New Tonasket School District teachers feel welcomed

TONASKET- Along with new students to the Tonasket School District, five new teachers have started the school year this month.

At Tonasket Elementary School, three new teachers have joined the staff. Melia Ferris-Dirk is the new fourth grade teacher, Robert Gonzales is the new first grade teacher and Jamie Barker is the Reading Specialist. Barker also teaches classes at Tonasket Middle School, along with new seventh and eighth grade science teacher Keith Moeder and new seventh and eighth grade language arts teacher Tim Cork.

Ferris-Dirk said she loves teaching at Tonasket Elementary School.

“The staff here in Tonasket has welcomed me with open arms,” Ferris-Dirk, who formerly taught in Beaumont, Texas, said. “They are great to work with. I’m very excited to work in such a wonderful community.”

Moeder echoed her sentiments, stating he had received a wonderful and friendly welcoming from both students and staff.

“The resources I have requested and needed have all been provided,” added Moeder, who spent three years as a science and math teacher at Bridgeport Middle School. “I see a great commitment to high quality education in the school.”

Barker and Gonzales are not new to the area and decided to work for the Tonasket School District so that they could return to where they grew up.

“I am originally from Oroville and wanted to be back in the valley,” said Barker, who just graduated from Easter Washington University last spring.

Gonzales was born in Omak and graduated from Tonasket High School.

“I was born and raised in Okanogan County and always wanted to teach here,” Gonzales stated. This is his first year teaching, but he added that he student taught at Oroville Elementary School and substituted for a year in the Tonasket School District.

Cork, who is also in his first year of teaching, said that he is enjoying his experience at Tonasket Middle School so far.

“The staff has all been extremely supportive and I am having a great time with all of the kids,” he said, adding that “Tonasket seems like a nice community to raise a family.”