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Meet the Team

Administrative Team

Dr. Michael Karner

Regional Superintendent of Schools

In his 15 years as an educator, Dr. Michael Karner has served in several roles for school districts in Illinois including: Principal of the Lake County Regional Safe School Program, an Assistant Principal for Zion District 6 and a Mathematics, Spanish and ELL teacher at Zion Benton District 126. Dr. Karner currently serves as the Regional Superintendent of Schools for Lake County, IL which oversees 45 public schools, 27 private schools, 3 special education cooperatives, and 2 charter school districts. With access and opportunity as his guiding principle Dr. Karner is committed to ensuring that all school districts have supports and resources to provide a high-quality education to students.

Melissa Lundgaard

Executive Director

Melissa Lundgaard serves as the Executive Director of Illinois Virtual Schools & Academy. She has worked in the education space since 1994, having earned her degree from Miami University in Mathematics Education and her master’s in Education from The College of New Jersey. Prior to this role, she worked in the corporate world as a Human Capital Solutions Consultant at Aon. Melissa has also been Senior Manager of Leadership Development, Instructional Coach, and National Math Lab Instructor for Stride/K12. She brings experience from all over the country as an Adjunct Math Instructor, Teacher Trainer, and High School Mathematics teacher. In her free time, Melissa enjoys running, building community, spending time with her family and friends, and exploring the US National Parks.

Maria Gottschalk

Operations Director

Maria Gottschalk is the Director of Operations for the Illinois Virtual Schools and Academy. While employed at the Illinois State Board of Education, she was a founding staff member (along with her late husband, Jim Kinsella) of the virtual program in Illinois when the first students were enrolled in 2001. Maria was “hooked”. She has experience in almost every operational aspect of the program and is just as passionate today about serving the students, schools, and teachers as she was then. Over the years, the people in the program have become friends and family, and Maria treasures all of them. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, playing with her cat, attending musicals where her niece sings, and crocheting.

Ed Cook

Operations Coordinator

Ed Cook is the OPERATIONS COORDINATOR for Illinois Virtual Schools and Academy. He started his career in student services as the Program Coordinator for the Upward Bound Math and Science program at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. He joined Illinois’ virtual program as the Customer Service Lead in 2015, and later took on the role of Credit Recovery Coordinator. Ed also brings experience as a Client Success Manager for education technology companies, and tech startups. Prior to taking a ‘real job’, Ed spent several years travelling with his wife working as river guides throughout the world. In his free time, Ed is an avid outdoorsman. He enjoys fly fishing, hunting, backpacking, mountain biking, climbing, whitewater kayaking and rafting. Most of all, he enjoys being able to share these experiences with his children.

Full-Time Academy Staff

Brenda Elvers

School Counselor

Brenda Elvers is the SCHOOL COUNSELOR for IVSA. Mrs. Elvers is a graduate of the University of Illinois with a master’s in Human Development Counseling. She has 30+ years of experience in education, with 20+ years as a school counselor. Mrs. Elvers is excited to be a part of the virtual realm of education, an area that is growing dramatically while offering amazing opportunities for our young people. In her free time, Mrs. Elvers enjoys spending time hiking with her husband, running, working out, and hanging out with her family.

Kyle Grimes

Student Success Coach

Kyle Grimes is the STUDENT SUCCESS COACH for IVSA. Mr. Grimes has 15 years of experience in education, working primarily with middle and high school students in the virtual setting. He believes that student success is achieved through developing positive relationships and finding unique ways to encourage engagement. In his free time, Mr. Grimes enjoys spending time with his wife and son, exercising, watching sports, and taking his boat out on the lake.

Ron Chernobrov

History/Social Studies Teacher

Ron Chernobrov is a HISTORY/SOCIAL STUDIES TEACHER who has been teaching with the Illinois Virtual programs since 2012 and also works as an adjunct professor at a local community college near Chicago. He holds an undergraduate degree in history from Knox College, a master’s in Instructional Technology from Western Illinois University, and a master’s in History from Chicago State University. In his spare time, Ron enjoys tinkering with computers, reading, playing video games, and hanging out with his dog, Casey, who also serves as his teaching assistant.

Ellen Creaves

Mathematics Teacher

Ellen Creaves is a MATHEMATICS TEACHER for IVSA. She has over 20 years of experience in education, working with students in middle and high school classrooms and running her own tutoring business focusing on high school mathematics courses ranging from Algebra I to AP Calculus AB. She believes in building confidence, understanding the “why” behind our processes, and connecting math and real life. In her free time, Mrs. Creaves can be found running while listening to audiobooks, officiating swim meets for her kids’ club and summer teams, traveling near and far, or lying on the couch snuggling with her two cats.

Alana Ferguson

Science Teacher

Alana Ferguson is a SCIENCE TEACHER for IVSA. Alana graduated from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville with a bachelor of Biology and a certification in secondary education. She also has an ESL endorsement obtained through St. Francis University. Alana has been teaching science for 13 years (in Arizona, Japan, and Illinois) and absolutely loves it! She has experience teaching all areas of science, including Anatomy and Physiology, Biology, Chemistry, Physical Science, Physics, AP Environmental Science, and AP Physics. In her free time, Alana enjoys spending time with her husband and two small children, especially at the beach.

Margaret McGregor

English and Music Appreciation Teacher

Margaret McGregor is an ENGLISH AND MUSIC APPRECIATION TEACHER for IVSA at Lake County ROE. Margaret has 28 years of experience in education, working with Pre-kindergarten through high school students as a teacher, reading coach, and administrator. In her free time, Margaret enjoys traveling, watching classic movies, playing the trumpet, running marathons, and creating word games and puzzles.



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