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By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — New teachers and staff in the Elk Mound school district this fall include Kinsey Bodenburg, Megan Bonnell, Kenzie Brantner, Briana Kiesler, Breanna Larson, Mike Miller, Madeline Russell and JB Rykal — and familiar faces in new positions, Katie Auth, Sally Bartig and Annie Kongshaug.
The Colfax Messenger sent out questionnaires to them, and here are their profiles.
Katie Auth is serving as an Occupational Therapist for the Elk Mound school district working in the special education program.
Auth is a 1992 graduate of Rice Lake High School. She graduated from The College of St. Catherine in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Occupational Therapy and Art.
She has worked in the Elk Mound school district for the past three years under an outside contract and was hired this year directly by the school district. In the past, she has worked an occupational therapist for the Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, the Bloomer school district and the Chetek school district.
“I love working with children to help them reach their highest potential, and I’ve really enjoyed working with the teachers and staff in Elk Mound,” Auth said.
Her hobbies and interests include hiking with her husband and four children.
“We enjoy lots of outdoor activities together, but I also like curling up inside with a good book. I studied art in college and love to paint when I have the extra time,” she said.
Sally Bartig is serving as the Elk Mound High School administrative assistant.
She is originally from Ladysmith and graduated from Ladysmith High School and also graduated from Western Wisconsin Technical College with a degree in Administrative Assistant — Information Processing.
Before accepting the position in Elk Mound, Bartig served as the administrative assistant at St. Mary’s Elementary, and prior to that, she served as a four-year-old kindergarten aide at Mound View Elementary for six years.
“I live in Elk Mound and wanted to rejoin the district. I love the busy office environment and get to work with students I’ve known for a long time,” she said.
Kinsey Bodenburg is teaching third grade this year at Mound View Elementary.
She graduated from Elk Mound High School in 2006.
Bodenburg earned a degree in writing from Winona State University in 2010, and she earned a degree in Elementary Education from UW-Eau Claire in 2020.
Her interests and hobbies include spending time outdoors, traveling, camping, writing and crafting.
Megan Bonnell is serving as a speech-language pathologist at Mound View Elementary.
She graduated from Antigo High School in 2008.
Bonnell earned a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from UW-Eau Claire in 2012, and she earned a Master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from UW-Eau Claire in 2014.
Prior to accepting the position in Elk Mound, she was a speech therapist in Corpus Christi, Texas, schools for one year after she graduated from college. She and her husband then moved to La Crosse, where she was a speech therapist in the Onalaska school district for four years and in the La Crosse school district for one year.
Bonnell completed her student externship experience at Mound View in 2014 “and absolutely loved it.”
“The staff was amazing, the kids were so sweet, and I loved the community feel within the schools. My husband and I also love the Eau Claire area, so when the job was posted, we knew it was the opportunity we had been waiting for. I’m very excited to be back at Mound View,” she said.
Her hobbies and interests include spending time outdoors with her family hiking, camping, riding bikes or on the water. She also loves baking, painting and simply spending time with family and friends.
When asked if there was anything else she wanted people to know, Bonnell replied, “I have a three-year-old son named Leo who brightens my world.”
Kenzie Brantner is a serving as a long-term substitute teacher in special education in Elk Mound for the first semester.
She graduated from Durand High School in 2013 and from UW-River Falls in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Dairy Science and in the spring of 2020 with a Master’s degree in Agriculture Education.
Brantner was a student teacher in Elk Mound this past spring.
When asked why she accepted the position in Elk Mound, she replied, “I knew gaining knowledge in special education would greatly help me as a future general education teacher. I also really enjoyed my time in Elk Mound as student teacher.”
Farming continues to be an interest and a hobby for her.
“Farming has always been a big part of my life and will forever be a hobby and love of mine. It has been very different spending my time with the amazing students at Elk Mound. I’m used to spending my time with cows! I may not be your typical special education teacher, but my agriculture background has really helped me to connect with some of the students I have the pleasure of working with,” Brantner said.
Briana Kiesler is teaching fourth grade teacher at Mound View Elementary.
She graduated from River Falls High School in 2015 and graduated from UW-Stout in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and with a minor in Communication Sciences and Disorders.
Kiesler completed her student teaching in New Richmond.
When asked why she chose to apply for the position in Elk Mound, Kiesler replied, “I love the positive environment that this school district creates. Everyone in this district is so committed to each and every student’s success in learning. It’s an environment that I wanted to be part of because of this and so many other reasons. I am very thankful that I get to part of it and contribute to this wonderful district!”
Kiesler’s hobbies and interests include a love of the outdoors and hiking. She also enjoys playing softball, singing and reading.
“I’m looking forward to an amazing year,” she said.
Annie Kongshaug is serving as the curriculum coordinator for the Elk Mound school district.
Kongshaug taught in Elk Mound for 15 years, and during this past year, she worked as an educational consultant for CESA No. 11 in Turtle Lake.
Kongshaug graduated from Washington Park High School in Racine in 1999. She graduated from UW-Madison in 2003 with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Her Master’s degrees are in Professional Development and Educational Administration.
Kongshaug says she applied for the curriculum coordinator position to have the opportunity to support teaching and learning K-12.
“I am looking forward to working with staff, students and community members to ensure that students receive a high-quality educational experience in the Elk Mound Area School District,” she said.
Kongshaug’s hobbies and interests include spending time with her three children and her husband, Jordan, who teaches fourth grade in the Elk Mound district. As a family, the Kongshaugs love to golf and play basketball. Kongshaug says she also loves to read.
When asked if there was anything else she would like people to know, she replied, “I am very excited to serve as the curriculum coordinator in the Elk Mound Area School District.”
Breanna Larson is the new seventh and eighth grade Careers teacher, fifth and sixth grade Computer Apps teacher and the IMC specialist for Elk Mound Middle School and Elk Mound High School.
Larson graduated from New Richmond High School in 2007 and graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 2011 with a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Language Arts.
Prior to accepting the position in Elk Mound, she taught sixth grade English Language Arts and Social Studies in Clear Lake for eight years.
When asked why she chose to apply for the position, she replied, “It was closer to home and my two children, and we have heard such great things about the Elk Mound Area School District.”
Larson’s hobbies and interests include “loving to be with family and friends,” going to the movies and running.
“I’m very excited to be a Mounder!” she said.
Mike Miller is serving as a part-time school psychologist in the Elk Mound school district.
He is originally from Rice Lake and earned degrees from UW-LaCrosse, Winona State University and UW-River Falls in Broadfield Social Studies (7-12), Learning Disabilities (K-12) and as a school psychologist.
Before accepting the position in Elk Mound, he taught at Rushford High School in Rushford, Minnesota, Delong Middle School in Eau Claire and Washington Elementary in Marshfield.
When asked about his hobbies and interests, Miller replied, “In my spare time, I love to go fishing with my family and especially enjoy our annual fishing trip to Canada every year (except during Covid!). I also enjoy riding my ATV through the trails of Northwest Wisconsin. Spending time with my family at our cabin is always a highlight for me.”
In reply to whether there was anything else he would like people to know about him, Miller said, “Please don’t hold this against me, but I am a diehard Chicago Bears fan. Bear Down!”
Maddie Russell is serving as a math teacher at Elk Mound High School and is teaching Algebra I and year-long Geometry.
Russell graduated from Baldwin-Woodville High School in 2015.
She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Economics Education from UW-Eau Claire in 2019.
This is Russell’s first year of teaching, and she said she chose to apply for the job in Elk Mound because “I love smaller, close knit communities, and I heard such great things about the district.”
Her interests and hobbies include spending time with family and friends as much as possible.
JB Rykal is teaching Spanish at Elk Mound High School.
She graduated from Oshkosh North High School in 1996.
Rykal earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business and in Spanish from UW-Stevens Point in December of 2000.
Prior to accepting the position in Elk Mound, she taught both Business and Spanish in the Almond-Bancroft school district.
When asked why she chose to apply for the position, Rykal replied, “My husband, Jeff, is the new high school principal in Mondovi after being at Almond-Bancroft the last 15 years, so I was looking to apply in the surrounding area. This also affords us the opportunity to be so much closer to family.”
Her hobbies and interests include reading (currently reading C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett books), watching HGTV, spending time with her husband and four children at their cabin in Birchwood and getting out on the boat.
“We are looking forward to trying out Lake Wissota!” she added.
When asked if there was anything else she wanted people to know, Rykal replied, “I truly enjoy the Spanish language and believe that having a second language is beneficial for everyone!”