Growing Lifelong Learners Since 1972

Teachers and Staff

Click on any staff member's name to jump to their bio. To contact a staff member, please call 608-238-2525 or email them at theirfirstname@wingraschool.org. See job postings.

Administrative Staff

Teachers

The Nest—ages 5 to 7

The Pond—ages 7 to 9

The Lake—ages 9 to 11

The Sky—ages 11 to 14

All School Teachers—ages 5–14

Building Staff

  • Chhoeub Chaam - Custodian
  • Eddie Smith - Custodian

Bios

Angela Baker

Pond Teacher, Ages 7 to 9, Room 103
B.S., Elementary Education, Minor in English, UW-Eau Claire

Angela grew up in the Stoughton countryside, spending most of her time either lost in the woods or lost in a book. Nature and literacy have always been passions of hers. She considers herself fortunate because she always knew that she wanted to be an educator.

Angela was drawn to Wingra's sense of community and love of learning. She joined Wingra School in 2003 as a substitute teacher and was thrilled to discover that her personal philosophy of education was realized in the progressive education values at Wingra. Here, Angela works with children in a place where authentic relationships are formed and nurtured; everyone's voice is necessary and important; learning is often collaborative and is constructed through relevant, hands-on, and integrated experiences; social and emotional learning is valued; and childhood is respected. She considers Wingra School her educational home. Angela became part of the full-time teaching staff in 2004, working with 8- to 10-year-olds in Room 101. She now enjoys teaching and learning with 7- to 9-year-olds in the Pond and collaborating with her teaching team.

?Learning something new every day is a goal of Angela's. She spent the past year participating in a pilot program between the Children's Dyslexia Center and the Madison Metropolitan School District; she was one of five area teachers learning the Orton-Gillingham method of phonics instruction and participating in a 100-hour practicum teaching two Wingra students. She achieved her Certificate of Completion of IMSLEC-approved (International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council) training this fall.

Angela is a past participant in the Greater Madison Writing Project (GMWP), an opportunity for area educators and UW-Madison outreach staff to come together around personal writing and writing instruction in the classroom. GMWP participants have formed a professional network over the years. Angela often attends professional development workshops throughout the year, enjoying bringing back new ideas as well as sharing the Wingra way with other professionals. Angela also frequently partners with Edgewood College and UW-Madison, serving as a cooperating teacher for pre-service education students.? She is a member of the Madison Area Reading Council, Wisconsin Mathematics Council, International Dyslexia Association, and the Progressive Education Network.

Angela also does private tutoring through her business, Assisting Discovery. Angela enjoys reading, camping, traveling, and being in nature, and hopes to one day write an interesting early-reader children's book.

Debbie Blitz

Nest Teacher, Ages 5 to 7, Room 102
M.S, Health Education, Hofstra University
B.S. Community Health, Hofstra University

Originally from Peoria, Illinois, Debbie has worked with children in many different capacities for many years. She is honored to work and learn in a school that offers an education that truly prepares children for life as adults—to be community-minded, collaborative, and curious.

She worked as a waterfront director at a sleep away summer camp in Waupaca, Wisconsin where she was able to teach children of all ages how to swim, boat, and water ski.

While working on her Masters Degree in health education, she worked in a more traditional environment as Teacher's Assistant for special education at the high school level on Long Island. After receiving her M.S., she taught kindergarten at a private progressive school in New York City for two years.

Debbie moved to Madison with her husband in the summer of 2007. She is very proud to be part of the Wingra community as a classroom teacher. She is working towards another certificate in early childhood education.

Debbie's hobbies are running and participating in triathlons, spending time family, and being active together.

Jenny Bosben

Art Teacher, Room 203
B.S. Art Education, UW-Madison

Jenny knows that every child learns in a slightly different manner. As she gets to know students, she tailors the curriculum around their strengths and interests, while gradually encouraging them to branch out to new challenges.

Before coming to Wingra, Jenny taught at Glenn Stephens Elementary School and at Sennett Middle School. She has also taught at Monroe Street Fine Arts Center for four years.

In her free time, Jenny loves to create, show, and sell her own art work, with a focus on drawing, painting, and mixed media. Jenny lives in Madison with her husband and two children.

Mary Campbell

Development Director
B.S. Elementary Education, Science Concentration, UW-Madison

Committed to progressive education, Mary student taught in the British Primary System before working at Metropolitan Open School in St. Louis Park, Minnesota where she was an active member of the Network of Progressive Educators.

In 1990 Mary discovered Wingra School, where she taught until 1997. After having children, Mary worked as a freelance writer and mother of two sons. Mary re-joined the Wingra Staff in 2006 in the role of program developer, helping to create a plan to inform, guide, and support Wingra’s leadership into the future.

Over the past 25 years, Mary has worked at Wingra School in many capacities: as a teacher of 10–14 year-olds; as a member of the leadership team; as a program developer; as the education director; as the Interim Head of Wingra School; and currently as the development director.

Kim Cotant

Nest Teacher, Ages 5 to 7, Room 100
Master of Literacy Studies, UW-Madison
B.S., Elementary Education (English), UW-Madison

Kim first joined the Wingra staff in 1986. Kim took a temporary Wingra leave to start a family and returned to Wingra in 1989, teaching 5–7 year olds, and she has been there ever since.

In addition to receiving her master’s degree in literary studies in 2006, she has also taken classes in phonics-based instruction such as Orton-Gillingham, Project Read, and Direct Instruction and has used these methods to tutor students privately. This year Kim completed an Earth Partnership class and attended the Summer Literacy Institute at Hamline University. She is currently taking an online class called Nature Journaling in the Classroom.

Kim has two children, both Wingra alumni. Her daughter graduated from St. Olaf College and works at a non-profit in Minneapolis. Her son graduated from Wesleyan University and works in financial sales in the Denver area.

Allen Cross

Sky Teacher, Ages 11 to 14, Room 202
B.S., Elementary Education, UW-Madison
B.A., Economics, Political Science, and Philosophy, UW-Madison

Allen has taught at Wingra School since 1988.

His interest in authentic interdisciplinary study has led to a National Science Foundation grant in 1991; a Keizai Koho Fellowship trip to Japan in 1992; a "Math in Context" institute in the Netherlands in 1995; and a five-week 2002 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship studying the historiography of the Industrial Revolution in Nottingham, England.

Allen presented his classroom action research work about democratic classrooms at the 2004 annual American Educator Research Conference and served as a discussant at the 2005 conference and has been a reviewer of proposals for AERA's Teacher research Special Interest Group for the last 7 years. He presented his findings about the sound culture of the classroom at the 2006 National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention, the 2007 AERA Conference, and at the 2008 University of Pennsylvania Annual Ethnography in Education Research Forum. He is looking forward to continuing in an arts-based research group this year where he will expand on his sound studies.

Allen participated in a collaborative teacher research project focusing on social justice education and took part in the presentation of their work at the 2007 AERA annual convention. Connie North's book about this collaboration, Teaching for Social Justice?, was published in 2008. Allen completed and presented his paper, "Communicating Well Over Common Texts: Furthering My Development in Democratic Forms of Adolescent Literacy Interventions" at the MMSD action research forum two years ago, and has served as a co-facilitator of the MMSD Cooperating Teachers Action Research group the last two years. Allen has been a participant in the UW's American Educators Forum since 2010 focusing on studying popular sovereignty and freedom and ways to make those topics come alive in schools.

Weslie Cymerman

Pond Teacher, Ages 7 to 9, Room 101
B.S., Elementary Education, Minor in Science, UW-Madison
Master's Certificate in Sustainability Leadership, Edgewood College

Weslie earned her degree in elementary education from UW-Madison and completed some of her student teaching at Wingra (with 9–11 year olds). Weslie then went to Namibia, Africa to work as a special education teacher for students ages 8–15. She returned in January 2009 and has been a part of the Wingra community ever since.

Weslie brings her knowledge of yoga and mindfulness to her teaching and daily work in the classroom. She earned her 200-hour yoga certification as well as a children's yoga certification. Weslie has a passion for and appreciation of nature, outdoor play, and exploration. With the help and support of many from the Wingra community (including students!), she worked for the creation of Wingra's outdoor classroom structure and finds as much time as she can to be outside with students. In the community, Weslie volunteers as a Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters, and has been with her little sister for 6 years.

Working in a progressive school allows Weslie the opportunities she needs to be responsive, to dive deep into integrated unit topics, to get to know students and families, and to collaborate with other awesome teachers. She loves her job and working in the Pond!

Emily Frederick

Sky Teacher, Ages 11 to 14, Room 200 & 202
B.S., Middle Childhood/Early Adolescence Education, Minor in Social Studies and Natural Science, UW-Milwaukee

Emily grew up in the small town of New London, Wisconsin, where she was introduced to a multi-age classroom environment. When she learned how her beliefs in education closely matched the philosophies of Wingra School, she was delighted to join the team. Emily felt it both inspiring and refreshing to learn that Wingra honored the whole child and the process of exploration and life-long learning.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in Education, Emily taught 8th grade English language arts, science and social studies at La Causa Charter School in Milwaukee.

Outside of teaching, Emily loves live music, traveling, biking, snowboarding, yoga, and cooking. 

Elizabeth Garcia

Administrative Secretary

Originally from Mexico City, Elizabeth has called Wisconsin home since 1993. Her daughters Priscilla and Katherine attended Wingra School for three years before she joined the staff in 2002.

Elizabeth wears many hats in her job - taking care of small injuries, supervising lunch, helping kids hunting down that lost mitten, reminding parents of their snack schedule - in addition to answering the phone, scheduling visitors, and keeping the Wingra staff on track. She enjoys working with children and is happy to be part of the Wingra community.

Aviv Kammay

Music Teacher, Ages 5 to 14, Room 104
Master of Music Education, Northwestern University
B.Ed., Music Education, Levinsky College of Education and Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music

Aviv is a music educator, Beatles scholar, and composer, born in Tel Aviv, Israel. He plays piano, guitar, and flute, and he has taught students in both Israel and the United States, ranging in age from pre-kindergarten to adults.

Aviv’s curricula at Wingra cover a wide range of musical skills: playing instruments, singing, listening, analyzing, and composing. His approach puts a special emphasis on musical creativity, and he creates space for children’s compositions of any style. Through his focus on creativity and collaboration, Aviv encourages, validates, and celebrates each child’s unique musical voice, drawing from his own experience as a composer and performer. A strong supporter of collaborative small ensembles as a foundation for musical and social growth, Aviv developed Wingra’s unique Rock and Jazz Band. In this program, he guides mixed-age groups of students as they prepare songs for concert performances.

In 2013 Aviv founded Get Back Wisconsin, Madison's Beatles cover band. His group has gained statewide recognition as an ensemble that specializes in studying the entire Beatles catalog and performing authentic re-creations of each song. Aviv presented his scholarly work on the music of the Beatles and its connection to progressive music education in 2014, representing Wingra School among the world’s most highly regarded Beatles scholars at the international academic Beatles conference at Penn State University in Altoona.

Since 2003 Aviv has been the music director at Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute, a Jewish summer camp in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, where he works in a unique, collaborative fine arts program with youth who have a special interest in musical exploration. Based on his work at camp, Aviv was selected to be a regular lecturer at the Jewish Artists Laboratory at UW-Madison’s Hillel center.

Aviv's compositions have been performed in Israel and the United States and have won him several awards, including the Guild of Temple Musicians 2009 Young Composer award. He lives on the East side of Madison with his wife, Parthy, their son, Noam, and their furry companion, Shmuely the cat.

Lisa Kass

Lake Teacher, Ages 9 to 11, Room 105
Master in Science Education (Personalized Learning), Concordia Teachers College
B.S., Elementary Education (Mathematics), University of Illinois

In 1972, while on an exchange program from the University of Illinois to Newton St. Loe College in Bath, England, Lisa student taught in an open classroom. It was there that she explored the philosophy of progressive education. Children were learning by doing and connecting with their interests. Students were learning from each other in multi-aged classrooms.

In the very same year, Wingra opened its doors to progressive education in Madison. This is why Lisa thoroughly enjoys teaching at Wingra. Her education motto is, “No two children learn in the same way, on the same day or at the same time.” Her greatest joy comes from creating new units on stimulating topics. She relishes implementing new approaches in teaching math and writing.

Lisa has been trained as a mentor for initial educators and is willing to work with them on their professional development plans. She was the co-facilitator for Clinical Associates, which worked closely with the UW- Madison School of Education. Lisa is actively involved with recruiting practicum and student teachers to Wingra. She has also participated in Action Research projects involving a study of math in an integrated curriculum and how to help pre-service teachers with classroom management.

Her pride and joy are her two children, Ben (an environmental lawyer) and Shana (1st grade teacher in Chicago Public Schools), and her husband, Irwin (attorney for U.S. Department of Labor).

When not at school, Lisa enjoys reading, walking, water aerobics and cheering on her beloved Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

Dawn Liska-Tollefson

Extended Day Program Coordinator
B.S., Elementary Education, Health Education, UW-Madison

Dawn’s first experience with Wingra School was as a student teacher in 2002. It was love at first sight. Dawn transitioned into a long-term substitute teacher before entrenching herself as a mainstay in the Sky program. Dawn took a brief hiatus from Wingra in 2007, moving to Seattle, Washington for a year with her husband, Dave. Upon deciding to start a family, they returned home, and Dawn has been a fixture at Wingra ever since. Her family has now grown to include three children, Jonah, Cooper, and Piper.

Dawn has taught at both the Sky and Pond levels. She will continue to coordinate the Extended Day Program, allowing her more time at home with her growing, loving, and energetic children. 

Prior to her time at Wingra, Dawn coordinated academic and recreational programming for at risk youth ages 5 to 14. When not at school, always active, Dawn can be found strolling, biking, roller blading, or even dancing through the neighborhood with her kids in tow, likely headed to one of Madison’s fabulous parks or libraries.

Debbie Millon

Head of School
Bachelor of Health Science, Physical Therapy, University of Miami
M.S., Biomedical Engineering, University of Vermont
dmillon@wingraschool.org

Over the past 20 years, Debbie has held a variety of roles both within the education world and beyond. A common thread through all of her experiences is a deep commitment to community building and engagement, authentic learning and living, and systems thinking and design. She is excited to continue weaving that thread as Wingra's Head of School.

Before joining Wingra in 2016, Debbie was the Head of School for 9 years at the Bellwether School, a holistic elementary school in Vermont that is closely aligned with Wingra’s educational philosophy. She also taught at Bellwether and worked as the operations manager prior to leading the school.

In the late 1990s, she served as the director of the PlayCare Center, a play-based preschool that celebrated children’s sense of wonder and curiosity. While working at the Mathematical Association of America in Washington, DC, Debbie collaborated with university professors to define novel teaching methods to strengthen mathematics achievement in minority high school students.  

Besides her work in education, Debbie and her husband, Aaron, a chef, opened and led a restaurant and bakery/market in Vermont. Both businesses were committed to local, artisan foods and farmers and educating consumers about the importance of supporting sustainable agricultural practices. She also worked in the field of biomechanics, designing prosthetics for children and studying Tai Chi gait in young and elderly adults.

Debbie is committed to using very simple human “technologies”—like listening, speaking from the heart, slowing down, breathing, and connecting to nature—in order to support authentic relationships, a deeper sense of self, an essential shift in consciousness, and aligned living practices. She enjoys exploring new ways to empower and inspire students and adults to gain awareness of themselves, others, and the world around them. Her guiding question: How do we create the conditions for everyone in our community to know that they belong, they matter, they are seen, and their perspectives and gifts are valued?

When not in school, Debbie might be found out in nature, reading, traveling, hiking, practicing yoga and meditation, or sometimes just being…and of course soaking in precious time with Aaron.

Andrea O'Brien

Lake Teacher, Ages 9 to 11
Technology Teacher, Ages 5 to 14
B.S., Elementary Education, UW-Eau Claire

Andrea was born and raised on her family potato farm in Plover, Wisconsin. She spent her time playing on school sport teams and reading books in the woods. She went to college at UW-Eau Claire and received her elementary education degree in December 2012.

Andrea first came to Wingra after researching integrated curriculum and progressive education. She loves the passion for learning that the Wingra community supports. In her student teaching semesters, she experienced how to use technology in the classroom. She plans to continue learning and using her experience to benefit her students.

Andrea loves to explore new areas by hiking, camping, and canoeing.

Kathy Oker

Sky Teacher, Ages 11 to 14, Room 200
B.S., Criminal Justice, University of Dayton
B.S., Elementary Education (grades 1 to 9), UW-Madison

Kathy is a firm believer in a progressive approach to education and has loved being a part of the Wingra community since 2000.

A native of Cincinnati, Kathy was educated at the University of Dayton and the University of Wisconsin. She spent eight years traveling the world with her husband, Dave, prior to joining the Wingra faculty. In addition to exploring the U.S. and Canada, the couple spent six months living in a tent in Australia and resided in Taiwan for two and half years, where they taught English.

Kathy considers herself a citizen scientist and a life-long learner. Teaching at Wingra allows her to ask questions and actively pursue an increased understanding of herself and the world each and every day. Kathy and Dave have three children, Willie, Leo, and Laurel.

Colleen Pardun

Nest Teacher, Ages 5 to 7, Room 100
Master of Education, Learning Community, UW-La Crosse
B.S., Elementary Education, Adaptive Education, UW-La Crosse

Colleen grew up in the north woods, battling mosquitoes and snowdrifts in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. After college in La Crosse, she taught 8- to 10-year-olds in Edgerton, Wisconsin. In Edgerton, she taught in a double room with a master educator as her mentor and friend. She earned her Masters in Education from the University of La Crosse during this time.

When it was time to make the move to Madison, Wingra was the only place Colleen wanted to be because the philosophy of the school so closely matched her own. Colleen has taught in several classrooms while at Wingra, including P.E. and the Pond (ages 7 to 9). She's taught in the Nest since 2014.

Sagan Pizzingrilli

Sky Teacher, Ages 11 to 14, Room 200 & 202
B.S., Elementary Education, UW-La Crosse

Sagan was born and raised in Madison and is excited to be returning to a city she calls home to join Wingra School. She graduated from UW-La Crosse with a degree in elementary education and a minor in English. Sagan believes that creating a strong community where creativity and originality are central elements is essential to the educational process. Sagan is pleased to be joining a school where the education is holistic and encourages the students to continue to learn from their everyday experiences.

While studying at UW-La Crosse, Sagan had the opportunity to study abroad for a semester in Botswana. Aside from taking her own classes and exploring a new culture, she volunteered at a primary school and taught English and agriculture to students of all ages. Sagan was also able to travel to Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia before returning to the United States.

Sagan's background also includes working with adolescents, ages 11 to 14, in a multi-age classroom with an integrated curriculum.

Sagan has spent the last four summers as a camp counselor exploring the woods, rivers, and lakes of northern Wisconsin and Michigan. In her free time Sagan enjoys listening to concerts at the Memorial Union, reading in her hammock, and staying active.

Amanda Pool

Spanish Teacher, Ages 5 to 14, Room 207
B.A., Italian, Smith College
M.A., Italian, Cornell University
Multiple Subject Credential with English Learner coursework, UC Davis
Education License, DPI

Before coming to Wingra, Amanda taught most recently in the Spanish Immersion classroom at Preschool of the Arts in Madison. She began her teaching career in 2001 with five years as a college lecturer in Italian. Wanting an even stronger connection with students, she chose to build her later career around working with younger learners. In 2007 she taught at a private K–5 international school in Copenhagen, Denmark. She served as the First Grade and Spanish Teacher for COVA Conservatory charter school in Oakland, CA, from 2009 to 2011. 

Amanda holds a Wisconsin teaching license for grades 1–8. She is close to completing Bilingual Certification through Edgewood College, and in 2014 received scores of Advanced-High on the ACTFL Spanish Oral and Written Proficiency Exams. She is a graduate of Smith College, Cornell University and UC Davis. 

Originally from Michigan, Amanda and her husband have traveled together to Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. They are delighted to be settled in Madison where he is a professor at the UW. They spend much of their free time renovating their first home, but Amanda also enjoys doing yoga and playing guitar.

Taylor Reeves

Physical Education Teacher, Ages 5 to 14, Room 203A
Extended Day Teacher

B.S. Exercise and Sport Science (Physical Education), University of Utah
Minor in Nutrition, University of Utah

Taylor grew up in Wyoming and attended college in Utah. He moved to Madison in 2014. He is excited to be part of the Wingra community.

He enjoys being around kids and teaching P.E. He hopes that he can be a good role model for how to live a healthy and active life. He believes physical activity is something that should be fun and done throughout a lifetime.

In his free time he enjoys hiking, playing sports, cooking, and reading.

Bonnie Schey

Business Manager, Room 203B

Since joining the Wingra School staff in 1988, Bonnie has enjoyed working in a place where she has daily contact with children. Watching performances at an all-school Follies or supervising kids in the lunchroom is a nice contrast to balancing the budget. While her background is in financial administration and benefits management, she has learned a great deal over the years about progressive education and wishes she could have gone to a school like Wingra when she was young.

Bonnie’s responsibilities cover all aspects of establishing and maintaining a fund accounting system and procedures to accommodate the changing financial needs of Wingra School. This includes developing yearly budgets for approval by the Board of Trustees, preparing monthly financial statements for the Board, staff, and faculty, and creating all needed year-end schedules for the annual audit. She processes a monthly payroll in addition to researching, updating, and maintaining compliance for the school’s employee benefits package.

Bonnie is strongly committed to making Wingra School affordable for as many families as possible and has overseen Wingra’s tuition assistance program since 1998.  She develops and updates the policies and procedures, assists families in the application process, and determines final awards in conjunction with the Head of School.

When she's not at Wingra, Bonnie spends her time working on house projects, digging in her garden, and relaxing with family and friends.

Tresi Smyth

Pond Teacher, Ages 7 to 9, Room 101
Post-Baccalaureate – Teacher Education, Edgewood College
B.A., Political Science and Psychology, UW-La Crosse

Tresi has been working in progressive schools for more than twenty-five years, happily teaching and learning among amazing contingents of children, colleagues, and families. Tresi first arrived at Wingra as a student teacher in 1991, and since that time she has worked with children of all different ages, and served as part of Wingra's leadership team. Tresi has also taught at a progressive independent school in Minnesota, and acted as a consultant for a progressive public charter school in Wisconsin.

Tresi remains equally enthusiastic whether thinking, reading, or talking about progressive education, or sharing the daily life of the classroom with children. Tresi recently worked with area educators as part of an Earth Partnership project at the UW Arboretum. This summer, she will complete and present her year-long research as part of a cohort in the Greater Madison Writing Project.

When she's not at Wingra, Tresi can be found spending time with her precious family and friends. She also loves to walk, read, write, cook, sing, travel, and talk on the phone.

Angie Sparks

Librarian and Network Administrator
Master of Library Science, School Library Media Centers, UW-Madison
B.S., Elementary Education, UW-Madison
B.S., Business (Marketing), Indiana University

Angie has worked at Wingra since 1989. Previously a classroom teacher of nine to eleven year olds, Angie began the Wingra Library and Technology Program in 1996 and oversees its growth of resources and services available to students, teachers, and families.

She loves collaborating with teachers and students at all levels to find ways to creatively integrate literature and library skills into classrooms units. She looks forward to using the library as a collection of "mentor texts" to support students as they write, illustrate, and publish their own books, some of which will be added to the Wingra Library collection.

Angie loves being creative (and organized!), her yoga practice and new-found golf practice, being a Little Free Library steward, and having fun with friends and family. She is delighted to be sharing a school with her Sky-aged daughter, Addison!

Rachel Weinberg

Admissions & Program Coordinator
UW-Madison School of Education
UW-Whitewater – School of Business

Rachel grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and has been a part of the Wingra School community since that time. She first set foot in our building at the age of two as a New Morning Nursery School student and then as a Wingra student.

Her educational and professional path brought her back to Wingra as a Student Teacher in the fall of 2010. Before earning her degree in Elementary Education from UW-Madison in 2011, Rachel graduated with a BBA in Marketing from UW-Whitewater and worked at Rayovac Corporation and the Onion Newspaper.

However, it was her position as owner, operator, and lead instructor of a martial arts academy in Middleton that led her to pursue a career as an educator. Rachel spent four years teaching in the Nest prior to moving into her current administrative role.

Rachel is committed to continuing her education and working to strengthen Wingra’s programming, social justice mission, and community connections. Since becoming a Wingra staff member, she has attended conferences and workshops in the areas of mathematics; Learning and the Brain: Neuroscience, Technology, and Outdoor Learning; the Wisconsin Public Educators Summer Summit; and most notably the Progressive Educators Network Conference: Access, Equity, and Activism: Teaching for Change.

In addition to working with children and teachers, Rachel enjoys being active outdoors, running, yoga, kayaking, camping, gardening, cooking, and solving puzzles.

Claire Weiss

Lake Teacher, Ages 9 to 11, Room 107
B.S., Special Education (Cognitive Disabilities), UW-Madison
B.S., Elementary Education, UW-Madison

Claire has been teaching with Lisa Kass in the Lake for 18 years, and with Andrea O'Brien for three. 

Before coming to Wingra in 1999, Claire taught special education at the middle and secondary levels, worked in Madison food co­ops, and spent time with her three children, who are now young adults. Claire lives in rural Mount Horeb with her husband.

Personal experiences with progressive education inspired Claire to teach at a school like Wingra. She attended an alternative school-within-a-school in Newton, MA for eighth and ninth grades. Never before had she encountered teachers who would accommodate her learning needs and preferences, including a science teacher who made space in his lab for her to have an individualized, somewhat self-directed science class. (One week he dumped a bag of cat bones on the table, with instructions to research a cat's body, assemble and draw the skeleton, and report on it.) She was allowed to spend an entire week puzzling out the parts of a cat's body, and the ways all its systems worked together, as she assembled its skeleton. She not only learned about biology but also that a teacher could trust a student to learn what she needed to learn to solve a problem. This early experience made Claire resolve to be a teacher and make a similar difference in her students' lives.

After high school, Claire took a four-year “gap year” to work in a local food coop. She then enrolled in the UW School of Education to complete a degree in Special Education. Later, she returned to add another BS in Elementary Education.

Claire has also vicariously experienced progressive education through her children, who have attended Malcolm Shabazz City School in Madison, an experimental multi-age elementary classroom in Mount Horeb, and The Putney School in Putney, Vermont. In each of these programs, Claire has observed inspired teachers enriching the education and lives of students at all age levels.

When not at school, Claire enjoys camping and hiking, reading, writing, cooking, and traveling. These pursuits have led her to study American Sign Language, Italian, Hebrew, and Chinese, and to travel to Italy and across Hong Kong and Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces in China.

When not traveling and writing, Claire soaks up professional development opportunities; in 2014, she was honored to participate in the Greater Madison Writing Project, the local cohort of the National Writing Project, which inspires teachers of writing. In the summer of 2016, she will be "paying it forward" by teaching at the Young Writers Camp.

Rebekah Young

Communications & Marketing Coordinator, Room 200A
B.A. and M.A., English, Iowa State University

Rebekah joined the Wingra staff in 2010. Wingra is a special place with an important mission, and she feels lucky to be part of the work here.

Before joining Wingra, Rebekah created online courses for continuing education students, served as the editor of an online teen magazine, and managed the website and print publications for the civil engineering department at Iowa State University.

When not working, Rebekah can be found playing tag with her son—a Ponder this year!—at one of Madison's fantastic parks, running along Lake Monona, or working on her book while sipping a latté at a local coffee shop.

Banner photo by Colleen Pardun Photography