Herb Kohl Educational Foundation increases the value of its educator awards

A surprise announcement that all Herb Kohl awards will double greeted Wisconsin students, teachers, and principals invited to the April 8 Herb Kohl Educational Foundation luncheon in Greendale to honor their selection as 2017 Herb Kohl award recipients.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers announced the award increase during the event, the first of five to be held around the state. Student scholars will receive $10,000 awards rather than $5,000 they were initially told they would receive in March. Teachers and principals will receive $6,000 with a $6,000 matching award given to their school rather than the $3,000 award and $3,000 matching grant for Teacher Fellowship and Leadership Awards.

“There are so many educators in our public schools who are deserving of being recognized for their dedication to students that goes above and beyond. The Honorable Herb Kohl knows this and has for years supported educators through this recognition of some of the best in our profession,” said WEAC President Ron Martin, an eighth grade teacher. “His is a great example of lifting up the professionals who provide opportunity to every student who walks through the schoolhouse doors.”

Herb Kohl, through his Herb Kohl Educational Foundation, established a student scholarship and teacher recognition program in 1990. Annually the Foundation awards 200 scholarships to graduating high school seniors, 100 teacher fellowships, and 16 principal leadership awards, with matching grants to teachers’ and principals’ schools. To date the Foundation has awarded $11.7 million to Wisconsin educators, students, and schools.

Thirty-seven WEAC members were among those receiving Kohl Foundation Teacher Fellowships this year (we have added two to the original list of 35 WEAC members receiving the award). The list of winners can be found HERE.

Clintonville’s Karen Petermann is a Phy Ed Teacher of the Year

Clintonville teacher Karen Petermann, a WEAC Region 3 member, has been named the Midwest Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year by SHAPE – the Society of Health and Physical Educators.

Karen, who has been at Longfellow Elementary School for more than 30 years, told WBAY TV, Channel 2, Green Bay, that she believes in guiding students to being active “not only now but forever in their lifetime.”

She believes in providing activities “that are at every student’s level so that they can be successful.” Once they achieve success, she said, “they are going to become intrinsically motivated to be active.”

Watch the WBAY report:

Local teacher is national PE Teacher of the Year

Clintonville’s Karen Peterman is Shape America’s National Elementary P.E. Teacher of the Year


34 WEAC members win 2017 Herb Kohl Foundation Teacher Fellowships

Thirty-four WEAC members are recipients of prestigious Herb Kohl Foundation Teacher Fellowships for 2017. Each teacher receives a $3,000 award. Recipients were selected by a statewide committee composed of civic leaders, representatives of education-related associations, and the program’s co-sponsors: the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools (WCRIS), regional Cooperative Educational Service Agencies (CESA), and the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators. WEAC members who won Teacher Fellowships are:


  • Mary Caucutt, Oconomowoc Templeton Middle School, Sussex
  • Theresa Kruschke Alfonso, West Allis Greendale High School, Greendale
  • Genny Lambert, Delafield, Waukesha STEM Academy, Waukesha
  • Mary Laubenheimer, Milwaukee, Wedgewood Park International School, Milwaukee
  • Margaret Mulqueen, Oconomowoc High School of Health Sciences, Wales
  • Gretchen Nelson, Pewaukee Swallow School, Hartland
  • Judith Offenbacher, Milwaukee, Audubon Middle School (ATCC), Milwaukee
  • Cynthia Stemper, Sussex, Swanson Elementary School, Brookfield


  • Erin Barnard, Madison, Patrick Marsh Middle School, Sun Prairie
  • Mary Ellen Kanthack, Genoa City Brookwood Middle School, Genoa City
  • Joseph King, Madison, James Madison Memorial High School, Madison
  • Colleen Kollasch, DeForest, DeForest Area High School, DeForest
  • Jason Penticoff, Madison, O’Keefe Middle School, Madison
  • John Schimming, Whitewater Whitewater Middle School, Whitewater
  • Sarah Schnuelle, Palmyra, Sullivan Elementary School, Sullivan
  • Katherine Sinkewicz, Madison, Spring Harbor Middle School, Madison
  • Margaret Wachowiak, DeForest DeForest Area High School, DeForest


  • Matthew Nevers, Dodgeville, Mineral Point High School, Mineral Point


  • Sherry Brevick, Alma Alma Area School, Alma
  • Mary Czajka, West Salem, West Salem Elementary School, West Salem
  • Oakley Moser, IV, Tomah Tomah High School, Tomah
  • Tara Schuttenhelm, La Crosse, North Woods International School, La Crosse


  • Claire Fallon, Prairie du Sac, Tower Rock Elementary School, Prairie du Sac


  • Michael Fedyszyn, North Fond du Lac Sabish Middle School, Fond du Lac


  • Courtney DeArmond, Manitowoc Jefferson Elementary School, Manitowoc
  • Matthew Miller, Sheboygan, Sheboygan North High School, Sheboygan


  • Mary Keller, Lakewood Wabeno High School, Wabeno


  • Brent Zinkel, Wausau, Wausau East High School, Wausau


  • Julie Anderson, Bloomer Bloomer High School, Bloomer
  • Brenda Xiong, Altoona, Northstar Middle School, Eau Claire


  • Stephanie Belisle, St. Croix Falls, St. Croix Falls Elementary School, St. Croix Falls
  • Karen Lettner, Barron Barron High School, Barron
  • Rita Thorson, Lakeland, Meyer Middle School, River Falls
  • Matthew Wigdahl, Menomonie, Oaklawn Elementary School, Menomonie

If you know of a WEAC member who won a Kohl Fellowship but is not listed here, please let us know at communications@weac.org.

In addition to the Teacher Fellowships, the Kohl Foundation also announced Excellence Scholars, Initiative Scholars, and Leadership Awards. Click here for the complete list of winners.

Mukwonago teacher Kellie Arenz selected to take part in Space Academy

WEAC Region 7 member Kellie Arenz, a STEM teacher at Park View Middle School in Mukwonago, has been selected to attend the 2017 Honeywell Educators at Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama.

Created in partnership with the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, this professional development program is designed to help middle school math and science teachers from around the world become more effective educators in science, technology, engineering, and math. Educators are empowered with supplemental teaching techniques through simulated astronaut training and innovative educational tools that help bring science to life in the classroom.

Kellie is featured in an article in LakeCountryNow.com, which notes that only 400 educators from 55 countries are chosen each year for the week-long academy, and says Kellie is ecstatic about the opportunity.

“I heard about the Honeywell Educator Space Academy two years ago from a friend, and I knew right away I wanted to explore the chance to go,” said Arenz. “I applied last September and when word came early this year that I had been selected, I couldn’t believe it. I was thrilled.”

Read article in LakeCountryNow.com:

Mukwonago middle school teacher picked to take part in national space academy

Park View Middle School STEM teacher Kellie Arenz is readying for an experience of a lifetime. Selected to attend the 2017 Honeywell Educators at Space Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, she will be joining educators from around the world to explore innovative techniques to educate and inspire students in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Milton teacher who lost a daughter works to raise awareness about eating disorders

Michale Dorn

Michael Dorn

Milton Education Association President Michael Dorn, who suffered a family tragedy when his daughter died as the result of an eating disorder, was featured this week in a report by WISC TV, Channel 3, Madison, for his work to raise awareness of the dangers of eating disorders and the opportunities for helping young people who are struggling.

“Eating disorders aren’t something that just happens in literature or in the movie screen,” Dorn says in the WISC report. “They happen to real people and they can happen to their friends and have real consequences and they can help with it. They can help with her recovery.”

This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and Dorn shared his family’s story with a Milton High School class.

“I miss her a lot,” Dorn said of his daughter Maria. “But what we are doing is trying to use what happened to her to prevent it from happening to someone else. If I can do this, it can maybe affect one life in a positive way, then it makes all the effort worthwhile.”

According to Channel3000,com:

Since Maria’s death, Dorn and his wife, Alita, have created an organization in her name called “Project Maria.” They are partnering with Janesville Mobilizing for Change to create a temporary display of books ad resources at the Janesville Hedberg Public Library. They will also host an event on March 3 from 5-7 p.m. at Festival Foods at 2233 Humes Road in Janesville. They will discuss eating disorders and have attendees make affirming greeting cards that will be sent to local treatment facilities.

Read the Channel3000.com report and watch the WISC TV video:

Teacher uses personal story to educate students on eating disorders

MILTON, Wis. – A Milton man who lost his daughter to an eating disorder is using his role as a teacher to help other kids. In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.

MTEA Welcomes Educators at Green Bay Avenue to our Union!

Photo: Joe Brusky

Photo: Joe Brusky

In November, news broke that Universal Academy–a non-instrumentality charter school brought into MPS under former Superintendent Gregory Thornton–was closing 2 of its schools.
MPS converted the campus on N. 8th St. back into Green Bay Avenue, a traditional MPS public school and welcome students and families from both closed universal schools.
Over the next couple of months, nearly 100% of the educators organized at Green Bay Avenue to become members of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association and have been working tirelessly to improve teaching and learning conditions at their school.
On January 11, 2017 MTEA President Kim Schroeder awarded them with the Sid Hatch Outsanding School Leader award for their advocacy on behalf of MPS students!
Welcome to the MTEA, Green Bay Avenue!
MTEA president Kim Schroeder presents leaders at Green Bay Avenue School with the "Sid Hatch Outstanding Building Leader" award at a recent union representative assembly.

MTEA president Kim Schroeder presents leaders at Green Bay Avenue School with the “Sid Hatch Outstanding Building Leader” award at a recent union representative assembly.

Bill Emery works to ease the stresses on fellow ag teachers

Bill  Emery

Bill Emery

When one of his agriculture teaching colleagues committed suicide five years ago, Baldwin-Woodville ag teacher Bill Emery began a program to help others deal with the pressures of the job.

“Because of his death, I became a bit more vocal in the state wellness, more on the wellness of the mind,” Emery says in an article about him in the New Richmond News.

Emery, who is a member of WEAC Region 1, said the constant pressure to be innovative and to grow their programs can be extremely stressful for ag teachers. “Ag teachers develop monsters of programs,” Emery explained. “The monsters keep growing or you’re not seen as successful.”

The article notes that in addition to being a full-time ag teacher, Emery owns a 43-acre hobby farm and heads up several other student-based activities, including serving as the SCC cross country coach. He also oversees the St. Croix Central trapshooting club and leads several camping trips for the school district each year.

Read the entire article from newrichmond-news.com:

Emery takes lead in preserving teachers’ mental health

When Baldwin-Woodville ag teacher Bill Gillis committed suicide five years ago, it was a painful reminder to the members of the ag teaching fraternity of the stress in their jobs.St. Croix Central ag teacher Bill Emery had worked on many projects through the years with Gillis. Gillis’ death spurred…

Two WEAC members helping develop new computer science standards

Two WEAC members are on a state committee overseeing development of new computer science standards for Wisconsin schools. Among the members of the State Superintendent’s Standards Review Council, which will oversee the Computer Science Standards Writing Committee, are Heather Mielke of Elkhorn, Math Teacher, Burlington High School; and Lisa Sanderfoot of De Pere, Computer and Information Science Teacher, Valley View Elementary School, Ashwaubenon School District.

From the Department of Public Instruction

A panel of Wisconsin experts representing classroom educators, school leaders, and higher education are drafting standards for computer science as the next step in a process to define the knowledge and skills students are expected to learn in that subject during their PK-12 public education.

Computer science standards are the first set of standards that are being developed using Wisconsin’s new standards review process. The process began last August with a public comment period on the need and expected outcomes for computer science standards. The State Superintendent’s Standards Review Council examined those comments and recommended that Wisconsin develop academic standards for computer science.

In authorizing computer science standards development, State Superintendent Tony Evers said, “It is critical that our schools keep pace with changes in what citizens and employers expect from our students and how we teach that material. The technology sector continues to grow in Wisconsin and with that comes an increasing demand for people prepared to work in computer science and related fields. To better meet those needs, the state must provide standards to align how we teach computer science to our students.”

Academic standards, like those being developed for computer science, are a defined set of knowledge and skills that students are expected to know and be able to do. Standards set goals for teaching and student learning that help teachers plan curriculum and develop classroom lessons. In Wisconsin, all state standards serve as a model. Locally elected school boards adopt academic standards in each subject area to best serve the local community.

The Computer Science Standards Writing Committee is working on a set of academic standards that span all grade levels. A draft of the Wisconsin Academic Standards for Computer Science will then be available for a period of open review for feedback from the public, key stakeholders, educators, and the Legislature.

“Rigorous, clearly written academic standards are an important part of setting expectations for what our kids know and learn,” Evers said. “The standards review process gives the public a way to share their thoughts, resulting in a set of standards that reflects Wisconsin’s expectations for its students.”

State Superintendent’s Standards Review Council

  • Mike Beighley, District Administrator, Whitehall School District
  • Kim Brown, Director of Learning, Oshkosh Area School District
  • Rep. Dave Considine, D-Baraboo, Wisconsin State Assembly
  • Jill Gaskell of Blanchardville, Member, Pecatonica School Board
  • Anne Heck, Principal, Lake Geneva Middle School
  • Jenni Hofschulte of Milwaukee, Parent, Milwaukee Public Schools
  • Stephen Kolison, Associate Vice-President for Academic Programs and Educational Innovation, University of Wisconsin System
  • Howard Kruschke of Roberts, President, St. Croix School Board
  • Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, Wisconsin State Senate
  • Heather Mielke of Elkhorn, Math Teacher, Burlington High School
  • Carrie Morgan, Associate Vice President, Wisconsin Technical College System
  • Joseph Moylan, Principal, Oconomowoc High School
  •  Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon,Wisconsin State Senate
  • Desiree Pointer-Mace, Professor, Alverno College, Milwaukee
  • Chris Reader, Director of Health and Human Resources, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce
  • Lisa Sanderfoot of De Pere, Computer and Information Science Teacher, Valley View Elementary School, Ashwaubenon School District
  • Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac, Wisconsin State Assembly
  • Connie Valenza, District Administrator, Platteville School District

Two WEAC members are finalists for Presidential Teaching Awards

Jay Garvey Shah and Leigh Kohlmann

Jay Garvey Shah and Leigh Kohlmann

Two WEAC members are finalists for the 2016 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, one of the nation’s highest honors for matematics and science teachers. The 2016 awards will recognize teachers at the elementary level (K-6). The two members are:

  • Jay Garvey Shah, science finalist, fifth grade teacher, Creekside Elementary School, Sun Prairie Area School District.
  • Leigh Kohlmann, science finalist, sixth grade teacher, Rock River Intermediate School, Waupun Area School District.

“Wisconsin’s finalists for Presidential Teaching Award inspire their students to learn complex math and science concepts,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “They nurture mathematical thinking and problem-solving and let their students be scientists through hands-on learning. We wish them well in the next steps of the Presidential Teaching Awards program, which brings needed recognition to the work of our teachers and their dedication to students and the teaching profession.”

Two other teachers were finalists. They are: Susan Hammer, mathematics finalist, first grade teacher, Sauk Trails Elementary School, Middleton Cross Plains Area School District; and Rebecca Saeman, mathematics finalist, interventionist (K-4), Sauk Trails Elementary School, Middleton Cross Plains Area School District.

Nominations for the award can be made by principals, teachers, parents, students, or members of the general public. Nominees must complete an extensive written and video application that demonstrates their mastery of mathematics or science content; use of appropriate instructional methods and strategies; effective use of student assessments to evaluate, monitor, and improve student learning; reflective practice and life-long learning to improve teaching and student learning; and leadership in education outside the classroom.

Applications for Wisconsin’s four finalists will be judged at the national level by a committee organized by the National Science Foundation. The panel may select one teacher of mathematics and one of science to receive

Presidential Awards from each state and four U.S. jurisdictions. In addition to recognition and professional development events in Washington, D.C., winners receive $10,000 and a citation signed by the president.

The National Science Foundation administers the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Since 1983, more than 4,700 teachers have been recognized for their contributions to mathematics and science education. Nominations for 2017 awards that will be made at the seventh- through 12th-grade level are due April 1.

7 WEAC members earn new National Board Certification

Seven WEAC members have just joined the ranks of those holding National Board Certification, considered the gold standard in teacher certification. Another 75 Wisconsin educators renewed their national certification this year.

national_board_sidebar_text2Wisconsin now has 945 active National Board Certified Teachers and is ranked 20th in the nation for the number of teachers who hold the national credential.

“WEAC congratulates these outstanding educators who have committed themselves to making sure they are the absolute best they can be,” said WEAC President Ron Martin. “WEAC is extremely proud to play a role in helping educators achieve this tremendous honor.”

The WEAC members earning certification for the first time are:

  • Natalie Buhl, West De Pere School District, English Language Arts/Adolescence and Young Adulthood;
  • Sarah Hafenstein, Watertown Unified School District, Music/Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood;
  • Nicole Horsley, South Milwaukee School District, Literacy: Reading-Language Arts/Early and Middle Childhood;
  • Jessica Krause, Jefferson School District, Generalist/Middle Childhood;
  • Amanda Mortimer, Beloit School District, Generalist/Early Childhood;
  • Lindsay Norrish, Madison Metropolitan School District, Generalist/Middle Childhood; and
  • Kathy Noteboom, Bayfield School District, Generalist/Middle Childhood.

In addition, one non-member earned certification this year: Debra Bowman, Spring Valley School District, Music/Early and Middle Childhood.

“I commend our board certified Wisconsin teachers for their dedication to their profession and their students,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “Achieving or renewing national certification is a demanding process that requires teachers to demonstrate their subject matter knowledge, instructional excellence, and commitment to the profession.”

National Board Certification is open to all educators who have a baccalaureate degree and three years of classroom experience in either a public or private school. WEAC provides extensive support for members who pursue National Board Certification.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standard’s founding mission is to advance the quality of teaching and learning through rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do, a national voluntary system for certifying teachers who meet those standards, and related education reforms to integrate National Board Certification in American education and to capitalize on the expertise of National Board Certified Teachers. Wisconsin has a number of educators who have achieved national certification who offer their support to others who are working toward the credential.

Wisconsin is among approximately two-thirds of states that provide salary incentives and cover some costs to achieve the advanced credential. Those who teach in state schools can receive up to $2,000 to reimburse the cost of earning National Board Certification. Among requirements to receive nine annual stipends of $2,500, teachers must remain employed as Wisconsin educators and be rated “effective” or “highly effective” in the applicable educator effectiveness system. Wisconsin teachers who work in high-need, high-poverty schools in the state can receive an additional $2,500 annually. In addition, teachers with a Wisconsin Professional Educator License can qualify for the Wisconsin Master Educator License after earning NBCT certification.

Click here for DPI’s release and a list of all Wisconsin educators who earned or renewed their certification this year.