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North Marion School District holds gathering to officially kick off the 2021-22 school year.

COURTESY PHOTO: NORTH MARION SCHOOL DISTRICT - North Marion School District maintenance worker Armando Zepeda.It's official: North Marion School District has kicked off the 2021-22 school year.

Clad in face coverings and warm layers to protect against a chilly, overcast morning, more than 200 school district staff members gathered in the football stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 1, to welcome fresh faces and a return to full-time, in-person learning, which starts Wednesday, Sept. 8.

"Last year was challenging to feel connected and work as a team; fortunately, this year, we can once again gather and connect each day and support each other," NMSD Superintendent Ginger Redlinger noted after reading the names of staff members and staff in new positions, and honoring five longtime School District employees with 174 total years of experience.

After overcoming a sometimes difficult year of online learning, Redlinger thanked the coaches, advisors and school board members, three of whom were present and waved at the crowd: NMSD Board Chair Glenn Holum and directors Kristie Buckland and Crystal Rostocil.COURTESY PHOTO: NORTH MARION SCHOOL DISTRICT - North Marion School Board Chair: Glenn Holum, Director Kristie Buckland, Director Crystal Rostocil

Redlinger also showed appreciation to the district food services team for providing students with 330,000 meals last year and to the maintenance and facilities team for handling additional cleaning measures in a larger square footage (due to expansion made possible because of the school bond voters approved in 2017). Attendees clapped and cheered throughout. A few maintenance and facilities staff members were scattered throughout the stadium, but Custodian Armando Zepeda fully embraced the applause, standing with arms spread wide and a smile tilting up his mask.

"This year is about teamwork, care and connection and growing our heart muscles as we stretch our minds to see what we can accomplish together," Redlinger said.COURTESY PHOTO: NORTH MARION SCHOOL DISTRICT - North Marion School District Superintendent Ginger Redlinger.

She reminded the staff that thinking about "the why," the driving reason for coming through philosophy in line with the school district's core values. Those values are centered around creating and maintaining the emotional safety of every community member. Other essential values include believing in students and treating them as capable learners for whom teachers have respect and to whom they will offer support.

"We exist as a school district for the sole purpose of serving others and to provide every child with access to the supports that they need, so the children can achieve the visions that they hold for themselves," Redlinger told the staff. "It's time to put these core values to work in each and every bus, hallway, cafeteria, office, field, gym and classroom."

She explained that each staff member's "why" could serve as a compass to guide them through difficult times.

"We know where we are at the moment, but we don't know what may come around the corner," Redlinger said. "We have learned to be ready to pivot — and we know how. If and when we are required to do so, we will keep our core values up front to guide us."

Then Redlinger offered her gratitude to her whole team.

"Each and every one of you, every day, carries every student one day closer to their future," she said. "Your heart makes a difference. Lead with your heart. Be generous of spirit and compassionate in your actions. Be gracious and be kind to yourselves and each other."

North Marion new staff members

High School Co-Principal of Teaching and Learning: Bill Rhoades

High School Vice Principal/Athletic Director: Mark Sundquist

High School Custodian: Sarai Garcia

High School PE/Health Teacher: Shane Sheppard

High School/Middle School Band Teacher; Leah Suderman

Middle School English Language Arts/Humanities Teacher: Kestrel Lockwood

Middle School English Language Arts/Social Studies Teacher: Mathiew Demski

Middle School English Language Arts Teacher: Kelly McGuffie

Middle School Science Teacher: Marie Vandecoevering

Middle School Math Teacher: Kara Van Zandt-Handran

Intermediate and Primary School English Language Development Teacher: Kelly Dehning

Intermediate School Fourth Grade Teacher: Annie Coleman

Intermediate School Fourth Grade Teacher: Kelli Finnagan

Intermediate School Fourth Grade Teacher: Madison Kluken

Intermediate School P.E. Teacher: Matthew Prom

Intermediate School Special Education-Foundations Teacher: Emily Gibson

Primary School Instructional Assistant: Iain Culp

North Marion's familiar faces in new roles

Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Title Programs: Irma Patton

Assistant Director of Assessment and Learning: Charyl Dyer

High School Counselor: Michael Stewart

Intermediate School English Language Development Instructional Assistant: Cheryl Hauser

Middle School Family Liaison: Elbia Espinoza

Primary School Kindergarten Teacher: Marlene Duran

Primary School English Language Development Teacher: Cecilia Carrillo

North Marion longtime staff

High School Driver's Education and Social Studies Teacher Pat Odell: 38 years

High School Science Teacher Mike Robinson: 35 years

Primary School Kindergarten Teacher Cindy Jackson: 34 years

Elementary Music Teacher (K-5) Valerie Iven: 31 years

Facilities Maintenance Worker Steve Marsh: 36 years

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