Joliet’s new teachers express excitement as school opens

Thursday, September 10, 2020

“Teaching in a pandemic is a lesson in adaptability. I would also say it leaves a lot of opportunities to think of gratitude. Every day I am thankful to see my students, thankful that we are healthy, thankful for the opportunity to solve problems and contribute support during this crazy time,” said Joliet’s new kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Eleah Wend.

Wend joins the Joliet staff as an additional kindergarten teacher as a result of swelling enrollment. The District welcomed nearly 30 kindergarteners this year. The District’s K-12 enrollment is 385 students, which includes 118 students in the high school. Joliet had about 10% of students elect distance learning. In-person instruction is happening for all students, five days a week. Students have been placed into cohorts to limit exposure.

In addition to Mrs. Wend, Joliet Public Schools is welcoming five other teachers to its staff for the 2020-2021 school year.

Mr. Kaleb Price is replacing long-time high school English and Spanish teacher Mrs. Carrie White, who retired last year. Mr. Price was influenced by his former teachers who steered him in the direction of education. He notes, “my high school English teacher, senior year of high school, completely changed the way that I viewed school; he showed me that learning was a joy, an opportunity, and a challenge. I want to have that type of influence on students.” Mr. Price is a 2010 graduate of Laurel High School and taught previously in Troy, Mont.

Mr. Kendall Denham takes over as the K-8 PE teacher. Mr. Denham grew up in Malta and attended MSU-Billings. He previously taught in Hobson and was the head boys basketball coach for Tri-Cities. In Joliet, Denham will coach varsity girls basketball and his assisting with football.

Denham is excited to be back in the area and said, “I chose Joliet because they have a tremendous school and the community is great.”

Ms. Anna Killebrew will take the reigns of the K–12 art program, a position previously held by recently retired Mrs. Jenny Stone. Killebrew has deep family roots in education. “I got into education because it runs in the family, my grandma and my mother were both teachers. So I basically grew up inside the school building and it wasn’t a hard decision to decide to stay and go into education myself,” said Killebrew. She grew up in Indiana.

Mrs. Kristen Goodwin will lead the high school Special Education department, a post vacated by Mrs. Sam Antilla who also coached and directed activities for the district. Mrs. Goodwin previously taught special education at Billings West. She grew up in Billings and now lives in Laurel with her husband and daughter. Goodwin noted that she is excited to be in the building teaching, even in a pandemic. “It is definitely more challenging but it gives us a chance to come up with new exciting ideas to meet students needs and get them towards the finish line,” she said.

Finally, Mrs. Emily Fanus will teach the district’s new four-year-olds kindergarten classroom. The Joliet Board of Trustees approved the new four– year–old kindergarten class earlier this year with the goal of improving kindergarten readiness for all students. The class currently has 13 students enrolled in the full-time program. Mrs. Fanus is originally from Pennsylvania and had previously been the kindergarten teacher in Absarokee.

Overall, new teachers in Joliet express great excitement and optimism for the new school year even in light of the current global challenges.

“It is different–there is no denying that–but it is a time for growth as a teacher. Yes, the added mandates and classroom changes are challenging, but just being back in the school with the kids more than makes up for it,” said Mr. Price


Upcoming Events

Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Wednesdays, 7 p.m., 201 1/2 E. Main St., Laurel
Thursday, October 1, 2020
First Thursday, 5 p.m., City of Laurel Council Chamber
Monday, October 5, 2020
Mondays, 1:30 p.m., 201 1/2 E Main St.
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
1st and 3rd Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., Council Chambers
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Wednesdays, 7 p.m., 201 1/2 E. Main St., Laurel
Thursday, October 8, 2020
2nd Thursday, 6 p.m., Council Chambers

The Laurel Outlook


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