School Leadership

Jacob Smith
Dr. Jacob Smith
Leadership Board

Dr. Jacob Smith has been the owner and operator of Ladysmith Veterinary Clinic LLC since 2015. He previously held the same role with Ridgeland Veterinary Clinic LLC until it was sold in 2022. He is a longtime youth athletics coach, leading hockey, baseball, and soccer teams in both Minnesota and Wisconsin since 2007. He currently serves as the Cross Country Coach at Imago Dei Academy. Jacob and his wife Breann have 5 children; Brooklyn, Masyn, Adalyn, Camdyn, and Edyn who love spending time playing sports, riding horses, and enjoying the outdoors. Dr. Smith is also a Fellow with the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

Shaun Jochimsen
Shaun Jochimsen
Assistant Administrator

Shaun Jochimsen has lived in Ladysmith since 2011.

Shaun and her husband, Derek, have 4 children, Tristen, Noah, Lena, and Landon.

Shaun has been working at Offering Hope Therapies since 2019. Before that, she was a stay at home mom running an in-home daycare until their children entered school. Shaun has a degree in Business Administration.

The Jochimsens enjoy making maple syrup, beekeeping, being outside, and spending time with their large families. They have 31 nieces and nephews. They are excited for their children to go to a Christ-centered school.

Betty Sitler
Betty Sitler
Leadership board

I’m from a small farm community in Liberty, Illinois, where I attended the same public school 1st-12th grade. I graduated from high school and Cosmetology school the same year. In 1960, I continued my education at Evangel University (an Assembly of God liberal arts college), in Springfield, Missouri, where I earned a BS degree in Elementary Education and Music. By 1964, I had lifetime teaching licenses in Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin. The first 15 years of my teaching career were in Illinois, where I taught in elementary classes, both individual and combined classrooms. In addition to teaching responsibilities, I was a building principal.

My late husband, 2 daughters and I moved to Holcombe in 1978 where I was hired to teach in the elementary school there. I taught special education for 10 years, while working toward my Master’s Degree in that field. The other 13 years were spent in the elementary classroom, technology, computer labs and Title I reading.

In 2002, I retired from teaching to care for my husband and help raise our grandchildren until he passed in 2012. Then, it was back to the classroom. During these last 10 years, I’ve held different positions at Our Lady of Sorrows School, where our grandchildren attended. I’ve experienced teaching long term, full time in a split classroom, teaching intermediate music, and just substituting in all classes.

For 3 decades, I was a part of the ministry and leadership team at the Full Gospel Church in Sheldon. However, the Lord had other plans for my remaining years to serve Him and worship at the Church of Christ here in Ladysmith. I love the Lord, I love my family, and I love teaching. I guess you can say I’m just a student who never left the classroom.

Lanita Stutzman
Lanita Stutzman
Leadership Board

Lanita moved to Rusk County in 2014 with her husband Shelby and son Jack. She has thoroughly enjoyed getting to know people in this community. Youth have been a passion of hers for a long time, and she has served them through teaching Sunday school, as a youth pastor, leading Bible studies, and one-on-one mentoring for over 20 years.

Lanita is a stay-at-home-mom to her 3 young sons. She has enjoyed traveling to many different countries using her nursing career to help those less fortunate in countries like Haiti, Benin, Kenya and Liberia. Cross-culture awareness is something that she values and believes every person should experience so you realize how blessed we are in the USA.

Currently, her volunteer time is used to teach the youth at her church, mentor teens & moms. In the past, Lanita has served on the local Pregnancy Resource Center and Rusk County Youth Council (RCYC) boards and started and directed Power House Youth Center in Ladysmith. She has volunteered with Youth with a Mission (YWAM), Mercy Ships and other organizations on local and foreign mission trips.

Some of her favorite past times are being outdoors and being with her family and friends. Lanita received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in 2000 and attended a YWAM Discipleship Training School (DTS) in 2001.

Dr. Rick Rapp
Dr. Rick Rapp
Leadership Board

Dr. Rick Rapp is a Physician licensed in the specialties of Family Medicine and Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine. He practices comprehensive holistic primary care practice. He also integrates his Christian faith into medical care discussing spiritual health with patients, prescribing spiritual wellness practices, and praying with patients. He attends and serves at Red Cedar Church in Rice Lake, WI with his wife Katrina and children Ezekiel, Aspen, and Iris. He is involved in other local ministries including Ruby’s Pantry and Power House Youth Center.

He and Katrina are proud Imago Dei Academy parents as well, grateful for the tremendous impact the school has had in their children’s live and their family as a whole.


Alissa Zimmerman
Alissa Zimmerman
K-2nd Teacher

I am Alissa Zimmerman, also known as Mrs. Zimmerman by day and Miss Alissa by night. This is my first year teaching education…ever! I am a teacher to 1st and 2nd graders, as well as our single Kindergartener.

A little bit about me, I grew up in Rusk County and recently moved to Ladysmith from Weyerhaeuser. Ever since I was little, I’ve been fascinated by the fine arts. My mom is an amazing artist and always had a project on her easel. In school I took everything “musical” from show choir to jazz band. In 2014, I married my husband and started a business, Live to Dance Studio. As the years progressed we had two children who often came to dance classes with me. As a family we enjoy the outdoors, fishing and swimming.

The Lord has made such beautiful things for our eyes to behold and has given talents to all of us to share.

Carissa Nelson
Carissa Nelson
3rd-4th Grade Teacher

Hello! I am Carissa, a very blessed teacher of 3rd and 4th graders at Imago Dei Academy. It is a joy to instill the love of learning into these young minds and hearts.

I am new to Rusk County, but born and raised in the Midwest. Spending my day with children is not foreign to me! I grew up in a family of 10 kids, being the second oldest. Our home was always open to foster children in need of a home, neighbors who had no family for the holidays, or international students hungry to have a family away from home. Over the last 6 years, I have been actively involved in international student ministry, as well as overseas missions – starting and growing Bible Quizzing in the country of Belize. I graduated from Ambassador College of Bible and Ministry in 2020, and since then I have been working as a birth doula in the Twin Cities.

When I’m not at work or out in the community, you can almost always find me curled up with a new book and a cup of tea (ask my students!), playing piano, or on a long walk soaking up the sun.

I am thankful for the community IDA has already formed and humbled to be a part of it. I pray that the Lord will open the minds and hearts of these students to see the golden threads of the gospel woven through all that they learn. All glory be to Christ.

Nick Moelter
Nick Moelter
6th-8th Grade Teacher

My name is Nick Moelter. I am 34 years old and live in Bruce, WI with my beautiful wife Emily and our 3 daughters Ava(7), Jo(5), and Lisa(3). I graduated from the University of Wisconsin River Falls in 2011. After which, I taught preschool for 3 years.

Rusk county became my home in 2014 when I began my 7 years of teaching 2nd Grade at LES. God has been leading the way through my professional career, and I was very blessed when he opened the doors of IDA. I am honored to be the 6-8th grade teacher at IDA for the school’s first year. I look forward to seeing what God has in store for our school going forward.

God Bless,
Mr. Moelter

Melanie Barfknecht - Art Teacher
Melanie Barfknecht
Art Teacher

Hello, my name is Melanie, and I have the privilege of sharing my love for art with your children.

My journey started when I was young and my mother sensed there was talent that needed to be nurtured. My first painting lessons began at age 12, which sparked a desire to try all different types of medium. I walked away from it for about 10 years, but then God showed me His plan to revive it again through many opportunities while serving in the local churches. The Creator of the universe is my guide through each new endeavor!

My prayer is to make each child understand their uniqueness and to express themselves through artistic projects while learning the history of art.

Emily Kormann - Stringed and Piano Teacher
Emily Kormann
Stringed and Piano Teacher

Hi, I’m Emily! I have always enjoyed music, and I started playing piano at age 8. In the following years, I added mandolin and violin. I have earned my Bachelor of Arts degree from UW-Superior, where I majored in music with an education emphasis, and I accompanied that with a business minor.

I have been teaching private music lessons for over 10 years and have also had the privilege of teaching individual and group lessons for a string program based in Hayward. I love getting kids of all ages started on their own musical journeys, and I’m grateful to be on staff at IDA.

Currently, I share my musical talents by playing piano for two local churches on a weekly basis and with my siblings in our family bluegrass band. When I’m not teaching lessons, I enjoy helping on our family farm, hiking, backpacking, baking, and crocheting.

Nicole DeFord - Choir and Piano Teacher
Nicole DeFord
Choir and Piano Teacher

My name is Nicole DeFord, and I will be the Choir instructor at Imago Dei Academy for this 2022-2023 school year. My family and I have been living in the area since my father took a job as head pastor at Northland Bible Church in 1996. Although I spent four years away from Rusk County while I attended college and earned a Bachelor’s in Biblical Counseling, the Lord saw fit to bring me back to Ladysmith where I have served in the local church, taught piano lessons, and worked, first in a factory setting and then as a full time teacher at the Flambeau Schools. It is now my pleasure to be instructing the students of Imago Dei Academy in chorale singing, as well as, general music.

I look forward to getting to know each student and parent alike throughout this year. It is my hope that this music course will be a blessing to those participating and will be an opportunity for growth, understanding, and achievement for each and every student as they pursue their knowledge of the language of music.

Breann Smith
Breann Smith
Junior Kindergarten Teacher

Breann Smith moved to Bruce, WI with her husband and children in 2013. Breann has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Nursing from the College of St. Scholastica and worked as an Registered Nurse for a number of years before becoming a stay at home mother.

Breann has served as a volunteer with the Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center, The Powerhouse Youth Center and as a teacher in children’s ministry at Living Faith Church. Formerly a competitive figure skater and lifeguard, she has aided local youth hockey associations in their Learn to Skate programs and helped teach young children swimming lessons.

Breann and her husband Jacob have 5 school age children of their own that they homeschooled for a period of time. This has all prepared her well to lead the first year of our 2-day Junior Kindergarten program.