As a new academic year begins this month for the six public school districts in the Free Press distribution area and the Marion County Special Education Cooperative, new classroom teachers have been hired over the summer to help with educate the students.
Following are brief profiles of the new teachers in Marion and Peabody-Burns districts, plus the MCSEC. Profiles of new teachers at Canton-Galva, Centre, Goessel and Hillsboro are planned for next week.
USD 408 Marion-Florence will be welcoming six new teachers as classes begin Thursday.
• Chris Barlow graduated from Fort Hays State University and will assume leadership of the instrumental music program for grades five through 12.
“I saw the job opening while student teaching,” said Barlow, who grew up in Abilene and now lives in Marion. “I love the location and size of the district.”
He said he wants to mentor students by having them take ownership of their program.
“My goals for school are to get students excited about coming to class, being in the band room and just having fun making music,” Barlow said.
• Anita Hancock returns to teach vocal music for kindergarten through grade four. She taught for 21 years in USD 408 before budget cuts in 2010.
“I want to teach music to the children so they can develop a love, a joy and expression in music,” Hancock said.
She begins the school year after spending 13 weeks teaching music to children ages 3 to 13 at the YMCA camp in Estes Park, Colo.
“I had a wonderful time,” Hancock said.
A Marion native, Hancock earned a degree in music education at Emporia State University and master’s degree in music from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Her daughter, Katrina, works as a sports reporter at WDIV-TV in Detroit, Mich.
• Dani Lange is teaching art for kindergarten through grade six. Lange, who grew up in Spokane, Wash., and graduated from Whitworth University in Spokane, also has been a teacher for fifth and sixth grades.
She plans to focus on teaching basic elements of design—color, line and value—and feature an artist each the month.
“The first one will be Leonardo da Vinci,” Lange said.
She and husband Jeremiah have lived in Marion for seven years. They have two children, Sadie, who will be a second grader at MES, and Keenan, a 4-year-old preschooler.
“I love that I get to become more a part of the community where we live and where my children are growing up,” said Lange, whose husband is the minister at Marion Presbyterian Church.
• Megan Thomas, who lives outside of Marion with husband Joel and their 2-year-old daughter Rylee, will teach business classes for grades nine through 12 at MHS.
A graduate of Emporia State University, she had commuted for five years to Northern Heights High School in Lyon County, where she taught business classes.
At MHS, she’ll be teaching classes in graphic and Web page design, plus entrepreneurship and banking. Thomas said she also hopes to start a chapter of Future Business Leaders of America for students.
• Janessa Wood will teach art for grades eight through 12. Before coming to USD 408, she taught grades seven through 12 in Juanita, Neb., for a year.
Wood majored in painting and minored in ceramics at Fort Hays State University.
Wood, who grew up in Macksville, moved to Marion this summer. She said she is glad to be closer to her family.
“I want to introduce different types of media (to students),” Woods said about teaching art at Marion. She will also be an assistant volleyball and basketball coach for junior high girls.
• Michelle Flaming assumes the Title 1 position for Marion Elementary School as well as part-time curriculum director for USD 408.
Flaming has worked for the past 13 years at the Educational Services and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas (ESSDACK), which offers services for educators in the area.
“I’ll be working with children in small groups with reading and math,” she said about her Title 1 position.
Flaming said she decided to return to teaching and to this district because of its quality work with students.
“This district puts kids first—I wanted to get back in a district where I could make a difference,” she said.
Flaming was raised near Lincolnville and graduated from Centre High School. She earned her education degree at McPherson College and a master’s in computer-based education at Kansas State University.
She and husband Merle live in Marion. They have three grown children and a 31?2 year-old granddaughter.
USD 398 Peabody-Burns has six new classroom teachers joining the faculty this fall in preparation for the first day of school on Thursday..
• Travis Schafer will teach fourth graders at Peabody Elementary School. Schafer, a graduate of Tabor College, comes to USD 398 after teaching three years at Western Plains in Ransom.
While attending college, he said, he became familiar with the Peabody district and knew this is where he wanted to teach.
Schafer has moved to Marion. Having grown up in Galva, he said he’s glad to be back in the area. His parents, Karl and Janine Schafer, now live at Marion County Lake.
“I want my students to succeed,” he said about the upcoming year. “I know I succeed when they succeed.”
• Brenda Tofteland is the vocal music teacher for kindergarten through grade five. Tofteland, who earned her degree at Minot State University in North Dakota, comes to Peabody after 20 years of teaching experience, having taught vocal music in Norwich as well as schools in Montana, North Dakota and California.
Tofteland, who has been substitute teaching for three years, said she is glad to be back in the class.
“My goal as a teacher is to get kids to enjoy music and find out that, yes, even though they think they’re not musical, they can produce music in some way,” Tofteland said.
Her husband, Douglas, is a minister at First Methodist Church in Newton, and she plans to commute to Peabody from North Newton. The Toftelands have three grown children and six grandchildren under age 5.
• Steven Wilson, a 2012 graduate from Wichita State University, will be teaching both vocal music for grades six through 12 and instrumental music for grades five through 12.
Wilson plays the euphonium, which he describes as a “half-sized tuba,” and plans to introduce students to various types of instruments. He said in his hope to increase Peabody’s music program, he wants students to have fun.
Wilson is moving to Peabody, having grown up in El Dorado, where parents David and Debra Wilson and his extended family still live.
• Ryan Panko said the strong vocational program and Peabody’s good facilities drew him to USD 398, where he’ll be teaching classes in plant, animal and ag sciences and ag welding.
He also will be an assistant coach for PHS football and junior high track as well as being the adviser for FFA.
“I’d like to increase FFA enrollment as well as enrollment in ag classes and the ag science and power and maintenance pathways,” he said.
Panko has moved to Peabody after teaching last year at LaCrosse. He grew up in Burr, Neb., and graduated from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Mo. He has a 6-year-old daughter Emma.
• Cindy Sattler first taught in Peabody, then in the Wichita district. She now returns to Peabody to teach math as well as serve as facilitator for Project Base Learning, an independent study program for high school students.
“I really want to understand how to best work with the project-based learning,” Sattler said.
Six of her nine grandchildren attend Peabody schools, but she and husband Scott, a truck driver, live in Newton, so she’ll be commuting to work.
“I love small towns,” Sattler said about teaching in Peabody.
• Jennifer Hurst is the Multi-tiered System of Support coordinator at Peabody Elementary School.
MTSS involves testing students throughout the year, Hurst said, and working with them in small groups to enhance learning to meet standards.
Hurst, who grew up in Herington, earned her undergraduate degree at Wichita State University. She is working on a master’s in special education at WSU.
She and husband Mike live in Peabody. They have two children, 3-year-old Aiden and 4-week-old Ava.
At the Marion County Special Education Cooperative, two new faculty members will be involved in the classroom this fall.
• Denise Klein taught last year as a paraprofessional at Marion High School for MCSEC.
“I got to know a lot of teachers and felt very welcomed and a part of the team,” said Klein, who sees teaching special education as her calling.
In the past, she taught grades seven through 12 in special education plus inclusion math at Wheaton, Mo. She is certified in special education, science, math and language arts.
Klein grew up in Hutchinson and earned her education degree at Missouri State University in Springfield. She is married to Kim and they have three grown sons.
• Linda Peters will be teaching pre-kindergarten for MCSEC.
“It’s something I’m really looking forward to coming back to,” said Peters, who brings a wealth of experience to her job, having taught for 37 years.
When she previously taught with MCSEC, Peters helped write a grant to fund services for children from birth to kindergarten. The grant documented the needs for such services in Marion County.
“The most exciting thing is the position I’m going back to is the one I helped start when those services were not free,” she said.
Peters earned her undergraduate degree at Emporia State University and her master’s in education at Tabor College and certification in learning disabilities from Bethel College in Newton. She also got her early childhood/handicapped at Emporia
She and husband Van live in Lehigh. They have two grown children and two grandchildren.