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High number of new teachers in Perham

Editor's note: This is the first in a four-part weekly series introducing the new teachers at Perham schools.

The Perham-Dent School District went on a hiring spree last summer, bringing in 22 new teachers - nine at the high school, three at the middle school and 10 at the elementary school.

"A month into the school year now, we're all very pleased with the staff that we were able to bring on board with us," Superintendent Mitch Anderson stated in an email to the newspaper.

The higher than normal number of new hires was due to teacher retirements, teachers leaving for other districts and new staffing needs.

"Adding this number of new staff is a challenge," Anderson said. "Building relationships and trust with students is such a critical piece to successful schools.  This takes time for our students and teachers alike."

He added that, "Financially for the district, we will see significant savings, as we replaced several teachers with significant years of service with those coming in lower on the salary schedule."

The nine new teachers at Perham High School participated in email interviews last week.

High school Principal Ehren Zimmerman said, "We have had a very good start to the year and these new staff are a very important part of that."

Thomas Stolee

Thomas Stolee joined the Perham High School staff as a Developmental Cognitive Delay special education teacher.

He said, "DCD special education can be stressful, but this job is extremely rewarding."

Though this is Stolee's first teaching job, he isn't new to Perham schools. Previously, he taught team sports part-time and worked as both a para-professional and substitute teacher.

Stolee is licensed in K-12 physical education and health in Minnesota and Nebraska, and is currently working on a master's degree in DCD special education at the University of North Dakota.

Stolee said, "When I'm not busy with teaching, paperwork and classes, I can be spotted running the streets of Perham, as I enjoy half-marathons."

Sally Christenson

Sally Christenson was happy to transfer to the Perham school district, where her kids go to school. She accepted a position as a special education and Read 180 teacher.

"I've learned a lot in this first month, with the new technology, and have a lot more to learn still," Christensen stated.

She previously taught in Naytahwaush, Bertha-Hewitt and Detroit Lakes, Minn. She most recently taught special education in Staples.

"I'm excited to be teaching in Perham, and can't wait to see what the rest of the year holds for me," she said.

Kassie Pesch

Kassie Pesch is excited to be back in her hometown of Perham, teaching Environmental Studies One at the high school.

"I knew when I graduated from PHS I wanted to come back and live here. I love this town," Pesch said.

For the last couple of years, Pesch was a substitute teacher in Perham as well as taught science at the Alternative Learning Center.

She has spent the last two summers in Falmouth, Maine at the Gilsland Farm Audubon Society, where she was "educating elementary-aged students about wildlife, getting them comfortable outdoors in nature and with how to respect and take care of our ecosystems," Pesch said.

Sarah Benson

Sarah Benson joined the Perham High School staff this year as a counselor.

"One of my goals as a counselor is to prepare students with the skills of being personally responsible and prepared to deal with the professional world and all they might encounter after they leave PHS," Benson said. 

"I truly believe that the difference between having a dream and having a goal is having a plan.  Therefore, goal setting will be one of my main themes when I work with students, both in the classroom and one on one," she added.  

Prior to working in Perham, Benson participated in several counseling internships around the state.

Alyssa Rosenow

Alyssa Rosenow recently graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and is teaching in the math department at Perham High School. She teaches Intermediate Algebra and Algebra II, as well as Pre-Calculus.

"Mathematics is all about overcoming and pushing yourself to do something that you didn't think was possible," Rosenow said. 

She also works closely with the student council, helping to plan and organize events. 

Rosenow said she chose to come to Perham because, "I wanted to be a part of a school district that was providing a quality education for their students, that also had the support of their community." 

Kassidy Rice

Kassidy Rice teaches ninth and 10th grade English at Perham High School.

Rice spent the last 10 years teaching in the Twin Cities, nine at Wayzata West Middle School.

She was attracted to Perham because it's a smaller community with a, "commitment to excellence," and it excels at "forward-thinking."

Rice also said, "The technology is exciting."

She graduated from Bethel University and has a master's degree in literacy education.

Madison Brantner

Madison Brantner, a first time teacher, teaches geometry and pre-calculus at Perham High School.

"I gained a lot of experience student teaching at Moorhead High School," Brantner said. "I was attracted to Perham because it is a small town very similar to where I grew up, with a great community. It also isn't too far from home, so I am still able to see my family and friends often."

She added, "I chose to go into teaching and coaching because I really like working with young people, both in and out of the classroom. I like to see the success students have when they work hard and master a problem or skill."

TJ Super

TJ Super teaches 11th grade world history and ninth grade civics at the high school, as well as eighth grade geography at Prairie Wind Middle School.

Super previously taught for six years at Cook County High School/Middle School in Grand Marais, Minn. He started there right out of college at Moorhead State. 

"I was the head girls' basketball coach at Cook County and am looking forward to being the head girls' basketball coach here," said Super. "I am very passionate about teaching and coaching, and love to work with students and athletes that are motivated and dedicated."

Super and his wife, who works as a graphic designer at KLN Family Brands, "love going to games, supporting the student athletes and seeing hard work pay off."