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River Falls School District introduces 2017-18 new staff

River Falls School District will welcome many new staff members for the 2017-2018 school year, which begins for students Tuesday, Sept. 5.

The Journal asked all new staff to fill out a questionnaire, in order to introduce them to the community.

Sara L'Allier

Hometown: Hudson, WI

Position/building: Upper Elementary, grades 4-6, River Falls Public Montessori Elementary

Education: UW-River Falls

Prior experience: Before becoming a teacher, I worked in forestry and also as a massage therapist. This will be my fifth year teaching, however it is my first with the River Falls School District, and I couldn't be more excited.

I am honored to join such a knowledgeable and driven team of professionals in a wonderful community.

Family: A long time residents of River Falls, my own children attend school in River Falls at Meyer Middle School and at Greenwood Elementary. I am looking forward to learning and growing along with my students this year

Interests: I love the outdoors, whether going for a walk, hike, kayaking or camping, I am happiest outside. Most of my free time, of course, is spent raising my children and enjoying the world with them. A life-long student myself, I love to learn and am fascinated by a variety of subjects and activities.

Why do you teach? Looking at the world through the eyes of a child is a profound, humbling experience. As an adult, I enjoy learning, exploring, asking questions, reflecting on experiences, and of course, I enjoy children—all of this led me to my career in teaching. As a teacher, I am truly able to embrace my love of learning as I learn with and from my students, colleagues, and community every day.

Amber Eide

Hometown: Mahtomedi, Minn.

Position/building: Fourth grade teacher, Rocky Branch Elementary

Education: I attended the UW-La Crosse where I majored in Elementary Education and minored in Broadfield Social Studies.

Family: I grew up in Mahtomedi, Minn. with my parents and two older siblings.

Prior experience: Upon graduation, I have spent the last three years working as a fourth grade teacher for the Menomonie Area School District. I recently moved back to Mahtomedi, Minn. to be closer to my family and friends.

Interests: Some of my personal interests include traveling, playing volleyball, and spending time with my dog, Macy. My most recent traveling experience was this summer when my family and I traveled to Ireland to explore and reconnect with a family friend. Previously, I had the privilege to travel to France, Canada, Mexico, and Southern Africa. Each of these experiences was rewarding in so many ways. In the last 10 years, I have spent a lot of time both playing and coaching volleyball. I played throughout high school and college then began coaching a variety of levels. I currently play in volleyball tournaments and recreational leagues but would love to begin coaching again in the near future. Like most people, I love to spend time with my family and friends. One of my closest pals is my dog, Macy. She is a 9-month-old Golden Retriever who loves to play fetch, fish, and go on walks. Other interests include watching movies, reading, and exercising.

Why do you teach? I chose teaching as a profession to share my knowledge, nurture caring people, and help those that need an advocate. In addition, I feel that teaching is one profession that is constantly changing. I love the challenges and the learning opportunities that teaching offers. I also love working with students, seeing their progress each day. I am excited to continue my teaching journey at Rocky Branch Elementary.

Kim Majerus

Hometown: Cashton, Wis.

Position/building: Kindergarten teacher, Rocky Branch Elementary

Education: UW-Platteville

Family: I have a wonderful husband, Brian, of 19 years, and three sons Micah (14), Sam (11), and Luke (6).

Prior experience: I have had the pleasure of staying home to raise my boys for the last 11 years. Prior to that I taught kindergarten for eight years in Marshfield, Wis.

Interests: I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, scrapbooking, singing, traveling, and enjoying the outdoors.

Why do you teach? From my earliest memories, my dream has been to be a kindergarten teacher. I have always enjoyed working with children, especially the younger ones. It brings me joy to see them catch on to a concept and I love to see their eagerness and excitement for learning.

Mara Shepherd

Hometown: Edgerton, Wis.

Position/building: Early Childhood Special Education Teacher, Rocky Branch Elementary

Education: UW-Whitewater

Family: My family and I have been living in River Falls since 2009 and really value being part of such a welcoming and family friendly community. My husband, Paul, and I have two daughters, Ella, who will be a seventh grader at Meyer Middle School and Emma, who will be a fourth grader at Westside Elementary. We also have a four-legged member of our family, our dog, Maddie.

Interests: I have enjoyed running since being exposed to distance running on my seventh grade track and field team and I'm running my first marathon on Nov. 5 (New York City, biggest in the world)! I also enjoy being outdoors whether that be taking walks, hiking, kayaking or exploring cute little towns. I enjoy spending time with my family whether that's a simple game night at home or taking a trapeze class!

Why do you teach? For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher and never outgrew that! I love working with children, especially young children and discovered my love of working with children with special needs in high school. I was volunteering in an early childhood special education classroom and was particularly interested in a child that was nonverbal and on the Autism Spectrum. I was the first one in the school environment who he engaged with and began saying words. That had a profound impact on me and I still carry that with me today.

Dawn Hauschild

Hometown: Santa Barbara, Calif.

Position/building: Special Education EBD, River Falls High School

Education: University of Phoenix

Family: I am married to Jim Hauschild Jr. We have been married for almost 10 years and we have a 15-year-old daughter named Taylor. We moved to Hammond about seven years ago from St. Francis, Minn.

Interests: In my spare time, I love to find different ways to be outside. Some of those ways include kayaking, gardening, walking or just grabbing a book. I also love antiques and old building architecture.

Why do you teach? I love working with individuals of all different ages. I went to school for psychology and worked as a Para in Special Education and that was where I found my passion was working with kids in an educational setting.

Monica DuMond

Hometown: Pleasanton, Texas

Position/building: English Learner Teacher, Greenwood Elementary School

Education: Weber State University

Family: I am married to my wonderful husband, Justin. We have a daughter (Taylor), a son (Ryan), two puppies (Panda and Benji), and a horse (Kodak). I am the oldest of four girls. This past year was my first year living in the northern part of the country. I was born, raised, and spent most of my life in Texas.

Prior experience: This will be my 10th year teaching in the public school setting (nine years as a second grade teacher in Texas, while working with English Language Learners). Last year was spent substituting in the River Falls School District.

Interests: I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, going on vacations, going for walks, and reading.

Why do you teach? I absolutely love teaching and working with kids! It's my mission to instill a love for learning in my students, inspire them towards their goals, and life-long learning. I look forward to a great school year! Thank you for the opportunity.

Kristy Wickboldt

Hometown: Circle Pines, Minn.

Position/building: K-2 Special Education Teacher, Westside ES

Education: UW-Stout. I attended UW-Stout for Early Childhood where I minored in coaching and got a certification in special ed. I played collegiate softball for four years and coached one year after.

Family: I grew up in Circle Pines, Minn. I graduated from Centennial.

Prior experience: I have taught in the Elmwood School District for the past five years. I was the Elementary Special Education teacher for two years and Early Childhood/4K teacher for the past three. I also coached HS softball and MS track in that time. I am married and have one son, Vincent Albert. We are expecting our little girl in December. We also have a dog named Tucker.

Interests: I enjoy playing softball. I also enjoy coaching. I love spending time outside with my son.

Why do you teach? I love kids. I enjoy working with students and showing them new things. I think every student has their own story to tell and it is important for them to be able to share it.

Kayla Hayes

Hometown: Fort Collins, Colo.

Position/building: Second grade, Greenwood Elementary

Education: University of Northern Colorado

Family: I was born and raised in Colorado where I lived until just recently when my husband (Kyle) and I moved to River Falls.

Prior experience: Post college graduation I taught first grade in Saraburi, Thailand. I chose to teach in Thailand because I take joy in traveling and experiencing new cultures, it was such an inspiring experience. Upon arriving back in the United States, I taught sixth grade for three years. Now, I am so excited to be teaching second grade.

Interests: Some of my favorite things are gardening, running, hiking, anything outdoors, spending time with my family, reading a good book and enjoying a cup of coffee!

Why do you teach? I chose teaching as a profession because I love to work with kids. They make me laugh every day, they are creative, fun, and just enjoyable to be around! I am also passionate about instilling the love I have for learning in my students.

Katlin Ruble

Hometown: Somerset

Position/building: Kindergarten teacher, Greenwood Elementary

Education: UW-River Falls

Family: I will be getting married in two weeks to another teacher. His name is Paul and he teaches seventh and eighth grade social studies in St. Paul. Both of my parent live in Scandia. I have an older brother who is a painter and a younger sister who is in the Navy.

Interests: I love to read. One of my favorite things is to be outdoors. My fiancé and I love hiking, fishing, and snowshoeing. I also love spending time with my family and friends.

Why do you teach? I chose the teaching profession because of my first grade teacher. She spent the extra time that I needed to learn how to read, which has impacted my life tremendously. I hope I can do that for children. I am so excited to be apart of the River Falls community!

Megan Schwalen

Hometown: Woodville

Position/building: Transition Coordinator, High School

Education: UWEC and St. Thomas

Family: I grew up in Woodville and graduated from Baldwin-Woodville High School. I attended UWEC for special education and have an autism certificate and master's degree from St. Thomas. I live in Roberts with my husband, Curt and our two kids: Carmen (10) and Cael (7). We also have a yellow lab named Mally!

Interests: Gardening is one of my favorite summer activities (although I have a love/hate relationship with my garden). I love to be outside and go for walks and bike rides with my family. I also enjoy watching my kids in their sports and activities. As a family we love to swim; we go to the pool every chance we get! I really enjoy knitting and reading but seldom have time for either!

Why do you teach? In college I volunteered for Special Olympics, absolutely loved it and knew I wanted to make a career out of helping people with disabilities. Over the years my students have taught me far more than I could have ever taught them and I'm grateful for opportunity to work with them.

I'm very excited for the opportunity to work as transition coordinator! This is a different role than what I've done in the past and I'm eager for the challenge.

Kelly McCarthy

Hometown: Kenosha, Wis.

Position/building: Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Itinerant River Falls and St. Croix Central

Education: UW-Stevens Point and UW-Milwaukee for my teaching certificate

Family: My son Sean and I moved here this summer with our two cats Meowzers and Lilly.

Interests: My son and I enjoy volunteering at the humane society when we get the chance. We also enjoy swimming, playing baseball or just hanging out together.

Why do you teach? I volunteered in an early childhood deaf and hard of hearing classroom with about 15 3- and 4-year-old children with hearing losses ranging from mild, to deaf, to those with cochlear implants. The teacher and her aides used total communication; spoken language and signed language simultaneously. Watching those students learn language was incredible. Being a part of that classroom felt natural. I knew then that this was my calling. I love what I do!

Sarah Colling

Hometown: Stillwater, Minn.

Position/building: School Counselor, River Falls High School

Education: UW-River Falls; I completed my Master's degree from UW- River Falls in 2016.

Prior experience: What a pleasure it is to be returning to River Falls. I am so excited to start this journey and take on a new role as a school counselor. For the last seven years, I have taught middle and high school health education in Somerset. I was in charge of all prevention and chemical health programming for the district as well. In Somerset, I had the opportunity to work as a school counselor for two semesters as I filled in as a long-term substitute at Somerset High School. I am honored to be joining the Wildcat team and I look forward to meeting and working with all of my new students, colleagues, and community members.

Family: I currently live in Somerset with plans to move closer to the River Falls community in the coming years. I have four nieces and nephews who live in the area and they keep me busy with hockey, volleyball, dance, and lots of quality time together.

Interests: In my spare time, you will find me outside working in my gardens, reading a book, playing with my black lab (Mac) or hanging out by the water. Growing up near the St. Croix River and spending my summers at my lake home has caused me to develop of love of water. Paddle boarding and spending time on the water is where I am happiest (outside of school, of course).

I love to travel and spend as much time with friends and family as I possibly can. I also enjoy attending sporting events and other extra-curricular activities that my students participate in. During the summer, I also volunteer for Pepper Fest in North Hudson and work as a candidate coordinator. I love giving back to the community and always make time to give where I can.

Why do you teach? Working in a school has been my lifelong dream. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a teacher.

I love everything about school. I love learning, problem solving, and becoming a better person each day. I believe that all children can learn and experience success.

Becoming a teacher and school counselor, allows me to bridge my love of learning with helping young people become the best person they can be. I truly believe that I have the best job in the world and I come to school each day excited and ready to make an impact and support my students as best I can.

I am truly so very thankful and excited to be joining the River Falls team. I am very excited to take this next step in my career and I hope to use all of my past experiences to make a difference in River Falls. Thank you so much for the kind welcome!

Kris Thompson

Hometown: River Falls

Position/building: Business Education, River Falls High School

Education: Winona State University and UW-Stout

Family: I have been married to my wonderful wife for three years, and we just recently moved to River Falls. We consider our chickens, ducks and golden doodle to be our "kids!"

Interests: I have a long list of hobbies, and most of them have to do with being outside and being active. I enjoy hiking, running, biking, canoeing, camping, and sports. My wife and I are also very interested in learning about gardening, animals, and nature, and look forward to having fun at our hobby farm in River Falls. Lastly, I enjoy meeting new people and getting involved in new activities, and look forward to being involved in the River Falls Community!

Why do you teach? I grew up in a family of educators (Mom, Dad and Grandma), so there has always been part of me drawn to teaching. After a six-year career in training and development, within a large corporation, I was ready to move into the education world. The draw for me was the impact that can be made within the teaching profession. We have a chance to work with wonderful students, and help them grow, learn and succeed. I am excited to have this opportunity, and to be involved with such a great community!

Robert (Bob) Duerst

Hometown: Boyceville

Position/building: High School Science, High School

Education: University of Minnesota-Duluth, University of Viterbo, Clemson University, UW-RF

Family: I grew up in rural Wisconsin as one of five boys. I married the love of my life (Alicia) two weeks after finishing my undergraduate degree, and we now have two beautiful boys.

Prior experience: After high school I spent several years working in research labs, and then pursued a career in education.

Interests: I love camping in a tent, canoeing, wood working, gardening, exercising with my wife, having "sword fights" and wrestling with my children, reading/watching Sci Fi, and reading about theology.

Why do you teach? I initially knew I wanted to be in education when I spent a summer teaching aquatics merit badges at Boy Scout camp. There was a young boy whom I had spent a lot of time working with so that he could complete his canoeing merit badge, and I will never forget how good it felt to finally watch him succeed.

Katie Miller

Hometown: River Falls

Position/building: Eighth grade science, Meyer Middle School

Education: UW-Eau Claire, UW-Milwaukee

Family: My husband, Mike is a business owner and native to River Falls. We have three children; Allie graduated from UW-Whitewater this past spring, Nick is an engineering student at UM-Duluth and Jake is a junior, busy with sports.

Prior experience: I started my career in the environmental industry and after we started a family, I went back to school to become a science teacher. I had been teaching seventh grade science at Ellsworth Middle School for 18 years.

Interests: I enjoy hockey, a good book and visiting my children.

Why do you teach? I am a fourth generation teacher. My great grandmother attended the Normal school here in River Falls. Teaching has been a large part of my life and together with my interest in science, it was a perfect fit.

Laura Lee

Hometown: Clayton, Wis

Position/building: 8 Blue Literacy Teacher, Meyer Middle School

Education: UW-River Falls

Family: I've been married to my best friend, Mitch, for six years and we have two beautiful children. Charlotte is 3 and Preston is 2. They keep us on our toes! We live in the country with a dog, two cats, and a chicken.

Interests: We enjoy being outside boating, hunting, taking long walks in the woods, gardening, and driving dirt bikes or ATVs.

Why do you teach? I went into teaching to help others and be a part of the community. I am excited to be back in River Falls! Being a college student in this community had a very positive impact on me.

David Crail

Hometown: Kalispell, Mont.

Position/building: Eighth Grade Social Studies, Meyer Middle School

Education: UW-Superior/University of South Dakota

Family: I have been married to my wife Bethany for the last 14 years. We have two boys: Brantley (5) and Beckett (3).

Prior experience: Prior to moving to River Falls I taught American History, Law and Constitution at Northwestern High School in Maple, Wis. In my 10 years there I also coached football, baseball, track and girls basketball.

Interests: Coaching high school athletics is where the vast majority of my time is spent when I am not in the classroom. I enjoy weight training and I incorporate a great deal of that personal interest into my coaching.

At home I enjoy hanging out with the family and cheering on the Seahawks with the boys.

Why do you teach? I was blessed to have some very influential teachers and coaches in my life during my high school years, as well as parents that understood the importance of education. My decision to go into the teaching profession was largely based on the impact of these individuals and my desire to have the same type of impact on the students that I work with.

Pete Vitt

Hometown: Cando, N.D.

Position/building: Eighth Grade English, Meyer Middle School

Education: St. John's University & Wayne State College

Family: Wife - Aasha; four children: Michael (16), Marcus (14), Maria (12), and Madeline (10).

Interests: I like to be involved with my children's activities, which for the last few years has meant helping coach traveling basketball teams and lots of time on bleachers. I also love baseball, reading, biking, and working in the garden.

Why do you teach? I love teaching because I know it's important and I enjoy the thrill of seeing students excel, sometimes beyond their own expectations.

Mavis Kimm Severson

Hometown: Chippewa Falls

Position/building: Cross Categorical Special Education Teacher, River Falls High School

Education: UW-Eau Claire

Family: I grew up in northern Wisconsin. I have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. I have been a special education teacher for 17 years.

Interests: I like gardening, scrapbooking, reading, canoeing, biking, most outdoor activities. Spending time with my dogs and family.

Why do you teach? I enjoy working with students that have special needs.