HARTINGTON – Grant Rolfes’ first day of teaching at Hartington-Newcastle High School was a bit like a homecoming.
Rolfes commutes from Yankton, S.D., to teach high school Math but is originally from Newcastle, attending Newcastle High before it consolidated with Hartington.
“I really enjoyed my time at Yankton, but I’m excited for the small town, small school, small atmosphere again,” he said. “It’s unique and special to me.”
Smaller class sizes gives Rolfes more of a chance to truly get to know his students and their families. Instead of just teaching one or two subjects like he did for seven years at Yankton High School, he will teach it all at Hartington.
“I will teach them their whole high school career instead of just one semester,” he said. “There’s just some things that small schools can do that bigger schools can’t.”
He said high school students aren’t always thrilled about Math but he’s looking forward to connecting the content with the students.
“I’m excited to get started and settle in and be a part of Hartington again,” he said.
Another new teacher, Amber Davies, will be teaching in her hometown, too.
Davies, the new teacher for fifthgrade language arts and fourththrough sixth-grade High Achieving Learners, grew up in Hartington. Most people still know her by her maiden name of Wortmann, she said, and she’s a Holy Trinity and Cedar Catholic alum.
She taught at Sheldon, Iowa, and Norfolk, as well as East-West Catholic School in Bow Valley.
Davies said the administrators and teachers at Hartington-Newcastle have made her transition smooth.
“I thrive off of keeping up with research-based teaching strategies and Hartington-Newcastle promotes academics, teamwork and social-emotional awareness like no other district I have worked at,” she said.
She said the true joy of teaching is assisting students in realizing their true potential.
“Some students merely miss minor details in lower grades and filling in those gaps and watching them flourish is so fulfilling as a teacher,” Davies said.
She said she’s excited to get the school year rolling and has some special projects planned with robotics, engineering, architecture and movie making.
Another new teacher, Melissa Campbell, is planning some fun activities for her fourthgrade classroom this year – a field trip to Lincoln, as well as a wax museum project for some hands-on learning about famous Nebraskans.
“Fourth graders will be a fun age to teach, and they will be learning so many new skills,” she said.
Campbell of Belden brings much experience in her field with nine years at Head Start – five of those years as a preschool teacher and four years as the area manager.
She also worked in the preschool room at Laurel-Concord-Coleridge and the Cardinal Kids Learning Center in Randolph for three years.
Campbell said her goals for the school year are to build a sense of community in the classroom and to encourage students to do their best.
“I have always wanted to be a teacher, since I was little, because I looked up to my teachers and I hope to have that impression on my students,” she said. “I like to see the children’s smiling faces and the moments when they realize that they mastered something.”
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