Teachers and Staff

Kimberly Olson
Kimberly Olson - NDLC 4K Teacher

Kim is thrilled to teach 4K at New Directions.  Her previous teaching experience includes teaching kindergarten for six years in Oshkosh. During that time, she acquired valuable experience in developing early literacy skills and served for several years as a model classroom for best practices in literacy instruction.  As a passionate lifelong learner, she also completed my Master's degree in Applied Leadership in Teaching and Learning from the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay and was awarded a grant to travel through Asia to learn about the Hmong culture.  Kim looks forward to continuing to grow her knowledge and skills at New Directions and collaborating with colleagues and families to help each child reach his or her full potential. 

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Elly Hixon
Elly Hixon - NDLC 50% Kindergarten Grade Teacher and 50% Reading Specialist

Elly taught 4 year old kindergarten in Kaukauna for 7 years before joining the New Directions team.  Obtaining her Master's Degree in Reading Education from UW-Oshkosh has greatly impacted her experience in working with our youngest readers.  Elly has been to several reading and writing trainings at Columbia University's Teacher's College in New York. She believes young learners are incredibly intriguing and motivating and looks forward to instilling a love of learning in each one of her students. Working in a collaborative environment while learning from colleagues and creating a community of teachers, learners and families are just two of the things Elly is most looking forward to this year at New Directions.

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Molly Santkuyl
Molly Santkuyl - NDLC Kindergarten Grade Teacher

Molly is thrilled to be teaching Kindergarten at New Directions! She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point with a major in Early Childhood Education and minors in Special Education, Spanish, and Teaching English as a Second Language. She has received reading training at Columbia University and looks forward to continued professional development. Having grown up in the Fox Valley area, Molly is happy to working in the Kaukauna community!  She is excited to work collaboratively with New Directions staff and families to create the ideal opportunities for her students and provide for their needs in the best possible way.

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Samantha Schmalzer
Samantha Schmalzer - NDLC 1st Grade Teacher

Samantha is so excited to be a part of the New Directions family! She went to St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI and majored in Early Childhood/Elementary Education.  She has taught for the past four years (kindergarten, third grade, and first grade) and is THRILLED to be teaching first grade again next year! Samantha enjoys spending time with family and friends, being active, reading, and cheering on the Brewers and Packers! She plans to enjoy a relaxing summer outside, but is looking forward to a year full of lots of learning and adventure.  She can't wait to see what the year has in store for her and her class!

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Kathy Van Offeren
Kathy Van Offeren - NDLC 1st Grade Teacher

Kathy was a reading specialist at Electa Quinney Elementary where she collaborated with and suppored teachers in literacy instruction in their classrooms. She received her Master's Degree in Reading Education from UW Oshkosh and recently received National Board Certification in Literacy: Reading and Language Arts. Kathy has attended several reading and writing institutes at Columbia University (NY). Before becoming a Reading Specialist, Kathy taught 1st and 2nd grade. Together with her colleague Autumn Steif, she has provided numerous professional development trainings to teachers within, as well as outside of the Kaukauna Area School District. She believes that students reach their greatest learning potential when they are a part of a supportive community where their ideas are valued and their voices are heard.

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Molly Mares
Molly Mares - NDLC 50% Kindergarten Teacher

Molly comes to New Directions from LEARN Charter School Network in Chicago. It was there that Molly fell in love with the concept of a charter school being a school choice for families. Molly has attended multiple reading, writing, and coaching institutes at Columbia University in New York and is in the process of obtaining her Master's Degree from UW-Oshkosh in Educational Leadership. She values meeting each student's individual needs to help them grow and exceed expectations at their own level. She enjoys being involved of a community of learners as she continues to learn from her students each day. Molly is excited to work closely with her students, families, and colleagues to create the best learning experience for each child. Molly has taught both kindergarten and first grade at New Directions and is thrilled to partner with her colleague, Elly Hixon, in co-teaching this school year.

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Lisa O'Brien
Lisa O'Brien - NDLC 2nd Grade Teacher

Lisa has worked with the families of Kaukauna for the past 15 years at both the 2nd and 4th grade levels. She is strongly committed to integrating literacy across the curriculum and in providing opportunities to differentiate instruction for students based on their abilities, backgrounds, learning styles and interests. She believes that each child is a unique individual who needs a secure, caring, and stimulating atmosphere in which to grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially. It is her desire as an educator to help students meet their fullest potential in these areas by providing an environment that is safe, supports risk-taking, and invites a sharing of ideas. Lisa believes that a positive attitude is contagious and she strives to build upon the unique qualities of each of the students in her classroom.

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Emily Linton
Emily Linton - NDLC 3rd Grade Teacher

Emily is looking forward to another great year at New Directions. She is originally from Indiana, which is where she received her Bachelors degree in Elementary Education and an additional license in Reading at Indiana University. Emily just came back from a week long reading institute through the Teachers College at Columbia University and is excited to implement new and innovative teaching ideas into her classroom. She strives to foster a safe and collaborative learning environment where students can excel and grow each day.

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Courtney Kabara
Courtney Kabara - NDLC 3rd Grade Teacher

Courtney Kabara is very excited to begin her second year as a third grade teacher at New Directions Learning Community. She has attended multiple reading trainings at Columbia University in New York. She grew up on a dairy farm in Pulaski, WI as part of a large family. Courtney can't wait to help each child at NDLC grow as a learner and to learn from them as well. She loves the family involvement at NDLC and can't wait to work with all of you! She is so excited to be a part of New Directions and the Kaukauna Community.

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Stephanie Streck
Stephanie Streck - NDLC 4th Grade Teacher

Stephanie has had experience teaching 2nd and 4th grade. Stephanie feels that 9 and 10 year olds hold more excitement and wonder about real life situations than anyone she knows. Teaching 4th graders is always a treat! Stephanie is excited to be a part of a charter school that focuses on the individual child.  Seeing each child grow at their pace is very rewarding for her. She plans to foster students independence and curiosity through hands on learning in every subject area. Stephanie plans to work hard with her students to develop the skills needed to become lifelong learners. Stephanie is originally from Kimberly, but moved to Kaukauna a few years ago with her husband, Kraig, their daughter Lyla, their son Kole and a lab named Reed.

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Barbara Graunke
Barbara Graunke - NDLC 4th Grade Teacher

Barbara brings 16 years of teaching experience to New Directions. She taught first grade, Kindergarten and Pre- K. She believes that students can learn from each other. She consistently encourages her students to "think outside the box" and provides them a safe environment to explain their thinking. She feels strongly that growing and learning as a teacher enables her to nurture students and challenge them to always do their best. Barbara is trained in reading, writing and content-area workshops through the Teachers College at Columbia University. She has also attended coaching training and looks forward to continued professional development opportunities at New Directions.

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Autumn Steif
Autumn Steif - NDLC Reading Specialist

Autumn has taught 2nd and 5th grade before getting her Master's Degree in Reading Education from UW-Oshkosh. She was a Reading Specialist at River View and then a 3rd grade teacher at NDLC.  She is currently a Reading Specialist where she works with teachers and students to lift the level of reading and writing instruction and learning. Autumn has been trained at Columbia University (NY) in Reading, Writing, and School Reform. She has been instrumental in developing both reading and writing curriculum and facilitating teacher training for the Kaukauna Area School District. Autumn has had the honor of collaborating with her colleague, Kathy Van Offeren, to not only train teachers within the District, but also around the state through workshops, academies, and conferences. She believes that literacy is at the core of everything we do and that children benefit most when their teachers constantly seek to outgrow themselves professionally.

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