Meet the NWES Staff


At Northern Waters, our goal is to inspire students to become lifelong learners. 

Brittany Hager, Director


Mrs. Hager earned her Bachelor of Science Degree from Northland College. She holds a 777 certification for Regular Education (grades 1-8) and has a minor in Environmental Studies. Her experiences include working as a field intern for the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, teaching environmental education at Muraviovka Park for Sustainable Land Use in the Amur Region of Russia, and teaching outdoor education summer school courses in Portage. She began her formal teaching career at Northern Waters, serving as the middle school academic advisor for the past six years. 


Mrs. Hager is excited to serve as the director of NWES and to foster teaching and learning beyond the four walls of the classroom. She believes that when students are engaged in projects that they are interested in, learning becomes more applicable and exciting. Through this process, Mrs. Hager strongly believes that students will be inspired to take ownership of their learning and become active members of the greater community.

Mrs. Hager lives in Solon Springs with her daughter Nora, husband Mark, and black lab Juan Carlos.

Kate Witkowski, High School Advisor

Ms. Witkowski earned her Bachelor of Science Degrees in Wildlife Ecology and Biology from the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point. She holds a teaching license for Secondary Education (6-12) in Biology (1605) and Environmental Studies (1615). Her prior professional experiences include a variety of natural resources management and research projects including wildlife research and monitoring, habitat restoration, wildfire and prescription burning, and chronic wasting disease monitoring. Most recently, she was an Outdoor Skills instructor at Conserve School, a residential environmental high school, in Land O' Lakes, WI.


Ms. Witkowski is energized by sharing practical skills and experiences with students. She believes that when we take our classroom outdoors, it can bring a level of joy to learning that increases motivation and engagement, and when combined with relevant and challenging coursework, provides a fulfilling and comprehensive education. Ms. Witkowski hopes to encourage every student to develop positive connections with the people and world around them and stay motivated to take learning into their own hands throughout their life.

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Harley Fredriksen, Middle School Advisor


Mr. Fredriksen grew up in Wisconsin, and after a few years in the mountains of Montana, he is happy to once again call Wisconsin home. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, biking, camping, and canoeing - many of the outdoor things that make Hayward a special place to be. When he's not outside, you may find him cooking, listening to music, or reading. After studying Biology and Chemistry at UW-Stevens Point, he went on to get his Master's in Environmental Studies from UM-Missoula. During his time in Missoula, he had the opportunity to teach in the Chemistry department and it was there that a passion for working with students took root.


Northern Waters appealed to Mr. Fredriksen for a number of reasons. First and foremost, he appreciates the student-centered, student-driven approach because it fosters a culture of independent learning with lifelong benefits! Additionally, he's motivated by his shared interests with the students in natural resources, sustainability, and outdoor and recreation focuses. Encouraging and challenging students to do their best work in these areas teaches him as much as them.


His experience in Hayward has been awesome so far. He'd like to offer his sincere gratitude to Northern Waters and the extended Northern Waters family for helping him get settled into town and in finding a place to stay. He's looking forward to working with the students and staff to continue creating fun and engaging educational experiences for all involved!

Kelly Ryder, Principal


Mrs. Ryder earned ber Bachelor of Arts degree from UW-Eau Claire in Broadfield Social Studies, Political Science, and History. She spent 15 years as a high school social studies teacher, alternative education teacher, and coach before transitioning into leadership roles. Mrs. Ryder earned her Master's Degree from UW-LaCrosse and her Principal and Director of Instruction licenses from Saint Mary's University. She is also finishing her Superintendents license this summer at UW-Superior. Mrs. Ryder serves the Hayward Community School District as the Director of Curriculum and Programs and part-time as the Principal for NWES. Besides classroom experience, Mrs. Ryder also has worked as an educational consultant for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and CESAs 11 and 12. She has worked with over 40 districts all around the state to improve outcomes for students.  


Mrs. Ryder is honored to serve as the Principal for NWES because she believes that every student is capable of changing the world in a positive way. Her love of environmental education and its potential to create 21st-century learners was a direct result of her own son attending an environmental, project-based charter school in grades 6-8. Mrs. Ryder believes that NWES provides Hayward area students the opportunity to learn and grow while serving their community in positive ways. She looks forward to working with students and families and staff to continue to grow NWES as a leader in environmental education.


Mrs. Ryder lives in Wascott with her son Joe, husband Matt, a dog, two cats and a bunch of fish.