NORTH CRAWFORD AND SENECA - The school year is launched, parents, and students and school staff have settled back into the school year routine. Now with passage of the state budget, districts will be able to finalize their budgets and get down to the business of educating future citizens.
This year, North Crawford School District has six new staff members, and Seneca School District has two.
In an effort to help busy parents and interested members of the community get to know the new staff, here’s a brief introduction to each.
Zoe (Coleman) Ellerbusch, North Crawford’s new elementary guidance counselor, is from Soldiers Grove and attended North Crawford High School.
Ellerbusch reports she is excited to help bring academic and career planning to North Crawford. She wants to help motivate students about their future goals, and pathways to college and career success. She also looks forward to working with families and community leaders to develop a Pk-8 counseling program that fits the needs of every student.
“I am very grateful to get the chance to work in the community that helped shape me and guide me as a young student,” Ellerbusch said. “My door is always open, please stop by and let me know how I can support your son or daughter.”
Ellerbusch completed her schooling at UW-Madison, where she received a bachelor’s degree in English. After completing her undergraduate education in 2008, Ellerbusch worked in education in both California and in Madison.
After receiving her masters degree in counseling psychology, she completed her fieldwork in Sun Prairie. Then, she worked as a school counselor at Jefferson Middle School and then Memorial High School in Madison.
Ellerbusch currently resides in Viroqua with her family. She and her husband Joe have a four-month-old daughter named Everly.
“We are happy to be rejoining family and friends in the area,” said Ellerbusch.
A month into the school year, Ellerbusch reports that her favorite thing about her role with North Crawford Schools is that the students are inquisitive, positive and hard working, the staff is supportive, and her commute is beautiful.
Trish Felix will serve the district as the new Special Education teacher at North Crawford.
Aaron Keenlance, North Crawford’s new Junior High/High School Tech Ed teacher, currently lives in Westby. He is a graduate is of Viroqua High School. He graduated from Viterbo University in 2015.
This is Keenlance’s first teaching position, as he has worked in the construction/manufacturing industry for the past 20 years.
Keenlance has lived in the area for 25 years. He is married with four children - a senior, seventh grade, fifth grade, and second grade.
With a month of instruction under his belt, Keenlance reports that his favorite thing about his new role is building relationships with his students and colleagues.
“I am most excited about helping students discover their talents, and achieve their goals,” Keenlance said.
Brandie Myhre, North Crawford’s new art teacher, was born, raised, and currently lives in Viroqua. She grew up on a farm between Viroqua and Westby, and has three brothers.
Myhre graduated from Viroqua High School, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Interactive Media Design from Alverno College in Milwaukee. She earned her K-12 Art teaching certification from Viterbo University.
While studying at Alverno College, Myhre focused on photography and graphic design, and interned with photographers in Milwaukee. She was hand-picked to attended a photography workshop where she was able to study with National Geographic photographers.
Before coming to North Crawford, Myhre worked for Cal/West Seeds in West Salem.
While working there, she attended school at night to get her teaching certification. After completing her student teaching, she took a break and hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, completing 1,300- of the 2,600-mile trail. This is Myhre’s first official teaching job.
“My favorite thing about the school that I am working in is the students - they are amazing,” Myhre reported. “It's an amazing community, where everyone supports each other.”
Myhre reports she is most excited about cultivating a great environment for her kids to learn in, and working on building a curriculum that is student-driven and provides an opportunity for students to be independent learners and thinkers.
“We’ve already had great success in these first two weeks,” Myhre reported. “My students prepped submissions for the Driftless Area Art Festival, and won a second place, an honorable mention, and many achievement ribbons.”
Angela Starkey has taken the position of School Nurse at North Crawford Schools. Starkey grew up near Ferryville and graduated from North Crawford Schools in 1999.
“It is wonderful being a part of the school district where I went to school and graduated from,” Starkey said.
Starkey went on to attend Southwest Tech in Fennimore for her nursing assistant and nursing associate degrees. Upon graduation from SWTC, she continued her education at Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, where she earned a bachelor’s degree.
Starkey currently lives in Seneca, where she moved with her family 11 years ago. She has been married for 15 years to her husband Matthew Starkey, and the couple has two boys that attend Seneca Schools. Her son Jaden is in seventh grade and Brett is in fifth grade.
“We all love the community we live in,” Starkey said.
Starkey reports that one month into the school year, her favorite thing is seeing children.
“I try to make them feel better when they come in to see me, but just talking to them and getting to know them is my favorite part,” Starkey said. “As the school year continues, I am looking forward to learning names and getting out in the classrooms more.”
Starkey reports she is most excited about being a part of a K-12 school.
“I enjoy being a resource right in the schools for students interested in seeking a career in the healthcare field,” Starkey said. “These students may be in fifth grade right now, and they may be thinking they want to become a nurse.”
Erika Wilson has taken the position of sixth grade teacher at North Crawford Schools. She is originally from LaFarge, where she attended elementary and high school.
Wilson went to college at the UW-Whitewater, met her husband there, and lived in that area until moving back "home" to Gays Mills 10 years ago.
Wilson has a bachelor's degree in elementary education, with a minor in health education. Her master's degree is in educational leadership from Aurora University.
She previously taught third grade for nine years, at Gavin Central Elementary in Ingleside, Illinois, and at Randall Consolidated Elementary in Burlington, Wisconsin.
After moving to Gays Mills, she opened a licensed home daycare so she could stay home with her children. After 10 years of daycare, she decided to return to teaching, and tackle a new challenge.
Wilson’s family consists of her husband, Shane, and her children, Brody, an eighth grader, Carter, a fifth grader, and Paige, a second grader. Her household also includes her dog Max; three cats, Zoe, Thomas, and Gracie; and three guinea pigs, Turbo, Honey Bun, and Cutie. The family also recently added chickens to their backyard.
Wilson reports she is really excited to be teaching in the middle school, as this is a new experience for her, as her professional experience has all been with younger children.
“It's also really wonderful to be at North Crawford, where my own children attend,” Wilson said.
Wilson reported that she is most excited about her students growing as readers and writers.
Wilson said that she really appreciates the warm welcome she’s received at North Crawford by the staff and students.
“I'm excited to see my previous daycare ‘Littles’ I've spent my time with over the years grow up and eventually have me as their teacher,” Wilson enthused. “I've always been proud to be part of North Crawford as a parent, and now being there as an educator, I feel even more blessed.”
Jennie Bayline will be the K-12 music/band teacher at Seneca Schools. She is from Wisconsin Dells, where she attended high school. She went on to college at UW-Platteville, where she studied instrumental and general music education.
She did her student teaching at Lancaster Community Schools, and taught music and band at Wauzeka-Steuben School District.
Bayline currently lives in the Township of Haney with her fiance, their dog Boomer and their cat Berklee. Her fiance's family is from the Soldiers Grove area.
Bayline reported that she loves how comfortable the staff and community has made her feel.
“It's not easy being a new teacher, but everybody here has made me feel like I fit in,” Bayline said.
Bayline is excited about keeping the band tradition alive in Seneca.
“I love this area of the state, and I feel very lucky to be here,” Bayline said.
Jessica Pedretti is an elementary school teacher for the Seneca Area School District. She grew up in Prairie du Chien, where she graduated from high school.
After high school, she attended the UW-La Crosse. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in elementary and middle school education, and a general science minor. For the past six years, she taught seventh grade science in Portage.
“My husband and I had the opportunity to move back to the area this past summer,” Pedretti said. “I am so excited to be teaching fifth grade at Seneca Elementary School! It has been great getting to know my students, the staff and community over the past few weeks, and I am looking forward to a great year of fun and learning with my students.”