Sky Teacher, Ages 11 to 14, Room 200
B.S., Criminal Justice, University of Dayton
B.S., Elementary Education (grades 1 to 9), UW-Madison
Kathy is a firm believer in a progressive approach to education and has loved being a part of the Wingra community since 2000.
A native of Cincinnati, Kathy was educated at the University of Dayton and the University of Wisconsin. She spent eight years traveling the world with her husband, Dave, prior to joining the Wingra faculty. In addition to exploring the U.S. and Canada, the couple spent six months living in a tent in Australia and resided in Taiwan for two and half years, where they taught English.
Kathy considers herself a citizen scientist and a life-long learner. Teaching at Wingra allows her to ask questions and actively pursue an increased understanding of herself and the world each and every day. Kathy and Dave have three children, Willie, Leo, and Laurel.
Sky Teacher, Ages 11 to 14
BA, Social Sciences, U of California, Berkeley
MS, Curriculum & Instruction, Teach for Diversity, U of Wisconsin, Madison
Master’s certificate, Sustainability Leadership, Edgewood College
Joining Wingra as a staff member feels like a homecoming for me. I attended an independent progressive school in Chicago for 14 years; my own daughters were Lakers and Skyers; and I have partnered with Wingra teachers in various ways over the years. I have been striving for years to be a democratic, progressive educator in public schools and I am thrilled to join the Sky team!
I began my teaching career in 1996 at Midvale/Lincoln and have since taught grades 2-5 in MMSD. Over the years I have partnered with teachers to publish student work, build school gardens, and host conventions for students to work directly with experts in various fields. I am a founding member of Madison’s Caucus of Rank and File Educators (MadCORE). We were instrumental in getting MMSD to participate in the National Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action and to adopt a reasonable class size policy. I have held various leadership positions in Madison Teachers, Inc. (MTI). For the past 15 years I team taught with incoming Lake teacher, Shannon Richards at Muir Elementary. One of the things I am most proud of is the outdoor education program we built in partnership with Madison Audubon Society. Our program included lots of reading, writing, science and math as well as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, art and games. Pre-pandemic we partnered with the Pond Team and several MMSD teachers to hold Outdoor Summits for students.
My professional development interests include anti-racist practices, Restorative Justice, adventure-based education and outdoor education.
In addition to teaching I love canoeing, kayaking, skiing, hiking, biking, books, tacos, Wordle, Nerdle and gross and wacky animal facts. My family includes my partner, Jerry, our giant dog, Schatzi and my amazing daughters, Lulu and Ruby Guzman.
Sky Teacher, Ages 11 to 14
B.S., Special Education (Cognitive Disabilities), UW-Madison
B.S., Elementary Education, UW-Madison
Claire has been teaching in the Lake for twenty years. Before coming to Wingra in 1999, Claire taught special education at the middle and secondary levels, worked in Madison food coops, and spent time with her three children, who are now young adults. Claire lives in rural Mount Horeb with her husband.
Personal experiences with progressive education inspired Claire to teach at a school like Wingra. She attended an alternative school-within-a-school in Newton, MA for eighth and ninth grades. Never before had she encountered teachers who would accommodate her learning needs and preferences, including a science teacher who made space in his lab for her to have an individualized, somewhat self-directed science class. (One week he dumped a bag of cat bones on the table, with instructions to research a cat’s body, assemble and draw the skeleton, and report on it.) She was allowed to spend an entire week puzzling out the parts of a cat’s body, and the ways all its systems worked together, as she assembled its skeleton. She not only learned about biology but also that a teacher could trust a student to learn what she needed to learn to solve a problem. This early experience made Claire resolve to be a teacher and make a similar difference in her students’ lives.
After high school, Claire took a four-year “gap year” to work in a local food coop. She then enrolled in the UW School of Education to complete a degree in Special Education. Later, she returned to add another B.S. in Elementary Education, student teaching in a Wingra School classroom!
Claire has also vicariously experienced progressive education through her children, who have attended Malcolm Shabazz City School in Madison, an experimental multi-age elementary classroom in Mount Horeb, and The Putney School in Putney, Vermont. In each of these programs, Claire has observed inspired teachers enriching the education and lives of students at all age levels.
When not at school, Claire enjoys camping and hiking, reading, writing, cooking, and traveling. These pursuits have led her to study American Sign Language, Yiddish, Italian, Hebrew, and Chinese, and to travel to Italy and across Hong Kong and Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces in China.
When not traveling and writing, Claire soaks up professional development opportunities; in 2014, she was honored to participate in the Greater Madison Writing Project, the local cohort of the National Writing Project, which inspires teachers of writing. In the summers of 2016 and 2017, she enjoyed “paying it forward” by teaching at the Young Writers Camp, and hopes to do so again in the coming year. In 2017, she was given a grant to study Holocaust and social justice education by The Olga Lengyl Institute, based in New York City. In the coming year, she hopes to finish writing a book for young adults about the Holocaust, and to continue teaching at Young Writers Camp in Madison. Most recently, she has enjoyed presenting Lake math strategies with her team at the Progressive Education Network 2017 conference in Boston.
Sky Teacher, Ages 11 to 14
B.S., Elementary Education, Edgewood College
Lydia Portzen is so excited to join the Wingra teaching team. Lydia grew up in Madison right down the road from Wingra and graduated from West High. After two years at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, Lydia finished her B.S. in Elementary Education from Edgewood College. Lydia has been working as a 4th, 5th, and 6th grade teacher in Oregon for the past six years. Lydia lives in Verona with her husband and three kids: Sam (2), Alaina (4), and Landen (18), who will be headed off to college at UW LaCrosse in the fall. When not teaching or gobbling up professional content, Lydia can enjoys running, gardening, and going on local mini-adventures with her family.