Duneland School officials welcomed 11 new teachers at Monday night’s DSC
board meeting along with a reading specialist, instructional aides, and the
new CHS football coach, many of whom were in attendance.
Hopes and attitudes of those who introduced themselves to the board ran high
expressing their excitement for starting the 2013-2014 school year.
“It’s an honor to be teaching in this school system. It’s like a dream come
true,” said Laura Balk who will start teaching kindergarten in the fall at
Jackson Elementary. She graduated from Western Michigan University last
December with a degree in Elementary Education.
Also starting at Jackson teaching first grade is Abby Collins. She is a
graduate of Chesterton High School and Purdue University-North Central who
has been a long-term substitute teacher and RtI aide at Bailly Elementary.
Kristen Schacht, a 2004 Valparaiso University graduate and Michigan City
native, will teach music at Jackson. She has been an elementary music
teacher for the past eight years in Colorado.
“I’m very excited to come back to this area and be closer to family,” she
Another CHS grad who is happy to be back in the community is Brandi Nay, who
will be a third grade teacher at Brummitt Elementary.
“It’s nice to be home and stay here,” said Nay, who has also been a camp
counselor at the Duneland YMCA and a long-time substitute and RtI aide at
Liberty and Yost Elementary Schools.
A Valparaiso resident, Joselyn Goldsmith will teach fourth grade at Liberty
in the fall after having received her degree from Ball State University.
Jackie Gore, a Portage High School alum and Manchester University graduate,
will teach third grade at Liberty. Jennifer Wheeler has been appointed as an
instructional aide for Liberty.
At Yost, Karen Donley, who comes from Crown Point and is a University of
Wisconsin graduate will teach first grade. Erin Rhodes will also teach first
grade at Yost in the fall. She graduated from Andrean High School and earned
her Master’s degree from Ball State. Previously she taught four years in
Hamilton Southeastern Indiana.
Yost will also be gaining a reading specialist from Albuquerque, New Mexico,
Amber Pierzakowski Jackel, who taught reading to second, fourth and fifth
graders there. She is a graduate of LaPorte High School, Ball State
University and received her Master’s from the University of New Mexico.
Two new teachers coming to CHS will be Jordan Nelson, to teach French, and
Jessica Nygra, to teach English. Nelson is Purdue University-West Lafayette
graduate while Nygra, a Portage HS grad, taught previously at the Thea
Bowman Academy and has been a long-time substitute.
Kimberly Tumbas, who has been a High Ability instructor for the past year at
Jackson, will teach second grade there. She is a Purdue University-West
Lafayette graduate and previously taught in East Chicago.
Liberty Elementary Principal and High Ability Director Christy Jarka
introduced Laura O’Dell who will be High Ability aide for the Duneland
Schools as will Holly Koedyker.
Retiring from CHS is art teacher Daniel Vidt. Resigning are Brummitt second
grade teacher Kristen Saler and CHS assistant volleyball coach Erin
Sports at CHS
Meanwhile, Duneland Assistant Superintendent Monte Moffett also listed the
coaching positions for CHS next fall.
As was recommended by Athletic Director Garry Nallenweg, Mark Peterson will
replace former football coach John Snyder in the fall.
Nallenweg said the new coach will “bring vast experience” to the football
field. Peterson completed three years as head football coach at Portage and
three years at Bishop Noll before joining the staff at CHS where he
currently teaches science.
Peterson said he will coach his team reinforcing the values of the Duneland
“I think we have all the possibility to have a great year this year. We’re
ready to hit the ground running,” Peterson said.
Other coaching positions approved Monday: Andrew Prater - JV Football; Kyle
Yelton - Volunteer Football Assistant; Steve Stachyra - Volunteer FB
Assistant; Josh Ribar - Volunteer Football Assistant; Tom Moeller - Cross
Country Assistant Coach; Brian Carden - Girls Varsity CC Coach; Summer Watt-Forgey
- Girls Assistant CC Coach; T.R. Harlan - Varsity Volleyball Coach; Taylor
Chamberlain - Varsity Assistant Volleyball Coach.
Courtney Lesperence - J.V. Volleyball Coach; Jill Schneider - Volunteer
Volleyball Assistant Coach; Bill Biehl - J.V. Soccer Coach; Dave Galloway -
Girls Varsity Soccer Coach; Mike Whisler - Girls Varsity Assistant Soccer
Coach; Randy Coudriet - Volunteer Girls Soccer Assistant Coach; Tom Bour -
Boys Varsity Tennis Coach; Ransom Johnson - Boys Varsity Tennis Assistant
Coach; Lisa Christianson - Varsity Head Cheerleading Coach; and Sue Sutton -
Retiring Superintendent of Schools Dirk Baer congratulated the new staff
members and wished the group all the best.
“Have a great school year in the fall. You’re in a great place,” he said.