As students returned last week from summer break, they were welcomed at local schools by police officers and first responders, principals who are their pals — and a host of new teachers.

Every year, districts replace a handful of instructors as others retire, move away or take new positions. This year was no different, local administrators said, with neither more nor fewer than usual.

Still, new faces give kids something to talk about and often bring new ideas and energy to classrooms.

Here are the men and women who will be caring for kids every day, teaching them everything from how to share and tie their shoes to physics and auto repair, in each of the area's three primary districts:


Ashland added 17 members to its instructional staff this year, and a handful of other positions also saw changes..

In addition to the new teachers, Stan Schrock has been named athletic director while Mike Peterson is the new middle school associate principal and Danielle Mikula is the new director of student services. Administrative transfers include Pam Huston as Ashland High School associate principal and Amanda Popovich as director of student learning.

According to Superintendent Erik Olson, the candidate pool from which to find replacements was "robust."

"The district has been fortunate to hire highly qualified employees that align to and embrace the School District of Ashland values," he said.

Olson said the district anticipated a similar enrollment to last year's; an exact figure will be determined after classes are underway.

The district uses Lakeshore Buses for student transportation, which has struggled in the same way others have.

"In conversations with them, finding bus drivers continues to be difficult as is the trend in school districts throughout the state," he said. "They have not been put in the situation of rearranging routes at this point as all of their maintenance staff are also certified as bus drivers and fill in to cover bus routes as needed."

Kyle Barber

Position: Instructional/behavior coach

School: Lake Superior Elementary

Share something about yourself: I am an energetic, outgoing person who brings a wide variety of life experiences. If it's outdoors, you will find me doing it. If it's in the school, your child will always come first.

Nathan Bean

Hometown: Ashland

Education/Experiences: Northland College, experience subbing/teaching in the Ashland School District

Position: English teacher

Why did you want to become a teacher: I want to make a positive change in students' lives.

Why come to this school district: I've resided in this region for 25 years and couldn't imagine being anywhere else.

Jonny BeBeau

Hometown: Ashland

Education/Experience: Physical education major, bachelor of science-biology, 13 years coaching experience, seven years of student mentoring (BAYNET), former Division II college athlete (University of Wisconsin-Parkside), former NPSL (Milwaukee Bavarians).

Position: Physical education teacher and head girls soccer coach

School: Ashland High School

Why did you want to become a teacher: It's always been in the back of my mind to get into education. A few years ago I started substitute teaching when time allowed and fell in love with it. I want to be able to meet kids where they are at every day and help make a difference in their life. I want to help them become successful individuals and enjoy their time in school.

Why come to this school district: The Ashland School District is home for me. I've been around it all my life. The support I received from the district and community when I was a student was incredible. I want to be there to provide that for the current and future students. There is nowhere else I would rather be!

Drew Emmert

Hometown: Ashland

Position: English teacher

School: Ashland High School

Tell us something about yourself: I was born and raised in Ashland. I am an avid outdoorsman and volunteer coach for football. My passion in life is to educate and create an innovative and inclusive learning environment for students.

Melissa Fiamoncini Hometown: Rice Lake

Education/Experiences: I achieved my bachelor's of science from UW-Superior. I continued my education by attaining my master's from Viterbo University with emphasis in literacy becoming a reading specialist then later added educational leadership. I also achieved national board certification. I have taught kindergarten, interventions, first grade and have been a literacy coach and adjunct instructor for college.

Position: Instructional coach

School: Ashland Middle School

Why did you want to become a teacher: Working with children and families has been my passion because each child is unique and I love learning from others. I hope to inspire others to reach for their dreams and passion.

Why come to this school district: Ashland was launching instructional coaching and Ashland brings my family closer to our families in the Upper Peninsula.

Lorrie Guski

Hometown: Grew up in Ashland, moved to Iron River area

Education/Experiences: Associate's degree in occupational therapy, associate's degree in early childhood Education and bachelor's degree in elementary/middle education

Position: Sixth grade science and social studies

School: Ashland Middle School

Why did you want to become a teacher: Learning new things is my passion. I hope through teaching to instill the love of learning and inquiry in my students.

Why come to this school district: The School District of Ashland is where I spent my childhood. I look at this as an opportunity to give back to the district and the community.

Ashlie Hoffman School: Lake Superior Learning Center

Tell us something about yourself: I am a new mom to a little boy, Colt. I also have a St. Bernard/German shepherd puppy, Rambo. These two occupy a majority of my time. However, I also enjoy basketball, weight lifting, and anything outside.

Sonjia Johnson

Hometown: Originally from Iowa, but have lived in Wisconsin for the last 22 years.

Education/Experiences: I have taught second grade and I recently ran the aft er school program at Lake Superior Elementary.

Position: First-grade teacher

Why did you want to become a teacher: I have always loved working with children and I am excited to be able to inspire and empower them through unique and creative learning.

Why come to this school district: I love the warm and inviting atmosphere that Ashland School District offers. My daughter attends Lake Superior Elementary and has such a wonderful experience with the fabulous staff.

Katie Kacvinsky

Hometown: Wausau

Education/Experiences: Degree in science journalism, UW-Madison (published author)

Position: English language arts teacher

School: Ashland Middle School

Why did you want to become a teacher: To inspire kids to love reading and writing.

Why come to this school district: We live in town and my children attend the district.

Lisa Karau

Hometown: Tomahawk

Education/Experience: Two years at Tomahawk Elementary School

Position: Elementary physical education

School: Lake Superior Elementary/Marengo Valley

Why did you want to become a Teacher: I enjoy working with kids and being able to provide them with life-long activities to improve their health and wellness.

Why come to this school district: It is a beautiful area that allows me to enjoy my hobbies such as hunting and fishing.

Janna Levings

Hometown: Marengo

Share something about yourself: I grew up on a dairy farm in Marengo and graduated from Ashland High School. I'm a boymom, gardener, collector, and art enthusiast. I've taught grades one through five, middle-school Spanish, and aft er staying home to raise my three boys for the past seven years, I'm excited to combine my joy of teaching children and my love of art in my own elementary art classroom. I might just be the luckiest person I know!

Keri Lewis Hometown: Iron River

Education/Experiences: Bachelor of science, UWStevens Point

Position: Special education-intellectually disabilities teacher

School: Lake Superior Elementary

Why did you want to become a teacher: I've been substitute teaching my entire life, and I love it! I have worked with children with disabilities since I was in high school.

Why come to this school district: Ashland is where I've wanted to be because I've been a substitute teacher for three years in the district.

Sarah Moravchik

Hometown: Mason

Education/Experiences: University of Wisconsin-Superior, K-12 physical education, K-12 health, coaching

Position: Physical education

School: Ashland Middle School

Why did you want to become a teacher: To inspire kids to find the joy in being healthy and active.

Why come to this school district: Because I am invested in and love the kids in this district.

Paige Nemec

Hometown: Spooner

Education/Experiences: University of Wisconsin-Superior

Position: Physical education

School: Elementry

Why did you want to become a teacher: Love working with kids.

Why come to this school district: I love the area and to be closer to family.

Dan Obradovich Position: Alternative education

School: Ashland High School

Tell us something about yourself: Student of history, especially American Civil War, but mostly World War 1. Father of three, Shane (30) - science teacher in Crivitz, Nicholas (24) - special ed aide in Marquette, Mich., and Rachel (20) - neuroscience student at University of Colorado (Boulder). Grandpa of Everly (12) and pretty good husband of Susan for many years. Love to four-wheel, read, garden and go to Lake Superior and camp. New dad to Paczki, a yellow lab.

Brianna Walczak

Hometown: Minneapolis

Education/Experiences: I just graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire where I studied special education and elementary education. I completed my degree by studying abroad in Scotland this summer.

Position: Special education teacher

School: Ashland High School

Why did you want to become a teacher: knew I wanted to be a teacher way back in elementary school. I always wanted to help students the way my teachers had helped me. I realize now I want to help students learn to advocate for themselves and set goals to accomplish anything they work towards in their lifetime.

Why come to this school district: I did not know anything about Ashland until my fiance and I began searching for jobs. Ashland seems like a great adventure to begin because we love being outdoors. The School District of Ashland has been nothing but kind and welcoming from my first interactions. I could not be more grateful to begin my teaching career with the district.

James Wucherer

Hometown: Tanjin, China

Education/Experience: I held long-term sub positions at Superior's and Holmen's high schools and I have taught aboard for three years in Tianjin, China.

Position: Math teacher

School: Ashland High School

Why did you want to become a teacher: I love to learn and experience new things and I hope to inspire young people to do the same.

Why come to this school district: I love northern Wisconsin. I spent a lot of time on my grandparents' property in Brule when I was young and I was fortunate enough to canoe and fish the river oft en. Having been away so long and hearing many positive things about the district from friends and family, how could I not jump at the opportunity?


Four teachers and one counselor are new additions to the staff roster in the Bayfield School District this year.

Superintendent Jeff Gordon said the district recently approved its classroom staffing plan and hired all the teachers needed for the start of the school year. He had no difficulty filling vacancies as multiple candidates applied.

As the year progresses staff will be working toward the district's strategic plan and building capacity in the areas of positive school climate, academic achievement, effective communication, use of data and resources and greater student attendance. The staff will support students and provide them the best opportunity for a positive educational experience, Gordon said.

Student enrollment is projected to remain unchanged this year.

Barbara Helser

Hometown: Appleton

Education: B.S. Education grades 1-8, Bilingual/ESL

Years of experience: 18

Position: Third-grade teacher

School: Bayfield Elementary School

Why did you want to become a teacher: I was inspired to become a teacher because of a few awesome teachers that I had in my past. I love helping children grow academically, socially, and emotionally. As a perpetual student myself, I am always learning new things and sharing them with others.

Why come to this school district: I came to this school district because I have always wanted to work with Anishinabe children. Early in my career, I taught Native American students in Milwaukee. When I was in my early 20s, I learned a great deal of wisdom and knowledge about the Anishinabe culture taught to me by an elder named Keewaydinoquay Peschel. I love the Bayfield area and have always been drawn to Gitchi-Gami. It's the perfect place for an educator/naturalist like me.

Wyvern Kinney

Hometown: Ashland

Education: Bachelor's degree in education, Northland College

Years of experience: 25

Position: Fift h-grade teacher/head volleyball coach

School: Bayfield Elementary School

Why did you want to become a counselor: I became a teacher to make a difference in the lives of kids

Why come to this school district: I was given the opportunity to teach and coach again in the same district as my husband. I like the cultural aspect of the school district of Bayfield.

Dan Kovach

Age: 49.

Hometown: Ashland

Education: Bachelor's degree, UW-Oshkosh; doctorate in education, UW-Stout

Years of experience: 20

Position: Math interventionist

School: Bayfield schools

Why did you want to become a teacher: My mom taught third grade in Ashland for 33 years. I was a distracted student, but maybe genetically predisposed to teach? As a teacher of careers I teach that every job is about skills, knowledge and disposition. Every job interview is trying to determine three things: Do you have the skills and knowledge to do this job, are you excited about this job and this company, and will you fit the team and culture of this position? Most of the answers to these questions are determined by your personality. According to the Gallup Strengths Finder assessment, my five dominant traits are all teacher traits: winning others over, communication and positivity, intellection, and enjoyment of the learning process and continuous improvement. Teaching is something I enjoy and just feels natural.

Why come to this school district: My role in Bayfield is a brand new position, and I was looking for a place to grow personally and professionally in a student-centric environment. I am excited to be part of this team of amazing educators and to develop effective and engaging programming for our students.

Ivy Ray Hometown: Mellen

Education: Degrees in special education/elementary-middle education, Northland College.

Years of experience: First-year teacher

Position: Special education teacher

School: Bayfield schools

Why did you want to become a teacher: I choose to be a teacher after working at my school's aft er-school program to earn some extra cash. I found that I really liked working with kids and helping them with their own schoolwork. I got into special education

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

Recommended for you

Load comments