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Meet Our Coaches

This page introduces you to several folks who's work continues to align and strengthen Wisconsin's statewide efforts to build collective understanding and consistent messaging related to coaching services and supports. Read about what fuels their passions and learn more about each of the projects that fund their work. 

Joseph Kanke - Statewide Coaching Coordinator

Joseph Kanke

Joseph serves as the Statewide Coaching Coordinator. Prior to this position he worked as a coach for an Educational Service Center in Austin, Texas and as a campus-based instructional coach. His mission is to act as a liaison between the field and the state with the intention of creating a statewide system of coaching supports for regions, districts and schools to access as they develop their own coaching programs. He is also passionate about equity and how coaches can hold equity at the center of their work. Joseph's coaching support reaching many projects across the agency. He works collaboratively with the Special Education, Title I and Student Services/Prevention and Wellness Teams. He spends much of this time supporting the statewide system of coaching supports within the Research to Practice Inclusive Communities (RPIC) project. Click here to learn more about the RPIC project.

Katie Berg - Supporting Neurodiverse Students Professional Learning System

Katie Berg

Katie has been supporting students for more than 20 years. In the private sector, public education and now statewide her experiences include providing one on one therapy, classroom teaching, administration, technical assistance, coaching and district and statewide training. Katie has extensive experience working with unique neurodiverse learners focusing on the Social Emotional Learning skills that help students and educators problem solve around behaviors that are challenging. She is currently supporting the Enhancing Social and Emotional Skills in Students with IEPs grant (ES3) providing support to district coaches serving students with needs in the area of social and emotional learning using evidenced-informed improvement strategies. Through her ES3 Grant support, districts get the opportunity not only to have their internal coaches coached but receive support in the enhancing of their coaching system. Using tools such as the Coaching Competency Practice Profile and the Coaching Systems Development Worksheets Katie is helping WI school districts use effective methods of professional learning to grow adult capacity in disability-related need areas under the Social and Emotional Learning Competencies. Click here to learn more about her projects. 

Melissa Emler - Universal Design for Learning Statewide Systems Coach

Missy Emler

Melissa serves as the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Statewide Systems Coach. She is often heard saying, "I'm not asking you to change; I'm asking you to learn!" Melissa is a trained facilitator in the Minds At Work Immunity to Change coaching framework for individuals and organizations. She uses the framework to support people and systems in recognizing competing commitments that stall systemic change efforts. Stalled change efforts impact student experiences and outcomes. When the Immunity to Change framework is paired with the constructs of Universal Design for Learning, moving schools and districts forward in their effort to create more equitable systems can happen because they find clarity around their commitments. Clarity helps avoid initiative fatigue and overload. UDL is a framework for proactively designing learning environments and experiences – from the beginning – that enable ALL students to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning needed to be expert, lifelong learners. Click here to learn more about UDL in Wisconsin. 

Jess Nichols - Statewide Coordinator, Early Childhood Equitable Multi-Level System of Supports

Jess Nichols

Jessica serves as Wisconsin's Statewide Early Learning Implementation and Coaching Coordinator. For the past twenty years, Jess has served Wisconsin children, families, teachers and leaders through various roles including teaching, coaching, and statewide leadership. Her current work supports leaders working with districts aiming to improve outcomes for young learners with IEPs. Jess' experience as a coach is her favorite role, as it leverages her passion for helping others grow and live fully in their potential. Relationship development has always been a strength for Jess; as a coach, she thrives in relationship with her own clients. The recent revisions to the CCPP that specifically address equity mindedness have helped empower Jess to lean into a coaching for equity stance in each and every coaching conversation she has. Coaching for equity is so crucial as we strive to redesign our education systems so that each and every learner is able to learn and grow! Committed to her own personal growth and learning, Jess loves engaging with others seeking to grow as a coach, and thoroughly enjoys designing and offering high quality professional learning opportunities that support the continued development of others' coaching capacity.

Cheri Sylla - WSPEI Statewide Family Engagement Coaching Coordinator

Cheri Sylla

Cheri is the Family Engagement Coaching Coordinator for the Wisconsin Statewide Parent-Educator Initiative (WSPEI). She has worked with the WSPEI grant since 2003 and served as a school board member for eight years in the Elmbrook School District. She is passionate about working with educators and teams as they explore their beliefs and practices around engaging families and implement evidence-based practices into their work. She works with teams and individuals to focus on what truly matters most to them, work through situations, and identify their next steps. Her mission is to provide the support school staff need to create and sustain a welcoming school culture where all families are respected as partners and supported, as needed, to engage in their child’s learning. Central to the work is the embedding of family engagement strategies within the educational system that enhance opportunities for all students and their families. Click here to learn more about WSPEI. 

Deb Wall - Statewide Coordinator for the Regional Special Education Network

Deb Wall

Deb has served as the Statewide Coordinator for the Regional Special Education Network (RSN) for over four years. Prior to that she was the acting RSN Director for CESA 8. In her role, Deb provides leadership, promotes professional learning and coaches RSN directors as they support school districts throughout Wisconsin. The primary purpose of the RSN is to advance educational equity for students with disabilities through the provision of coordinated technical assistance that promotes continuous systems improvement, foster collaboration and develop educational leadership capacity. Deb is passionate about meeting the needs of students with IEPs across the state to ensure that they are college, career, and community ready and believes that the five beliefs of the College and Career Ready Individualized Education Programs (CCR IEPs) is one way that districts can advance student growth. She also advocates and reminds us that students with IEPs are general education students first and part of the collective responsibility we share for all students. Deb recognizes that learning is a continuous journey and that each day provides an opportunity to gain knowledge from peers, families, students and communities. Click here to learn more about RSN.

For questions about this information, contact Rachel Fregien (608) 266-7118