Houston Public School located in Houston, Minn., has a total seven new members on their teaching staff this year. Because Houston no longer is a member of HVED and has chosen to provide their own services, more special education staff was needed.
Danielle Bosshart joins the Houston education team as an occupational therapist; not as a teacher. She always knew she wanted to be an OT working within a school when she saw “amazing therapists” working with her classmates when she was growing up.
Bosshart earned her degree in Special Education: Learning Disabilities-Teaching from Winona State University. She was a long-term sub in a kindergarten classroom at Osseo-Fairchild, Wis. She received her Master’s in Occupational Therapy from the UW-La Crosse. Prior to coming to Houston, she was an outpatient pediatric OT at Gundersen Health System.
Danielle shared that she loves getting to help students be successful in all areas, “Every day as an OT is something different, and I love that!”
Bosshart thinks having OT within the district rather than being provided by a contract service will be a big change for everyone, but she feels “so many good things can come from change!”
Her goal for the year is to provide the best OT services for the Houston students and to provide more assistance to educators. Danielle will be servicing all grades of students who have needs in the area of occupational therapy as well as children from birth to three years old.
Bosshart is very excited to be a part of the Houston Special Education team; she is looking forward to being able to serve the students and getting to know their families and the community.
Danielle lives in La Crosse, Wis., with her husband Kyle, their 2 1⁄2-year-old son Brecken, and their dog Reggie. In her spare time, Danielle enjoys spending time with her family and friends, doing yoga, and watching all Wisconsin sports. As a true Packer fan, Danielle ended with a “Go, Pack, go!”
Larissa Unseth is a special education teacher at Houston’s middle and high school level and also works with the students at Summit Learning Center. She also is an assistant seventh and eighth grade volleyball coach.
The fact that teachers are able to positively impact the lives of students drew Larissa to teaching. She credits her many influential teachers as she was growing up for influencing her decision to teach. Larissa commented, “One thing I love about teaching is that you (as the teacher) also get to grow with your students; as they learn, you learn too!”
Larissa graduated in May 2023 from Winona State University with degrees in Elementary Education, Early Childhood, and Special Education (Developmental Disabilities). Last fall Unseth got to know Houston School as she did her student teaching there.
Downtown La Crosse is home to Larissa. In her free time, she likes going to concerts, camping, traveling, hiking, listening to music and spending time with her family and friends. She enthused, “This past summer I visited and camped at five national parks!”
Finding a balance between coaching, teaching and home life will be one of Larissa’s challenges this year. A goal of hers is to “develop professionally by exploring more disability areas and expanding my knowledge on disability categories that are not related to my licensure.”
Larissa can’t wait to get to know all the students of Houston and build a rapport with them whether she has them in class or not.
Eleanor (Ellie) Ledger, who will be teaching English 10, English 11, Intro. to Film, and Film Studies, fell in love with reading and writing at a young age. She commented, “I am lucky to work in a profession that allows me to embrace my passions and share them with students on a daily basis.” Ledger calls herself fortunate to have “some amazing English teachers” to inspire her.
Ledger attended Winona State University, Bemidji State University, University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, and Southwest Minnesota State University. She has taught sixth through 12th grade English during her past nine years as a teacher.
Eleanor enjoys spending her spare time with her family and friends. She is married and has three children, ages 10, 6 and 3. Her family enjoys hiking adventures; Ellie shared that she enjoys reliving experiences through the perspectives of her children. The Ledgers are trying to purchase a house in the Houston/Rushford area at this time.
A hobby Ellie enjoys is watching movies; she loves to read a novel and then watch the film adaptation. She also enjoys her book club and reading many different genres.
In the summer, she loves going up north where she swims, fishes, kayaks, paddle boards, canoes and water skis on the lake.
Ledger feels her biggest challenge this year will be transitioning to a new school and new systems, She touts her mentors and colleagues as the best, noting everyone at Houston has made her feel welcome.
According to Ledger, her first week of school was amazing; she noted that she loves teaching in smaller schools and is looking forward to a great year! Her goals this year include building lasting relationships, and engaging students in meaningful lessons as well as continuing her professional development and maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
Parker Deen will be the new Early Intervention teacher for Houston this year; she’ll be visiting homes to work with children ages 0-3 years and their families.
Parker’s mom was a teacher for 40 years; Parker has been interested in teaching herself since she was a little girl.
Parker studied art at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss.; she got her Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education at the University of Iowa. Deen taught for about 26 years with the Hiawatha Valley Education District (HVED).
Deen began her graduate education in a different field, but quickly found her calling to teach young children and their families. She particularly enjoys the collaboration with the families.
When not busy teaching, Parker loves to do photography, gardening, biking, cooking and traveling. Parker and her husband live with their two pugs in Decorah, Iowa. They have three children: Oran, 28, lives in Decorah; Aidan, 25, lives in Portland, Oreg.; and Heather, 21, lives in Chicago.
Deen sees adjusting to being the “new person” after over 26 years at a job as a challenge. She feels the “wonderful, helpful” people in the district will help her with that adjustment. A second challenge she foresees is the winter commute from Decorah.
Parker shared that she “loves having a team to work with, both in the school and with families in their homes.” She’s excited to work at Houston School. Her goal is to keep learning and growing in her profession and to do her best to support her families and students.
Originally from the New Orleans/South Mississippi area, Deen cautions that you may hear her say “y’all” with a slight accent occasionally!
Amber Anderson is a new special education coordinator at Houston; as such she will work with and support special education teachers teaching students from birth to grade 12 both at the brick and mortar schools as well as MNVA.
When Amber was in high school at Rushford-Peterson, she enjoyed working with younger children during her work experience as well as babysitting and teaching Sunday School. Because of her field experiences at Winona State working with students with different types of disabilities at different age levels, she chose to pursue a degree in Special Education with a licensure in Specific Learning Disabilities. She enjoyed helping the students become successful in both their academic skills and self-advocacy.
In addition, Amber earned additional licensure in Emotional Behavioral Disorders from St Mary’s University, and her master’s degree from Concordia University.
Before joining the Houston staff, Anderson taught special education at Fillmore Central for three years and at Lewiston-Altura for 12 years. Most recently, she was a special education coordinator at HVED for six years; Houston was one of the districts she served at that time.
Amber lives in Fremont, outside of Lewiston with her husband Jeremy and her two daughters, Kayleigh, age 19 and Kamryn, age 16, and their Goldendoodle named Teddy.
Her hobbies include reading, spending time with her family, and watching her daughters play volleyball and basketball. Amber is a fan of the Minnesota Wild, the Twins, and the Chicago Bears.
Anderson sees the biggest challenge for her this year (as in any year) will be having enough time in the day to get everything done. She is looking forward to working with the staff at both Houston on-site as well as MNVA to support students in special education. As special education coordinator, she will be able to plan and problem solve with the staff for the best services possible.
Anderson’s goal for this year is to provide a greater amount of support to all of the staff through resources and training. She is enthused about the great teams at both Houston and MNVA and is excited to be part of those teams and able to continue her work for the students and teachers at Houston Schools.
Ashley Brown will also be a special education coordinator for grades preK-12 including Houston and MNVA this year. Brown graduated from UWL in 2005 and earned her master’s degree from UW-Whitewater in 2015. In 2021, she earned her director of special education licensure from Viterbo University. She taught special education for 12 years in classrooms in McFarland, Wis., and Onalaska, Wis. For the last five years she has been a special education coordinator.
Brown’s love of learning drew her to teaching; she always knew she wanted to be a teacher. She chose special education as her field because she had individuals in her life with disabilities; she wanted to be their advocate and “ensure that all people with disabilities have equal access to a rich and deserving education.”
Ashley and her husband Nick live in Bangor, Wis. They have been married for 17 years and have three daughters: Brooklyn, 14; Charlie Mae, 10; and Monroe, 8. Watching sports, playing games, and doing puzzles are some of the things she does in her spare time. Ashley loves to be outside and spend time with her family including their dog Betty, their cat Lucy, and their pet frog Tony.
Brown feels that bringing new special education practices, personnel, and systems to Houston and MNVA will be wonderful, but also a lot of work. She is looking forward to learning more about the students, families, and teachers in her new community.
Her goals for the year include providing teachers with the resources and support they need to provide the best possible education for the students, getting to know the entire community well, and leaving a positive impact on the people she works with daily.
Nancy Engrav has already served the Houston Schools for many years as a special education consultant through HVED; she is not new to the school or the area. She will continue to serve the students with the only change being that her contract is now with Houston Schools; as a result, she declined to do a further interview.
Welcome to all the new teachers at Houston School; have a great year!