Heidi Bunch
MaryJo Gemelke, 5th grade teacher at Hawthorne Elementary, prepares her classroom for the first day of school. Gemelke has decided to go with a different approach to learning this year. She is allowing children to choose different styles of seating so that their learning is not affected by traditional seating. She has outfitted the classroom with coffee shop style tables and stools, yoga balls and crate seating. Gemelke is open to any offer of seating that would benefit her students. “I don’t have to sit all day and try to learn,” she explained as to why she going an alternative route in her classroom.

New teachers, new friends, new notebooks and new shoes will be starting off the 2018-2019 Mineral County School District school year on Monday, Aug. 20.

Parents will sigh in relief as children reluctantly give up their summer vacation freedom.

As students frolicked away the summer, many teachers continued to further their education by attending such programs sponsored by Grand Canyon University, such as the S.P.A.R.K. University 2018. This program helps teachers to reignite their passion for teaching.

S.P.A.R.K. is short for Striving Professionals Aspiring to Revive K-12 Education. The five-day institute provides hands-on professional development curriculum which gives the teacher proven classroom leadership strategies and sets them up with powerful skills, renews their sense of passion, pride and purpose. Seven Hawthorne Elementary School teachers attended the institute and are ready to put their lessons to work on their students.

This year, two new teachers will be joining the Mineral County School District team. Mary Durham will join the solid team at Hawthorne Elementary whereas students and teachers will see a new face as Schurz Elementary is joined by Lance West at the helm as principal.

“At Hawthorne Elementary School, we are truly excited for the new school year and the new opportunities it provides,” Principal Stephanie Keuhey exclaimed to the Independent-News.

Leading the district this year, will be new Superintendent Karen Watson, a former Mineral County High School graduate who joins the district who returned to her hometown after working in Bishop, Calif. as the assistant superintendent of special education for the Inyo County Superintendent of Schools. She was hired by this district on Friday, June 29 when the board chose her by a unanimous vote.

Mother of three Mineral County School District children, Alicia Dalton is ready for her children to head back into the classroom.

“I’m really looking forward to this school year and the changes that are supposed to be coming. Hopefully this new superintendent is ready to make legitimate changes. Changes that better our children and our community and not the usual sweeping under the rug,” she stated.

It was obvious to the Independent-News that change was coming for Hawthorne Elementary School. Classroom floors were polished and shining, bulletin boards held new artwork and teachers were working hard to make sure everything was perfect for Monday.

Hawthorne Elementary School veteran teacher, Tricia Schumann stated, “The new school year brings a fresh start. It’s a blank canvas to create masterpieces.” Schumann has been instrumental in introducing her students to not only classroom lessons, but also life lessons such as: a manners class and the inviting in members of the community to read to her classroom.

Drivers are reminded to follow all speed limits when driving in school zones and laws when district buses are loading and unloading students.

“We are fortunate to have the majority of our teachers and staff returning and we are looking forward to an amazing year,” Principal Keuhey concluded.