Four new teachers and a new school counselor will be on hand Thursday as Centre students go back to school.
Hillary Barlow is the new school counselor.
She grew up in the Burdick area and graduated from Yates Center High School. She has a bachelor’s degree in science from Emporia State University and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Oklahoma.
She has worked in education for 11 years and spent six years at El Dorado before coming to Centre.
Barlow lives at Burdick and loves being four miles from her parents and eight miles from her sister.
“It’s great being back home,” she said.
Bethany Carlson will teach pre-school in her family’s home district.
She graduated from Council Grove High School and has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in special education from Kansas State University.
“I have always wanted to be a mom and teacher,” she said. “My mom was a teacher, and one year when I was in middle school, I ‘helped’ her teach summer school. I worked with a special needs student and loved working with him every day. All through middle school and some of high school, I volunteered to work with students that had special needs or in a classroom setting.”
She taught special education at White City for two years and at Marion one year before becoming a mother and staying home with her children. She coached cross country at Marion for four years.
Carlson is looking forward to preparing children for kindergarten.
“I feel like I will be working with a faculty that is student centered,” she said. “The teachers all have been kind and helpful to me. The building is very nice and has a lot to offer students and teachers.”
She and her husband, Eric, live in rural Lincolnville and have four children: Olivia, 9; Micah, 7; Aaron, 5; and Ryan, 2.
“Being a mom to four children keeps me pretty busy,” she said.
Stephanie Allen will teach middle school language arts, communications, yearbook, and English comedy.
She is a graduate of Kapaun Mount Carmel High School in Wichita and has a bachelor’s degree in education from Wichita State University.
She said her English teachers inspired her to become a teacher.
“I loved how they interacted and connected with their classes,” she said, “and I wanted to do the same thing in life.”
She taught one semester at Curtis Middle School in Wichita before coming to Centre.
Allen said her goal is for students to become better critical thinkers and writers.
“The staff has been wonderful,” she said. “Everyone is cheerful and helpful, which is comforting.”
She and her husband, Jason, live in Wichita but plan to move to Newton. They enjoy playing board games with family.
Amy Carlson will teach fourth grade. She grew up at Cottonwood Falls and graduated from Chase County High School in 2010.
She attended Butler Community College in El Dorado for two and a half years and graduated from Emporia State University in May with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.
“From a very early age, I’ve wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “I played school growing up, and my bedroom was set up as my classroom.”
She wants her students to have fun while learning, set goals for themselves, and build positive relationships.
“Everyone at Centre has been very welcoming to me,” she said. “All of the staff are very friendly and willing to answer any questions I have.”
Carlson and her husband, Frank, live in Marion. She said she enjoys spending time with family and friends, camping, watching sporting events, and “shopping for bargains.”
Susan Saunders will teach seventh through ninth-grade science and chemistry and also will be the head volleyball coach.
Her father was in the Air Force, so she moved around a lot while growing up. She graduated from Augusta High School.
She said she chose to become a science teacher because she enjoyed math and science in high school.
She attended Colby Community College for one year and then graduated from Friends University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and chemistry education.
She taught for several years, and then worked for a pharmaceutical plant as a chemist for 15 years. She has been substitute teaching the past three years.
She hopes to instill a love of science in her students “because it is all around us to learn from,” she said.
Saunders lives in rural Lehigh with her husband, James, and two daughters, Samantha and Jessica.
She and her husband are 4-H shotgun shooting instructors, and she enjoys shooting skeet, trap, and sporting clays. The whole family hunts upland birds, turkey, and deer.