As the Baker Public School District administration and staff welcomed back students on Aug. 26, they also greeted numerous new teachers.
By Lori Kesinger
JoDee Hess joined Baker as the new elementary music teacher. Hess came to the district because she wanted to focus more of her energy on music.
Hess grew up in Grass Range. She pursued a career in education because she loves kids and music and had an influential third grade music teacher. She attended Northwest College in Powell, WY where she earned an associate degree and Montana State University in Billings where she earned an education degree. For the past 13 years she has taught K-12 music in Terry.
Hess will also be the assistant pep band director to Ms. Whiteman.
“I want to help my students become lifelong contributors to music. It may be that they will only listen to music, but I hope that by taking music they will have an appreciation for all sorts of music,” Hess said. “If they choose to perform in groups or church, I hope they have been equipped from a young age of correct habits and the knowledge necessary to allow them to do that. I hope they learn to love music and continue pursuing that love into high school and further into life.”
Hess further said her first step is to get to know the students. As she begins teaching grades K-6 and seventh grade choir, she will have a lot of names to learn. She plans to learn the traditions and maybe change a few things to make them flow more smoothly.
“Most importantly, I hope to add enthusiasm and work with the other teachers to make music as exciting as possible,” Hess added.
Hess is married with two children who will be attending school in Baker and her husband works for the county road department. In her spare time Hess enjoys spending time with her family camping and fishing. She loves to learn more about God, to read, crochet, and do other hand crafts. She also enjoys working with children and having her home be a hub where her children’s friends feel comfortable and their parents feel comfortable with them being there.
Vicki Volz has always considered Baker her hometown and will be teaching second grade.
At age eleven, she moved to Baker from Miles City and had a second grade teacher influence her choice to pursue a career in education. Volz attended Carroll College in Helena, Miles Community College and Dickinson State University. She earned a degree in elementary education and minor in psychology, concentration reading and sociology. Volz is also a certified math recovery specialist.
She has taught third and fourth grade at Crow Agency and St. Xavier.
“I wanted to come back home. I’ve come full circle. I’m teaching in the same building I did my student teaching,” Volz said.
Volz plans to ensure her second grade students are ready for third grade.
She enjoys crocheting projects and gifts, as well as crafts in her leisure time.
Kelsey Stewart is a Montana native and grew up in Columbus. She will be teaching third grade for her first year and has always loved learning and never wants to stop.
“It is my hope that I can inspire my students to feel the same way,” Stewart said.
Stewart attended the University of Montana where she earned her degree in elementary education and also obtained a Spanish teaching minor K-12. She studied abroad at Universidad Nacional for a semester as part of the program requirement.
Stewart loves working with kids and was a teacher’s aide at ASUM Daycare in Missoula. Family is also very important to her as a triplet. She spent the past year living with them in Billings but is excited to live a more independent life.
Stewart will also be coaching c-squad girl’s volleyball and middle school girl’s basketball.
She plans to soak in as much knowledge as she can from other teachers and learn from her mistakes. She also hopes her students develop a passion for reading.
Stewart likes to run, hike, read and paint in her spare time and would like to become a mentor for technology.
“I’m looking forward to being active in such a friendly community,” Stewart said.
Mardee Guyer will be teaching fourth grade for the twenty-fifth year in her teaching career.
Guyer grew up outside of Miles City in Yellowstone Valley and then in the Moon Creek area. She attended country school until eighth grade and graduated from Custer County High School in Miles City.
She attended Montana State University in Bozeman earning her degree in elementary education with a reading endorsement.
“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, not just because I come from a long line of teachers, but because I love children and the creative, encouraging, fulfilling aspects of teaching,” Guyer stated. “I grew up listening to my parents talk about their students, remembering every one of them. I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to say that I had a positive impact on students’ lives.”
Guyer has taught in Miles City, Cottonwood Rural School which is between Miles City and Baker, and Ekalaka. She has taught every grade kindergarten through eighth with the exception of first, as well as, a lot of combination grades to meet a district’s needs as student enrollment shifted. She is excited to teach fourth grade because she feels students at this age are still excited about school even though the material they are learning is becoming more challenging.
“I want my classroom to be an exciting place, but also a safe refuge. I want children to leave my class with more self-confidence, kindness, and enjoyment in life and learning than they entered it. I will teach them the skills they need to know to succeed academically, and hopefully the skills they will need to become happy individuals,” Guyer said.
Guyer has had a lot of training on implementing technology into the classroom. She was also selected Teacher of the Year for Ekalaka Elementary for 2009-2010 and 2014-2015 and was chosen as Wendy’s Teacher of the Month.
Guyer is married to Rusty and they have two daughters. Emma is a first year kindergarten teacher in Lewistown and Ellen is a sophomore at MSU in Bozeman majoring in neuroscience/cell biology. They live on a ranch 15 miles west of Ekalaka.
Guyer didn’t enjoy an empty nest last year so decided she was ready for a new challenge.
“It has been a wonderful experience so far,” she said.
Guyer and her daughter are discussing taking classes together to earn their masters in education technology. She loves to read and enjoys baking, visiting and teasing her family.
Kallie Madler will be teaching sixth grade for her first official year of teaching. She grew up in Baker until her sophomore year in high school then attended and graduated from Dawson County High School in Glendive.
Madler attended Dawson Community College on a basketball scholarship earning her associates degree. She continued her education at the University of Montana Western in Dillon earning an associate in applied science degree in education and a Bachelor’s in education with a literacy endorsement.
“In the third grade I informed Mrs. McPhee, who still teaches in Baker, I wanted to be a teacher just like her. I have had some of the most amazing and inspiring teachers and I have always been involved in the community and organizations based on mentoring. These were huge influences in my decision to become a teacher,” Madler stated.
Madler student taught in Baker last year. She has taught multiple grades through student teaching and field experiences including working for the Boys and Girls Club of Dawson County for three years, working for Brightside Daycare for three summers implementing a program for older children, coaching multiple sports youth teams and being a 4-H youth leader.
In addition to her experience, she earned the Newman Civic Leadership Award, an award presented to six people in the state of Montana for outstanding community service and being a high achieving student, plus an Outstanding Volunteer Award from the Healthy Community Coalition of Dawson County.
Madler wants to provide her students the tools to become productive members of society and prepare for the huge adjustment of high school.
“I plan to immerse myself in the new curriculum, build relationships early and often, and build a strong classroom community,” Madler said.
Madler will also be coaching seventh grade boys basketball and may be an assistant coach for tennis.
She is single and has one older sister, two younger sisters, one brother and her parents reside in Baker.
Madler would like to build on her technology skills, as it is ever-changing and is a great tool to implement in the classroom.
In her own time, she enjoys crafting, building/refinishing lamps, wooden signs and furniture, playing sports collecting coins, reading and working with animals.
Karen Wang is returning to teaching high school math after an eighteen year hiatus from her career.
“I am ready and very excited to come back and teach again,” Wang said.
Wang is originally from Miles City. She attended the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Idaho, Montana State University in Billings, Miles Community College, Colorado Baptist University in Denver, Colorado, which is now Colorado Christian University and graduated from University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. She earned a degree in mathematics with a minor in education.
Wang was recruited for the heptathlon in track and field and basketball her freshman year of college. She played basketball for all the colleges but was a red shirt at MSU-Billings.
“I chose to be a teacher because I like helping kids and being around the educational arena,” Wang said.
Wang’s first teaching job was in Ekalaka where she was also the head basketball and track coach. There she met her husband, Dean. She then taught in Miles City and also coached basketball and track.
After Dean and her were married, she joined the Baker schools as the middle school math teacher. She resigned after they had their first child and has since stayed home to raise their four children.
“I once heard a quote that said, ‘No amount of success can compensate for failure in the home.’ I can’t remember who said it but I believe it to be true,” Wang shared.
Throughout the eighteen years, Wang has done extensive substitute teaching, kept up her teaching certificate and helped proctor standardized testing.
“I will bring all of my background with me into the classroom. I have also recently taken some coursework which has supplied me with new tools and strategies that I am looking forward to using in the classroom. I like to say I have an eclectic teaching style because I try to incorporate the assets of other teachers in my skill sets,” Wang said.
Wang’s primary goal is to care about the students and help them acquire tools they can take with them throughout life.
She doesn’t plan to do any coaching so she keep up with her own children’s extra-curricular activities.
Wang and her husband are members of the Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, Montana Stockgrowers Association and own a main street business in Baker, as well as, being active in ranching. They are also extremely active in their church activities and family responsibilities.
Wang said when she does have free time she enjoys doing things that take her out of her comfort zone such as learning how to artificially inseminate cows and pigs, acquiring a black belt in Tae Kwon Do or going back to teaching after eighteen years.
Other teachers, Jill Shelhamer and Tom Breitbach will be featured in next week’s issue.