TONASKET — High School Principal Brian Ellis hauled his BBQ from home to the school district office Friday, Aug. 25, to treat 19 new staff members to burgers and dogs as part of their new staff day orientation.
“This is our first annual event like this,” said Executive Assistant Janet Glanzer. “In the past they would all go home after they finished filling out their paper work in the morning, but this gives teachers the opportunity to spend the whole day here, meeting with their mentors in the afternoon.”
New teachers are matched with a veteran staff member who serves as a mentor.
New certified teachers this year at the elementary school are fifth grade teachers April Cole and Melissa Morgan, along with new kindergarten teacher Brittany Jones, who previously served in Tonasket as a Special Education paraeducator.
Kathryn Eide has taken Jamie Portwood’s position as the elementary school Reading Specialist, allowing Portwood to join her husband Chad as a new employee of Oroville School District.
Robin Brown will be at the middle school teaching English Language Arts and History.
Brisa Montejano will be teaching Spanish at the high school, along with Latin Culture as an elective course for middle school students and Service Learning at the middle school. Montejano was born and raised in Chelan, attending Seattle Pacific University after graduating from Chelan H.S. and graduating from EWU. She has been teaching for 11 years; one year in the Issaquah School District and a decade in the Chelan School District. She said she chose to move to Tonasket because her husband took an administrative position in the area.
Jayden Hawkins has taken over Dan Vasar’s position teaching middle school math, with Vasar now employed at Brewster School District.
Anna Seltzer will teach 6th grade Science, as well as Horticulture and Science Olympiad as elective courses for middle school students.
Coming to Tonasket from Oroville is Eric Stiles, who takes over for Mariliz Romano as high school and middle school music teacher. Stiles taught music in Oroville the past seven years. He grew up near Atlanta, Georgia, where he was active in the marching band, youth orchestra, jazz band and small ensembles. Stiles earned bachelor’s degrees in Music Education and Music Performance from Northwestern University in 1994, and began teaching immediately following graduation. In addition to teaching music, Stiles has enjoyed performing with professional ensembles including the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra, the Moody Blues and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago as well as community ensembles including the Okanogan Valley Orchestra and Chorus.
New certified teachers at the high school are Josh Emery teaching P.E. and running the Zero Hour Conditioning class, and Jacob Schofstoll teaching math. Schofstoll received his B.S. in mathematics from WSU after graduating from Ritzville High School. He substitute taught at the Lind-Ritzville High School and Middle School and was a mathematics tutor for the WSU athletics department. Schofstoll will also teach Personal Finance and Art at the middle school. Emry grew up in the Seattle suburbs, graduating from Lindbergh High School in Renton. He has been teaching for five years, and this will be his second year teaching full-time. Emry said he chose Tonasket because of the overwhelming support the administration showed during the interviewing process, leaving him confident he would be supported here as an educator.
Monica “Mikey” Sackman will take over the high school resource room and tranisition class. Sackman grew up near Olympia and attended college there and in Tacoma, earning a bachelor’s degree in Education and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. A teacher for 27 years, Sackman taught for 12 years in the Okanogan Valley before teaching in Montana in a variety of small rural schools. She said she loves working in small schools where she has the opportunity to build relationships with students and their families.
Holly Haugan is the new Special Education and Federal Programs Director.
Janelle Orsolits is the new Career and Technical Education instructor and Family and Consumer Science teacher. She has been teaching in special education the past four years, working with students of all ages. Orsolits attended high school in Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas, and worked as a Special Education paraprofessional while earning her Master’s degree in teaching from Seattle Pacific University. She said she plans to pursue a certification in Applied Behavioral Analysis in the near future. Last year Orsolits taught a transition program in the Seattle School Districts which focused on life skills for adults with severe disabilities. Orsolits said she and her boyfriend chose to move to and work in Tonasket as they were looking for a small town with space to hike and explore, as well as a smaller school where they could get to know the people in it.
Katie Walker will be joining Josh Thayer as a counselor at both the high school and middle school, following Tyrone Glanzer’s retirement as the high school counselor. Walker said when she was a senior at THS, she thought she would like to have Glanzer’s job. Walker attended WVCN before earning a bachelor’s degree from EWU and a Master’s degree in social work from Boise State University. Walker has done work in Indian Child Welfare and for WVC’s Running Start program as well as Okanogan Behavioral Healthcare and State Child and Family Services.
Eight new classified staff have been hired at Tonasket, with Debbi Jones working as a paraeducator at Choice High School, Becky Reavis serving as a paraeductor at the elementary school and LaLaina Caddy as a paraeducator at the middle school.
The district hired two new Special Education parapros, with Kerry Reed serving at the elementary school, and Sara Bones at the middle school.
Hanna McDaniel will be working as both a paraeducator and an assistant middle school secretary.
Veteran teacher Amanda Chase, who teaches English at the high school, has taken on Journalism as an elective for middle school students.
Maria Gonzalez joins her twin sister Martha Wisdom at Tonasket School District, with Gonzalez working as a food service clerk. Wisdom is the Secretary of Migrant Records.
Joy Timm joins the transportation team as a bus driver.
Still to be filled are two more paraeducator postions, one at the elementary school and one as a migrant student advocate.
“I think it’s going to be a good year,” said Principal Brian Ellis. “We’ve got some really great new staff members.”