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, befpre 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=longer learner and educator.
Lumei Huang is the Mandarin-language teacher for our kindergarten and multi-age (grades 3 and 4) classrooms. She is a native of China. 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.
Jiayi Chen is a Mandarin-language classroom teacher for grades 1 and 2. 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, an IB World School in Michigan, first as a Chinese language and culture teacher and then 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!"
Sarah Shaw has been with VAIS for three years. She is our global arts teacher and English-language multiage 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.
Kay Lera is the English teacher for grades 1 and 2. She brings an impressive background in education and came to the VAIS very highly recommended. Ms. Lera holds a master's degree in education and has had varied teaching experiences. Most recently, she taught in a 1/2 classroom at Country View Elementary in Verona. Her previous experiences include serving as a classroom K-3 teacher, an instructional technology specialist for K-5 educators, a library media specialist, an adjunct professor at James Madison University in Virginia, and as an online teacher for PBS TeacherLine. Ms. Lera is full of energy, loves being a teacher, and knows how to balance all the things that make for a great classroom experience: She is creative yet structured, fun yet firm, thinks organically but teaches systematically, and is truly tuned into the uniqueness and needs of each of her students.
Mandy Auger is the English-language teacher for the 2nd grade classroom. Prior to teaching 2nd grade, she taught the 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.
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 closes 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.
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.