Barbara Drake is our school director. She provides instructional and management leadership in the development and implementation of all educational programs for students, and the evaluation and professional development of staff. Prior to joining VAIS, Ms. Drake was a school administrator for 11 years in the Chicago area and, before that, for 10 years in Minnesota. Prior to her administration experience, Ms. Drake was a school social worker and Program Coordinator for the K-12 learner-at-risk program in St. Charles, MN. She received her Doctor of Education in education policy and administration from University of Minnesota. She is a life-long learner and educator.
Mandy Auger is the English-language teacher for the 2nd grade classroom. Prior to teaching 2nd grade, she taught in our multi-age classroom. She teaches English language arts and social studies. Before coming to VAIS, she taught at the elementary level for six years in Janesville, Wisconsin. She has a master's degree in professional education development with an emphasis in guided reading and writing.
Jiayi Chen is a Mandarin-language classroom teacher for grades 2 and 3. She hails from Zhuhai in southern China and came to the U.S. in 2010 after receiving her bachelor's degree in language and literature at Sun Yat-Sen University in China. She earned her master's degree in curriculum and teaching at Michigan State University while also earning her K-12 Chinese teaching certificate. Before joining VAIS, Ms. Chen taught at Post Oak Magnet Elementary in Michigan as a 3rd-grade Chinese immersion teacher. She also taught online Chinese for high school students via the Michigan Virtual High School and the Confucius Institute at Michigan State University. "I am committed to Chinese immersion teaching," she says, "because I love to see the growth of each child in a challenging yet engaging Chinese-language environment!"
Lois Corning is one of the team teachers for grades 3/4/5. She teaches English Language Arts and math. Prior to joining VAIS, Mrs. Corning taught grade 4 in the Mt. Horeb School District for 8 years. She received her BS in Elementary Education from the UW Madison. Mrs. Corning's passion as a teacher is to breed a love of learning in her students by guiding them to be self directed learners. Differentiated lessons, cooperative learning, Gardner's Multiple Intelligences, centers, and gradual release are a few of the many strategies she uses to achieve this goal.
Kim Feller-Janus is our part-time reading specialist. Her job at VAIS is to ensure that all of the students are provided with a balanced literacy curriculum as well as a personalized literacy plan. She works closely with the classroom teachers to help support their needs as they pertain to literacy and the state's Common Core Standards. She also team-teaches, models lessons, and works with small groups and individuals with reading and writing and goals.
Lumei Huang is the Mandarin-language teacher for our kindergarten and grade 1 classrooms. Previously she taught Mandarin for VAIS' multi-age class as well. Ms. Huang holds a B.A. in law from Nanging University of Finance and Economics, where her minor was Chinese literature. She received her MA in teaching and curriculum from Michigan State University in 2013. Prior to receiving her formal teacher certification, she providedChinese-language tutoring and taught Chinese language and culture in various school settings for several years.
Tammy Holtan Arnol is our guidance counselor. She has 10 years of experience as an elementary guidance counselor and is also a trainer in the Nurtured Heart Approach, which inspires appropriate behaviors in students by energizing children when things are “going right”, and providing them with first-hand experiences of being respectful, responsible, thoughtful, considerate and capable. Prior to joining VAIS she was a guidance counselor for Country View Elementary School in the VASD and a French teacher for 8 years at both the Verona Area High School and Badger Ridge Middle School.
Kay Lera is our English teacher for kindergarten and Grade 1. The 2014-15 school year will be her fourth year teaching at VAIS. Previously, she served for 12 years as a classroom teacher in K-3 (all subjects), 5 years as a technology integration coach for educators teaching grades K-8 and one year as an elementary school librarian. Recently, she has participated in an on-line course about "Personal Learning". Ms. Lera is beginning her journey as an educator on transitioning from the pedagogy of differentiation to that of teaching using a more personalized learning approach and how to make it work with young learners in grades kindergarten and first. She looks forward to working with the VAIS learning community to make the Personalized Learning approach successful within our unique, learning environment.
Sarah Shaw has been with VAIS for three years. She is our global arts teacher and English-language 3/4/5 team teacher. As global arts teacher, she is a beloved part of the week for all VAIS kids, providing them with an array of art, music, and physical-education activities that draw upon cultures from around the world. Ms. Shaw received her BS in communication sciences and disorders from UW-Eau Claire in 2006 and earned her teaching license through Alverno College in Milwaukee in 2009. Prior to joining VAIS, she taught 4th- and 5th-grade math for two years in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District. Ms. Shaw is a talented flautist and plays the flute in the Milwaukee American Legion band. She has been directing musicals with children in grades 2-8 for six years.
Leilei Song returns to VAIS after taking two years of to complete her elementary teaching certification at Cardinal Stritch University. She is the Mandarin-language teacher in our multi-age class. Ms. Song also holds a Masters of Arts in Math with concentration in computer science from Eastern Michigan University. Previsouly she taught the Mandarin portion of the day in Kindergarten at VAIS for 3 years. She is excited to be back in the classroom!