Students Head Back to School

Who and what are new in Door County’s five school districts

Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year in the county’s five school districts. What’s new for the opening of the 2023-24 school year is different for each. 

Gibraltar Area School District

3924 Hwy 42 in Fish Creek

Gibraltar Area School District superintendent Brett Stousland had pleasant surprises this summer when candidates showed up quickly to fill two teaching positions.

“We call it the Gibraltar magic,” Stousland said of qualified candidates seeming to pop up as needed.

The first happened in late summer when Gibraltar math teacher Ryan Herr relocated to the Neenah area, and days later, Paul Otto – a St. Louis–area math teacher and coach with 25 years of experience – paused during an outdoor workout to drop in at the school office to inquire about openings, Stousland said.

In midsummer, a music teacher whom Gibraltar had hired in April decided to take a job nearer to home in the Green Bay area. Soon, Kathy Pizza (pronounced “Pisa”) – a longtime Illinois teacher who had recently built a home in Baileys Harbor – had landed the job. 

This summer, administrative leaders worked with teachers to fine-tune instructional practices.

“Our leadership team is focusing on four high-leverage strategies,” Stousland said, for the creation of learning targets; daily assessment criteria; student engagement with lessons; and ways to introduce a kind of “productive struggle” that encourages students to work through challenges in a way that makes sense to them.

Sevastopol School District

4550 Hwy 57 in Sevastopol

In addition to a series of highly visible, year-and-a-half-long centennial celebration events that will begin on Labor Day, the Sevastopol School District is launching a series of monthly programs to improve communication between the school and parents.

Pupil services director Melissa Marggraf, with help from United Way, initiated the programs.

“We’re always trying to improve our communication between school and home because it’s a partnership between home and the school for student success,” said Superintendent Kyle Luedtke.

The district introduced the initiative to teachers during in-service training in late August, and it will soon announce programs to parents when Marggraf and the United Way schedule speakers. Also new this year was fully online registration for students.

Luedtke said he felt fortunate to fill four open positions, including some in high demand statewide. New teachers include Carol Schumacher, high school English; Betsy Miller, elementary general music and choir; Steven Umentum, high school special education; and Fred Suchy, high school math.

“Every position is getting harder to fill, and we filled them all back in July,” Luedtke said, adding, “We’re always looking for substitute teachers and substitute bus drivers.”

Southern Door School District

2073 Cty DK in Brussels

A new principal, curriculum leader and superintendent will greet Southern Door students when classes resume.

New middle school principal and district curriculum director Kami Harvey brings 24 years of experience in education to Southern Door. The longtime Appleton-area educator grew up in Upper Michigan and said she’s looking forward to moving to a smaller community “where everyone supports one another like family.”

Southern Door alumnus and interim superintendent Tony Klaubauf said his priorities this school year are to support the administrative team and educators, to help the district keep moving in the right direction and to support the board, staff and business manager Jason Melotte as the taxpayer-approved construction project enters a new phase. He said he will be there to help keep things going smoothly and to “make sure taxpayers get what they paid for, and things are completed as well as they can be and on time.”

Klaubauf said he spends time in Door County already, given that his family retains farmland and a hunting cabin south of Sturgeon Bay. 

Sturgeon Bay School District

1230 Michigan St. in Sturgeon Bay

District teachers plan to establish some co-teaching classrooms and will use educational researcher Rick DuFour’s four guiding questions to challenge and support “every student every day.”

Those questions are: “What do we want our students to learn? How will we know? How will we respond if they did not learn it? How will we respond if they have already demonstrated proficiency?”

New teachers include middle school science teacher Amber Peters, a University of Toledo graduate who directed Swift Nature Camp and taught for three years in Sturgis, Michigan; Sawyer Elementary special-education teacher Ashley Hansen, a Sturgeon Bay High School graduate with a degree from UW-Stevens Point; seventh-grade special-education teacher Rachel Miller, who’s another Sturgeon Bay graduate and a University of Wisconsin graduate; second-grade teacher Anne Herring; Sunrise School counselor Dakota Londo, a UW-Green Bay graduate with a degree in psychology and human development who worked for Crivitz for two years and served at Sturgeon Bay during an internship for her licensure hours; eighth-grade special-education teacher Abigail Bethke, a Vassar College graduate who worked as an aide at the middle school last year; and high school Spanish and English-language learner (ELL) teacher Shelley Stenzel.

New high school and middle school special-education teacher Janelle Krebsbach holds a master’s degree in education and a minor in special education and plans to initiate her own program on autism, according to superintendent Dan Tjernagel.

Other hires approved by the school board late in the summer include middle school band teacher Noah VanderLoop, who just finished student-teaching for band classes in Minnesota; special-education/alternative teacher Schye Skinner, who has a master’s degree in occupational therapy from Concordia University; special-education early childhood teacher Sarah Doubeck, who is working toward her master’s degree; high school special-education teacher Alexis Potvin, who has a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s in special education; high school business-education teacher Michael Carter, a local parent who brings a wealth of business, computer, money-management, strategic and marketing experience from a career in industry; and Susan Price – who has a master’s degree in educational leadership and some two decades of experience – serving in a second-grade limited-term teaching position for 2023-24.

Washington Island School District

Second-year principal and curriculum director Tim Verboomen said he’s pleased to see enrollment holding steady at about 61 students after an almost 17% increase last year.

He also said the district is “fully staffed for the first time in a while.”

After having to use online high school math programming last year, the district has hired teacher Pam Josifek, who has family in Green Bay and moved to the island from Colorado with her husband.

The district also hired guidance counselor Lynn Newman, formerly of Wauwatosa, who holds a master’s degree from UW-Madison. For the previous few years, guidance counseling was provided online.

“She should be able to follow up and follow through with the students to help them envision what kinds of futures they might end up having for themselves, and then work to plan and prepare to be ready for those futures,” Verboomen said. 

In addition, although core classes are held in person now, Washington Island school – and Washington Island’s county-leading fiber internet capacity – helps keep seniors in school all year through a wealth of electives via virtual learning.


Gibraltar: Students return Tuesday, Sept. 5, with 4-year-old kindergarten students also starting on the Gibraltar campus or Northern Door Children’s Center for half-day morning programming. It’s the second year for 4K in Northern Door.

Sevastopol: Students return Tuesday, Sept. 5 – one day after the district’s first of many school centennial celebrations. Find details of the Labor Day centennial events in this week’s issue.

Southern Door: Students returned earlier than usual this year – Wednesday, Aug. 30 – following an Aug. 28 open house.

Sturgeon Bay: Students return Tuesday, Sept. 5, and the district hosted an open house Aug. 30. This fall, students will have a long weekend off – Thursday-Friday, Oct. 26-27 – to incorporate professional staff in-service time. 

Washington Island: On Tuesday, Sept. 5, a two-hour back-to-school community picnic, 11 am – 1 pm, will be slotted into the first day of classes on the island. The district will provide hot dogs and hamburgers, and attendees should take side dishes and desserts. It’s the second year for the picnic.

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