New school staff members introduced

The Chilton School District recently welcomed a number of new staff members to the elementary, middle and high schools for the 2021-’22 school year.

Originally from Ashwaubenon, Tara Koenigs is an Early Childhood teacher at the elementary school. A 2004 graduate of Ashwaubenon High School, she went on to earn her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Her prior teaching experience includes three years in West De Pere and seven years in Appleton teaching Integrated 4-K. This year Koenigs said she hopes to build positive, long-lasting relationships with the students and staff, and she looks forward to smiles from her students and to hearing their stories which “make each day wonderful and different!”

New 4-K teacher Heidi Hess is originally from Menomonee Falls. She graduated from Concordia University in Chicago in 2013 and then taught for six years in a small school in Wausau. As a teacher, Hess stated she strives to build positive relationships with her students and their families, and she works to provide a safe, inviting, encouraging environment in the classroom for her students to grow. This year, she said she is looking forward to seeing her students grow and show their personalities.

Second grade teacher Abigail Sharpee is a 2016 graduate of Pewaukee High School, and she recently completed her Bachelor’s at UW-Whitewater. Before coming to Chilton, Sharpee was an intern and then long-term substitute at Evergreen Elementary in Waterford last year. This year, she hopes to build strong relationships with her students, while providing them with the tools they need to succeed. Regarding her new position, Sharpee stated, “The best part of the job is my students. They are so amazing! My co-workers are also incredible. I couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming and helpful team of teachers.” Sharpee is engaged to Daynen Pethan, who also just joined the teaching staff at Chilton Middle School.

A native of Hilbert, Kelsey Dohr attended Hilbert High School and went on to earn her Bachelor’s Degree from UW-Superior in 2021. Prior to her new position as kindergarten teacher, Dohr spent 10 years as an in-home daycare provider, and she student taught second grade in Hilbert. Dohr said she feels the best part of her new position will be forming relationships with her students, adding, “Knowing that the student is feeling comfortable in your class and having fun is a rewarding part of teaching.”

Lisa Hopwood is a new Special Education teacher at Chilton Elementary. Originally from Menasha, Hopwood graduated from Kaukauna High School in 1987 and went on to earn her Bachelor’s Degree from UW-Oshkosh and her Master’s from UW-Milwaukee. Her previous work experience includes teaching at Maplewood Middle School in Menasha for three years and at New Holstein High School for two years. Hopwood said her goal for the year is “to provide quality education to my students by collaborating with my colleagues, providing rigorous instruction, and creating rich learning experiences.”

Seventh grade Literacy Teacher Lauren VanDen Heuvel is originally from Ashwaubenon, and is a 2021 graduate of Ripon College. She brings a lot of work experience to her new position, including student teaching eighth grade English at Markesan Middle School, working as a writing tutor and with the Admissions Office at Ripon College, and working for Great Harvest Bread Company for the past four years. VanDen Heuvel stated she wants to form positive relationships with her students as they grow as readers, writers and speakers. “I think the best part of this year will be seeing the students get creative and express themselves. I am excited to get to know everyone and be a part of the Chilton community.”

Chilton High graduate Daynen Pethan has returned to become the health teacher at Chilton Middle School, having earned his Bachelor’s in Health, Physical Education, and Adapted PE from UW-Whitewater in 2020. Pethan did his student teaching at Fort Atkinson Elementary and Delavan-Darien High School. He was also a long-term second grade teacher at Evergreen Elementary School in Waterford. Looking forward to building relationships with all of his students this year, Pethan stated the best part of his job is, “I get to have open discussions with my students about every day health topics.”

A 2015 graduate of Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah High School, Rebecca Knepfel is the new school counselor at Chilton High. Knepfel earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies with a certificate in Global Health from UW-Madison and then got her Master’s Degree in K-12 School Counseling from Lakeland University. Her work experience includes being a school counseling intern at New Holstein Elementary School in 2019-’20 and at Hilbert Middle and High Schools during fall of 2020. She also was a long-term substitute at Hilbert Elementary last spring. Knepfel stated she is very excited for this new opportunity, and she is looking forward to meeting with the students one-on-one and assisting them with their social, emotional and mental health needs.

Jane Mingari is the ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher at the High School, having received her certification last winter. She completed her coursework through UW-Green Bay and did her student teaching in Denmark and Plymouth. Mingari stated that she wants to help her students learn to use language effectively so their diverse voices can be heard.

A 2000 graduate of Neenah High School, Rebecca Ryan is a new Special Education-Intellectual Disabilities teacher at Chilton High. She has a Bachelor’s in Spanish and Liberal Arts from UW-La Crosse, and she earned her Teacher Certificate in Special Education through the CESA 6 RITE Program in 2015. Her work experience includes seven years as an activity assistant at ThedaCare, and being a Special Education teacher with Oshkosh, Appleton and CESA 6 Alternative Programs. Ryan feels that when connections are formed with her students, quality teaching and learning can occur. She stated that it has been a goal of hers to teach students with intellectual disabilities, and she is thrilled that her dream has come true.

Administrative Assistant Ibelice Legault graduated from Mayville High School in 2012, and she has worked with the Fond du Lac County Health Department and the Ascension Calumet Hospital ER. She looks forward to acquiring the knowledge necessary to become another vital asset for the district, and to building relationships with students and their parents. Legault stated, “I am completely humbled and amazed at the level of support and encouragement I have received. Thank you.”

E.B.D. (Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities) teacher Robert Tracy graduated from Lone Oak High School in Paducah, Kentucky in 1981. He earned his M.A. in History from Florida State University in 1990, his Wisconsin D.P.I. Certification from UW-Oshkosh in 1994, and his M.A. in Counseling from Lakeland College in 2005. Tracy comes to the district with a wealth of experience, including graduation coach and long-term Special Education teacher with the Appleton Area School District, New Horizons Alternative School teacher with CESA 6, academic advisor and adjunct faculty at UW-Green Bay, Neenah Regional Center director and adjunct faculty at Lakeland College, and Outreach Program director, training specialist and adjunct faculty at UW-Oshkosh. Regarding the challenges of his new position, Tracy stated, “Neurological diversity is not easy to understand. I hope to help all students understand that their peers with social/emotional challenges need to be accepted and included, no different than peers with physical challenges.”

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