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New teachers at Tracy Area Elementary School are from right: Lisa Monson, April Arnold, Walker Hennen, Kacie Viernhuf and Karen Schwartz.

TES welcomes new teachers

By Kyleen Olson


Tracy Elementary School has five new teachers.

Lisa Monson is teaching one of the three kindergarten classes. She has been teaching for 23 years and has taught grades six, first, second third and for seventeen of the twenty-three she has taught kindergarten.
“Kindergarten is so exciting,” Monson explains, “I am thrilled to be a part of watching them grow.”
Monson is originally from Lake Park, MN where she attended high school. She then graduated from Moorhead State University and received her masters at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
For the last 12 years she has taught kindergarten at West Central Area Schools in Elbow Lake.
She is most looking forward to meeting her students and their parents and being a part of their educational growth.

• • •

While Jenni Larson is at home on maternity leave, Karen Schwartz will be teaching her fourth grade class. Schwartz has been teaching grades preschool through eighth for the last 28 years.
She grew up in Ramone, South Dakota, a small town near Madison. After high school Schwartz attended Dakota State University.

Last year Schwartz worked in the Tracy Area School district as a substitute teacher.
“I am familiar with the place and students. It will be fun to get back into it,” she said.

Schwartz lives in Sanborn and has a cabin on Lake Shetek. She has three children, two daughters and a son. When she isn’t teaching she likes to be outdoors and do things like gardening, walking and boating.

• • •

First grade students will be all smiles with new teacher April Arnold. This is Arnold’s first year teaching
“I’m so excited,” she said about the year.

Arnold grew up in Ringsted, Iowa and is married to 2006 Tracy graduate Cody Arnold. She attended college at Southwest Minnesota State University. The two of them lived in Redwood Falls for a year before moving to Tracy permanently.

“Tracy is always a place we wanted to come back to,” Arnold explained, “it is a great place for our future family to grow up in.”

When asked why she decided to become a teacher, Arnold spoke about her preschool teacher, Miss Sheri.
“The love and passion she shared stays with me and made an imprint on me. I hope to be someone’s Miss Sheri one day.”

Arnold has enjoyed moving back to Tracy.

“The community of Tracy has been amazing and welcomed myself and my husband with open arms and made us feel as though we have lived here forever.”

• • •

The other fourth grade class will be seeing a new face as well. Kacie Vierhuf of Hendricks, will be teaching the second fourth grade class next to Jenni Larson’s room. Vierhuf has been teaching for four years. She taught grades first through third grade so far.

Vierhuf graduated from Lincoln High School in 2008 and attended Winona State University. She has been teaching at Zumbrota-Mazeppa elementary school near Rochester.

She is looking forward to teaching in a smaller community and being closer to home.

“It was a big reason to get back this way,” Zierhuf explained.

When asked about what she thought of Tracy, Zierhuf admitted to only really seeing the school so far.

“I think the last time I was in Tracy was to play in a basketball game,” she said.

Vierhuf will be commuting from Marshall where she lives with her fiancé’ who is from South Africa. He will have to commute back to Hendricks for his job.

“It is kind of halfway for both of us,” Zierhuf says.

Everyone she has met has been very welcoming toward her since coming to Tracy, Zierhuf says. She is looking forward to making her classroom her own.

• • •

Walker Hennen will be teaching sixth grade math this year. As with Arnold, this will be his first year teaching. Originally from Ghent he attended high school in Minneota before attending college at Northern State in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

Hennen is currently living on Lake Shetek at his family’s cabin. When asked what the biggest challenge he felt he might encounter this year he responded, “getting to work in the winter,” which may be true.
Hennen decided to become a teacher after thinking about who influenced him the most throughout his life.

“Teachers were a big part of that,” he said.

His favorite teacher was Mrs. Gillingham, whom he had in sixth grade.

“She was the nicest lady ever.”

He looks forward to getting to know the staff and students. He feels this school year will be “pretty fun.”

Tracy’s small town status helps Hennen with his transition.

“I grew up in a small town, it’s good to be in that setting,” he said.