Saint Peter Public Schools recently welcomed 15 new teaching staff members for the 2022-23 school year as new teacher workshops were held at various locations in the district on August 17 and 18.
These new hires represent replacements for teachers who either retired or left their previous positions to pursue other teaching or employment opportunities. Saint Peter Middle School has the most new staff members with eight while Saint Peter High School was next with five, South has two new hires and North just one, which is still in the process of being filled.
“We are excited to welcome new teaching staff to our district,” Kaari Bly, South Elementary teacher and building mentor, said. “Our goal for these days is for new staff to feel welcomed, excited, and energized to jump into their new positions working with our students!”
The following is a breakdown by building of the newest SPPS teaching staff members:
SOUTH ELEMENTARY (K-1)
Olivia Mikkelson (Special Education) - A native of Eden Prairie, Olivia earned her special education teaching degree from Minnesota State University-Mankato. This is her first teaching job as she did her student teaching at South Elementary this past school year.
Emily Elverum (First grade) - Eleverum, whose hometown is Forest Lake, graduated from Minnesota State University-Mankato with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education K-6. She taught at Loyola Catholic School in Mankato for the two previous years.
NORTH (Grades 2-4)
North Math Intervention position - hiring process still ongoing.
MIDDLE SCHOOL (Grades 5-8)
Wesley Heiser (Special Education) - Heiser is a native of Mankato, and earned his special education teaching degree from Minnesota State University-Mankato. He did his student teaching at SPMS this past year and this is his first teaching job.
Kinsey Irvin (7th/8th Science) - Irvin grew up in Saugerties, N.Y., and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Ecology with a photography minor from Plattsburgh State College (N.Y.) and her Master’s in Environmental Science from Brockport State College (N.Y.). Irvin is currently going to MSU-Mankato for her Master’s in Teaching (with a concentration on life science). Her previous teaching experience was with the New Ulm School District.
Arianna Bealey (5th/6th Art) - Bealey, who is from Kodiak, Alaska, earned her teaching degree from MSU-Mankato. Previously, she taught at Prairie Winds Middle School in Mankato.
Melise Baumgarn - (7th/8th Art) - Baumgarn is originally from Waseca and earned her teaching degree from Bethel University (MN). She spent the last year working at St. Martin's Lutheran School in Winona, MN.
Stephanie Evans (7th/8th Math) - A Prior Lake native, Evans has a communications degree from the University of Minnesota, an elementary education degree from MSU-Mankato, & a Master’s in Education from Augustana University (S.D.) She started her career as a teacher at North, where she taught for three years, before going on to teach in Prior Lake for four years.
Kylie Kuhlman (Social Worker) - Kuhlman hails from Northfield and completed her undergraduate studies at St. Olaf College with majors in English and Women's Studies, and a minor in American Racial and Multicultural Studies. She also holds a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from Augsburg University. Her most recent teaching experience was the last six years at Minnesota New Country School in Henderson.
Mary Fixsen (Physical Education) - Fixsen is a native of Redwood Falls and graduated from MSU-Mankato with a double major in Health & Physical Education as well as a minor in Developmental Adapted Physical Education (DAPE). She taught at Redwood Valley MS/HS the last two school years.
John Bartholow (Social Studies) - Bartholow’s hometown is Stewartville and he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies Education and American Studies from St. Olaf College. He previously worked at public schools in Hendricks, St. Michael-Albertville, Winona, and Stewartville. Prior to coming to St. Peter, he served as director of youth ministries at Central Lutheran Church in Winona for the past three years.
HIGH SCHOOL (Grades 9-12)
Heather Bakke (Special Education) - Originally from Buffalo, Bakke is a Gustavus Adolphus College alum who also earned her Special Education teaching degree from St. Cloud State University. She has prior teaching experience in the GFW and Brainerd school systems as well as in Selawik, Alaska.
Regina Sirianni (Counselor) - Sirianni is a native of Wausau, Wis., and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Master of Science degree in Professional School Counseling from MSU-Mankato. She had worked the previous three years at Sibley East High School.
Heidi Niemeyer (Math & Rock Bend Math) - A native of Willmar, Niemeyer earned her teaching degree from MSU-Mankato. She taught sixth grade at North from 1999-2001, before taking a long break to stay home with her children. She has subbed in District 508 since 2012, and has coached softball for St. Peter since 1999, serving as head coach since 2014.
Matthew Weets (Social Studies) - Weets, whose hometown is Rothsay, received his undergraduate degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, and is currently working on his Master's degree at MSU-Mankato. This is his first full-time teaching job.
Michael Johnson (Tech Integration) - Johnson’s hometown is Rushford and is a 2008 graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College. He also earned his Masters degree and Specialist degree from MSU-Mankato. Johnson is entering his 15th year in education, including the last eight as a Social Studies teacher and mentor coach/instructional coach at Mankato West High School.
New teaching/certified staff at Saint Peter Public Schools for the 2022-23 school year includes: front row (l to r), Wes Heiser, Regina Sirianni, Mary Tobar, Heather Bakke; middle row, Emily Elverum, Melise Baumgarn, Olivia Mikkelson, Stephanie Evans, Ariana Bealey; back row, Michael Johnson, Matthew Weets, Kinsey Irvin, Heidi Niemeyer, and Kylie Kuhlman. Not pictured is John Bartholow.