5 W’s (About)

CESA#1 June 2014

I am an enthusiastic continuous and curious learner who finds great satisfaction in supporting others in achieving their dreams. I prefer the feeling of winning as a team, while increasing my own skills to contribute to a team’s success.

I do not consider myself an expert in any realm or content area, but definitely knowledgable and experienced enough in certain areas to be a positive contributor in collaborative ventures.

I enjoy diversity in life and learning and the opportunities to experience things. Some may think of it as not being able to make up my mind or say no. I look at it as opening my eyes, heart and mind to not miss an opportunity to meet, work or learn with someone and to experience the many things possible in this world of which we live.

  • WHO: Kathy Onarheim
  • WHAT: Beginning next life stage and taking advantage of time and flexibility to discover and follow new passions and strengthen skillsets.
  • WHERE: The world via the Internet
  • WHEN: Beginning DS106 Open Course (Headless) January 2015 at my own pace. 🙂
  • WHY: Curiosity, passion, and its fun learning and trying new things!

– on the personal side of the coin:

  • Going to be a grandma in late spring 2016!
  • Mother of 2 daughters,
  • wife of one husband 38 years and counting (May 1978)
  • Dog lover
  • Rachel Ray recipe fanatic!
  • DIY enthusiast – recycle, reuse, repurpose!
  • HGTV fan and projects
  • Lady Of Harley motorcyclist (currently on sabbatical from riding)
  • Photo enthusiast – learning about my DSLR
  • Painter (hobby)
  • Gardener (as in lots of yard work tasks!)
  • Packer Fan
  • Gadget junkie

HOW I got to this point in time. For those interested in ancient history( or needing something to put them to sleep) ……

My under grad focus was Education and Art Therapy. I had always wanted to be a teacher and at the time there was an over abundance, so followed a path in Art Therapy/Education in hopes of securing a job. I was one of the first 3 in the new program at the time. My “first” being in the “first cohort” of new ways or programs.

After graduation,  my first assignment was as a teacher of the emotionally and behavior challenged first at the High School level and then grades 3-6. Over a 16 year period I switched to EC-6 grade Art, Title 6 Program Coordinator (this is where the technology started), School Technology Coordinator, Assistant Principal and Assistant Principal in Charge. During this time I became part of the district technology team through various projects centered around learning and utilizing infrastructure in teaching and learning.

Completing my Masters in Education Change and Technology Innovation – (as a first cohort in the program of an online program with a summer residency feature), I moved to a district administration position as Director of the PT3 Catalyst Grant (Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology) – a partnership based between a K12 and multiple IHE (Institutes of Higher Education).

I am currently a newbie in a next life-career stage with an early retirement from day to day operations and work. I was fortunate enough to have the choice and opportunity to shift to family care and focus without the responsibilities of a 40+hour scheduled work week. This also provides me with choices and opportunities to be involved in new ways of engagement that address my passions and support others and still give me the flexibility for developing new passions and learning.

My last full time position was Director – Transformative Implementations at the Institute @ CESA #1, serving schools and districts in SE Wisconsin. Previously, I was Director of School Technology Support and Learning Technologies with the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). Early career assignments were with MPS as a classroom teacher, program coordinator, technology coordinator and school administrator. I am also a proud graduate of Milwaukee Public Schools. My post secondary work was at Alverno College, Univerity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Walden University. I have a Masters of Science in Educational Change and Technology Innovation and a certificate in Educational Leadership.

Recent  position responsibilities have included over site and direction of several CESA #1 services for K12 students, pre-service and inservice educator training and professional development, assessment, online and blended learning for K12 and adults, learning management systems, and using technology for effective systems operations.

I have served in a leadership role in learning and teaching projects:

  • 2012-14 PLN – Personalized Learning Network project lead. A collaboration between Wisconsin’s 3 large urban districts using a systems change strategy to transform from a legacy system of education to a transformed system through personalized learning for all learners- students and adults.
  • 2012 -13 Personalized Proficiency-based Learning for Educators: technology and implementation role on development team.
  • 2008- 2014: Online blended learning for students and adults (Moodle, Mahara, AdobePro Connect, etc., Ning)
  • 2010-2014: Technology tool implementation lead and business planning – Google, CMS,
  • 2008-2014: Development of agency databases for internal information processes.
  • 2008-2012: Proficiency Based Licensure – Alternative Certification – Director
  • 2006-2009: 21st Century Learning Program – CESA #1
  • Regional Network Feasibility Study
  • 2004-2009 – Software Support Center – Director, Student Information Systems, POS systems, Legacy financial system (Impact) developed by former CESA 16.
  • 2004-2014 – CESA #1 Leadership team. Working with the Executive Director and Directors of the agency in service to the region and managing the business health of the agency and its employees.
Prior projects and experience:
  • 21st Century Learning Project – grant project for the development of 21st century learning model and professional development for the role of learning specialist in a learning center model.
  • Proficiency-Based Licensure Program- direction of program operations and development of model to include blended learning, electronic portfolios, database development for information management of assessment and participant records.
  • River City Project: A Multi-User Virtual Environment for Learning Scientific Inquiry and 21st Century Skills. Research Team, regional coordination, Trainer
  • Collaboration Across Distance – New Teacher Project. Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Joyce Foundation, Education Development Center
  • Online Professional Development – Education Development Center, Harvard University Graduate School of Education
  • New Teacher Portal – Design, project management, implementation
  • Curriculum Design Assistant – CDA, Online peer reviewed lessons aligned to standards. – Development, training, and project management.
  • Online Community Development for New Teachers – Induction and Retention. SRI International, NCTAF, Pepperdine University,
  • Toolkit for Student Achievement Measures with Technology. CCT
  • IHE and K12 Partnerships for Teachers and Technology. University Wi- Milwaukee, Marquette University, National Louis University, Cardinal Stritch University.
  • Milwaukee Partnership Academy


  • Online Professional Development for Teachers Emerging Models and Methods:Processes Supporting the Regional Evolution of Effective Professional Development Milwaukee’s Initiation of a Professional Support Portal, Chris Dede, Ilona Holland, Kathy Onarheim,  : Harvard Press May 2006
  • White Paper – Meeting the Need for High Quality Teachers: e-Learning Solutions, U.S. Department of Education Secretary’s No Child Left Behind Leadership Summit – Increasing Options Through e-Learning. July 2004.
  • Carrots, Velvet Whips, and Propeller Beanies: Providing Incentives That Facilitate Institutional Change Brown, A., Davis, J., Onarheim, K. & Quitadamo, I. (2002). In C. Crawford et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2002 (pp. 1521-1523). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.
  • A Partnership for Training Teachers: Using Technology-Rich Cohorts
    Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference (SITE) 2001:1 Daniel Ryan, National-Louis Univ., USA; Kathy Onarheim, Milwaukee Public Schools, USA; Cindy L. Anderson, National-Louis Univ., USA.

Collaborative Professional/Research Projects (highlights)

  • River City Project: A Multi-User Virtual Environment for Learning Scientific Inquiry and 21st Century Skills.  Research Team, 2003 to present
  • Distributed Learning Objects Repository. Academic Co-Lab, University Wi- Madison and Parkside.
  • Collaboration Across Distance. Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Joyce Foundation, Education Development Center
  • Online Community Development for New Teachers – Induction and Retention. SRI International, NCTAF, Pepperdine University
  • Toolkit for Student Achievement Measures with Technology. Children’s Center for Technology
  • IHE and K12 Partnerships for Teachers and Technology. University Wi- Milwaukee, Marquette University, National Louis University, Cardinal Stritch University.
  • Joyce Foundation – Student Achievement Reporting, 4 Cities Project
  • Coordinator/Director – National Technology Advisory Board, 1999-2003

Sounds like I have been around the block a few times – but with each journey there are new horizons, new challenges, new learning and so much more to discover and accomplish.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own. They do not represent any past or current employers or the organizations to which I belong.

4 thoughts on “5 W’s (About)”

  1. With such a positive attitude to lifelong learning, I have no doubt that you will be ‘cutting the digital mustard’ (what’s the origin of that phrase I’m wondering). You know your way around the blog and are creating interesting posts from the get-go. Looking forward to seeing where ds106 takes you.

    • Thanks for the positive feedback!

      My Dad used the phrase “can’t cut the mustard” so I looked it up to find out where it came from –
      then when trying to figure out what the blog name should be I decided it was Digital Mustard I was trying to cut…….this version is actually my second with the name – decided to keep it as it seemed to be this project and time it was waiting to become. 🙂

      • Dear Cathy,

        I accidentally came across some comments of yours and your picture on the Internet. My grandmother was Bertha Louise Onarheim, and her father was James Onarheim. She was born i Eau Claire in Wisconsin.

        I wonder if you are a part of the family of James.

        Best regards,

        Rolf J. Furuli Ph.D
        Email: rolf.furuli@sf-nett.no

  2. I always say that DS106 is art therapy 😉 We should talk about this and may be write something once you have been doing it for a while? I am a cognitive psychologist (hence the DS106 Shrink idea) and I see digital storytelling generally and the building of a personal cyberinfrastructure as a great opportunity to learn about and change patterns should we choose to. Or as I say on the radio show we do on DS106 radio on sundays: DS106 is cheap therapy! Really interested in seeing how you connect it with your background in Art therapy.


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