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New faces among Darlington School Districts teaching staff
New Darlington staff
New staff at Darlington School include from L-R: Back: Matthew Finkenbinder, Madeleine Swenson, Jill Leisgang, Whitney LeConte, Mello Jorgensen, Brad Solberg. Front: Kimberly Haynes, Sharon Reese, Molly Rice & Becky Cohen. Missing: Neil Campbell.

There are several new faces among the staff at Darlington Community School District this year, including nine teachers, a school psychologist and speech/language pathologist.
     Jill Leisgang, of Darlington, is the new 7th & 8th grade language arts and social studies teacher. Originally from Green Bay, Leisgang received her BA in English literature from UW-Green Bay and her MA in English from Ball State University. After student teaching and working for a short time at De Pere High School, Leisgang came to Darlington.
    In her free time Leisgang enjoys gardening, reading, quilting, cooking and baking, antiquing, and spending time with family and friends. She is also a self-proclaimed movie buff and enjoys going to the theater and watching movies at home. Leisgang also loves watching the Packers, Badgers, and Brewers.
    “I am looking forward to getting to know Darlington and the surrounding cities and I am having a wonderful time in the middle school,” said Leisgang.
    Kim Haynes is the new high school band and choir teacher. Originally from the Rewey area, Haynes now lives in Argyle with her daughter.
    Haynes received a Bachelor of Science from UW-Platteville, majoring in general music, instrumental and choral music education. She also has a masters in education from Northcentral University with an emphasis in exceptional student education. Haynes is in her 11th year of teaching.
    In her free time, Haynes enjoys spending time with her family, reading and participating in anything music related.
    According to Haynes, the year has been going great so far at Darlington.
    “The kids work hard and are respectful, which is a good thing because we had marching band camps, two parades, and a pep band before the school year even started,” said Haynes. Haynes said she is looking forward to working with the students and challenging them to continue being great musicians.
    Whitney LeConte, of Dickeyville, is the new first grade teacher at Darlington. Originally from Platteville, LeConte graduated from UW-Platteville in May of 2011 with a degree in elementary education and minors in early childhood and special education inclusion. After graduating she taught kindergarten in Watertown for three years before coming to Darlington.
    In her free time LeConte enjoys snowmobiling, Harley rides, boating, shopping and socializing with friends and family.
    “I’m looking forward to establishing a routine that works for me as well as my students,” said LeConte. “I’m eager to watch them grow and progress and I’m also looking forward to getting to get to know my students on a more individual level and learn more about them and their families.”
    Brad Solberg, of South Wayne, is the new high school physical education and health teacher. Solberg is a graduate of UW-Platteville and was a former basketball coach at Ottawa University in Kansas and Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa.
    In his free time Solberg enjoys coaching, golfing, fishing and doing anything outdoors. Solberg said he is looking forward to developing relationships with students and staff and becoming a member of the community.
    Molly Rice is a new 5th & 6th grade reading teacher at DEMS. Originally from Waunakee, Rice is currently living in Platteville and this will be her first teaching job. She graduated from UW-Platteville with a degree in elementary education.
    Rice enjoys playing and watching sports, reading, watching movies and spending time with family and friends in her spare time.
    “So far the school year has gone great and I look forward to the rest of the year,” said Rice. “I am looking forward to getting to know my students and working in such a supportive community.” 
    Becky Cohen, of Darlington, is the new high school math teacher, who also teaches Project Lead the Way classes.  Cohen has certifications in Grades 5-12 mathematics and computer science as well as a PK-12 principal license. Cohen attended UW-Platteville and this will be her 21st year of teaching. Previously she taught at Cuba City High School.
    Cohen and her husband Kurt both work for the Darlington School District and they have two children that also attend school in Darlington.
    Cohen is an active member of the Darlington United Methodist Church, president of the Darlington Parents’ Music Club and is an avid Milwaukee Brewers fan.
    “I am really looking forward to teaching in the same district that my children are,” said Cohen. “I have always been proud of our schools, and am now honored to be a member of the district.”
    Matthew Finkenbinder, of Darlington, is the new 4th grade teacher at Darlington. Originally from Monroe, Finkenbinder later moved and graduated from Darlington High School. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from UW-Platteville in 2005. Now in his 10th year of teaching, Finkenbinder began his career in education at Holy Rosary School in Darlington, then moved to St. Victor School in Monroe. He then worked in the Shullsburg School District before coming back to Darlington.
    Finkenbinder said he loves music and theater. He has been involved in several Pop Factory Players productions as well as productions in Platteville, Monroe and Dubuque. He has also been a member of several choirs throughout the area and has helped with the Redbirds on Broadway summer enrichment course, the Darlington Children’s Theater and programs with the Monroe Theater Guild.
    “The students and staff at DEMS have been extremely welcoming and helpful,” said Finkenbinder. “We have had a great start to the school year in fourth grade!”
    Mello Jorgensen, of Evansville, is the new business education instructor at Darlington High School. She received her bachelor degree from UW-Whitewater and has two Master degrees from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee.       Jorgensen is a member of the Oak Grove Church in Evansville and has been a 4-H leader. She also enjoys reading and gardening.
    “I am excited to be a member of the Darlington Community School District and look forward to getting to know the students and their families,” said Jorgensen.
    Sharon Reese is the new reading, language arts and technology skills teacher for 6th grade at Darlington School District.
    Reese received her Associate’s degree from UW-Richland Center in 2005. She then went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in education from UW-Platteville in 2007 and her Master’s in cross categorical special education in 2009.
    Argyle School District is where Reese began her career as a 4th grade teacher in 2008. Reese later moved to the Monroe School District as a kindergarten/first grade teacher.
    “I fell in love with the Darlington School District in 2007 when I was fortunate enough to do my student teaching with Myra Taylor,” said Reese. “From that point on, I had a longing to return. So last year, I applied for the teaching positions at DEMS and my dreams came true when I was hired to teach at the middle school level.”
    Reese and her husband, Scott have three children and are expecting an addition to their family in March.
    During her free time, Reese enjoys serving others. She is a member of the Darlington Lions Club, a board member of the Darlington Optimist Club and is an active member of the United Methodist Church. She also recently took the lead on getting a new swing set installed at the swimming pool park in Darlington.
    Reese said she is excited to be teaching at Darlington and feels that this year has been the best year of her teaching career so far.
    “It is so much fun to be part of a group of teachers who love, support and work for the best interest of the students,” she said. “I feel so blessed to be part of a district that truly cares about one another, constantly collaborates with each other and is always working to create a fun and enjoyable learning experience for the students.  I am proud to be a Redbird.”
    Madeleine Swenson is the new speech-language pathologist (SLP) at Darlington and works with students who have speech or language disabilities. Originally from Arena, Swenson now lives in Verona with her boyfriend and their five Siberian Huskies.
    Swenson attended UW-Madison for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Previously, she had worked in childcare and research labs.
    In her free time Swenson enjoys cooking, baking and horseback riding.
    “The year is going very well so far, and I am looking forward to getting to know the students and staff better,” said Swenson.
    Neil Campbell was hired as the new Darlington School District psychologist, but did not return any question responses to the Republican Journal by press time.