Daneka Romportl, special education
Daneka Romportl always knew she wanted to be a teacher. Her father was a public school teacher for 38 years, and her mother has been teaching music in her own studio for over 35 years.
Romportl comes from Taylors Falls on the St. Croix River. She attended WSU for special education and child advocacy. The last three years she taught at Caledonia Elementary – two years in special ed and one year as a behavior intervention specialist.
Ms. R, as she’s known to her students, declares, “The students are what makes being in the education field all worth it! I absolutely love teaching Special Education because it allows building relationships and making individual plans for students with a variety of needs and abilities. I want to meet students where they are at, encourage personal growth, self-advocacy, and provide the support that each individual student may need.”
Ms. R is also coaching seventh grade girls volleyball. She enthused that it had been a joy getting to know all the hard-working girls and expects a great volleyball season.
Daneka will continue to live in Caledonia. She enjoys the outdoors – taking her puppy for a hike in Beaver Creek and golfing with her boyfriend and his kids. Other hobbies include painting, playing piano, and working on projects.
While Romportl admits there will always be challenges each school year, she plans to take it all one day at a time and is excited to work with the Houston team. She pointed to the administrative leadership and “phenomenal” teachers who work together to provide the best education academically, socially, and emotionally for the students. She went on, “I was excited to join a team that encourages meeting students where they are at and working together to provide the support that each individual may need.”
Shannon Pass, 8th, 9th, 11th, and 12th math
Shannon Pass loves the “aha” moments when her math students make a connection or a concept suddenly becomes clear. She enjoys working with people in a “helpful and collaborative environment,” and she chose math as her focus because she “wanted to build students’ confidence in this important area.”
Pass got her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park and her master’s degree from Texas A&M University. She completed the teacher preparation program at West Texas A&M University, and has taught at Borger, Texas, as well as at Winona Senior High.
Shannon lives in Winona with her husband and her two dogs; they have three adult children. Her hobbies include traveling, camping, hiking , gardening,and reading.
Mrs. Pass acknowledges that the biggest challenge this year will be dealing with the effects of COVID on the students. That said, she looks forward to meeting all the students and learning about the Houston community. She wants everyone to know that she will be there for her students in any way she can. She shared, “My goal is for every student to succeed!”
Brett Hoskins, DAPE
Brett Hoskins will be returning to his alma mater as he begins to teach DAPE at Houston High. After graduating from Houston High School, Hoskins attended UW-LaCrosse where he majored in physical education and minored in adapted physical education. He graduated from UWL in December 2020 and went on to substitute teach in many different grade levels and subjects at R-P and Houston.
Hoskins chose physical education as his field because he enjoys “working with students and helping them improve their skills which they will use in one way or another the rest of their lives.” The teaching environment drew him to teaching; he loves the rewarding feeling he gets when the students learn skills that will benefit them in the future. He knew he wanted to teach in the physical education field ever since he was in early high school.
Hoskins anticipates that his biggest challenge this year will be getting used to adapting to different guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic if the school’s teaching model changes.
As he moves into his new role at Houston High School, he looks forward to seeing all the students and helping them improve their skills and knowledge about physical activity and movement.
Alana Braund, first grade long-term sub and middle and high school math
Alana Braund has an interesting assignment this year – she will be teaching first grade the first four months of the year for a teacher on maternity leave and then will switch to math at the middle and high school level the rest of the year. Braund is looking forward to that challenging transition. She can’t wait to get to know students and staff in both of the buildings.
Alana grew up in Elroy in south central Wisconsin and attended school at Royall District from kindergarten through high school.
Alana said she chose teaching because “she had a few very impactful teachers growing up and loved the idea of making an impact for children who need a role model or advocate.”
She went to WSU and majored in elementary education with a middle level mathematics endorsement, graduating in December 2020. She then taught second grade in Winona.
Currently Braund lives outside of Lewiston; the beauty and nature of the area appeal to her. She enjoys hiking outdoors, traveling, cooking, and taking photos. In her spare time on weekends and in the summers, Braund runs a professional photography business, Alana Braund Photography.
Braund noted she already gets a “family-like feeling from the community.” She’s excited to teach in a small district like the one she grew up in and to become part of the Houston community.
Kiara Reichstadt, reading specialist
Kiara Reichstadt has always wanted to be a teacher; playing school as a child was her favorite pastime. As she grew up she developed a passion for writing as well. She will put her writing and creativity to use as co-advisor for the Houston yearbook this year.
Kiara is originally from Spring Valley, Minn.; she taught special education last year at LeRoy-Ostrander Public Schools. Licensed in both elementary and special education, she is currently working toward her reading license.
Reichstadt is excited to start the year off strong and hopes to get back to “something somewhat normal.” She recognizes that after having our “world shaken this past year” one of the greatest challenges will be to “find that normalcy we all crave.” With the good support system that Houston offers, she feels this year will be easier to handle.
The Houston area is now home for Reichstadt, and she loves the nature here. She takes her hyper-active puppy on walks often and encourages you to say hi to both her and her puppy if you happen to see them. Kiara loves to explore the area and looks forward to continuing to grow into a member of the community.
Emily (Ingram) Freeman, behavior interventionist
Houston’s new behavior interventionist will have an exceptionally busy start to her year. Along with a new job in a new school, she will be getting married October 30!
Emily went to Chanhassen High School; she went to UW-LaCrosse for psychology, and got her master’s in school counseling from MNSU Mankato. Emily spent a year at Wabasha-Kellogg as the school counselor before coming to Houston.
A passion for helping students and learners drew Emily to her job as a behavior interventionist. She loves helping students in areas outside of core subjects; seeing them succeed is her greatest joy.
Emily foresees catching students up from the “COVID slip” will be her biggest challenge this year. She looks forward to becoming part of the Houston community – a community that she feels is a “strong, close-knit one filled with amazing people.”
In her free time, Emily loves to read, watch TV, bake, cook, do yoga, and spend time with her two kitties. She and her fiancé live in Winona; they will be married in La Crosse.
Congratulations to Emily on her upcoming marriage and best wishes as she begins her new married life as Mrs. Freeman as well as her new job at Houston!
Chelsey Carlson, high school English
Chelsey Carlson originally hails from Virginia, Minn. She has a bachelor’s degree in English education with a minor in sociology as well as a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in English. She has taught for six years with the last few years being in southwest Minnesota.
Carlson has always enjoyed helping others and showing and teaching others. Her love of reading led her to English and Language Arts.
Chelsey is renting a home in La Crescent where she lives with her dog, Mr. Wiggins. She enjoys kayaking, crochet, puzzles, and binge-watching Netflix. Her mom, grandpa, and extended family live in the area.
Carlson acknowledges that the need to continue to be flexible with all the unknowns this year will make it difficult to plan ahead. She looks forward to getting to know the students, staff, and community and enjoys the small town feeling of Houston.
Chelsey Carlson’s grandparents are Bob and Ardyce Esch from the area. She shared that she enjoys getting out to sports games and other events just as her grandma was known to do. With Grandma Ardyce’s passing, Chelsey declared that it means even more to her personally to be in the area and to be able to attend school games and events as well.
Jessica Reed, elementary social worker
Jessica Reed has joined Houston as the new pre-school and elementary social worker. She originally planned to work in accounting/finance, but did an about face and became a social worker.
Reed grew up in Caledonia, graduating from Caledonia High School. She attended UW-LaCrosse, and then went on to complete her social work degree at WSU.
For the past fifteen years, Reed worked as a Child Protection Social Worker for Houston County Public Health and Human Services. When the opportunity arose to join the Houston Schools staff, she decided to do so.
Jessica and her family live in Houston County. A self-admitted homebody, Jessica says if she isn’t at work or her kids’ activities, she is most likely at home.
Reed sees her biggest challenges this year to be learning the names of 200 students, learning the role of school social worker, and facing whatever COVID brings for the year.
Excited to continue to support kids and their families as whe works with the kids on many different levels, Reed looks forward to incorporating more information on self-worth and compassion into the social-emotional curriculum at Houston Elementary.
Here’s a warm welcome to all of the new teachers at Houston Schools. Have a great year!