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HNS welcomes seven new teachers

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faces greeted students on the first day back to school at Hartington-Newcastle Public Schools.

There are five new teachers at the school district’s elementary building and two new educators at the high school. *** Carissa Kuchta, Wynot, is the new fifth-grade teacher and describes herself as a bit goofy and loud. Being able to quote the entire “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” movie is one of many of her special talents.

She’s eager to share her personality with her students and also learn more about their unique interests as well.

As part of her duties, she will be teaching reading, language, writing and spelling and also the fifth- and sixth-grade social studies class. She will also assist with girls basketball.

Before coming to Hartington-Newcastle, she worked as the fourth-grade teacher at Allen Consolidated Schools.

She graduated from Wynot High School and Wayne State College with a degree in elementary education and a reading and writing endorsement.

Kuchta said she fits in with the “family” environment found at Hartington-Newcastle.

“Everyone has been so helpful as I’ve been preparing for the school year,” she said.

When she’s not teaching, she likes to spend time outdoors fishing and going on adventures. She also likes to search for cool finds at thrift stores, especially vinyl. *** Tanner Fischer, his mother and his sister will all be heading to the same place every morning this school year — Hartington-Newcastle. His mother works as a paraprofessional and his sister is a seventh-grader.

Tanner is also an alum — “They can’t get rid of us Fischers that easily,” he said. “It feels good to be a Wildcat once again.”

Tanner will be working as the elementary school’s counselor and he will also be the K-12 mental health team lead this school year.

“I really liked the idea of returning back home to HNS,” he said. “I valued my education and realized how amazing of a district it really is. I wouldn’t want to raise my own kids in any district except Hartington Newcastle.”

Fischer’s background includes working as a graduate assistant at Wayne State College’s counseling department; as a mental health associate at the Human Services

graduating in 2015.

Center, Yankton, S.D.; a special education paraprofessional at Yankton Public Schools; and K-12 school counselor at Tripp-Delmont School District, Tripp, S.D.

He received a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in drug and alcohol counseling from Peru State College, and a master’s degree in school counseling K-12.

Tanner and his wife, Camarie, have an 11-month-old son, Oli, and two beagles, Bea and Ivy. Outside of school, his interests include hunting, fishing, kayaking, and playing basketball and sand volleyball. *** Lisa Rolfes, Newcastle, will be teaching 9-12 Spanish this year and has a special (and delicious) field trip planned for upper-level students to have a meal out at a Mexican restaurant in Yankton. She previously taught Spanish at an alternative school in Millard (along with history), and also at Yankton Middle School (along with geography). She has also previously operated a daycare to stay home with her children for two years.

Rolfes’ husband, Grant, is also a teacher at Hartington-Newcastle. Their 4-year-old son, Levi, started preschool at Hartington-Newcastle this year and they also have a 2-year-old daughter, Grace.

“My husband and I both grew up with the benefits of going to a small school and living in a tight-knit community and we are excited that our children are going to experience those (benefits) as well," she said. She graduated from Newcastle High School. Rolfes received a bachelor’s degree from Morningside University in Spanish and history teaching, and a master’s degree from Wayne State College in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on alternative education.

When not working, Rolfes said she loves to travel and read, as well as spending time outdoors. *** As they’re doing homework, students may sometimes wonder why they are learning the subject matter and when they will use it in their adult life? Family and consumer sciences is one of those subjects that students will most definitely use throughout life, said Kelsey Schumacher, Crofton.

She’s the new 7-12 family and consumer science teacher at Hartington-Newcastle this year. She is also the FCCLA adviser.

Schumacher said she’s particularly excited about the digital design class she will be teaching that will focus on building the school’s social media.

Schumacher previously taught at Battle Creek High School.

She graduated from Boyd County High School and Wayne State College with a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer science, occupational education and workbased learning.

This past summer, Schumacher was married to Cole. She enjoys sewing, painting and baking in her free time. *** Billie Wortmann, Hartington, will be celebrating a decade of teaching as she starts as the new second-grade teacher at Hartington-Newcastle.

“My husband grew up in Hartington and we have always talked about moving back to the area to be closer to both of our families,” she said. “The position came open and things fell into place. I'm very excited about the new school year and getting to know so many new

people.” She’s taught from kindergarten to third grade at three dierent schools prior to coming to Hartington this school year. She’s also served as junior high volleyball coach and assistant track and field coach. Wortmann grew up in Petersburg and graduated from Elgin High School. She earned an associate’s degree from Northeast Community College, a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Wayne State College, and a master’s degree as a reading specialist from the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

She lives with her husband, Matt, in Hartington with their red/blue heeler named Zoey. Wortmann enjoys playing and watching sports especially the Huskers football and volleyball teams, as well as the Green Bay Packers. *** Dylan Behnk, Hartington, was so impressed with how nice the sta and students were during his student-teaching experience at Hartington-Newcastle that he decided to make it a permanent thing.

This academic year, Behnk will be teaching elementary music, sixth-grade math and adaptive physical education.

“I am really looking forward to spending more time with the students this year and continuing to improve as an educator with supportive sta and administration," he said.

This will be his first year teaching. Behnk

previously worked as a personal trainer for kids of all ages to benefit them in sports as

well as promote general health and wellbeing.

Behnk graduated from Elgin Public Schools, Northeast Community College with an associate's degree in exercise science, and Wayne State College with a bachelor’s degree in PK-12 health and physical education.

Outside of school, Behnk enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. *** Ryan Macholan, Crofton, also student taught at Hartington-Newcastle this past spring in third grade.

“Everyone welcomed me with open arms and allowed me to feel comfortable, so when the position came forth to teach, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be,” he said.

This year he will be instructing fourth grade students. Along with his teaching duties, Macholan will be assistant coaching football.

“I already love putting my time into that to see the athletes progress and see their potential grow everyday,” he said.

Macholan said he is also looking forward to continuing to build relationships with students and sta all while providing the best possible education day in and day out.

“I strive to continue to grow as an educator and coach and that all starts with building relationships, so please feel free to stop and have a conversation with me. I would love to meet you,” he said.

Macholan graduated from Howells-Dodge High School and Wayne State College with a degree in elementary education and an early childhood endorsement.

Outside of teaching, he enjoys all sports but especially golf and spending time outdoors camping and hunting.