WORTHINGTON — District 518 is welcoming 22 new staff to the district this fall. Here are brief snapshots of the newcomers.

Mark Fisher

Job Title: Secondary math and social studies

Education: High School — Dexfield Community School District, Redfield, Iowa; College — Iowa State University.

What about the Worthington school district excites you most?

I see the chance to step into this district as a chance to see teaching with fresh eyes.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

I am involved with my local church and spend my free time with my family, including our ancient beagle, Nick.

Olivia Weidert

Job Title: Fifth-grade teacher

Education: High School — Adrian High School; College — Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall.

Previous Experience: Student taught at Luverne Elementary in fifth grade classroom.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?

I’m most excited to finally have my own classroom. Growing up, I always knew I was going to be a teacher and now I finally get to do that! I’m looking forward to getting into a bigger school district and growing with a diverse community of learners and educators.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I enjoy spending my free time golfing, shopping and visiting friends.

Lori Dierks

Job Title: WHS special education teacher

Education: High School — Slayton High School; College — Dakota State University, Madison, South Dakota; St. Cloud State University.

Previous Experience: Flandrea, S.D.; Slayton; Minnewaska Area Schools (15 years); Southwest West Central Service Cooperative (four years).

What are you looking forward to mst this school year?

Working with students to meet their potential and living back in the area.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

Boating, spending time with family and crafting projects.

Austin Olson

Job Title: Fifth-grade teacher

Education: High School: Jackson County Central (2015 graduate); College: Southwest Minnesota State University (2019 graduate).

Previous Experience: Student taught at Martin County West in a fourth grade classroom.

What about the Worthington school district excites you most?

I have heard amazing comments about the Worthington School District and love that the district is so enthusiastic about student learning.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

I enjoy working at the Jackson Golf Club. In my free time I am either golfing or with friends.

Austin Selvey

Job Title: WHS Physical and Health Education

Education: High School — Bertha-Hewitt; College — North Dakota State University.

Previous Experience: K-12 PE at Bertha-Hewitt (two years); Long-term substitute at Lincoln Park Middle School in Duluth.

What about the Worthington school district excites you most?

Worthington is doing so many cool projects around their city to improve the community. It’s a great time to be a part of this community.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

Bow hunting, ice fishing, golfing and spending time with my wife and our dogs.

Nicole Meile-Anderson

Job Title: Social studies teacher

Education: High School — Roosevelt High School, Sioux Falls, SD; College — Augustana University.

Previous Experience: This is my 12th year teaching. For the last 11 years I taught at an alternative school in Sioux Falls.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?

Very excited to meet and connect with students and staff.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

I love spending time with friends and family and watching my son’s sports teams.

Rebecca Brignac

Job Title: Second and third grades special education teacher

Education: High School — Worthington High School; College — currently attending Walden University to finish special education degree.

Previous Experience: Preschool at Kids-R-It Childcare and Preschool.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?

The diversity and great school system.

Makayla Peterson

Job Title: Early childhood special education

Education: High School — Brandon Valley High School, Brandon, S.D; College — Southwest Minnesota State University.

Previous Experience: I will be student teaching in the fall at Worthington.

What excites you most about the Worthington school district?

I loved Worthington’s supportive environment and special education department.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

I am the SMSU cheer coach. I enjoy being outside with my family and friends.

Danielle Rosales

Job Title: Fourth-grade teacher

Education: High School — Adrian High School; College — Southwest Minnesota State University.

Previous Experience: This is my first full-time teaching position! I completed my student teaching in Hutchinson.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?

I’m looking forward to meeting all the students and watching them grow throughout the year and meeting new staff members.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

I like to spend my free time with family and friends, watching movies and reading.

Kelli Esselink

Job Title: Second-grade teacher

Education: High School — Hills-Beaver Creek; College — Southwest Minnesota State University.

Previous Experience: I student-taught in a third-grade classroom in Luverne.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?

The diversity of the students in the Worthington School District excites me. Also, the staff that I have met so far have been very welcoming. I look forward to meeting my students and watching them grow throughout the school year.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

Some of my hobbies include camping, hanging out at the lake, reading and helping out on the farm.

Forrest Roy Johnson

Job Title: High School Special Education

Education: High School — Ortonville High School; College — University of Northwestern — St. Paul; Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

Previous Experience: Student-taught in Estherville, Iowa.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?

I’m looking forward to putting into practice all the things I’ve learned the last couple of years.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

I love to play board games, watch Marvel movies and build LEGO with my daughters.

Ashley Bloemendaal

Job Title: WHS math teacher

Education: High School — Pipestone Area High School; College — South Dakota State University.

Previous Experience: Student-taught (one semester) and long-term substitute-taught (one semester) at Marshall High School.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?

Being a part of a fun and inspiring team that will help me grow as an educator.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

Working part-time at Pipestone Floral, spending time on the farm and taking my dog, Chloe, for walks.

Amber Taarud

Job Title: Eighth-grade student learning disability teacher.

Education: High School — Worthington High School; College — Western Governors University, Utah.

Previous Experience: The last eight years I have worked as a special education paraprofessional for District 518. The last six years I have also held a short-call substitute license, which has allowed me to substitute teach for Worthington middle school and through the EDGE program. My student teaching will occur through ISD 518.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?

To be able to continue to work in my hometown district, working alongside the awesome and supportive staff I am already familiar with and the interaction with students and watching them learn and grow.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

Time spent in my relationship with Christ, time spent with my son, family and friends, dirt track races, campfires, swimming, movies, listening to music and journaling.

Maria Thier

Job Title: Head of staff development district wide/Instructional coach.

Education: High School — Adrian High School; College — Southwest State University; master’s at Southwest Minnesota State University.

Previous Experience: I began my teaching career in Adrian. I took a little time away from the classroom to raise my family and work at the family business. Fall 2019 finds me back working for District 518.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?

I am most excited to be working in such a cutting-edge district. District 518 is laying the groundwork for many districts throughout the tri-state area and beyond, and I’m excited to play a role in that. I’m most excited to support the fantastic staff and their needs.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

My passion lies within my four children. In my spare time, I enjoy giving back to the community and organizations that my children are involved in. During the summer months I can be found enjoying any body of water (lake, river, ocean).

Amy Coon

Job Title: Second-grade learning disability teacher.

Education: High School — Esko High School; College — College of Scholastica.

Previous Experience: K-3 classroom in Wisom, Mont.; fourth grade at St. Ignatius, Mont.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?

I’m looking forward to meeting people and working with the students in this wonderful town.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

I love going camping and spending time in the water.

Shaine Rasmussen

Job Title: Seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher

Education: High School — Fertile-Beltrami High School; College — Concordia College; Brandman University, Modesto, Calif.

Previous Experience: I was a substitute teacher for nine years when I decided to complete my teaching credential and pursue my master’s degree in education.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?

I look forward to genuinely getting to know my students and sharing my love of science with them. Hopefully, by engaging the students in scientific exploration, they will discover how science has a significant impact on their lives.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

I enjoy visiting with friends; going out for dinner; sitting in my favorite chair reading a good book. Most of all, I love spending time walking around town with my dog, Waffle. If you ever see us our and about; feel free to come and say hello. We are both incredibly social.

Kristen Cromie

Job Title: WMS math teacher

Education: High School — Gresham High School, Oregon; College — George Fox University, Newberg, Ore.

Previous Experience: This is my 10th year teaching. I taught in Oregon and Washington state previously.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?

Getting to know my co-workers.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

I like sewing and have a small business sewing doll clothes. I also enjoy hiking, doing puzzles and playing games.

Courtney Opdahl

Job Title: WMS physical education/health teacher

Education: High School — Fulda High School; College — Dakota State University.

Previous Experience: St. Mary’s School, Worthington.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?

I look forward to the relationships I will build with the students.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

Golfing, Duke basketball, napping, watching sports, visiting family, anything outside.

Morgan Rukstales

Job Title: Fifth-grade strings/general music

Education: High School — William Fremd High School, Paldtine, Ill.; College — Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI.

Previous Experience: I student taught at Whitney Young Magnet School in Chicago.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?

I’m really excited to be in a school district that celebrates and supports the arts. I am looking forward to getting to know students and to be able to create beautiful music for their parents/guardians and the community.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

I love to sing and play viola, so I will perform in the Worthington symphony. I also enjoy baking, running, reading and traveling.

Carly Duffy

Job Title: WMS counselor

Education: High School — Cretin-Derham Hall; College — Moorhead State University.

Previous Experience: Prior to working at WMS, I was a counselor at Circle of Nations, a boarding school in Wahpeton, N.D.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?

I am excited to meet the students and get to know the Worthington area.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

I love to travel, especially to Ireland where my cousins live. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends.

Susan Krcil

Job Title: Instructional Coach

Education: High School — Comfrey Public; College — Mankato State University.

Previous Experience: I’ve taught for about 20 years in various school districts, including Mitchell, S.D., Butterfield and Edgerton.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?

I’m beginning a new adventure here in Worthington. I will no longer be a classroom teacher. I will be an instructional coach in the district. I’m excited to assist teachers in the classroom.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

I like to spend my free time watching my children’s sporting events. I also like to work out and spend time with my family.

Leyvi Hinojosa

Job Title: WHS EL teacher

Education: High School — Worthington High School; College — Minnesota West; Minnesota State University.

Previous Experience: I worked as a paraprofessional at District 518 for three years, where I decided I wanted to continue my higher education to become a teacher. I student taught at a secondary school in Turrialba, Costa Rica and also in St. Peter middle and high schools.

What are you looking forward to most this school year?

What most excites me about Worthington School District is that I get to work with former teachers who I admire. Many of them played a huge role in my school years and reaffirmed my desire to become a teacher. I am looking forward to continue learning from them from a different perspective; but mainly, I’m looking forward to getting to know my students and get to be part of their educational journey. I once was an EL student just like them, and I am eager to learn from them, teach them and guide them the best way I can.

How do you like to spend your weekend or free time?

During my free time I enjoy going to the gym, walking and biking. I like attending my son’s sports games and cheering for him; and when possible, I love traveling to new places, meeting people and trying new foods.