|11 new teachers excited for Holyoke experience|
|Written by Becca Brandt and Chris Lee|
Eleven new teachers gathered Wednesday, Aug. 8 for their first day in the Holyoke School District. The bunch is eager to get the school year rolling.
Students will fill the schools Wednesday, Aug. 22 for the first day of the 2012-13 year.
Nicole Churchwell is excited to serve as a fourth-grade teacher in the city she has called home for the past 12 years.
Churchwell attended Colorado Christian University in Lakewood where she earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction.
Although this is her first year as a staff member at Holyoke Elementary, Churchwell is not a new face at the school. The elementary school is where Churchwell completed her Field Study 1 and 2. She also worked alongside Lynn Schneider in a third-grade classroom while student teaching, and has been a substitute teacher at the school.
The new fourth-grade teacher is returning to Holyoke after spending three years in Wray teaching second and third grades.
It is hard for Churchwell to select just one aspect of the upcoming school year. “I always look forward to the school year. I love everything about it and I really enjoy teaching,” said Churchwell.
With her three kids—Zachary, eighth-grade; Ashlyn, sixth-grade; and Braxten, kindergarten—Churchwell keeps busy outside of work. One of the primary reasons in selecting Holyoke for her new position is she will be available if her children need her.
She likes to spend her free time attending all her kids’ sporting events and go camping in the mountains with her husband, David, and their children.
Becky Cranwell grew up in Wray so she is familiar with the way Holyoke operates. She will serve as a JR/SR High English teacher.
Cranwell received her bachelor’s degree in English in 2000 from University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. In 2009 she received her master’s degree from UNC in English education.
The new English teacher comes to Holyoke after spending three years at Brush High School. She spent one year in Colorado Springs and six in Wiggins teaching English classes prior to her time in Brush.
In addition to English, she has taught journalism classes as well as introductory college classes for both UNC and Morgan Community College.
Cranwell thoroughly enjoys working with students and watching them grow academically and socially.
She and her family were looking to get closer to home and felt Holyoke would be a nice fit to raise their family.
Cranwell and husband Justin have two children. Dylan is 10 and Taylor is 7.
In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with family.
Hired as the newest first-grade teacher at Holyoke Elementary School, Carly Daniel looks forward to getting to know her students and learn the dynamics of the classroom.
Daniel is familiar with the Holyoke area. She attended Haxtun schools through 10th- grade and then graduated from Centaurus High School in 2007 after her family moved to Lafayette.
She attended the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley where she received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education.
Daniel always knew she wanted to be a teacher. With both of her parents working in teaching positions, it seemed like the most natural thing for her to pursue.
“Holyoke will be a fun challenge,” said Daniel about teaching at the elementary school.
Daniel did her student teaching in Arickaree . Her time was split teaching science, math and reading to fourth, fifth and sixth-graders.
She has worked in Haxtun as a full-time paraprofessional in the preschool and a substitute teacher.
The new first-grade teacher is excited about teaching a class larger than what she has previously taught. She knows many people from Haxtun, but thinks it will be fun to meet a whole new set of people from Holyoke.
Daniel lives southeast of Holyoke with her husband, Travis. She spends her spare time raising sheep and cattle on the family farm.
The couple is expecting their first child in November.
The newest math teacher to be hired at Holyoke JR/SR High School is no stranger to the hallways. Sarah (Kienholz) Dille graduated from HHS in 1994 and is excited to be back.
She feels the education she received in Holyoke prepared her for college and she hopes to provide that same level for current students in Holyoke. She hopes to give back to the community in that way.
Dille attended college at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling where she earned an associate’s degree before moving on to Western State in Gunnison. There, she earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with an emphasis in secondary education and a minor in elementary education.
Dille is looking forward to the teaching aspect of her new job. She said the junior high students have a special place in her heart and she is really looking forward to working with them.
Dille said she had a sixth-grade teacher who impacted her and gave her a lot of positive feedback and encouragement. She says that teacher got her interested in teaching.
After marrying husband Scott, the couple moved to Longmont where Sarah taught eighth-grade math for four years and tutored at the secondary level for four years. In 2006, the Dilles moved to Holyoke.
Dille has spent the last six years at home raising the couple’s four children—Grace, seventh-grade; Tate, fourth-grade; Levi, third-grade; and Abigail, kindergarten. She has also filled in as a substitute in Holyoke and Haxtun during that time.
With four kids, Dille keeps busy following them around when she isn’t focused on school. She said her family loves to travel and visit the national parks. She also enjoys scrapbooking.
Cutter Garrison is no stranger to the hallways in Holyoke. He spent last year student teaching in Holyoke as well as helping out the Dragon wrestling program.
He has been hired as the JR/SR High physical education teacher. He will be an assistant coach for junior high and high school football and wrestling. He will also be the head coach for the junior high wrestling team.
“I’m just super excited to be back in Holyoke,” Garrison said of his new opportunity.
Garrison graduated from Montrose High School in 2007 and finished his bachelor’s degree in exercise sport science from Western State University in Gunnison in May.
He is ready to have a classroom (gym) of his own and to get started. He is really looking forward to interacting with the kids again.
Garrison said he plans to implement some new activities into the physical education program. He said he really wants to focus on the health and wellness side.
In his free time, Garrison enjoys coaching, working out and hiking. He is the son of Jack and Darcy Garrison of Holyoke.
New teachers in the Holyoke School District are pictured from left, front row, Sharon Jones, Carly Daniel, Miko Martinez, Cutter Garrison and Sarah Dille; and back row, John Zilla, Tarah Kasdorf, Guy Kuntz, Becky Cranwell and Wendy Grothman. Not pictured is Nicole Churchwell. —Enterprise photo
Wendy Grothman will serve as the resource teacher at Holyoke Elementary School during the 2012-13 school year.
Grothman was born in Honolulu, Hawaii while her father was serving in the Air Force. Her family then moved to Wallace, Neb., where she attended K-12 public school.
In 1987, Grothman graduated from Wallace and attended Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte, Neb. She earned her associate degree in liberal arts in 1989.
After taking a break from school to raise her children, Grothman earned her Bachelor of Science degree in K-8 general education with a minor in mathematics from Chadron State College in 2008.
Grothman has spent the past three years working as a paraprofessional in Wallace.
This year will be Grothman’s first year teaching resource and she is excited about working in Holyoke. “I’ve heard great things about the school and I can work close to home,” said the Venango, Neb. resident.
Grothman looks forward to meeting her students and getting to know them. “I love working with kids and I love kids with special needs. Everyone can learn, we just have to figure out how they learn best and teach to their strengths,” she said about her plans for the coming school year.
When she’s not working, Grothman spends most of her time with her husband, Troy, and her five children. She also teaches junior high Sunday School at her church in Venango.
Sharon Jones joins the staff at Holyoke Elementary School as she assumes the role of school counselor.
The 1988 Kimball, Neb. High School graduate earned her bachelor’s in vocational business education from Chadron State College in 1992.
Jones has over 15 years of teaching experience. She started her career at Holyoke schools in 1993, teaching business and computers at the high school.
In 1996, Jones became a business teacher for Wiggins JR/SR High and became the assistant technology director and computer teacher at Wiggins Elementary School in 2000.
Jones then taught business courses in Fort Morgan in 2001.
While pursuing her master’s in school counseling from Chadron, she taught computers and served as a counselor in Ogallala, Neb.
Jones is very glad to return to Holyoke for the 2012-13 school year. “This is a great community to raise my son,” Jones said, “It just feels like I’ve come home.”
Since Holyoke hasn’t had a counseling program in the elementary school for several years, Jones thinks “it will be an exciting challenge to build a new counseling program side by side with the teachers.”
Outside of work, Jones spends time being a parent to her 8-year-old son, Evan, with her husband, Richard. Jones is a huge sports fan and has previously served as a volleyball official. She is a big football fan and her favorite team is “the Broncos, of course.” The family attends First United Methodist Church in Holyoke.
Tarah Kasdorf is excited to see everything come together in the classroom as she teaches fourth-grade.
Kasdorf graduated from Thompson Valley High School in Loveland in 2007.
She moved on to Colorado State University for two years to pursue a degree in biology on the road to become a veterinarian.
Realizing she wanted to pursue elementary education, she transferred to University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and graduated in 2012. She earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in liberal arts, a concentration in ESL and a teaching emphasis in elementary education.
Kasdorf gained teaching experience at Letford Elementary School in Johnstown when she served as a second-grade student teacher.
When she’s not working, Kasdorf likes being a mom to her 10-month-old daughter, Adilyn. She also enjoys camping and hiking.
She likes Holyoke (even if there aren’t any mountains for hiking) and looks forward to meeting the community.
Hired as the new agricultural education instructor, Guy Kuntz is ready to get started. He hopes to implement some new ideas to revitalize the department and the FFA chapter.
Kuntz graduated from Colorado State University in May with a degree in agricultural education. He grew up in Otis, where he graduated from high school in 2008.
“I always knew I was going to be a teacher,” Kuntz said. “I love school and being around students.” He found agriculture to be his passion and is looking forward to teaching and advocating for it. “It’s a natural fit,” he added.
He also served as a Colorado State FFA officer following high school. During that year he traveled the state developing and presenting leadership workshops. He had the opportunity to see and experience all sides of an ag ed program while developing a network with leaders in the ag industry.
Kuntz chose the job in Holyoke because it is close to home and he really enjoyed it when he visited for his interview.
He is currently working on a grant that will hopefully help purchase a new greenhouse for the ag program. He hopes to also implement ideas and activities that interest the students. He is also a big believer in building the educational component and striving for student success in the FFA program.
Kuntz moved to Holyoke in June and has enjoyed his time so far. He noted it’s a lot like his home town of Otis. “I feel at home here,” he said. He also said he is glad to be out of the city.
In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with family as well as his dogs. He also likes to visit his girlfriend who is still in college.
The new 5-12 grade band director Miko Martinez is ready to reignite the program and get students excited about music.
Martinez grew up in an Air Force family and graduated from Yokota High School on the Yokota Air Base in Japan.
She decided to combine her love for music and a family tradition of teaching and study music education at Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Ill. Martinez earned her bachelor’s in music education in 2010. She also participated in many performing ensembles during her college career.
Martinez has put her musical talents to good use as an instructional aide for the band department at Mundelein, Ill.High School and working for music companies.
Martinez and her husband, Mat Folz, had been wanting to move to Colorado for a while, so they seized the opportunity to move to Holyoke. The couple enjoys outdoor sports and the active lifestyle often found in Colorado. Martinez is glad to find an active community with a small town feel.
“I’m feeling really optimistic about this year. The administration is behind the program 100 percent and often it’s hard to get that kind of energy,” said Martinez about her impression of the upcoming year after experiencing band camp last week.
Martinez is looking forward to seeing the growth of the students throughout the year. “Band is one of the few classes where students are actively engaged in what they are learning,” noted the new band teacher.
In her free time, Martinez likes cross-country running, hiking and camping.
John Zilla will serve as the JR/SR High resource teacher for the upcoming school year. He will also coach football and baseball for the Dragons.
Zilla moves to Holyoke after spending the last 12 years as a high school special education teacher in Scott City, Kan. He also coached high school football and baseball and middle school wrestling.
Zilla grew up in Yankton, S.D. and graduated from Woodland Park High School.
“Then I went to Kansas to play football and never left,” Zilla said. He played football at University of Saint Mary’s in Kansas and also earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education. He later earned his master’s in special education from Fort Hays State University.
He began his teaching career in Dodge City, Kan. where he spent 13 years as a middle school physical education teacher. It was there his principals talked him into going back to earn his master’s in special education. “They said I had a way with kids,” Zilla said.
After earning his master’s degree, he taught in Ness City, Kan. for two years.
Teaching got on his mind when his coaches and teachers in high school suggested it to him. At first he didn’t think it would be the right fit but decided to give it a try anyway.
He will never forget what a teacher told him while he was in Dodge City. “Teachers are born, not made,” Zilla remembers.
Zilla is excited to get the year started. He is looking forward to a successful teaching and coaching year in Holyoke. “I love teaching,” he said. “I don’t even consider it a job. I love being with the kids.”
Zilla recently married Beth Cumming of Holyoke. His daughter Kaely will be a freshman at HHS this year and his son Matthew is a freshman in college.
In his free time, Zilla enjoys being outdoors. He likes to hunt, fish and work with his dog.
Holyoke Enterprise Aug. 16, 2012