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Tami Rae Weiss, PHD

Program Director, Art Education, UW-Stout

Tami Rae Weiss is the Principal Investigator of the grant that made A.I.M. possible.  Dr. Weiss earned her PhD from the University of Minnesota in Curriculum and Instruction, Art Education.  She currently serves as Executive Director for Arts Integration Menomonie, as well as Program Director for Art Education at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.  Dr. Weiss teaches Art Education courses, supervises student teachers, and advises approximately 100 students in the major.  She has presented at various state and national conferences around topics of arts integration, teacher education, arts-based research, aesthetic literacy, edTPA, and electronic portfolio.  Prior to her work at UW-Stout, Dr. Weiss was a High School Art Teacher in La Crescent, MN and Elk Mound, WI.  As Director of A.I.M., Dr. Weiss is extremely excited about collaborations among UW-Stout and the Menomonie school district and community, where the arts are viewed as essential rather than special. 

Melody Brennan

Program Director, Early Childhood Education, UW-Stout

Melody Brennan is an Assistant Professor in the Early Childhood Education program at UW-Stout, and her primary roles include teaching content specific courses in Primary Education, Social Studies and Science as well as theory courses in Children, Families, Schools and Communities.  Ms. Brennan is a doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota in Curriculum and Instruction, Literacy Studies.  Her current research explores arts integration and literacy, as explored through a Phenomenological theoretical framework.  Ms. Brennan is enthusiastic, forward thinking, and knowledgeable in a variety of content.  She believes that collaboration and integration in the arts will enable meaningful relevant learning and strategic innovative thinking for early childhood educators and students.


Peggy Larson

K-5 Art educator, Menomonie School District, River Heights Elementary

Ms. Larson has been teaching for over 25 years.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in K-12 Art Education from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1988 and soon after became a middle school art teacher in the school districts of LaCrosse and then River Falls, Wisconsin.  Ms. Larson pursued and received her Master's degree in Elementary Education, including a grade 1-8 Certification in Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 1992. Ms. Larson has spent 23 years teaching in the School District of the Menomonie Area, where she also serves as the district’s K-12 Art Department Chair, Curriculum Council representative, and K-5 Elementary Specialist Chair.  Further, she has served on the Program Advisory Board for Art Education at UW-Stout for over five years.  Mrs. Larson supports pre-service art teachers by mentoring teacher candidates and presenting in university Art Education courses.  In 2012, Mrs. Larson was selected for UW-Stout's Exemplary Service Award.


Tracy DeRusha

Coordinator of Field Experiences,

Since January 2003, Tracy DeRusha has worked with the Art Education and Early Childhood Education programs in coordinating pre-student teaching and student teaching placements in various school districts in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Ms. DeRusha’s role as coordinator of field experiences has provided opportunities to develop professional and collaborative relationships with a variety of school district contacts including but not limited to; district administrators, building principals and classroom teachers.  She works closely with all students in Art Education and Early Childhood Education at multiple stages as they work toward program completion.  Ms. DeRusha has also served as a member of the Art Education Advisory Board for the past five years.


Jeanne Styczinski


Jeanne Styczinski is a veteran kindergarten teacher with over 20 years experience.  Doubling as a children's book illustrator, Ms. Jeanne regularly infuses arts learning into her kindergarten curriculum.  Ms. Jeanne mentors many pre-service teachers from UW-Stout; she presents at the annual Early Childhood Conference; and she serves UW-Stout's Early Childhood Education program, as a guest instructor for ECE students.  Known for her patience, thoughtfulness, creativity, and optimism, Ms. Jeanne is the go-to person for advice, ideas, and expertise by pre-service teachers, career teachers, and teacher educators. A children's book illustrator and publisher, Ms. Jeanne was recently honored as the Gold Medal recipient of the 2014 Moonbeam Children's Book Award!

Tim Lutz

Elementary Music educator, Menomonie School District, Oaklawn Elementary

This is Tim Lutz’s 28th year of teaching music arts! Mr. Lutz's primary focus in teaching is inviting students to become lifelong music learners, performers, and well-educated audience members. He has a passion for technology and its applications for music education. Mr. Lutz is active as a piano accompanist, singer, musical director, and performer of musical theater for the community theater in Menomonie, WI. In addition,  he is a founding partner in Old Sweet Song productions, performing music of Victorian, Vaudeville, 1920’s, 1930’s and World War II eras. Tim is also a founding member, singer, and accompanist/tenor with the Menomonie Singers.


Kris Winter

c.i.t.a. coordinator
Teaching Artist, storyteller
Owner/Artistic Director of "Paper Cow TheatEr”

Kris Winter is the Coordinator for A.I.M., specifically its C.I.T.A. (Co-teaching In and Through the Arts) program. Ms. Winter has been a teacher, writer, and professional storyteller for more than twenty years, and now, she takes her storytelling into classrooms as a teaching artist. Through her celebrated storytelling characters, Madame Lanita and Sophie Obermueler, Ms. Winter uses drama to bring over twenty original stories to life.  Ms. Winter taught high school social studies in the Menomonie School District and directed many theatrical productions.  For ten summers, she taught her original drama curriculum for the University of Wisconsin-Stout "College For Kids" program.  Her original scripted “Earth Day” plays were an eight-year tradition at Oaklawn Elementary, providing dramatic arts education for hundreds of students and their teachers. Ms. Winter's drama camps/residencies encourage students to discover, develop, and perform original stories using simple storytelling techniques. Ms. Winter shares her passion for the dramatic arts and storytelling while visiting schools, libraries, special gatherings, and in her unique 1916 barn – the PAPER COW THEATER.


Allison Feller

Preschool Teacher, Child and Family Study Center, UW-Stout

Allison Feller has a B.S. in Early Childhood Education and an M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies.  She is a preschool teacher at the Child and Family Study Center which serves as a laboratory school and observation site for Early Childhood Education and related majors at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. The center experience allows university students to link educational theory with practice.  Allison took a leave of absence from the Board in 2015-16, in order to become a participant of C.I.T.A.'s first teaching cohort.  She and her team learned to integrate the arts through music (guitar) and storytelling.  

Ann Brand, PHD

MINDFULNESS COORDINATOR AND Associate Lecturer in the School of Education, UW-STout

Ann Brand serves as A.I.M.'s Mindfulness consultant, working with the pre-service teachers at UW-Stout and the teachers of the Menomonie School District.  Dr. Brand holds a doctorate in psychology from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with an emphasis on child development and families. She teaches classes on the psychology of learning, life-span development, and mindfulness. She is a certified mindfulness teacher through The Mindfulness Institute.  Dr. Brand presents about mindfulness all across the state, including as a keynote speaker. 


SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE MENOMONIE AREA and A.I.M. director of instruction 

Brian Seguin has a Master's degree in Educational Leadership from Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, WI; he has certification as PK-12 Director of Instruction and PK-12 Principal.  Brian also earned an MS in Marketing and Business Education at UW-Stout.  Mr. Seguin serves as the School District of Menomonie Area administrative representative to the A.I.M. Board. Prior to his work within the School District of the Menomonie Area, he served as a High School Administrator in Portage, WI and has previously taught Marketing and Business Education, as well as coached and advised students in Waunakee, and Ashland, WI.

Jill Klefstad, edd

Assistant Professor, early childhood education, UW-STout 

Jill Klefstad is the Program Director of Early Childhood Education and a Professor in the School of Education. Dr. Klefstad began her teaching career as a kindergarten teacher and began working at UW-Stout in 1993.  The Early Childhood Education program currently has 286 students, and as Program Director, Dr. Klefstad oversees the development of courses and revision of courses to meet licensure requirements.  She also meets with prospective students and advises all new freshmen. Her teaching assignment includes the Introduction to Early Childhood Education course and Expressive Curriculum course; and she also supervises student teachers.  Dr. Klefstad believes that Arts Integration Menomonie (AIM) will allow students to the chance to develop their love of the arts and integrate it into their own teaching of young children.


pat avery


Pat Avery has performed on the stage of the phenomenal Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts since 1977 and is currently an MTCA board member serving on the programming committee.  For 34 years, Pat integrated the arts into her elementary classroom curriculum with great joy as an educator in the School District of the Menomonie Area.

Samantha Plasch

UW-STOUT Student representative

Sam Plasch is a Senior in the Art Education Program at the University of Wisconsin- Stout.  She is a member of the National Art Education Association, UW-Stout Chapter; and she served as Coordinator of the Children’s Art Club on campus.  She currently works as A.I.M.'s photographer for the C.I.T.A. and P.A.I.N.T. programs.  


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Amy Fichter


Amy Fichter teaches all levels of Life Drawing in the School of Art & Design at the University of Wisconsin–Stout, where she has worked since 2003. She is currently serving as the director of the BFA in Studio Art program at UW–Stout and is a full professor.

Amy has been active as an artist since childhood, knowing in high school she wanted to pursue a career in the arts. She earned a BA in Art from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, an MA in Art from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, and an MFA in Drawing from the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

Amy creates work in drawing and photography, exhibiting at venues such as RayKo Photo Center in San Francisco; Lightbox Photographic Gallery in Astoria, Oregon; and Project Basho in Philadelphia. Her drawings are in the collections of the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC, the Birmingham Museum of Art, and the Columbia Museum of Art.

Megan Steinkraus 

P.A.I.N.T. Coordinator AND SDMA Elementary Art teacher

Megan Steinkraus is native to the Menomonie area, now working as the P.A.I.N.T. consultant through the A.I.M. grant.  She also teaches elementary Art in the Menomonie School District, at Downsville and Knapp Elementary schools. She is very happy to able to give back to the community that has given her so much growing up.

Megan graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with an Art degree, and again from the University of Wisconsin-Stout with an Art Education degree. She has previously taught high school Art at the School District of Flambeau before moving back to Menomonie. She lives on Tainter Lake with her husband, Corey.'


Lori Smith

Oaklawn Elementary School Principal

Lori Smith is an example of "you can come home again".  Born in Menomonie, she grew up in Mondovi and moved away in her young adulthood to Las Vegas and Jamaica. She returned to to UW Stout to complete her college education and eventually ended up at Oaklawn Elementary where she has been principal for the past twelve years.  A highlight of her career has been teaching resilience/health realization to school staff and community members.  She enjoys reading science fiction and is appreciating the time she spends in the home she and her husband recently built in the Dunnville area. 


Peg Kolden


Peg Kolden has called River Heights Elementary her home for the past sixteen years where she has served as principal.   She has also been a high school assistant principal and a director of special  education.  Peg says her move to the elementary was like she died and went to heaven.  it is a great fit. Peg is an avid reader and enjoys being a part of her book club.  She loves the outdoors and has recently taken up running.  There is no slower runner in Dunn County.  Her family is very important to her and her grandchildren, Axel and Ingrid, are the lights of her life.