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Vote for the Globe Best of 2018 Nominations through Saturday, Sept. 22

Meet this school year's new District 518 staff

 
WORTHINGTON — District 518 is welcoming 33 new staff to the district this fall.
Over the course of the next several weeks, we’ll be presenting brief profiles of the district’s new teachers.
  Anne Elizabeth Bruns

District 518 Position: Special Education Teacher

Education: Worthington High School ; Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall ; Minnesota State University — Mankato.

Previous experience: Nine years as an elementary setting IV EBD teacher at Red Rock Ridge Learning Center.

What about the Worthington school district excites you most: I love being back in Worthington, and I’m ready to make things better in any way I can.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: My hobbies include reading, walking and spending time with family.

Josh Wasmund

District 518 Position: Prairie Elementary Special Education Teacher

Education: Worthington High School; Minnesota State University — Mankato.

Previous experience: Student-taught at Prairie Elementary; two-year SUN teacher at Red Rock Ridge Learning Center in Windom.

What about the Worthington school district excites you most: Being back at ISD 518 and meeting my students.

What are some of your hobbies / How do you like to spend free time: Baseball, hockey and fishing. I like to spend time with kids and family.

Abby Alfson

District 518 Position: School Psychologist

Education: Madison, S.D. high school; Southwest Minnesota State University; University of Kansas.

Previous experience: Seven years school psychologist for at Topeka Public Schools in Topeka, Kan.

What are you looking forward to most this school year: I’m looking forward to meeting new students, families and staff members and expanding my knowledge in the field of school psychology.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: During my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband, 1-year-old daughter and dog. Since moving closer to home, we are enjoying reconnecting with lots of family and close friends.

McKenzie Van Batavia

District 518 Position: Special Education Teacher

Education: Morris Area High School; Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall.

Previous experience: Student-taught at Prairie Elementary and Worthington High School. Pre-student teaching experience at Worthington Middle School.

What about the Worthington school district excites you most: I love the atmosphere at Prairie Elementary. Being able see how everyone works together to support individual students’ needs is very fulfilling!

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: I enjoy spending time with friends and family, attending local sporting events, snuggling my basset hound puppy, Dale, and reading.

Moria Crooks

District 518 Position: WHS English Language Arts Teacher.

Education: Archbishop Walsh High School, Olean, N.Y.; Southern New Hampshire University.

Previous experience: This will be my first full-time teaching position. I previously worked in the Heron Lake-Okabena School District while continuing my education. I’ve worked as a freelance writer and editor for several years.

What about the Worthington school district excites you most: I’m most excited about working with a growing, diverse community of learners. I’m looking forward to working with a team who values collaboration.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: I like to spend my free time writing, reading, baking and exploring Minnesota with my husband and our six children.

Brett Oltmanns

District 518 Position: WHS Special Education Teacher

Education: Windom Area High School; bachelor’s in criminal justice, Bemidji State University; special education master’s, Grand Canyon University.

Previous experience: Three years’ experience at Red Rock Ridge Area Learning Center in Windom.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? Getting to know the staff and students and creating a fun learning environment.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: I enjoy playing golf and hockey, as well as hunting and fishing.

Sandy Torgerson

District 518 Position: ALC Special Education Teacher

Education: Hamburg High School; Buena Vista University.

Previous experience: I worked as a special education paraprofessional while working toward completion of my bachelor of arts degree. I student taught in the Windom and Fairmont School Districts.

What about the Worthington school district excites you most: The Worthington School District is so welcoming and professional. They offer many different opportunities for professional development and growth.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: I enjoy reading, scrapbooking, spending time with my family and golfing.

Blake Reignier

District 518 Position: WMS Interventionist.

Education: North Branch Area High School; University of St. Thomas.

Previous experience: I started my career in 2012 teaching for Paladin Career and Technical High School. From there, I taught for New City School in northeast Minneapolis for three years before teaching for two years at Ubah Medical Academy in Hopkins.

What about the Worthington school district excites you most: I am thrilled to be working in a diverse community!

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: I like to cook and spend time with my 13-year-old Beagle, Emmy.

Anna Breske

District 518 Position: Early Childhood Special Education Teacher

Education: Brandon Valley High School; Northwestern College, Orange City, Iowa.

Previous experience: I student taught in Sioux Falls, S.D. I taught for eight weeks in a first grade general education classroom at John Harris Elementary and eight weeks in an early childhood special education classroom at Harvey Dunn Elementary.

What about the Worthington school district excites you most: I’m excited to be a part of the close-knit, dedicated staff in the Worthington District. I understand that the teachers, staff and administrators are passionate and excited about their work. I’m most looking forward to building relationships with my students and hope to make a difference in their lives.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: Spending time with my family, friends and dog. I love being outside, going to the lake and watching movies with my husband.

Ryan Elfering

District 518 Position: Prairie Elementary Fifth Grade Teacher

Education: Melrose Area High School; Saint Cloud State University.

Previous experience: This is my first full time teaching position. I student taught at Cold Spring Elementary during the 2017-2018 school year. I then taught summer school at Cold Spring Elementary during summer 2018.

What about the Worthington school district excites you most: I look forward to working with the students and staff. I am excited to experience a great first year of teaching with students. I believe I can learn just as much from the students as they can from me.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: I like to spend my free time golfing or hanging out at our family lake cabin during the summer.  

Summer Stevens

District 518 Position: Prairie Elementary Second Grade Teacher

Education: Windom Area High School; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Previous experience: Taught first grade in Sherburn and Monticello school districts.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? Getting to meet a whole new group of students and colleagues to work with!

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: Hiking/walking with my three dogs (one golden retriever and two labs), watching football (Go Vikings!), cooking, playing softball and golf, biking, going boating at the lake and fishing.

Ashlyn Bender

District 518 Position: Prairie Elementary first grade teacher

Education: Redlands East Valley High School, Calif.; South Dakota State University.

Previous experience: I taught preschool for District 518 from January through May 2018. I student-taught second grade at Rosa Parks Elementary in Sioux Falls, S.D.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? I’m excited to build relationships with my students and watching them grow as learners, as well as teaching in such a diverse community. I’m also excited to grow and learn as a teacher from my students.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: I like shopping, hanging out with friends and traveling. I also like and always up for trying new things!

Sally K. Anderson

District 518 Position: Middle School English as a Second Language Instructor.

Education: Romeoville H.S., Romeoville, Ill.; Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Previous experience: Student-taught elementary education in Janesville and ESL in Waseca.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? Being able to watch students grow and be successful and being part of a great team of educators.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: I want to try it all. I love the outdoors: biking, water! All crafts — painting, crochet, sewing quilts, design T-shirts, stamping and scrapbooking and gardening.

Kesia Dominguez Escalante

District 518 Position: Prairie Elementary first grade teacher

Education: United South High School, Laredo, Texas; Alternative South Texas Educator Program.

Previous experience: I previously worked at United Independent School District in Laredo, Texas. I began with the district as a teacher assistant in the 2015-2016 school year while working on my teacher certification. The following year I was offered a teaching position as a first-grade teacher at Rodolfo Centeno Elementary, where I happily taught from Aug. 2016 to June 2018.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? I am most looking forward to seeing how much my students will grow in the school year. It never ceases to amaze me how much they are capable of absorbing in just a few months.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: In my free time I love spending time with my family and reading books.

Brenna Richters

District 518 Position: School Readiness/ECFE Teacher

Education: Luverne High School; South Dakota State University.

Previous experience: This is my first teaching position. I graduated in May of this year and completed student teaching in Brandon, S.D.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? I’m looking forward to the opportunity to learn, grow and challenge myself as a teacher.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: I enjoy spending summer weekends at the motocross track with family or relaxing at the lake with friends.

Jessie Olson

District 518 Position: Fourth Grade ESL Teacher

Education: Albert Lea High School; Bethel University, St. Paul.

Previous experience: Student-taught at St. Louis Park High School.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? I am looking forward to learning from and working with others in the district. I am also looking forward to working with students from many different language and cultural backgrounds.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: I enjoy reading and writing with a fresh cup of tea or coffee. I also enjoy crocheting and outdoor activities like canoeing, kayaking, hiking and bonfires.

Janelle Kay Doyle

District 518 Position: WMS and ALC Art Teacher

Education: Coon Rapids High School; St. Catherine University, St. Paul.

Previous experience: I’ve been teaching for 15 years. I worked in the education department at the Science Museum of Minnesota before moving into the art classroom.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? I am looking forward to working with the diverse student population and getting back into a middle school classroom.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: In addition to classroom teaching, I am an active, exhibiting artist and arts program administrator.

Courtney Plath

District 518 Position: 7th/8th Grade Advanced EL Teacher

Education: Yankton High School, Yankton, S.D.; University of South Dakota.

Previous experience: One year fifth-grade science/math instructor at Dakota Valley Middle School in North Sioux City, Iowa; Three year sixth grade science, math, health teacher at LWC Intermediate, Lennox, S.D.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? I am excited to teach in such a diverse environment. I look forward to observing and reflecting on how the various cultures influence the educational experience.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: I enjoy spending time with my friends and family. My hobbies include weightlifting/Crossfit, competitive trivia and listening to live music.

Ellen Schmidt

District 518 Position: WHS English Teacher, soccer coach

Education: Buffalo High School; Luther College, Decorah, Iowa.

Previous experience: I had two student teaching placements: Coon Rapids High School and Irene Garcia Middle School in Mission, Texas. Additionally, I had a practicum at the Blake School in Hopkins.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? I am excited about the community. Every person I have met has been so welcoming and kind. I’m also excited for the soccer season.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: I enjoy reading, writing and cooking. I love spending time outdoors. I also enjoy spending time with family and friends.

Tina Zbytovsky

District 518 Position: Prairie Elementary special education teacher.

Education: Texas State University, Texas A&M University.

Previous experience: I have had 21 years experience teaching at the elementary level in both general education and special education.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? I have a passion for education. I’m looking forward to meeting the students and being one of the individuals who have the privilege to teach them.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: I love to spend time with family and friends. Taking the time to be outdoors with them is something I really enjoy.

Amanda Welcome

District 518 Position: Prairie Elementary fourth-grade teacher

Education: Elk River High School; St. Cloud State University.

Previous experience: This will be the start of my fourth year of teaching. I taught for one year at St. Cloud Math and Science Academy — a very diverse charter school. I then spent the next two years working at another charter school (STRIDE Academy).

What are you looking forward to most this school year? I am very excited to start this new chapter in Worthington! I was drawn to apply here as I remember driving through town on a road trip and thinking: “This looks like a great place to live!” I saw an opening and went for it! I am so excited to be a Trojan!

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: On the weekends when I have free time, I enjoy reading and spending time outdoors (weather permitting). During the winter I enjoy watching the snowfall and going snowmobiling with my family!

Bobbi Back

District 518 Position: ALC science teacher

Education: Rapid City Central High School, Rapid City, S.D.; North Dakota State University.

Previous experience: I student taught at West Fargo High School. I have also taught summer science classes for Upward Bound, and I was a tutor for AVID.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? I’m most excited about meeting my students and teaching them to be scientists.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: I do a lot of hiking, reading and movie-watching.

Mary Poppe

District 518 Position: Prairie Elementary fourth-grade teacher

Education: Southwest Star Concept, Okabena; Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall.

Previous experience: I student-taught fourth grade at Prairie Elementary.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? I am looking forward to meeting new people and becoming involved in various activities.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: Scrapbooking, spending time with family and friends and cooking and baking.

Judi Becker

District 518 Position: English Learner Coordinator

Education: Schaumburg High School, Chicago, Ill. suburbs; Winona State University.

Previous experience: 10 years teaching college ESL newcomers; 14 years teaching middle and high school English; 12 years teaching college English; extensive community volunteer work with newcomers.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? Worthington schools are revered throughout the state as the flagship for providing for the learning needs of L2’s with excellence. I am really looking forward to becoming a team member in this vital role.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: When I can find the time, I love to read about culture, history and how people learn. I also enjoy going for nature hikes, volunteering in my community and gathering people in my home for good food and conversation.

Ashley Skalsky

District 518 Position: Prairie Elementary first-grade EL teacher

Education: Lincoln High School, Thief River Falls; Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Previous experience: I was incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to student-teach abroad. I spent 12 weeks student teaching at SHAPE American High School on a NATO base near Mons, Belgium.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? I am so very excited to begin my teaching career at Prairie Elementary. I cannot wait to meet all the students I will be working with this year and experience the diversity present in this small community.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: In my free time, I love to spend time outdoors whether it be camping, hiking or on the water in the summer of cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. When I’m not outside, I enjoy reading a good book, watching movies and playing board games with family and friends.

Anna Johnson

District 518 Position: Prairie Elementary third-grade teacher

Education: Tracy Area High School; South Dakota State University.

Previous experience: Third-grade teacher at Dakota Prairie Elementary School in Brookings, S.D. for two years.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? I am excited about getting to know my learners and my coworkers.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: Reading, baking, fishing, do-it-yourself projects, spending time outside.

Angela Fritz

District 518 Position: Prairie Elementary kindergarten teacher

Education: Worthington High School; University of Sioux Falls.

Previous experience: I taught fifth-grade English Language Arts and first grade in Madison, S.D. I have also worked in District 518’s summer school program for many years.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? I’m excited to be back in my hometown. I look forward to working with the diversity in Worthington and working with the amazing staff at Prairie.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: I enjoy playing with my puppy, Bella. I spend most weekends helping out on my family’s farm.

Olivia Salentiny

District 518 Position: Prairie Elementary kindergarten teacher

Education: Fulda High School; Winona State University.  

Previous experience: I student-taught kindergarten at Prairie Elementary.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? While I was student teaching, I absolutely fell in love with the school and the staff. I can’t express how excited I am to have my own classroom filled with students to teach!

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: Some of my hobbies are reading, crocheting and swimming. On the weekends, I enjoy kicking back and relaxing with my husband and family.

Allison Getting

District 518 Position: Prairie Elementary second-grade teacher

Education: Fulda High School; Southwest Minnesota State University.

Previous experience: I completed my student teaching in a first-grade classroom at Heron Lake-Okabena Elementary. I also worked as a day camp counselor and day camp director at the Worthington YMCA, both positions reinforced the idea that I wanted to become a teacher.

What are you looking forward to most this school year? First and foremost, I am so excited to meet all of my students and to begin my second-grade adventure alongside them. I am also looking forward to working closely with the other second-grade teachers. I believe this team will help me become the best teacher I can be.

What are some of your hobbies/How do you like to spend free time: My hobbies include spending time with family and friends, spending time on the farm with my husband, crafting and baking. I also love to travel. My husband and I would really like to visit all of the national parks!

Lisa HarmsDistrict 518 Position: WHS science teacherEducation: George-Little Rock Central School District; Southwest Minnesota State University.Previous experience: 21 years science teacher experience between Tracy, Worthington and George-Little Rock school districts.What about the Worthington school district excites you most: What excites me most about the Worthington school district is to teach my favorite subject matter, chemistry, and to again work with all the great students and staff at WHS.What are some of your hobbies/ How do you like to spend free time: I spend my free time hanging out with friends and family. I also enjoy attending my children’s activities and events.Skyler WenningerDistrict 518 Position: WHS Physical Education / Health Teacher; assist middle school football and high school hockey.Education: Luverne High School; University of Minnesota, Duluth; South Dakota State University.Previous experience: Student-taught at Watertown High School and Brookings, S.D. elementary/middle schools.What about the Worthington school district excites you most/What are you looking forward to most this year? How welcoming the people are. This is my first teaching job so I am excited for something new.What are some of your hobbies/ How do you like to spend free time: I played baseball at South Dakota State University, so I enjoy all sports and any type of exercise.
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