Friends of Wingra Newsletter

Fall 2008
Volume 1 Issue 1
Erica Colmenares, Editor

Our Quarterly Welcome

This debut e-newsletter is our way of keeping you abreast of what’s going on with Wingra School, even if time or distance make stopping by difficult. Through this and upcoming issues, we’ll let you know what’s new and what’s happening in our vibrant, growing community.

Of course, we welcome former students, their families and any friends of Wingra School to visit whenever possible -- just contact the office to arrange a time! 

Were you here when this staff was here? Anyone look familiar? Click here to see a full-size photo -- and to learn which of these staff members still work at Wingra School.

Wingra Way Back Machine

In January 1985, Sarah Ramirez’ work was published in the Wingra Newsletter. But where is she now?

Well, she’s right here at Wingra, teaching 5-7 year olds. She did take a break from Wingra, leaving Madison for undergraduate studies at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. After graduating, Sarah taught in several Montessori schools and was inspired to pursue a career in elementary education. She returned to Madison and completed her Master’s Degree at the UW in Literacy Studies.

Sarah enjoys outdoor activities, art, music, and spending time with her family, which recently expanded when she got married this summer. Congratulations, Sarah!

Our Newest Staff Member

We’re very pleased to announce the addition of Greg Schultz as our Development Director. He comes to Wingra with a strong background in not-for-profit fund development, most recently at Second Harvest Food Bank and the International Crane Foundation. He has been involved in fundraising for over 27 years.
Greg is a Wisconsin native, although he abandoned our cold winters for 18 years in the more temperate San Francisco Bay area. He returned to Madison in 1994 with his wife and two daughters. He enjoys music (ask him to sing you a tune from Brigadoon) and wilderness backpacking with his family. We look forward to working with him.

Life After Wingra

Although ten years have passed since I retired as Wingra’s director, its people and practices still evoke vivid memories and strong emotions, and I continue to be amazed by how much of my post-Wingra life has involved people from the school.

Physical proximity has been a factor, I’m sure. Our family moved to the Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood so my Wingra-attending daughters and I could walk to school. We still live across the street from one alumni family, two houses away from another, and just blocks away from many others. David and I vote and attend neighborhood meetings in the building and often also see Wingra families in neighborhood restaurants, drug stores, chocolate shops, and custard stands! 

Madison is a small town… I’ve caught up with other Wingra-ites on visits to our physicians, at APT and the Overture Center, at the farmers’ market and our CSA pickup site, and in Tai Chi, yoga, and MATC art classes. Former students have been my teachers in Arboretum and Edgewood College workshops. Parent and student alumni have landscaped our yard, provided flowers and food for our daughter’s wedding, and helped frame our art collection. My weekly walking partner was also a Wingra parent, so we exchange updates on our kids and their friends regularly. I have seen alums’ artwork in Wisconsin and Illinois galleries, read their books and articles (both published and unpublished!), and enjoyed their music at the symphony and in more informal venues.  An eleven-year veteran of combing local publications for Wingra-related names, these still jump out at me -- from lists of academic honors, birth and marriage notices, and articles celebrating long term relationships, productive lives, and good works performed locally and globally.

Like me, several former Wingra parents teach part-time at Edgewood College. I’ve also kept in touch with a number of alumni, some of whom as students in the children’s literature classes I teach. I’ve attended graduation and engagement parties, weddings, and far too many funerals -- of school staff and volunteers, of parents, and of students.

From the periphery, I have watched the transitions in school staff and leadership and in the ownership and upkeep of the building. I am so thankful for the teaching, administrative, and custodial staff who kept the school alive and true to its mission these past ten years… and for those parents and other “friends of Wingra” who choose to support it with tuition and/or financial gifts. My most profound appreciation goes to Joyce Perkins who handed off Wingra to an inexperienced administrator in 1986, mentored me through those first years, and then returned to the helm a few years ago to gently and compellingly ease the school into this next stage.

And, of course, I wish the very best to Paul Brahce and the current staff, students, and families as the school enters its 36th year.  Just be sure to let us alumni folks know when the 40th celebration will occur!

Ann Jarvella Wilson
Wingra School Parent, 1983-1995
Wingra School Director, 1987-1998

Making Music

Senior students (ages 11-14) embark on adventures in guitar, one of four electives offered this fall.

Intro and Conclusion --
Exerpts from Benny Witkovsky’s Commencement Speech

Our society is not controlled by politicians. Our country is not run by rich people in smoke-filled rooms. Our life is not ours to create. Our world is created and controlled by those with the microphones, and since I have the microphone for the next few minutes -- I intend to use it.
< . . . > We as high school graduates are at the beginning of the road that leads to our taking over control of the world. Today and in the next few years, before the onslaught of bills, children, jobs, and other distractions take over our lives, let’s find a way to keep this conversation going. We can’t be sure that if we keep talking about peace, keep working through and with our different thoughts and approaches, that we will ultimately find the answer. But if we stop the conversation, if we stop the debate now, is there any hope? No, without discussion, if we are not allowed to or choose not to talk about these and all issues, we can achieve nothing. So my call to everyone here, students, teachers, parents too – have these conversations, work something out; and if and when you find a solution, if you reach some sort of conclusion. Well… then go find yourself a microphone.
Benny was a student at Wingra from 1995-2004. For the full text of Benny’s valedictorian speech at West High School, visit our website.

Alumni 411

Alums often visit Wingra, or email, or call. We love hearing from our former students and families. Below are some updates; send your news and photos to for our Winter Friends of Wingra e-newsletter!

Allison Silver Adelman, 1986-1990, is in Philadelphia, PA, on the UPenn staff, she’s also at UCSB as a grad student. She graduated from Bryn Mawr in 2003.

Beau Batty, 2001-2005, is at Memorial High School. We heard from Beau’s mom in the spring, and she let us know he was getting straight As, was on the swim team, was rowing for Camp Randall and was in Battle of Bands. He was also a Wisconsin Ambassador of Music to Europe, and played in seven countries during a 16-day tour this summer. Last summer he was in Nicaragua for a month. To see Beau’s band, check out this YouTube video.

Lauren Brodsky, 1987-1991, graduated from Wisconsin in Pharmacy in 2006, and as of this past spring was a pharmacy manager in Tempe, Arizona.   

Sara Cohen Christopherson, 1983-1988, is a naturalist at the Arboretum in Madison, and she’s also a Botany Department Lecturer at the UW, and does science writing, editing, and consulting.

Peter Czoschke, 1980-1981, graduated from Carleton College with a B.A. in physics in 1997, and then attended the University of Illinois, Champaign and got his PhD in physics in 2005. We’ve lost his contact info, though, so if anyone knows it, send it along!

Nadine Czoschke, 1978-1981, graduated with a B.A. in Chemistry from Carleton College in 1995 and received her PhD in Environmental Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005. Nadine also spent two years as a secondary school teacher in Gabon as a Peace Corps volunteer.

David Clausen, 1999-2001, let us know that he’s at Juilliard, studying viola performance with Misha Amory and Heidi Castleman.

Sara Diamond, 1987-1996, emailed recently. She’s in graduate school at UC Davis, studying community ecology, and occasionally teaching yoga.

Liah Hansen, 1993-1997, graduated in 2006 from UW-Madison with a degree in marketing. She was in Madison for a spell working with her parents, after a ten-month trip around the world. Now she’s in San Francisco looking for work at a technology company in Silicon Valley.

David Hoffert (photo right), 1991-1999,  graduated with honors from UW Madison in May, and worked at over the summer. Now he’s at Stanford University, getting a fully-funded  PhD in robotics and mechanical engineering. He first got turned onto robotics at Wingra. Staff remember his band and their original song, Duct Tape, the He-Man Adhesive. Visit David’s website, at

Andrew Hurie, 1987-1993, is now teaching in a Milwaukee Spanish language charter school, and fondly remembers his days at Wingra, which serve as inspiration for his own classroom.

David Leavitt, 1981-1987, graduated from Rochester University in New York in 1998. He’s currently an editor at Virilion Inc., an interactive marketing agency. He and his wife, Marnie Reichelderfer, live in Washington, D.C.

Faith Pratt Hopp, 1972-1976, contacted us recently from her home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She’s on the faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit.  She has two boys, Roman (age 14) and Krzysztof (almost 4).

Joy Rifkin, 1994-2003, is at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and as of last spring was enjoying it a lot and leaning toward science and theatre majors. She spent last summer in Europe with Wingra alumna Zoe Skemp.

Mara Rosenbloom, 1990-1998, is still making music. She graduated from NYU with a Bachelors degree in Music for Jazz composition. She’s worked as assistant tour manager and performer for the Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Jazz Sextet, in Canada and in Lima, Peru She also toured in Cuzco and Arequipa with her own trio. You can check out her music online, at

Chip Schumacher, 1989-1998, wrote last spring to say he was in his first year of medical school at the Medical College of Wisconsin, after graduating from Madison West High School in 2002 and Beloit College in 2006.

Claire Sandler (photo left, with her daughter Daisy plus alum Andy Carne with his son Arthur), 1978-1987, attended UW-Madison and graduated in 1996 with a major in Elementary Education, and a minor in French and Spanish. She served on Wingra Board while in college and taught at Wingra for 3 years. She’s currently staying home with her daughter, Daisy, who is a year and a half.  She also teaches dance and theater classes in South Bend, Indiana. 

Rebecca Saltzman, 1988-1997, is living in Minneapolis and employed at Philanthofund Foundation. She’s the co-chairperson of the Minnesota GLBTA Campus Alliance. She also sings in Calliope Women’s Chorus, a feminist women’s chorus. In a recent email to Wingra School, Rebecca wrote "It is because of who I am inside and the fact that I am comfortable with it, regardless of what others may think, that I have been able to follow my passions in life. I honestly think that Wingra was a foundation of these views for me, and helped to create the essence of who I am today. And for that I am forever grateful."

Suzanne Sweetnam, 1994-2003, wrote from Vassar College last winter, and was heading for a 2011 graduation.

Walker ’Dankshot’ Tubb, 1999-2003, is at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

Ben Wikler, 1986-1992, was interviewed in this 2007 youtube news link, on the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali last December. He’s Climate Change Campaign Director for, a non-governmental organization.

Sonja Wilson Tatro, 1983-1992, graduated from Edgewood College in 2004 after attending Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. She majored in Art Therapy and Studio Art and a minored in Psychology. Currently enrolled in a Double Master’s Program in Art Therapy and Marriage and Family Therapy at Phillips Graduate Institute in Encino, CA, Sonja’s busy with her master’s thesis, her second year of marriage to Tim Tatro -- who is currently teaching a mixed-age class of 9 to 13-year-olds (shades of Wingra in the late ’80s!) -- and her traineeship in several Los Angeles Country middle schools.

Lydia Wilson, 1986-1995, graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2003 with a major in Anthropology and a minor in Mathematics. Funded by a Commonwealth of Africa graduation scholarship, she spent 2003-2004 in Nairobi, with the National Museums of Kenya analyzing stone tools and designing an outreach program for high school students.  Currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Virginia, Lydia recently returned from a year in coastal Kenya where she excavated and collected artifacts for her dissertation research, an investigation of settlements founded in 19th C. Kenya by people escaping slavery.

Ethan Witkovsky, 1990-1998, wrote from Jerusalem, where he spent a year studying Jewish texts before returning to the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan to continue Rabbinical school.

Rebecca Zambrano, 1972-1976, known as Becky Shirah when she attended Wingra, is the coordinator of Edgewood College’s C-TELL ("Connecting Teachers of English Language Learners") Project and is heavily involved in the college’s training program for ELL teachers.  She’s worked with migrant populations throughout the country and was the migrant teacher for MMSD before coming to Edgewood.

Windows for Wingra

Anyone driving down Monroe Street this past summer will have noticed signs of building improvements. Every window and all six exterior doors were changed out for beautiful new energy-efficient replacements. While we briefly mourned the loss of the old leaded ones, you’ll probably agree that the new ones have beauty of their own. It’s brighter inside the school these days, and the fall air coming from windows that open easily is refreshing.

To read why Wingra School embarked on this improvement process, check out this article. To learn how to help with the endeavor, visit our Support Wingra page

Let’s Keep in Touch

Drop Us a Line

It’s a genuine joy when former students or family members drop by and let us know what they are up to. It’s wonderful to see how people are progressing in their lives. Emails, especially those with photo attachments, are equally welcome. So stop by, or shoot us an email, and let us know what you’re up to. And if you have Wingra friends who may not receive this e-newsletter, send us their email address so we can get it to them, as well.

On Facebook?

Join the Wingra School Alumni group. Thanks to the Saltzman sibs, David and Becky, for setting it up!

Name This Newsletter

While "Friends of Wingra Newsletter" is descriptive and simple, we of the Wingra Duck yearbook and the monthly Follies event are yearning for a moniker that’s a bit more fun and, well, Wingra-like. We’ve received a couple of good suggestions, but we’d like to hear yours before tainting your creativity with options. If you suggest the chosen name, lunch is on us (here, any Friday, provided by Willy Street Co-op).

It’s a Date!

Get out your calendar and jot down these opportunities to join us at Wingra School.

Community Conversation Evenings on October 16, December 18, February 19, and April 30, from 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Follies, October 24, December 12, January 23, February 20, April 3, May 8 and June 10,  2:00-3:00 p.m. in the gym.

Family and Friends Celebration, November 26, 9:00-11:30 a.m.

Alumni Night, January 22, 7:00-8:30 p.m. -- if interested, contact


We look forward to seeing you soon.


2010 Wingra School