Meet our Special Education Teachers

Teachers on the MNVA special education team are dedicated to meeting students at their abilities levels to help them reach their fullest potential. They help tailor your child's lessons to meet his or her IEP, and are available every school day to help you through any challenges you may face. Here are a few of the special education teachers you'll get to know at the Minnesota Virtual Academy.

Special Education Teachers

Elementary

Brittney Blake has been an MNVA teacher since 2011.  She started working at the high school and in the fall of 2012 transferred to the elementary school.  Brittney graduated from Winona State University in 2009.  She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with an emphasis in middle school English and Special Education:  Developmental Disabilities.  Brittney will be heading back to school this summer to begin her graduate work with Augustana.  She is looking forward to becoming a student again!  Before joining the MNVA team, Brittney worked at Austin High School for one year which was her very first teaching job.  Brittney loves working for MNVA and enjoys getting to know each family she works with on a personal level.  Brittney is committed to providing a safe and successful learning environment for each of her students!

Ann Laudon has been a speech and language teacher for Houston Public Schools since 2008. She started working online in the fall of 2008 part-time and transferred to MNVA K12 online school the following year. She graduated from Minnesota State University-Mankato in the area of Speech/Language Pathology. Before joining Houston Public School she worked as a Speech/Language Pathologist for the Park Rapids Area Schools in Park Rapids Minnesota for 18 years. Ann started her teaching experience in Redfield South Dakota and moved to Detroit Lakes Minnesota and provided speech/language services for the preschool population. Ms. Laudon believes providing speech/language services online provides an exciting learning environment for each student.

Georgia Rehbein has been a special education teacher with Minnesota Virtual Academy since September, 2003.  She grew up in the Minnesota River Valley in the southern part of the state and taught high school English before entering graduate school to earn a degree in special education.  She has three grown sons and two grandchildren.  She enjoys attending workshops and seminars to gain additional knowledge and skill in the field of special education.

Karen Swanson earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota with an Elementary Education and Developmental Cognitive Disability license. Following graduation she was hired by the Minneapolis Public Schools. She spent the first seven years working in a Non-Categorical Resource Room, and then held positions as a teacher on special assignment and instructional integration specialist before retiring from the district. During this period, Karen completed her master’s degree in special education from the University of St. Thomas, with licenses in specific learning disabilities and emotional/behavior disorders. After joining Minnesota Virtual Academy, Karen returned to the University of St. Thomas to earn state certification in autism spectrum disorders. Karen has authored and implemented various grants at the state and district level. Karen models lifelong learning and her love of providing successful experiences for children.

Middle School

Michelle Dammen has been a K-8 special education teacher with Minnesota Virtual Academy since 2012.  Michelle grew up in Southeastern Minnesota in a small town on the Mississippi River and continues to live near the area on a farm with her husband and two children.  She completed her elementary and middle school education and special education coursework with undergraduate degrees at Winona State University and graduate degrees and licensure at St. Mary’s University and Moorhead State University.  Michelle’s teaching experience includes a Montessori charter school, a University Early Childhood Program, and Public Schools in Southeastern Minnesota.  She enjoys the versatility and success that online school and technology provide to students, families and educators.

Christopher Gordon is an MNVA middle school special education teacher who holds a Master of Science degree in Special Education (Learning Disabilities) and is licensed in K-12 Special Education (LD), K-6 Elementary Education, and 5-8 Communication Arts and Literature. He lives in New Ulm with his wife Becky, Josh (6), and Seth and Anna (three-year-old twins); Max (the dog) and Hailey (the cat) also reside there. Besides teaching for MNVA, he is also the advisor for the Outdoor Athletic Club, an extracurricular club that offers students and families fun, exciting, and interesting outdoor activities. When Mr. Gordon isn’t working with students, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends, traveling, running, bicycling, acting, almost anything comic book- or sci-fi/fantasy-related, and dark chocolate (not all of those in that order).

Mara Schottenbauer teaches special education in grades 6-8.

High School

Stephen Bacon has worked in the field of education for over 24 years in the states of New Mexico, Colorado and Minnesota. He has worked as an elementary teacher, middle school special education teacher and high school special education teacher. He has taught in the virtual school setting for over eight years; this is his fourth year at MNVA. When not teaching, he spends time with his wife Melanie and daughter Grace and enjoys all kinds of outdoor activites. He is honored to be a part of the MNVA staff and looks forward to another great year with MNVA!

Stacie Blair-Nelson is a high school special education teacher who joined the team in 2013. She has worked in the field of education for 25 years in a variety of settings. She really loves teaching in the online school because it allows the most flexibility for her students. Stacie enjoys getting to know her students and helping them reach their potential.

Darla Erickson has completed graduate work in K-12 special education:emotional/behavioral disabilites, and K-12 special education: learning disabilities, from Minnesota State University-Mankato. She also completed the licensure program in both areas there. She has a bachelor's degree in K-12 band and 5-12 classroom music from Gustavus Adolphus College. Before joining MNVA five years ago, she worked for BlueSky Online School for three years, Kingsland Public Schools for fifteen years, and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown for two years. Her teaching experience has encompassed both the special education and music world, with experience in all age groups. Darla enjoys working in the online learning environment and seeing each student grow.

Tracy Sigl teaches special education in grades 9-12.

Becky Todd  has been with MNVA since Fall of 2012. Becky graduated from Bemidji State University in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. In 1998 she obtained her Special Education Licensure in the area of Emotional/Behavioral Disorders from Mankato State University. She has also taken graduate courses in the area of Specific Learning Disabilities. Outside of school she enjoys camping, hiking, biking, and gardening. She lives with her husband and her "fur babies," dachshunds Benny and June. She also likes to travel to visit her daughter. Working in the online environment has been very exciting for Becky. She enjoys getting to know her students and their families.