Now Enrolling K4 - 4th Grade

Meet Our Educators

Maria Ayala

Vice President of Educational Services

Hello! My name is Maria Ayala and I serve as the Vice President of Educational Services for La Casa de Esperanza. In this capacity I oversee the operations of our charter school. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and a Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction license in School Administration.
 
I am a true educator at heart! I taught elementary school students in Milwaukee Public Schools for 13 years and then went on to train individuals who wanted to teach for 3 years through the Milwaukee Teacher Education Center.  I also worked for the MPS Human Resource department for a number of years recruiting, hiring and training teachers. I then became the principal, and then Director of Education, at La Causa Charter School in Milwaukee. In my time there we were able to grow the school to 800 students and take it from a school that Meets Few Expectations on the State Report Card to a school that Exceeds Expectations.
 
Coming to La Casa de Esperanza, I am excited to envision the great things that we will accomplish here. The staff, families and students show a great commitment to the school. I am happy to be joining this great group of individuals and working alongside of them to make La Casa de Esperanza Charter School the best educational choice for the families in Waukesha.

Anadri Ortiz
K4 Teacher

My name is Anadri Ortiz. I was born in Venezuela. I graduated with a Bachelor of Elementary Education at the University in Caracas. I was a primary school teacher (1-6) for 3 years and then I was teaching English and Spanish at the middle school for 7 years in my country.

Currently, I live in Waukesha with my husband, Leybant and my two daughters (Andrea and AnaCorina).  I enjoy cooking, watching movies, eating out and spending time with the family.  I like to work at La Casa Charter School because you feel a team work environment, there is an opportunity to grow professionally, and families and staff feel at home like a big family.  I love my work, I love teaching, I love to work at La Casa.

Sarah Daniels
K5 Grade Teacher

My name is Sarah Daniels, and I have been working with La Casa de Esperanza Charter School for the last three years.  I have a bachelor’s degree in education that I received from Alverno College in2008.  Since then I have participated in many workshops, online seminars and teacher collaboration meetings to stay up to date on new practices.   Overall, I have 11 years teaching early elementary school students in grades K4-1st grade.  When I’m not searching Pinterest for fun, new ideas for the classroom I love to spend time with my family, friends and pets. We love to be outside hiking, playing sports and traveling.  I love the support I receive from parents at the Charter School and how we can work together as team to make sure each child is getting what they need. What I love about La Casa as a whole is the family environment and how La Casa focuses on the well-being of the entire family.

Kimberly Ipsa
1st Grade Teacher

Hello, I'm Kimberly Ipsa, and this is my second year at La Casa de Esperanza Charter School as a K5 teacher!  I've received my Associates in Liberal Arts degree at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, MN.  At the time of my graduation, it was only a two year college, so I finished my education at Lakeland College(now University) based out of Plymouth, WI. I've been blessed to be able to teach scholars for 13 years in first and second grade. I look forward to helping all of my kindergartners grow and reach their full potential, academically and socially.  I am from Mukwonago, WI, and married with four children ages, 8, 11, 13 and 15.  I enjoy spending time with family and friends camping and at the lake.  I also tutor Chinese students in English online during weekend.  

I love that La Casa is there to help every student reach their full potential.  Sometimes that means going beyond supporting just the student. La Casa has many programs and activities that help parents. These programs include weatherization, housing, tax help, school uniform help, transportation to and from school, and connecting parents to other programs that best help them.  This support benefits whole families and ultimately gives students the support they need to be their best in the classroom. 

Kari Scheifen
1st Grade Teacher

Hi! My name is Kari Scheifen and I have been a K4 teacher at La Casa for the past two years. I’ve worked in early childhood education for the past 18 years, in various positions teaching children, birth to 5 years old.  Before coming to La Casa, I worked in an early childhood center for 14 years, then as a K4 teacher in an urban private school for two years.  I earned my bachelor’s degree in education from Lakeland college in 2014.  I currently hold a Wisconsin State license to teach Pre-k through 6th grade. Early childhood is truly my passion and I look forward to a new adventure every day. When I am not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my husband and two daughters.  As a family, we like to go to the movies, play games and go on spontaneous road trips.  A few of my favorite activities are reading, shopping and crafting. What I love about La Casa is having the opportunity to work for an organization that provides service to my hometown community of Waukesha.

Denise Schmitz
2nd Grade Teacher

Hello, I'm Denise Schmitz, and this is my second year teaching at La Casa de Esperanza Charter School.  I have my Bachelor of Arts Degree from U.W. Whitewater, and currently pursuing a Master of Education, Mt. Mary University.  I have been working in education for nine years, and special education for one year.  Children have always been my passion, and I have worked with them in various capacities over the years, including for the Waukesha School District, the Elmbrook School District, the Waukesha Parks and Recreation Department, and the YMCA. I have coached gymnastics, cheerleading and basketball, and I served on the school board of a private school for six years. I have four children and one granddaughter.  A native and resident of Waukesha, I enjoy kayaking, traveling, watching movies, eating out and spending time with family and friends.

I love that La Casa is the heart of Waukesha, a melting pot of diversity, it has been a fixture of or community for many years.   As I tell my students, we are like one big family. Everyone, including the administration, the staff, the families and the students, are friendly, caring and supportive. As a teacher, I love the personal connections I make with my students and seeing them grow daily, personally and academically.  I enjoy working at a school that is in my own neighborhood, seeing the students outside of school, and the excitement on their faces when they see me walking down the sidewalk.

Justine Alswager
3rd Grade Teacher

My name is Justine Alswager and I am the third-grade teacher at La Casa de Esperanza Charter School.  I have been with La Casa since March of 2017.  At that time, I took over teaching K5 while the teacher was on maternity leave.  The next year I started the school year with K4.  I have been working with preschool-aged children since 2002 when I began as a teaching assistant at my daughter’s Head Start program.  I went to school to become a teacher and I have been a teacher since 2011.  I have my bachelor’s degree from Lakeland College along with a teaching license through the Wisconsin Department of Education for grades Pre-K through 6th grade.  I also hold a Level 15 with The Registry, an organization which verifies that individuals exceed entry-level requirements for childcare as established by The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.  I live in East Troy with my three children, cat, and dog.  My daughter is 21 and my sons are 13 and 11.  In my personal time I read, and I like learning about and discussing current events. I also love anything in the arts including music, theater, literature, movies, and dance.  When the weather is nice, I spend a lot of time outdoors at the beach relaxing or hiking in the woods.

I love how La Casa de Esperanza Charter School serves a close-knit community.  Many of the families who have students attending La Casa Esperanza have been attending and supporting the organization for many years, even before the Charter School opened its doors.  I also love how the school has a small and family-like atmosphere where the staff and students know each other by name.

Gloria Sosa
4th Grade Teacher

Hello, I grew up in Mexico where I earned my Bachelor of Control and Computer Engineering degree from UANL.MX. My husband and I moved to Milwaukee. I have three boys, two girls and four granddaughters. I obtained my teaching license at MTEC. In Milwaukee, I taught first-grade Bilingual for four years and two years as an algebra teacher at Aurora. We moved to Waukesha and I worked with the School District of Waukesha, for 15 years. I retired from the district and now it is my second year at La Casa de Esperanza working as a fourth-grade teacher.

 

I’ve had an excellent experience working at La Casa de Esperanza, it is a great place to learn. It’s students, dedicated staff, and the community of parents make this a place for everyone to learn and grow. I believe that La Casa de Esperanza is a young school with an excellent future for students. Working with children on a daily basis, it is both my passion and a privilege because I’m doing a job that I love.  In my spare time, I love to spend time with my family.  My family is my support system and they mean the world to me.  

 

Diana Mercado Losada
Art & Spanish Teacher

My name is Diana Mercado. I am the Art & Spanish teacher in our school La Casa de Esperanza. It’s my second year working on the Charter School. I have 12 years doing my current job as a teacher (10 years in Puerto Rico and 2 in here). I studied in Puerto Rico and I have a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. I am certified as an Art Teacher in the state of Wisconsin. I am 37 years old, I am married with a wonderful man, we do not have children but we have a pet that occupies a very important place in our family.

I love to work for La Casa de Esperanza because here we feel like family, we have a great team and together we work hard to offer our students the best teaching and great life experiences that will help them grow and become a good citizen in the future.

Melissa Argenzio 
Physical Education Teacher

Hi, I'm Melissa Argenzio, and I'm new to the La Casa de Esperanza Charter School family as the physical education teacher.  Over the past 4 years, I have directed and coordinated youth programs.  I have both my bachelor's degree and teaching license.  I enjoy providing the students with lessons that are engaging and fun.  In my spare time, I enjoy golfing and playing flag football.  My favorite thing about La Casa Charter School are the the students and their readiness to learn! 

Karen Christensen 
Special Education Teacher/Special Diagnostic Teacher

Hi, I’m Karen Christensen, and this is my first year at La Casa de Esperanza Charter School.  I began my teaching career in 1986 in San Antonio, Texas as a bilingual elementary school teacher. I returned to Wisconsin three years later to pursue my master’s degree in reading. In 1990, I began working for Milwaukee Public Schools as a bilingual elementary teacher. Over the course of my career with the district, I moved into the roles of a bilingual special education teacher and bilingual diagnostic teacher.  I’m excited to begin my second career at La Casa de Esperanza Charter School. I enjoy working with the dedicated, professional staff here who strive every day to make sure that all students achieve their full potential. I look forward to my future here at the charter school and building positive relationships with the families of the La Casa community.

Dina Guillen 
Parent & Community Liaison

I began working at La Casa de Esperanza Charter School in July of 2018.  For the last 9 years I’ve been working with the students and their families at La Causa.  I currently have my Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education, Associate Degree in Business Administration and Medical Assistant Certification.  I have been working for more than 15 years in the Educational area, working with children from 6 weeks to 14 years old as Para-Professional. I also worked 4 years as a Medical Assistant in Texas.  I love to walk at the park and spend time with my 17 years old daughter. I believe that the parental involvement can create a great impact in our children education and for that reason, I've been a Volunteer Parent at the UWM Pre-College Programs, Girls Scouts, Taekwondo Association, and I was part of the 4H Milwaukee County-UWM Leaders Council for 3 years.  

I like to work at La Casa de Esperanza Charter School because offers an inclusive environment for the whole family, we provide a variety of services for the Community and our main goal is to provide a quality education for your children.

Yazmin Quiles
Administrative Assistant II

I began working at La Casa de Esperanza Charter School in the summer of 2018 as the Administrative Assistant II with 23 years of experience working for schools. I worked in the Milwaukee Public Schools for 14 years as a Consultant, Bilingual School Secretary, Transportation Secretary, Records Secretary and Administrative Assistant I, I also worked 9 years at La Causa Charter School as a Payroll Specialist, Purchasing, Payroll & Transportation Specialist, Administrative Assistant I and Administrative Assistant II. I was born in San Juan Puerto Rico and have been living in Milwaukee for the last 25 years.  I am a mother of 2 boys, 27-year-old Teacher and a 23-year-old Electronic Engineer. Serving as an Administrative Assistant for my team has played a major role in my personal development, and I'm very committed, responsible, dedicated and organized.  Working with students and families is my passion. On my free time I'm enjoy crafting, watching movies and going out for coffee with family and friends.