By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Of the seven new teachers beginning their first year at Royalton Elementary, six of them are married and four have children. One of them — second grade teacher Emily Olson — is a first-year teacher. They are all pleased to be at Royalton and looking forward to a new year.
Kindergarten teacher Lora Jacobson grew up in St. Joseph. She taught a first/second grade combination class in Greenwald for two years. She and her husband welcomed a new baby in May.
“Every day is a new and exciting day and I love helping children succeed,” Jacobson said. “I love the joy and enthusiasm children bring to school.”
Second grade teacher Kristi Spohn grew up in Albany and was married in June. She taught third grade for two years in Freeport.
“I had heard wonderful things about the school atmosphere in Royalton from people in the community and really wanted to be part of that team,” said Spohn.
Second grade teacher Ashley Zapalka Kelly grew up in St. Stephen. She taught sixth grade for one year at Dassel-Cokato. She married her high school sweetheart in 2010.
“When I walked into the school I noticed how excited and eager to learn all the student were, and I noticed all of the bright colors and fantastic art projects around the school,” Kelly said. “Both of my parents, two grandparents, a great-grandma and many other relatives have graduated from Royalton, so I know what a great school district it is.”
Olson grew up in Eagle Bend. She graduated from St. Cloud State University in May and bought a house. She is engaged to be married next August.
“I am from a small town and that is what I really missed about living in a larger town. I can relate to life in Royalton and this is something that really drew me,” said Olson.
Fourth grade teacher Amanda Popp Hoheisel grew up in Rice and graduated from Royalton. She has taught third graders for the past seven years, one year in Melrose and six in St. Michael/Albertville. She and her husband have two children.
“We wanted to raise our children in a smaller town. Our children will be coming to school here as well and we hope to move closer to the area soon,” Hoheisel said.
Special education teacher Amy Ebnet Krueger grew up north of Bowlus. She taught special education for five years at various school in Central Minnesota before taking nine years away from teaching to raise her two daughters.
“I love the spontaneous nature of teaching special education,” said Krueger. “Every day is different and although I start each day with a plan, the needs of the students change the plan many times throughout the day.”
Community Education Director Sarah Funk grew up in Pierz. She taught Early Childhood Family Education for nine years, and just wrapped up six years of teaching prekindergarten in Pierz.
“I believe in the philosophy of community education — that learning never stops,” said Funk. “I will strive to offer opportunities for lifelong learning and I welcome all suggestions and ideas.”
“When I walked into the school, I immediately noticed the murals and artwork on the walls,” said Jacobson. “It felt like a very welcomig and enjoyable place to be. Everyone I encountered greeted me with a smile and made me feel very comfortable.”
“I am very excited about the school year ahead,” said Principal Dr. Phil Gurbada. “Our seven new staff members will add to the creativity and enthusiasm that already exists. It is great to be part of a growing school. This year, among other advancements, we will continue to develop our technology program and review our math curriculum. I especially want to thank the parents for all of their support.”