The Plevna Public School will have several new teachers to greet students on the first day of school.
By Lori Kesinger
Bertha Kirschten will be teaching K-12 computers and 9-12 business. She will also be the Business Professionals of America (BPA) advisor.
“I have 13 years experience as an advisor and throughout those years have had several students qualify for the national convention. I hope to carry on that tradition here at Plevna,” Kirschten said.
Kirschten is a native of Baker and graduated from Baker High School in 1987. She attended Idaho State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in secondary business education and minors in consumer economics and business administration. Kirschten has continued her education by obtaining an additional 60 credits of graduate work in various areas of education including business/technology education. She also attends several workshops/conferences each year that address business and technology classrooms, as well as instructional strategies and teaching literacy.
Kirschten had several teachers make an impact on her life throughout her childhood and high school years. “Their passion for teaching and sharing their subject areas made school a place that I enjoyed and inspired me to become a life-long learner,” Kirschten noted. “This greatly influenced my desire to become a teacher and share my love of learning with other students.”
Kirschten started her teaching career in Superior and has also taught in Harlowton, Judith Gap and most recently in Circle.
Kirschten has many plans for her first year at Plevna, especially getting to know the students. She is starting the year by deploying a 1-to-1 Chromebook program for 6-12 grade students. She will also be working with elementary students to ensure they have the keyboarding and technology skills to successfully navigate the state assessments. At all grade levels there will be a focus on technology skills specifically required in the Montana Common Core Standards. In business, she will be working with students to help them master accounting and other business topics to prepare them for the workforce or college.
“My primary goal for my students is to help prepare them to be productive citizens and life-long learners,” Kirschten said.
One of the most rewarding aspects Kirschten finds in her job is helping students make the connection between what they are learning in school and what they will be doing beyond high school.
Kirschten has four children – Karen, 23, who recently graduated from UM-Western and is an elementary teacher; James, 21, residing in Circle and employed by Prairie Elk Systems; Katie, 16, a junior at Plevna High School; and Kevin, 3.
Kirschten enjoys reading in her spare time and spending time with her family.
Aaron Wolters will be teaching second grade for his first official year of teaching. He also plans to help with the after-school program in Plevna.
Wolters was born in K.I. Sawyer, Michigan but with a dad in the military for 21 years ended up moving around to places in North Dakota and Nebraska. He has lived the past 12 years in Columbus, Montana.
Wolters always knew he wanted to go into teaching. While growing up, he participated in Tae Kwon Do class and was asked to help teach some of it. He also volunteered at the public library doing story time and activities with students. In college, he participated in “Seussville” which brought students in for different activities based on Dr. Seuss books.
“I enjoyed doing these and they helped me decide to go into education,” Wolters said.
Wolters graduated from Rocky Mountain College in Billings with a degree in elementary education and a reading endorsement plus a bachelor’s in psychology. He also graduated Magna Cum Laude.
“I wanted to go farther in my education to obtain a reading endorsement so I can better help students in my classroom,” Wolters said. “I also wanted to obtain more than what was required in psychology so I can better help students. I am not a counselor but with my psychology major I can better collaborate with the counselor.”
Wolters student taught first grade at Burlington Elementary School in Billings. Growing up half his life in Montana, Wolters knew he wanted to stay in state for his first teaching position. He wanted to be part of a small town school which would be relatively close to Columbus.
“I grew up in a town where your neighbors would help you in a heartbeat and that was what I was hoping for,” Wolters commented. Wolters plans to get to know the community and the learning styles of his students so he can teach better.
“I want my second grade students to come out of the classroom with knowledge to take into the real world and be able to apply that information to their lives,” he added.
Wolters loves to collect and try new recipes, play Sudoku, and swim in his leisure time. He is also an avid reader and one of his favorite authors is Sherman Alexie.
Neal Coon is originally from Metaline Falls, Washington. He attended Rocky Mountain College in Billings where he earned Bachelor’s in Science Broadfield Education and Biology.
This will be Coon’s first year teaching and he will be the 6-12 science teacher. He will also be an assistant coach for junior high basketball.
Coon said he grew up with both parents as teachers and he has always enjoyed working with children of all ages.
He also played football for RMC for five years which taught him how to work with young student athletes through youth summer camps.
Coon hopes his students become more interested in the many fields of science.
“Plevna had an opening for both my fiancé and I, which gives us a place to start our careers and potentially settle down and start a family,” Coon said about coming to Plevna. “The school also gives us the small town setting we wanted.”
Coon’s fiancé, Breanna Parks, and his sister, Janae Coon will also be teaching in Plevna.
Coon enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors when he’s not teaching.
Breanna Parks grew up in San Diego, California and graduated from Rocky Mountain College in Billings with a degree in Elementary Education. She plans on pursuing her masters in Reading and/or Special Education within the next few years.
Parks was a long-term substitute teacher for kindergarten at Roberts School in Roberts, Montana. She was also a member of the RMC Cheer Squad and an RMC Cheer Camp Instructor.
“I decided to pursue a career in education due to the influential teachers I had over the years that always kept me motivated and helped me realize my full potential,” Parks said. “My other big influence was my grandpa who wasn’t a teacher in the traditional sense but he taught me the importance of good character, perseverance and resilience.”
Parks will be teaching fifth grade in the upcoming school year. It is also her first year teaching.
“I plan to be really organized and do a lot of reflecting on my teaching so I can improve not only throughout this year but continue to improve from year to year,” Parks said. “I also plan on building a strong foundation for my students and myself this year to serve as a platform that we can grow from together. I think I will be learning from my students just as much as they learn from me this year.”
Parks further said she hopes to help her students build the necessary skills to be lifelong learners and help them to experience success in all aspects of the classroom.
She is engaged to Neal Coon and they have one dog.
Parks likes reading, hiking, swimming and stunting, a part of cheer in which a top girl is supported by a human base or bases.
Janae Coon’s first year of teaching will include K-12 health and fitness and sixth grade math. She graduated from Eastern Washington University with degrees in health and fitness and middle school mathematics.
Coon also grew up in Metaline Falls, Washington and previously worked as a para-educator for a year.
She decided to pursue a career in education because she loves to work with children and wants to teach them to live healthy and physically active lives.
“Since this is my first year, I am planning on learning from my students and my own feedback on lessons on what went well or what needs to improvement. I want to make the best of the opportunities and resources I have available and to have a fun first year of teaching,” Coon said.
Coon is glad to begin her teaching career with her younger brother, Neal Coon, and his fiancé, Breanna Parks. She also likes that Plevna is a small school and she gets the opportunity to teach K-12.
She also enjoys hunting, fishing and outdoor activities in her spare time.