When the students in the West Hancock and Forest City Community School Districts returned to school, they were greeted by several new faces.
Each district hired several new teachers for the 2019-20 school year, which started Friday, Aug. 23.
West Hancock School District has two new teachers: Carolyn Edler, agriculture and family consumer science at the high school along with being FFA adviser and Nancy Anderson, English Language Learner (ELL) for students developing their English language kills.
Edler said this will be her first year teaching high school, though she has taught at the college level while completing her master’s degree in commerce in agricultural science at Texas A&M, from which she graduated in May.
Edler said she wants to make an impact on her students to help them understand how important agriculture is in everyday life.
“Ever since I was a child, I always wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “I grew up on a diverse family farm and wanted to carry my passion for agriculture into my career. It is important that we are forming students to be knowledgeable about where their food is coming from and aware of all the steps it takes to get there.”
“I look forward to getting to know all of the students and get them excited about the content we are learning,” she said. “Every day is an opportunity to prepare them for their future self and I hope to expose them to new careers they never thought would be fun for them.”
Forest City Community School District has brought on nine new teachers this year to fill positions in all three of their schools: Tara Millard, high school language arts; Heather Urbatsch, elementary special education; Katie Schmidt, kindergarten; Chris Throne, middle school social studies; Kent Jorgensen, elementary physical education; Thomas Treloar, elementary early special education; Annika Andrews, middle school and high school vocal music; Matt Harriman, third grade; and Samantha Butler, eighth grade science.
Superintendent Darwin Lehmann said the district hired so many this year because the district had offered early retirement three years ago, so many staff members had taken the early retirement package and left.
“We don’t lose a lot of staff other than that,” he said. “We can keep them five years; very rarely do they leave.”
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Andrews said this is her first year of teaching, though she had student taught at West Delaware High School and East Buchanan Elementary School.
She studied at the University of Northern Iowa for 4.5 years in music education since graduating from Urbandale High School in 2014. She said she doesn’t remember a time she didn’t want to be a teacher.
“In eighth grade, when we were starting to look at future careers, we did a survey about our interests that shot back careers that apply to those interests,” she said. “That was the first time it dawned on me that I could combine my love of teaching and my love of music, even though my dad is a band teacher.”
Andrews said she applied to be the high school and middle school music teacher because she had been applying for any choral job that did not include elementary and after being contacted by the Forest City school administration and interviewing with high school principal Ken Baker, middle school principal Zach Dillavou and current instrumental music teacher Cory Schmitt she knew she wanted to work in the district.
“Everyone I met was so helpful and welcoming, and I didn’t even have the job yet!” she said.
“I am so excited to be in the Forest City community and I cannot wait to see what the students in the vocal music program can accomplish,” she said.
Third grade teacher Harriman said he has been a teacher for eight years now, with three years of teaching in Garner and five years at North Iowa.
He wanted to be a teacher because he loves working with kids and wants to see everyone succeed, Harriman said.
“Students come to my classroom with all different types of backgrounds or past experiences, and my hope is to give them a chance and help them gain confidence to do their best,” he said.
Harriman said his family lives in Forest City and he has heard “many great things about the district and the great opportunities it provides for people,” so he applied to the third grade position.
“I am just so happy I get to walk my two daughters to school with me, and can’t wait to work in the town that my family lives in,” he said.