New faces greeting students at area schools
With school starting this week at schools in Faribault County, there will a lot of new faces walking the halls.
And, those faces won’t just belong to new students – there are a lot of new teachers both at Blue Earth Area and United South Central Schools.
“I haven’t seen this many new teachers starting in one year in a long time,” BEA Superintendent Dale Brandsoy says. “Maybe we have never had this many in one year.”
There are eight teachers who will be welcoming Blue Earth students for the first time this week.
At USC, there are five new teachers. There were just three new teaching staff members last year at USC.
Brandsoy says it just worked out that there were quite a few retirements at Blue Earth Area Schools this past year.
“We have to add some new staff members every year,” he says. “Some teachers move on, and some retire. But, eight is a big number for us. We spent a lot of time this past summer conducting interviews. I think we were able to make some excellent additions to our staff.”
There were six teachers who retired from the BEA system last year: Portia Brandsoy (Kindergarten), Gary Engler (high school auto mechanics), Steve Fernholz (sixth grade), Steve Frederickson (high school social studies, effective in November), Judy Prestegard (first grade) and Sue Ristau (fourth grade).
The six retirees averaged 29.16 years of service to BEA.
Plus, there were three teachers who took leaves of absence and one who resigned for other reasons.
The school also hired a new Community Ed director, Sarah Fering.
“Having nine new persons, out of a staff of 95, means we have a 10 percent turnover,” Brandsoy says. “I think this size of turnover is going to continue for a while, as we have a senior staff who have all been here for a number of years and are all nearing retirement at once. This is especially true in the elementary staff.”
Brandsoy says he feels it speaks well of the BEA school system that the staff has been the same for many years.
“And, they are excellent teachers, and they have all done well,” he says.
The eight new teachers include one BEA graduate, and two others from nearby communities.
Jay Fredrickson is a 2002 BEA graduate, and also a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College.
He is the son of Steve and Sue Frederickson, both long-time teachers at BEA.
He will be teaching high school social studies. He taught in the Lake City School District for the past three years.
Alex Schmidt is a graduate of Fairmont High School, and Bethel University, as well as earning a graduate degree from Concordia University, St. Paul.
He taught in Ham Lake for three years, and will teach second grade at BEA.
Lindsey Doering is the new sixth and seventh grade math teacher at BEA.
She is a 2006 graduate of Maple River High School, and also South Dakota State University, Brookings.
She is a first year teacher.
Paul Carlson comes to BEA as a new fourth grade teacher.
He graduated from Tracy Area High School in 2006, and the University of Minnesota, Morris.
Carlson is also a first year teacher.
Kathy Grovom is the new kindergarten teacher.
She received her undergraduate degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and her graduate masters degree from St. Mary’s University.
Grovom has been a teacher for seven years in Jordan, including six years as a kindergarten teacher there.
She and her husband, Jason, have two sons.
Molly Jewison is also a graduate of St. Mary’s University.
She is the new second grade teacher in the elementary school in Winnebago.
Robyn Beach-Olson will be teaching first grade at BEA.
She is a graduate of Augsburg College.
Beach-Olson has taught for several years at three elementary schools in St. Paul, including third and fourth grade, and kindergarten.
She and her husband, Jason, have a son and a daughter.
Jodee Dittbenner will be teaching high school social studies to ninth-, 10th- and 11th- graders at BEA.
She is a graduate of Morris Area High School and the University of Minnesota, Morris.
This will be her first teaching assignment.
Brandsoy says BEA has a new teacher mentoring program.
“We team each new teacher with one of our current staff members, in the same grade or curriculum area,” he explains. “They meet each month and the whole group meets together each quarter.”
The five new USC teachers are Jena Schoenrock, Jill Bailey, Rose Pavel, Stacie Ebnet Dietz and Joe Joyce.
Jena Schoenrock will be teaching high school mathematics. She is a graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato. She is also a 2002 graduate of Janesville High School.She and her husband, Chad, and son James, live on a farm near Janesville.
Jill Bailey will be teaching seventh and eighth grade English at USC. She taught English to those same two grades at Martin County West for the past three years.
She is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College.
Rose Pavel is another MSU, Mankato, graduate and will be an Early Childhood Special Education teacher.
She has 12 years of teaching experience at Faribault, Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial, St. Peter, New Ulm and Madelia.
Pavel and her husband, Robb, have two grown children.
Stacie Ebnet Dietz is the new elementary autism specialist at USC.
She is a graduate of Concordia College, Moorhead, and has her autism certificate from the University of California.
She taught for 13 years in Helendale, Calif. She and her husband, Brian, have three children.
Joyce will be teaching seventh and eighth grade social studies.
He graduated from MSU, Mankato, in 2009.