Central welcomes 11 new teachers

New teachers at Central Schools this fall include, front row from left: Nicole Mittelstadt, Haley Leonard, Ali Miller, Allison Donadio and Kristie Boyer; back row: Brian Isles, Jim McCullum, Nicole Ressler, Rachel Pexa, Rachel Hanson and Rachelle Ham. Photo by Paul Downer

District 108 opens the 2012-13 school year on Tuesday, Sept. 4 with 11 new staff members. Brief profiles of those new teachers are included below.

Kristie Boyer
The third grade teaching staff will welcome Kristie Boyer to their section this fall. Boyer has made stops at three previous districts, including one year Tracy Elementary where she taught ELL, two years at Lakeview where she taught fifth grade, and five years in St. Peter where she taught fifth grade for four years and first grade for one year.

Boyer also brings a range of coaching experience from those previous positions, including stints as head volleyball coach, basketball coach, track coach and B-squad volleyball coach.

Boyer said she looks forward teaching third graders because of their love and eagerness for learning and being in school at that age, and said she hopes to inspire her students to love reading.

She said she is excited to start at Central because it is a small district with small class sizes, and is a nice community to be involved with.

When not teaching, Boyer said she enjoys spending time with family, playing sports, reading and spending time outdoors.

Allison Donadio
Allison Donadio, who will serve as the new Title 1 math instructor for grades 3-8, said she enjoys working with a wide range of ages in small groups in order to get to know the students better.

She attended the University of Colorado in Denver, where she earned her degree in elementary teaching.

Before coming to Central, Donadio taught first grade, second grade and fifth grade at Glencoe-Silver Lake, and also was a Title 1 second grade teacher in the Chaska School District. While at Chaska, she helped coach the robotics team.

Donadio said that teaching in District 108 appealed to her because it is a relatively small district in a small town.

Outside of the classroom, Donadio enjoys gardening, reading and traveling.

Rachelle Ham

Elementary special education students were welcomed to the classroom by Rachelle Ham this week.

Ham, who went to high school in Jordan, has a degree in special education from MSU-Mankato and also has education in autism from Hamline University. Before coming to Central, Ham taught special education for kindergarten and first grade students for three years at Hutchinson Public Schools.

Ham said she was happy to come to Central because it is close to home, located in a small town and a nice area. She enjoys teaching elementary age students because their growth is fun to watch at a young age, and she also enjoys their humor and willingness to learn.

When not teaching, Ham enjoys spending time with family, friends and her dog, traveling and spending time outdoors.

Rachel Hanson
A former Central student will be teaching special education at the elementary school level this year.

Rachel Hanson has a degree in special education — learning disabilities from St. Cloud State University, and said she enjoys elementary age students because they are energetic and lively.

Before coming to Central, Hanson spent half a year as a long-term substitute at Orono Middle School, where she taught sixth and seventh grade math, and half a year as a long-term substitute and G-SL High School, where she taught 9-12 English.

Hanson said she wanted to return to Central because, having grown up here, she knew that the smaller size of the school would allow her to know the community, students and staff better than in larger districts. Hanson will also be teaching eighth grade girls’ basketball this year.

Outside of school, Hanson enjoys going up north, being with family and spending time outdoors.

Brian Isles
The district is welcoming a new English teacher and theater director in Brian Isles.
Isles previous taught American Literature, Creative Writing and Modern Literature at Holy Family Catholic High School, and at Central he will be teaching British Lit., American Lit., pre-college writing and practical writing, as well as directing the fall show and the one-act play.

“I like working with the upperclassmen because I like seeing students developing their unique personalities,” Isles said.

Isles earned his B.S. degree in English/Special Education at Minnesota State University — Mankato, and said District 108 has been very welcoming from the beginning.

“I really enjoy this area,” he said.

Outside of the classroom, Isles said he is a “huge film geek,” loves writing screen plays, and enjoys playing guitar with his wife.

Haley Leonard
Kindergarten through fifth grade students in ELL/Title 1 courses will learn from Haley Leonard, who said she enjoys teaching a variety of ages because each stage is unique.
Leonard attended Minnesota State University — Mankato, where she earned a degree in elementary education with an emphasis in social studies.

Past teaching experience for Leonard includes one year as a Reading Corps member and two years as a kindergarten teacher in Austin, Minn., where she also served as the head varsity cheer coach and was a member of the dance team while growing up.

Leonard said she was excited to come to District 108 because of its evolving education system and the close-knit community.

When not teaching, Leonard said she enjoys reading, running and spending time with her family and black lab, Gunner.

Jim McCullum
Jim McCullum joins the special education department in the middle school this fall, focusing on reading and math, and he brings 29 years of experience in special education and social studies to the position.

McCullum said he enjoys the middle school age students because they are eager and willing to learn. He received his education at the University of Minnesota, where he earned a B.S. in social studies and a master’s degree in education in special education.
In addition to teaching, McCullum is coaching ninth grade baseball and C squad / JV football.

He said he is looking forward to working at District 108 because of the small class sizes and the wonderful community. Outside of school, McCullum enjoys woodworking and hunting.

Ali Miller
Another addition to Central’s special education department is Ali Miller, who will be teaching developmental cognitive disability (DCD) students in grades K-12.

A product of Minnesota State University — Mankato, where she earned her degree in teaching DCD students, Miller said she enjoys the DCD students’ energy and enthusiasm to learn and be successful.

Prior to Central, Miller did her student teaching at Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton. She said she is looking forward to working at Central because the small size will allow her to get to know staff and students on a personal level.

When she isn’t teaching, Miller enjoys watching movies, arts and crafts, sports and playing with her dog.

Nicole Mittelstadt
Nicole Mittelstadt will teach second grade at Central Elementary School. She previous taught kindergarten in Rochester and Big Lake, but said she is excited to move up to a slightly older classroom.

“This is the age where reading becomes magical!” she said. “They can choose books that interest them and have opinions to share.”

Mittelstadt holds a degree in Child Development from Northern Illinois, as well as a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from National Louis University in Chicago.
Like the other new teachers, she said Central Elementary was an attractive destination because it is a small district where the administration and families are involved and work together.

Mittelstadt’s hobbies include playing soccer, reading and spending time with her dog, Westie.

Rachel Pexa
Another former Central student returning to the district this year is Rachel Pexa, who will teach sixth grade science.

“I went to high school at Central and had hopes of returning to the district as a teacher one day,” said Pexa.

Pexa said she enjoys sixth graders because they have developed their own unique personalities at that stage and are still willing to learn.

Pexa earned a degree in Foundations of Elementary Education from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities, and spent a full year student teaching sixth grade in Brooklyn Center last year.

In addition to teaching, Pexa will be helping out with girls’ basketball this winter.
When she’s not on the job, Pexa enjoys playing basketball, doing yoga, being up north and spending time with family and friends.

Nicole Ressler
Nicole Ressler enjoys teenagers, so her new position as seventh grade English teacher at Central fits her well. She will also teach gifted and talented students in grades 6-8, as well as coach 5-8th graders in Knowledge Bowl.

Ressler attended MSU-Mankato and Saint Mary’s University, where she earned a degree in English Lit., (K-8) middle school.

She has previous teaching experience at the kindergarten, fifth grade and sixth grade levels.

Ressler said she is looking forward to working at District 108 because of its positive environment, its location in a small town and because it is near her home.

When not teaching, Ressler enjoys reading, running, gardening, staying active outside, biking, musicals, operas and church missions.