Fennimore School District welcomes 10 new teachers this year.
Students and parents will have an opportunity to get to know them as the year goes on, but for all members of the community, a brief introduction:
Shelly Cascio – Shelly is a native of Winnebago, Ill., and a Rockford University alum, where she received her Bachelor degree. She completed her Master degree at Northern Illinois University. She has two children, son Anthony, a high school senior, and daughter Angelina, a seventh grader. They are remaining with their home school district in Rockford, Ill., where Cascio taught for 18 years. She joins Fennimore as the Title Math teacher and Speech/Language paraprofessional. “I’m excited to move to a smaller community. I like the friendliness,” she says. “I am looking forward to getting to know the students and their parents more.”
Reid Montanye – Reid hails from Eau Claire, where he was raised and graduated from high school. He earned his teaching degree at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. Fennimore is his first teaching position. Reid student taught at West Salem middle-high school. He takes the place of long time middle and high school band director Larry Albrecht. “It’s exciting to take over for Larry and to try to keep the program going in the right direction,” Reid says. He looks forward to the half-time shows and parades that are coming up, though he also noted he is fond of concert band and is looking forward to those, as well. Reid has no plans to ditch the standards loved by the crowd, so you can still count on a rousing rendition of “Louie, Louie” at games.
Samantha Derr – Samantha grew up and graduated from high school in Dakota, Ill. She attended community college at Highland College then transferred to the University of Wisconsin – Platteville. Samantha has been teaching at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Hazel Green for the last two years, where she ran a combined third and fourth grade classroom, as well as teaching science and social studies for the first and second grades. She moved to the area with her boyfriend of four years, Alex Biddick, a Fennimore alum. “When I saw the opening, I had to apply,” Samantha says. She is appreciative of how tightknit the community is, and the strong level of support she sees for the school district. Samantha will be teaching five-year-old kindergarten, which is ideal. “I have wanted to be a kindergarten teacher always. I was inspired to want to be a teacher by my own kindergarten teacher,” she says.
Samantha Parnell – Samantha will be teaching Special Education for first through fourth grades. A native of Black Earth, this is her first year of teaching after graduating from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire with a degree in elementary education. Samantha originally applied to be a third grade teacher here in Fennimore. She didn’t get that job, but was encouraged to apply for the position she now holds. She will be working on her special education certification, with an emphasis on emotional and behavioral disorders. “What I have seen of Fennimore fits with what I was looking for,” Samantha says. “I wanted a smaller setting and a tightknit community. I feel very welcome here. Orientation (at the school) helped me fit the pieces from my earlier learning together, and the mentoring program will help me be a stronger teacher. I’m very excited. This position offers me a chance to make a positive impact for the community.”
Will Pretto – Will comes from Madison. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Platteville and did his student teaching here in Fennimore last year. “I really liked what I saw and thought this would be a great place to begin my career,” Will says. He will teach AP Psychology, AP U.S. History, 10th grade U.S. History, Civics, and Current Issues in the high school. “It’s exciting to hit the ground running,” he says enthusiastically after attending the district’s orientation.
Samantha Goss – Samantha is originally from Urbana, Iowa. She received her Bachelor degree in business at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville and her teaching certificate from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. She worked in business management before changing her path to education. Samantha has taught in Lancaster for the last two years. She, her husband Stephen Goss, and children Logan, four, and Ella, 18 months, are already residents of Fennimore. “I look forward to instilling proper business practices – innovation, ethics, processes,” says Samantha of her position teaching Business at Fennimore High School. She is excited at being able to carry forward the business program, which she says is both “strong and long-standing.”
Nicole Bailey – Nicole is a native of Galena, Ill. She earned her Bachelor degree at the University of Dubuque and her Master at Kaplan University. After teaching at River Ridge for the last eight years, Nicole will take over teaching Biology and Chemistry at Fennimore High School. She lives in Lancaster with her husband Judd and their 12-year-old daughter Brielle. She says she is excited about coming to Fennimore and appreciates the development and support resources the district continues to develop for their teaching and professional staff.
Alexa Chifari – Alexa (nee Nutter) already has deep roots in Fennimore, having grown up here and graduated from the high school in 2010. She left here to attend the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh. She then went on to teach for two years in Potosi. Alexa moved back to Fennimore in May with her husband Marc and 10-month-old son Henrik. “I hadn’t intended to leave Potosi, but when the job came up a block from home…,” she says she couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Returning to her hometown will offer up at least one rather interesting opportunity – her younger brother will be one of her students. Alexa will be teaching 10-12th grade English, as well as an eighth grade English class.
Cassie Roach – Cassie was born and raised in De Soto before heading to the University of Wisconsin – Platteville, where she earned her teaching degree. She student taught at Fennimore last year, and found out part way through the year that the middle and high school Math and Physics position would be open. Cassie applied and learned that she was being offered the position over spring break as she finished out her final semester before graduation. “I am excited to come back to Fennimore,” Cassie says. “I really enjoyed my time here.”
Kurt Meyer – Kurt has long-standing ties to Fennimore. He lives here already with wife Allison, who teaches geography and English in the middle school, and their two daughters Ellen, seven, and Sydney, five. Kurt has substitute taught at Fennimore for the last four years, as well as announced volleyball and basketball games for the last eight years or so. He received his Bachelor degree at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and his Master at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville. He taught second grade at Montello for five years and special education at North Crawford for seven. Kurt will teach World History in the eighth grade, Geography in the sixth, and Reading and Math in the third grade. “It’s nice to be in my kids’ district,” he says.