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RF schools welcomes new staff

Tessa Amundson 1 / 32
Erin Singel 2 / 32
Carlie Melstrom 3 / 32
Mikaela Walker 4 / 32
Brianne Gaard 5 / 32
Leah Fletcher 6 / 32
Alison Igou 7 / 32
Peggy Skogen 8 / 32
Jeanine Smetana 9 / 32
Heather Germain 10 / 32
Larissa Lueck 11 / 32
Ryan Scherz 12 / 32
Anna Zalusky 13 / 32
Nancy Rogers 14 / 32
Sarah Joosten 15 / 32
Kim Ludwikoski 16 / 32
Melissa Hansen 17 / 32
Mary Swanson 18 / 32
Jill Tiffany 19 / 32
Randy Goss 20 / 32
Mitchell Roberge 21 / 32
Mitchell Jacobson 22 / 32
Rachel Young 23 / 32
Bailey Beyer 24 / 32
Linda Nord 25 / 32
Lauren Lindell 26 / 32
Nichole Larson 27 / 32
Cassandra Meyer 28 / 32
Sarah Johnson 29 / 32
Helen LaRoue 30 / 32
Scott Pape 31 / 32
Nicole Dethloff 32 / 32

Tessa Amundson

Hometown: Hager City,

Position: Third grade, Rocky Branch

College attended: UW-River Falls

Family: I grew up near St. Charles, Minnesota but have lived in the River Falls area for 20 years now. My husband Brian is a superintendent for a construction company and our three kids, Andrew (12), Ruby (9), and Evelyn (6) are very active in sports. We now live outside of Hager City with our German Shepherd, Willow.

Interests: I don't get a lot of free time, but when I do I enjoy working out, scrapbooking/crafting, and watching sports. My favorite team to watch is the Minnesota Wild! We also love the outdoors. My parents own a traditional archery shop down in Rochester, so we all shoot archery. We also, love to go four-wheeling, snowmobiling, and fishing!

Why do you teach? I choose to become a teacher because I wanted to make a difference in children's lives. My mom was an in-home daycare provider while growing up and I saw first-hand the positive impact she had on young children. I had several teachers who made learning fun and encouraged me to be who I am. I wanted to continue making a positive difference in children's lives much like they had done for me.

Bailey Beyer

Hometown: Elmwood

Position: High School Mathematics, RFHS

College attended: UW-Eau Claire

Family: I just got married on June 2, the day after my interview! My wife, Jenna, and I graduated from UW-EC in 2017 together and moved to Oshkosh for a year. We missed this area, so we moved back with our two cats, Oscar and Smokey.

Interests: In my free time I really enjoy music - both creating and listening. I am a huge fan of rock music. I've been to many concerts and festivals. I also played percussion in high school and taught myself a little guitar. I also enjoy the outdoors. I like to golf, hike, swim, hunt, and fish.

Why do you teach? When I was in high school, my math teacher was very influential on me. He was a person that would do anything for any of his students. I saw the difference that he made in the lives of his students. As I got older, I wanted to do something that would make a difference, rather than work a corporate job. Teaching was the way that I felt I could make a positive difference in the lives of students, just like my math teacher did for me.

Nicole Dethloff

Hometown: Winona, Minn.

Position: Special Education, School Psychologist, Greenwood

College attended: UW-La Crosse

Family: I am originally from Winona Minnesota where I obtained my undergraduate degree from Winona State University. From there I completed my graduate training at UW-La Crosse. Since that time, my husband and I have lived in Ann Arbor, Mich., for the past three years. We now live in Woodbury, Minn., where we plan to call our forever home. We enjoy traveling, spending time with friends and learning how to garden.

Interests: I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, running and traveling.

Why do you teach? Make a meaningful difference in the lives of children and families.

Leah Fletcher

Hometown: Shiocton

Position: Science, sixth grade, MMS

College attended: Saint Mary's University

Family: I grew up in a small town full of character. I come from a tight-knit family; my parents have always been my best support system and my biggest motivator to succeed. I also have one younger brother that always keeps me on my toes. Without them, I wouldn't be where I am today.

Interests: I have been playing basketball and softball since my earliest years. My dad taught me to dribble, soon after I could walk. He also taught me how to the love the game of softball, after I was old enough to stop playing in the dirt. After high school, I played a year of basketball and three years of softball. Upon graduating, I took on coaching, refereeing, and umpiring to stay close to the sports I've always loved. In addition to athletics, I enjoy other hobbies such as photography, riding my longboard, fishing, and spending time with my family.

Why do you teach? I went to college to pursue a degree in graphic design. I learned fairly quickly that sitting behind a computer all day would not be for me. I enjoyed working with youth as a mentor and a coach. This quickly convinced me to change my major. I found much more satisfaction in the demanding, quick paced environment of a classroom. I enjoy seeing students succeed and show growth in their learning.

Brianne Gaard

Hometown: Ellsworth

Position: Math Intervention, MMS

College attended: UW-Eau Claire

Family: My husband is Ben Gaard. I have a stepdaughter, Mykenna; a stepson, Landyn; a son, Matthew; and a daughter, Graciella. I have spent the past nine years teaching at the Somerset Elementary School in first, third and fourth grade.

Interests: I enjoy spending time with my family and watching my children grow and learn, taking pictures, going on family walks and bike rides, swimming, reading, problem solving, quilting, knitting, learning new things and shopping.

Why do you teach? I chose teaching as my profession to make a positive impact on students and to help them learn and develop new skills. There's nothing more rewarding than seeing a student genuinely understand something for the first time that they have previously been struggling to grasp.

Heather Germain

Hometown: Houlton

Position: Occupational Therapist, Rocky Branch

College attended: St. Thomas University, undergraduate degree and St. Catherine University, graduate degree

Family: I grew up in Somerset and graduated from Somerset High School in 2010. After that, I moved to St. Paul throughout college years and returned to Wisconsin in 2016. My husband and I bought a home in Houlton and renovated it; we love the farmhouse style and even put in a sliding barn door as our pantry entry. Ben and I have been together nine years and were (finally) married this August. No kids at this time but we like to consider our spoiled, 1-year-old lab, Milka, our dog child.

Interests: I consider myself a master thrifter. I enjoy the hunt for little vintage treasures and repurposing them into something really special. I also have refinished multiple furniture pieces (ie. butcher block, barn door, tv cabinet, our kitchen table, and buffet table) that now live in our home. I enjoy traveling to visit friends, taking my dog for runs and spending time with family.

Why do you teach? I have always been passionate about working with kids- the creativity, drive and humor that accompanies being a school-based OT keeps me motivated to support children during the challenging times. I love the team aspect of supporting kids in school and working together to solve the unknowns. Occupational therapists really do have a lot of fun!

Randy Gross

Hometown: Osceola

Position: Math, MMS

College attended: UW-River Falls

Family: Married, five children

Interests: Hunting, family, learning, history and building things.

Why do you teach? I saw how Mrs. Perkins (my second grade teacher) and my dad enjoyed the profession helping people learn.

Melisa Hansen

Hometown: Independence

Position: College and Career Readiness Coordinator, RFHS

College attended: Undergrad at UW-Eau Claire, Masters at UW-Stout

Family: I enjoy spending time with my husband John and being adventurous with our three children: Nina (8), Rhys (7) and Dane (3). My mother's stroke (2012) was severe, leaving her paralyzed on her right side. I spend time arranging her care at home and tend to travel home as often as possible to share time with her and bring further opportunities forward for our children. We are fortunate to have a strong family network.

Interests: I enjoy spending time with my three children. We spend a great deal of time on my parents' farm. I enjoy cooking, canning and crafts as well as spending time with friends and family.

Why do you teach? Since I was young (at least K) I recall wanting to be a teacher. I even asked for a teacher desk, gradebook and other "teacher stuff" for my birthday gifts. I am passionate about helping others see their potential and enjoy collaborating to create educational opportunities for youth. I believe that each of us is unique and I hope to do all I can to help students create their personal pathways and live their purpose. I look forward to working with families and the River Falls community.

Alison Igou

Hometown: River Falls

Position: Adaptive PE K-12

College attended: UW-River Falls

Family: I live in town with my husband Kyle and our three kids, Aubrey (6), Ethan (5) and Kendall (3).

Interests: I enjoy spending time with my family at our cabin in Prairie du Chien. Our days there are spent swimming, fishing and boating on the Mississippi River. When we are not there I enjoy riding bike, walking by the Kinni and being active with my family. I also enjoy coaching and playing volleyball.

Why do you teach? Being a teacher is a profoundly challenging and rewarding job. I wake up every day smiling knowing I can influence a life and love what I do.

Mitchell Jacobson

Hometown: Chippewa Falls

Position: Science, RFHS

College attended: UW-Stevens Point (undergraduate degree) & Saint Mary's University of Minnesota (graduate degree)

Family: I have a wife named Kiersten and a 1-year-old son named Christopher. My wife is also currently working on obtaining her education license and will be substitute teaching at Greenwood Elementary this fall. This will be my seventh year teaching, having taught the last six years at McDonell High School in Chippewa Falls. While teaching science at McDonell, mainly biology and biomedical sciences, I also coached baseball and basketball. My family and I are very excited to be a part of the River Falls School District and the community.

Interests: I enjoy hunting, fishing, watching football, basketball, and baseball, reading non-fiction science and history novels, cooking and baking bread and spending time with my family.

Why do you teach? I chose to become a teacher because passing on knowledge to the next generation is one of the most important things we do as a society. I feel privileged to be in this position and I truly enjoy learning and as well as passing on the knowledge I have. It also helps that I come from a family of teachers - my mom, both brothers, and many extended family members. My dad also holds a position at a technical college.

Sarah Johnson

Hometown: Rice Lake

Position: School Counselor, RFHS

College attended: Concordia and Stout

Family: Youngest of four girls, I have lived as south as Milwaukee and as north as Hayward. This is my fourth school district I have worked in, I have been a teacher as well as a counselor. I currently live in New Richmond with my boyfriend and I am the proud new aunt of two boys and an expected aunt for a third this Spring!

Interests: I love to go hiking, kayaking, watching movies, board games/trivia and a bit of a thrill seeker.

Why do you teach? I started in the teaching profession to be that role model or guide to help kiddos learn to help themselves and to model to students that it is ok to make mistakes and learn from them—as some of my favorite people have done for me (past teachers).

Sarah Joosten

Hometown: Cameron

Position: Music, vocal, MMS, RFHS

College attended: UW-Eau Claire

Family: I am originally from Cameron where my parents taught band and choir for 30 years. I am the youngest of three children, all who graduated with degrees in music; my sister is a composer in Chicago and my brother is a band teacher in Madison. I am getting married in June 2019 to my fiancé Alex, who is a band teacher.

Interests: I like to perform both classically and in musical theatre productions. Aside from singing, I also play the clarinet, and I like to play in community bands to keep another musical part of me alive. Outside of music, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading Harry Potter, hiking, fishing, and playing team sports. I am an avid Packer, Badger and Brewer fan and love to watch all Wisconsin sports.

Why do you teach? I have always felt the calling to be a teacher because I love working with children and young adults and showing them how much fun learning can be. I have grown up surrounded by musicians within my family and I appreciate the bond music has provided for us. I chose to teach choir because it gives students the chance to express themselves in many ways through their own voice. Choir teaches students to use their voice to show the world their heart, be vulnerable, and make an impact. I'm excited to be a part of that process.

Helen LaRoue

Hometown: St. Joseph

Position: Kindergarten teacher, Westside

College attended: I received my undergraduate degree from St. Mary's University in Winona, Minnesota and my masters from UW-River Falls.

Family: I grew up in Cottage Grove, Minn., and moved to Wisconsin 14 years ago. I live with my husband and two children: Allison (9) and William (6). We have a long-haired Chihuahua, Gizmo.

Interests: I enjoy spending time outdoors with my family. We like hiking, camping, playing sports and spending time at the camper. I also enjoy reading, traveling, coffee and running.

Why do you teach? I've always wanted to be a teacher and cannot imagine doing anything else. I enjoy getting to know my students and their families. I love seeing how much my students grow over the course of a year.

Nichole Larson

Hometown: River Falls

Position: Special education, early childhood, Rocky Branch

College attended: UW-Stout

Family: I'm from River Falls and so is my husband. We have three children and they are all involved in different sport and activities. I love this town and all the things it has to offer.

Interests: Scrapbooking, taking pictures and enjoying nature.

Why do you teach? I love kids. I was always the neighborhood babysitter and that lead me to a love of teaching.

Lauren Lindell

Hometown: Cannon Falls, Minn.

Position: Kindergarten teacher, Rocky Branch

College attended: UW-River Falls

Family: I grew up in a small town and absolutely love the close community feel. Building a strong and safe classroom community is one of my priorities for the school year. This October I will be getting married to my high school sweetheart and we plan on buying our first home soon. River Falls has a huge spot in my heart as I attended both my undergraduate and graduate programs at UWRF.

Interests: A lot of my time is spent caring for our pets and new goat additions. I love to kayak rivers and lakes, hike state parks, and go where the sun is!

Why do you teach? I've always enjoyed school and wanted to do something meaningful with my life. I can't think of a more impactful career on our future than being a teacher; loving those kids and helping them celebrate their strengths in learning. I have a love of learning and want to share that curiosity and excitement with my students. This will be my very first teaching position and I am very excited to share it with the River Falls School District.

Kim Ludwikoski

Hometown: Eau Claire

Position: Special education, ID, MMS

College attended: UW-Eau Claire

Family: I moved to River Falls two years ago blending a family. Raul and I have five children and a 2-year-old Black Lab (Bucky) .

Interests: I love spending time year round with family and friends at our cabin I treasure road trips to visit my two oldest sons in Madison, and the occasions when all of the older children return home. When time allows, I enjoy creating art or working on designing the interior of homes.

Why do you teach? I chose teaching as a profession because of the reward in helping children learn and grow. I'm very excited to be a part of the River Falls teaching staff.

Larissa Lueck

Hometown: River Falls

Position: Fourth grade teacher, Greenwood

College attended: Eau Claire, undergrad and LaCrosse, Masters

Family: I graduated from River Falls and after college started teaching in Wisconsin Rapids as an elementary teacher. I taught in the Wisconsin Rapids school district for 18 years. During this time I earned my Masters Degree from UW-LaCrosse. I have just moved back to River Falls with my husband, Lance and my son and daughter.

Interests: I enjoy spending time with my family, walking our dog and going to the park. I like to jog and take fitness classes as well. I try to sneak in a few minutes of a good book before bed too!

Why do you teach? From a young age I wanted to become a teacher and have never changed course. A great teacher makes all the difference with students. I love being able to help be a part of what makes students want to come to school every day and learn!

Carlie Melstrom

Hometown: Ellsworth

Position: Seventh grade science, Gold House, MMS

College attended: UWRF

Family: For the past two years I've been teaching middle school science on the West Coast in San Jose. California was an amazing experience where I developed tremendous amounts of personal and professional growth. Now, however, I am so excited to be back with my family and friends while joining a school district with such exceptional professionals who support each other in becoming their best.

Interests: I enjoy traveling, spending quality time with family and friends, being out on the water on a sunny day, playing sand volleyball, coaching, watching football (go Packers!) and college basketball (go Badgers!), and drinking hot cocoa throughout all of winter.

Why do you teach? I love science and am continually fascinated by it. Sharing that interest with students in ways that allow them to get a spark of excitement and curiosity is one of the greatest feelings. It is my goal to have every topic of science taught in an intriguing fashion so that students learn through their own experiences, not solely through memorization of information.

Cassandra Meyer

Hometown: River Falls

Position: English learner teacher, Rocky Branch, Westside and RFHS

College attended: UW-Green Bay

Family: After graduating from college I married my high school sweetheart and we traveled south to pursue his dream of being a professional golfer. While down there I taught at both middle school and elementary levels. I really enjoyed working with the students and parents. We eventually decided to move back home to River Falls to start a family and now we have a spunky loving 2-year-old. Both of our parents are happy to have us back home but more ecstatic to be grandparents.

Interests: I love traveling and seeing new places. Since moving back home I have really enjoyed seeing my community through a different lens and rediscovering how great of a place this is to live and raise a family. This past summer I picked up a new hobby in golfing. Some things I love experiencing most with my family and friends are Packer games, camping and kayaking. Now that we have a child I have a newfound interest in my family's health and discovering natural health solutions.

Why do you teach? I have always had an innate desire to help others and teach about things I have a passion for. Watching my siblings grow up and helping them learn new things was fun for me. I have to give credit to my mom who knocked some sense into me my sophomore year of college when I was still majoring in "undecided." "You love teaching your sisters to read, why don't you go into teaching?" she told me. It was a no brainer.

I am a RFHS alumni, class of 2003. I also love to quilt but it's hard to find time for that these days so that hobby is on the back burner for now. I majored in education with a minor in English as a Second Language. I have been teaching for nine years, which went entirely too fast! I have held the title of an EL teacher for the past two years of my teaching career, though I have always had EL students in my classroom. My favorite part of my title is co-teaching and helping EL students communicate and interact with all students in the classroom. I am extremely happy and excited to be back home close to family and being able to continue doing what I love, teaching.

Linda Nord

Hometown: Ellsworth

Position: Special education, learning disabilities, RFHS

College attended: University of Northwestern of St. Paul

Family: I was born and raised in Upstate New York. I met my husband while in college in Minnesota and we raised our family there until we moved to Wisconsin last summer. I have three children. The oldest daughter was just married and is graduating with a teaching degree in December from UWEC. Our son is attending UWRF and our youngest daughter is a junior at River Falls High School.

Interests: Spending time with my family, caring for our two dogs, traveling, singing, reading, photography and I love having a good cup of coffee!

Why do you teach? I began as a substitute teacher. Through substituting, I realized how much I liked helping and encouraging students to learn and to reach their goals. I chose to be a teacher to be more involved in guiding students the education process. The staff at River Falls High School is a great team. I am excited to be a part of it.

Scott Pape

Hometown: Woodbury, Minn.

Position: Social Studies teacher, eighth grade, MMS

College attended: Iowa State University

Family: I am 22 years old with two brothers and one sister, I am the third born. While at Iowa State, I worked for the football team for two years as a student manager/student assistant coach and the basketball team for a semester. During the summers, I would come home to coach football and baseball in Woodbury while spending as many weekends as possible at our cabin in northwestern Wisconsin in the town of Centuria (on Long Lake).

Interests: I enjoy being outdoors taking part in activities such as fishing, hiking and camping. In addition, I love watching, reading and talking about sports. I am an avid Green Bay Packer and Iowa State Cyclone fan (if you need some convincing, come into my classroom when it is all set up). In addition, I love spending my free time and summers with friends and family either at our cabin or just hanging out.

Why do you teach? I chose the teaching profession for a variety of reasons. First, I began coaching basketball when I was a sophomore in high school and fell in love with working with kids. I enjoyed being with them every day while also impacting their lives and basketball skills every day. Ever since then I have always wanted to do something that involves working with kids as much as possible and teaching was the perfect profession for that.

Mitchell Roberge

Hometown: La Crosse

Position: Special education, Emotional Behavioral Disorders, RFHS

College attended: UW-River Falls

Family: I grew up in the La Crosse area. I went for my undergrad for Social Work at UW-River Falls. I am currently getting my Master's in education through Viterbo University. I have been married for almost three years. We have a 1-year-old Black Lab.

Interests: I enjoy playing sports and am very active when the weather is nice. I really enjoy watching sports as well.

Why do you teach? I like working with children and love the idea that I am making a difference.

Nancy Rogers

Hometown: Trempealeau

Position: Special education, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, MMS

College attended: UW-Milwaukee, BS Deaf Education; University of Arizona MA, Teaching and Teacher Education, Emphasis: Middle School Education

Family: I am a native Wisconsinite, born in Stoughton, the youngest of three children. I grew up all over Wisconsin in places such as Brooklyn, Oregon, Bloomington, Clintonville and Oconomowoc. I graduated from Oconomowoc High School and went on to college at UW-Milwaukee. After completing my Bachelor's degree, I moved to Mesa, Ariz., where I taught students who are deaf and hard of hearing for 30 years. While living in Arizona, I earned my Master's degree at the University of Arizona and met my husband.

Two years ago, my husband and I moved back to Wisconsin to be closer to my family. We currently live in Trempealeau. I worked for CESA for two years before coming to River Falls.

Interests: Traveling, cooking, reading, crocheting, and spending time with family and friends

Personal interests include: Member of DAR, Lions International and church. My husband and I have no children except for our 2 "furkids", our cats, Chester and Callie. I have been involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters for over 25 years. I was named Big Sister of the Year for my agency and the State of Arizona in 2007. I still have contact with all of my "little sisters" and their families.

In my travels, I have visited all 50 states as well as 11 different countries.

I miss Arizona in the winter, but sure don't miss those 110+ days in the summer! I love living near/along the Mississippi River! This is the area where my ancestors first settled in when they moved to Wisconsin. My grandfather always called it "God's Country" and I agree!

Why do you teach? I grew up in a family filled with teachers. I've always enjoyed learning and experiencing new things and wanted to pass that passion on to others. When I was a young child, I read the story of Helen Keller. In the back of the book was the hand alphabet. I eagerly and quickly learned how to form those letters with my hands. Learning how to fingerspell was the spark that ignited my quest to learn more about sign language and people who are deaf. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, so I decided to put my passion for sign language and desire to teach together to become a teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Ryan Scherz

Hometown: Lake Nebagamon

Position: Special education, Emotional Behavioral Disabilities, MMS

College attended: UWRF/University of Minnesota

Family: I have been married to my wife Vicki for the past 12 years. We have two daughters, Reagan (8) and Harper (7). I've been a lawyer for the past 11 years.

Interests: I coach varsity football and baseball, which accounts for most of my free time. I also enjoy golfing and playing with my kids.

Why do you teach? I come from a family of educators. Both of my parents were teachers and are now in administration. My passion is working with kids and watching them grow and improve. I enjoy building relationships with students.

Erin Singel

Hometown: River Falls

Position: Library Media Specialist, Rocky Branch

College attended: UW-River Falls

Family: I am the lucky mom to my two beautiful kids Avery (10) and Mason (7). I grew up in River Falls and feel so fortunate my two children are growing up here too and attending Rocky Branch! How nice I can get extra hugs at school! I am also fortunate to have my wonderful parents Bill and Sandee living in River Falls and my loving boyfriend Frank in our lives too!

Interests: I enjoy spending time with family and friends, being outdoors, golfing, hiking, swimming, biking, running, cooking and traveling

Why do you teach? I have always loved working with kids! There is nothing more rewarding than making a difference each day with students at school! I can't wait for the school year to start!

Peggy Skogen

Hometown: Montfort

Position: Math/Science, Renaissance Academy

College attended: UW-River Falls

Family: I have four children. Paul attends UW-Platteville, Lindsey is a senior, Joseph is a freshman and Isabelle is in sixth grade.

Interests: I like mid distance running. Believe me, I am not fast. I have done five half marathons, two Tough Mudders and a Du-Athalon. To say I like weight training would be an absolute lie. I have recently taken up coyote hunting and fishing.

Why do you teach? I teach because I love tweens and teens. They are a daily reminder of how great yet challenging life can be. I love the fact they provide reminders that life at any age can be fun and rewarding.

Jeanine Smetana

Hometown: I graduated from New Auburn, but currently live just outside Glenwood City.

Position: Special education, Learning Disabilities, MMS

College attended: UW-River Falls

Family: I have three children, two daughters and a son, and one grandchild.

Interests: My hobbies include photography, pottery, reading, and gardening. I have three dogs that I like to take on daily walks, a cat who likes to tag along on our walks, and a couple of chickens.

Why do you teach? Teaching is something I've always wanted to do. I have had some wonderful teachers who inspired me to pursuit my dream.

Mary Swanson

Hometown: Stillwater, Minn.

Position: Cross- Categorical Special Education, Rocky Branch

College attended: UW-Eau Claire

Family: I grew up in Stillwater with my parents, three siblings and two dogs! My dad is a retired air force pilot and now flies corporate jets, while my mom is a grief counselor for hospice! My oldest sister is working towards her MD-PhD at UW-Madison, my brother is a professional opera singer, and my younger sister is a medical assistant in the Twin Cities area. As far as my extended family, jobs in education seem to be the most common! This all stems from my paternal grandparents who worked in the Ellsworth School Fistrict for their whole lives.

Interests: If I am not teaching, I can normally be found reading a book at the pool, singing along to music theatre songs, or waitressing downtown Stillwater. I also have always found a lot of joy in traveling and spending warm summer days at my family cabin!

Why do you teach? Teaching has been in my family forever, so it has always been a path that I've considered. Upon arriving at college I volunteered at a local elementary school and really fell in love with it! Getting to be a part of the process of allowing kids explore and get excited about their own education is an incredibly rewarding career.

Jill Tiffany

Hometown: River Falls

Position: Second grade, Rocky Branch

College attended: UWRF

Family: My husband Jeff and I have a son named Calan (2) and a daughter named Caris (4 months)

Interests: My family and I enjoying going on walks, playing outside and spending time at the cabin. I also enjoy shopping, baking and traveling.

Why do you teach? I loved playing school as a little girl and have always wanted to be a teacher. I love spending my days with kids!

Mikaela Walker

Hometown: Woodville

Position: Special education ID teacher, MMS

College attended: UW-River Falls

Family: I am an outgoing and friendly first year teacher who is very passionate about what I do. I want the best for everyone and will strive to ensure that everyone is happy. I am newly married and we are currently building our first home. We have a Golden Retriever named Saydie. We enjoy playing games, hiking, camping, boating, playing with our pup, and spending time with family and friends.

Interests: I am a dance teacher and have been dancing since I was 3. I have taken one class I teach to the World Dance Championship in New Jersey where they won first place! It is my true passion and I love sharing that with my dancers. I have been a part of Luther Point Bible Camp since I was young, and after working there myself, I am now on the Board of Directors. I am also passionate about singing, playing, and listening to music. I love re-watching the entire series of Friends over and over as well as the Harry Potter Movies.

Why do you teach? When I walk into any school my heart races and I feel like I am a kid again myself! I love being a part of the growing generation and providing them with eight hours of genuine care and respect every day. I want to give these kiddos the education and skills they need to be happy and successful people.

Rachel Young

Hometown: Apple Valley, Minn.

Position: K-5 Spanish, Greenwood, Westside, Rocky Branch, Montessori

College attended: UW-River Falls

Family: I am 23 years old and graduated from UWRF in December 2017 with degrees in Elementary Education and Spanish Education. I studied abroad for a semester in Seville, Spain, where I visited six different countries. I have a younger brother, Jacob, who is a junior at UWRF pursuing an art degree. At home, I have two 13-year-old Golden Retrievers and a cat. I am biracial.

Interests: This year I started rock climbing and bouldering at Vertical Endeavors. It was a hobby that quickly grew into a new passion. At home, my favorite thing to do is take naps. I also enjoy watching Netflix, listening to music and finding new restaurants to try. I am a huge Minnesota Wild and Gopher hockey fan. Before school starts, I will be moving to Hudson with my boyfriend Ryan, who will be teaching Social Studies and coaching football in Frederic. We will both be first year teachers! I am incredibly excited to come back to the town my teaching career started in!

Why do you teach? Teaching has been a goal of mine since I was a young child. As I grew up, I saw the profound impact teachers could have on their students' lives and the community. I want to share my passion in order to see people and the community grow. I hope to instill a love for foreign language in my students and encourage them to continue taking a foreign language into their middle and high school years.

Anna Zalusky

Hometown: River Falls

Position: Grade 4, Rocky Branch

College attended: Macalester College and UW-River Falls

Family: My family is a huge part of my life! My husband, Joe, and I have been married for 20 years. We have two children. Callum is entering seventh grade at MMS and Sylvia will be in fifth grade this year at Greenwood. Many of my extended family members also live in the area and I am lucky to be able to spend time with them regularly. I truly love this community and am delighted to be able to be a part of this incredible school district.

Interests: I am happiest when I'm outside. I love walking and biking and kayaking in River Falls. My family enjoys traveling, usually preferring to camp when we can. I also spend time reading a wide variety of books. The public library is like a second home to my family. In addition, I am very passionate about food. I love gardening, visiting the farmers market, cooking, and, of course, eating!

Why do you teach? I consider myself a lifelong learner and am always curious about new things. I enjoy collaborating with colleagues and families to facilitate my students' learning and personal growth. And, of course, I love to spend time in the company of kids! I am always eager to hear their thoughts and ideas as we explore topics together.