Two of Wisconsin’s teachers of the year are UWO graduates


Courtesy of UW Oshkosh — UWO alumnae Claudia Heller de Messer (left) and Katelyn Winkel-Simmerman (right) were among the teachers named by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as Wisconsin teachers of the year.

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Two University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumni are among the teachers named by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as Wisconsin teachers of the year.

Katelyn Winkel-Simmerman, who teaches math at Cedar Grove-Belgium Middle School, and Claudia Heller de Messer, an English as a second language teacher at Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts, are among the five honorees.

Both earned degrees at UW Oshkosh: Winkel-Simmerman earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2015 and a master’s in teaching and learning (math intervention) in 2019; Heller de Messer earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction in 2010.

“I had the best experience and education at UWO for my undergrad and master’s,” Winkel-Simmerman said. “The professors and math education department at UWO are top notch, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”

Winkel-Simmerman, Heller de Messer and the three other honorees interview with a committee and one is then chosen to represent Wisconsin in the National Teacher of the Year program.

Here’s a little more on these outstanding Titans and teachers:

Katelyn Winkel-Simmerman

Winkel-Simmerman has taught math at Cedar Grove-Belgium Middle School for over six years. By building relationships with students, she successfully finds innovative ways to reach and teach all students and help them learn and grow as individuals. As the adviser for the school’s Student Council and a variety of committees, she works with students to plan events and provide meaningful opportunities beyond the classroom, which have a positive effect on the school and community. Winkel-Simmerman takes part in various professional development opportunities.

Claudia Heller de Messer

Heller de Messer, a native of Colombia, has been a teacher with Milwaukee Public Schools since 1997, serving students and the district at Milwaukee Spanish Immersion School, Tippecanoe School for the Arts, Hayes Bilingual School and Parkside over the past six years. In her current role as an ESL specialist at Parkside, Heller de Messer works with 110 English learners who altogether speak 19 languages, supporting and advocating for them and their families, many who are recent refugees and immigrants to the United States. Colleagues and students credit her for their success in helping students and families navigate the systems of a new country.