Our Faculty and Staff

Ms. Amber Terry

Hello! I am the Director of First Steps. My husband Jon and I moved to Oconomowoc in 2004.  We have two children Isaiah who attends Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota  and Evelyn who attends Lakeside Lutheran High School in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. 

Background and experience: I have a degree in Child Development and over 20 years of experience in early childhood education. I have completed my WELS certification from Martin Luther College. I have a passion for working with children and their families.

About me: I love to be busy! I am a doer and planner. My top 5 strengths are Communication, Achiever, Includer, Woo, and Developer. I strive to live my life by example and take great pride in my experience, faith, and sharing that with the staff and families at First Steps.

As a family, we enjoy: Camping, bike rides, and taking trips to Door County together. 

Fun fact about me: I am the seventh child out of fifteen. My parents were foster parents for over 25 years and through that we cared for hundreds of children. 

My favorite bible verse: Ephesians 2:8″ For it is by Grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” 

This gift God has given to us all! I love having the opportunity to share that message with our staff, children and families!

Watch My Video

Email: aterry@smls.org


Ms. Megan Fury

Hello! I serve as the Assistant Director of First Steps. I am originally from Houston, TX but fell in love with Wisconsin and its four seasons when I began attending Luther Preparatory School for high school. I am the fourth of six children (3 boys and 3 girls), and we are sprawled all across the US from Wisconsin to Texas to Washington D.C.

Background and experience: I graduated from Martin Luther College in 2018 and received my bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Upon graduating, I served for a year as a Director Apprentice at a WELS center in Manhattan, KS.

About me: I am a lifelong learner! I love learning as I travel and experience new things, especially in the great outdoors. I feel like I never lost the enthusiasm to find out something new about God’s creation that I had as a young child. I love watching the fascination of little ones innocently learning about the world around them.

Fun fact about me: I have wanted to be a teacher since I was three years old.

My favorite bible passage: Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

It’s a beautiful life, and it begins when we are just little. God is so good, and I am here to assist you with the beautiful trust God has given you to raise and nurture your child, your children. You don’t need to ever be alone — I am here to assist, all of us at First Steps are here to assist you, to serve you, to build up your child, and to encourage you along the way!

Email: mfury@smls.org


Ms. Trisha Altreuter

Greetings!  I am the Preschool Teacher of First Steps.  My husband Kurt of 16 years and I live in the Watertown area where we built our house in 2001.  We have 2 daughters Haddie – 14 and Molly – 11.  They attend St. Peter’s Lutheran school in Helenville, WI.

Background and experience: I majored in Early Childhood Education from WCTC and have 20 years of experience teaching 4k. Jesus says, let all the little children learn. I look forward to changing up my teaching role and experiencing the world of 3 year olds with embellishing on their giant personalities. I hold being a teacher very dear to my heart and find teaching to be one of life’s greatest gifts from our Savior!

As a family we enjoy: Wildlife, DIY projects, gardening, cooking, mornings/evenings on our back porch, and 4H of Jefferson county.

Fun fact about me: I’m a farm girl at heart.  I grew up on a dairy farm and now enjoy sharing responsibilities with Kurt, Haddie and Molly on our small hobby farm.

My favorite bible verse: Psalms 105:1  “O give thanks unto the lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.”


Ms. Hallie Fury

Hello! I am the  Young 3’s Teacher at First Steps.  I was born and raised in Houston, TX. I attended Luther Preparatory School in Watertown, WI and afterward decided to stay up north.

Background and experience: I worked at Camp Phillip, a WELS summer camp in Wisconsin, where I fell in love with telling little ones about their Savior. I have also volunteered for years of Vacation Bible School.

About me: I love spending time outside in God’s beautiful creation. I am an active person and love to workout and stay fit. I also enjoy spending time with friends and family.

Fun fact about me: I am the youngest of 6 kids.

My favorite Bible verse: Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”


Coming Soon…

Hello! I am the 2 Year Teacher at First Steps.

Background and Experience:

As a family we enjoy:

Fun Fact:

My favorite bible verse:


Ms. Sue Fredrick

Hello! I am the Toddler Co-Lead Spiritual Teacher of First Steps. My husband, Rick, and I have lived in Oconomowoc since 2006.  We have 2 daughters, a son and 2 wonderful granddaughters.

Background and experience: I started in the nursery room at First Steps in October 2018, moved to the infant room in late 2019 and now most recently in early summer 2020 to the toddler room.  I truly enjoy the children.

I enjoy: Being outdoors, hiking and snowshoeing. Together my husband and I enjoy going for long drives and attending car shows in our classic vehicles.

Fun fact about me: I worked in business for 40 years before retiring to take care of our parents for a few years.  This experience led me to First Steps as I enjoy taking care of children and watching them grow both physically and spiritually.

My favorite bible verse: Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”


Ms. Karen Skodak

Hello! I am the Toddler Co-Lead Academic Teacher at First Steps! My husband Jason and I moved to Wisconsin in August of 2020. We met in 2011 while doing volunteer ministry work in Kentucky and have been blessed to live and work in a variety of places since then including Taiwan, California, Colorado, Arizona, West Virginia, Michigan, and Texas. We love the beauty of the lakes and seasons here in Oconomowoc!

Background and experience : I received my Bachelor’s Degree from Liberty University in 2009 with emphases in ministry and psychology, including child development courses. I have been blessed to serve in various positions and Christian schools around the country, gleaning precious experiences, skills, ideas, and inspiration from each one. Toddlers are my favorite age group, and I love guiding and seeing them learn through exciting, stimulating activities. Dancing, singing, and reading with children are moments I treasure!

I enjoy: Reading Christian fiction and non-fiction, church activities, walking/hiking, and travel.

Fun fact about me: I have been to 5 of the 7 continents for missions work in countries including Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, Uganda, and Taiwan. I was just in Europe for airport layovers, but I guess it still counts as being there ;).

My favorite Bible verse: 1 John 4:10 “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”


Ms. Deb Landvatter

Greetings! I am the Infant Room teacher at First Steps and am thrilled to have the opportunity to share the love of Jesus with God’s little lambs.  The last 12 years I served both as a teacher and director at two different daycares.  One of the greatest joys as a teacher or director is seeing the children in your care grow both physically but more importantly spiritually.  I look forward to getting to know you and your child(ren).

Background and experience: I graduated from DMLC with a degree in Elementary Education and received my first call to teach here at St. Matthews.  Since that time, I have taught in other WELS elementary schools, raised my children, and served as both as a teacher and director at various daycares.

I enjoy: Spending time with my family, DIY crafting, and following the WI sports teams.

Fun fact about me: Over the last 40 years I have been able to share the gospel of Jesus with children from the age of newborn all the way through to eighth grade.  I began my teaching career at St. Matthews in 1983 and 37 years later have returned to St. Matthews.

My favorite bible verse: Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go.”


Ms. Heather Bigelow

Hi! I am the lead teacher for the Nursery room at First Steps.  My husband, Phil, and I moved to Oconomowoc in 2019 when he accepted a call to be the outreach pastor here at St. Matthew’s.  We have three boys, Isaiah, Elijah and Caleb and they are all students here at St. Matthew’s.  Eli and Caleb are twins, not identical, but most people still have trouble telling them apart. 🙂

Background and Experience: I have a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education (K-8) and Early Childhood Education with a Music minor from Martin Luther College. I worked 4 summers at a childcare center during college and taught preschool for a year before being a stay-at-home mom.  Recently I started working again as a teaching assistant before moving to Oconomowoc in 2019 and joining First Steps.

I enjoy: Walking, reading, camping, and music (playing piano, flute and singing)

Fun fact about me:  I have moved 6 times and lived in 3 different states (Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan) since I married Phil back in 2003.  

My favorite Bible verse: Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”


Ms. Caroline Gates

Hi, I am the lead School Age After School Care teacher and also one of the many assisting teachers for First Steps. I currently reside in Waukesha and attend Christ Lutheran in Pewaukee where I am an active member of the our alter flower committee.

Background and experience: I received my state certification from WCTC for early childhood.  I have over 13 years experience working in early childhood.

I enjoy: When I’m not with children, I enjoy going to the movies and spending time with my family and friends.

Fun fact about me: For my 31st birthday, I was able to take my dream vacation and spend a week in London, England.  My favorite spot was the Lego store.

Favorite Bible Verse:  John 10:14-15 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep.”