Directors and Academy Board


Nora Laho, EdD – Director

Nora Laho is an educator and educational leader with 13 years of K-12 teaching and leadership experience. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Finlandia University in 2007, Nora moved with her husband Matt to Mountain View, Wyoming, where she taught upper elementary and middle school classes and served part-time as the district’s technology coach. In 2016, Nora returned to the U.P. with her family, initially serving as an educational technologist in MTU’s Center for Teaching and Learning before shifting back into the K-12 realm as a teacher and technology coach at EB Holman School. 

For the past three years, Nora has directed CLK’s technology program as the district’s technology coach and coordinator. At CLK, Nora has worked to establish a STEM program and prioritize purposeful technology use. Nora earned a Master of Science in Education through the University of Wyoming in 2013 and a Doctorate of Education in Instructional Technology in 2018. She is passionate about researching and implementing effective educational practices, grant writing, supporting teacher growth through professional learning and instructional coaching, and improving educational opportunities for local students.

As Executive Director, Nora will be responsible for researching, writing and providing supporting documents to obtain an approved charter application. Once the charter is obtained, Nora will be working with Steve to implement all facets of the Charter, instruct new teachers on the educational model, and will also assist in obtaining additional funding for the charter school.

Steve Aho – Principal

With over 22 years in education, Steve Aho has had numerous experiences that have prepared and led him to the Copper Island Academy charter school. These include 12 years as an elementary classroom teacher, 9 years as both a high school and elementary special education teacher, and 2 years as a high school athletic director. Most recently, Steve was in his 2nd year as a Middle School Principal and Director of Special Education for Hancock Schools. Steve double majored at St. Cloud State University earning degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education, and is currently in the second year of the MASA Horizons program, which will lead to him attaining a Michigan school administrator certificate.

Steve’s interest in the Finnish educational system began with his role as the supervising teacher in the Hei Suomi! program, where two students from the University of Lapland (Rovaniemi, Finland) taught 3rd grade students in his class in Michigan as part of their teacher training. As a result of this international collaboration, Steve had the opportunity to present on the program at FinnFest USA 2013. Steve is a current member of the Finlandia University Finnish Council of America, and has studied components of Finland’s education, primarily through the works of Pasi Sahlberg and Timothy Walker.

Steve resides in Hancock with his wife Elizabeth and their eight children.

As Principal, Steve will work together with Nora to research and support the application process, and promote the school’s Mission/Vision/Goals and its educational model. He will also collaborate with local community members and groups, assist in fundraising, and will be responsible for implementation of Copper Island Academy’s educational model. Once the charter is obtained, Steve will be working with Nora to implement all facets of the Charter, assist in hiring teachers, engage with families, and enroll students.

Board of Trustees

  • Josh Loukus
  • Joel Keranen
  • Steve Mattson
  • Liisa Halonen
  • Donna Stachler
  • Todd Brassard
  • Kevin Mackey

Schedule of Meetings

Organizational Meeting – Monday, April 26, 2021 6:00 p.m. Siskiwit Reception Hall and Conference Center, 26070 Pine St, Calumet, MI 49913


Regular Meeting – Tuesday, May 18, 2021 6:00 p.m. Jutila Center 200 Michigan Street Room 324 Hancock, MI 49930

Budget Hearing and Regular Meeting – Tuesday, June 8, 2021 6:00 p.m. Siskiwit Reception Hall and Conference Center, 26070 Pine St, Calumet, MI 49913

Advisory Board

  • David Rowe, MBA – Manager, Systems Control
  • Don Simila, MSW, FACHE – Chief Executive Officer, Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center
  • Robert Loukus – Founder, REL Inc.
  • Jared Hyrkas, P.E. – Project Manager, OHM Advisors
  • Melissa Keranen, PhD – Professor of Mathematical Sciences, Michigan Technological University
  • Katie Raisanen Bonawitz, EdD –  Assistant Dean of the Center for Access and Integration, Program Director of Special Education, Bethel University
  • Andy Moyle – President, Moyle Real Estate and Development