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New teachers hope to make a difference

By Staff | Sep 7, 2009

Jeremiah Fitzgerald

One thing the four new Blue Earth Area teachers have in common is their desire to make a difference in the lives of their students.

Jeremiah Fitzgerald, a Dunnell, native and Martin County West graduate, will be teaching sixth grade reading at the Blue Earth Area Middle School. After one year at Southwest State in Marshall, Fitzgerald transferred to the Estherville campus of Iowa Lakes Community College where he earned his Associate of Arts degree. He then earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from Buena Vista University through the Estherville campus.

Fitzgerald taught fourth-graders for two years at Montgomery-Lonsdale and also spent one year in the Mora school district before coming to Blue Earth.

“I hope to help students enjoy reading and to become lifelong learners,” says Fitzgerald. “My goal is to make connections here. I want the students to be able to take off with ideas, because the possibilities are endless.” He hopes to achieve this by teaching the different skills needed for meaningful reading.

The sixth grade reading program centers around the cause and effect in stories, reading strategies and predicting or making conclusions. Students will study stories featuring different themes such as courage, growing up, what really happened, discovering ancient and new frontiers and doers and dreamers.

Jennifer Esser

In addition to textbooks, the students will also be expected to do a lot of supplemental reading.

Fitzgerald hopes to prove to his students the littlest things can make a difference in their lives. It might just change their career path or life’s direction he says about his subject.

Although he commutes daily from Northrop, he hopes to become involved in additional school activities such as wrestling.

“I love playing golf, hunting, fishing, baseball and doing anything outdoors,” says Fitzgerald.

The recently engaged middle school teacher is excited to be back in the area and closer to his large family.

Laura Skarie

“I’m glad I decided to be a Buccaneer.”

“It’s nice, it’s wonderful,” says an enthusiastic Jennifer (Robbins) Esser, as she returns to the halls from which she graduated.

Esser, a Blue Earth Area and Minnesota State University-Mankato graduate (December 2008), will be teaching sixth graders on a part-time basis. She is qualified to teach kindergarten through eighth grade students. Her emphasis at MSU was in middle school communications, arts and literature.

Her primary responsibilities at the middle school will be teaching language arts (grammar, spelling and writing skills) in addition to teaching one section of Minnesota history to sixth-graders. Esser will also have an M&M (morning meeting group), help with the eighth grade independent reading class, as well as work with students in the learning lab after school hours.

“I have wanted to be a teacher since I was about 5 years old,” says a grinning Esser. “I always played school teacher when I was young. I would often go to rummage sales and pick-up old teacher workbooks making my fantasy world more real.”

Ellen Armbrust

Esser did some subbing for the Fairmont and Blue Earth school districts earlier in 2009.

Married on January 10, 2009, to Darren Esser, the couple is making their home in Blue Earth. When she and her husband are not involved with family activities, she enjoys reading, playing and watching sports, particularly volleyball and softball, and participating in outdoor activities such as walking and having picnics.

“I received a great education at Blue Earth,” says Esser. “It is wonderful to return and to be able to give back. I had wonderful role models. I’m glad to be here. I’m where I’m supposed to be.”

Another recent college graduate and teacher is Laura Skarie who will be teaching eighth grade science.

Skarie, a native of Detroit Lakes, earned her elementary and middle education degree with an emphasis in science from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in December 2008.

She comes from a long line of teachers. Her grandmother taught in the 1940s and currently two of her siblings are elementary instructors.

“I have always had an interest in science and enjoy working with kids. Since I didn’t want a ‘desk job,’ teaching is a way I can be active and creative with the kids.”

Skarie has worked with pre-schoolers, first and sixth graders, but this is her first experience working with middle school students.

Curriculum she will be teaching at Blue Earth Area will include geology, astronomy and meteorology. Or as she refers to it, all earth and space topics.

“I hope to be able to motivate the kids and show them there are a lot of opportunities to pursue in the ever-changing science field,” she says. “There are interesting things happening in science all the time.”

Skarie also will be in charge of an M& M group. She says she would like to get involved at some point with gymnastics, as she participated in it and track while in high school.

In her spare time, Skarie says she enjoys kayaking, hiking, camping, fishing and horseback riding. In fact, she has two horses at her family’s Detroit Lakes home.

Although she commutes daily from Albert Lea, she is looking forward to staying in Blue Earth a little later on the days the Bucs are scheduled to tangle with the Fairmont Cardinals.

“I understand it’s quite the rivalry,” she says. “I’m looking forward to attending these sporting events.”

Ellen Armbrust will be working half-time in Winnebago as a Kindergarten through fifth grade special education teacher.

“I did my practicums at Blue Earth about 10 years ago,” says Armbrust. “Most recently, I worked for Barb Hanson who was on a medical leave of absence from the local school district this past January to June.”

Through the years, Armbrust has also taught part-time in other Faribault and Martin County school districts.

A native and high school graduate of Osseo, Armbrust is married and has one daughter. She will be commuting daily to Winnebago from her rural Fairmont home.

She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in elementary education, with an emphasis in kindergarten, from Minnesota State University-Mankato. She then attended graduate school at Mankato and earned her degree in Special Education (EBD/LD).

“I got into Special Education because I saw a great need for it, starting in the 1990s when I was teaching,” says Armbrust.

In her spare time, this Special Education teacher enjoys reading, traveling, scrap booking and spending time with her family.

Whether working in the area of Special Education or teaching a class in meaningful reading techniques, these four new teachers at Blue Earth area definitely have one thing in common…their desire to make a difference in the lives of BEA students.