of her students when asked about Mrs. Enger the student responded: “talent and skill above many others!”

Kaley Olles, Language Arts, Wisconsin Hills
Kaley Olles makes smart and effective teaching choices that push curriculum to be more relevant and strategies to be more effective and impactful for every student. Kaley has a unique ability to form strong connections with student and helps them stay on the right course. She has a positive impact that her students and colleagues will feel for years to come.

Christina Pappas, English Language, Burleigh
Chrissy is a new English Learner  Teacher who has already made an enormous impact at Burleigh and throughout the District! She is described as being compassionate and hard-working. She has quickly become an integral part of the EL team by helping with developing scaffolds for teachers, and by joining the teams planning HeritageFest, the All District Read event and Elmbrook Reading Intervention cohort. She also developed “Culture Grams’ which allow students from diverse backgrounds to showcase information about their culture. Chrissy is an advocate for all English learners and a positive collaborator with team members. She truly demonstrates excellence as a new teacher!

Gunnar Seaver, Social Studies, Brookfield Central
Gunnar makes an effort to connect with his students beyond the level that class curriculum requires. The most important part is that he truly cares about what his students have to say. His students are incredibly impressed with how influential he is as an educator after so little time in the profession. He is a reflective practitioner who is always looking for ways to improve his practice. His dedication to utilizing WICOR strategies and formative assessment to ensure all students learn is commendable. It is obvious through his teaching that he does not view education as only a job, but as a way to help people better understand the world that they live in.

Hannah Ziesemer, 1st Grade, Brookfield Elementary
Hannah’s impact on her students and teaching colleagues at Brookfield Elementary is grounded in her strong belief in the power of education to change lives. With an adept ability to reach all students, Hannah has quickly become a go-to educator for her peers in the implementation of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). In addition, she has absorbed new learning in the areas of Purposeful Play and Early Reading Intervention and is able to masterfully incorporate these practices into her classroom.

Excellence in Student Services

Mary Barker, Speech/Language Pathologist, Tonawanda Elementary
Knowledgeable, amazing, experienced. Mary Barker is a strong leader and a definite team player. Her talents and gifts are seen and felt throughout the building year in and year out, and she is an integral part of the special education team at her building. She serves more than 30 students and works collaboratively with classroom and special education teachers and with families to meet the very diverse needs of all students. Mary gets exceptionally good outcomes with the students that she works with, and numerous staff and families express deep appreciation for the impact of her work with students with complex needs.

Jennie Katrichis, Psychologist, Brookfield Central
Jennie is one of the hardest working employees in Elmbrook. She serves her team, students, parents, and teachers with clarity and grit. She has the capacity to take on any challenge in front of her because of her willingness to draw people together to solve problems. Her knowledge base is amazing and you will not find anyone with a heart more kind. Her optimism is contagious! Jennie is dedicated, innovative, trustworthy and has outstanding leadership skills.

Erica Pauly, Psychologist, Pilgrim Park
Erica is incredibly professional and knowledgeable. She is collaborative and establishes specific and measurable goals for students along with sustainable interventions that are matched to the identified need. Erica is thorough in her approach to problem-solving and asks great questions to both gather information and guide teams to think creatively about unique challenges that students face.

Excellence in Service & Support - Individual

Lisa Giammo, Student Services Assistant, Wisconsin Hills
Working in the Student Services area, Lisa has positively impacted the student experience in many areas of student life. Her interaction with young people shows unmatched care and empathy.  She is a team player with a focus on people and systems while making student-centered decisions. With her unselfish approach to work, she is the first to step in to help others during busy times.

Kim Mitchell, Paraprofessional, Dixon Elementary
Kimberly is in her second year with Elmbrook and has developed strong relationships with the students at Dixon Elementary in the lunchroom. She makes students feel safe, cared for and loved. Her influence over students helps to make their experience at school very positive, and she is a strong contributor to the caring and kind school culture.

Sandy Morris, Attendance Secretary, Pilgrim Park
Sandy has been a welcoming and friendly presence in the Pilgrim Park office for many years. She knows the students and their families, and even remembers and engages former students when they return to share their progress in high school. This year, Sandy filled in gaps during a challenging phone conversion for the school, was diligent in her work to make sure all student clubs and activities were recognized and celebrated, and stepped in to complete the school yearbook during a difficult time.

Christy Schmid, Executive Assistant for Teaching & Learning, District Office
Christy works diligently to provide a very high level of service and support to everyone she interacts with. This year, in addition to her teaching and learning responsibilities, Christy accepted many additional key duties while a colleague was on leave, requiring new learning, as well as frequent interactions with the Board of Education and support for the Superintendent. Christy’s professionalism and experience allowed her to perform these duties seamlessly.

Barry Vogel, Custodian, Brookfield Central
Always positive and willing to help, Barry Vogel takes exceptional care of Brookfield Central. His knowledge and hands-on approach to fixing items in need of repair has saved the District financially over his years at BCHS. No matter how busy he is, he’s always there to lend a hand when needed.

Amie Williams, Health Room Assistant, Brookfield East
As a health room assistant it is fair to say that Amie has her finger on the “pulse” of the wellness needs of the student body at Brookfield East. With the nurturing care and kindness of a concerned mother, Amie often see’s students when they are feeling their worse. Whether it’s diagnosing the potential “testing” bug or providing a resting place for a headache that appeared out of the blue, Amie provides a valuable service to the students of BEHS. Her ability to make students feel safe and cared for is second to none.

Excellence in Service & Support - Team

Front Office, Swanson Elementary
(Jen Beug & Karen Krzyzak)

In just their first full year together in Swanson’s front office, Jen and Karen have made their mark with warm and welcoming smiles! They have created an atmosphere of customer service and devotion to students. Students stop by for hugs and well-wishes, staff receive guidance, and principals are kept on track with project completion. Devotion to all is their specialty.

Brookfield East Custodial Team
(Rich Boesel, Crystal Gerard, Richard Geldon, John Grass, John Hoppe, Wan Jirakaroonpong, Rich Johnson, Andrew Koutecky, Jim Melotik, Tim Nault, Steve Nestingen-Palm, Brian Smith, Mike Vandenbush)

The BEHS custodial team works tirelessly, everyday, to prepare the building for student and staff use. They take pride and care in their work as they strive to serve the BEHS with the high quality customer service they have come to enjoy. Whether it’s providing facility support for conference athletic events, late night student activities, regional conferences or the setup and support of two graduation ceremonies each task is handled with a smile. The work this team does has a positive impact on not only the staff and students of BEHS but the community.

Dixon Learning Assistants Team
(Sherri Bergren, Sheila Fabiszak, Kelly Gilbertson)

Sherri, Sheila and Kelly have a vast knowledge of every elementary intervention and share their expertise to help other staff members. They support the implementation of both interventions and enrichment activities to help meet the needs of all students. With their caring and compassionate approach, Dixon students who work with this team know they are loved and welcome.

Student Information Team, District Office
(Michelle Schmitz, Zoa Powers, Janelle Huber, Lori DiMiceli, Marcene Korpela, Jocelynn Polka)

This team successfully transitioned two people into new roles this year while increasing its commitment to servicing the needs of our families and staff across the District. The team’s new approach to kindergarten enrollments has led to a 50% increase in early enrollments, it managed a smooth startup to transportation in the fall, and its collaborative approach to family onboarding communicates critical information to school staff in an effort to help new families feel welcome and cared for.

Excellence in Volunteering

Joe and Stacy Coffey

Joe & Stacy Coffey, Tonawanda Elementary
Both Joe and Stacy have been extremely positive additions at Tonawanda. They volunteer at all hours of the day without hesitation, and do so much for the school community! If there is an event, program, function, or task which requires parent volunteers, either Joe or Stacy are sure to be involved. Joe and Stacy are both very active with Tonawanda PTO, and both serve as paras during lunch and recess. Week-in, week-out, year after year, the Coffeys remain Tonawanda's premier volunteering team!

Clare Hubler, Brookfield Central
Clare has been volunteering for Brookfield Central's musical productions for the last ten years. Her commitment to this role is unmatched. Each year she has dedicated countless hours to ensure that the musicals have the look of a professional production. Each cast member is carefully fitted with the right look for their character. There is no detail that goes unattended. Her work and dedication assist in making everyone of those student's talent shine even brighter when the curtain goes up!

Angie Schatz, Burleigh Elementary
Angie can always be found somewhere at Burleigh. She has spent countless hours running the Sock Hop, organizing Camp Minikani and Colonial Day, and helping out at Chess Club every week. She has also been the Producer of the past two Burleigh musicals, which encompassed every 4th and 5th grade student at the performance. Angie has been an integral part of Burleigh for several years and they are thrilled to have the opportunity to share their appreciation by supporting her nomination for the Excellence in Volunteering award.

Library Volunteer Team (Kim Lieper, Salma Rafeen, Abha Supatka; Wisconsin Hills)
The Wisconsin Hills Library Volunteer Team had a big year with the completion of the library remodel. The team’s over 70 hours of time were utilized to help re-organize the library, solve Chromebook issues, and process and catalog numerous new books. Kim, Salma, and Abha take pride in their work and bring a vibrant energy with them that makes the new library fresh, efficient, and a great learning environment.

Excellence in Leadership

Michelle Aprahamian, Associate Principal, Brookfield Elementary
Michelle has been instrumental this year in helping develop staff members’ knowledge around social-emotional learning through coaching, a book study, and leading the school’s weekly PEACE time. She leads with honesty and integrity; listening deeply and responding to the needs of staff, and celebrating the small and large accomplishments of students. Michelle is responsive to families and balances the demands of her position with grace and a positive attitude.

Sabrina Hintz, Teaching & Learning Specialist / AVID Coordinator, Brookfield Central
Sabrina is a tremendous person and a tireless advocate for the students and staff of Brookfield Central. She is the AVID 9 Elective Teacher, AVID Coordinator and Lead Teaching and Learning Specialist. Brookfield Central is in the fourth year of AVID and its great success is due in large to her great work. She inspires confidence in her students and never misses a chance to help a colleague. BCHS is a better place because of her!

Adam Jensen, Teaching & Learning Specialist, Pilgrim Park
Adam’s leadership evolved this year to support not just the teachers at Pilgrim Park, but he became a mentor to two new Teaching and Learning Specialists at PPMS. Adam’s work continues to be integral to the Talent Development program, and his approachable and fun manner allow him to build strong relationships with students and colleagues. Adam’s work has helped to create a collaborative student-focused environment centered on achievement.

Ben Westphal, Associate Principal, Brookfield East
Ben Westphal is a servant-leader with a heart devoted to helping students. He works relentlessly to provide opportunities for every single student to be engaged in at least one club, sport, or activity, and knows the value that these opportunities can bring to their lives. Ben works diligently to fill in gaps wherever he is needed, including taking on the role of softball coach during the upcoming season.

Excellence in Teaching Support

Tara DeValk, Teaching Assistant, Dixon Elementary
Tara uses her pleasant, caring and nurturing demeanor to support student academic and behavioral success. She is trained in Crisis Prevention and is often contacted for support and advice in dealing with challenges. She is always firm but fair with students and loves them like they are her own children. She sees the abilities in children versus the disabilities.

Rachel Horvath, Library Assistant, Burleigh Elementary
Running the Burleigh library, Rachel is always positive, flexible and willing to take on anything asked of her. A great communicator and extremely organized, she teaches and coordinates 33 sections of students each week and knows all 872 of her students by name. Checking in and shelving over 5,000 books a week, Rachel always has a smile and a positive attitude. She demonstrates excellence every day!

Nancy Huber, Teaching Assistant, Pilgrim Park
Nancy has leveraged her extensive teaching experience in special education to make an immediate impact on the students at Pilgrim Park. She is genuine, honest, and demonstrates care and concern for the students with whom she works each and every day. Nancy is unflappable and makes her colleagues better because of her commitment to kids.

Stacey Meissner, Teaching Assistant, Brookfield Elementary
Stacy is an exemplary teaching assistant who will go the extra mile for students. She is a great partner for staff, a strong communicator, and can build positive and constructive relationships with all students. Her work has a significant impact on the students and staff she serves every day.

Louise Roberts, Teaching Assistant, Swanson Elementary
Louise is described by a parent of a student she supports as “an amazing person who takes care of students with special needs so beautifully!” She is a dedicated individual who is all in it for all students.  With her versatility in the classroom, she supports teachers to fill in the gaps wherever needed. Louise is a smiling and peppy presence at Swanson Elementary.

Sue Robles, Teaching Assistant, Tonawanda Elementary
Sue is the epitome of “Every student, every time, all the time”. She is all in for all of the kids, and she supports her students with compassion and kindness. Sue is all in for every kid and displays a great attitude towards her work. With her experience she is able to handle difficult situations with integrity.

Excellence in Coaching & Advising

Chris Demos, Wrestling, Brookfield Central
Chris is a kind and caring coach and individual. He invests his time in those he coaches not just as athletes but as people. Chris offers support and assistance to those he coaches to help them implement change and achieve their desired goals. He is consistent, motivating and has amazing communication skills.

PPMS Forensics Team

Pilgrim Park Forensics Team
(Sarah Reedy, Ann McCall, Stacy Stewart)

The Pilgrim Park Forensics Coaches instill a passion in each of their students to continuously better themselves. This year, the team showed incredible strength, resilience and leadership in the face of difficult challenges and overcame them for the benefit of their students. Their work and encouragement shows through in both forensics meet results and the passion that the students bring to the club at Pilgrim Park and in later high school.

DJ Richlen, Chess Club, Brookfield East
DJ Richlen has gone above and beyond to completely transform the Chess Team at Brookfield East. His work has promoted inclusion for all students, through countless hours devoted to their improvement at all skill levels. This year, DJ created Brookfield East’s own chess tournament, The Spartan Chess Open, which brought together the Elmbrook community at all grade levels K-12.

Excellence in Substitute Teaching

Jim Fuchs

Jim Fuchs, Tonawanda Elementary
Jim is a retired Physical Education teacher that continues to impact students with his work as a substitute teacher. He substitutes at Tonawanda Elementary at the drop of a hat for however long he is need. Jim is flexible with his teaching and accommodates for the limited gym space, all the while ensuring that students are safe!

Trudie Miller, Wisconsin Hills
Trudie Miller is a steadfast and reliable substitute that cares for every student she encounters. Her positive attitude and constant presence at Wisconsin Hills have made her feel like she’s a full-time staff member. Trudie never misses a beat in the classroom and is beloved by students and staff alike.

Christine Schnabl, Swanson Elementary
There are not enough accolades to describe the impact Christine has on Swanson as a go-to substitute! She is wholly engaged in making the most of her time with the students, looking for teachable moments and engaging students with her kind and caring approach. She is a master of flexibility, adjusting to learner and class needs. She is a committed example of PEACE (Promoting Empathy and Compassion Everywhere) at Swanson.

Alumni Excellence Award

The recipients of the 2019 Alumni Excellence Awards will be:

Tyler Galganski and Dave Hibler

Tyler Galganski & Dave Hibler
Brookfield Central Class of 2003

Tyler Galganski and Dave Hibler are best friends and fellow Brookfield Central graduates who teamed up to create Forever Lazy, a pioneer in adult onesies and the #1 provider for one-piece pajamas for adults and children in the world. In addition to their business, Tyler and Dave are active in Variety children's charity for Wisconsin children with disabilities. Click here to read their full alumni spotlight profile.

Deanna Singh

Deanna Singh
Brookfield East Class of 1997

Deanna Singh is a leader of change in communities throughout the country, creating various non-profits including LIFT and the Milwaukee Street Project. In 2014, Deanna was named one of Milwaukee Business Journal's most influential 40 Under 40 leaders, and in 2018 she published her book Purposeful Hustle. Click here to read the full alumni spotlight profile on Deanna.

Excellence in a Community Partnership

The 2019 Excellence in a Community Partnership award recipients will be:

Elm Grove Kiwanis logo

Elm Grove Kiwanis

The Elm Grove Kiwanis / Golden K Club is a driving force for community service at Brookfield Central and Brookfield East and impacts schools throughout the District with financial and service-related support.

Milliman logo


Milliman is a key sponsor of Elmbrook's LAUNCH program, and has provided students with various career-based projects and real-world business experiences for District juniors and seniors.