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This page is dedicated to learning more about all the great employees of District 484. We love our TEAM!
The Kindergarten Teaching Team - Making Learning Fun!
Ah yes, Kindergarten! Remember the days of eating glue, cutting your hair with safety scissors, and crying because you just wanted to be back home with mom and dad? What kind of superhero does it take to turn our anxious little ones into social butterflies who create, explore, interact, inquire, read and write?!
Meet the Pioneer Kindergarten teaching team who bring out the best in all their kiddos, letting each one shine, allowing them to reach their full potential: every day, every year. (Little known fact: they have a few openings in kindergarten for next year - tell your friends:)
Read all about this Tremendous Team!
Patsy Athman - Retiring after 13 years in Pierz: a lifetime of projects ahead!
I am Patsy Athman and I teach Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) at Healy High School. The specific courses I teach are 7th grade FACS, Child Development and Parenting, Foods and Nutrition I and II, and Quilting and Textiles.
What I am most looking forward to in retirement is getting up each morning and having the freedom to do whatever I want! My bucket list includes visiting Alaska and Hawaii. When I get caught up with all my unfinished projects at home or you might find me working at a greenhouse, bakery or quilt shop.
My words of wisdom are, “Life is what you make it. Make it good”. Read Patsy's Full Bio
Mary Tschida - Retiring after 38 pretty fantastic years at Pierz :)
There is really no one certain thing that I love about my job, there are many…..I truly enjoy coming to work each day (maybe being a part-timer has something to do about that), it’s the people I work with, the people that I have come into contact with from the community, the many volunteers, parents, and students.
I am very proud to say I work for the Pierz School District. We have so many good things happening within our buildings. It’s just fun to take a stroll down the hallways and listen to what is taking place in classrooms. I wish everyone would have that opportunity to do so. I really do not have much of a bucket list...maybe a little traveling (I’m really a home-body), hanging out with my family, siblings, and spending more time at the lake-doing nothing with husband Don and my children Adam and his wife Angela, Amanda and her husband Chad, Calvin and his wife Melissa along with our five grandchildren and one step-grandchild. Down the road I can see myself volunteering-giving back to this community. Read Mary's Full Bio
Georgia Kretschmar, 4th grade - retiring after 29 years fast years at Pierz!
I am Georgia Kretschmar, 4th grade teacher at Pioneer Elementary. I have been a teacher in the Pierz school district since 1989 when I joined the “small” Pioneer family in Harding at the only public school in the district. I was the Title I teacher for one year before moving to 4th grade where I’ve been having fun ever since.
These past 33 years in education have flown by, but I have enjoyed every minute of it. There have been many changes in education throughout my career, some good, some not so good! The biggest change would be technology, which I look at as a blessing and a curse. I sure hope “going outside” never gets old for our children! Read Georgia's Full Bio
Jo Loidolt, Elementary Special Ed Para--retiring after 12 years at Pioneer
My name is Jo Loidolt. I have been a Special Ed. Para at Pioneer Elementary for the last 12 years. It was not my first experience working with children. I ran an In-home daycare for 16 years while raising our three kids.
As a kid I always wanted to be a teacher. Life didn’t turn out that way, but I have been so fortunate to be able to touch children’s lives by doing daycare and now working in an elementary school. It is so amazing to see children succeed. Knowing that you have been a little part of their progress is gratifying. I have loved my time here at Pioneer and have made so many great memories and friendships. I am proud to have been a part of the Pioneer family. Read Jo's Full Bio
Janel Jansen, Food Manager for the District, Head Cook at Pioneer
I am Janel Jansen, Food Manager and Head Cook at Pioneer. I have worked here for 31 years. I started at the High School in 1987 and when Pioneer opened in 1991, I moved over there to be Head Cook.
We have see a lot of changes since I first started. When the doors first opened, we served 75 kids for breakfast. Now, some days we serve 250. For lunch it was 300; now we serve 600. All in the same cafeteria from the same kitchen as we’ve always had! Back then we did a lot of cooking from scratch. We don’t do that as much now; we just don't have the time! Read Janel's Full Bio
Rosie Hoheisel, Head Cook/Food Service Department at Healy High School
Hello! I'm Rosie Hoheisel, head of the Food Service Department of Pierz Healy High School. I have worked here for 27 years.
I've seen a lot of students throughout the years, and it's still sad to see them leave after they graduate. However, it's so nice to see students returning back to the Pierz area to raise their families! Read Rosie's Full Bio
Mark Gruber, District Head Custodian
I’m Mark Gruber, Head Custodian for the Pierz schools. In my job I oversee the maintenance of all of the district’s buildings and grounds, and schedule busing for field trips and extracurricular activities. In my free time...just kidding. What free time!?
I like my job because it gives me the opportunity to do something different each day. I like problem solving, and with two large buildings with various additions, there are plenty of opportunities to tackle issues that arise. These challenges keep me on my toes—I’m glad I got to know the system piece by piece! Read Mark's Full Bio
JD Folger, Custodian at Pioneer
Hi! I’m J.D. Folger, custodian at Pioneer Elementary. I grew up in a small town and wanted the same experience for my kids. Pierz Schools was a big part of moving here.
I am the youngest of seven. I attended grade school in Lowry, Minnesota and high school in Glenwood, Minnesota. I then went to vocational school in Pipestone for meat cutting. I have since worked in m any meat departments including Coborn’s, Meyer’s Meats, Thielen Meats and Pierz Foods. I was then hired as a custodian at the elementary school and have worked here for over 15 years. Read J.D.'s Full Bio
Patti Block--Para, High School
Hi! My name is Patti Block. I am in my 18th year as a Special Education Para at the High School. As a para I love going to to different classrooms with the different kids and constantly learn new things. One of the best things about Pierz Schools is the people. I can honestly say that I love my co-workers. They make the good days great and the bad days better!
As the youngest child, I grew up on a farm just northeast of Pierz with my parents, Joe and Pat O’Neil, 4 brothers and 5 sisters. Yep! 12 of us in one house, and only one bathroom! How did we all survive? I attended St Joe’s Catholic School (Holy Trinity) as a kid. My brothers, sisters and I spent a lot of time outside. Whether it was doing chores, picking weeds in my dad’s massive garden, playing games or playing ball--we were outside. Read Patti's Full Bio
Kelly Pohlkamp--Media Assistant, Pioneer Elementary
I am Kelly Pohlkamp, and I work in the media center at Pioneer Elementary. I enjoy the day to day contact with the students….whether it be in the computer lab and seeing their excitement as they work through puzzles in coding and the BreakOut EDU Escape games or in the library and helping them find a book that they will enjoy and is a good fit for them.
I attended Pierz Healy High School (go class of ‘82!) and was a member of OEA (Office Education Association), a flutist in Band, Student Council, Drama and a cheerleader for Football, Basketball and Wrestling.
After graduation, I went to school for Interior Design and Architectural Drafting. Although I no longer work in that area, I still love to read about and shop for home décor.
When my children, Zachary and Alexandra were young, I started spending time volunteering in their classrooms. Over the years, that turned into subbing and then a job as a paraprofessional in the classroom. About 10 years ago I took a position in the Computer Lab/Media Center and have been here ever since! Read Kelly's Full Bio
Becky Ruprecht, Title 1 Teacher - Holy Trinity and Pioneer
Hi! I am Becky Ruprecht, and I am a Title 1 teacher (alongside Tanya Thielen and the rest of the amazing speech, reading and special education teams!) at Pioneer Elementary. I love helping children learn, especially those who struggle. I was in title in 1st and 2nd grade and remember that special teacher, Mrs. Peach, who helped me learn to read. Her patience and hard work inspired me to volunteer with her during high school and I went on to become a special education and elementary teacher.
Principal Tom Otte on Becky's work to improve literacy at both Pioneer and Holy Trinity: "Becky has a unique position as both a special education teacher and a Title I teacher. She spends her mornings at Pioneer working with children in Title I and our SUCCESS program and she spends her afternoons providing special education and Title I services to children at Holy Trinity. She is also a building literacy leader and works with grades 4-6 as our building expert on STAR assessments. This means she schedules the STAR benchmark monitoring and works with the data to help teachers make sense of it and implement instructional adjustments to meet the needs of children. Becky has also worked as a play director and assistant for a number of years. Becky's schedule is challenging, yet she approaches every day with grace, confidence, and skill." Read Becky's Full Bio
Jill Hoheisel - Special Education at Healy - "We are very fortunate"
Hello! I’m Jill Hoheisel, one of five Special Education teachers at the high school. In addition, I teach the elementary Extended School Year (ESY) during the summer months, oversee the Pierz Alternative Program (PAP), chaperone many of the extracurricular activities after school, and assist with the concession stands.
I was raised in the Hillman area on a family dairy farm. Growing up on the farm with my three sisters and brother, my Mom and Dad pushed us to work hard. Together we shared many responsibilities including milking cows before and after school, feeding calves, baling hay, and picking rocks. I’m grateful not only for the childhood memories that this time left me with, but for the lifelong lessons that were instilled in me. Growing up on the family farm taught me the importance of family, working together, respect, faith, and the true meaning of hard work. Little did I know at the time, I would later apply all of these skills to a career where my education once started!
I attended and graduated from Pierz Healy High School. While attending high school, I participated in basketball, Student Council, yearbook, band, and pep band. When I was a junior on the basketball team, we were the first girls team to make it to state and bring home a 3rd place trophy. It was so exciting! Read Jill's Full Bio
Sara Underhill - Art Teacher, World Traveler, Student-Focused
I’m Mrs. Sara Underhill, the high school art teacher. I have been teaching art in Pierz for 8 years. Prior to working in Pierz, I was the middle level art teacher in Milaca. When I started college, I actually thought I was going to be a chemist. It turns out that I’m not very good at chemistry!
I think being an art teacher is the best job ever. I enjoy being able to try new materials and help students problem solve and be creative. Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” My goal as a teacher is to make artists. When I say “make artists,” I don’t expect every student that leaves my class to produce art as a profession or even as a hobby. I want my students to be reflective, committed young adults that are able to think critically, collaborate productively, communicate effectively, and be creative. That’s the artists I want to create.
The activities I was involved with helped to shape me into the person I am today - in swimming I practiced persistence and dedication. My art classes helped me practice focus and pushed me out of my comfort zone so that I would try new things. One of the biggest things I see with my Art Club students is just having a place to fit in. Everyone is different and unique and needs a place to be themselves. I found that and I hope that Pierz students are able to find that as well. That’s why activities matter. Read Sara's Full Bio
Kim Horning - Healy Graduate, Loving Pierz Schools for Her Own Children
¡Hola! Me llamo Kim Horning (Hi! My name is Kim Horning), and I am the Spanish Teacher at Healy High School. I am also the Spanish Club Advisor and Junior High track coach. You may be more familiar with my maiden name, Zimney, my sisters, my dad and I have all enjoyed many years at Pierz Schools!
While attending Healy High, I played volleyball, basketball and ran track. I was a cheerleader and danced. Some of my time was spent with the jazz band, pep band, choir, yearbook, drama club and student council. Being in all these activities taught me so much -- how to work with others, how to be a good teammate and employee, it taught me compassion and empathy, and how to set a goal and follow through to accomplish it.
I chose to become a teacher because I love school. I love learning and I want to share that enthusiasm with others.
Read Kim's Full Bio
Georgina Kowalczyk - Around the World and Teaching in Pierz
My name is Georgina Kowalczyk, also known to my students as Mrs. Kowalczyk, Ms. K or sometimes just, “Hey.”
Ever since I can remember, I have loved to read, go to school and learn new things. This would explain why I became a teacher...I get to read, go to school and learn something new everyday! I have a BA in International Business, Spanish and French from SCSU. And through the Study Abroad program at SCSU, I studied at the University of Toulouse in France - UT1.
Read Gina's Full Bio
Pat Tax Brings Passion for Agriculture, Learning to Healy Students
I grew up on a 70 cow dairy farm in Mayhew Lake and remember watching as my dad poured milk into cream cans and then as we progressed, into a step saver to a bulk tank. I married Chuck Tax in 2002 and began a second career as a dairy farmer. In 2016, Chuck and I leased our operation to another young couple trying to get into the dairy industry and our lives as dairy farmers changed drastically. We still shudder at the thought of thawing drinking cups and dealing with frozen beaters on the manure spreader in these cold winter days.
I am so proud to be a member of the staff at Pierz schools. I am humbled by how hard and how much time staff will take to ensure students’ successes. Read Pat's Full Bio
It's All in the Family for Marcus and Tracey Artner
It is with great pleasure that I can introduce myself as the business manager at Pierz Public Schools. My name is Tracey Artner and I joined the team in August 2017. I was born and raised in Hillman, MN. I graduated from Onamia High School in 2000, and went on to receive a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from Rasmussen Business College. I have worked in a school district setting for
15 years, the last five years in the business office.
My husband Marcus works at Healy High as a math teacher and coach. We have an 8 month old daughter, Addison. When I’m not at work, I enjoy gardening, fishing, spending time with my family, and attending school events. I feel very fortunate and excited to be part of the school community. I look forward to getting to know more families in the Pierz community. Please feel free to stop and say hi! Read the Artner's Full Bio
Pierz Schools Fortunate to Have Speech Language Pathologists on Staff
Most districts have a hard time finding and keeping one Speech Language Pathologist on staff full time- and if they do have one, many times they have to share the practitioner with another district. In Pierz, we are fortunate to have not one but two! Meet our SLPs and their families and find out how and why they came to call Pierz home.
My name is Maria Andrea and I am a Speech-Language Pathologist for the Pierz School District. I am originally from Brainerd where I graduated from high school in 2009. At that time, I considered a career path in the mathematics, teaching, or engineering fields and had never heard of “speech-language pathology.” Following a job shadow experience of a school-based SLP, I decided to change course and major in speech-language hearing sciences. I was anxious and excited for a career helping individuals of all ages with communication and swallowing disorders and the flexibility to practice in either a medical or educational setting. I received my Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders in 2012 and Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology in 2014 from Minnesota State University Moorhead. I moved to Pierz in 2014 when I married my husband, Josh, and began the first few years of my career as an SLP working in the Brainerd and Little Falls School Districts. I am now a full-time SLP for the Pierz School District, a highly rewarding job which has allowed me the balance of maintaining my SLP career with family life (we welcomed a baby boy in May!) I currently service Pierz students in the elementary and high school settings. I look forward to continuing my work as an SLP and raising our son as a Pierz Pioneer!
I’m Jessica Teske, a speech-language pathologist (SLP) in the Pierz School District. This is my fourth year working in Pierz. I primarily work with preschool through 3rd grade students who have communication needs, including speech/articulation, language, fluency (stuttering), and voice disorders.
I grew up on my family’s dairy farm near Perham, Minnesota. My two younger brothers, who both received speech services in elementary school, inspired me to look into the field of speech-language pathology. During my senior year in high school I worked with the SLP in my school district and instantly knew I found my calling. I attended Minnesota State University - Moorhead, where I earned my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Speech-Language Pathology.
Why Pierz? My husband, Rich, has taught science and coached in the district since 2009. From his experience, I was able to witness the support and stability the district offers employees. Also, I was impressed with the opportunities offered to students. In 2014, I was lucky enough to become part of the “Pioneer Family” and quickly realized what amazing and caring staff work in our district! Rich and I look forward to watching our sons, Andrew (3) and Zeke (1), start their education in the Pierz School District.