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Gering’s new teachers ready for a great year
August 07, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

Elizabeth Still

Ten new teachers and staff have been hired to complete the staffing at Gering schools for the upcoming academic year. Over the next two weeks, the Citizen will feature profiles on the new people so the community and parents can get to know them and how they will be working toward making the Gering school system the very best it can be.

New position brings latest technology into curricula

This upcoming school year, Gering has created a new position to assist faculty and staff integrate the latest technology into the schools’ curricula.

Elizabeth Still is the district’s new Innovative Teaching and Learning Specialist. The original position was called a Tech Integration Specialist, but the district wanted to be more specific with that the job entails.

“Even though I’m dealing a lot with technology training, we wanted the emphasis to be more on learning for both teachers and students,” Still said.

She will be working one-on-one with teachers as they learn how to apply Google Apps into their classrooms. She’s also set up a blog where she can share resources with all teachers in the district. She said she hopes educators from all over will hopefully find value in it. The blog website is www.geringbulldogbytes.blogspot.com.

“I’ve also set up a template that teachers can use to create their own classroom website,” Still said. “That will give them the ability to easily communicate with their students, parents and colleagues.”

Still was previously with the VALTS alternative high school program through Educational Service Unit 13. She taught social studies and developed online courses for the school to implement.

“ESU 13 started their online school back in 2008,” she said. “In preparation for that, the principal sent me to a technology conference. My interest in tech integration grew from there.”

Still added she gets much of her own professional development online through Twitter. She’s also connected to a “huge” network of teachers from around the world who share information, resources and other insights into how to integrate technology into schools. That could include offering interested students a wider variety of courses, included advanced level courses, than what have been traditionally offered.

“I believe technology should make easier the things we already do,” she said. “Technology will help us communicate, share ideas and collaborate on projects. I’m hoping that’s the direction we’re headed for Gering. We’re preparing our students for careers that don’t even exist today.”

She added that technology will make it easier for teachers to communicate with busy parents. “It’s hard to contact parents individually, but by using a classroom website we can push information out to everyone with a mouse click.”

Technology integrated into the curriculum will help prepare students for tomorrow’s careers. “This is the direction everyone is headed,” Still said. “I think this will help all of our students stay caught up and not be at a disadvantage because we’re in western Nebraska.”

Junior high social studies sees new face

Alliance graduate Zachary Boness will begin his teaching career this fall at Gering Junior High School.

Boness graduated from Alliance High School in 2008, then attended Chadron State College. He student taught at Scottsbluff Middle and High Schools.

He’s been assigned to teach Social Studies at Gering beginning Aug. 14. And he credits his own teachers for instilling in him the joy of teaching.

“I had some really great teachers who inspired me and helped me reach my potential,” he said. “I wanted to do that for other students. I wanted to give back. That’s why I chose teaching as a career.”

As a Social Studies instructor, Boness wants to help students understand history and how we’ve come to the place we are now. “We always need to learn from others’ mistakes and do our part to shape a better future.”

Boness said he especially enjoys studying American Government. “I want to help students understand what’s going on in our government so we have more educated citizens in the future. It’s important for everyone to know what’s going on in the government so they can make good choices for their leaders.”

Bones said he’s very blessed and grateful for the opportunity to begin his career with the Gering school system

Gering grad Kristina Mueller returns to classroom

Kristina Mueller, a Gering graduate whose children also attended Gering schools, will be a new first grade teacher this year at Cedar Canyon Elementary School.

Mueller is a member of the Class of 1995. She then went to work as a dental technician for 10 years, then five years at the Scotts Bluff County Housing Authority.

She and her husband, Jason, have three daughters, who all attended Gering schools. As the kids grew older, she decided it was time to pursue her dream to become a teacher.

“I always wanted to be a teacher, but the timing didn’t come together until later,” she said. “I went back to school at Chadron State College in 2010 and graduated this past May.”

Mueller did here student teaching at Lincoln Elementary and knew it was Gering where she wanted to work.

“I loved going to school in Gering,” she said. “My girls went there and had a great educational experience. I loved the teachers in Gering and the ones at Lincoln were like family.”

She added she also likes the curriculum and the principals and everything else about the district.

There were few openings in Gering when Mueller graduated, and she said she was really excited to be hired and teach at Cedar Canyon.

“I really excited to get to know the kids and their different personalities,” she said. “One of the best things about teaching is getting to meet a lot of different kids and help influence their lives.”

August 14 is the first day of classes in Gering schools.

Editor’s note: See next week’s Citizen for more new teacher profiles.

Kristina Mueller

Zachary Boness
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