Meet Our Special Services Teachers

Special Services Team

Teachers on the Minnesota Virtual Academy (MNVA) special education team are dedicated to meeting students at their ability 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 MNVA.

Stephen Bacon | HS Special Education photo

Stephen Bacon | HS Special Education

Mr. Bacon is a high school special education teacher who joined MNVA in 2012. He has more than 25 years of experience in the area of education. He earned a teaching degree at St. Thomas University and Minnesota State University. He has taught online for over 13 years. Mr. Bacon enjoys working closely with families each day online to support his students.

Stacie Blair-Nelson | HS Special Education Teacher photo

Stacie Blair-Nelson | HS Special Education Teacher

Ms. 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 graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1989 with a degree in elementary education and taught at the elementary level for 14 years. She earned her MEd in Educational Leadership from UNLV while she lived and taught in Las Vegas, Nevada. Stacie also received her Montessori Elementary I credential from MMTTC in Evanston, Illinois in 2004. Stacie rounded out her education by earning her Special Education credentials at Moorhead State University in 2016.

Brittney Blake photo

Brittney Blake | Elementary Special Education Teacher

Mrs. Blake is an elementary special education teacher who has been working for MNVA since 2011. Mrs. Blake earned her BA in education from Winona State University. She earned her special education DD degree, her elementary education degree with an emphasis in English in the middle school. She earned her MA in Education with an emphasis in special populations from Augustana in 2016. She loves being able to be creative with her service time, enjoys getting to know her students and families, create a welcoming and safe learning environment, and MAKING LEARNING FUN!!!

Travis Bockelmann photo

Travis Bockelmann | MS Special Education Teacher

Mr. Bockelmann is a 6th–8th grade MS special education teacher who joined MNVA in 2016. He brings more than 10 years of experience in education, community service, and development. Travis earned a BA in Education from Dakota State University in Madison, SD. He holds certificates in 1–6 elementary education, 5–8 middle school science, language arts, social studies, and math, and K–12 SLD and EBD. Mr. Bockelmann feels that online learning gives students and families the opportunity to work cooperatively in a safe and comprehensive learning environment.

Andrea Cyert  photo

Andrea Cyert | Elementary Special Education

Mrs. Andrea is an elementary special education teacher who joined MNVA in August 2017. Andrea has been teaching since she graduated from Winona State University in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Her previous jobs include teaching in a multi-age 1st–3rd grade charter school classroom, working as a math intervention teacher in a Montessori school, and just prior to joining MNVA, Andrea was a middle school special education teacher in a traditional setting. Andrea completed coursework to obtain her secondary math teaching license and she is currently a graduate student enrolled online at St. Mary’s University where she is working on a master’s degree in special education in the areas of learning disabilities, emotional behavior disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.

Michelle Dammen

Michelle Dammen | Elementary Special Education

Ms. Dammen has been a K–8 special education teacher with MNVA since 2012. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Winona State University and St. Mary’s University. Ms. Dammen is licensed in K–12 special education, birth–3rd grade early childhood special education, K–6 elementary education, and 5–8 middle school language arts. Ms. Dammen enjoys the security, flexibility, and success that online school and educational technology provide to students, families, and educators.

Darla Erickson | HS Special Education Teacher photo

Darla Erickson | HS Special Education Teacher

Ms. Erickson joined the MNVA High School team in 2010. She has completed graduate work in K–12 special education: emotional/behavioral disabilities, 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. Ms. Erickson likes the personal relationships she is able to build with her students. She feels she knows them better in an online setting then she did in previous teaching experiences.

Melissa Glahn photo

Melissa Glahn | MS/HS Special Education Teacher

Mrs. Glahn joined the MNVA team in 2018. This is her third year teaching special education. Melissa graduated from Winona State University where she earned a BA in education in special education, elementary education, and early childhood education. Mrs. Glahn feels online learning gives students the freedom to not only learn their classroom lessons but also be active and learn in their surroundings with flexible schedules.

Christopher Gordon photo

Christopher Gordon | MS Special Education Teacher

Mr. Gordon has been teaching at MNVA since 2012. He has been teaching since 2000; he has earned a BA from the University of Michigan–Flint and an MA from Minnesota State University–Mankato. He holds licenses in K–12 special education (LD), K–6 elementary education, and 5–8 communication arts/literature. He also holds an autism spectrum disorder license. Mr. Gordon feels that online schooling is a great way to learn in a safe environment, especially for those students with health issues.

Doris Minnerath  photo

Doris Minnerath | Elementary Special Education Teacher

Ms. Minnerath joined MNVA this school year. This is her 18th year in special education. She earned a BA in geology from St. Cloud State University, and an MS in special education from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is certified in specific learning disabilities. Ms. Minnerath feels the online learning environment can be the perfect place for students who want less social, physical, or behavioral distractions.

Sean Newbury  photo

Sean Newbury | HS Special Education Teacher

Mr. Newbury joined MNVA in November of 2018. This is his first full time teaching position, having recently completed his master’s degree in cross-categorical special education from Edgewood College in Madison, WI. He currently holds an ABS and EBD license in the state of Minnesota. Mr. Newbury believes that many students, especially those close to post-secondary transition, benefit greatly from online learning, because they have the ability to balance work and school.

Stephanie Peterson photo

Stephanie Peterson | HS Special Education Teacher

Mrs. Peterson has been with Minnesota Virtual Academy since 2012. Before joining MNVA, she taught special education in Level III EBD programs for Richfield Middle school, Eden Prairie HS, and in Minneapolis. She has also taught pull-out math and English in Rosemount and Eagan for SLD students. Prior to moving to Minnesota, she taught in a resource room for three years in Phoenix, Arizona. She graduated from the University of Phoenix, with a master’s degree in special education. She is currently a licensed K–12 special education teacher in the areas of emotional behavior disabilities and specific learning disabilities. She has extensive training in the area of autism spectrum disorders and hopes to one day have her license to support that training. She enjoys working at MNVA providing families and teachers with supports to best fit their student’s needs.

Rob Ralph photo

Rob Ralph | EL Teacher

Mr. Ralph has been teaching with MNVA since 2015. He has always had a passion for world languages and cultures. He obtained his BA in German from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, and then began his teaching career in Germany. He spent three years teaching English there. He returned home to enroll in a graduate program and obtain a Minnesota teaching license. He is thrilled to be working at MNVA with students and families from all over the world! Mr. Ralph feels that online learning provides a great way for students to learn and grow in a safe environment. He really likes the combination of learning coach involvement, educator support and guidance, and independent study and learning by the student.

Mara Schottenbauer photo

Mara Schottenbauer | MS Special Education Teacher

Mrs. Schottenbauer has been working as a special education teacher at MNVA since 2013. She started working in the elementary school but has served middle school students for the last three years. She earned her licenses for specific learning disabilities and emotional behavioral disorders from the University of Minnesota. Mrs. Schottenbauer likes the fact that the online school allows students to focus on learning without the distractions and worries of the traditional ‘big box’ schools.

Tracy Sigl photo

Tracy Sigl | Special Education Teacher

Ms. Sigl began teaching with MNVA in 2013. She earned her bachelor’s degree in education/special education from Central College in Pella, Iowa and her master’s degree in education from Winona State. She has been teaching special education for 30+ years. She cannot think of anything else she would rather do. She believes every person is important no matter their ability level. She loves working with kids who have special needs, in finding their interests and abilities, and using that to help them learn what is important for them with their main goal being to discover that “I am amazing” and will be successful in my own way in high school and in life.

Todd Sukalski  photo

Todd Sukalski | HS Special Education Teacher

Mr. Sukalski joined MNVA in March, 2017 working in the elementary school and then joined the high school special education team in September of 2018. Mr. Sukalski has a Bachelor of Science in finance from Winona State University, 1991, a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Minnesota State–Mankato, 1996, and Master of Science in special education with a concentration on emotional/behavior disorders from Minnesota State-Mankato, 2005. Prior to coming to MNVA Mr. Sukalski taught for 18 years as a special education teacher in the Fairmont School District in Fairmont, MN. Mr. Sukalski has also been a head baseball coach in Fairmont and is currently an assistant football coach.

Becky Todd photo

Becky Todd | HS Special Education Teacher

Ms. Todd has been with MNVA since fall of 2012. She graduated from Bemidji State University with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics. 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,” 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.

Katie Widman photo

Katie Widman | Special Education Teacher

Ms. Widman has been with MNVA since 2016. She obtained her BA in 2012 from the University of Minnesota. She has taught in a variety of general education and special education settings and has since added a Master’s of Science in special education. Currently, Ms. Widman holds an academic and behavioral strategist license in addition to general education social studies. She lives in Duluth with her husband, Garret and their daughter, Lucy (2). She feels online learning gives students a safe learning environment without all the distractions of the traditional classroom.