|Dr. George Griffith Superintendent|
BOE Clerk Payroll Clerk
|Board of Education Members:
Flax was recognized for 10 years of teaching a business education class in Kansas. At the conference, members were able to experience both personal and professional growth. A keynote speaker, concurrent sessions, exhibits and computer workshops were part of the program.
Flax commented on her achievement.
“I have been a member of KBEA ever since I was at FHSU earning my education degree. I enjoy the knowledge I gain from others in my profession, as well as networking with peers. It feels good to be recognized for reaching my 10th year as an educator, and I look forward to the next 10.”
ABOVE RIGHT:LaTrisha Flax, new to TCHS this year, was recently recognized by the Kansas Business Association for 10 years in business education.(Photo by Isaiah M.)
By Abraham Pfannenstiel, Emarie Schoenthaler
Out with the old, in with the new seems to be the theme of all the new teacher hires within USD 208 this year.
One new female teacher, Blair Wilkerson, is taking on a nontraditional role: ag teacher.
With a degree in agriculture education from the University of Arkansas, Wilkerson “enjoys agriculture and the camaraderie which FFA promotes.” She claims her “mission is to create advocates for agriculture, who will in turn gain support for farmers, ranchers and business people across the United States.” Emphasizing “the importance of hard work and dedication,” Wilkerson wants to prepare young people “for the work force or continuing education.” Also, she finds “it liberating to give back to a program” which made her who she is today.Wilkerson claims her greatest strength as a teacher is her ability to spread her enthusiasm for her department and to help students reach their own goals. Another strength is in her ability to create “an environment for students to put the things they learn in their core classes to work in real-life situations related to agriculture.”
Wilkerson’s says her goals for this year “too extensive to name”; however, some of her ideas include “raising enrollment, student success in the classroom, student success in at least one FFA judging event, and creating a well rounded program.”
As for what she likes about her new home, Wilkerson is pleased with “the immaculate facilities, the great potential to cultivate an extremely successful FFA chapter, school kids who are bright and extremely involved,” the positive and supportive environment of the district, and WaKeeney’s “inviting atmosphere to raise a family.”
Next, veteran Teacher Pat Haxton, a graduate of Peru State College in Nebraska, has 21 years of teaching and coaching experience. He will fill physical education/coaching positions at TCHS.
Previous coaching and teaching stints for Haxton, who graduated from Norton High School, included employment at Junction City, Southeast of Saline and Valley Center.
Haxton chose teaching as a profession because he was influenced by the teachers and coaches who made such a difference in his life. Furthermore, according to Haxton, “I was blessed to be around some very good, positive people growing up in Norton, and I thought it would be cool to make the same impression in other people’s lives.”
Haxton believes his strengths are in his attitude and his “ability to get kids to work hard and believe in themselves.” His goals this year are “to have fun and to get the kids to work extremely hard. Everything else will take care of itself if kids work hard. There is no reward or better feeling than success when you've had to work hard to accomplish it.”
Haxton’s first impressions of Wakeeney were positive: “The things that drew me to USD 208 were the tremendous leaders and teachers here . . . the pride everyone has in the school, and the atmosphere that has been created here.” Also, Haxton is impressed with his football team: “The guys this summer worked extremely hard and had great attitudes while they did it. They were truly very fun to be around and seemed to respond to me very well.”
Haxton is married to Melanie, his high school sweetheart, and they have four children: Taylor, 21; Ryan, 19; and twins, Alex and Lexus, freshmen at TCHS. Haxton added, “My family attends Bethany Baptist Church here in Wakeeney, and faith is very important to us.”
Coming to the district with 10 years teaching experience is LaTrisha Flax, who hails from Ransom. She earned a B.S. in Business Education from Fort Hays State University.
According to Flax, who taught at Quinter prior to coming to TCHS, her teaching strength is “preparing students for careers.” It's important to Flax “that students learn how to do resumes and other employment documents, as well as know how to interview.” Flax notes that she has “high expectations” for her students” and wants to “show students how the skills they are learning apply to the real world.”
As for her professional goals, Flax wants “to build the business program,” and she hopes “to show students how business education can benefit them in many areas, including agriculture and their own personal finances.” Flax also looks forward to building new relationships: “I want to get to know the students of Trego schools and get to know my fellow teachers.” A former college basketball player, Flax looks forward to assistant coaching “exciting and successful” basketball and track seasons at TCHS.
Flax and her husband Chad Flax have three children: Cedric, Brendan and MaKenna. Flax enjoys going to the lake, working outside, and watching sports. After living in Wakeeney for six years and watching her children learn in the local school district, she has seen “what type of school Trego is and is excited at the opportunity to teach here.”
At the grade school, Jana Walt, who received degrees in elementary education and special education from Fort Hays State, joins the interrelated team. Her previous teaching jobs include employment at Colby and Quinter.
Walt, a TCHS graduate, enjoys working with children and helping them learn and grow to their fullest potential. She especially loves “to watch the students get excited about new things.”
Walt’s strength as a teacher is “getting kids to do things that they thought were too hard.” As an advocate of special ed students, she knows the importance of “helping her kids understand that they can do the work; we just have to find the right strategies that meets their learning needs,” said Walt.
On a personal side, Walt’s children are students in USD 208, and she is pleased with their education thus far. She considers her employment in the district as “a good opportunity to work in the district in which her children attend school.”
Taking the reins as the 9-12 interrelated teacher, Gary Weber comes to TCHS with a BS in Education / Special Education from Bethel College. He also holds a master’s degree in instructional technology from Fort Hays State University.
Prior experience for Weber includes teaching at Lyons Middle School and working as a
vocational coordinator and housing manager for the High Plains Mental Health Center in Hays. His most recent assignment was teaching at Ness City Grade School and Junior /Senior High School.
For Weber, teaching wasn’t his first choice for a profession. He initially became an electrician and worked for 22 years doing residential, commercial and industrial electrical installation and repair. However, Weber developed back problems and needed to find a new line of work. Since he has always “enjoyed people,” so he decided to give education a try: “It was a very good decision. I have really enjoyed my years in education.”
Weber lists his strengths as “the ability to listen to others and to solve problems.” His goals are “to get oriented to Trego Community High School and do the best job I can in supporting students.”
Weber and his family have lived in WaKeeney since 1992. He enjoys spending time with his family, teaching and tinkering with all sorts of technology. He is married to Rita Weber, high school counselor. They have a son, Jacob, who attends Garden City Community College. Weber noted that WaKeeney is “a great place to live and raise children. It is the best place I have lived.”
Joleen Schoenthaler will teach first grade. Schoenthaler, who received an elementary K-6, 5-8 science and history degree from Fort Hays University, had two years of teaching experience at Ness City Elementary School. Also, Schoenthaler spent several years working as a medical laboratory technician, but decided to go back to school to finish her degree.
Schoenthaler believes her greatest strengths “include flexibility, organization, goal setting, love for learning new things, and professionalism within a classroom.” Her goals are “to provide the best learning experiences for my first grade students and to take it one day at a time.” Schoenthaler will also serve as co-cheer sponsor.
Schoenthaler admits that a number of things drew her to USD 208:“I have been a lifelong resident of Wakeeny and honestly feel we have one of the best schools in the state.” Her high school science teachers played a role in her career choices, both past and present. She comes from the district office treasurer position and looks forward “to working with the kids and my coworkers.”
On the personal side, Is married to Chad Schoenthaler, who works at Western Coop Electric and farms part-time. They have three children: Madison, Corbin and Brandon, who keep their hopping during the school year with activities.
Some district teachers will take on new teaching responsibilities this school year.
At the high school, Craig Malsam will move into the role of athletic director, resource teacher and independent study teacher, while Karen Cook will teach FACS. Judy Long will serve as library aide.Changes at TGS include the following: Thelma Berland, speech professional; Ed Schmeidler, middle school social studies; Lance Ziegler, middle school language arts; Kathy Rhoades, co-kindergarten teacher; Jennifer Rohr, Title I aide; Deb Satran, speech paraprofessional; Judy Diec, paraprofessional; Barb Hendrickson, food service; and Janene Schrant, TGS library aide.
To attend in-service meetings, teachers and staff began the school year as early as August 5.
Most of the district’s teachers attended the two-day McRel Evaluation Training on August 5-6. This training prepared teachers for the newly adopted teacher-evaluation program. The evaluation begins with an online self-evaluation for teachers, followed by a pre-evaluation principal-teacher meeting before the principal visits classrooms over the coming months. The purpose of the evaluation method is to improve teacher performance.
|Teachers take in information about effective classroom instruction at the high school on August 9. The inservice was one of five days of teacher preparation before school began on August 15.|
Another in-service for teachers was held on August 9—the third and final segment of the “Classroom Instruction That Works” training. This training emphasized strategies using contrast/comparison and problem solving. Teachers also engaged in a discussion about homework.
Before school began, district employees met to review blood-borne pathogens and confidentiality issues on August 13. Also addressed at this event were staff and student handbook changes, new technology, the emergency response plan, and building staff meetings. At lunch Superintendent Dr. George Griffith provided lunch for the district employees. Elaine Randall provided various breads for breakfast.
At this in-service,
Griffith introduced new teachers and staff changes: Griffith also awarded service pins to the following employees: 5 years—Beth Billinger; 10 years—Ron Ziegler, Carey Fose, Randy Wegele and Kathy Jamison; 15 years—Janene Schrant; 20 years—Chris Herl; and 25 years—Myron Flax, Bev Armbruster and Irene Dirks.