New school year brings new faculty to area schools

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FREE PRESS STAFF

USD 397-Centre

Cindy Riedel will teach science at Centre High School this fall-specifically, biology, anatomy and physiology, science projects and team teaching chemistry.

Growing up near Liberal, Riedel attended Southwestern Heights High School.

“Centre is very similar to the high school I attended,” Riedel said. “It was in between two towns and was a small school. But I have a rural background so I’m excited to be back in that situation.”

A 1978 graduate of Kansas State University with a degree in agricultural journalism, Riedel received her teacher certification from Kansas Newman University in 1993.

That fall, she began teaching at Council Grove and stayed for eight years. The past two years Riedel has taught at Butler County Community College in Council Grove.

“Since I’ve taught at the junior college level, I think I have a good handle on what the higher levels of education require and I think that will help me prepare the kids,” she said.

Riedel has two sons-one lives in Emporia while the other will be a junior at Council Grove High School, where he resides with his mother.

Riedel said she hopes to help dispel the idea small-school education is second rate.

“There’s a misconception that small schools don’t allow the kids to have the level of education larger schools offer,” Riedel said. “I don’t think that’s true. I actually think small schools can offer more individual attention to the students.”

Seth Bishop will take over the advanced mathematics classes at the high school this school year.

A native of Axtell, Bishop attended Emporia State University for two years before transferring to Kansas State University.

Before acquiring a degree there, Bishop joined the working sector in Kansas City for 12 years.

Upon his graduation, Bishop taught computers for a year at a California prep school and taught college algebra as a graduate assistant before moving back to Kansas.

Married and the father of three children, Bishop will commute to Centre from Manhattan.

Bishop said the job at Centre will be his first teaching in public schools.

“The program I’m on is kind of a special case because I have a mathematics degree and not an education degree,” Bishop said. “The state of Kansas has a transition to teaching program that takes mid-career professionals and moves them into the teaching profession.

Bishop said his knowledge of the workplace and his experience teaching college classes will benefit students at Centre.

“Because I’m not a traditional teacher, I can bring the ability to learn math, but I can bring it in an applied setting-problems the kids will encounter in college and in real life and how that will apply,” Bishop said.

In addition to his teaching assignment, Bishop will be assistant football coach.

USD 398-Peabody-Burns

Students in Angelika Decker’s junior and senior high math classes will enjoy her German accent-a remnant of a childhood spent in a town outside Frankfort, Germany.

Decker received her bachelor’s degree in education from Kansas State, where she participated in a special math and science program sponsored by the National Science Foundation. She recently completed her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Wichita State University.

Decker taught math in Newton for nine years and lives in Newton with husband Darreld Toothman, daughter Jessica, age 13, and son Chris, age 18.

She said she is excited about teaching at Peabody-Burns.

“I look forward to having slightly smaller classes and a little more individualized math instruction,” she said. “And since I can will work with students more than one year, I can get to know the kids. I feel that relationships are really important.”

Andrea Corcoran is not new to art education even though this will be her first year teaching art in a public school system. She taught courses at City Arts in Wichita, where she was a visiting artist and has worked with children in small art mentoring groups.

Corcoran graduated from Wichita State with a degree in ceramics and is working on her master’s in curriculum and instruction.

She lives in Wichita with husband Dwayne and their 20-month-old daughter, Jaicee. They have always dreamed of buying a farmhouse they can renovate, she said, and may eventually look for a home closer to Peabody.

Corcoran will teach all levels of art for the district, and she welcomes the challenge.

“I’m excited that it’s broad-that it’s going to be drawing, painting, ceramics and that the ages are going to be the whole spectrum,” she said.

Science teacher Eddie Rodrigues taught high school chemistry and physical science in the Los Angeles area for five years before his wife’s job change brought them to Kansas.

He and Jennifer live in El Dorado. He will commute to Peabody, and Jennifer commutes to Beaumont, where she is innkeeper at the Beaumont Hotel.

Rodrigues graduated from California State University in Long Beach with a degree in medical microbiology. He worked in the biotechnology industry for several years before he began teaching.

Rodrigues will be teaching high school physics, chemistry, physical science and applied science, and said he is looking forward to helping students make the link between science and everyday life.

“Trying to tie it into some television shows helps,” he said. “The ‘Good Eats’ show on Food Network does a lot of explanations on the science of cooking. I want to show them that there are things happening to them, in them, around them all the time. It’s just a matter of knowing about it and paying attention to it.”

Allison Many says she has a “deep passion for music” but it was her love for kids that got her into teaching.

She completed her bachelor of music degree last December at the University of Mississippi and accepted her first teaching position as vocal music instructor for grades four through 12 in the Peabody-Burns district.

Many said she wants to focus on building a voice department where the students have a strong background in the fundamentals of technique and singing.

“I’m really excited about implementing a lot of vocal technique and really building their knowledge of vocal music,” she said. “I’ve met a few of the kids around here, and they’re all so enthusiastic.”

Many recently moved to Peabody where she lives with her longhaired cat Figaro. She said she’s still adjusting to small-town life where everyone knows everyone else and people just drop by to say “Hi.”

“I couldn’t believe how welcoming everybody was. I’m not used to that at all,” she said. “I get a lot of visitors, and I love it.”

USD 408-Marion-Florence

Four teachers-three at the elementary school and one at the middle school-will join USD 408 when its doors open to students Aug. 19.

Staci Hansen of Marion brings seven years of teaching experience in the Centre school district to her new position in third grade.

Hansen, who graduated from Fort Hays State in 1994, is certified to teach kindergarten through grade nine.

She said she’s excited about teaching in the school district where she and husband Andy live.

“I’m looking forward to being more involved in the community at Marion,” said Hansen, who said commuting to Centre made involvement there more difficult.

This fall, their eldest daughter, Kirsten, will be a first-grader and Courtney is a preschooler.

Jeana Schaub will join the district as a fourth-grade teacher. Schaub, who grew up in Arcadia, recently moved to Marion.

A 2003 graduate from Pittsburg State University, Schaub also is certified for grades K-9. She taught as a substitute for several schools in southeast Kansas last year.

“I’m excited about having my own room and using my own ideas,” Schaub said. “I get really excited when the light bulb comes on and the kids finally understand what you’re talking about. That’s the best part.”

Another recent college graduate, Alisa Jirak of Marion, will teach reading for fifth and sixth grades.

“Marion is departmentalizing this year for their fifth and sixth (grades),” said Jirak, who graduated from Tabor College in May. “I’ll be strictly reading.”

Other teachers will focus on particular subject areas such as math, writing and grammar, social studies and science. Each teacher will have home rooms.

At the end of the day, they will be with their homeroom students, she said. Jirak’s will be one of the sixth grade classes.

“I so excited to have a classroom after all these years,” she said.

Jirak and husband Kevin live in Marion with their two daughters, Reagan, 6, and Tessa, 4. Kevin works for the Kansas Department of Transportation.

In Marion Middle School, Tina Kraus will teach science, social studies and computer to seventh and eighth graders.  

Kraus graduated from Kansas State in 2001. For the past three years, she taught sixth-grade science at Wellsville Middle School and lived in Louisburg.

“I really enjoy teaching science,” Kraus said. “I like the atmosphere (hands-on experience) provides for the kids in the classroom.”

Kraus’s husband, Brendan, recently opened a veterinary practice in Florence. The Krauses live in Marion.

USD 410 / Hillsboro

This fall, Sandy Arnold will fill the media-specialist position created when Carolyn Penner retired as Hillsboro Elementary School librarian. She also will be head volleyball coach at the high school.

Arnold brings 12 years of public-education experience. Most recently she managed the three libraries-kindergarten through grade 12-in the Canton-Galva school district.

“I’ve always enjoyed elementary (grades) because that was my degree,” she said. “So I’m really glad about working at the elementary school and with one library.”

Arnold earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and elementary education from Bethel College in North Newton. In May, she graduated with a master’s in library sciences from Emporia State.

“I love to share literature with the kids-that’s probably my favorite part, although I also like to do programming and special events,” she said.

Sandy and Todd Arnold and their family will move to Hillsboro once their house is built. They have a 9-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter, and “another one on the way,” due in November.

USD 411-Goessel

Curt Graves, 32, has accepted the position of principal for grades seven through 12 at Goessel Junior/Senior High School.

“I applied for the job here at Goessel based on the reputation that precedes the community and the school,” Graves said. “It has strong programs, strong students and strong community membership.”

The new principal moved from Sterling to Goessel in July with wife Valerie, who is working at Golden Heritage Foods in Hillsboro and expecting their first child.

Graves earned a degree in physical education with a minor in science at Sterling College, graduating in 1994. In February, he earned a master’s in school leadership and administration from Friends University.

Prior to accepting the position at Goessel, he was employed in the Sterling system for the 10 years.

“I taught middle school sciences and a variety of middle and high school physical education,” Graves said. “Then, I also coached a variety of sports.”

Based on the strong foundation of his administrative predecessors, Graves said he doesn’t anticipate making many changes in the program.

“At the same time, new perspective from someone from the outside sometimes brings new ideas and new thoughts,” Graves said.

“My strengths will lie in communication. I have an open-door policy, and that goes for students, parents, patrons and staff. I am a strong believer in discipline, and I believe in teaching our kids how to make good decisions.”

Allen Pinkall, 40, brings eight years of teaching experience as the new high school math teacher.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know a new bunch of kids and being part of a new community,” Pinkall said.

In addition to teaching math, he will be assistant girls’ basketball coach for the high school.

Pinkall has lived the past two years in rural Hesston with wife Charlotte, a human-resources representative at Hosperia in McPherson.

Pinkall earned a degree in mathematics from Fort Hays State in 1993. He earned a teaching certificate that same year in secondary math.

His first teaching position was at Quivera Heights School in Bushton. After two years there, he taught math at McPherson High School for six years, then chose last year to operate a home-based cabinet- and furniture-making business.

He said he returned to teaching because he wasn’t as busy as he wanted to be and missed being in school.

“I think I get along with and relate well to kids,” Pinkall said.

USD 419/Canton-Galva

Shawn Stringer, 36, will begin the new school year in the dual positions of elementary school principal and physical-education teacher for kindergarten through third grade.

“What I would like to bring to the table is strong leadership,” Stringer said.

Wife Melissa works part time at the Marion Animal Clinic, and the couple have one daughter, Rylea, 6, and one son, Conor, 23 months. The family is living in Marion. Stringer said they hope to eventually move to the district.

Stringer graduated in 1991 with a degree in exercise science from Kansas State and earned a teaching certificate from the University of Colorado in 1995.

His extended-education credits include a master’s degree from CU in curriculum and instruction in 1996 and in 2001, he earned his administrative certification from Fort Hays State.

With 10 years experience in education, Stringer was employed the last three years as assistant elementary principal in Eureka.

Stringer said he looks forward to working with the talents of his Canton-Galva staff.

Rhonda Werth, 33, will greet students this year as the library media specialist for the Canton-Galva school district.

A strength she brings to the position is her love for books, Werth said.

“I’m a very organized person but at the same time, I’m also very flexible,” she said. “So with having the three schools, I should be able to fit them all in.”

As of this summer, home is in Galva with son Dalton Carey, who will be 2 in November.

Werth earned a degree in elementary education in 1993 at Fort Hays State and went on to earn a master’s degree in elementary education in 1998.

“I’ve taught several elementary-level classes and some middle-school classes,” Werth said.

For the past five years, she’s been a library-media specialist. Last year at Russell, she also worked in the computer lab.

Tammy Steele, 31, has been preparing this summer to welcome preschoolers to the Canton-Galva school district.

“This is a brand-new program,” Steele said. “We have just developed a preschool classroom in the elementary school. We’ve been working real hard on that all summer.”

Approaching their fourth year as Galva residents, Steele and husband Eric, who is the high school principal at Canton-Galva, have two children. Morgan will be a fourth grader, and Regan will be in the first grade.

Steele graduated from Kansas State in 1995 with a degree in early-childhood education. Through the Associated Colleges of Central Kansas and Bethany College, she is working on an endorsement in early-childhood special education to be completed next summer.

Prior to staying home to raise her children, Steele was a parent educator for Parents as Teachers in North Central Kansas, a program for children birth to age 3. Last year, she was a kindergarten teacher’s aide at Canton-Galva.

Barry Fritz, 41, brings more than a decade of experience to the position of physical education teacher for Canton-Galva High School and coach for the high school girls’ basketball and softball programs.

“I taught half-time for 13 years at Salina Sacred Heart,” Fritz said. “Right out of college, I taught junior-high physical education and junior-high social studies.”

Planning to commute from Salina, Fritz said his family includes wife Christy, a business and computer teacher at Salina South, and two daughters. Alexa is 11, and Jordan is 6.

He graduated in 1991 from Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina with two degrees-one in physical education K-12, and the other in social studies, fifth through ninth grades.

Preparing to take over the high-school physical-education curriculum, Fritz said he plans to continue with the past program and work with the district coaches to utilize the weight room.

“As far as the classroom goes, I bring a lot of discipline,” Fritz said. “I try to have an environment conducive to learning. I’m looking forward to the opportunities at Canton/Galva, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Zac Hoppes, 26, was born and raised in Galva and will have the opportunity to drive a short distance to his new position as technology teacher for kindergarten through eighth grade.

“I look forward to being a part of the school district and continuing to improve it,” Hoppes said.

For the past three years, he has taught in Salina while living in Galva.

“This is my hometown, so I look forward to not having to drive 45 miles one way to work,” said Hoppes, who also will be head football coach.

Wife Melissa is employed by NCRA in McPherson. They have two boys, Kyler, 4, and Kaleb, 2.

Hoppes graduated from Emporia State in 2001 with a degree in elementary education. For the next three years, he taught in the Salina system. He was also assistant football coach at Salina Central.

Hoppes said his experience will help him make valuable contributions to education in the Canton-Galva district.

“I tell people all the time we should have more of our local people come back as teachers in the system, because they have a vested interest,” Hoppes said.

“I have a vested interest as far as having my own kids in the system. But, at the same time, I can bring some outside ideas I’ve learned in Salina.”

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