Standing to deliver

New teachers at Mapleton, Siuslaw school districts get ready for class

The first day of class in a brand new school can be intimidating: Buying a new wardrobe and school supplies. Nervously leaving home at the crack of dawn as loved ones wave goodbye. Walking into class as all the regular students dart their eyes at the “new kid.”

Those experiences aren’t limited to students.

Teachers also have those first day jitters, but for the 11 new instructors and one assistant principal of the Mapleton and Siuslaw school districts, it’s a challenge they’re ready to take on.  

Starting in Mapleton, where major renovations have just occurred, five new teachers are taking the plunge in the education world of the Upriver community.   

Nancy Reade has taught for 24 years, most of which were in small towns in Nevada. She came to Oregon last year after her husband retired, wanting a “little green and rain” in their lives.

She’ll be teaching second grade.

“Students don’t have fear,” she said of the age group. “They know they can learn and want to learn, which they lose when they get older. I want to keep that as their belief system.”

Jocelyn Cain has been standing up in front of the classroom for 13 years. Teaching runs in her family; her dad was a high school math teacher. Her whole family is from Mapleton.

Cain will be teaching Special Education for the entire elementary school, along with second-grade core reading and math.

“In Special Education, you get to see students’ individual growth throughout the years,” she said. “You get to build a relationship with them.”

Jessica Nelson will be teaching a slew of subjects for the district, including art for every grade, middle school drama, high school composition, world cultures for high school and a “partridge in a pear tree,” she said.

“Art is a human endeavor, like language,” Nelson explained. “It’s a wonderful way to express yourself, and we live in a world that uses visual communication a lot.”

Molly Dooley teaches Social Studies. A first year teacher who used to live in Drain, Ore., she said that starting her career is “exciting, a little nerve-wracking and I’m ready to go.”

“Social studies shows up in everyday life,” Dooley said. “Especially with history. It’s not just in the past. It connects with today. History is happening now, and it’s important to understand that so we know what’s going on in the world.”

Juline Walker is teaching middle school and high school Spanish, seventh-grade math, ninth- and tenth-grade language arts and careers. She’s a local, and acted as a substitute teacher at Mapleton and a Spanish teacher at Siuslaw High School for the past four years.

Walker said, “I think that being able to communicate with someone in their first language is a really amazing way to honor that person and to respect their background and upbringing.”

Heading over to Florence, six new teachers are joining the Siuslaw School District faculty ranks this year, as well as a new assistant principal.

Garth Gerot has been education students for 14 years before coming to Siuslaw High School as the assistant principal.

This isn’t his first go-around in the position, having been principal at Willamette Leadership Academy in Springfield. He has teaching experience as well, passing on language arts to students and career and college readiness for six through 12th grades.

“I really want to make the students’ current learning relevant to their long-term goals and prepare them to take that next step to whatever it may be,” Gerot said. “I want to help set them up so they can really follow their passion and put that positive energy into what they are doing.”

Bruce Morganti will be teaching music, drama and everything in between. He has an extremely long career in teaching, having taught in Arizona and Hawaii.

“It’s the communication and imaginative skills that drama gives students that makes them more prepared for work and living,” he said. “These skills translate into real life.”

Tom Shinn is a graduate of Roseburg High School and went to Western Oregon University. He’ll be teaching Social Studies along with teaching kids how to properly throw a proper curveball as the baseball coach.

English and Language Arts teacher Melanie Goeddel is joining the ranks after graduating from the University of Montana, Missoula, with an emphasis in English. Her honors thesis project was on improving classroom literacy instruction, taking English beyond just rote by incorporating speaking, listening and computer literacies.

“I want to make students excited about language,” she said.

Ryan Roach is taking his first crack at the head of the class after being an educational assistant for three years with the Siuslaw District. He’ll be a Special Education Resource Teacher focusing on Social Studies and English Language Arts.

What’s important to Roach?

“Building a respectful and inclusive relationship with parents and students, and a classroom community for my students so they have a place to learn in a well-curated environment,” he said.  

Chelsey Stemberg is jumping into the teaching waters for the first time, looking to shape the minds of fourth-graders at Siuslaw Elementary School.

She’s not new the community, having grown up in Florence and graduated from Siuslaw High School.

“I want to give back to the community that gave back to me,” she said.

Wendy Moore has been working with students for 17 years. She’ll be working with the Title 1 children in fourth-and fifth-grades.

“I hope to improve my students’ reading scores and therefore instill confidence in them,” Moore said.  

Finally, Christi Riggs, a 20 -year veteran of the teaching world, got right to the point.

“I’m just going to say, the reason I’m a teacher is because I want to make sure they love to learn and can become lifelong learners,” she said.

Riggs will be teaching fifth-grade.


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