Teacher of the Year

2021 Teacher of the Year Recipients:

Early Childhood Director of the Year
Rachel Miliacca

Grace Lutheran Early Childhood Center, Oak Creek

Early Childhood Teacher of the Year
Alison Pipkorn

First Immanuel, Cedarburg

Elementary Teacher of the Year
Sarah Schultz

St. John’s, West Bend

High School Teacher of the Year
Matthew Thiel

Sheboygan Lutheran High School


Monday – January 25  –  Early Childhood
Alison Pipkorn is the 3rd grade teacher at First Immanuel Lutheran in Cedarburg where she has served since 2012. She is actively involved in the Cedarburg Junior Women’s Club. When asked why she became a teacher, Alison wrote “My faith and personal relationship with God is the reason for which I was drawn to be an educator. I am able to share my belief of the importance of a Christ-centered life with my students and families that I serve.” Alison was nominated because of her ability to foster positive parent-teacher relationships, her commitment to providing a variety of learning styles, and her commitment to the success of her students.

Tuesday – January 26 – Elementary
Sarah Schultz serves as the 6th grade homeroom and middle school math teacher at St. John’s Lutheran in West Bend. Sarah writes that her “passion is to develop strong Christian leaders who actively live out their faith.” Sarah strives to “create an atmosphere of trust, respect, warmth and focus” in her classroom.  Sarah’s focus on growth mindset, partnerships with parents and a strong focus on her students’ social-emotional health are recognized throughout the St. John’s community.


Wednesday – January 27 – High School
Matthew Thiel
teaches music at Sheboygan Area Lutheran High School. In this role he also leads the Symphonic Band, Konzertchor, Jazz Band, Chamber Choir, Pep Band and Music Theory. Matthew wrote that his “philosophy of music education is built on the pillars of engaging the mind, touching the heart, and comforting the soul.” Additionally, Matthew wrote “a Lutheran school’s music department should look, act, and feel different than ‘the school down the road.’” Matthew has a passion for teacher leadership and individualized education.



Thursday – January 28 – Early Childhood Administrator
Rachel Miliacca is the Early Childhood Director at Grace Lutheran Early Childhood Center in Oak Creek. She has served in a variety of positions in the center since 2011. Prior to her employment in the center, she served as a Teacher Aide in the day school in both paid and volunteer roles. Prior to her arrival, the center was a 2-star school and on the verge of closing.  Her congregation president writes that Rachel led the center to a 5-star rating with the National Accreditation Commission and YoungStar Wisconsin through “her deep faith, total dedication, expertise and caring for our children and parents alike.” Pastor Taggatz says, “Rachel is a wonderful role model and Christian Educator. Her devotion to the parents, the students, and staff at Grace Early Childhood Center is wonderful. She truly cares for her staff and the families that she works with. During this Covid-19 Pandemic, Rachel has shown great leadership and patience as she daily works with the challenges that this state of emergency has brought to our Early Childhood Center. She is a wonderful blessing to our ministry here at Grace!” Pictured from left to right – Steve Gettelman, Principal, Grace Lutheran School, Oak Creek, Rachel Miliacca and Pastor John Taggatz, Grace Lutheran Church, Oak Creek.


N/S Teachers’ Conference 2021

N/S Teachers’ Conference
November 8-9, 2021

Kalahari Resorts and Conventions
Wisconsin Dells

Ted Neitzke
Rev. Matt Popovits
Katie Martin – High School

Breakout Sessions
Early Childhood – Breakout
Elementary Tracks and Roundtables
High School Tracks and Roundtables

Registration Fee – $115 per person
Lodging – $129 standard room

Will be available in August
Details will be posted as they are finalized.

Aug 7 – Early Childhood Conference 2020

Friday, August 7, 2020

Presenter:   Angel Stoddard

Join us for a morning filled with innovative ideas and inspiration from the talented Angel Stoddard. Ideas for virtual learning as well as social emotional learning will be introduced.

$25 – Zoom (registrants will receive a link)

8:30 am – Registration/welcome/prayer
8:45 – 10:15 – Learning with Head, Heart and Hands
10:15 – 10:30 – Break
10:30 – 12:00 pm – Early Childhood Virtual Learning Activities

Certifications from the Early Childhood Committee & 3 CEU’s will be presented upon completion.


Online Registration – Register by Friday, July 31. Extended to Wednesday, August 5.

Firm Foundations 2020/2021

August 21, 2020
November 6, 2020 (Cancelled)
February 5, 2021 (Cancelled)

Martin Luther High School
5201 S. 76th St.

Mike Lee, Elite Performance Coach – August
Dr. Sharroky Hollie – November and February


August  – “Leading, Learning, and Growing in Challenging Times: Handling Adversity and Building Resilience with Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence”

November – “Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching and Learning” – CCRTL Awareness and Interest Day 1

February – “Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching and Learning”

  1. Culturally Responsive Classroom Management Workshop
  2. Culturally Responsive Academic Vocabulary Workshop

August 21, 2020 – 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM
November 6, 2020 – (Cancelled)
February 5, 2021 – 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM

Lunch will not be provided.

$60 – Full Registration
(all three sessions)
$25 – August Session Only
$50 – November and February Sessions 
(offered only as a combo)

No Session Substitutions  –  No Refunds

Online Registration – register by August 7

CANCELLED – Lutheran Schools Night at Miller Park

Saturday, May 9

Lutheran Schools Night at Miller Park!

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

6:10 pm

Tickets – $22 – Loge Outfield

Check with your church or school to see if they are placing a group ticket order. Group ticket orders need to be placed online by Friday, April 24.

Questions, contact Robin, 414-292-0741.

March 28 – CLECT, District Office

CLECT – Certificate of Lutheran Early Childhood Teaching

September 21, 2019
March 28, 2020

9 AM – 4 PM

South Wisconsin District
8100 W. Capitol Dr.
Milwaukee, WI  53222

Early childhood educators (infant to grade 3) serving in LCMS early childhood centers or schools that are looking to learn more about LCMS beliefs and how to incorporate them into the classroom.

$100 per participant
Includes lunch and the book “Right from the Start: A Parent’s Guide to the Young Child’s Faith Development” by Shirley Morgenthaler.

Contact Chris Cody, cody@swd.lcms.org, 414-464-8102

Register by 9/6/19




2019 Herb Kohl Educational Foundation Teacher Fellowship Award Recipients

The South Wisconsin District is proud to join with the Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools (WCRIS) in celebrating 2019 Herb Kohl Educational Foundation Teacher Fellowship Award Recipients Deanne Boyce (St. Paul Lutheran School, Grafton) and Natalie Doherty (Hales Corners Lutheran School). Only 14 private school teachers from throughout the State of Wisconsin were selected for this prestigious and highly selective award.

Deanne and Natalie will each receive $6,000 and $6,000 for each of their schools. They will be recognized at regional receptions in April. Herb Kohl will attend each ceremony to present the awards, along with WCRIS Board members and staff.

Join us in congratulating Deanne and Natalie as well as in thanking God for their continued service in the Lutheran teaching ministry!

2019 LEA Distinguished Lutheran Early Childhood Teacher

Congratulations Dauna Werner! Dauna was selected to receive Lutheran Education Association’s 2019 Distinguished Lutheran Early Childhood Teacher Award. Ms. Werner teaches 3 PreK classes at St. Paul Lutheran in Grafton, Wis. She was selected by LEA’s Early Childhood Network leadership team.

Dauna graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education, both from Concordia University Wisconsin. She is also a graduate of the School Leadership Development Project (SLED). Previously, she taught at three other Wisconsin schools.

In support of Dauna’s nomination, one parent said, “One day while we were driving home from school, [my son] stated that he had forgotten to tell Mrs. Werner something. We proceeded to asked him what it was, and he answered, ‘That I love her.’ This is evidence of the trusting relationship she builds with each child to allow them to grow and flourish.”

Dauna’s principal also commented. “When walking into Dauna’s classroom, you will find a room that is full of positive learning opportunities. Dauna’s friendly and engaging attitude endears her to her young students. Her classroom embodies our motto of being ‘Focused on Excellence…Centered on Christ.’ Dauna inspires her students to ‘give things a try,’ and activities are modeled through learning strategies that bring about success. She leads a team of three teachers and five aides in our PreK program.”

Ms. Werner’s pastor adds, “This past summer, Dauna went on a mission trip to Cambodia to work with Crossing Cambodia. The trip with five others, including myself, focused on sharing the love of Jesus and to work with street children and Crossing Cambodia’s staff. While overseas, I lost my voice and became ill. Dauna, knowing the importance of Christian devotions, stepped up without being asked and led us in devotions and prayer time. Her words from God’s Word were timely, uplifting, and helpful on this journey.”

Dauna says of her mission, “Raised in a Christian home of educators, God began nurturing my gifts to work with children at an early age. Helping my parents work in their classrooms, I learned firsthand what it meant to be a servant leader. As a child’s first formal classroom teacher, parents look to me for guidance as they begin their educational journey with their child. My classroom is centered on Jesus Christ as our Savior and friend. I pray that the children and families under my care will grow to know Jesus and see how he is an important part of their everyday lives.”

Educators of the Year 2019


From left – Deanne Boyce, Elizabeth MacGillis, Jonathan Balsman, Jennifer Leinss, Chris Cody









2019 Educators of the Year

Jennifer Leinss
Blessed Savior Early Childhood Center, New Berlin

High School
Jonathan Balsman
Living Word Lutheran High School, Jackson

Elizabeth MacGillis
St. John Lutheran School, Plymouth