Meet Our Staff

Katrina Pionek

Katrina Pionek

Program Leader & Teacher

Meet Katrina Pionek

I am Katrina Pionek and I’m the Between the Lakes Virtual Academy’s Program Leader and Local Mentor/Teacher. I love working with students and their families to find a personal education plan that works for each individual student. I currently live on a dairy farm with my husband and two kids. I enjoy watching my kids play sports, perform in theater, and show their animals at the fair. My favorite pastime is watching the Green Bay Packers.

Alice Wanty

Alice Wanty

Teacher

Meet Alice Wanty

My name is Alice Wanty and I will be teaching middle school Language Arts and math for Between the Lakes. I am a middle and high school math and English teacher. I have been teaching since 1994, and I have a masters degree in computer science.

When I am not teaching, I love spending time with my family kayaking, fishing, hiking, skiing, and having adventures, learning about the natural world around me.  I live in a rural unincorporated town of Charlesburg, Wisconsin.

When I am forced to be inside, I enjoy going to libraries or museums and researching random topics.  Some of my favorite topics are: plants and weeds that can be used for food or medicine, how to build solar panels, weird facts about historical events and people that aren’t taught in school, and how to make art out of junk.  I want to learn more about electrical circuits and soldering of all kinds, and I would love to start my own maker space.  I also enjoy all things Star Wars, Legos, and games of all kinds.

I look forward to working with you and finding out what inspires you to learn!

Olivia Durant

Olivia Durant

Teacher

Meet Olivia Durant

My name is Olivia Durant. I’m so excited to serve you as an educator for Between the Lakes Virtual Academy where I will be teaching grades 3, 4 and 5. I’ve been teaching for seven years. Most recently, I taught grades 4-8 in a talented and gifted school for four years before moving to the online/virtual classroom this past year.  I live in Kansas with my husband, two children and our Goldendoodle, Piper. We love to spend time with family, travel and participate in any outdoor activities. I’m looking forward to meeting you and learning alongside you and your family this school year!

Jess Gruenke

Jess Gruenke

Teacher

Meet Jess Gruenke

Hello and welcome to Between the Lakes Virtual Academy! I am Jess Gruenke, The 6-8th grade science, and social studies teacher.   My goal is to ensure that students reach their full potential, embrace challenges, and connect with others.

I am a National Board Certified Teacher, and I  also completed my Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. My WI certification is in General Ed. (k-8) and Special Education (k-12). I worked as a high school Special Education teacher for three years in Vancouver, WA, and then nine more years at Kiel High School before I changed paths to open a yoga studio and stay home with my daughter to homeschool her.

Teaching mindfulness to students, tutoring elementary kids, and mentoring teachers keep me connected to student learning. Now, I am excited to return to a “classroom” with you.

My husband, daughter, dog, and I all enjoy finding new adventures and experiences.

Lastly, together we are going to make it a great year!

Jennifer Heritsch

Jennifer Heritsch

Teacher

Meet Jennifer Heritsch

Hi! My name is Jennifer Heritsch and I’m the 4K-2nd grade teacher at Between the Lakes Virtual Academy. This year starts my 16th year teaching early childhood and elementary education and my 2nd year fully virtual. I’m a Wisconsin native and a proud alumni of UW-Milwaukee. Go Panthers!

I live in Stoughton, WI with my husband, Paul and our seven children, MJ, Eleanor, Oliver, Theodore, Ameleia, Julian and Penelope! We have a 10 acre hobby farm with a variety of animals.

I also enjoy coffee, suspense novels and all things vintage!

Bridget August

Bridget August

Teacher

Meet Bridget August

My name is Bridget August and I’m excited to be a 7th Grade teacher at Between the Lakes Virtual Academy.  I have over 26 years of experience teaching at both the elementary and middle school levels. In addition to teaching for BTLVA, I hold the position of reading specialist/interventionist at Kiel Middle School.

I received my education through the University of Wisconsin – Madison and Cardinal Stritch University.  Currently, I am pursuing a certificate as a Structured Literacy-Dyslexia Interventionist.    I live in the Kiel community with my husband and daughters. I have a passion for helping students become lifelong readers. When I’m not at school you’ll likely find me cheering on my daughters at their sporting events, reading, scrapbooking, walking, or traveling.   I am excited to work with parents and students as we explore the academic world of 7th Grade.

Rita Lilyquist

Rita Lilyquist

4K-8 Teacher Liaison

Meet Rita Lilyquist

My name is Rita Lilyquist.  I received my Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education (grades 1-9) with a minor in English from Lakeland University.  I have 25 years experience teaching grades K-8 both in public and private schools and my own children via homeschooling.  I have spent the past four years as an Online/Virtual Teacher.  I look forward to meeting you and your family and assisting in this journey! I reside in Plymouth with my husband, two children, and a goldendoodle named Bentley.  When I’m not teaching, you will find me attending local high school sporting events, playing board games with my family, trekking along on the Ice Age Trail, or cheering on the Bucks, Packers, and Brewers.

Our Mission

It is the mission of the Between the Lakes Virtual Academy to provide student access to a challenging, high-quality, curriculum, in a flexible home environment. The Between the Lakes Virtual Academy provides a standards-based, online or blended instructional program through a personalized learning approach.