DEMOTTE/WHEATFIELD — As the children in the recently area headed back to school, there were 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 nearly 20 spread throughout the corporation’s five buildings. DeMotte Christian School had but one and Covenant Christian did not have any.
Children returning to DeMotte Christian School found Christa Veenstra teaching Second Grade. Veenstra is a graduate of Trinity Christian College majoring in Elementary Education and minoring in Special Education. She grew up on a farm in Tracy, Iowa and graduated from Pella Christian High School in Pella, IA.
“I remember walking to my Mom’s classroom after school to help her in her classroom,” said Veenstra when asked about her favorite educational memory.
At DeMotte Elementary, a trio of teachers from the area joined the staff. Hannah Allender grew up in North Judson, graduating from North Judson-San Pierre High School before heading to Purdue University for a degree in Elementary Education. She is teaching third grade and is the middle child of five kids and currently has five dogs at home.
“I love teaching my students how to make paper rockets,” said Allender.
Also teaching third grade at DES is Jessica Tassone who graduated from Hebron High School and Purdue University Calumet.
“I love teaching children and have two daughters of my own that will go to DES in a couple of years,” said Tassone. “I remember a lot of my teachers because of the way that they showed their love of teaching and learning.”
Rounding out the trio is Laura MacNeill who also hails from Hebron. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from Indiana University Northwest.
“I love watching and playing sports.” said MacNeill, who was a member of the Hebron Hawks Softball team that reached Semi-State.
Wheatfield Elementary has two new teachers in Olivia Bucher and Lauren Stokes.
Olivia Bucher, originally from Kouts, is teaching Kindergarten. She graduated from Grand Canyon University in Phoenex with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She loves playing sports and really loves all things Disney.
Lauren Stokes, a hometown girl and standout athlete for Kankakee Valley High School, is teaching second grade. She graduated from Trinity Christian College with a degree in Elementary Education. She loves candy and her favorite educational memory is having to send ‘Flat Stanley’ to different places while in First Grade.
Four new teachers were hired for Kankakee Valley Intermediate School. They are Dawn Danford, Cathy DeFries, Haley Kerlin and Jennifer Reid.
Dawn Danford, who is teaching Special Education, grew up in San Pierre and went to Knox High School before heading to Purdue for her Bachelor’s in Education. She achieved her Master’s Degree from Indiana Wesleyan specializing in Special Education and also has work in High Ability learning from Ball State.
“I love fishing, swimming and teaching,” said Danford whose favorite school memory in honoring her sixth-grade Social Studies teacher at graduation.
Cathy DeFries, grew up overseas in Germany, Italy and Portugal before graduating from North Newton. She received her teaching degree from Olivet Nazarene University. DeFries is teaching Fourth Grade at KVIS.
“I love to teach for the ‘light bulb moment,’ said DeFries who has moved 37 times in her life.
Her favorite educational memory is when her Dad, who was the Principal, would come around and play guitar in classes.
Haley Kerlin also comes from an educational family as she is the daughter of former Saint Joseph’s College English Professor Charley Kerlin. She is a graduate of Rensselaer Central and Valparaiso University and is teaching Fourth Grade at KVIS.
“I love reading new books and getting to know my students,” said Kerlin. “I also love gummy bears.”
Jennifer Reid, also a Fourth Grade teacher at KVIS, grew up in St. John and graduated from Lake Central High School. She has an Elementary Education degree from Ball State and loves reading new books, and chocolate.
Three teachers and a Guidance Counselor have joined the staff at Kankakee Valley Middle School.
Dan Brown, originally from Lowell, is teaching sixth-grade Social Studies. He has a degree from Indiana University Northwest in Secondary Education Social Studies and has been teaching for eleven years.
“I love to do interactive activities and projects in the classroom,” said Brown. “My favorite educational memory is of my seventh-grade Social Studies teacher who would dress up in clothing that represented the content being taught. He would also sing and rap lessons.”
Brian Moore is the new Middle School Band and Orchestra instructor. He grew up in Chesterton and has a B.A. in Music form Columbia College with a teaching certification from Indiana Wesleyan University.
“My favorite educational memory,” said Moore, “is when I took my first Middle School band to contest and watched their hard work culminate in an excellent performance.”
He would also like his students to know that he is an avid comic book readers and loves reading X-Men.
Michael Clark, from DeMotte and a KVHS graduate is the new eighth-grade Mathematics teacher in Pod 82. He graduated from Evangel University with a B.S. in Elementary Education and Middle School Math. His favorite educational memory is building bottle rockets in eighth-grade Science and he wants his students to know that he never gives up.
Whitney Coldiron is the new KVMS Guidance Counselor and is a graduate of NJSP High School. She received her Bachelor’s in Human Services from Purdue and her Master’s in School Counseling form Indiana State University.
At Kankakee Valley High School, three new teachers are at work in three different departments.
Alyssa Cox, another local standout student-athlete from KVHS who grew up in DeMotte is teaching Special Education. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Special Education. Cox and her entire family are very active in soccer.
Nick DeJarlais will join the music staff and will actually split his time between the middle school and high school teaching Band and Orchestra. He is originally from Dyer and graduated from Lake Central H.S. DeJarlais has a Bachelor of Music Education from Indiana State and a Master of Music degree from the University of Louisville.
“I enjoy performing music as much as I do teaching it,” said DeJarlais. “My favorite educational memory is traveling to Switzerland as part of the U of L Wind Ensemble to perform.”
Andy Irvin is teaching History at KVHS. A native of Swartz Creek, MI, Ervin as a B.A. and an M.A from Eastern Michigan University. He has a Master’s of Education from the University of Toledo.
“I love reading about early American history,” he said.