Hillsboro, Peabody-Burns, MCSEC recruit new staff

The start of a new school year also brings new teaching staffs to area schools. This article introduces new teachers at USD 410, USD 398 and the Marion County Special Education Cooperative.

USD 410-Hillsboro

Five teachers will be making their debut at Hillsboro schools this year.

Jessica Bowman will teach English language arts for grades eight, 10 and 12 at Hillsboro Middle/High School.

Bowman has 18 years of experience as an educator, having taught in Oberlin and Canton-Galva schools.

“A goal of mine at HMHS is to bring a fresh, technology-based approach to teaching language arts,” she said.

Bowman said multiple factors drew her to USD 410, including Hillsboro being her home for more than a decade.

“My daughter will be entering the district as a kindergartner next year, and I’m excited to be in the same system she’ll be in.”

Bowman and her late husband, Kurt, are parents of a 4-year-old daughter.

Emily Dalke will teach fourth grade at Hillsboro Elementary School.

She has taught 10 years in USD 373-Newton.

Her husband, Dustin, has taught with the district for 15 years.

“My children also have attended schools here and have received a great education,” Dalke said. “The teachers are wonderful and caring.”

The Dalkes have two school-age sons.

Kyle Kroeker comes to USD 410 after teaching four years at Remington and three years in Barton County schools.

Kroeker will teach sixth-grade science, social studies, English and Physical Educa­tion.

“Growing up here provided great experiences and memories,” he said. “I hope to give back ot the community that raised me.”

Kroeker said he hopes to create a classroom environment with high expectations and rigorous activities while having fun with the students.

He and wife Alyssa have a 1-year-old daughter.

Another HHS alum, Dakota Tannahill, is returning to Hillsboro. She will teach kindergarten at HES.

“I wanted to come back ‘home’ and serve in the district that I grew up in,” said Tannahill, who has two previous years of teaching experience.

She said she wants to help students feel welcome and comfortable in their first year of school.

Her husband is Travis Tannahill.

Jill Siebert will begin her first teaching position with kindergarten to grade five music and art.

Siebert grew up in Topeka and graduated in May from Bethel College in North Newton.

“After attending Bethel, I fell in love with central Kansas and smaller-town life,” she said. “I am very excited about the opportunity to teach both music and art.”

Seibert is married to Braden Unruh, who teaches music in Haven Middle/High schools.

USD 398-Peabody-Burns

Six new teachers will be teaching students at Peabody-Burns this year.

Sarah Hagen, whose hometown is Hutchinson, will teach kindergarteners at USD 398 Peabody-Burns.

“I grew up going to a small school, so I loved the small school/town feel of Peabody,” said Hagen, who graduated from Tabor College in May.

She said she wants to keep learning all she can as a first-year teacher, and that her students will know she cares about them.

Travis Schafer will teach second grade at Pea­body-Burns Elementary School this year.

He comes with eight years of teaching experience, with three of those at USD 398.

“What brings me back to Peabody-Burns is simple,” said Schafer, who grew up in Galva. “It is the culture and family-oriented way of the community and staff.”

Building strong relationships with students, parents, co-workers and those in the community are important to Schafer, he said.

Schafer, who is married to wife Nicky, said his goal is to one day become an elementary school principal.

Dana Pope will teach art for kindergarten through grade 12 and advise the yearbook.

Pope, who earned a bachelor’s degree at University of Texas at Brownsville, taught for three years at Junction City. She said she wants to work toward a master’s degree in art education.

She said her goal is that her students will be better people at the end of the school year than they were at the beginning.

Pope has three children, Jordan, 15, Chloe, 5, and Jael, 3.

Rachel Wattson will teach general music at PBES as well as work with Title 1 and Multi-Tier System of Supports

“I grew up in Peabody and wanted to come back home to be closer to family,” said Wattson, who taught 10 years as K-12 band and vocal music teacher at Argonia.

“Growing up in the district, I knew it would be a great district to work for.”

Ben Berry, originally from Wichita, will teach English Language Arts for sixth through eighth grades and advise Student Council for Peabody-Burns Middle School.

“I want to be able to give my students all the attention they need,” he said.

Berry, a graduate of Wichita State University, is working on a master’s degree in literature at WSU.

Barbara Begler will teach Family Consumer Science for grades eight through 12 at USD 398 and serve as FCCLA adviser.

Previously, Begler taught for 27 years with USD 489 in Hays.

She and husband John have two boys and one girl.

Marion County Special Education Cooperative

Seven teachers will begin teaching students at Marion County Special Education Cooperative this fall.

Carisa Funk will be teaching the fourth and fifth grade inter-related position at Hillsboro Elementary School.

In the past, Funk worked for 10 years at MCSEC. She returns to the classroom after most recently having taught nine years in the education department at Tabor College.

“My kids attend Hills­boro, and I know how hard the staff works to create a positive learning environment,” Funk said.

Marilyn Bartel of Hills­boro brings 20-plus years of teaching experience to grades six to 12 at Hillsboro Middle/High School.

“I will be teaching students with disabilities and need to focus on functional and life skills,” Bartel said.

“I want (students) to want to come to school and know that (we) care for them as people as well as students.”

She said the staff and administration in Hillsboro and Marion County are team players and “really care about students.”

Bartel and husband Wilmer have three grown children, all of whom attended USD 410 schools.

Demetrius Cox will start his first year teaching eighth and ninth grade special education at HMHS.

Cox has worked as a para-educator in Marion County schools and as an at-risk aide at HHS.

He will also be an assistant HMS football coach and assistant HHS basketball coach this year.

Cox and wife Ciara have a son and two daughters who attend USD 410 schools.

Amy Pagenkopf’s area of instruction is high incidence special education for sixth through eighth grades at USD 397.

“I am a Centre (1991) graduate and worked there as a para while obtaining my teaching degree, so it is like going home,” Pagenkopf said. “It is a family atmosphere in a beautiful rural setting.”

She also has taught four grades at Herington as well as intermediate special ed through USD 304-Salina at Herington.

Pagenkopf and husband Brad have two sons.

Erik Billings will teach special education at Marion High School.

Billings will start his 30th year as an educator, having taught in several Ohio schools as well as Newton. He and wife Myrta have three grown children and have lived in Marion since 2001.

“My wife retired from the (Marion-Florence) district in 2013,” Billings said. “Our youngest son, Brett, graduated from MHS in 2008.”

Tabor College graduates Jesse and Tara Allen will begin their education careers this fall.

Jesse Allen will teach special education to grades 10 to 12 at HHS.

“I grew up in Hillsboro and have always respected those involved in education,” Allen said. “I look forward to starting my career in a place that has many people who can provide guidance and wisdom to become a successful teacher.”

He said one goal is to discover students’ learning styles and how to ready them for success.

Tara Allen will be the resource teacher for grades two and three at Marion Elementary School.

“My goal is to create an environment where students feel safe and excited about learning,” she said. “I also want to foster trust and positive relationships with my students, parents and staff.”

Crystal Holub will teach math and science at OASIS, which serves students who have severe behavior disorders or emotional disturbance.

She also has taught at USD 259 in Wichita and Holy Spirit in Goddard.

Holub and husband Timothy have five daughters and 13 grandchildren. She said they recently moved to the Holub family farm and look forward to getting to know the communities in Marion County.