Skip to main content Skip to footer

December 13, 2022

SVSU selects K-12 educators for Gerstacker leadership program

10 people posed in two rows

The 16th cohort of K-12 education leaders committed to professional growth have joined the Saginaw Valley State University 2023 Gerstacker Fellowship program. 

As part of the initiative, 10 school leaders from across Michigan will participate in concentrated leadership training over a one-year period. As an extension of their study, the group will travel to Finland and Germany in the spring. Previous cohorts have traveled to China, South Korea, Poland, Japan, Taiwan, Finland and Germany. 

During the international travel experience, participants visit educational institutions, to learn about global educational systems and different cultures.  Last year’s group traveled to Germany.  The group visited K-12 schools in Neundettelsau and Gunzenhausen, Hochshule Ansbach, Heidelberg University, and numerous cultural sites. This year’s group will travel to Finland and Germany. 

The program was established in 2005 with a $1.5 million endowment from the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation of Midland. Participants, known as Gerstacker Fellows, meet monthly. 

Experts in the field instruct the group on subjects such as leadership practices, organizational leadership, communication, cognitive coaching, finance and education, all with a global perspective. 

“The Gerstacker Fellowship now includes over 170 people who have participated in the training,” said Mary Anne Ackerman, executive in residence at SVSU and co-director of the Gerstacker Program. “Together they focus on implementing best leadership practices to create school-based change and provide top-notch academic opportunities for our children.”

 Those selected to participate in the 2023 program are as follows: 

  • Nathan Aquilina, director of human resources, Linden Community Schools.
  • Jessica Brunsell, special education director, Midland County ESA (educational service agency).
  • Christina Pretzer, teacher and nature coach, Bullock Creek Schools.
  • Alyssa Reimold, high school assistant principal, Royal Oak Schools.
  • Laurie Richards, elementary principal, Sheperd Public Schools.
  • Kevin Summey, Great Lakes Early College coordinator, Saginaw Intermediate School District.
  • Sara TePastte, literacy coach, Ottawa Area Intermediate School District.
  • Lisa Tran, assistant superintendent, elementary education, Saginaw Public Schools.
  • Allison VanDriessche, middle school assistant principal, Bay City Public Schools.
  • Rita van Staveren, International Baccalaureate® coordinator, Oxford Community Schools.

For more information about the Gerstacker Fellowship at SVSU, visit