MFL MarMac welcomes over a dozen new staff members

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Chessie Andrist

Riley Bodley

Kurt Gaylor

Caitlin Giles

Sheri Glawe

Darla Keehner

Colton Lueck

Kristine Novey

Monica Peterson

Jan Stavroplus

Matthew Steven

Madyson Walker

Jake Wilke (left), Kaitlyn Stone-Strock, Brandi Folsom and Curtis Goodman are among the new staff members at MFL MarMac High School. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

Aug. 24 didn’t just mark the first day of school at MFL MarMac for some students. For over a dozen staff members, it was also their first official day of classes with the district. 

Joining MFL MarMac this year at the elementary school are teacher Monica Peterson, guidance counselor Kurt Gaylor and paraprofessional Kristine Novey. The McGregor Center welcomes teachers Chessie Andrist, Riley Bodley, Caitlin Giles, Colton Lueck, Madyson Walker and Sheri Glawe; paraprofessional Darla Keehner; and Matthew Steven, who will serve in a guidance support role. Teachers Brandi Folsom, Kaitlyn Stone-Strock, Jake Wilke, Curtis Goodman and Jan Stavroplus will be at the high school.

Monica Peterson

Monica Peterson is the new junior kindergarten teacher. She lives in Decorah with her husband Andrew and dog Luna, and graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in December 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood and elementary education. She previously student taught third grade and preschool in Cresco before accepting a Head Start preschool lead teacher position in Postville.

She’s dreamt of becoming a teacher for as long as she can remember. 

“Growing up, I considered many of my teachers role models as they continually encouraged and supported me. Since my own teachers had such a huge impact on my life, I wanted to do the same for other kids,” Peterson shared. “Being with children and watching them learn, grow and succeed is truly my passion.”

Peterson was attracted to MFL MarMac because of its reputation for academics and quality education. 

“Additionally, I wanted to be a part of a community that promotes teamwork by working together with families, teachers and staff to ensure overall student success,” she added. “I am looking forward to getting to know my students individually and creating strong relationships with them.”

Kurt Gaylor

Kurt Gaylor isn’t necessarily a new face at MFL MarMac. The guidance counselor retired from the district in 2019, but was persuaded to return and fill in this year. Now living in La Crosse, Wis., Gaylor will be at the elementary school part time, while also serving at Cora B. Darling Elementary in Postville and DeSoto Area Schools in Wisconsin. He has an MS degree from Iowa State University in history and an MA from Morningside College in school guidance and counseling, and has been a guidance counselor at five different districts since 1995.

“I am looking forward to seeing many familiar faces and helping students cope with changes going on with the pandemic and the return to learning,” Gaylor said.

Kristine Novey

Elementary paraprofessional Kristine Novey was raised in Stevens Point, Wis., and moved to the area from Wisconsin Rapids with her family. She has an associates degree in health and wellness promotion and worked as a special education aide in Wisconsin Rapids for the last two years.

“Since moving here, I wanted to continue as an aide/paraprofessional, so I applied to MFL MarMac as soon as they had an opening,” Novey said. “I am looking forward to working with kids again and getting to know them all. It’s going to be an interesting year, but I can already tell the staff are very supportive and encouraging no matter what.”

Chessie Andrist

Chessie Andrist is the new special education teacher for grades 4-6. She grew up in Missouri and went to college at Pittsburg State University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and minor in military science. She received her master’s degree in early childhood development and administration from Northcentral University, has a certification in coaching and is currently taking SPED classes at Upper Iowa University. Andrist has a background in engineering through the military, where she met her husband; they lived in Minnesota for almost 10 years before moving to Monona in June 2019. She has had numerous teaching positions in daycare centers, taught Head Start preschool and substitute taught, including at MFL MarMac, where she became a part-time paraprofessional for the preschool program last fall. 

She was inspired to become a teacher in high school, working as a teacher’s aide for a kindergarten classroom and as a tutor for the same students during the after school and summer programs. 

“After realizing how much of a difference I had made for those students, I decided that being a teacher was what I was meant to do, as it correlated with my biggest goal in life to make a positive difference in the world, no matter how small it may seem,” Andrist said. “I just kind of fell into the special education world as I had worked quite a bit with those who needed extra help or special needs.”

What attracted Andrist to MFL MarMac? “It’s family- and community-oriented, drives to promote opportunities for students and focus on quality education to meet the needs of all students and their families,” she added. “The positivity and camaraderie built within this community allows the district to meet those goals and go beyond the standards of education and that of an employer.”

Riley Bodley

2020 marks the first year teaching for Riley Bodley, who graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in December. She can be found at the middle school, teaching fourth grade.

“I am looking forward to starting my teaching career as a Bulldog,” she said. “In my free time, I enjoy reading, doing pretty much anything outside, trying new recipes and spending time with my family and friends.”

Caitlin Giles

Mount Ayr native Caitlin Giles joins MFL MarMac as a fifth grade teacher. Both of her parents were teachers—her mom taught third grade and her dad industrial tech.

“I have many family members who are teachers, or involved in education some other way, which is why I got into teaching in the first place,” she said. 

Giles attended Southwestern Community College in Creston for one year before transferring to Iowa State University. She graduated from ISU in 2017 and taught fourth grade for one year in the Exira Elk-Horn School District before an opening became available at Creston, where she taught third grade for two years. She currently lives near Postville with her boyfriend Troy and their puppy Hank. 

“I first became interested in MFL MarMac because of its size. I have experience in both small and larger schools, and MFL MarMac fits somewhere between, which is exactly where I wanted to end up,” Giles shared. “This year is going to be very interesting, but I am so excited to see where it will take me.”

Colton Lueck

Colton Lueck takes over as middle school science teacher this year. Originally from Dyersville, he attended the University of Northern Iowa, studying elementary and middle level education. He was also involved with the football team and campus ministry.

Lueck admitted he was originally unsure if he wanted to be an educator. It took a professor in his second year at UNI to explain the idea of developing the whole child, not just academically, but also emotionally, psychologically and socially. 

“That is exactly what I hope to do this year: develop the whole child,” Lueck said.

Since moving to the area, he’s been impressed with the care, encouragement and love the community has shown. 

“Opportunity is what brought me here, but the great people are what won me over,” he added. “I’m excited to get to know a new community that believes in education and supports me as an educator. It takes an army to raise a child, and I’m thankful I get to be a part of that process.”

Madyson Walker

Madyson Walker will teach sixth grade English and language arts and seventh grade pre-Algebra. She grew up in Center Point and went to the University of Northern Iowa. Prior to accepting a job at MFL MarMac, she was a long-term substitute for high school biology and AP environmental science, as well as a long-term sub for sixth grade science. 

“When I was in middle school, I had a teacher who showed that you could learn from more than just a textbook and that learning could be fun, so I aspired to be a teacher that also taught like this,” Walker said of what brought her into the profession. “I have always wanted to teach middle school because it is an age of so many changes and decisions about life and who you want to be.”

When looking for a teaching position, Walker wanted to find a school that was somewhat close to her hometown and family. She also wanted the small town atmosphere where everyone feels like family.

“MFL MarMac definitely has that,” she stated.

Sheri Glawe

At the middle school, Sheri Glawe will teach special education for grades 6-8. She’s originally from the Elkader area, but started her teaching career in South Texas. She also taught in central Iowa, Pequot Lakes, Minn., and most recently, 15 years in Oelwein. She has 27 years of experience, teaching from kindergarten through ninth grade, mostly in special education. She lives in Elkader with her husband Gene, and they have four grown children and two granddaughers.

Glawe became a teacher because of a love for children. 

“I enjoy watching them become more confident in their own abilities to discover usable skills and knowledge. I feel so proud when a student makes a connection between their learning and real life application,” she said. “I chose special education because the brain is so fascinating. Every mind works differently and there is no such thing as ‘average’ or ‘normal.’ Targeting specific needs to help students to make progress is very rewarding. It’s not about my teaching—it’s about their learning.”

She liked that MFL MarMac is closer to home, as well as its positive culture. 

“The leadership truly prioritizes the well-being of students and staff,” Glawe stressed. “Learning can only take place when our minds are in a good place, and that is my passion. It feels like a really good fit.”

Darla Keehner

Darla Keehner will be a new associate in the middle school. A former MFL MarMac grad, she lives in the country with her husband and three daughters. A stay at home mom for 14 years, she began subbing for associates three years ago.

“Now that our girls are older, I feel it is time to get back to work full time. This job will give me the flexibility to still be there for our girls,” Keehner said. “I’m most looking forward to being able to help students learn and see their potential.”

Matthew Steven

Taking over as guidance support staff for grades 4-8 is Matthew Steven. He grew up in New Hampton and received a social work degree from the University of Northern Iowa. His passion is working with others and supporting the strengths everyone has.

“I am excited to work with the wonderful team throughout MFL MarMac, and am grateful for the collaboration and support I have received upon joining the team,” Steven said. “I have various types of experience working with children and their families within the focus of social and emotional learning. I truly look forward to sharing these skills, ideas and practices with the youth and families.”

Brandi Folsom

Brandi Folsom is the new ninth and 11th grade English teacher. She’s from Waukon and attended Luther College, graduating in 2019. This will be her first year teaching.

Folsom wanted to become a teacher after falling in love with the subject of English. She also had some “amazing, passionate teachers who showed me I could spend my life doing something I love. I chose to teach at the high school level because I love to dive deeper into the content we read and use language art skills at a higher lever.”

She loves the smaller school setting at MFL MarMac, which will allow her to form connections with students so she can better understand what they need from her as a teacher. 

“I also think the small, close-knit MFL MarMac staff is full of a ton of wonderful teachers who really care about their students, and I look forward to being part of a team like that,” she continued. “I look forward to trying new things. I now have my own classroom and can introduce new stories for the students and put my own spin on the curriculum.”

Kaitlyn Stone-Strock

Kaitlyn Stone-Strock joins MFL MarMac as band director. A Spencer native, she graduated in May from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor’s degree in music education with emphasis on instrumental music.

Her inspiration to teach stems from wanting to help others. The focus for instrumental music came from all three of her band directors growing up. 

“They are still huge role models for me, and I look up to them. A lot just came from having positive experiences and relationships with all my teachers,” she explained.

Stone-Strock was attracted to MFL MarMac because of the positive and welcoming energy.

“I look forward to getting to know the students while learning and growing with them,” she said. “This is my first year teaching, so I will grow in my own ways, while the students grow as individuals and musicians.”

Jake Wilke

Elkader native Jake Wilke will work as a special education teacher at the high school. A Wartburg College grad, his first teaching job was at North Cedar. He and his wife, Dr. Jessica Wilke, moved to Monona in 2014, and he’s taught and coached at Postville since. The couple has two daughters.

“I have always thought that teachers are the true beginning for each individual to know their true potential in life and to see what they can become,” Wilke said. “I have always wanted to be that positive role model for our young people and to make that positive difference in their life.”

Because of his family ties to the district, he felt joining MFL MarMac was inevitable.

“After marrying my wife, who was a Bulldog, and now having little Bulldogs of my own, I felt it was my turn to be a part of the Bulldog family,” Wilke shared.

Curtis Goodman

Curtis Goodman will be at the high school, serving as business/technology teacher and a paraprofessional. He is from Highland, Wis., and I spent most of his professional career in Madison, Wis, gaining experience in the finance and educational fields. He has a technical certification to teach based on prior work experience, and this is his first semester officially teaching. 

Goodman moved to Monona last summer and married his wife, Melissa, in the fall. He has a son, David, who is a sophomore at MFL MarMac. In his previous experience as a corporate trainer for an educational company, Goodman found a passion for public speaking. 

“Then, spending last semester as a paraprofessional at MFL MarMac, I discovered just how much I enjoy working with kids,” he said. “What I look forward to the most this year is connecting with the kids and helping them to prepare for their futures.”

Jan Stavroplus

Jan Stavroplus lives in McGregor with her family and has been a frequent substitute at MFL MarMac. 

She’ll work at the high school this year, serving as both a teacher and paraprofessional where needed.

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