HAWARDEN—West Sioux is welcoming 15 new teachers along with all staff, students and fans back to school Friday, Aug. 23.
As the bell rings on a new school year we reached out to ask the new teachers the following questions:
Name, job title and brief history.
What brings them to West Sioux?
What do you hope West Sioux can offer you in your career
What do you plan to bring to West Sioux?
Here’s a closer look:
Taylor Anthony, 30, high school special education
Anthony is originally from Temecula, CA. She graduated from Mount Marty College in Yankton, SD, in May 2011 and she has lived in Mobridge, SD, the past three years. This will be her ninth year teaching special education.
Anthony and her family moved to the area to raise their daughters closer to family as her husband’s family lives in LeMars.
“I am hopeful that during my career here at West Sioux I will grow as an educator and make connections within the community to provide students with the best services possible,” she said.
Anthony plans to bring a team approach to special education, a strong communication with parents and general education teachers, students as well as have an open mind and heart when it comes to her time at West Sioux.
“I look forward to working with parents, students, teachers and administration as we begin the school year,” she said.
Aimee Flynn, 44, sixth grade math, math skills and computer and eighth grade math skills
Flynn is a 1993 West Sioux graduate. After graduation, she attended the University of Wyoming where she graduated in 1998. She lived in Laramy, WY, for 20 years teaching in public and private education.
“I have had the opportunity to teach many different ages of students throughout those years, which has allowed me to expand my own experiential background and knowledge of education,” she said.
Flynn took a few years “hiatus” from formal education and says she just decided it was a good time in her life to return to education.
“I have been impressed by the commitment of the staff at West Sioux and look forward to collaborating with them,” she said.
Jill Westhoff, 32, high school business and computer
Westhoff lives in LeMars and previously taught at Gehlen Catholic High School. She’s excited to see what the new school year brings.
“I hope West Sioux allows me to grow as a teacher and be able to get students ready for college,” Weshoff said. “I hope to get students excited about technology and learning.”
Westhoff’s husband, Zachary, is a veterinarian in LeMars and they have three children: Jarret (fourth grade), Ty (kindergarten) and Jaclyn (2 years old).
Kim Meerdink, 56, high school science
Meerdink retired from teaching after 32 years but is coming out of retirement because West Sioux was seeking a part-time science teacher and he was wanting to get back in education.
“I would like to continue working, just not full time,” Meerdink said. “This works out well for me and the school district.”
Meerdink hopes his years of experience will help students in the district expand their knowledge of Science and ability to safely work in a lab setting.
Meerdink and his wife, Dee, have been married 34 years and they have three adult daughters.
Jill Hansen, 49, middle school special education
Born and raised in Sergeant Bluff, Hansen went on to earn her teaching degree at Buena Vista University. She was a high school/middle school teacher in Hinton and most recently completed the 2018-19 school year as a long-term substitute at West Middle School in Sioux City.
“I am excited to be at West Sioux Middle School and work with students with special needs,” Hansen said. “I enjoy helping students learn new strategies to make learning easier and more fun. I am hoping West Sioux will be the school that allows me to grow as a teacher and allows me to continue my lifelong love of learning.”
Hansen hopes her love of learning shows during the school year.
“I hope to bring West Sioux Middle my love of learning,” Hansen said. “I enjoy learning and find that I learn as much as students do daily. I would like to develop a love of learning in our students and help make them into lifelong learners.”
Hansen is married to her husband, Jeff. She is mom to five children; Elizabeth, 16; Anthony, 12; Owen, 10; Isabelle, 8; and Ariel, 6 — all whom will all be Falcons this school year, transferring to West Sioux from Gehlen Catholic in LeMars.
Laura Mosher, 25, fifth grade math
Mosher has taught kindergarten and third grade in Des Moines ans most recently fifth grade in Sioux City. She and her fiancé, Chance Klemme, just moved closer to the district near Akron.
“I am so excited to be a part of West Sioux,” Mosher said. “I look forward to experiencing and engaging in the small town community.”
Mosher plans to build relationships while teaching and living in a smaller community. In return she hopes to build excitement for students.
“I hope to build relationships with students, staff, and families to make a lasting impact,” Mosher said. “I hope to get students excited about learning.”
Kimberly Waterman, 33, seventh grade math and eighth grade social studies
Waterman, a Sioux Center native who earned her bachelors and master’s degree at Dordt College, is on the list of new teachers at West Sioux. She taught 11 years at Hull Christian before taking the job in the community where she and her husband reside.
“My husband and I live on an acreage outside of Hawarden,” Waterman said. “He is a 2004 graduate of West Sioux. I am excited to be a larger part of the Hawarden community!”
Waterman is married to Kyle and they have two children Camden, 4, and Collins, 2.
Eleven years of experience is what Waterman brings to the team at West Sioux and she hopes that will be beneficial to staff and students. She also hopes her passion for learning shows.
“I hope my passion, excitement for learning and experience of teaching middle school students can be an asset to the West Sioux School District,” she said.
Annette Johnson, 48, high school special education
Being a West Sioux graduate and living in the school district her entire life, Johnson said she has always dreamed she would return to her alma mater as a teacher. She was an aid with the district in the early 1990s before taking a different career path, which gave her various job experiences that led her back to teaching.
“It has always been my dream to teach at West Sioux and I am excited that dream is coming true,” Johnson said. “I have been wanting to get back into teaching and at the secondary level but was not sure what area until I realized that I wanted to make sure all students had a chance to be successful in school with or without a disability. I have a deep loyalty to my community and the people in it and I am thrilled to have the chance to contribute to my community and the school I once attended.”
Johnson is married to her Rob and they have two adult children: Wyatt and Kylie.
Johnson vows to use everything she has in her to ensure each student at West Sioux has an opportunity to find what they want in life and experience success.
Jerica Sieperda, 36, high school math
Sieperda will return to teaching after four years of staying home raising her four children. She and husband, Jimmy, have four children; Anna, 7; Jerit, 6; Sara, 3; and Arie, 3.
Sieperda who lives in Beresford, SD, taught for 10 years at Irene-Wakonda School before being a stay-at-home mom. In returning to education, Sieperda is hoping for any easy transition that will provide a positive outcome.
“I’m looking forward to working in a positive school environment with a great staff and great students,” Sierperda said.
Sieperda believes in giving students the tools necessary so they are able to develop skills in math and problem solving and do so in a confident manner.
“I also plan to be a positive influence in their lives and the lives of the rest of the West Sioux community,” she said.
Atlanta De Jong, 25, second- through 12th-grade art instructor, varsity volleyball coach
Coming from Canton, SD, De Jong hopes to bring enthusiasm and creativity to West Sioux classrooms.
“The great community brought me here and the opportunity to do what I love, teach and coach,” De Jong said. “I look forward to having West Sioux help me grow as a teacher, coach and person.”
Motivating and encouraging students to be creative and think “outside the box” is the way De Jong plans to teach art students at West Sioux.
She attended Black Hills State University and earned her teaching degree. She and her husband, Zach, got married last summer. Both grew up in Canton.
Judy Haken, 48, high school EL
Haken previously taught 23 years in Arizona and said she wanted a new adventure.
“I am happy to be at West Sioux because it will expand my comfort zone and let me continue to learn and grow,” Haken said.
Haken’s mother and sister live in Sibley and her brother in Little Rock, which also made the move easier. She thoroughly enjoys helping all students become life long learners and readers.
“Hopefully this will be done through a variety of activities in the classroom, on the field, on the court and in the different clubs or organizations offered at the school and in the community,” she said.
Chandler Brons, 23, fourth grade
Originally from Lake Park, Brons is a familiar face to West Sioux Elementary as she spent a full year student teaching with Carrie Wilkison in third grade last year.
“I feel very blessed to be able to continue my career in the same place I got started,” Brons said. “In my career, I hope West Sioux staff and students always push me to be the best version of myself.”
Brons strives to provide her students with the confidence and tools needed to continually strive to be their best and do their best work.
“Every day I want to bring passion, excitement and joy to my classroom,” she said.
Paul McEntaffer, 48, band director
McEntaffer comes to West Sioux with several years of experience. He was born and raised in Sioux City and graduated from Morningside College. He previously taught at Aurelia, Battle Creek Ida Grove and Cherokee. The last five years McEntaffer has spent taking a break in education while being the sales manager at Lowe’s in Sioux City.
“When I went looking for a job and to get back into teaching, I knew that I wanted to find a small, close knit school district,” McEntaffer said. “I knew of the pride that West Sioux has as a school and that was very attractive to me.”
McEntaffer and his wife, Stacy, have three children Caitlin (junior at Simpson College), William (high school senior) and Alec (high school freshman).
In continuing to build the band department and interest in music, McEntaffer plans to bring an “infectious spirit” to the instrumental music program.
Alexis Te Brink, 22, first grade teacher and middle school volleyball coach
Te Brink looks forward to teaching in a small, close-nit community like the one she grew up in at Remsen St. Mary’s. She attended college at Northwestern.
“I grew up in a small community and have always known I wanted to teach in one,” Te Brink said. “I am excited to join the West Sioux School District and hope to gain knowledge, support, and new relationships in my professional career.”
Te Brink will bring motivation to the volleyball court as well as the Ireton Elementary building where she will be teaching first grade. Before taking this position, Te Brink was a teacher, librarian at Franklin Elementary School in LeMars.
“I will bring energy and new ideas to the district,” Te Brink said. “Things I have learned recently in college.”
Cassie Van Kekerix, 35, elementary at-risk
This will be Van Kekerix’s first year teaching and she chose to join the team at West Sioux because she is hoping the district brings new adventures while offering everything a small community does.
Van Kekerix is goal driven and she strives to accomplish things she begins.
“My true goal in life is to make a difference in the future of children,” Van Kekerix said. “Successively I achieved my teaching certificate, started a summer tutoring program and helped get an after-school program built from the ground up.”
She graduated from Beresford, SD, in 2002 where she lives just on the outside of town with her husband Jim and their two children Andrew (seventh grade) and Allie (fourth grade). There is nothing Van Kekerix feels she can’t do, or at least try.
“With these experiences, I know that I am on the right path and look forward to continuing my journey at West Sioux Elementary.” Van Kekerix said.