Meet our Teachers

Meet Our Teachers

Iowa Virtual Academy (IAVA) teachers are among the best in the state for distance learning. They consider themselves partners in your children's education and are available every school day to help you and your children through any challenges you may face. Here are the highly qualified teachers you'll get to know at IAVA.

Holly Callas-Sullivan, K-4 Special Education

Holly Callas_Sullivan

Mrs. Callas-Sullivan joined the IAVA team in October of 2019. She is a Kindergarten through Eighth Grade Special Education teacher. Before teaching for K12 she worked in the brick and mortar setting for 13 years. She has a wide background, teaching in multiple settings and ages over her years as a teacher, including preschool, kindergarten, 1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade general education and K-8 special education. Mrs. Callas-Sullivan obtained her Associate of Arts and Business Management Degrees from Indian Hills Community College. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education from Buena Vista University and her Master of Arts in Teaching, specializing in Special Education, from Morningside University. Her passion in education is helping 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, 5-8 Special Education

Janice Brattvet

Ms. Brattvet has been working in education for 8 years now, at the high school and collegiate levels. She previously taught high school math and special education. The 20-21 school year is 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. Ms. Brattvet loves working with this age group of students and seeing their excitement for learning and growing! Outside of teaching, she has a fun, busy family as her children are 5, 7 and 9 years old and is always active with school, sports and playing! “Her favorite aspect to being a special education teacher is the relationships she gets to build with her amazing students and being able to watch them find their own successes and wins!”

Janell Pottorf, 9-12 Special Education

Janell Pottorf

2020 is Ms. Pottorff’s first year with IAVA and first online teaching position. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Concordia University, St. Paul and her Master's degree in Special Education from the University of Missouri - St. Louis. She is currently working on her Master’s in educational administration to obtain her Principal and Special Education Supervisor endorsements from Northwestern College. Ms. Pottorff has 10 years teaching experience in Special Education, and School Counseling.

Her philosophy, when it comes to teaching, is to never give up on her students. Every student is unique and has their own talents and strengths. She strongly believes relationships are the foundation of education, and her goal is to build strong, trusting relationships with her students, parents, guardians, and learning coaches. She works closely with students to teach them valuable study skills, and her goal is for each of her students to gain a love of learning and to leave her classroom with a renewed sense of confidence and capability. She believes every student wants to succeed and is capable of success in the classroom, and it is her job to empower them to success.

She recently moved back to her hometown in Iowa and is enjoying living close to family. She loves to travel and spend time with her two boxers, Atticus and Scout. She has loved horses since birth and has two American Saddlebred horses that she shows competitively.

Debbie Camp, 9-12 Special Education

Debbie Camp

Mrs. Camp 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 here, she was 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. Mrs. Camp loves spending time with her family, including grandchildren, and enjoys being outdoors. She is enjoying teaching online and especially likes the one-on-one relationships that she has opportunity to build with students. Her greatest joy at work is seeing students succeed.

Taryn Nelson, Kindergarten Teacher

Taryn_Nelson

Mrs. Nelson has been teaching kindergarten for 3 years. She began her first year with IAVA in 2020. Mrs. Nelson earned her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Upper Iowa University. She is currently working on earning her Master’s in Special Education from Morningside College. The best part of teaching kindergarten for Mrs. Nelson is getting to start a child’s education journey. “She enjoys watching the kids light up when they learn something new! “

Natalie Henkel, 1st Grade Teacher

Natalie Henkel

Mrs. Henkel is a first-grade teacher at IAVA. This is her 4th year working at a school and her third state. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Wartburg college in Waverly, Iowa. She holds certificates in Early Childhood, Elementary Education, and a Reading Specialist for K-8 grades. Mrs. Henkel loves spending time with her family, outdoors, and cooking. She enjoys having fun in the classroom and believes that every student can learn.

Jamie Benda, 2nd Grade Teacher

Jamie Benda

Ms. Benda joined the IAVA team in 2020. She has 6 years of teaching experience, but this is her first virtual teaching experience. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree 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 in the outdoors, hiking, traveling, being creative, and spending time with family

Emily Stevens, 3rd Grade Teacher

Emily Stevens

Mrs. Stevens joined the IAVA team in 2017. She brings four years of experience in education and has a Bachelor of Arts degree 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, Mrs. Stevens enjoys spending time with family, outdoor adventures, and reading. Her favorite part about teaching is seeing students succeed and being proud of their work. Mrs. Steven's goal as a teacher is to make learning fun and life lasting. She likes being able to deliver engaging lessons from home to students at their home.

Tory Holloway, 4th Grade Teacher

Tory Holloway

Mrs. Holloway (Mrs. H) began teaching 4th grade for IAVA in 2020. Prior to teaching with IAVA she taught virtually for 3 years and spent several years substitute teaching in her local districts. Mrs. Holloway is originally from Missouri but has called central Iowa home since 2018. She earned her AA degree at Ozarks Technical College, and her BA degree in Elementary Education from Western Governors University. Mrs. Holloway enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters, camping, boating, and reading. 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 and encouragement. She enjoys being able to educate students in the online platform because she has the opportunity to work with other teachers and students from all over the state.

Shea Hill, 5th Grade Teacher

Shea Hill

Mrs. Hill brings 9 years of teaching experience to Iowa Virtual Academy. She received her undergraduate degree in Communication Studies from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, IA. She then went back to school for teaching and received a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education with a 5-12 reading endorsement as well as endorsements in middle school math, science, and language arts. Mrs. Hill received her master's degree in teaching with an ESL endorsement from Morningside College in Sioux City, IA. Outside of teaching she enjoys spending time with her family which includes her husband Jason and two daughters, Elle and Harlow. Mrs. Hill strives to build meaningful relationships with all her students and hopes to make a lifelong impact on their learning.

Aaron Hoekstra, 6-8th History/Social Studies Teacher

Aaron Hoekstra

Mr. Hoekstra is a secondary history and social studies teacher who joined the Iowa Virtual Academy team in 2019. He grew up in Alton, Iowa which is approximately forty miles northeast of Sioux City. Mr. Hoekstra graduated from Northwestern College (Orange City, Iowa) with a history major and secondary teaching endorsement. Before teaching at the Iowa Virtual Academy, 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, SD. He enjoys teaching engaging lessons and making learning history fun! Mr. Hoekstra enjoys teaching connections between the past and students’ lives. He believes all students can be successful and enjoys helping students reach their potential.

Cathy Pearlman, 6-8th ELA Teacher

Cathy Pearlman

Mrs. Pearlman is the IAVA middle school English Language Arts teacher. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. She completed in-person student teaching and earned her Master of Arts in Teaching English Education, Secondary from Western Governors University, an online school out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Mrs. Pearlman has eight years of in-person school experience as a pre-k to 8th grade associate and two years as a substitute teacher. In her free time, she enjoys journaling and reading, teaching yoga, and camping with her family. She loved her personal online learning experiences and is excited to build relationships with her students. Mrs. Pearlman believes reading, writing, and lively discussions are priorities in the classroom and looks forward to creating a space for students to think and write critically while learning to collaborate online with each other.

Karen Zuercher, 6-8th Math Teacher

Karen Zuercher

Mrs. Zuercher has been in education for over 22 years. She started in education as an early childhood associate working with students that had a variety of 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 Mrs. Zuercher 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. Mrs. Zuercher holds a standard K-6 teaching license with a K-8 math endorsement, K-8 reading endorsement, 5-8 Algebra for High School credit. One thing that Mrs. Zuercher likes about online teaching is getting to meet students from around the state, and planning field trip, when possible, so that she can meet them in person.

Bryce Wulfekuhle, 6-8th Health/Science Teacher

Bryce Wulfekuhle

Mr. Wulfekuhle is the 6th-8th Health/Science Teacher for Iowa Virtual Academy. He received his Teaching License from Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa. Mr. Wulfekuhle has been teaching since the school year after graduation, and substitute taught 2 years before then. Aside from teaching, Mr. Wulfekuhle 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 towards seeing his students achieve success at every opportunity.

Sarah Schildmeier, High School Science Teacher

Sarah Schildmeier

Mrs. Schildmeier (affectionately known as Mrs. S) joined IAVA in 2019. She earned her BS in Zoology/Physiology from the University of Wyoming and her MA in Teaching, Elementary Education K-8 from Western Governors University. She holds endorsements in K-6 Teacher Elementary Classroom, Science K-8- Basic, and 5-12 All Science. K12/Stride has been a part of Mrs. Schildmeier’s life long before she began teaching with IAVA. She is a learning coach for her three children. This role began in 2012 when her oldest entered Kindergarten. She believes so much in everything that K12/Stride stands for with their students that she made it a goal to finish her teaching program in order to teach for them. Mrs. Schildmeier has a wide range of teaching experiences extending from preschool to college. Her favorite, hands down, is teaching secondary science, especially things relating to astronomy, meteorology, forensics, and biology. Mrs. Schildmeier enjoys decorating cakes, reading books, watching her kids competitively dance and play baseball, watching movies as a family, and is a self-proclaimed nerd! What she likes best about K12/Stride is the ability to personalize education and meet the students where they currently are in a safe, fun environment. She enjoys finding different ways to explain the same thing to help with student understanding and is known to throw M&Ms into analogies as often as possible. She also is passionate about helping new learning coaches to navigate the world of IAVA.

Renee Mente, High School Science Teacher

Renee Mente

Mrs. Mente is a secondary science teacher who joined IAVA in 2013. Renee earned her BA from the University of Iowa, and her Masters of Arts in Teaching from St. Ambrose University. She has been active in her community and church being on many committees and project planning events. Renee has endorsements in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Physical Science, General Science, and All Science. Mrs. Mente especially enjoys the small group or individual class connects because of the focused time to address those individual questions. I love those "AHA" moments where it just clicks with the students!

Joanna McCoskey, Social Science Teacher

Joanna McCoskey

Mrs. Stevens joined the IAVA team in 2017. She brings four years of experience in education and has a Bachelor of Arts degree 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, Mrs. Stevens enjoys spending time with family, outdoor adventures, and reading. Her favorite part about teaching is seeing students succeed and being proud of their work. Mrs. Steven's goal as a teacher is to make learning fun and life lasting. She likes being able to deliver engaging lessons from home to students at their home.

Patrick Beyer, Social Science Teacher

Patrick Beyer

Mr. Beyer joined the Iowa Virtual Academy team in 2013. He received his teaching degree from Morningside College and his master's degree from Wayne State College. He is certified to teach all the social studies curriculum in the State of Iowa. Mr. Beyer believes that the online environment creates awesome opportunities for students that are seeking a more self-paced study environment and also creates a safe place for students to share their own thoughts while exploring new ideas.

Charity Moss, High School Math Teacher

Charity Moss

Mrs. Moss is one of our high school mathematics teachers. She joined the IAVA team in 2016. She currently resides in Connecticut with her husband and 3 dogs. She has taught in South Carolina, Arizona, and Iowa over the past 15 years. Mrs. Moss earned her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Mathematics Education from Maranatha Baptist Bible College, and a Master's Degree in Divergent Learning from Columbia College (SC). She works closely with students, parents, educators, and administrators to provide the best possible educational experience so that students become lifelong learners. She finds the student community at IAVA to be very close knit. So much so, that the students are beginning to love helping each other, which really demonstrates their knowledge of the material. It's truly incredible.

Andrea McBeth, High School Math Teacher

Andrea McBeth

Mrs. McBeth 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 an overall quality educational experience. Success for her students is her number one priority.

Lesley Louder, High School Language Arts Teacher

Lesley Louder

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.

Kate Burnett, High School Language Arts Teacher

Kate Burnett

Ms. Burnette is a high school English and Language Arts teacher. She started her first year with Iowa Virtual Academy and K12/Stride in 2019. She was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona and moved to Iowa to play college volleyball and tennis. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education and English from Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. Ms. Burnette taught 6th, 7th and 8th grade in Des Moines for four years. She took a break to enlist in the Army National Guard in 2016 and is a proud soldier! Ms. Burnette appreciates online learning because it provides a safe opportunity for students to learn who did not feel successful in an on campus setting.

Robert Hampton, Business and Technology Teacher

Robert Hampton

Robert Hampton II is a teacher that has been employed in the field of education on a full time or a part time basis every year since 2008. Mr. Hampton is certified to teach Business Education/Technologies 5-12 in Iowa and Georgia. He has been teaching with K12/Stride since 2012 and he has earned an Associate of Science in Business Administration, a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration: Organizational Management and a Master of Arts in Teaching. Mr. Hampton 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 Teacher

Krista Reeder

Mrs. Reeder is a 7-12 Music Teacher who joined the Iowa Virtual Academy team in 2016. Mrs. Reeder 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 5-12 concert, marching, pep, and jazz bands, color guard, K-6 general music, 7-8th grade music and technology, and private music studio lessons. She holds K-12 classroom music, instrumental music, and vocal music licenses in both Iowa and Minnesota. In addition to her work at IAVA, Mrs. Reeder is a full-time educator at a brick and mortar 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. Mrs. Reeder appreciates the flexibility online learning offers for family and students to continue to receive an outstanding, rigorous, and challenging education but meeting the many needs of learning and family structures that exist.

Catherine Shaughnessy, Health and Physical Education Teacher

Catherine Shaughnessy

Mrs. Shaughnessy joined the IAVA team in 2014. She brings to the table over 9 years of experience in education as well as 10 plus 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, NY, and is thrilled to meet and engage with students through the virtual platform! Mrs. Shaughnessy feels that online learning provides freedom and flexibility for students to progress and navigate through the course. It allows students to review material as needed and move at a learning pace that is suitable and successful for them. She also likes the ability to interact with students on their time and in a way that is and can be comforting to all learners.

Cynda Hopper, High School Art Teacher

Cynda Hopper

Ms. Hopper 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 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. She would also like to express how important communication is to the online educational process. Student success is very important to Ms. Hopper. She looks forward to the opportunity to enhance student lives every day. When words fail - Art speaks.