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New Staff at Kenmare school...

Seven staff members have either joined or shifted their positions in the Kenmare School District for the 2019-20 school year.

8/27/19 (Tue)

Seven staff members have either joined or shifted their positions in the Kenmare School District for the 2019-20 school year.

Two are teachers, two are student teachers, two are administrative and one is a paraprofessional. They all attended an in-service on Aug. 19, bonding with existing staff.

Isaiah Steinwand

This is actually Steinwand’s second semester of teaching in Kenmare. He joined the staff in January last year following the departure of Doug South.

Steinwand has a degree in physical education from Minot State University and is teaching phy-ed in grades 6-12 while Kacy Keysor handles K-5.

“I got a call from my college adviser and he said ‘you’re taking this interview,’” Steinwand said. “It’s my first full-time teaching gig. Otherwise, I’ve been subbing for three years.”

Having grown up in Minot and attending Minot Public Schools, Steinwand said Kenmare is “nice” compared to Minot because he can connect with the students in the smaller class sizes.

“It was hard to connect right away, but now I can set parameters,” he said. “It’s a big change for the students and I’m looking forward to the administration. It’s a fresh start.”

In addition, Steinwand is an assistant football coach. He spent five years on the MSU Beavers football roster, red-shirting the first year and playing four years at safety.

In the previous three years, he has coached with the freshman team at Minot High School.

“I’m glad to get the opportunity to coach football,” he said. “It’s my No. 1 love with phy-ed and I can bring lots of games with the kids.”

Steinwand wasn’t sure what he wanted to do going into college, but now, in hindsight, he said it doesn’t seem like a job and he receives a paycheck for something he loves to do.

“I didn’t know a lot about Kenmare, but I went to school with Jake Stach,” he said. “He talked a lot about Kenmare and how great the kids are.”

Like previous phy-ed instructor Brock Zietz, he will commute from Minot each day. He said it gives him a chance to get ready for the day and going home, he can decompress and leave work behind.

He said the teachers and staff have been wonderful as well, making sure everything is going well.

“This is different from Minot,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like everybody is so busy. I enjoy being here. This is a great opportunity to work on my craft and teach others.”

He added, “phy-ed seems to get passed up in this digital age. We just need to keep doing some kind of physical activity.”

Amanda Blevins

This is Amanda Blevins’ sixth year in public education. She is teaching band in grades 5-12 and choir in grades 8-12.

She received a bachelor of arts in music education from Morehead State University in Morehead, Ky., along with a minor in French.

She chose Kenmare because there was an opening for a music teacher, she wants to focus on junior high and high school levels for her teaching and she is good friends with elementary music teacher Jenna Johnson.

She said she has created some organizations in her classroom, but overall there isn’t much of a theme. Last year, while she was teaching in Berthold, her theme was Harry Potter.

Blevins has a 2 1/2-year-old son named Harrison, along with the family dog, Australian shepherd Hagrid and two cats, Rajah and Azrael.

She said she always knew she wanted to do something to help people and decided at the end of her high school career that she wanted to teach.

“Alternatively, I thought about helping those in a hospital with music therapy,” she said. “Once I started doing practicum teaching and could see the ‘a-ha’ moment for the students, that was it. It had to be education.”

Blevins has moved to Kenmare and will be one of the high school class advisers. She isn’t involved in any other extracurricular activities, but said there seems to be some interest in a jazz band.

“Stay tuned, who knows,” she said. “There may even be a musical in the works for spring.”

Blevins calls herself a nerd at heart and loves Star Wars and Harry Potter.

“I don’t have any obscure talents or interests,” she said. “I’m up for anything, but usually I’m home playing with my son.”

She also calls herself an open book who loves new adventures and is passionate about what she does.

“I’m looking forward to this new chapter in my life,” Blevins said. “Everyone in the community is welcome to all the music concerts. We hope to have a strong audience for every performance. You can see the band for the first time at the football game Sept. 27 (homecoming vs. South Prairie). Go Honkers!”

Taylor Peterson

One of two student teachers, Taylor Peterson is with Kara Keysor’s kindergarten class and Peggy Balvitsch’s second grade class.

Peterson attends Minot State University and this is her first experience in public education.

She lives on the family farm near Bowbells with her parents Loren and Janelle Peterson. She also has an older sister, Brittney.

“I chose Kenmare because I enjoy smaller class sizes, which really allows you to build positive relationships with the students,” Peterson said. “I heard that Kenmare had some really great teachers and with student teaching, I knew that I would learn a lot.”

Her inspiration comes from seeing students grow, not only academically, but socially as well.

“I want to be a positive role model for students to look up to,” she said. “Building those positive relationships is extremely important because you could be the one person who certain students need.”

In her spare time, Peterson loves the outdoors and likes to spend time with family and friends on the family farm.

Jackie Rockeman

Another Minot State University student, Jackie Rockeman is student teaching in fifth grade with Tracey Houck.

She is no stranger to Kenmare. She has been a para educator in the district for 5 1/2 years, but also in Minot.

She is married to Brett Rockeman and they live on a farm and ranch a few miles out of Donnybrook.

Rockeman has always wanted to be a teacher, but wasn’t sure of her decision through her college years. After she worked as a para educator, however, she realized teaching was her calling.

“Tracey allowed me to really dive in and help set up the classroom with her this summer,” Rockeman said. “We chose a Travel Through Reading theme.”

Rockeman said she enjoys coaching and is hoping to help out in some capacity. But along with student teaching, she wants to jump in and attend as many Honker events as she can.

She likes to travel back to her hometown of Froid, Mont., and attend sporting events. Last summer, she took up golf and thoroughly enjoyed being out in the gorgeous North Dakota weather.

“I am very excited to be student teaching in Kenmare Public School,” Rockeman said. “Thank you to Dr. Godfrey, Mrs. Hennix, Mrs. Heidel and Mrs. Houck for allowing me to complete my student teaching here in Honker Nation.”

Taylor Cunningham

Technology integration is how Taylor Cunningham describes her new position in Kenmare. She will be working with Jacques Stanley to build the efficiency of Kenmare High School’s digital foot print.

Cunningham received her undergraduate degree at Minot State University and is in the process of completing her master’s degree at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn.

She grew up near Lansford where her parents and brother continue to farm. She has a sister who lives in Casselton. She has moved to Kenmare.

Cunningham chose Kenmare, not just because a position was open, but because she was looking for a small-town atmosphere. She enjoys that and is comfortable with it.

She previously taught English for three years in Glenburn.

In order to make her office space homier, she has been adding some pictures and other things that she believes will keep her motivation at a high level.

Cunningham’s inspiration for getting into public education is from teachers she had.

“I had some great teachers when I was in school and that helped me realize just how important education is and how it can influence a student’s life and open up their world of things they didn’t about,” she said.

In her spare time, Cunningham likes to be outside and read, and she loves Mexican food.

Keely Heidel

Elementary teacher Keely Heidel took on a newly created position called dean of students that assumes some of the responsibilities of a principal.

Heidel has been teaching the past six years and lives in Kenmare with her husband Shane Heidel and two children Everett 2 and Fallon 1.

Heidel received her undergraduate degree from Montana State University in Bozeman and is currently working on her master’s degree at the University of Mary in Bismarck.

An additional duty for Heidel is that she is the student council adviser.

“Growing up with both of my parents as teachers, I got to see all the wonderful things that a career in education brings,” Heidel said. “I decided to become a teacher because I love to help students learn new things and I knew my days would always be full of new challenges and excitement. This year, I’m the dean of students. I made the change in hopes of being able to assist more students.”

In her spare time, Heidel the outdoors. She likes to travel, fish, read and hike.

Lori Bauer

When Monica Kjos announced her retirement as administrative assistant in the elementary school, the administration knew it was going to be difficult to fill her shoes. But, they found someone to do just that in Lori Bauer.

Bauer is no stranger to Kenmare elementary. She spent five years as a paraprofessional and spent two years studying at Minot State University.

Bauer loves kids and hopes to continue to help them learn and grow even though won’t see them in the same capacity.

She was born and raised in Kenmare and lives in the district with her husband Kelly.

Bauer loves to spend time with family and friends, going to the lake and spending time outdoors. You’ll often see her driving around town in her 4-wheeler.

 Darlene Ortega

Darlene Ortega, or Dar, as she likes to be called, is the new paraprofessional in the Kenmare Elementary School.

She grew up in Raton, N.M., and came to North Dakota six years ago. She spent two years at Central New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, N.M., and took half courses at Luna Community College, also in Las Vegas.

She lives in Bowbells with her two children and makes the familiar daily commute.

Ortega previously worked at Gathering Grounds and The Kenmare News before joining the Kenmare School District.

“I love helping people and this is the best fit for the children and myself,” Ortega said. “I want to see them and myself grow and anything the teachers need, I’m there to help.