Meet Our Teachers - Rawhide
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Meet Our Teachers

Dan Birr

Dan Birr
Director of Education

Since 1979, Dan has been serving in the education field teaching and as an administrator. Since 2004 Dan has been at Rawhide where he serves as the Principal of Starr Academy and the Director of Education.

Dan is committed to providing leadership and direction to the Education Team as the teachers provide at-risk young men with opportunities to make positive changes in their attitudes and academic skills through action and word.

Dan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Midwestern Bible College and later a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Along with his wife. Roberta, Dan currently serves as a foster parent and has also served as a houseparent in the past. Dan’s hobbies include hunting, fishing, camping, and spending time with his family.

Lea Ferg-Plunkett

Lea Ferg-Plunkett
Academic Art Instructor

Lea Ferg-Plunkett graduated from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and came to Rawhide in 2018.

After spending time subbing in the public school system, Lea felt God calling her to art therapy for hurting teens. She is very excited for the opportunity to help at-risk youth, especially through art. Being at Rawhide is an answer to prayer.

In her spare time, Lea enjoys spending time with family and friends, making pottery, and being creative.

Connie Kimball
Science Instructor

Connie Kimball has been a teacher at Starr Academy since July of 2003. She teaches science as well as coordinates a competency based diploma program. Connie’s responsibilities include working with students who have questions regarding the HSED program as well as helping students who have begun HSED testing to complete the process. Over the years, Connie has assisted many young men earn their high school diploma.

Connie would describe her position as challenging and rewarding. She not only enjoys seeing her students understand science, but watching them become better learners. She takes great pleasure in seeing her students perform far above what they thought they were capable of achieving.

Connie earned her Bachelor of Arts from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota, majoring in Biology. Connie is a 2018 Herb Kohl Fellowship Award winner for teaching excellence. She enjoys hiking, traveling, exploring Wisconsin, and spending time with her family.

Matt R.

Mat Rieckhoff
English/Physical Education

Mat is a 2015 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire where he majored in Elementary Education with an emphasis in English-Language Arts. Prior to working at Starr Academy, Mat worked for Rawhide in the Gillespie Home for one year, before moving to Kanas City, Missouri to teach Physical Education for the 2016-2017 school year.

At Rawhide, Mat teaches Physical Education 9-12, English, Weight Training, and Health. He is passionate about teaching the students about the importance of life-long personal health and fitness and enjoys leading by example.

Mat is also passionate about coaching, serving as an assistant for the UW-Oshkosh Wresting Team. His other hobbies include mountain biking, duck hunting and camping. Mat is most excited about helping Rawhide student discover their God-given potential and watching as them as they begin to make positive life choices.

Ben Schultz

Ben Schultz
Behavioral Skills Instructor

Ben received his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a human services emphasis from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2001. Ben joined Rawhide in January of 2015. Before starting at Starr Academy in 2017, he worked at the Cornerstone Group Home and a Work Experience Trainer for the About Face Program. Ben believes his way of connecting with youth from a relational point of view benefits him now as a Behavioral Skills Instructor. Ben’s diverse job and life experiences have provided him with the tools needed to teach the youth cognitive self-regulating skills while instilling core values such as integrity, character and self-respect.

In his free time, Ben enjoys camping and the outdoors with his wife and three children, as well as their two Golden-Doodles. Ben is also an avid bow hunter, downhill skier, and weightlifter.

Matthew Stewart
Behavioral Skills Instructor

Matthew has worked with at-risk youth ministries for over 17 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Rogers Bible College in Arkansas and is working on a master’s from Huntington University, Indiana.

His bachelor’s degree is in Counseling with a Biblical emphasis. As Starr Academy’s Behavioral Skills instructor, Matthew helps guys reintegrate into the classroom when difficulties occur. He states that “Rawhide gives me the chance to assist guys going through a rough time in their lives – the same assistance that God showed me.”

When Matthew is not teaching at the ranch, he enjoys working out, playing basketball and football with the guys, and working on his house with his kids.

Jerry Trzebiatowski
Woodshop Instructor

Jerry has been teaching woodshop at Starr Academy since August of 2013. In 1993, he received his BA and teaching certification in German and Political Science from UW Stevens Point. He realized a passion for at-risk youth while teaching in Fountain City, Wi and changed his career path from teaching German to teaching at-risk youth grades 7-12. He enjoys helping them to realize success in the regular education setting. Jerry earned credits toward a master’s degree in Special Education, from Winona State University while teaching in Fountain City.

Jerry has always had a passion for woodworking also, and while taking a break from teaching, worked professionally in the industry for several years.

Rawhide allowed Jerry to put his two passions along with his passion for Christ, all together. Life is perfect for Jerry when he gets to teach boys through the use of their hands, in the shop, not only how to design and build things of wood but to also learn skills that can help in all areas of their lives.

Scott W.

Scott Wilson
Math Instructor

Scott, an Academic Instructor at Starr Academy since 1988. He received his MSE in Special Education from UW-Oshkosh in 1996.

His primary responsibility is math instruction; and secondarily is responsible as the head basketball coach, Starr Academy Racing Team manager, and Gillespie House education liaison.

Scott’s passion and ability to work with at-risk young men helps him meet his goal of seeing his students become future productive and positive leaders in our communities. This instructor believes that his at-risk students have the capability to develop their skills to meet their goals of future employment and leisure activities.

Scott’s personal interests or hobbies include frequenting coffee shops, self-proclaimed foodie, home remodeling year round, motorcycling in the summer, snow skiing in the winter, and attending competitive motorsports events.

Chris D.

Chris Doran
Math Instructor

Christopher earned his undergrad degree from Marian College in Fond du Lac and taught in New London for fifteen years, most recently at the off-site alternative high school.

He was drawn to Rawhide so he could continue helping youth reach their full potential. It has always been his mission and passion to assist youth and their families be successful and active members of their communities.

In his free time, Christopher enjoys bicycling, downhill skiing, and snowshoeing. Throughout the year he and his family enjoy traveling throughout Wisconsin.

Steve Heminger

Steve’s Graduate studies were at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida where he earned a teaching degree in Computer Sciences. He went on to become certified as a Special Education teacher Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities.

At Rawhide, he is one of the Resource Room academic instructors. Steve is responsible for teaching in either a small group or one-on-one the core subjects of English, Math, Science, Social Studies and Life Skills.