Morenci will have six new teachers in place for the first day of school next Tuesday. Board of education members were expected to approve the new hires at a special meeting Tuesday night. There are some familiar faces among the crew.
1993 Morenci graduate Loretta Cox is moving from the Upper Peninsula back to her home area after being away for 20 years.
"The biggest reason I'm coming back home is that my family is here," she said.
Loretta earned a bachelor's degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from Olivet College. She worked for several years as a lab technician and started doing some substitute teaching to earn some extra cash.
"I really liked it and I went back to Olivet to get a teaching certificate," she said.
She's been teaching for 10 years, with jobs ranging from an alternative education classroom on Beaver Island to a tribal school on a reservation in the Upper Peninsula.
She will teach biology, chemistry, anatomy and physics in Morenci and intends to get an AP biology class going next year.
Loretta is a self-described science nerd who enjoys traveling, tending to perennials in her yard, cooking and reading. She says she will be looking for a new book club.
Amanda (Oard) Teel is also returning home after teaching in the North Adams-Jerome district for the past five years. That was her first teaching job after earning a teaching degree in English and Spanish at Siena Heights. She currently working on a master's degree in reading from Eastern Michigan University.
She completed her student teaching in Morenci with Ms. Walker, then put in additional time with Mr. Parker in his Spanish classroom. Spanish will be her primary duty in Morenci, along with one English elective.
Amanda said she was first interested in psychology, but teaching fits into that interest as she gets into students' minds and figures out how to help them learn.
"Teaching is a lifestyle for me," she said, "not just a profession."
"I am really pleased to be back home," she added.
Emilie (Yatzek) Beach
Emilie was introduced in the Observer in 2010 and she's back again after having become the mother of two children—Jackson, 2, and Brooklyn, three months.
Emilie attended Hope College for three years and eventually earned a teaching degree at Siena Heights University. She completed her student teaching in Morenci, working with Renae Schaffner, and she served as a long-term substitute in Spanish and social studies.
Emilie will teach sixth grade social studies—something she's done before—and high school economics which is new to her.
Phil has worked at Morenci Elementary School in the past, but he has a new role coming up in an effort to boost science scores.
He attended Bluffton College and earned a degree in art education. He's worked as a long-term substitute in several districts and last year he worked in literacy intervention in Morenci. He'll take on a similar role this year in science education.
"I'll reinforce what teachers are covering to help meet state guidelines," Phil said. He will work with one class at a time from kindergarten through fifth grade.
"We had such good results with the literacy work," he said, "I'm looking forward to seeing where the school can go with science."
When Phil isn't teaching, he can often be found on a softball diamond.
The teachers listed above all have a connection to Morenci. The next two are excited to make the connection.
"It's my dream job," said Christa Graham. "I wanted to go back to a small town and teach."
Christa grew up in the once small town of Milan and earned a teaching degree from Eastern Michigan. She earned a master's degree in chemistry from the University of Michigan and is currently doing post-graduate work at the University of Toledo. She's taught at several schools, most recently in Adrian, and has served as an adjunct professor at two colleges.
Christa will teach middle school math and science, and she's excited to help students realize that kids from any size school can achieve their dreams.
New third grade teacher Jackie Wing is also pleased to become part of the community.
The Central Michigan University graduate grew up in Haslett, near Lansing, and earned a teaching degree in elementary education and social studies. She has wanted to become a teacher since kindergarten (“I used to play school with my stuffed animals”) and this is her first teaching job.
Aside from teaching, Jackie enjoys reading, photography and graphic design work on computers.
“I really like Morenci and I’m excited to become part of the community,” she said.