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Perham grad comes home to embark on new career

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of feature stories on the new teachers at Perham schools this year. We will run one story a week, over the next several weeks, until all new teachers have been profiled.

Perham High School graduate Karlee Werner has returned to the dis-trict to teach seventh grade language arts.
Perham High School graduate Karlee Werner has returned to the dis-trict to teach seventh grade language arts.

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of feature stories on the new teachers at Perham schools this year. We will run one story a week, over the next several weeks, until all new teachers have been profiled.

Just a few short years ago, Karlee Werner was a student in Perham, known for her roles in the one-act play and speech programs.

Now, she's back in the Perham-Dent district to take on one of the biggest roles of her life - the role of teacher.

Werner, a 2012 Perham High School graduate, will be teaching seventh grade language arts at Prairie Wind Middle School - her first official gig since graduating from Minnesota State University-Moorhead with a degree in communication arts and literature education.

In an interview last week, Werner admitted that she was a little nervous, but also excited, for the start of the new school year. She said she was most looking forward to watching the students learn and grow throughout the year.

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"Those 'lightbulb' moments for students are really great (to see)," she said. "And language arts reading, writing, speaking and listening skills are so valuable. You can see such great growth in this content area, too."

"I think teaching is a really rewarding profession," she added. "Helping students learn how to communicate in a world that is growing and changing so quickly... It feels good to be a part of that."

Werner was still in high school when she started thinking about becoming a teacher. She loved to read and write, and wanted to do something with that; she suspected she would enjoy teaching those subjects. As she began taking college coursework in education, and getting into classrooms to student-teach and observe, her suspicion was confirmed, she said.

"I realized that this was the right spot for me," Werner said.

She held a student-teaching position in the Wadena-Deer Creek School District last fall.

Students and parents at Prairie Wind can expect Werner's classroom to feel welcoming. She said it's her goal to build a rapport with students, as well as an inclusive classroom atmosphere.

Her teaching philosophy is that, "all students can learn," she said. "My job is to uncover the ways in which they learn and to meet the needs of each individual student."

To accommodate students' different learning styles and needs, Werner plans to incorporate various kinds of instruction into her classes, including some hands-on activities.

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"In my room, there'll be all sorts of moving parts each day," she explained, with students focusing on four distinct language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking.

In addition to her time in the classroom, Werner will be active with the district as a speech coach, a role she began last year.

Outside of school activities, Werner spends a lot of time with her family, husband Jacob Werner and their baby boy, Alex, who was just born in July. Her parents, Lee and Karen Omberg, own Pine Beach Resort on Devil's Lake, Werner said, and they all like to spend time on the lake together. They like to boat and fish, and she's a long-time water skier.

Werner is still in the midst of a maternity leave, but at the time of the interview was planning to be present for the first day of school on Tuesday, "to help set the tone," she said. Pat Jones, a retired language arts teacher, is filling in until the end of the leave.

Werner replaces former language arts teacher Darren Glynn, who took a new position as principal at Bertha-Hewitt Schools in Bertha, Minn.

Pull quote: "All students can learn. My job is to uncover the ways in which they learn and to meet the needs of each individual student." -Karlee Werner

A writer, editor and mom of four (two kids, two dogs), Marie's been in the newspaper business for over 20 years. She started at the Detroit Lakes Tribune in 2017 after working just down the road at the Perham Focus for several years. Before that, she was at the Herald-Review in Grand Rapids, Minn.
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