By Marcy Stamper
Students attending Methow Valley Elementary and Liberty Bell High School will find a variety of staff changes when schools open on Tuesday (Sept. 2). The school district has hired new classroom and special education teachers, counselors and coaches, and several staff members are switching to new jobs. Methow Valley Elementary has an interim principal, Anne Andersen, who was formerly the instructional coach at the school for the past three years.
Methow Valley Elementary School
Christensen has a background in experiential education and worked for Outward Bound and the Methow Valley Community School. She recently received her master’s degree in teaching and taught first grade in Seattle. In her free time, Christensen enjoys rock climbing, skiing and hiking.
Keri Miles—first grade
Miles has worked as an early-childhood Montessori educator, an elementary teacher and a volunteer coach since moving to the Methow Valley in 2007. In addition to education, she has a background in history and fine arts. Her teaching philosophy involves active learning experiences to encourage students’ curiosity.
Miles was hired on a one-year replacement contract to fill in for Libby Foley, who is on leave for the year.
Don Haley—fifth grade
Haley taught fourth and fifth grade for 11 years in Moses Lake. Before that, he had a 17-year career as a biologist for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Haley and his family have had a cabin in Lost River for about five years.
Liberty Bell High School
Grayum taught social studies for eight years in the Mount Baker School District and English and social studies in Bellingham for the past three years. He enjoys skiing, backpacking and climbing.
Rebecca Thomson—career and technical education
Thomson earned a degree in family and consumer sciences education at Central Washington University. A Liberty Bell graduate, Thomson particularly likes helping young people reach their goals in life. She enjoys fly fishing, hiking, hunting and cooking.
Adrian Chavey—special education teacher
Chavey has worked as a paraprofessional educator, coach and tutor. She recently earned a master’s degree in special education and spent her first year teaching at Omak High School. She is a long-time Methow Valley resident and Liberty Bell graduate and enjoys reading, swimming and theater.
Barry Stromberger—welding instructor
Stromberger has agreed to return for his fourth year teaching welding. “We coaxed him out of retirement yet again—it’s really a selfless act on his part,” said Methow Valley Superintendent Tom Venable.
Katie Hover—transferring from kindergarten to second grade.
Tiffany Surface—transferring from special education to fourth grade.
Kelly van Bueren—transferring from fourth to sixth grade.
INDEPENDENT LEARNING CENTER
The Independent Learning Center (ILC) will have increased staffing, with Kim Odell’s schedule increased from two to three days, supplementing Sara Mounsey’s four-day schedule. Depending on overall district enrollment, staffing at the ILC may be increased so that classes there meet five days a week, said Venable.
Total district enrollment is projected to be 610 students, but administrators will not have solid numbers until the fourth day of school. Last year the district started with 605 students and added 12 over the course of the year. One unknown is the effect of the wildfires, which may have displaced some students and their families, said Venable
STUDENT AND FAMILY SUPPORT SERVICES
The school district is creating a coordinated approach to student and family support services by combining the resources of six specialists. The team consists of a counselor at each school, who will provide academic advising and work with students to create a healthy school climate; the youth and family social worker, who will assess needs and connect students and their families with resources; the special education director/psychologist; the school nurse; and a mental health counselor from Okanogan Behavioral Health Care, who will have a weekly presence at each school.
Jim Cordell—special education director/psychologist
Cordell served as a school psychologist and special education director for more than 30 years in the Banning Unified School District in California. He will be the special education director and psychologist for all three schools in the district.
Hannah Sands—counselor, Methow Valley Elementary School
Sands worked at a residential facility in Seattle that provides behavioral health services for children and their families, where she also assisted in the special-education program. She also worked in the public school system through another program that uses behavioral management. Sands is a 2006 Liberty Bell graduate.
Amy Faxon—counselor, Liberty Bell High School
Faxon spent two years working in the Mount Vernon School District with middle and high school students. She recently received her master’s degree in social work. A native of Arlington, Wash., Faxon comes to the Methow Valley from Tacoma. She also has a background in journalism and music.
Savannah Miller—mental health counselor
Miller, an employee of Okanogan Behavioral Healthcare, will provide therapeutic counseling services to students with social and emotional needs. She will have weekly hours in the school district and will also help coordinate counseling with private mental-health counselors.
The school district is interviewing candidates for a youth and family social worker.
ATHLETICS AND EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
Brian Wilbur—head football coach
Wilbur has been hired as head varsity football coach. Over the past three years, he has been the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator. Wilbur has played quarterback in the U.S. and abroad, for the University of North Carolina, the Montpellier Hurricanes in France, and the Granada Lions in Spain.
Cameron Rickett—assistant football coach
Rickett played defensive back for the Mountain Lions when he was a student at Liberty Bell.
Lincoln Post—head girl’s soccer coach
Post coached the Liberty Bell boys’ soccer team last year, and is taking over as coach of the girls’ team this fall.
Hunter Maltais will continue to serve as interim athletics and activities director.
The school district is in the process of recruiting an activities instructor for the Cub Club, the after-school program at Methow Valley Elementary.
Laura Wottlin has been promoted to head cook. Kristy Paul and Tricia Labanauskas will be assistant cooks.