Our Day School Teachers
Mrs. Tina Johnson – 3K
Mrs. Johnson grew up on a farm east of La Crosse.She attended Mt. Calvary Lutheran School andgraduated from Luther High School in 1991.Upon graduation she attended DMLC where she graduatedin 1995. After graduation she was assigned to teach grades K-4 in Valentine, NE.
In 1997 Mrs. Johnson married her husband, David,and together they resided in Decatur, IL. While in Decatur, Mrs. Johnsonserved as a preschool teacher at Richland
Community College Childcare Center and later taughtmusic in Decatur Public Schools. In 2000 the Johnsons movedto La Crosse. The following year Mrs. Johnson was
called to teach 3rd grade at Christ-St. John’s in West Salem where
she taught until 2004 when she was blessed with her first child, Meghan.
The Johnsons were blessed with three more children, Hannah,
Michael, and Henry, all of whom currently attend First Lutheran School.
In 2016 Mrs. Johnson returnedto the classroom as Mrs. Lehman’s aide in the prekindergarten room. In 2017 she was called to teach 3K.She feels blessed to serve First Lutheran School and Church.
Mrs. Laureen Lehman
4K, Surround Care Director
Mrs. Lehman grew up in Howard’s Grove, WI. She attended St. Paul’s Lutheran
School and graduated Manitowoc Lutheran High School before attending DMLC.
Mrs. Lehman is married to 2nd grade teacher Ken, who also attended DMLC.
She is blessed with three children: Steve (Katie), Nicole, and Andrew (Bethany).
Before moving to La Crosse, Mr. and Mrs. Lehman lived in Hortonville, WI.,
where Mr.Lehman taught at Bethlehem Lutheran School.
They have been in La Crossesince 1995. Mrs. Lehman has been teaching Preschool
and directing the Surround Careprogram since 2002. She enjoys being outdoors, doing crossword and jigsaw puzzles,reading, and whenever possible,having game nights with family and friends.
Mrs. Kristin Handy
Mrs. Handy has lived in the La Crosse area for most of her life. She is married to
Charlie Handy and they have 5 children. Her parents were school teachers which helped
in the decision to become a teacher.
Following graduation from DMLC, Kristin worked for La Crosse Day Cares
(now called Child First) before receiving a call to teach pre-kindergarten at Christ-St.John’sin West Salem and to start a preschool at Good Shepherd in Holmen. Kristin also hasexperience teaching first grade. She is looking forward to serving all families at First
Lutheran Church and School
Mrs. Vicki Riness
Mrs. Riness grew up on a farm near Galena, Illinois and graduated from
Elizabeth Public High School in 1974. She was encouraged by her pastor to attend
Dr. Martin Luther College and attended DMLC beginning Fall of 1974.
She graduated DMLC in January of 1980, and has served First Lutheran ever since.
She also graduated from UW-La Crosse with a MEPD in 1986.
Mrs. Riness married her husband, Clay, in 1984. they have been blessed with
two children, Cole and Grace. Cole was married at First Lutheran in the summer
of 2014 with Annie, and is a student at UW-L as well as serving in the Army National
Guard. Grace will attend Western Technical College in the fall of 2014.
Mrs. Riness teacher 1st grade most of the day, and works with individual and
small groups of students the rest of the day. She directs both school choirs,
plays the organ for church services, and coordinates the music for The Path.
Mr. Ken Lehman
Mr. Lehman was born and raised in Jefferson, WI. He attended St. John’s Lutheran
Grade School, Lakeside Lutheran High School, and graduated Dr. Martin Luther College
in 1984. He is married to Laureen (Jaeger) and has three children:
Steven, Nicole, and Andrew.
Before coming to First Lutheran in 1995, he taught at Immanuel in Greenville, WI, and
at Bethlehem in Hortonville, WI. Mr. Lehman taught 7th grade at First Lutheran for
18 years before transitioning to 2nd grade for the last two. Mr. Lehman is also the
athletic director for First Lutheran, directs the Exaltation Singers, and plays organ for
First Lutheran Church.
Mr. Steven Strong
Third and Fourth Grade
Steven is the youngest child of six of Pastor Dennis and Kathy Strong.
He was born in West Bend, Wisconsin, where he spent his early years.
His father then accepted a call to serve asPastor of Salem Lutheran Church in Greenfield, Minnesota. Here Steven attended Salem Lutheran School where he was confirmed and graduated. He then attended West Lutheran High School in Plymouth, Minnesota.
After graduating from West Lutheran, Steven attended Martin Luther College.
Here he met his wife, Jodi (nee Selin),who also attended and graduated from Martin Luther College. She recently began her position as a toddler teacher at UWL.
After graduating from MLC, Steven served as the principal and 7-8 grade
teacher at Trinity Lutheran School in Jenera, Ohio. Here he had the opportunity to serve as a coach among other duties. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports,
being outdoors, and spending time with his wife and dog, Lucy.
5th & 6th Teacher
Mrs. Olson grew up in Mequon, WI. She attended Calvary Lutheran School
during her grade school years, continued at Luther Preparatory School for high school,
and finished her studies at Martin Luther College.
After graduation, she married Dan Olson. Mrs. Olson worked at a Teacher's Assistant in Milwaukee for a year while her husband was studying to be a pastor.
Once her children were born she decided to stay home to raise them.
In 2006, her husband was assigned to be a pastor in New York City.
They lived there for 10 years and enjoyed city life! In 2016, the Olsons moved to Onalaska when Pastor Olson accepted the call to be a pastor at St. Paul's.
The Olsons have 5 girls: Madelyn (8th), Rileigh (7th), Mackenzie (5th), Hannah (2nd), and Lillie (K). Besides volunteering in her children's school over the years,
Mrs. Olson enjoys reading, playing piano, hiking, and doing anything outdoors.
She is excited to return to the classroom as Mr. Meitner's Administrative Release Teacher, and she is looking forward to getting to know the First Lutheran family and serving Jesus there.
Mr. Matt Meitner
Principal, 5th & 6th Grade
Mr. Meitner has been many places, but calls Wisconsin home now. His early life
consisted of growing up in wonderful places like Knoxville, TN; Appleton, WI; New
Ulm, MN, Santa Clara, CA, San Jose, CA, and Kenosha, WI. Mr. Meitner attended
Apostles Lutheran School, Peace Lutheran School, and
Friedens Lutheran School during hisgrade school years. After graduating
Shoreland Lutheran High School in Somers, WI (’91),
Mr. Meitner attended Dr. Martin Luther College and graduated in 1995.
Mr. Meitner’s first teaching position was in Skola Martina Luthera in Plzen,
Czech Republic. Being at a mission school really gave Mr. Meitner a love of outreach
and broadened his love of travel. Following two years of volunteer work in Plzen, Mr.
Meitner returned to the states and taught at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in St. James, MN,
where he taught 3rd-5th grade (with departmentalized Social Studies and English
for grades 3-8) and eventually became principal.
In 2000, Mr. Meitner was offered the opportunity to be part of the first group
of teachers sent by the WELS affiliated Friends of China, to teach Conversational English to 7th graders at Peking University in Beijing. This experience intensified even further his love of outreach.
Returning to the states in 2001, Mr. Meitner taught at Salem Lutheran School for
the next 10 years. At first Mr. Meitner’s duties were 5th-6th grade and athletic director.
Eventually, Mr. Meitner became principal, formed the Recruitment Committee, and
began the Washington D.C. trip for the upper graders.
In 2011, Mr. Meitner received a call to teach and be principal at Pilgrim Lutheran
School in Mesa, AZ. Three years later he returned to the Midwest to lead First Lutheran
as principal where he began in July of 2014.
Mr. Meitner is married to Kristy and has three boys, Michael (3rd grade), Daniel
(1st grade), and Jonathan (PreKindergarten). In his spare time, Mr. Meitner enjoys
watching movies, travelling, and drinking Diet Coke.
Mrs. Gail Bolstad
Seventh and Eighth Grade
Mrs. Berg grew up at First Lutheran in La Crosse, WI. Her family then moved to Colorado where she attended Highlands Ranch High School.
After high school she attend Martin Luther College where she graduated
with a degree in Elementary Education. Following graduation, she returned to CO
where her husband (Ben) was finishing school. After starting a family in 2006
they relocated back to WI. Since then she has taught at several
Sunday schools, was the toddler teacher and then the preschool teacher at La Crescent Christian Childcare Center and was a teacher aide at First Lutheran.
She and Ben have two girls; Grace (7th grade) and Evelyn (4th grade).
In her spare time Megan loves to read, travel, camp, watch her girls
doing what they love, and enjoys walks in her new neighborhood!
3K & K Assistant; Before Care
Mrs. Miller grew up in La Crosse and attended First Lutheran School
preschool through 8th grade.She graduated from Logan High School.
She is married to Eric Miller and they have 2 children: Eric and Wayne,
plus a step daughter named Angel. She’s been a stay at home mom. She loves arts and crafts, gardening, being outside, and enjoying time with family.
She’s thrilled to be able to be a part of the school and the First Lutheran Staff this year!
Miss Olivia Cox was born in Bryan, Texas and moved to Fond du Lac
when she was 18 months old. She is the daughter of Pastor Jon and Doreen Cox,
who has been serving at Bethel, Galesville and Arcadia for the past 6 years.
She graduated from Luther High School in 2014 and has had a variety
of childcare experiences since babysitting first sparked her interest
in working with children.Olivia enjoys being outdoors, Pinterest, bargain
shopping, dancing, and being with animals.
She is looking forward to working with Mrs. Lehman in
the 4-K classroom as she helps the children grow in their knowledge
of Jesus and the world around them.
Aftercare Program Director
Heidi was born in Montana and moved to La Crosse at a young age.
She attended First Lutheran grade school and
Luther High School. Heidi married her husband,Eric and they are blessed
with their wonderful daughter Brittany. Heidi enjoys reading,
Bible studies, and spending time with family and friends. Heidi also works at
First Steps Daycare Center at First Lutheran, La Crescent. In the past, Heidi
has been active in her community by volunteering at her daughter's school,
Christ St. John's Lutheran in West Salem, along with being an active member
on the advisory board for the Boys and Girls Club of West Salem.
Heidi has beenthe Aftercare Director at First Lutheran School since
2016 and enjoys serving thefamilies of First Lutheran.
Miss Lisa has worked for First Lutheran School since 2016 doing Aftercare. She also helps in the Library and serving hot lunch. She grew up working with kids alongside her mother and continued working with kids throughout her life. She also has twin boys attending FLS. Lisa enjoys arts & crafts, Bible studies, the outdoors and family game nights. Lisa is looking forward to serving the First Lutheran community.
Miss Coenen grew up in Shiocton, a small town outside of Appleton. She has an older and a younger sister and a dog. She is currently in her sophomore year at UW-La Crosse. She enjoys taking trips with her family to their cottage and going on vacations to anywhere that is warm. She is very excited to be part of the First Lutheran Community.