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Meet Morris Area's new teachers

New teachers in the Morris Area school district for 2009-2010 are: In front, from left, Kevin Pope, Heidi Clark, Kayla Erdahl and Abbey Johnson. In back, from left, Dylan Viss, Jenny Maras, Jim Kennedy and Chris Van Kempen.

Morris Area School District welcomes eight new teachers for the 2009-2010 school year.

"We had a quality pool of candidates for all of our vacant teaching positions," said Superintendent Scott Monson. "Our principals and staff did a very good job choosing finalists, and we are excited to welcome these teachers to our quality teaching staff."

In addition to filling vacant positions, the Morris Area School Board approved increasing elementary classroom teaching staff by two full time teachers.

Although not listed as a new teacher, Heidi Suess will be moving from half-time to full-time kindergarten, and the district added a fourth section of KinderPlus.

"Each of these people brings a nice combination of experience to their position, and we are glad to have all of them become part of our staff," Monson said.

Here are brief biographies of the new teachers:

•Heidi Clark is a new part-time kindergarten teacher this year. Heidi brings teaching experience in Colorado and most recently in Starbuck and Glenwood. In addition to teaching, she also has experience with preschool and childcare programs. Heidi is a graduate of Concordia College.

•Kayla Erdahl will be one of our new special education teachers and will work with elementary students this year. Kayla recently graduated from Minnesota State University-Moorhead with a Bachelor of Science in Special Education. She has classroom experience student teaching a variety of grade levels in the Moorhead School District and also completed a practicum at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.

•Abbey Johnson is a name and face that some may recognize in the Morris Area Schools as she worked this past year as a paraeducator at the elementary. She has been hired as a full-time elementary teacher, and she will be working primarily with grades four and five as well as helping out in first grade. Abbey served as the EAGER Coordinator this past year as well and brings teaching experience from Cyrus. She is a graduate of UMM.

•James Kennedy has been hired as a part-time physical education instructor. James will be working at the elementary school in the afternoons, in addition to teaching mornings at the Glacial Hills Elementary School in Starbuck. He also will be working with St. Mary's students who are joining Morris Area physical education classes this year. James is a graduate of Concordia College and recently taught in Cyrus.

Jenny Maras comes to the Morris School District with seven years of teaching at Willmar High School. In addition to teaching business classes in Willmar, she also served as the Business Professionals of America (BPA) advisor. Jenny is familiar with the district, as she was a long-term substitute at MAHS during the 2001-2002 school year. She earned her Bachelor's Degree from Concordia College and her Master's Degree from St. Mary's University.

•Kevin Pope will be teaching junior high and high school science classes this year. Kevin is a recent UMM graduate and also graduated from Ely High School. He student taught at Willmar High School and has also done practicums in Parkers Prairie, Morris, and Chokio-Alberta. Kevin played football and baseball for UMM and will be helping with junior high football at MAHS.

•Chris Van Kempen will be working with both elementary and high school special education students this year and has been hired as a full-time special education teacher. Chris is a UMM graduate and earned special education licensure from St. Cloud State University. She has teaching experience in multiple school districts and has also coached track, swimming, and softball.

•Dylan Viss recently graduated from the University of Minnesota - Duluth and will be teaching junior high and high school science this year. Dylan student taught in Duluth and also has experience supervising, mentoring, and teaching in a variety of youth programs. He has also coached football in Duluth and will be helping with junior high football at MAHS.