Thomas D. Stocks III joined SJNA as chief financial officer in August 2018 and was elected as the 17th president of the Academy effective April 1, 2019. Previously, he founded Elston Capital Partners, LLC (ECP), in 2011. Prior to forming ECP, he was a managing director with Starboard Capital Partners, LLC. His earlier experience includes operating experience as the CEO of The Park Corporation, investing and capital raising at The Buckingham Group and Trivest, Inc., as well as several years of financial experience including three CFO positions in middle market companies and earlier junior positions at Fortune 500 companies.
He attended Wabash College and holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is a 1969 graduate of St. John’s Military Academy as well as a former member of the SJNA Board of Trustees and chair of the finance committee.
Eric Wozniak earned a Ph.D. in leadership for the advancement of learning and service from Cardinal Stritch University. He also holds two master’s degrees, one from Carroll University in teaching and learning and another from Marian University of Fond du Lac in educational technology. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education (broadfield science and chemistry) from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is also a Wisconsin Certified Online Teacher. Additionally, he graduated from the Milwaukee Safety Academy as a Wisconsin certified police officer. He joined SJNA in 1996 as a classroom teacher and has taught physical science, environmental science, algebra, computer programming, web design, physics, honors physics, and AP physics. In addition to teaching and coaching, he has served the Academy as director of technology, ISACS accreditation coordinator, and academic dean. His research interests are focused on organizational learning, leadership development, and the future of education.
Executive Assistant to the Headmaster
Sandy Staffeldt joined SJNA in July 2012 as administrative assistant to the dean of Academics. She has more than 30 years of business and administration experience in insurance, tax business and technology. Most recently, she was the executive assistant to the president for both a restaurant and technology company.
Chief Financial Officer
Jeffery Grant is serving as chief financial officer. His primary role will include providing leadership in support of financial activities, practices, integrity, and performance.
He also serves as an adjunct faculty member within the accounting program at Lakeland University. His professional background includes a blend of both for profit and non-profit organizations for many industries as well as in public accounting at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Previously, he served in the chief financial officer and vice president roles at Kenosha Community Health Center, Milwaukee Center for Independence, and Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.
He is a CPA and holds both a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting and a Master of Science in taxation from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He also earned his insurance and securities licenses.
Kim has 20+ years of experience working within mid-large size corporations as well as advising companies as an HR consultant. Her background includes a wide spectrum of HR disciplines, such as strategic planning, talent management, learning and development, employee relations, compensation, recruitment, change management, and employment law compliance. She holds a Master’s degree in Human Resources and a Master’s degree in Teaching. She is also a WI DPI-certified teacher.
Marketing and Communications
Chief Marketing Officer
Valerie Ward is the Chief Marketing Officer for SJNA. She has primary responsibility for the creation, development and oversight of the school’s branding, marketing, advertising, publications and public relations strategies across multiple platforms.
Valerie holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Marketing from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI. During her 25+ year career in traditional and online marketing, Valerie has amassed a unique blend of industry experience working within Fortune 50, sole-proprietor, educational, religious and non-profit organizations.
The Ward family has substantial experience with the Academy, with four family members attending. As a result, she personally understands the decision process a parent goes through in deciding to entrust their child to our Academy and the benefits of an SJNA education.
Melissa Bishop joined SJNA in April 2019. She brings a wide range of experience in sales, marketing and public relations in the business sector, television and music industries. She has a Bachelor of Science in marketing from Butler University in Indiana. As a parent of a cadet, she brings firsthand knowledge and understanding of the process of finding the best school for your child.
Digital Marketing Specialist
Stephanie Ihler became interested in both teaching and second language acquisition after studying and living in Japan for four years. She subsequently went on to earn her teaching credentials and is currently licensed to teach secondary ESL, Japanese and English in the states of Arizona, Indiana and Wisconsin. She joined the SJNA faculty in the summer of 2010.
Lynette Ahlgren started working for the Academy in the spring of 2000 assisting in the library and managing the archives. In the fall of 2008, she became the administrative assistant in the academic office. She is the recipient of the 2005 Nita Farrand Staff Excellence Award.
Scott joined St. John’s Northwestern Academies in the fall of 1991. He earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and a Master of Science in entomology from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. In 1997 he was selected by his peers to receive the Roy F. Farrand Excellence in Teaching Award. Scott also coaches track and conducts hunter safety classes. Prior to teaching he spent six seasons as a forest technician with the U.S. Forest Service in Montana. In addition, he has worked for the National Park Service as a cave guide at Jewel Cave National Monument. When not teaching Scott enjoys wandering the wild lands of America.
College Counselor & Spanish Instructor
Heidi Beck Curtes
Heidi Beck joined SJNA in August 2018 as a Spanish instructor and college counselor. For the past 20 years, she has worked with the Latino community in the greater Milwaukee area and is currently president of the Hispanic Collaborative Network. She spends a great deal of her time empowering and supporting the Latino community. She is excited to help students pragmatically learn about the culture and language of Spanish speaking people. Her education includes an MA in Spanish from Marquette University, a BA in Spanish and Latin American studies from UW-Madison, and a minor from Carroll University in secondary education.
Jon Bennett graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a degree in history and broad field of social sciences. He has taught in both private and public schools. In addition to teaching, he coaches baseball.
Chinese Instructor/Director of Asian Affairs
Ping Yao Braatz earned her Master of Science degree in mathematics at Southern Illinois University, a master’s degree of computer science at Dalian University of Technology in China, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in computer science and applications at Northeastern University in China. She has resided in the United States since 1997. She teaches Chinese at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and also has experience teaching math and computer science at the college level.
1993 Alumnus of the University of Dayton with a BS in Environmental Engineering Technology and BS in Industrial Engineering Technology, started teaching chemistry in 2004 after working 10 years in the environmental permitting and consulting field.
Dan Brill joined SJNA in the fall of 2017 as drumming instructor of The Pipes and Drums of SJNA, working with the bagpipe instructor. As a full-time professional musician and drumming teacher, he performs with several national and international touring rock bands. He also serves as Drum Sergeant for the Chicago Highlanders Pipe Band on parade and in competition throughout the Midwest. With over 15 years of experience and having studied at Columbia College Chicago, he enjoys passing on theoretical tools, musical knowledge and practical technique to his many dedicated drumming students.
Study Skills and Math Instructor/TLC Support
Marla Collins graduated in 2010 from Lee University in Tennessee with a degree in special education mild/moderate disabilities K-12 and minor in Bible. She played basketball all four years of college and earned a full-tuition basketball scholarship. She began her teaching career in Nashville, Tennessee, at Cheatham County High School, and taught there from 2010-2014. She moved to Wisconsin and continued her teaching career in the School District of New Berlin at Eisenhower Middle/High School from 2014-2017. She joined SJNA in June 2017.
Conrad Jorgensen joined SJNA in 2007 as director of the SJNA Band after completing tenure in Central Wisconsin’s Weyauwega-Fremont School District where he spent 16 years developing a successful band program. He studied trumpet extensively while he was a student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree, and has been a professional trumpet player throughout Wisconsin since 1987. In 2015, he became the golf head coach.
Director of Military Operations
LTC Jim Kebisek, U.S. Army (Ret.), earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin and a Master of Science from Florida Tech. Upon retirement from the military in 1993 as an Army Corps of Engineer Officer, he joined the Academy and assumed the position of JROTC Senior Army Instructor. In addition to teaching and managing the leadership training program of the academy, LTC Kebisek was the camp director of Camp St. John’s Northwestern from its establishment in 1995 until 2010.
Ann-Christin Kloth joined SJNA in August 2010 as German Instructor. She was born and raised in Germany and moved to the United States in 2007. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Engineering from the University of Applied Science in Stuttgart, Germany. After working with diverse companies in customer service and sales as an executive, she decided to change her career to become a full-time riding instructor, founding her own business in 2005. Teaching has been always her passion and she has 35 years of teaching experience in various settings. She teaches German online at UWM Milwaukee and serves at SJNA as Foreign Language department chair.
Anita Lemperger joined SJNA in 2011 for the first time to teach ESL classes to international cadets during the Academic OPS program. She graduated from the University of Veszprem, Hungary, with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. In 2019, she received her master’s diploma in curriculum and instruction from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin. She also holds a reading teaching license from the State of Wisconsin. She was awarded the Outstanding Educator Award by the Mequon-Thiensville School District where she worked as a district ESL specialist between 2009 and 2019. She worked with students from various language and cultural backgrounds.
Director of the Totzke Learning Center
Mrs. Mauer has been with the Academy since October 2016. Prior to coming to St. John’s Northwestern, Mrs. Mauer taught in the Wisconsin public schools for 29 years, teaching in a variety of grade levels. She is also a parent of a SJNMA 2011 graduate. Her favorite part of being at St John’s Northwestern is building relationships with the students in order to help them succeed and thrive in their environment.
Charles Miller has been teaching at SJNA since 1993. He has a master’s degree in education, Bachelor of Science degrees in engineering and applied mathematics, and an associate’s degree in financial planning. He holds two state teaching licenses. He served 10 years in the United States Air Force, three of which were as an instructor. His military decorations include the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Air Force Achievement Medal. He teaches Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Personal Finance, and is the chess coach at the Academy.
Social Studies Instructor
Dave Muse received a Master of Arts in history from Marquette University in 2007, finished a Graduate Teacher Program in 2013 and received his Master of Science in education in 2015. He taught English in northern China from 2007-2008, and has taught face-to-face and online history courses at several universities over the last ten years. Prior to teaching, he worked as an assistant manager for a catering company for several years.
David Pederson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education and English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, after eight years of service in both the U.S. Army and National Guard, and service in Operation Desert Storm. In 2011, he received a master’s in curriculum and instruction from UW-Milwaukee and currently teaches a course in children’s and young adult literature there. He was awarded the Outstanding First Year Teacher Award for the state of Wisconsin by the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English Language Arts for the 2005-2006 school year, and was recognized for inclusion in the 2006 edition of “Who’s Who Among American Teachers and Educators.” At SJNA, he previously served as an English teacher at the middle school level, the Middle School Department chair and yearbook advisor.
Bagpipe Instructor, Librarian and Archives Manager
Ben Peterson has an academic background in the humanities and the library science fields. His undergraduate studies, specifically in regards to their emphasis on research, encouraged him to pursue his graduate work in library sciences. Throughout his graduate studies, and for some time following, he worked as an archivist for the Black Metropolis Research Consortium. His focus there was on the processing, accessibility and organization of historical collections from the Black Diaspora of the Chicago area. Prior to joining SJNA in the fall of 2019, he spent five years working in healthcare talent acquisition in Chicago. He began his work in this area as a corporate researcher and eventually moved into a role as a recruiter. He began his study of bagpipes at the age of nine. Since that time, he has advanced his skills as both a solo competitor and performer as well as having a great focus on competitive band performance. He has been competitive since the age of 11, and has been actively involved with solo instruction and band leadership since he was 15. Outside of his instructional role at SJNA, he also provides solo instruction both in person and virtually as well as teaches group and band workshops, and is currently the Pipe Major of the Greater Midwest Pipe Band based out of Battle Creek, Michigan.
Jon Pickelmann earned his bachelor’s degree from Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin, and his master’s degree from Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska. He became a member of the SJNA staff in 2019 starting with Summer OPS. He has nearly 20 years of experience in teaching and school administration, and is a volunteer firefighter.
Social Studies Instructor
Gregory Prospero graduated from Marquette University with a major in history and a minor in education. He spent six months studying abroad at Loyola University Rome Campus in Italy. He received a master’s in education curriculum and instruction from National Louis University. He has teaching experiences in both religious studies and history for over 26 years in both private and public high schools. He joined SJNA in August 2018.
COL Robert Roehrkasse, Ph.D., is director of cadet advancement and the Mathematics Department chair. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, and a Master of Science degree and Doctorate degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a graduate of the United States Air Force Air War College, and has served as an interim commandant and dean at SJMA. He has taught at the United States Air Force Academy as well as other baccalaureate, graduate, community and technical colleges. He also served as a research associate at the University of Chicago, and has published 11 professional papers. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in September 1991 after 26 years of service. At the Military Airlift Command, he provided analysis of airlift operations in direct support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. His decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal with one device, the Air Force Commendation Medal with one device, and the National Defense Service Medal with one device.
Ed Scharf joined the faculty of SJNA in fall 2013. He teaches two engineering courses, physics, and AP Physics 1. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1973. After having spent five years in the Infantry Branch of the United States Army and 33 years on his family dairy farm, he obtained his teaching certification through Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. He spent two years teaching chemistry at a private Catholic high school in Fond du Lac and one year at Mayville Public High School teaching algebra before joining SJNA.
Jon Schmidt is the head of the physical education, strength and conditioning department. He received his Bachelor of Science in education in health, human performance and recreation from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a minor in coaching/management in 2010. At UWW, he was an NCAA All-American in wrestling as well as an Academic All-American. He is a certified strength and conditioning coach through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, a Level 2 advanced sports performance coach through USA Weightlifting, and has been coaching college, high school and youth wrestling since 2008.
Social Studies Instructor
Timothy Shramek earned his Bachelor of Science degree in education with a major in Broadfield Social Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 1998. He joined SJNA in 1999, and teaches American Government, world history and geography.
Perry Siebers earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carroll College in Waukesha in 1981, and a Master of Science degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1992. He joined the English faculty at SJNA in 1981 and today, is the English Department chair. He also coaches prep soccer, basketball and varsity tennis.
Michael Stadler began teaching at SJNA in summer 2013. He earned Bachelor’s degrees in English and Secondary Education at Coastal Carolina University, and is certified in online education. He teaches American Studies Honors English and English 10, and has coached varsity baseball since 2015.
SFC Michael Trione, U.S. Army (Ret.), is an instructor with the JROTC program. He is a 21-year veteran of active duty service including Desert Storm. During his Army career as an Infantry soldier, he served as a team leader through platoon sergeant. He also completed numerous military schools, including Air Assault, Airborne, Rappel Master, Sniper, Recruiting and Drill Sergeant. He joined the Academy in August 2007, shortly before his retirement from the military. He has a Bachelor of Science in organizational leadership from Colorado State University.
I am entering my 26 year of teaching in which 25 of those years have been teaching mathematics at St. John’s Northwestern. I received my Bachelor’s Degree Secondary Mathematics Education from the University of South Dakota and received my Masters’ Degree in Mathematics Education from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh. This year, I am teaching Geometry, Honors Geometry and Honors Trigonometry / Pre – Calculus.
Director of Athletics
Mike Fink earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater along with a masters in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix. Joining SJNA in July 2018, he brings 35 years of experience in the education field. His experiences include special education teacher, lead educator at Kettle Moraine’s off-campus alternative school, dean of students, and 18 years as activities director. He has spent his last 28 years at Kettle Moraine High School. He has coached numerous sports including baseball, basketball, girls fastpitch for 22 years, and football for 25 years.
Kyla T. Erickson
Kyla Erickson earned her Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics at Wheaton College, Illinois and is certified to teach in the state of Wisconsin. She has taught high school mathematics in both private and public settings since 2011 and joined the staff at SJNA in the fall of 2020. In addition, she has owned and run a small business, Vagabonde Bags, since 2003 and has enjoyed playing piano in many settings throughout the years.
Amy Karsten earned her Bachelor’s Degree in professional communication at Alverno College in Milwaukee, a Master’s Degree in education at Carroll University in Waukesha, and is currently working toward a Master’s Degree in school counseling at Concordia University in Mequon. She is an adjunct instructor in the communication and technology division at Alverno College. At St. John’s Northwestern Leadership Academy, she has taught English and Technology classes. Before becoming a teacher, she worked for ten years in marketing and graphic design and was a co-owner of a small marketing agency in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.
Eloisa Palacios was born and raised in Sonora, Mexico. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Hispanic Literature and a Master Degree in Education. She has been certified as a B2 in German by the ÖSD. She was an English and German teacher at Universidad de Sonora and at Instituto Tecnológico de Hermosillo in Sonora, Mexico. She moved to the United States in 2018 and joined SJNA in August 2020.
Robert Geiger graduated from UW-Madison with a BS in Agriculture in 1988 specializing in both Horticulture and Plant Sciences. He spent six years working in the field of landscaping as a designer and plant procurement specialist for two major landscape firms in SE WI. He then started and owned and operated a design-build landscape firm for 12 years also serving SE WI. While owning his business he began attending Cardinal Stritch University in 2000 to obtain his teaching certification. He received his M.Ed. from Cardinal Stritch in 2001. He holds four WI teaching licenses in the field of science. He previously taught at Grafton High School in WI for 18 years in the science department instructing courses in Biology, Earth Science, AP Environmental Science, Regular Environmental Science, Zoology/Botany, and Geology and Earth Systems. He joined SJNA in August 2020.
After earning her degree in Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin Platteville, Heidi continued with graduate courses in Art Education at Carroll University. She has an emphasis in graphic design and marketing. She studied the traditional form of mosaic art in Italy at the Ravenna Mosaic School of Art. Heidi has extensive knowledge and experience teaching fine arts to adults with disabilities. She continues her involvement with art education through on-line courses and participates regularly in art retreats while creating mixed media projects at home.
Dean of Admissions
Paul Borens brings 21 years experience in admissions and financial aid. He was director/dean of admissions at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) for 10 years, then served as director of financial aid and dean of admissions for two years at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. His career continued at Ruffalo Noel Levitz, Inc., as a senior consultant in financial aid services working with colleges and universities across the country on enrollment and revenue management. After seven years as a consultant, he returned to MSOE to lead the STEM and Project Lead the Way department for two years. During his career, he has also been a high school girls basketball and boys track and field coach in his hometown of Marshfield, Wisconsin, and an assistant womens basketball coach at MSOE for four seasons.
Zachary Borens joined SJNA in July of 2019. He brings a wide range of enrollment experience that stems from being well versed in athletic recruiting as well as higher education enrollment management. He has a bachelor’s degree of science in history from Indiana State University where he was a four-year member of the Sycamore football team.
SFC Itzia Fernandez enlisted in the California Army National Guard in July of 2003 as a human resources specialist. She then transferred to the Vermont Army National Guard in 2004 where she worked as a human resources sergeant. In 2009, she deployed to Afghanistan for 14 months in support of Operation Enduring Freedom working as a human resources sergeant, and also serving as the brigade commander’s enlisted executive assistant. After the deployment, she joined the 124th Regional Training Institute as an instructor for the Basic Leader Course and the Common Faculty Development Instructor Course. In 2017, she was selected to deploy to Kuwait in support of Operation Spartan Shield as a senior small group leader for the Basic Leader Course. In 2018, she joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard and serves as a senior instructor and course manager with the 426th Regional Training Institute located in FT. McCoy, Wisconsin.
Administrative Assistant of Enrollment
Diane Meixelsperger started as an administrative assistant for the enrollment office in October 2018. She worked previously as an executive secretary and office manager in the construction industry for 29 years. She is excited to be working at SJNA to be able to put her skills to work in a different industry and to start a fulfilling career working with students and families.
Joe Sevenz graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. His teaching certification includes English, social studies and physical education. He has taught at various grade levels and in a variety of school settings including parochial, public and boarding. He initially taught at the Academy from 1980 to 1985, and left to spend the next 20 years in business. Upon retirement, he returned to SJNA in 2007 as a barracks manager and became an enrollment counselor in July 2010.
Advancement and Alumni
Dean of Advancement
Stephen Matz joined St. John’s Northwestern Academies in 2014. For almost a decade, he has worked to advance philanthropic initiatives through his work in fundraising, alumni engagement, events, marketing, and strategic planning in the area of education and health services. His career in advancement began in 2010 in higher education as the director of alumni and parent relations at Marian University. His volunteer work in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society led to his role as their director of development where the primary responsibility focused on constituent engagement and consultation for fundraising events like Walk MS and Bike MS.
Prior to his work in the non-profit sector, he spent the better part of the early 2000s working in various marketing roles in the pharmaceutical and real estate industries.
He holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration degree from Marian University and boasts a certification in fundraising management from the Lily School of Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
In addition to his primary role at the Academy, he joined the SJNA basketball coaching staff in 2015 and enjoys the opportunity to work with the students and share his passion for the game having competed at the college level himself.
Director of Major Gifts
Duane Rutherford joined SJNA in 2005 as director of Enrollment Services with extensive experience in the military school field. He began his career at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Virginia. While at Massanutten from 1994 to 2002, he served as a resident faculty officer, senior resident faculty officer, middle school drill and ceremony instructor, dorm parent, and deputy commandant. In 1998, he was promoted to director of admissions, and in September 2002, was director of admissions at St. John’s Military School in Salina, Kansas.
Director of Donor Relations
Cindy Trione has more than 20 years of experience in development. She manages the Academy’s fundraising activities (The Excalibur, Cadet Phonathon, etc.), all stewardship functions, and the daily operations of the development office. Prior to joining the Academy in July 2007, she worked in the Office of Advancement at Knox College, a four-year liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, and in the Development Office at Missouri University of Science and Technology. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies from the University of Illinois.
Patti Zager has over eight years experience in office administration and most recently served as office manager and executive assistant at Waste Management Healthcare Solutions in Germantown, Wisconsin. She also worked in advertising and public relations at Frankenberry, Laughlin & Constable. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in political science with minors in mass communication and American history from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In the mid-1970s, she was a cheerleader at SJMA. She teaches hand knitting classes at Cream City Yarn in Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Commandant/Special Projects Coordinator
CMSgt Steven Schweiss, USAF (Ret.), joined the staff of SJNA in June 2012 as a resident faculty officer, responsible for the morale, discipline and welfare of cadets in his company. In June 2015, he became the special projects coordinator for the Academy. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in May 2012 after 31 years of active military service. He served the first four years of his enlistment in the USAF Security Forces (Military Police) and retired in May 2012 after 27 years as a Career Enlisted Aviator flying on the KC-135 In-Flight Refueling Tanker. He is a qualified Combat Flight Instructor/Evaluator for the In-Flight Refueling Technician career field. He graduated with honors from the USAF Leadership School and Non-Commissioned Officer Academy. His final three years of service were as the In-Flight Refueling Program Manager and Chief Boom Operator for the 128th Air Refueling Wing. In this role he was responsible for the management and training of all the unit’s enlisted aviators along with advising the Wing Commander on all matters concerning aerial refueling and cargo/troop airlift procedures. He deployed to various locations in support of all major military and humanitarian operations over the last 30 years to include both Gulf Wars, Kosovo, post 9/11 Operations, Hurricane Katrina Relief Operations, and the 2011 air campaign in Libya. His military decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, and Global War on Terrorism Medal.
Dean of Students
Chris Bielizna earned his Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies with a focus on Comparative Politics from Wesleyan University and his BA from Bard College in Creative Writing / Languages and Literature. His eclectic twenty-year career in independent education as a: teacher, dean, coach, advisor, division head, consultant, leader and mentor has been rewarding and formative. Chris is invigorated by the prospect of using his skill set to walk alongside young adults on their journey of self-discovery. As an administrator, he is grateful that he is able to, not only, put processes in place to better his student’s living and learning environment, but also, solicit their feedback, work with them in those systems, and get to know what is best for them collectively and, especially, individually. Chris has a deep appreciation for the kind of learning that takes place outside (and inside) the classroom and strives to create and implement programming for students to develop themselves. He is pleased and excited to be joining the St. John’s Northwestern Academies team.
Brandon LaVictor earned a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education from Northern Michigan University in 2005, and a Master of Education degree in teaching and learning from Carroll University in 2010. He served eight years in the United States Military, as a Special Intelligence Communication Operator in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in Japan and Washington, D.C., and as a Bridge Crewmember in the Michigan Army National Guard. He has been awarded numerous military awards including the Navy Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the State of Michigan Broadsword Medal for Good Conduct. He joined SJNA at the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year.
SSG Zachary Spreitzer joined SJNA in June 2015 as a resident faculty officer for Academic OPS. He is a graduate from Watertown High School and attended University of Phoenix in pursuit for a bachelors in business management. He has been a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard since February 2001. In 2003, he was mobilized to Fort McCoy for a year and a half with the 107th Maintenance Company as part of a state mobilization in support of Operation Noble Eagle. In 2009, he deployed with his unit the 108th Forward Support Company and the 32nd Brigade to Camp Taji, Iraq, where he performed Detainee Operations for nine months. Prior to his deployment and upon his return, he worked as a district sales representative for McKee Foods. He is currently serving with the 108th Forward Support Company as a motor transport operator.
Administrative Assistant to Commandant
Anna Gagnon joined St. John’s Northwestern Academies in October 2018. She was born and raised in Naples, Italy, where she obtained a degree in secretary of general office and administration. She was a U.S. Navy wife for 20 years. During this time, she acted as an Ombudsmen coordinator as a liaison between families of active duty men and women and the base commanding officer. She volunteered to aid in the mentor and development program of military families’ dependent children at NAS Sigonella in Sicily, Italy. She also volunteered for the American Red Cross raising funds for areas in need. In 2002, she moved to the United States and was employed for several years in the communications department at Froedert South in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Vista Health System in Waukegan, Illinois. She has developed extensive customer service skills in the military, travel and healthcare sectors.
Retired from the U.S. Army after 21 years of service, First Sergeant Michael Black served as an Airborne/Ranger Infantryman for the majority of his career. He is Ranger, airborne, jumpmaster, pathfinder, and air assault qualified. He deployed to Afghanistan numerous times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His awards include three Bronze Stars and three Meritorious Service Medals along with numerous others. He earned his bachelor’s degree in homeland security with honors from American Military University.
Resident Faculty Officer
SGT Adam Frame joined SJNA in September 2013. He is a graduate of Mukwonago High School and attended Waukesha County Technical College for a degree in police science. He has been enlisted in the U.S. Army since June 2005. The first four years, he was an engineer in a reserve company and served in Honduras, Panama and numerous domestic locations. In 2009, he became an Army recruiter in Waukesha County. In January 2010, he was deployed to Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom for 16 months. At the end of his deployment, he was sent to Landstuhl, Germany, for injuries received in combat and then stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, to recover. After returning home to Wisconsin, he worked for the Milwaukee Bucks as a camp coach and worked with high school children at an NBA level along with Sidney Moncrief’s son. He currently is in a drill sergeant unit in Milwaukee.
Academic Office Manager/Student Life Activities Coordinator
SSG Theresa Klosinski joined Wisconsin Army National Guard in December 1998 as a Transportation Specialist. Upon returning from a stateside deployment to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, she transferred units to Nevada National Guard and deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. After the deployment, she joined a signal unit and deployed to Afghanistan for 12 months as Operations NCOIC. She was selected for a special assignment on a Cultural Support Team and deployed to Afghanistan for a second time in 2012. Then she switched to the Army Reserve and joined the 432nd Civil Affairs unit in Green Bay, Wisconsin, for a year before transferring to the 334th IDT in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, currently serving as a Drill Sergeant.
Debbie Toth began her career at SJNA in September 2019. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in cross-categorical special education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She is a member of the Golden Key Honor Society and Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society. She also carries an associate degree in early childhood education from Waukesha County Technical College where she became a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society. She has over 20 years of experience assisting and educating individuals with a wide range of intellectual, learning and behavioral disabilities. Most recently, she received a certificate through Crisis Intervention Partners modeled after the training component of Crisis Intervention Team programs, which are designed to assist individuals in recognizing and understanding mental illness and other associated disorders through The National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Ann Schoper, PA-C
Ann Schoper MPAS, PA-C has a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Notre Dame, attended the Physician Assistant Program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and has a master’s degree from the Physician Assistant Program from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She has worked in primary care her entire career of more than 25 years in Neillsville, Wisconsin, and Phoenix, Arizona, and was most recently at the Marquette University Student Health Center in Milwaukee before joining ProHealth Care. She was assigned to the SJNA Birk Infirmary in August 2009. She is a strong advocate of health education, which she includes often in her interactions with SJNA students. She is also a CPR instructor.