Meet our team
Meet Our Teachers
Iowa Virtual Academy's (IAVA's) teachers are passionate about inspiring our students to achieve great things.
Holly Callas-Sullivan | Grades K–4 Special Education
Holly joined the IAVA team in October of 2019. Before teaching for IAVA, she worked in the brick-and-mortar setting for 13 years. She has broad experience teaching in a variety of settings for multiple ages, including preschool, kindergarten, grades 1, 3, 5–8 as well as K–8 special education. Holly earned her Associate of Arts and business management degrees from Indian Hills Community College. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Buena Vista University and her Master of Arts in teaching, specializing in special education, from Morningside University. Her passion is to help all students learn and be successful in school and in life. She enjoys spending her free time with her husband, son, and daughter.
Janice Brattvet | Grades 5–8 Special Education
Janice has worked in education for 8 years at the high school and collegiate levels. She previously taught high school math and special education. School year 2020–2021 was her first year at IAVA working with 4th–8th grade students as a special education teacher. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in math and secondary education from St. Ambrose University and her Master of Arts in education in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix. Janice loves working with students at this age group and seeing their excitement to learn and grow! Outside of teaching, she has a fun, busy family with children ages 5, 7, and 9 who are always active with school, sports, and playing! Her favorite part of being a special education teacher is building relationships with her amazing students and watching them find their own successes and wins!
Debbie Camp | High School Special Education
Debbie joined the IAVA team in August 2019 as a high school special education teacher. She earned her bachelor's degree in education from Western Illinois University. She and her family moved from Illinois to Iowa in 1995. Her Iowa teaching license includes endorsements in elementary education and in special education for grades 5–12. Prior to teaching at IAVA, she taught in a brick-and-mortar setting for many years. She has been a junior high school language arts teacher, a high school special education teacher, and a substitute for almost every subject. Debbie loves spending time with her family, including grandchildren, and enjoys being outdoors. She is enjoying teaching online and especially likes the one-to-one relationships she builds with students. Her greatest joy is seeing students succeed.
Taryn Nelson | Kindergarten
Taryn has been teaching kindergarten for three years. She began her first year with IAVA in 2020. Taryn earned her bachelor's degree in early childhood education from Upper Iowa University. She is currently working on earning her master's degree in special education from Morningside College. For Taryn, the best part of teaching kindergarten is helping children start their education journey. She enjoys watching the kids light up when they learn something new!
Veronica Acosta | Grade 1
Mrs. Acosta has been working in education for 14 years. She has experience teaching in both online and in a brick-and-mortar setting. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education K-6 from Dordt University. She loves building relationships with her students and is passionate about helping students develop their potential.
Jamie Walk | Grade 2
Jamie joined the IAVA team in 2020. She has six years of teaching experience, and this is her first virtual teaching experience. She received a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from the University of Northern Iowa. She loves creating a safe and positive learning environment where students can be themselves and showcase their creativity. In addition to teaching, she enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, traveling, being creative, and spending time with family.
Emily Stevens | Grade 3
Emily joined the IAVA team in 2017. She brings four years of experience in education and has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Northern Iowa. She is currently studying curriculum, assessment, and STEM for her master's degree from Adams State University. Besides teaching, Emily enjoys spending time with family, outdoor adventures, and reading. Her favorite part about teaching is seeing students succeed and being proud of their work. Emily's goal as a teacher is to make learning fun and inspire students to become lifelong learners. She likes being able to deliver engaging lessons to students at their home.
Tory Holloway | Grade 4
Mrs. Holloway began teaching at Iowa Virtual Academy in 2020 and absolutely loves it. Prior to teaching for IAVA she spent three years teaching virtually and substitute teaching in her local districts. She lives on a small farm with her husband and two daughters--and several animals. In her free time, she likes to read, watch the Kansas City Chiefs, follow her girls to all their activities, take care of her animals, and travel. Her favorite thing about teaching is the "lightbulb moment" when students learn something new. Mrs. Holloway's goal as a teacher is to instill confidence in her students through love, humor, and encouragement. She enjoys being able to educate students in the virtual platform because she has the opportunity to build relationships with students and teachers all over the state.
Shea Hill | Grade 5
Shea brings nine years of teaching experience to IAVA. She received her undergraduate degree in communication studies from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She went back to school for teaching and received a bachelor's degree in elementary education with a reading endorsement for grades 5–12 as well as endorsements in middle school math, science, and language arts. Shea received her master's degree in teaching with an ESL endorsement from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. Outside of teaching she enjoys spending time with her family, which includes her husband Jason and two daughters, Elle and Harlow. Shea strives to build meaningful relationships with all her students and hopes to make a lifelong impact on their learning.
Aaron Hoekstra | Middle School History/Social Studies
Aaron is a secondary history and social studies teacher who joined the IAVA team in 2019. He grew up in Alton, Iowa, which is approximately forty miles northeast of Sioux City. Aaron graduated from Northwestern College (Orange City, Iowa) with a history major and secondary teaching endorsement. Before teaching at IAVA, he taught secondary history and social studies at a private school in Sioux City for four years and substitute taught for two years in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He enjoys teaching engaging lessons and making learning history fun! He also enjoys creating connections between the past and students' lives. He believes all students can be successful and enjoys helping students reach their potential.
Karen Zuercher | Middle School Math Teacher
Karen has been in education for more than 22 years. She started in education as an early childhood associate working with students with learning disabilities. She continued her associate assignment for another 13 years working with 8th-grade students. This inspired her to continue her education and in December of 2012, she received her teaching license from Grand Canyon University. Most of her education was done online, so she knows about the struggles and advantages of online learning. She began teaching at IAVA in 2014. Karen holds a standard K–6 teaching license with a K–8 math endorsement, K–8 reading endorsement, and 5–8 algebra for high school credit. One thing Karen likes about online teaching is getting to meet students from around the state and when possible planning field trips to meet them in person.
Bryce Wulfekuhle | Middle School Health/Science Teacher
Bryce teaches middle school health/science. He received his teaching license from Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa. He has been teaching since he graduated and substitute taught two years before then. Aside from teaching, Bryce enjoys going on camping trips, fishing, and playing disc golf with family and friends. He is focused on the well-being of his students and strives to see them achieve success at every opportunity.
Theresa Hart | Middle School ELA Teacher
Mrs. Hart has been in education for over eight years, and she was excited to begin the 2021-2022 school year at Iowa Virtual Academy. She grew up in the Chicago suburbs and graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in Education. Then she began working as an educational associate with elementary and middle school children. Next, she taught English Language Arts to middle school students for two years. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and five children. Mrs. Hart is looking forward to helping her students be successful in school.
Michelle Murguia | 8th Grade / High School Science Teacher
Mrs. Murguia (she/her) is originally from Tucson, AZ. where she studied plants and bugs at the University of Arizona. She earned a teaching degree from Saint Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. She values fostering curiosity and helping students to understand the world by doing science. When Mrs. Murguia is not teaching, she enjoys hiking, traveling to see family, gardening, quilting, doing yoga and meditation, and hiking with her husband and her dog.
Renee Mente | High School Science
Renee is a secondary science teacher who joined IAVA in 2013. She earned her BA from the University of Iowa, and her Master of Arts in teaching from St. Ambrose University. She stays active in her community and church by serving on committees and at project planning events. Renee has endorsements in biology, chemistry, physics, physical science, general science, and all science. Renee especially enjoys small group and individual Class Connects at IAVA because of the focused time she has to address individual questions. She loves those "Aha!" moments where learning clicks with the students!
Peter Lyon | High School History Teacher
Mr. Lyon is a secondary History and Social Studies teacher. The 21-22 SY was Mr. Lyon’s first year as full-time teacher as well as his first year at IAVA. He spent the previous three years substitute teaching in local districts at all grades and subjects. He grew up in Maquoketa, Iowa and currently resides in Oelwein, IA with his wife and new baby. He graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in History and then Upper Iowa University with a 5-12 All Social Studies endorsement. In his free time, he enjoys writing, visiting Civil War monuments and making maps. He hopes to make History as interesting for students as it is for him.
Dr. Kerris Dillon | High School History Teacher
Dr. Dillon has been teaching for 19 years. She has taught Psychology, Sociology, U.S. History, Government, Economics, Geography, and World History. Dr. Dillon thoroughly enjoys teaching and currently lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with her husband and two sons. She has one daughter who has “officially left the nest” and loves being a mother. In her free time, Dr. Dillon loves to visit historical sites and enjoys sharing her adventures with her friends and family.
Andrea McBeth | High School Math
Andrea joined the IAVA team in 2020. She currently resides in the southeastern portion of Iowa. She has taught math and computer science for 37 years in Texas and Iowa. She earned her bachelor's degree in secondary mathematics and physical education from Houston Baptist University where she was awarded a full division 1 golf scholarship. She earned her master's degree in computer science in education from the University of Northern Iowa. She desires to always work closely with students, parents, staff, and administrators to provide a high-quality educational experience. Success for her students is her number one priority.
Sarah Fortin | High School Math Teacher
Mrs. Fortin is our newest High School Mathematics teacher. A native Minnesotan, she moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa in 2014 where she enjoys spending her free time volunteering with Scouts BSA and Girl Scouts, camping, fishing, hiking, traveling, and generally being out in the wilderness. Her favorite things to do are going on adventures, learning new things, and making memories with her kids. Mrs. Fortin has an AA and AS from Cottey College in Nevada, MO, a BS in Geology from Iowa State University, and a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN. Not only is she a former Middle School science teacher, but for the past 9 years she has been a Stride learning coach for her 2 children. She strongly believes that every student can succeed if given the proper tools and opportunities and loves being able to help students reach their goals. Student success is always number one in her classroom, and she constantly endeavors to provide a safe learning environment with fun, personable and engaging lessons for all her students.
JoAnne Morenz | High School Language Arts Teacher
Mrs. Morenz has been in education since 1986. She earned her bachelor's degree from Buena Vista University and her master's degree from Iowa State University. She has previously served as a 9-12th grade English teacher, teaching all levels including IWCC Honors Early Start classes for composition 1 and 2. Mrs. Morenz has also served as a PK-12 principal. She believes working with online education is an opportunity to bring a high expectation experience to the needs of all the learners.
Lesley Louder | High School Language Arts Teacher
Mrs. Louder is a new teacher to online learning and IAVA. She joined the academy in 2020 after her family moved to the mid-west from the east coast this summer. She has taught for 15 years but really began teaching at five years old in her living room to her favorite stuffed animals. She loves to find out about her students’ passions and to empower them as learners. Technology is something she enjoys integrating into lessons blended with traditional methods. She is excited to teach in this new way and to help all her students’ success to the best of their abilities! Mrs. Louder previously taught high school English, mainly 11th grade, AP Language and Composition, 10th grade, and Journalism, for fourteen years. She was an Elementary Teacher Librarian for 1 year. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of Information at Rutgers University.
Robert Hampton | Business and Technology
Robert has served as a teacher full-time or part-time since 2008. He is certified to teach business education/technologies 5–12 in Iowa and Georgia. He has been teaching with Stride K12 since 2012. Robert holds an Associate of Science in business administration, a Bachelor of Science in business administration: organizational management, and a Master of Arts in teaching. He taught middle school and high school in a brick-and-mortar setting from 2008–2013. He loves having the opportunity to serve students through technological platforms that continually evolve and provide new opportunities to advance educational outcomes and experiences for students and teachers.
Krista Reeder | Music
Krista joined the IAVA team in 2016 and teaches music for grades 7–12. She earned her bachelor's degree from Waldorf University and completed her master's coursework from the University of St. Thomas. She has taught a variety of music concentrations since beginning her career in 2007, including grades 5–12 concert, marching, pep, and jazz bands, color guard, K–6 general music, grades 7–8 music and technology, and private music studio lessons. She holds K–12 classroom music, instrumental music, and vocal music licenses in Iowa and Minnesota. In addition to her work at IAVA, Krista is a full-time educator at a brick-and-mortar school in Minnesota, operates a private music lesson studio, teaches dance, and is music director and organist for her church. The traditional classroom is ever changing and evolving. Krista appreciates the flexibility online learning offers for students to receive an outstanding, rigorous, and challenging education while meeting the needs and within the structure of all kinds of families.
Catherine Shaughnessy | Health and Physical Education
Catherine joined the IAVA team in 2014. She brings more than nine years of experience in education as well as more than 10 years of coaching experience. She earned a BA in communication from Pennsylvania State University and an MS in education from Canisius College. She resides just outside of Buffalo, New York, and is thrilled to meet and engage with students through the virtual platform! Catherine feels that online learning provides freedom and flexibility for students to progress and navigate through their courses. It allows students to review material as needed and move at a learning pace suitable to their success. She also likes the freedom to interact with students on their time and in a way that makes them feel comfortable.
Cynda Hopper | High School Art
Cynda has been teaching for an incredible 20 years. She has taught multiple subject areas in fine arts from the history of art to advanced medium, her favorite being advanced sculpture. "Art is the root of human nature and is fascinating!" She has a passion for education and helping people succeed! She looks forward to getting to know her students and helping them through their adventure into the realm of art. Student success is very important to Cynda and she recognizes the role excellent communication plays in the online educational process. She looks forward to the opportunity to enhance students' lives every day. "When words fail, art speaks."