Special Education Services Leadership Team & Staff

Polly Vanden Boogaard  email
Assistant Superintendent Pupil/Student Services
(920) 832-6114

Polly came to the Appleton Area School District in 2010 after serving 10 years in the Kimberly Area School District (KASD). Polly’s focus as a teacher was on students with learning disabilities, specifically at the middle school level. She then went on to serve as the Special Education Coordinator of Instructional Services for the KASD where the focus was on closing the achievement gap for students with disabilities. 

Upon moving into the AASD, Polly assumed the position of Special Education Coordinator, Assistant Director of Special Education, Director of Special Education and currently Assistant Superintendent Pupil/Student Services.

Polly remains focused on closing the achievement and opportunity gaps for all students and staying student centered in decision-making. She is passionate about advocating for students (inclusion) with disabilities as well as advocating for the dedicated pupil/student services staff that provide support to all students.

Jane Bleier  email
Administrative Assistant
(920) 832-6114

Associate Directors of Special Education

Alexandra Baierl email
(920) 997-1399 Ext. 2104
K-8 North Cluster Schools: Appleton Public Montessori, Columbus Elementary, Edison Elementary, Ferber Elementary, Franklin Elementary, Huntley Elementary, Einstein Middle, Kaleidoscope, Classical and student services coordination and transportation

This is Alex's third year working as an Associate Director of Special Education. Prior to being in Appleton, she was a School Psychologist for the Ashwaubenon School District for nine years. Alex graduated from Shiocton High School and went on to complete her Masters of Science in Education Degree, Educational Specialist Degree, and receive her Director of Special Education/Pupil Services Certification. 

Alex completed her undergraduate studies at UWSP and graduate studies at UWEC. Alex has been involved in several educational activities such as working with at-risk students one-on-one and in small groups, working as a member of a multidisciplinary team, facilitating the implementation for RtI 4K-12, consulting with parents, teachers, and school staff, and conducting formal and informal assessments for the purpose of evaluation for special education. 

Heidi Schmidt email
Associate Director of Special Education and EC-12 Curriculum
(920) 997-1399 Ext. 2116
East, North, West High Schools and Alternative Programming (i.e., Higher Ground, PRIDE, Project SEARCH, Quest)

As a graduate of the AASD, Heidi went on to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in both elementary and special education from University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Her thirteen years of teaching experience included special education in the area of learning disabilities for students in the elementary and middle level and being a second and third grade classroom teacher. Heidi’s background and passion for curriculum and her Master’s degree in reading assists her in her work in curriculum development for students with disabilities in the district.

Melissa Toshner  email
(920) 997-1399 Ext. 2119
K-8 East Cluster Schools: Berry Elementary, Foster Elementary, Horizons Elementary, Johnston Elementary, McKinley Elementary, Richmond Elementary, Madison Middle and compliance coordination

Melissa joined the Special Education Leadership team in 2011 as a Diagnostician. Prior to coming to work in the AASD, Melissa worked in Green Bay Public Schools first as a special education teacher and then as a special education program support teacher.  

Melissa has attended and earned degrees from Silver Lake College, University of Green Bay and Walden University. Melissa views her role as a leader with a goal to work alongside families with dignity and respect to provide students with the support they need to be successful learners.

Michelle Wranosky  email
(920) 997-1399, ext. 2118
K-8 West Cluster Schools: Badger Elementary, Highlands Elementary, Houdini Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Wilson Middle and early childhood coordination

Michelle Wranosky has been an administrator in the district for nine years. Prior to being a special education administrator Michelle was a special education teacher in the AASD for four years, and prior to that a special education teacher in the School District of Shiocton for seven years. 

Michelle specialized in the area of Early Childhood Special Education while in Shiocton and Appleton. Michelle has a Master’s degree in administration and a Bachelor’s degree in special education in the areas of Early Childhood and Specific Learning Disabilities. 

Program Support Teachers

Sara Hechel email
(920) 997-1399, ext. 2111
Support and consultation K-8 West Cluster and parochial schools

Sara Hechel has been an AASD educator for the past eighteen years. During that time, she has worked at Houdini, Franklin, McKinley and Huntley Elementary schools with students with learning disabilities, as well as emotional and behavioral disabilities in both resource and severe/self-contained programs. Sara also has experience serving students with autism and intellectual disabilities.  

As a school leader Sara served as a PBIS Internal Site Coordinator. She also was a member of her site’s Student Services Team, Behavior Intervention Team, as well as Building Leadership Team. Sara is committed to ensuring students can be successful at school to the best of their ability.  

Molly Johnson email
(920) 997-1399, ext. 2113
Support and consultation 7-8 East Cluster

Molly is going into her fourth year in the district. This is her first year as a program support teacher with an emphasis on middle school. She spent the previous three years as a special education teacher in the area of autism at the high school level. Before working in the AASD she taught for ten years in the Milwaukee Public School District. 
Molly has a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Milwaukee. She received her special education certification and Master of Arts in Exceptional Education from Cardinal Stritch University. Molly’s passion is ensuring that all students have the opportunity to learn to their fullest potential.   

Gretchyn Karch email

(920) 997-1399, ext. 2252
Support and consultation in the area of Early Childhood district-wide

Gretchyn Karch has been an AASD educator in the district since 2013. She began her role as a Program Support Teacher, with an emphasis in Early Childhood, in 2016. Prior to this, she was an Early Childhood Special Education Itinerant Teacher with the district. Before working for the AASD, Gretchyn worked as a 4K/Preschool Teacher for the Appleton YMCA and Holy Spirit School.
Gretchyn has a Bachelor’s degree in Child Psychology, Child Development and Special Education. Her experience is in the area of mentoring/coaching new teachers, assisting with the evaluation process and classroom placement of special education students in the Early Childhood program. Gretchyn’s passion can be seen in her day-to-day interactions with the students she works with. She values the collaboration with her colleagues and takes pride in working to make a difference in the lives of our students every day. 

Tammy LaBorde  email
(920) 997-1399 Ext. 2115
Support and consultation K-8 West Cluster 

Tammy received her Undergraduate Degree with a Bachelor’s of Science from UW-Milwaukee in Social Work and a Master’s Degree of Science in Education from UW-Oshkosh with the emphasis in Special Education. Tammy has been in the AASD, Special Education field for seventeen years. The majority of that time as an Emotional Behavioral Disabilities teacher, along with Cross Categorical teaching responsibilities and in 2014 joined the Student Services Department as a Special Education Diagnostician. 

Tammy’s Social Work background lead her to her true passion of wanting to teach students, teachers, and staff as well as leading her to her deep philosophy in believing that: every child can learn and it is our job as educators to find the best way to meet their needs. 

One of Tammy’s biggest contributions to the AASD is her years of work on the Special Education Math Core Team working with other professionals to develop special education screeners, utilizing the district elementary math curriculum as a guide. These screeners were the first developed in the state and have been referenced by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction members during presentations statewide. As a PST, Tammy has developed and presented many professional staff development sessions in the area of behavior, joined district committees, worked with the high school math committee in updating curriculum, and is working closely with district ELA coaches and special education administrators in developing a special education cohort for ELA studies on struggling readers.

Val Plath email
(920) 997-1399, ext. 2114
Support and consultation at the high school level

Valerie Plath holds a BSEd in Special Education and has been a learning disabilities teacher in AASD for seventeen years. She has additional training in team teaching, transition planning, student assistance programming, and implementing interventions. Having worked primarily at the secondary level, she has a particular interest in transition planning and helping students prepare for their futures. 

Additionally, she has successfully co-taught in the regular education setting in various curricular areas and draws on that experience when working with all learners. Valerie knows that a quality education can open doors and deliver opportunities to students. She feels it is her job to ensure that students receive an excellent education and that they, and their families, know about all of the opportunities available to them.

Amy Steiner email
(920) 997-1399, ext. 2253
Support and consultation K-8 East Cluster 

Amy Steiner is in her third year in the AASD as a Special Education Program Support teacher. She was previously a special education teacher in the Kimberly Area School District teaching at the elementary and middle school levels.

Amy has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. She recently earned her National Board Certification in Exceptional Education. Amy’s experience is with mentoring/coaching new teachers, implementing interventions, and diagnostic work in the evaluation process. Amy is passionate about closing the gap for students with disabilities. 
Shawna Waters email

(920) 997-1399, ext. 2251
Support and consultation K-8 North Cluster 

Shawna Waters has been an AASD educator for the past nine years at McKinley Elementary working both with special education students and regular education students. She was a lead teacher in the program for students with severe emotional disabilities for four years. She has worked as an interventionist in reading and mathematics for four years as well. Shawna loves watching students learn and make gains both academically and socially. 

As a school leader, Shawna has led her school's Continuous School Improvement Team as well as served as a mentor to new teachers in special education. Shawna has attended many conferences regarding separating differences in language acquisition and disability for our ELL students. She has been a pioneer in the PBIS movement for the past eight years and she is able to utilize her expertise to guide others so that all students are successful in AASD. 

JoAnn Boisen email
(920) 997-1399, ext. 2915
Early childhood

JoAnn has been in the district for nine years with a focus in the area of early childhood special education, both as a teacher and a diagnostician. JoAnn will work in a dual role this year, leading the early childhood special education group as well as continuing to do diagnostic work.

JoAnn has a Bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater in Early Childhood Special Education. JoAnn's interests include reading historic novels, gardening, and quilting. She is passionate about the importance of family and helping others to understand the link between learning and the behavior of young children.

Special Education Program Leaders

Terry Cane-Petersen  email
(920) 997-1399 Ext. 2117
Speech and language therapy

Terry Cane Petersen has been a Speech and Language Pathologist with the AASD for over twenty years. For the last nine years she has worked in a dual role. Terry leads the district's Speech and Language department while and is also a Speech Language Pathologist in the district. Terry received her undergraduate degree in Communications Disorders from UW-Eau Claire and her Master’s Degree in Communication Disorders from UW-Stevens Point. Recently she received her second Masters of Art Degree in Educational Leadership from Marian University. 

Terry trained with nationally recognized Michelle Garcia-Winner in the area of Social Thinking and is considered a provider. Terry has applied this Social Thinking framework within our district in a social thinking class at West High school and district trainings. She also has completed her training with the Autism Effectiveness Academy through CESA 6. Terry has been instrumental in bringing a variety of nationally and internationally recognized speakers in the area of Autism to the AASD, most recently Sarah Ward, Jed Baker, Martin Kutscher, Rebecca Moyes, Brenda Smith-Myles, and Stephanie Madrigal. Terry serves on several Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction leadership committees focusing on speech and language topics.

Stacy Wickershiem  email
(920) 997-1399 Ext. 2151
Physical therapy, occupational therapy, specially designed physical education

Stacy earned her Bachelors of Science in Psychology and Masters of Science in Physical Therapy from Marquette University. Stacy also has a Masters of Arts and Education in Educational Leadership from Marian University. She put her education into practice by working as a physical therapist (PT) for the district for the past seventeen years. As a PT she continuously models the vision that all students, regardless of their ability, can achieve success. Stacy has also been the Program Leader of the Therapy and Specially Designed Physical Education Department (TSPE) for the past eight years.  

As Program Leader, Stacy has fostered a culture of trust and respect amongst the TSPE team members which has enabled them to work together to initiate programs that allow students with physical challenges to have the same opportunities as their peers. She is a constant advocate for the department so that they have the resources necessary to provide the best services for each and every student and make a positive impact on the lives of all children. 

Cindy Czarnik-Neimeyer M.S., P.S. email
Catalpa Health/Appleton Schools ATODA & Mental Health Liaison, Prevention Specialist 
(920) 750-7025

Cindy is contracted through Catalpa Health and works with AASD as an ATODA & Mental Health Liaison, Prevention Specialist, Crisis Response Team Co-chair, and Therapist. She completed her Masters of Science in Educational Psychology at UW-Milwaukee and has had the honor of working with the Appleton Area School District since 1988. 

Bob Woodford  email

Transition Specialist
(920) 749-5840
Transition to post-secondary, ages 14-21 (contracted through Valley Packaging Industries)

Bob has served as the district’s Transition Facilitator for sixteen years. Prior experience working with individuals with disabilities includes five years providing direct support in group homes and apartment residential settings in Madison and Appleton, and five years as a Vocational Case Manager/Evaluator. Bob holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology and a Master of Science in Business Management. 

In 2014 Bob received the Michael J. Falconer Distinguished Service Award from The Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities. The award recognizes individuals who demonstrate extensive involvement in advocacy activities, and have had an impact on improved service or access to the community for persons with disabilities.

Cultural Support Specialist and Interpreter

Ibeth Franco-Kolbe  email
Spanish Interpreter
(920) 997-1399 Ext. 3410

Ger Vang  email

Hmong Cultural Support Specialist
(920) 997-1399 Ext. 6103

Assistive Technology Team

Krista Holland  email
Occupational Therapist
(920) 997-1399 Ext. 6253

Monica Rathsack  email
Physical Therapist
(920) 997-1399 Ext. 6253

Jennifer Vandeneng  email
Speech & Language Therapist
(920) 997-1399 Ext. 6253

Pupil/Student Services and Special Education Department Office Personnel

Kelly McCoy  email
Office Manager
Special Education Office
(920) 832-6129

Sharon Hintz  email

(920) 997-1399 Ext. 6253
Physical therapy, occupational therapy, specially designed physical education and assistive technology.

Sharon VanDomelan  email

(920) 997-1399 Ext. 2154
Early childhood itinerant services

Alisson Danen  email

(920) 997-1399 Ext. 6214
Early childhood special education diagnostic services

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