Thursday, December 18, 2014

It’s a new school year

By The Herald Staff | 8/16/2013

They are well-versed in mathematics, language arts and special education. Their hobbies include gardening, painting, writing children’s books, playing the piano and teaching Zumba fitness.

Franklin County welcomes more than 30 new teachers to its four school districts for the 2013-2014 school year.

They are well-versed in mathematics, language arts and special education. Their hobbies include gardening, painting, writing children’s books, playing the piano and teaching Zumba fitness.

Franklin County welcomes more than 30 new teachers to its four school districts for the 2013-2014 school year.


• Heidi Arb — Arb will split her time as the school nurse for Garfield and Lincoln elementary schools.

Arb has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Kansas School of Medicine, a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Kansas State University and an associate’s degree in pre-medicine from Colby Community College.

Before accepting the position with the Ottawa school district, Arb worked as a registered nurse for three years at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., in the Hematology/Oncology/Bone Marrow Transplant Unit.

She lives in Melvern with her husband, Joe, and two children, Amelia and Levi.

Arb said she and her husband do not have a lot of free time, but when they do they like to go to the lake or travel to visit family.

“I really enjoy being around children,” Arb said. “I enjoy being a caretaker and doing what I can to help them feel better.  I hope to be a cheerful and comforting presence in their lives.”

• Claudia Chandler — A children’s author, artist and business owner, Chandler joins the Ottawa school district as a sixth-grade language arts teacher at Ottawa Middle School, 1230 S. Ash St., Ottawa.

Chandler, who has a bachelor’s degree in education from MidAmerica Nazarene University and a master’s degree in education from Webster University, has taught fifth and sixth grades in the Shawnee Mission and Gardner school districts, as well as worked as an adjunct professor of children’s literature and young adult literature at Baker University, she said.

Chandler resides in the southern reaches of Olathe, she said, with “my amazing husband, Steve, and two dogs: Jacy (a standard poodle weighing in at a svelte 80-plus pounds, and Zeus, an elderly lab mix (every day with him is a blessing — he’s 14 years old).”

Chandler has two daughters, both living nearby and the mothers of Chandler’s three grandsons and one “princess-of-the-world” granddaughter, she said.

“Spending time with family is my bliss,” she said.

Chandler lists her other pastime roles as professional artist of oils and of graphite pet portraits; co-owner of a start-up container gardening/landscaping company, and children’s book author and illustrator of “Ralphina, the Roly-Poly,” published in 2008 for children ages pre-kindergarten through 7 years old.

“Establishing strong bonds with students and their families is one that reaches into the future,” Chandler said. “I remain friends with many of my former students’ families. It is an absolute joy for me to partner with my students in their journey of discovering. This sixth grade year is one of vast and varying growth — not just for the student, but for the family as well. That I have the honor of helping guide these students in their journey as they discover their true potential — not only in academics, but in life — is precisely that — an honor.”

• Sara Chapman — Chapman joins the Ottawa school district as a school psychologist.

She has a master’s degree in educational psychology from Wichita State University and an educational specialist degree in psychology from Pittsburg State University.

Chapman is married with three children — two stepdaughters ages 10 and 7 and a 3-month-old baby girl, she said.

She loves being outside, traveling, reading and “most especially” playing with her daughters, she said.

“I love seeing children take pride in their accomplishments,” Chapman said.

• Amie Crouch — With experience as a substitute teacher and para-educator, Crouch joins the school district in her first full-time teaching position as a special education teacher.

“I substituted in classrooms for six years or so after my twins were in preschool,” Crouch, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, said. “I took a para-educator position at Fontana Elementary School [Fontana, Kan.,] and worked there for two years before accepting the PALS special education teacher position this year.”

A resident of rural Osawatomie, Crouch has been married for 18 years and has five children: two 9-year-old twin boys, a 12-year-old boy, a 14-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, she said.

Crouch likes to make quilts and crochet blankets for family and friends, she said, as well as enjoys playing games with her family and church friends.

“I am blessed when I can watch a child learn new skills,” Crouch said. “Seeing the look on a child’s face when they learn something new is the best part. Seeing children master new skills gives me chills.”

• Collin Eidelson — A native of Michigan, Eidelson will serve as the special education life skills educator at Ottawa High School, 1120 S. Ash St., Ottawa.

Eidelson is a graduate of Central Michigan University, with a dual major in physical education and special education.

“I was born and raised in Michigan, and had lived there my whole life until about a week ago,” Eidelson said.

In his spare time, Eidelson said he likes sports, outside activities and sleeping.

Eidelson said he enjoys “seeing students grow, mature and learn.”

• Caressa Fredricks — A 2006 graduate of Ottawa High School, Fredricks earned her education degree from Emporia State University.

She will teach second grade at Eugene Field Elementary School, 720 Tremont Ave., Ottawa.

“I am originally from Ottawa, but currently live in Emporia,” she said. “My parents are Brent and Leigh Ann Fredricks. I recently became engaged to Aaron Quarles and am busy wedding planning alongside being a new teacher.”

In her spare time, Fredricks enjoys watching sports and spending time with family and her pets, she said.

“I find watching students set and meet their own goals the most rewarding part about teaching,” Fredricks said. “I love seeing how excited students get about their accomplishments.”

• Jennifer Kane — Kane is no stranger to the Ottawa school district, having taught seventh-grade language arts in the district in 2009-2010 after earning her teaching certification from Ottawa University in December 2008. She will teach language arts at Ottawa middle and high schools this year.

Kane, who obtained a bachelor’s degree in English from Drake University in 2000, also has taught as a substitute teacher in the Ottawa district, an English teacher at Osawatomie High School and a seventh-grade language arts teacher last year at Louisburg Middle School.

“I chose to become an educator to invest in the lives of students,” Kane said. “The most rewarding part is still building relationships with students and helping them to dream big and accomplish their goals. The moments where you can see their understanding or their excitement in their own learning process is what keeps me coming back day after day.”

Kane lives in Ottawa with her husband, Brian, and their 3-year-old twins, Sarah and Evan.

“I love to travel with my family,” she said. “I also enjoy scrap-booking, playing piano, enjoying a good cup of coffee with friends and playing board games.”

• Amanda King — Entering her 14th year in education, King will serve as a special education teacher at Garfield Elementary School, 1213 S. College St., Ottawa.

Before accepting the post at Garfield, King taught third, fourth and five grade in Wichita and taught fourth and fifth grade in Raymore, Mo.

King graduated from Evangel University in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in learning disabilities.

“My family is living in Ottawa,” King said. “I am married and have two boys. My youngest son is 3, and my oldest son is 5 and will be in kindergarten this year.”

King enjoys spending time with her family when she’s not teaching, she said.

“The most rewarding part of teaching is not only to see the progress students have made at the end of the year, but to have students that continue or even begin to love learning and want to know more,” King said.

• Ronald Kueser — Kueser, with 33 years of experience as an educator, will teach math at Ottawa High School.

Living on a small farm near Beagle, Kan., Kueser and his wife, Janet, have 13 children, but only have two living at home now, he said.

“Doug is a senior, and Kara is in seventh grade,” he said.

Twenty-six years of Kueser’s teaching experience was divided between stints in the Osawatomie, Central Heights and Prairie View school districts, he said.

Kueser likes spending time with his grandkids, he said.

And when he’s in the classroom, Kueser said he enjoys “having an opportunity to help make a difference in a student’s life.”

• Sarah Kuhn — Kuhn, who said she loves the Kansas City Royals and teaching Zumba fitness, joins the school district staff as a speech language pathologist.

Kuhn earned a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders form K-State and a master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders from Wichita State University.

An Ottawa resident and single, Kuhn writes that she loves seeing a child’s face light up when he or she learns or masters a new skill.

“I also enjoy giving kids more power (and) a more effective voice,” she said.

• Courtney Myers — With degrees from Ottawa University and KU, Myers comes to the school district as a fifth-grade teacher at Garfield Elementary, after having served as a math/reading aide at Wheatridge Middle School in Gardner.

“My husband and I live in Spring Hill where we met and grew up,” Myers said.

The couple has two children, Haley, 6, and Henry, 11 months.

In her spare time, Myers said she enjoys reading, running, watching KU basketball and spending time with family and friends.

Myers enjoys watching the progress students make throughout the year, she said.

“Seeing the progress, no matter the significance, that all students are capable of making throughout the course of the year,” is the most rewarding, she said.

• Lisa Myers — Myers, who has experience teaching every grade level from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, is a new special education teacher at Ottawa High School.

Myers, who also has experience as an adult education teacher, has a bachelor’s degree in education from Ottawa University and currently is working on her master’s degree in adaptive special education from Fort Hays State University, she said.

Myers and her husband, Alan, were born in Ottawa and have spent nearly all their lives in Franklin County, she said. The couple has four children and seven grandsons “who thankfully live nearby,” Myers said.

“Our family owns and operates three car washes in Ottawa,” she said.

In her spare time, Myers said she likes to work on projects that challenge her creativity.

“I love photography, gardening, home-decorating, writing and singing,” she said. “I take way too many pictures, have way too many flower gardens, aspire to write a children’s book and sing with the praise team at my church.”

What Myers finds the most rewarding about teaching is making a difference in the life of a student who has almost given up hope on school or life, she said.

“If I can inspire a kid to believe in their own ability to offer a unique gift to the world, then I have fulfilled my own unique purpose and offered my own unique gift as well,” Myers said. “Academics must come after relationships with students. If I don’t build a relationship with them, I’ve lost them before I even begin to teach.”

• Paula Patterson — Patterson will teach fifth grade at Lincoln Elementary School, 1102 N. Milner Road, Ottawa.

A 1997 graduate of Ottawa High School, Patterson taught four years in the Reading school district.

“Each year I taught a different grade level, ranging from kindergarten to eighth grade,” Patterson said.

Patterson, who obtained her bachelor’s degree in elementary education/early childhood from Emporia State University, taught second grade for five years in the Perry-Lecompton school district. After returning to Ottawa, Patterson worked as a substitute teacher in the Ottawa school district and then took a job as a preschool teacher at Westminster Presbyterian Cooperative Preschool, she said.

She resides in Ottawa with her “family of boys”. Her husband, Erik, works for the Army Corps of Engineers at Pomona Lake. They have two sons, Andrew, who will be starting kindergarten this year, and Kale, who will be 2 years old this fall.

Patterson enjoys spending time outdoors with her family — fishing, exploring and camping — as well as reading, running and watching KU basketball, she said.

“I love the moment when you can tell a child really gets it and you can see the excitement and relief in their eyes,” Patterson said. “I also love getting to know them and being a teacher that they can be themselves around.”

• Kathy Rosenbaum — As a special education teacher at Lincoln Elementary, Rosenbaum is embarking on her first year as a full-time teacher after working as a substitute in the past, she said.

Rosenbaum has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Emporia State and is currently working on a master’s degree in special education from Emporia State, she said.

Rosenbaum, who recently moved to Ottawa, said her son, Cody, is in fourth grade and her daughter, Cassandra, is in third grade at Lincoln Elementary, she said.

In her spare time, Rosenbaum enjoys playing soccer, basketball, walking the family’s dogs and going swimming, she said.

“I enjoy transferring knowledge to the next generation and making a positive difference in the lives of my students,” she said.

• Tahmi Standish — A 2012 graduate of Emporia State, Standish said she is looking forward to her first year in her own classroom as she prepares to teach seventh and eight grade math at Ottawa Middle School.

Standish, a Council Grove native, will be making the commute from Emporia, where her husband of one year is studying for his accounting degree, she said.

Standish enjoys watching KU basketball and playing board games and card games, she said.

“I like knowing that even though I may make some mistakes, I can still have a positive impact on students and let students know that they can succeed,” Standish said.

• Laura Svendsen — Svendsen joins the district as a counselor at Ottawa High School.

She has a bachelor’s degree in human development family studies from the University of Rhode Island and a master’s degree in school counseling from Montclair State University.

A native of New Jersey, Svendsen said she recently moved to Kansas to be with family.

“I have a nephew and four nieces that are my primary reason for moving here,” she said.

Before coming to Ottawa, Svendsen worked as a counselor for a virtual high school for a few months but quickly realized that working in a public school was where he heart truly was, she said.

Most of her spare time is spent with family, Svendsen said, but she also enjoys reading and being outside.

“The most rewarding thing about being a school counselor is being able to witness the tremendous growth that each student experiences and having the opportunity to be a part of it,” Svendsen said.

• Allison Thompson — Thompson joins the district as a kindergarten teacher at Garfield Elementary after spending the past three years as a preschool teacher at Westminister Presbyterian in Ottawa.

Before working at Westminister Presbyterian, Thompson logged eight years of teaching experience in the Blue Valley school district, including a six-year stint teaching third grade, she said. She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in teaching and leadership.

Growing up in Shawnee, Thompson said she and her husband have lived in Ottawa for five years and have a 7-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son.

In her free time, Thompson said she likes spending time with family, reading, watching movies, exercising and going on vacations. The most rewarding aspect of being a teacher, Thompson said, are “impacting students’ lives, watching them grow and learn and empowering students.”

• Brenda Wigger — Wigger, who has more than 30 years of education experience, will serve as special education transition coordinator for the Ottawa school district,

Before coming to Ottawa, Wigger worked as the transition/vocational coordinator for Three Lakes Educational Cooperative since 2002. She also has worked in the Baldwin school district and the West Franklin school district at Appanoose Elementary School and Pomona High School.

She has a Bachelor of Science degree in education and a master’s degree in special education, both from Emporia State, as well as her transition certificate from KU.

Wigger and her husband, Dean, live on a farm north of Pomona. They have two grown daughters, Elizabeth and Sarah. Elizabeth, her husband, Mike Claassen, and their son, Max, live in Whitewater, Wigger said, while Sarah lives in Wichita and will be getting married to Cody Wirth in September.  

Wigger enjoys spending time with family and worship and outreach activities through the Richter United Methodist Church, she said.

“The most rewarding aspect of teaching is that I have a part in helping young people become productive, independent adults as they develop academic, functional and social skills,” Wigger said.



• Tara Chuber — Chuber is excited about getting back into the classroom to teach music, she said. Chuber will be teaching music to Central Heights elementary students.

“Getting to help as many people as possible fall in love with music,” is the most rewarding thing about teaching, Chuber said.

Chuber has spent the past four years giving private piano lessons and teaching Kindermusik classes while staying home with her two sons, Jack and George, she said.

Chuber has her music education degree from Ottawa University.

• Amber Gonzalez — Embarking on her first year of teaching, Gonzalez will teach fifth grade for Central Heights.

Gonzalez has her bachelor’s degree in education from Ottawa University and lives in Ottawa with her husband.

The most rewarding thing about teaching is seeing her students’ faces when they’ve accomplished a goal, she said.

• Emily Hamm — Hamm joins Central Heights with seven years of teaching experience under her belt.

Previously, she taught fourth grade for three years, two of those at Community Elementary in Coffeyville and one year at Westphalia Elementary as well as having taught seventh and eighth grade English and social science for four years at Westphalia Middle School, she said. She has her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Pittsburg State University and her master’s degree in educational technology with an emphasis in library media.

• Lindsay Nichols — Nichols is currently working toward getting her master’s degree in education from Fort Hays State University. Nichols will be teaching family and consumer sciences at the Central Heights middle and high schools. She lives in Princeton with her husband and their black labrador, Roxy. This is her first year teaching.

• Tyler Oestreicher — Oestreicher will start his professional teaching career teaching physical education for the district.

“The most rewarding thing as a teacher is to see students succeed,” he said.

Oestreicher graduated from Central Heights in 2006 and received his bachelor’s degree in education from Pittsburg State University as well as his master’s degree in sport and leisure management.

• Laurie Tyner — A native to Ottawa, Tyner will begin her career teaching kindergarten.

Tyner lives in Ottawa with her husband, David, an enrollment adviser at Ottawa University, and their dachshund, Ruby.

When she’s not working, Tyner said she likes to read and spend time with her family.


• Ashley Arnesman — Arnesman will begin her seventh year teaching and 11th working with special needs children. She will be a special education teacher this year at Wellsville Elementary School.

“[It is rewarding] seeing students making gains, no matter how small,” Arnesman said. “[I love] knowing that I am able to assist in improving the quality of their lives, education and relationships.”

Arnesman earned her master’s degree in adaptive special education from Emporia State University. She spent five years teaching in De Soto and one year in Kansas City before coming to Wellsville. She resides in Kansas City, Mo.

• Elise Luce — Luce is the new music teacher at Wellsville Elementary School. She has had previous teaching experience as a student teacher at both Willard Intermediate and Willard High school in Willard, Mo.

“There is a moment when understanding dawns on the face of young students,” Luce said. “It is that moment that makes it all ‘worth it.’ The students’ creativity and imagination are absolutely inspiring to be around each day.”

Luce grew up on a farm in Wellsville and received her bachelor’s degree in music eduction from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo. She lives in Gardner.

• DeAnna Morgan — Morgan is the new art teacher at Wellsville middle and high schools as well as the assistant high school softball coach. She has completed several large practicums in special education and art education and student-taught art education at Paola Middle School with Troy Collier and Cottonwood Elementary School with Betsy Vohs. While in the district she assisted coaching for the Paola High School girls softball team.

“The factor that is most rewarding to me about teaching is impacting the lives of my students,” Morgan said. “Working as a teacher, you have the ability to show students outlets to reach their full potential; that they can make a difference in this world and they matter.”

Morgan graduated in May from Pittsburg State University with a bachelor’s degree in art education with a minor in special education. She lives on a farm near Fontana with her husband and two children, Emery John, 3, and Hasty, four weeks.

• Jessica Rahn — Rahn begins her first year of teaching as one of Wellsville Elementary’s new first-grade teachers. She is a graduate of Spring Hill High School and MidAmerica Nazarene University.

“The thing I find most rewarding about teaching is watching the student grow not only as a learner but as a person and to help them reach their goals and endeavors,” Rahn said.

Rahn lives in Spring Hill, but said she will be moving to Wellsville soon.

• Janet Slaven — Slaven will enter this school year as one of Wellsville Elementary’s new special education teachers. She has worked as an occupational therapist for 18 years as well as a parent educator for Parents as Teachers for seven years. She continued to work for East Central Kansas Cooperative in education, but after six years in Eudora, she transferred to Wellsville.

“It is very rewarding helping students identify their strengths and learning styles so they can be successful and love to learn,” Slaven said.

Slaven graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in occupational therapy. She also graduated from St. Paul TVI as an interpreter for hearing impaired. She lives in Lenexa with her husband. She has two daughters, one is a sophomore in college and the other graduated in May and is now working as a registered nurse.

• Jade Wunder — Wunder begins her first year teaching in a school district as one of Wellsville Elementary’s new first-grade teachers. She previously taught pre-school for three years and completed her student-teaching at Rockville Elementary in Louisburg.

“The most rewarding part is having the opportunity to have a positive impact on a child’s life,” Wunder said. “I love that every day brings something new in the world of teaching. I enjoy getting to watch children learn. Teaching also allows me to use my creative side.”

Wunder earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in special education. She currently resides in Louisburg with her husband and two children.


• Shannon Hassler — Hassler is starting her 15th year of teaching and will be teaching Spanish at West Franklin High School, as well as serving as a counselor at West Franklin Middle School.

She has bachelor’s degrees from the University of Kansas in math and Spanish education as well as master’s degrees from KU in curriculum and instruction from Emporia State University in school counseling.

“I enjoy sharing my passion for learning with students,” Hassler said. “As a counselor, I love being able to assist students not only with their academic success, but also being there for them as an advocate for overall life success.”

• Rich Mobley — Mobley is returning after one year of retirement. With 39 years of teaching, he is now the counselor at the high school and previously was a counselor at Ottawa High School.

Mobley said he enjoys football and coaching. Most recently he coached football at Ottawa University.

• Caitlin Neneman — Neneman comes from Chetopa Junior High School to teach English at the middle school. She has her bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education from Baker University.

She lives in Olathe with her husband and their shih tzu, Zoey.

Neneman said she loves watching students grow and being positive role models at school.

• Kyle Unruh — This is Unruh’s first year teaching, and he will be instructing band and choral music at the middle school and high school.

“I love watching students make progress individually and as a group as they work to make music together,” he said.

Unruh has a bachelor’s degree in music education from Bethel College, as well as his master’s degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory.

Unruh said he enjoys playing basketball and is looking forward to watching games at Allen Fieldhouse.

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