Rigorous academics and character development inspire lifelong learning.

Our Teachers & Staff

We’re proud of our talented, dedicated staff and teachers. Meet them!


Donna Niccolai-Weber — Executive Director
Donna Niccolai-Weber
I have had the pleasure of serving as the Executive Director at CWA since 2004 when the school opened its doors. I have a Bachelor’s Degree from Cardinal Stritch University and a Master’s from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. I have been an educator for almost 40 years, working as a teacher and administrator. I have been fortunate to work with students and families in a variety of settings including public schools, social service facilities and a charter school. I believe that a strong partnership between parents and teachers is critical to ensure the educational success of all children. Communication is key. I look forward to working with you and I encourage you to contact me with any ideas, questions or concerns.
dweber@cwacademy.org 414.465.1335
Mora Anderson — Coordinator of Student & Family Services
Mora Anderson
This is my first year at CWA and I’m excited to by your new Coordinator of Student and Family Services! I’ve been in education my entire career, which has spanned 23 years, and includes teaching for Milwaukee Public Schools and being administrator, most recently as Associate Principal at Nicolet High School. I studied at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. I believe students’ needs come first and teachers and parents should organize around those needs. Parents are invited into the learning process and I look forward to providing lots of opportunities for student and parent involvement.
Charmin McGlaston — Guidance Counselor and Alumni Coordinator
Charmin McGlaston
While this is my first year at CWA, this is not my first year working with students and families in an educational setting. My previous experience in education comes from eight years of work and collaboration within the Milwaukee Public Schools System. I look forward to offering support to the students, staff and families of CWA. Students can request to meet with me and parents are encouraged to reach out to me too. If you would like for me to meet with your child, please don’t hesitate to contact me. My role is to partner with parents and CWA staff to help students achieve personal, social and academic goals.


Teresa DeFrancisco — Kindergarten
Teresa DeFrancisco
This is my second year teaching at CWA. Last year I taught 5-year-old kindergarten and this year I will be teaching 4-year-old kindergarten. I have taught 3-5 year olds for the past 18 years in Head Start and K4 programs in Waukesha. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. It is my passion to help each child discover their unique strengths and talents. I want to build a classroom community that promotes respect and fosters a love for learning.
Karen Maass — 1st Grade
Karen Maass
This is my tenth year teaching at CWA. While at Capitol West, I have taught K4, K5, K5/1st grade split and this year I am excited to be teaching a 1st/2nd grade split. I graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. When I am not in the classroom teaching, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, traveling and shopping. I believe every student is unique and I will honor that while ensuring their success in school. I would like all of my students to work to their full potential and understand what that is. My students will be positive role models in both the community and school. Parents are an essential piece of education and I welcome your input.
Carol Korpela — 2nd Grade
Carol Korpela
This is my sixth year teaching at CWA. My education includes a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a master’s degree in education from Carroll College and 33 additional graduate-level credits in education. In addition, I’m taking instructional mentoring courses at Cardinal Stretch University. I taught for MPS for 34 years, guest taught for three districts, and taught reading for the Kettle Moraine District during summer school. My goal is to give my students a strong foundation for their future endeavors so they can accomplish whatever they aspire to in life. By working together with great parents, I feel that I am able to do that.
Sara LaCrosse — 2nd, 3rd Grade
Sara LaCrosse
This is my sixth year at CWA. I will be teaching a 2/3 split this year. I am a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. My goal is to provide a safe learning environment for all students in my class. I strive to meet the needs of every student by teaching material in multiple ways. My students are held accountable for their work and actions. Students set goals weekly and we work towards our goals until they are completed. I believe all students at CWA will become productive citizens in our community. Students are taught to have character and live the core values in all aspects of their lives.
Cailee Laurel — 3rd Grade
Cailee Laurel
This is my first year teaching at CWA. I am so excited to be teaching third grade! I graduated from Marquette University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Sociology. It is my goal to create a safe and exciting learning environment for my students. I will ensure that all my students’ individual needs are being met through a continuous reflection of my own teaching practices. Through this process, my students and I will be able to learn and grow together to achieve excellence.
Melissa Faber — 4th Grade
Melissa Faber
This is my second year as a classroom teacher at CWA. Last year, I was the third and fourth grade split teacher, and this year, I will be teaching fourth grade. I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I was an Instructional Assistant at CWA after I graduated, then taught elsewhere as a classroom teacher for four years. My goal is to inspire students to become lifelong learners and leaders in their community. I strive to provide a safe classroom community where students feel comfortable taking risks and trying new things.
Carmen Jackson — 5th Grade
Carmen Jackson
This is my first year at CWA. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development from Marquette University. I have taught in a variety of educational settings throughout Milwaukee. I have instructed students in grades 1-8 at least once during my 25+ year career. I strongly believe that children can learn given the proper environment, care and tools. As an educator it is my responsibility to utilize all available resources to ensure that every child reaches their highest potential.
Liza Sandy — 5th, 6th Grade
Liza Sandy
This is my first year as a classroom teacher. I was an aide here at CWA two years ago and am happy to be back! I spent those two years earning an Inclusive Education Certification at Cardinal Stritch University. I was placed at five different schools for field experience and student teaching during that time, and CWA is still the one that I wanted to teach at. My goal is to empower students to find their own voices in their education and in their lives beyond it.
Patricia Thomas — 6th Grade
Patricia Thomas
This is my first full year at CWA, after having joined during the 2015-2016 school year. A graduate of Custer High School, I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications (Speech), with a Minor in Journalism from Marquette. I have taught in Compton, as well as Los Angeles Unified School Districts (1996-2013). I received a Master’s in Multicultural Education from California State Dominguez Hills and also a Clear Multiple Subject, K-12 Teaching Credential with an Emphasis on English Learners. I am certified to teach English and Non-English speaking students and adults in any subject area. I have high expectations and want students to realize that they are here on earth to help themselves and others and leave a positive mark on our society.
Brian Staus — 7th, 8th Grade Social Studies, Language Arts
Brian Staus
This is my eighth school year teaching at CWA. I will be teaching social studies for seventh and eighth grade. Before joining CWA, I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and taught high school social studies for two years at Watertown High School. I have teaching licensure in broadfield social studies (grades 6-12) and in all core subjects as a charter school teacher (grades 2-8). I want my students to be well prepared for the demands of high school and beyond. To do this, I will live the CWA core values and performance values whole ensuring that my students do the same.
Andrea Ervin — 7th, 8th Grade Math, Science
Andrea Ervin
This is my seventh year at CWA and my ninth year teaching. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in mathematics from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. I have taught middle school math in Nevada and North Carolina. I want to ensure that all my students have the skills needed to be successful in life, wherever the pay may take them. I know every child has a unique learning style and I try daily to reach all students with my different teaching styles.
Samantha Loeck — Art
Samantha Loeck
This is my third year teaching Art at CWA. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Fashion Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design, and completed my certification in Art Education from Mount Mary University in 2014. My past experience working in the fashion industry, living in various area of the United States and traveling have greatly influenced who I am today as a person, an artist and a teacher. I plan to use my experiences and knowledge as a resource as I work with students and introduce them to new and exciting art concepts and ideas.
Karen Lehman — Special Education, Coordinator
Karen Lehman
This is my second year at Capitol West Academy. I have taught for almost 20 years in a variety of different special education classrooms in three different states (Wisconsin, Texas and Florida). I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and my master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. This year, in addition to working with students in various grade levels, I will also be the special education coordinator. My belief is that every child has unlimited potential and my goal is to help students improve their academic skills as well as working with them on developing positive character traits. I look forward to working with all the students, parents and staff again this school year.
Susan Ward — Speech & Language Pathologist
Susan Ward
This is my eighth year as the Speech/Language Pathologist at CWA. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Communicative Disorders from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a Master’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. I work with students in grades K4 through eighth in the classroom and in small group sessions. I enjoy being part of a collaborative team, working on strengthening students’ communication skills. I believe every child has something important to say and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to help many unlock their voices.