Natrona Schools – Our Kids, Our Community

Discover how our kids are being empowered to create their future!

Inspiring Stories of Excellence

Literate Students

Erin Jackson/First-Grade Teacher, Evansville Elementary

“I believe her goal setting has been instrumental in helping our Title I students become more proficient in their literacy skills. One way she has done this is to work with her grade level in developing kindergarten and first grade ‘benchmarks’ for success. … Last spring, our kindergarten classes were finally competitive with the rest of the district in reading.”

— Donna Mathern

“Erin often acted as a peer mentor, helping support me with her expertise. I might not have survived without her phone number on my speed dial! She helped push me toward reaching my full potential as a teacher.”

 — Noelle Clark

Excelling Schools

Annette Pace/Sixth-Grade Teacher, Fort Caspar Academy

“Mrs. Pace’s results clearly exceed the ‘Excelling Schools Criteria of being in the top 10 percent of all Wyoming schools based on statewide assessments. But to look only at her test results gives just a small glimpse of Mrs. Pace. Performance test do not fully capture her talent and passion.”

— Kim Jones

“Annette is in the top 10 percent of all Wyoming excelling schools in all three academic areas. In fact, she tied for top honor in math and writing and was fourth in reading. On NWEA, she is ‘Substantially Above’ in all three academic areas for two years.”

— Brenda Bosco

Nicole Rapp/Third-Grade Teacher, Fort Caspar Academy

“We have four goal teams in our building. Nicole’s job is to guide all of the teams in the right directions, monitor their progress, and assist the teams when needed. … Her third grade students have consistently scored high growth on NWEA tests and have had high scores on the PAWS tests. It is due to her ability to teach and motivate students in a fun and interesting way, which makes them want to learn.”

— Sherry Nanneman

“It is a difficult task to oversee four different goal teams at a large school, but she worked with each group to make sure they are efficient, goal-oriented, harmonious, and effective.”

— Vicky Johnson

“Nicole has a thirst for reaching each student, which, coupled with her deep knowledge of content and analyzing data, has helped her students and the schools achieve very high scores and to be acknowledged as an excelling school since that distinction started in NCSD.”

— Janelle Ehrich

Mari Stoll/Principal, Cottonwood Elementary School

“Mari has made the district goal of becoming an excelling school her passion. It drives everything she does professionally; the way she leads and makes decisions, the way she works so tirelessly with her staff, her students and their parents. Despite Mari’s tremendous passion and focus academically, this does not detract from the caring and compassionate person she is within. Our students love Mrs. Stoll and her caring heart. She knows their stories, their background, and their dreams. They know she has their best interest at heart.”

— Gretchen Ukele

“Mari met every challenge with dignity, grace and a deep concern for her staff and especially for students. Her ability to adapt to endless contingency plans and maintain a positive, “can-do’ attitude is remarkable. Mari’s attitude inspired staff, students and me to work hard and adjust our attitudes!”

— Mike Bond

“I watched Mari as she led our new staff, students and families through the process of combining Westwood and McKinley schools, finding new programs that fit our school, and keeping an upbeat attitude while working out all of the kinks that went along with building a school from the bottom up. Her vision for Cottonwood Elementary to become an excelling school started when she was hired into the principal position and has carried with her for the last four years.”

— Angie Hayes

Cottonwood elementary moved from “Focus” to “Unclassified” status in both reading and language usage/writing in the NCSD district data review of student achievement for the 2009-2010 school year. Improvement on both PAWS and NWEA measures as well as expected- to substantially-high growth with some segments of students on the NWEA assessment, contributed to this positive change.

Sheila Bainter/Seventh-Grade Math Teacher, CY Junior High School

“Sheila spends countless hours in the evenings and on weekends searching for ideas and creating new ways to ensure that her students learn. Watching Sheila teach is fascinating. She has a wonderful sense of humor and a kind soft-spoken way of communicating with students that lets them know she cares about them personally, and also that she cares enough for them to learn math.”

— Martha Marquardt

“ … Sheila is a reflective teacher and is never satisfied with status quo.”

— Mike Jennings

Mike Carlson/Fifth-Grade Teacher, Paradise Valley Elementary School

“Mike works daily with his students to build a classroom of community. Every day after lunch they spend a few minutes talking about life skills and lifelong guidelines. … It is a powerful way for students to see that what they do for others can really make a difference in their own classmates’ attitudes and actions.”

— Carol Boal

“Over the years I have observed him move from a totally teacher-directed classroom to a student-directed learning environment. Mike nudges (students) to ‘go deeper’ with their own learning by setting personal goals at each conferring session.”

— Chris Frude

Karen Colling, Patrick Glynn, Cheryl Jones, Holly Thompson/IF Team, Dean Morgan Junior High

“As a team, they continually lead our school and district toward a continual improvement link that connects the school’s goals to the broader and deeper mission of Natrona County.”

— Walt Wilcox

“Karen, Pat, Cheryl and Holly are dedicated, dynamic professionals who go above and beyond the titles of their jobs. As individuals, and even more so as a team, they live up to our school board’s goal to create a compelling and non-negotiable focus on high achievement and academic growth throughout the district and engage all students, faculty, and staff in supporting and promoting it.”

— Shawn Gillum

Vanessa Warne/Tutor, North Casper Elementary

“Vanessa has moved through the ranks in the district, starting on a summer lawn crew, moving into custodial work while raising children and going to school to attain her teaching degree. She has proven, time and time again that her heart is truly in the teaching profession.”

— Phil Hubert

“Due to her inspirational way of teaching, (students) want to do well and are proud of the goals they achieve.”

— Linda Butts

“Vanessa continued to grow professionally, but she always continued on her first mission… that of helping young children learn to read.”

— Vickie Evans

Marcee George, Dana Berg, Beth Corley, Kary Lloyd, Pam Ferguson, B.J. Becker, Donna Shepherd, Bonnie Bitner (Paradise Valley), Amy Russell (Mills) and Daria Dundas (Crest Hill)/Instructional Team

“Together, they developed a plan to open their classrooms to other teachers across the district. What is really cool about this endeavor is that Amy and Daria were IFs at other schools. To my knowledge it is a rarity for multiple schools to create and initiate a home-grown staff development opportunity for others in our district.”

— Chris Frude

Prepared Graduates

Dr. Dean Braughton/Principal, CY Middle School

“Dean had a major role in the planning and design of CY Middle School. Our new facility incorporates career exploration opportunities for students as much as the regular curriculum subjects of math, science, language arts and social studies. Students then learn the importance of core subjects and how they relate to ‘real world’ careers.”

–Debbie Bovie

“Without a doubt, Dean has spent his career building a school system that prepares students for careers, post-secondary education and life. [A] key concept that Dr. Braughton pushed from the curricular standpoint was exploratory courses. Students can develop a vision of what they want to do or become and then, with the support of their families, schools and with their internal drive, achieve their goals.”

— Mike Jennings

Mary Beth Peden/Instructional Facilitator, Natrona County High School

“As co-facilitator for the student exchange with sister city Hsichih, Taiwan, she traveled with student delegations on two occasions to Taiwan and has hosted Taiwanese student groups who have visited Wyoming. She also wrote National Endowment for the Humanities grants so students could travel to Asia and Russia. She has always believed that students need to know as much as possible about their world outside of Wyoming.”

— Chris Bolender

“For over three decades, whether teaching Honors or IB students, at-risk or summer school students, Mary Beth’s empathetic, yet demanding, classroom instruction has prepared graduates to become active and positive members of society. There is hope for the future of democracy, and America as a whole, because of educators like Mary Beth Peden.”

— Jeff Jelskey

Shawn Weis/Music Teacher and Band Director, Natrona County High School

“He is supportive while maintain quite high expectations. His performing ensembles are always of high quality. Starting weeks prior to the start of school in the fall, moving from the end of marching band season into concert season and basketball pep bands then to the spring festival season, musical, etc., the work of the band program at NCHS is relentless.”

— Gregory Paulson

“He is an incredible musician with talent galore and such a phenomenal teacher, which is not always an easy combination to find. His bands have received ‘superior’ ratings at every festival and contest that he has been a part of, as well as others honors received. The jazz band has been invited to play at the North Texas Jazz Festival, which only happens by audition and invitation, and at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Honors such as these do not happen to run-of-the-mill, average, ordinary teachers but only those who demonstrate excellence on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis.”

— Steve Grussendorf

Alan Vandeventer/Counselor, Natrona County High School

“He involves parents, teachers, administrators, and any other significant individuals that will assist students in staying in school and working toward graduation.”

— Margo Nokes

“Alan does more than is called of him and still tries to push himself even farther. Anytime I see him in the halls, he is talking to someone, running papers somewhere, and getting things ready for his students.”

— Caleb Bunce

Wendy Pollock/Ag & Multimedia Teacher, CY Junior High

“She possesses a wonderful blend of ‘care and yet no nonsense allowed’ in the classroom. Kids respond well to instruction and enjoy being part of class or co-curricular activity.”

— Dr. Dean Braughton

“Wendy has been a very influential member of our exploratory/elective restructuring at CY Junior High School. She has spent countless hours researching and reflecting on middle level best practice around professional pathways and how to connect student learning to later life.”

— Mike Jennings

Safe, Healthy People

Dawn Evans/Administrative Assistant, Business and Facilities & Technology

“I cannot count the number of times she has ‘de-escalated’ individuals and groups through honest and open communication. It is these pressure-packed times which ‘make or break’ relationships, and Dawn regularly turns tough situations into opportunities for making friends with her interpersonal communication skills and genuine concern.”

–Mark Antrim

“One of Dawn’s greatest strengths is her positive and consistent attitude about her work. The stress and strains of her work do not show in her approach or dealings with others. Dawn treats all with respect and a genuine desire to help.”

— Steve Hopkins

Terry Hooker/Activities & Athletics Facilitator, Dean Morgan Junior High School

“Terry Hooker stands for what is right in activities and athletic and has been instrumental in engaging 75 to 80 percent of the student body at DMJH in extracurricular activities. Terry, has student athletes and coaches focused on sportsmanship, integrity, honesty, dependability and commitment. He works with our coaches to make sure student athletes are properly conditioned and ready for competition before the first game. He demands that kids are students first and then athletes and that they meet eligibility requirements before competing in a game. He also works closely with the front office to ensure that each student has their physical and is safe before starting a sport.”

— Larry Meeboer

“Terry arrives to work on most days riding his bicycle, usually by 8 a.m., then does not leave until the last practice of the day is over.  Terry is always looking for ways to improve DMJH athletics, but also Dean Morgan itself, by giving his own personal time to do small yet meaningful tasks, such as painting the backboards of our student’s outdoor equipment.”

— Jason Foery

Rory Franklin/Nurse, North Casper Elementary & Roosevelt HS

“I have personally witnessed her expert handling of vicious dogs and upset parents. Although some professionals have eliminated home visits from their duties, Rory continues to believe in meeting parents where they need to be met.”

— Linda Butts

“Rory does whatever it takes to assure the health of the students and staff in a building. She keeps parents involved in their child’s issues in a positive way.”

— Rene Rickabaugh

“By stepping out of her office and into the classroom, Rory has modeled for students how diverse a career in nursing can be.”

— Mike Pickett

Donna West/Instructional Assistant, North Casper Elementary School

“She has developed and implements a meticulous daily student exit system that is the best I have ever witnessed.”

— Linda Butts

“Donna’s work in leading our Life Skills Lab has been fruitful, where we have seen a steady decline disciplinary office referrals, proving a proactive stance on teaching and reteaching lacking social skills…is beneficial for success both in and out of school.”

— Phil Hubert

“Donna created and runs the book exchange for our school. Our students love this program. To many of them, this is practically the only way to get extra books for themselves.”

— Cathy Parker

Efficient, Effective Operations

Debbie Bovie/Office Manager, CY Middle School

“In the last three years, she has gone above and beyond expectation in coordinating with the design charette team, various contractors, sharing her expertise in operations of a building and maintaining communications with all parties involved. During the construction phase of building the new CY Middle School, Mrs. Bovie volunteered hours above and beyond her contract trying tirelessly to make sure effective communication was occurring with the appropriate parties. The efficiency with which she coordinated important information so that construction could proceed with efficacy was stellar.”

–Lisa Allen

“Several years ago, Debbie began our new building journey by serving on architect selection team, followed shortly by the charette team, and ultimately the building design team. During actual construction, she fielded questions and recorded 120,000 details so that none should be overlooked. For example, the selection of and the accounting for $1.24 million of furniture, fixtures, and equipment for the new CY. This effort was quickly followed by the gargantuan task of planning for and assisting with the packing and moving of thousands of boxes for our July move.”

— Dr. Dean Braughton

“‘Exceeds expectations’ hardly describes the effort Debbie puts forth to keep our office and school running smoothly. This fall, when we moved to the new CYMS, she spent weeks arranging for more than 260 keys and nearly 60 key fobs for everyone in the building. Because this took almost the whole first quarter, she came in every weekend so staff could have access to the building.”

— Leanne Woodfill

Vernita Marton,/Office Manager, Alcova, Red Creek & Powder River Elementary Schools;

Librarian, Alcova Elementary School

“She works tirelessly to make sure everything runs smoothly at Alcova, Red Creek and Powder River Schools. She oversees the ordering of materials, budget, field trips, substitutes, and communication with parents. She is also the ‘nurse on duty,’ lunch server and playground monitor!”

— Kim Skatula

“Vernita does extras that, as a new art teacher to Alcova, I would never have expected. I’ll never forget the first Thanksgiving at Alcova. I received an e-mail saying that I did not have to worry about lunch because Vernita was making a full Thanksgiving dinner. We all had a wonderful feast.”

— Mary Fair Whitlatch

Carla Schumacher/Educational Psychologist, Natrona County High School

“Carla individually screened each SPED student to determine current levels of academic performance and placed each student in the appropriate level of course work. She identified staff members who are ‘team players’ and who would work well with regular education staff forming the co-teaching environment. Carla is passionate about providing and developing a special education department that is of the highest quality.”

–Ron Estes Jr.

“Carla has helped shape broad changes in the service delivery here at NC, where inclusion has become the standard through the use of the proven co-teaching model. In a span of a year, NC went from having no co-taught sections for any sort to now having more that 20 sections with several more in store, as NC expands to accommodate its growing population.”

— Carter Braxton

“Carla is very caring and compassionate in her dealings with our students and their parents. She is known as a fair and honest advocate for the student.”

— Donna Tempest

Walt Wilcox/Principal, Dean Morgan Junior High School

“Changing what needs changing and not what is easy is part of Walt’s vision for our school. Excellence in every area is our goal, and we never really ‘arrive’ to this goal. Whatever we achieve, we can still improve.”

— Patty Johnson

“Walt has the incredible ability to continually ‘change with the times.’ His expectations remain high for students and staff, and he takes change with a smile, rolling up his sleeves to complete ‘one more thing.’”

— Judy McLellan


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This entry was posted on December 3, 2013 by in Excellence, Home - Inside NCSD and tagged , , , , .

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