As the new school year begins, the Free Press will introduce the new teachers in the six disricts included in our distribution area. This issue, we begin with the Marion-Florence and Peabody-Burns districts.
New teachers for Unified School District 408 bring a range of experiences that will enrich their classrooms and areas of study.
David Clark joins the district as its vocal music teacher for grades five through 12 and director of choral activities.
Clark, who retired as choral director from USD 410 in 2005, has taught for 34 years. He said he values ?the fine history of choral music and possibilities for success? at Marion.
Clark and wife Marsha reside in Hillsboro.
Joining the faculty at Marion High School is fifth-year teacher Jeff McMillin, who will instruct social studies classes and coach boys basketball.
A graduate of Friends University, McMillin hails from Conway Springs and said he wants to help students and athletes ?be the best they can possibly be.?
His family includes wife Amanda, daughter Jaeden, 3, and son Landon, 11 months.
New teachers at Marion Middle School are Paula Ash and Ann Leppke.
Ash will be teaching ninth grade English and English Enrichment for eighth graders. She earned her master?s degree from University of Northern Colorado and has taught for 35 years, ?plus or minus,? she said.
Ash taught in Marion in 1966 in the English department, and she said she?s looking forward to sharing her love of teaching and literature with the students.
Her family includes married children Brett and Wendy and six grandsons.
Teaching 7th grade science will be Ann Leppke. Her additional responsibilities at Marion High School include assistant coach for volleyball and track, and adviser for the student council.
Leppke said she is enthusiastic about science and education.
?I love having the opportunity to impart that to a new group of students each year.?
She also said she?s looking forward to working with Superintendent Lee Leiker.
?He is a superintendent that is constantly and relentlessly looking for ways to improve the district,? Leppke said. ?That?s exciting.?
Her family includes husband Lyle and sons, Ben, 19, a sophomore at Fort Hays State Univer?sity, and Mitchell, 17, a senior at MHS.
At Marion Elementary School, Rebecca Pederson will teach fourth grade. She will be assistant MHS cross country coach and assistant coach for MMS girls basketball.
Pederson, whose hometown is Cimarron, graduated from Tabor College in Hillsboro in May.
In her first year of teaching, Pederson said the small-town feel and the extracurricular and after-school activities attracted her to the district.
Finally, Greta Smith is taking on the role of director for the new Aquatics Center, where she will be teaching all ages of students.
She said she enjoys life and having a positive input in children?s lives.
She lives in Marion with sons Trevor and Tyler.
Peabody-Burns USD 398
With four new instructors, the Peabody-Burns school district will benefit from a variety of educational, geographic and family backgrounds. But it was the size and strength of the community?qualities already in place?that helped attract each of the new teachers.
Danielle Ratzlaff, a fourth-grade instructor with six years of teaching experience, cited the small size of the district as a major factor in choosing Peabody.
?I grew up in a small school district (Gypsum) and enjoy the small school environment,? she said. ?And class size is usually smaller.?
Beth Piper, wife of Bethel College biology professor Jon Piper and mother of Joshua, Emily and Samuel, will be teaching biology, chemistry and horticulture at PBHS.
Piper also noted the size of the district as an advantage, along with the family-like atmosphere and the classroom opportunities the Peabody-Burns district affords.
?I look forward to having my own room,? she said. ?Last year I did chemistry on a cart.?
Piper?s goals include training teens to be responsible for their learning and ?helping young adults have a science education to equip them in the modern world and to be able to function in new careers in science and technology.?
Glenn Bechtel of Eureka will be teaching grades seven through 12 agriculture education classes this fall.
Bechtel said ?the community has potential to have an excellent ag-ed program,? and noted that working in Peabody would bring him a little closer to home.
Bechtel earned a bachelor of science degree in agricultural education from Kansas State.
Kerry Czarnowsky, Newton, has a bachelor?s degree in fine arts with an education emphasis from Wichita State University.
Czarnowsky will teach grade kindergarten through grade 12 art classes and will coach junior high volleyball.
?I will also get to watch students develop as artists all the way through from a young age,? she said. Czarnowsky has a husband, Mike, and three children.
?The thing that drew me to this district was its small size and sense of community,? she said.