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Sunday, february 26, 2012


and creating relationships


“I thought you weren’t coming,” says second-grader, Zoe Lawson. Patricia Dollum, a volunteer reader at Hawthorne Elementary School, takes a seat next to Zoe on the couch. She lays out three books for Dollum to choose from. “You pick,” Zoe says. Every Wednesday, Dollum spends a half hour reading with Zoe after school. As a widow and retiree, Dollum wanted to find something to do with her time. When a reading position became available, she accepted. As a young woman, she had wanted to be a teacher, but a married life and children came first and the idea “fizzled out.” Without really realizing it, Dollum said the time she spends with children reading is probably fulfilling that dream a little bit. Last year was Dollum’s first time reading in the schools. She had read about positions in a newspaper and became interested. She figured if she didn’t like it she could always stop. That was not the case and she believes as long as she is able to do it, she will continue.

Zoe Lawson, a second grader at Hawthorne reads to Patricia Dollum after school. Dollum is a retiree who volunteers her time to help children with their reading skills. — Brandi Hagen

“If I can help a child read, it makes me feel good,” said Dollum. Zoe is the second child Dollum has read with. The first was a boy in fifth grade. There were many distractions with children coming in and out of the classroom when she read with the young boy, and it became hard to concentrate. With Zoe, they sit in the library where the only other person around is media clerk, Nikki Worman. After reading with the young boy, Dollum received letters from him and his teacher saying how much she had helped him. She felt accomplished for being able to help him become a better reader. Dollum said it was an adjustment switching from a fifth-grader to a second-grader because of the size of the books, but she doesn’t mind. When Zoe is unsure of a word, she makes an attempt to sound it out and then she lets Dollum kindly

ust before 3 o’clock. She walks into the near empty library. A young girl with glasses and short blonde hair bounces up and down on a purple couch in excitement.

Zoe Lawson and Patricia Dollum read after school. correct her. To check for comprehension, Dollum asks Zoe questions as they read. Worman believes Dollum gets satisfaction from see-

ing Zoe’s face when they spend time together and Zoe benefits from the one-on-one time. “Zoe has that special time with Patricia and nobody else,” said Worman. “Nobody else is competing to read with Patricia, and there’s not the interruptions there might be at home. It’s just one-on-one time with a special person.” Cuddled up next to Dollum, Zoe usually does the reading, but there are times when she would rather be read to. “Ah sure I say, I can read you a book,” said Dollum. The time flies when Zoe and Dollum are together. “She says, let’s read another book,” Dollum said. “I say, honey we can’t, the time is up, but we’ll read more next time.” What is supposed to last a half hour, sometimes lasts as long 45 minutes. — Brandi Hagen taught in Hopkins Favorite book: “The Giver” Favorite sandwich: club sandwich

Lakeview Elementary School Laura Hillman

Age: 24 Residence: Albert Lea Family: Gary and Jackie Hillman; brothers Peter (Nichole) Hillman, David Hillman Education: Gustavus Adolphus College 2010, elementary education What she teaches: first grade at Lakeview Elementary Where she came from: third grade, part-time, at Halverson from 2010-11 Favorite book: “Heaven is For Real” Favorite sandwich: grilled cheese

Meet E

Kristin Kyllo

the new teachers of Albert Lea School District

very year, as teachers retire and others move, the Albert Lea School District hires a series of new teachers at its seven schools. This year was no different. Across the district, there were more than 30 new educators hired. The following is a brief look into the backgrounds and interests of those teachers:

Halverson Elementary School Michelle Niska

Age: 38 Residence: Albert Lea

Family: son, 8; daughter, 4 Education: Bachelor of Science degree from MSU-Mankato, a few grad classes from various universities What she teaches: Halverson Elementary Where she came from: I lived in New Mexico for a year. Prior to that, we lived in the Twin Cities. Favorite book: Too many to choose! Favorite sandwich: Any sandwich that the Lakeside makes!

Sallie Kyle

Age: 23 Residence: no response Family: mom, dad, brother and fiancé

New teachers at Halverson Elementary School are Sallie Kyle, Maria Schneider and Amber Schewe. Not pictured is Michelle Niska. — Sarah Stultz Education: University of Minnesota, working on a master’s degree in elementary education What she teaches: first grade Where she came from: St. Paul Favorite book: “The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton Favorite sandwich: turkey and cheese

Amber Schewe

Age: 28 Residence: Freeborn Family: husband, Derek; children Easton, 3, and Ellery, 1 Education: University of Wisconsin-River Falls/Winona State University What she teaches: Title I (K-3 reading and math)

Where she came from: I taught second grade at St. Theodore’s Elementary for four years. Favorite book: “The Kissing Hand” Favorite sandwich: turkey on wheat

Maria Schneider

Age: 24 Residence: 1849 Greenwood Drive, Albert Lea Family: Lee, Jane, Teresa, Joe and George Schneider Education: bachelor’s degree from and graduate school at the University of Minnesota What she teaches: fourth grade at Halverson Where she came from: student

Age: 30 Residence: Albert Lea Family: no response Education: undergraduate degree from Gustavus Adolphus College; graduate degree from Hamline University What she teaches: fourth grade Where she came from: teaching in Owatonna Favorite book: “Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day” Favorite sandwich: Anything with avocado!

Meghan Lichter

Age: 23 Residence: no response Family: Parents, Patrick and Ann Lichter, younger sister, Katie Education: elementary education major at the College of Saint Benedict with a concentration in science education What she teaches: kindergarten Where she came from: graduated in May from the College of Saint Benedict Favorite book: “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss Favorite sandwich: Chicken Shwarma from a small deli in St. Joseph called Bo Diddley’s

4Teachers, Page 3

Page 2 • Albert Lea Tribune • Sunday, February 26, 2012 PROGRESS 2012 - EDUCATION

Albert Lea School District

By the numbers 7

years are left on the debt schedule for Albert Lea High School, the district’s only building debt. The interest rate is 4 percent, and there is 19,313,500 left to pay over the seven years.



is the average amount it costs per year to educate one child in the district. That average includes all operating expenses, staffing costs, transportation, food service and special education costs, among other expenses. The district’s director of finance and operations, Lori Volz, said the Legislature determines how that amount is calculated.


is the amount of excess revenue in the district’s general fund. With a more than $42 million budget, Volz said that’s as close to a balanced budget as the district can get. “We’re in a good financial position,” Volz said. “We’re not deficit spending.”

full-time staff, including teachers, administrators, janitors, food service workers and others, work for Albert Lea School District, as well as 49 part-time staff.


total number of students enrolled in the district as of mid-December. The number reflects all students K-12 and students in early childhood education and at the Area Learning Center.


range that full-time educators are paid per year in the district. The average is around $45,000. The salary scale has steps and lanes that take into account the years of education teachers have. The smallest amount is a bachelor’s degree, and the biggest amount is a master’s plus 30. — Kelli Lageson

District #241 AIMS: 1. Safe, healthy and welcoming schools 2. Increase opportunity and achievement 3. Effective and efficient operations

thinking. achieving. caring.

For complete information on our comprehensive program, go to or call 379-4800


Continued from Page 1

Teachers: Educators answer questions about themselves Cities Favorite book: So many choices, but if I had to choose one “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” by Mark Haddon. Favorite sandwich: bacon, lettuce and tomato

Lakeview Elementary School

Kelsey Noack

Age: 24 Residence: Albert Lea Education: went to Minnesota State University, Mankato, for 4 1/2 years. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education with a pre-primary focus. What she teaches: I teach Title I at Lakeview Elementary. Where she came from: I was living in Mendota Heights working as a substitute in the nearby elementary schools as well as working at a day care. Favorite book: Any Nicholas Sparks book. Favorite sandwich: Jimmy John’s Turkey Tom

Shanna Dawson

Age: 38 Residence: Manchester area Family: husband, Jared; children, Drake, 11, Grace, 7, Evie, 4, and Alec, 10 months Education: Bachelor of Science in elementary education, K-6 licensure What she teaches: kindergarten Where she came from: Taught at Sibley in 1997 and Glenville-Emmons until 2004 — was a homemaker since then. Favorite book: The Bible Favorite sandwich: buffalo/ranch chicken

Anna Nordlocken

Age: 23 Residence: Albert Lea Family: mom, Julie; dad, James; and two younger sisters, Molly, 20, and Maggie, 17 Education: I graduated from St. Cloud State University in 2011 with my elementary education degree, (K-8 communication arts and literature) and minor in special education and human relations. What she teaches: fifth grade at Lakeview Elementary Where she came from: New Hope Favorite book: “The Hunger Games” series and “The City of Ember” series Favorite sandwich: Peanut butter and cheese

Ashley Gonwa

Age: 23 Residence: Albert Lea Family: mom, Lynn; dad, Denis; older brother, Derek Education: University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Bachelor of Science in elementary education, minor in Spanish studies What she teaches: first grade Where she came from: I went to college in Minneapolis and St. Paul. I’m originally from De Pere, Wis., which is right outside Green Bay, and yes I’m a Packers fan. Favorite book: My favorite adult book is “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins; my favorite children’s book is “Ish” by Peter Reynolds. Favorite sandwich: ham and cheese

Melinda Talamantes

Age: 34 Residence: Albert Lea Family: husband and three kids at home Education: Bemidji State University What she teaches: fourth grade Where she came from: no response Favorite book: “Time Traveler’s Wife” Favorite sandwich: I make a mean grilled cheese.

Kristi Tapper

Valerie Ashland

Age: no response Residence: Kenyon Family: husband, Brent, and two daughters, Kayla and Emily Education: Bachelor of Arts from Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter; master’s in education from Viterbo University, La Crosse, Wis. What she teaches: I teach third grade at Lakeview Elementary. Where she came from: Before this I have taught third and fourth grade in Bowler, Wis., for seven years, and sixth grade in Menomonie, Wis., for 17 years. Favorite book: no response Favorite sandwich: turkey with lettuce, cheese and mayo

Sibley Elementary School Trevor Abel

Sunday, February 26, 2012 • Albert Lea Tribune • Page 3

Age: 24 Residence: Albert Lea Family: mom, Julie; dad, Ian, and sister, Jemma Education: graduated cum laude from Gustavus Adolphus College in the spring of 2011 What he teaches: second grade at Sibley Elementary Where he came from: Originally from the Twin

Age: 35 Residence: St. Clair Family: husband, Scott, and two children, Jacob, 12, and Hunter, 10 Education: graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education What she teaches: kindergarten Where she came from: St. Peter Favorite book: “Twilight” saga Favorite sandwich: peanut butter and jelly

Hawthorne Elementary School Jessica Kieffer

Age: 27 Residence: Mankato Family: husband, Brandon Kieffer Education: I have a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Minnesota State University-Mankato; working toward my reading teacher licensure from MSU-Mankato, which I will finish in May. What she teaches: first grade Where she came from: Le Sueur-Henderson School District Favorite book: “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs” Favorite sandwich: peanut butter

Jenika Boersma

Age: 23 Residence: Albert Lea Family: mom, Betty; dad, Jerry; sister, Janae Education: graduated from University of Wisconsin-River Falls What she teaches: fourth

Seven of the district’s new teachers at Albert Lea High School are shown in back from left, Jasmine Henrich, Brittany Yokiel and Jeanne Garbers. Front from left are Kaitlin Weis, Erin Gustafson, Nicki Luehrs and Emily Nelson. — Sarah Stultz grade Where she came from: Eagan Favorite book: Too many to choose from! Favorite sandwich: grilled cheese

Dana Sonnicksen

Age: 23 Residence: Albert Lea Family: All of my family is in the Twin Cities area. Education: Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and English as a second language from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa What she teaches: K-5 English as a second language Where she came from: Just graduated from Luther College in May 2011 and moved down from the Twin Cities before school started this fall. Favorite book: “The Hunger Games” and “The Other Boleyn Girl” Favorite sandwich: ‘Unwich’ (lettuce wrap) Italian Vito from Jimmy John’s

Margaret Huber

Age: 51 Residence: 8989 Dalton Ave., Northfield Family: husband, Kris, 51; sons Derek, 24, and Schuyler, 22, daughters Kelsey, 19, and Abby, 17 Education: Bachelor of Science in exceptional education, Bachelor of Arts in elementary education What she teaches: Title I grades K-3 Where she came from: Northfield School District (long- and short-term substitute assignments) Favorite book: “The Late Homecomer” Favorite sandwich: turkey with guacamole and lots of vegetables

What she teaches: family and consumer sciences Where she came from: Worked last year in Janesville as a para-educator Favorite book: anything by Harlan Coben Favorite sandwich: peanut butter and pickle

Jeanne Garbers

Age: 26 Residence: Owatonna Family: My husband teaches at Waseca School District. We also have a dog named Ida. Education: I studied at Minnesota State University, Mankato for my undergraduate degree, and I received my master’s from St. Mary’s University. What she teaches: I currently teach 9-12 family and consumer sciences courses. Next semester, I will also teach eighth grade family and consumer sciences. Where she came from: I taught three years in Forest Lake. Favorite book: “Tuesdays With Morrie” by Mitch Albom Favorite sandwich: anything from Panera Bread

Erin Gustafson

Age: 26 Residence: Albert Lea Family: husband, Andrew; daughter, Audrey Education: Bachelor of Science from North Dakota State University, currently working on master’s degree at Western Governors University What she teaches: Special education Where she came from: Worked as a paraeducator in the district last year. Before that I taught in Nome,

There are seven new teachers at Lakeview Elementary School this year. Back row from top right are Val Ashland, Melinda Talamantes and Kristin Kyllo; in middle are Laura Hillman and Anna Nordlocken; in front are Kelsey Noack and Meghan Lichter. Alaska, for two years. Favorite book: “Little Women” Favorite sandwich: grilled cheese

Jasmine Henrich

Age: 23 Address: no response Family: I come from a long line of teachers in the family. I have one younger brother. Education: I received my teaching degree from Minnesota State University, Moorhead in May of 2011. What she teaches: I teach eighth grade algebra. I also coached the ninthgrade volleyball team in the fall and now have the ninthgrade basketball team. Where she came from: I grew up in Morris and went to college in Moorhead. Favorite book: Right now my favorite book to read is the Algebra I book that we are using in class. Favorite sandwich: bacon, lettuce and tomato.

Jolene Krieger

Age: no response Residence: Blue Earth

Family: husband, Don, five sons, one daughter Education: Minnesota State University, Mankato, licensed in elementary education, mild to moderate impaired, specific learning disability, emotional behavior disorder, and certified in autism What she teaches: I teach transition, personal communications and life skills for students under the autism spectrum. Where she came from: Granada-Huntley-East Chain High School in Granada Favorite book: All books by Jody Picoult and favorite books, “Tuesdays with Morrie,” and “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” Favorite sandwich: cheeseburger just off the grill

4Page 4

Kelsey Boyd

Age: 27 Residence: New Richland Family: Mom and dad live in Albert Lea. Two older brothers in Eagan and Washington, D.C. Education: Albert Lea High School; Bachelor of Arts in communication studies from the University of Minnesota; Master of Arts in teaching from the University of St. Thomas What she teaches: fifth grade at Hawthorne Where she came from: Senior product coordinator at Target Headquarters in Minneapolis (2007-09) and ELL/reading intervention teacher in Owatonna (2010-11) Favorite book: “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch Favorite sandwich: buffalo chicken sandwich

Albert Lea High School Nikki Feist

Age: 25 Residence: Wells Family: husband, Jon Education: South Dakota State University

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Page 4 • Albert Lea Tribune • Sunday, February 26, 2012 PROGRESS 2012 - EDUCATION

Continued from Page 3

Albert Lea High School Emily Nelson

Age: 26 Residence: Austin Family: Parents, Paul and Coni Nelson Education: bachelor’s in social work from Luther College, master’s in social work from University of Northern Iowa What she teaches: school social work Where she came from: Waverly, Iowa Favorite book: The Janet Evonovich series Favorite sandwich: Grilled cheese

Kaitlin Weis

Age: no response Residence: no response Family: All from the central Minnesota area Education: Concordia College in Moorhead (Graduated with a degree

in Spanish education and psychology) What she teaches: Celebrating Spanish (eighth grade course) and Spanish II at ALHS Where she came from: Sauk Rapids Favorite book: This is a tough question! I really enjoy reading and I do not have an absolute favorite. However, I find biographies to be particularly interesting. Favorite sandwich: Anything from Jimmy John’s or Erbert’s and Gerbert’s.

Bill Wietman

Age: 31 Residence: 2000 Tiger Lane, Albert Lea, MN 56007 Room E218 Family: A beautiful wife, Kammi, and two amazing children, Sophie, 3, and Logan, 2 Education: Bachelor of Science in mathematics education from the University of Wisconsin-Superior,

master’s degree in teaching and learning from St. Mary’s University-Winona What he teaches: 8-12 mathematics. This year I am teaching Algebra I, Algebra II and Trigonometry/ Statistics Where he came from: I am originally from the Duluth area. Last year we lived in Esko, and I taught at Duluth Central-Denfeld. Previously I taught in Carlton and am originally from Hermantown. Favorite book: Any John Grisham book. Favorite sandwich: Double cheese cheesesteak from Quiznos.

Brittany Yokiel

Age: 24 Residence: Albert Lea Family: husband, Chad Yokiel Education: bachelor’s in special education from Minnesota State University, Mankato What she teaches: grades 8-12, special education Where she came from: I taught in Puyallup, Wash., for a year before this because my husband is in the Army. Favorite book: “The Lucky One” Nicholas Sparks Favorite sandwich: French dip with au jus

New teachers at Sibley Elementary School this year include in back, from left, Trevor Abel and Shanna Dawson; in front, from left, Kristi Tapper and Ashley Gonwa. Fairmont Favorite book: “Mitford” series Favorite sandwich: Chicken salad

Kara Paulson

Age: 37 Residence: rural Clarks Grove

Family: children Dylan, 16, Dakota, 8, and Mya, 4 Education: master’s degree in early childhood special education What she teaches: Early childhood special education birth to 3 Where she came from: I taught part time last year at

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New Albert Lea School District teachers at Hawthorne Elementary School are in back from left Jessica Kieffer and Margaret Huber, in front from left are Dana Sonnicksen, Kelsey Boyd and Jenika Boersma.

Age: no response Residence: Albert lea Family: five children Education: Master of Science in communication disorders from Minnesota State University, Mankato What she teaches: speech, language therapy Where she came from:

— Sarah Stultz

Success Starts Here.

Nicki Luehrs

Age: 24 Address: Albert Lea Family: no response Education: Bachelor of Arts in English literature and writing (Bethel University, 2009) What she teaches: eighth- and ninth-grade English Where she came from: Minneapolis Favorite book: “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer Favorite sandwich: turkey bacon ranch

Alden-Conger Schools. Favorite book: I just completed my master’s degree so haven’t had opportunity to read for leisure. Favorite sandwich: Lakeside club

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