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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 this 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 the Statewide Coordinator for Early Childhood Equitable Multi-Level Systems of Supports. She provides coaching and professional learning opportunities to the Early Childhood Program Support and Leadership grant staff, who lead district teams across the state to improve access to high quality early learning environments for all young children. Jess has a passion for early intervention and meaningful family engagement and is committed to promoting a deeper understanding of how strong, equitable multi-level systems of supports result in improved social, emotional and learning outcomes for all children. Jess believes, as Dr. Ross Greene says, “Kids Do Well If They Can” and strives to support adults as they better understand their role in improving the lives of the children they serve. Click here to learn more about Early Childhood in Special Education. 

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. Using active listening and curiosity she works with individuals to focus on how 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 inclusion of family engagement strategies within the educational system which 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 serves as the Statewide Coordinator for the Regional Special Education Network. She has served in the Coordinator role for the past three years and previously served as a RSN Director for CESA 8 starting in 2011. Deb provides learning opportunities and coaching to the RSN team to support their work within each CESA region. Deb is passionate about meeting the needs of students with IEPs across the state so they are college, career and community ready. The work needs to focus on districts embracing the 5 beliefs for College and Career Ready Individualized Education Programs (CCR IEPs) and providing learning and support to use this framework. Also, continuing to message 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