As the children in the area head back to school, there are many new faces to be found in classrooms and elsewhere. The new faces include both teachers and guidance counselors.
Kankakee Valley School Corporation had the highest number of new or new to the district teachers, with more than 20 spread throughout the corporation’s five buildings. DeMotte Christian School had one and Covenant Christian did not have any.
Children returning to DeMotte Christian Grade School will find former student Megan Buiter teaching fifth grade. Buiter is a graduate of Bethel College and Covenant Christian High School and was excited to be returning to her roots.
“Being a graduate of DMC in 2010 and CCHS in 2014 makes being hired by DeMotte Christian a great honor,” said Buiter. “I look forward to a great year.”
At DeMotte Elementary, Madison DeYoung and Melissa Pak will both head off to teach all subjects in third grade. Both are first-year teachers and graduates of Purdue, with DeYoung coming from Purdue North Central and Oak from Purdue Northwest. Pak is also a graduate of Valparaiso High School while DeYoung graduated for KVHS.
Cassandra Shevock and Jacquelyn Wilder are two of the new teachers at Wheatfield Elementary School (WES). Both are Kankakee Valley High School graduates. Shevock is embarking on her first year of teaching and tackle Special Education in the building. She is a graduate of Indiana State University. Wilder has five years of experience, having taught previously at KV Intermediate School (KVIS) before taking time off after her children were born. She will be teaching second grade at WES.
Kankakee Valley Intermediate School will have four new teachers, none of which are new to education; they’re just new to KVIS. Natalie Gouwens, Sheriann Lovelace-Chandler, Robin Siano and Kimberly Straley will be joining the staff.
Gouwens, a graduate of Munster High School and Saint Joseph College in Rensselaer, will handle Special Education duties for both fourth and fifth grades, and previously taught at Delphi Community Elementary.
Joining Gouwens will be Straley, who has four years of Special Ed experience in the Valparaiso school system. She is a graduate of Bloom Trail High School in Chicago Heights, Ill., and Indiana University Northwest. Straley is also very familiar to many in the area, as she is very active in Boy Scout Troop 167 and First Church.
Lovelace-Chandler will be the music teacher at KVIS. She has 17 years of experience and has taught in Texas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Arkansas and Hammond. She is a graduate of Parkview High School in Little Rock and the University of Central Arkansas.
Siano is a graduate of Bogan High School in Chicago and St. Joseph Calumet College in Whiting. She will be teaching fifth grade and previously taught fourth grade at Protsman Elementary School in Dyer.
Four new teachers and a guidance counselor will be found at Kankakee Valley Middle School (KVMS). Heather Lindberg and Matthew Hostetler will join the Mathematics Department. Amanda Smaga will teach Special Education, Madison Kutch will teach Band and Orchestra and Bridget Helms joins the guidance staff.
Lindberg comes the farthest geographically, having moved here from Minnesota. She will be teaching eighth grade math and has 10 years of prior experience, having taught seven years at Discovery Middle School in Fargo, N.D. and three years at West Fargo High School. She is a graduate of Frazee-Vergas High School in Frazee, Minn., and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics Education from Minnesota State University and a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from North Dakota State.
Hostetler arrives at KVMS with three years of experience at John Young Middle School in Mishawaka. He will teach math in the seventh grade and is a graduate of Valparaiso High School and Ball State. Hostetler is also the son of long-time KVHS teacher Herald Hostetler.
Smaga, in her first year in the classroom, is a graduate of Valparaiso High School and Purdue University. She will be teaching Special Education in the seventh grade.
Kutch will teach Band and Orchestra to grades 6 – 8 while also assisting at the high school level. She is also in her first year and is a graduate of LaPorte High School and Valparaiso University.
Guidance counselor Bridget Helms, a KVHS graduate, received her Master’s in School Counseling from Purdue University Calumet. From 2012 through 2014, she worked at Jane Ball Elmentary in the Hanover Schools, and then moved to Oak Hill Elementary in the Tri-Creek School Corporation of Lowell. Helms was previously the Indiana School Counselor of the Year.
“I’m very excited to be working and helping students in my home community where I attended school,” said Helms.
Kankakee Valley High School has also gotten a new guidance counselor. Kim Dobson, a Crown Point High School and Purdue University Calumet graduate, has 10 years of experience. She previously worked at Morgan Township, Wheeler and Boone Grove.
Joining the teaching staff at KVHS will be Monica Bindel, Tracy Cochran, Kara Miller and Doug Nelson.
Bindel, a first-year teacher, will work in Special Education for all grades at the high school. She is a graduate of Lake Central and Purdue University North Central.
Cochran will handle Health Occupations, Physical Therapy, Medical Terms and Fitness. She has 12 years of teaching experience and is a graduate of Knox High School and the University of St. Francis and the University of Alabama.
Miller will take over TV Broadcasting and Introduction to Communications. She is a graduate of Bremen Senior High School in Bremen, Ind., and is in her first year of teaching. Miller received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Purdue University.
Nelson will teach Physical Education and will also take over for Ryan Myers as girls’ varsity basketball coach. Nelson is a graduate of Portage High School and received his Bachelor’s Degree from Valparaiso University and Masters from Purdue University North Central. He has 15 years of total experience, and has worked in the Gary Community Schools, Hanover Central, Lake Ridge and River Forest.