Cologne Academy welcomes new staff for 2012-13

Teachers pictured above from left include, front row: Jennifer Evans, Kori McKibben, Jessica Splettstoeszer, Gloria Young and Randiann Sather; back row: Bethany Larson, Cathy Kerber, Kevin Boozikee, Erin Slavik, Kyle Pagel, Ruth Gregoire, Laurie Nilsson and Hannah Dean. Not pictured: Kellie Makela. Submitted photo

District 4188, Cologne Academy, opened the 2012-13 with 14 new staff members. Currently Cologne Academy has 52 staff and more than 380 students attending Kindergarten through 8th grade.

Kevin Boozikee is the newest addition to the middle school faculty. Boozikee, who has taught previously in Minnesota, Indiana, and Ohio, will be teaching Language Arts. Boozikee received his bachelor’s degree in education at Concordia University in Nebraska and holds a master’s degree in education from Indiana University in Fort Wayne.
“I am excited to be a part of such an amazing school. The faculty and staff have gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable and to help me learn the routines. The students are well prepared and ready to be challenged. I feel blessed to work in such an amazing educational environment!”

Erin Slavik is teaching 4th grade at Cologne Academy this year. Slavik graduated from Crown College where she received a degree in elementary education with an emphasis in middle school science. Prior to this year she has been a substitute teacher at Cologne Academy and also held a long term substitute position in 3rd  grade at Cologne Academy as well as 7th and 8th grade science.
She said she is looking forward to working with 4th graders this year and is excited to get to know more families here at the school. When not teaching she enjoys spending time with her family, walking with friends, and sitting down and reading a good book.

Kori McKibben is joining the 1st grade teaching team. A recent transplant to the area, McKibben relocated from her hometown of Waukesha, Wis. She attended college in Waukesha at Carroll University where she received a bachelor degree in elementary education and double minors in language arts and adaptive education. She is working to complete her master’s degree in special education with an autism specialist certificate.
McKibben taught 3rd grade for two years in Wisconsin before moving to Minnesota. Teaching is her passion, “I feel so lucky that I go to a job I love every day!”
In her free time, she enjoys relaxing, reading, spending time with family and friends, planning her wedding, and Zumba fitness.

Kyle Pagel will be teaching 5th-8th grade band and 4th grade general music this year. Pagel previously taught afterschool band for St. Paul public schools and was a long term sub at Big Lake Middle School teaching 6th grade band and general music.
“I am excited to be part of Cologne Academy and its commitment to education. I am eager to bring new ideas and start a band program from the ground up,” said Pagel.
Pagel holds a B.S Degree in Music Education with a specialization in Instrumental/Classroom Music from Southwest Minnesota State University. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends, traveling to new places, golfing, and playing a good video or board game.

Randiann Sather has joined the Kindergarten team at Cologne Academy. Sather graduated from Bethel University where she received a degree in elementary education with an emphasis in pre-primary education. She has experience as a substitute teacher in St. Paul and as a kindergarten teacher in Willmar. While in Willmar, she was part of the coaching staff for the Willmar HS varsity softball team.
She said she is looking forward to working at the Academy and is eager to get to know both students and families. When not teaching she enjoys staying active, playing sports, singing, and spending time with family.

Kellie Makela is also on the kindergarten team. Makela received her degree in child psychology from the University of Minnesota and received her teaching credentials from Crown College. She is also a licensed reading specialist. Makela spent the last five years teaching school readiness to English Language Learners.
She said she is thrilled to make this transition to kindergarten and feels blessed every day when she walks into her classroom at Cologne Academy. Makela believes kindergarten is an exciting time for students and their families and is happy to help them begin their academic journey.
During her free time Makela enjoys attending her children’s sporting events, spending time outdoors, reading as many books as time will allow, and visiting family and friends.

Jennifer Evans is one of the new Kindergarten Assistants at Cologne Academy. She received her degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Pre-primary from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Evans is excited to become a part of Cologne Academy and work with the amazing staff. She is also looking forward to getting to know the families and community.
“I love this school, its staff, and the children attending.  I enjoy working with children to help them succeed,” she said. Outside of school, Jen enjoys scrapbooking, reading, and spending time with her family.

Jessica Splettstoeszer is excited to be joining Cologne Academy’s kindergarten team as a Kindergarten Assistant. Past teaching experience includes volunteering at a first grade classroom in Brooklyn Center, completing her practicum at a Hmong charter school in St. Paul, student teaching in a combined third and fourth grade classroom, and spending the past year in a kindergarten classroom in Waconia.
The little ones have always been special to Jessica, who was inspired to pursue teaching by her grandmother, who was a preschool teacher for over 30 years. Splettstoeszer attended Concordia University-St. Paul, where she earned her degree in Elementary Education with a specialty in Early Childhood. She grew up in Waconia with her parents and three sisters. Outside of the classroom she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and staying physically active.

Bethany Larson holds multiple roles as the new Developmental/Adapted Physical Education teacher, Special Ed Paraprofessional, and as Clubhouse instructor at Cologne Academy. She holds a Master’s in Developmental/Adapted Physical Education from Minnesota State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. She is looking forward to getting to know the students and is excited to be part of a great teaching team. Outside of school, her hobbies include reading, camping, traveling, gardening and spending time with her family.

Cathy Kerber is a Special Education Paraprofessional who grew up in Norwood and graduated from Minnesota State University Mankato. She and her husband have three children and live outside of Cologne.

Ruth Gregoire is also new to the Special Education Paraprofessional team. She earned degrees in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education from the University of North Dakota. Her previous experience includes teaching preschool, running a home daycare, and substitute teaching. She lives in Waconia with her husband and five Children.

Laurie Nilsson is another addition to the Special Education Paraprofessional team. Bringing years of elementary and kindergarten teaching experience in Minnesota and Iowa, she is excited to be helping students achieve their full potential. Nilsson is excited to be a part of a great teaching team, at a school with a great educational philosophy and curriculum.

Hannah Dean is working with the Clubhouse program this year. She received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education from Crown College. A preschool teacher in the morning, she comes to assist with Clubhouse Care after school. She has a passion for working with kids and enjoys how excited they are about life. When she isn’t teaching, Hannah enjoys spending time with family and friends, exercising, reading, and cooking.

Gloria Young is also working with the Clubhouse program, as well as regular substitute teacher at Cologne Academy, is Gloria Young. Young has lived in Waconia for about 21 years and has two grown sons and a granddaughter. She has been a substitute teacher for over 10 years in several districts including Waconia, Watertown, NYA, and at CA for the past two years. She earned her BA in Early Childhood Education from The College of St. Benedict and a K-6 licensure from Augsburg College.
Young enjoys teaching at Cologne Academy because of the small class sizes and all of the friendly staff. She loves getting to know the students and watching them learn and grow! Her interests include cooking, gardening, photography, sailing, and walking, especially on nature trails.

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