Eight new teachers will be at USD 408 when the school bell rings in the fall semester.
Gary Ewert will teach American history at the high school.
He has spent many years in the teaching field, retiring 2014 but working for Marion schools as a paraeducator for the past two years. His connection to Marion goes much farther back than two years.
“I grew up here and moved back to Marion in 1995,” Ewert said. “I have wanted to teach here for a long time. Now in semi-retirement, this opportunity was too great to pass up. I will get to teach a subject I love and it is only two class periods, so it works out great. Marion is a wonderful school system and has many opportunities for kids.”
It was his love of studying and reading about history that inspired Ewert to teach.
“While attending Pittsburg State University, a college professor encouraged me to think about switching my major to education,” he said.
His hope for his career is to retire from the district he attended from kindergarten through high school, Ewert said. He graduated from Marion in 1978.
“I have had many honors over the years but to teach what I love, a couple hours a day, and do so in my hometown, is fabulous,” Ewert said.
Simon McKee will teach American history, world geography, Kansas history, and civics at the high school. Additionally, he will be assistant high school football coach, head junior high girls basketball coach, and assistant high school track coach.
This is McKee’s first year teaching.
“I was interested in the job because this district gives me the opportunity to influence students’ lives in a positive manner, through a multitude of ways,” McKee said. “I am from a small community such as Marion, and this made the district appealing to me as well. I decided to accept the job because of my experience as student teacher in the district. I got to know the staff and students of USD 408 over a couple months’ time, and I knew that this was the place for me.”
A number of role models inspired him to enter teaching, the most influential being his father.
“He was a high school social studies teacher, football coach, and track coach, for almost 25 years before moving into administration,” McKee said. “There have also been teachers of mine that made me love coming to school every day, and helped me through difficult times as a young man. I would like to use my talents and gifts to do the same.”
He hopes to be the teacher that students come to for advice in many aspects of life. He wants to be a contributing member of the community and a leader in the school district, McKee said.
Monica Leihy will teach high school Spanish.
A teacher of 22 years, she has taught Spanish and family and consumer science at both junior high and high schools.
She spent two years in Ecuador with the Peace Corps.
She said as a youth, she loved both 4-H and the idea of becoming a teacher.
“My hope during my teaching career is to assist in opening the doors for the students to reach their potential,” Leihy said. “I would like to help them explore and develop their talents. We need to be a global society.”
Dmitry Bucklin will teach instrumental music to students ranging from kindergarten to high school seniors, except for grades three and four.
He’ll also be head cross country coach.
This will be his fourth year teaching.
USD 408’s renown for music programs made Bucklin want to be part of Marion schools.
“Marion is known in the local and surrounding communities for their music program,” Bucklin said. “I love that the community supports the fine arts and that we have such a great facility to practice and to perform in. In addition, having such strong support for the arts from administration made this district appealing.”
Bucklin decided to become a music teacher when he was a senior in high school.
“This is mainly because I had two great music teachers that took me under their wing and mentored me,” Bucklin said. “I wanted to teach music because it is a unique subject. It takes people from all walks of life, talents, and interests, and unites them to one common goal and objective.”
He hopes to see his students gain appreciation for music and recognize what music can do for them both academically and on a personal level.
“I hope that music in schools can always be an option for students and that the community continues to give support for the fine arts,” Bucklin said. “I also hope that I will be able to be a music teacher for a long time and have a positive impact on the school and community.”
Tyler McMichael will teach fifth grade as well as be head wrestling coach for both middle and high schools.
McMichael said Marion’s small-town feel helped him choose the district to begin his teaching career.
“I wanted to become a teacher because I enjoy working with children and I saw teaching as my best way to create a positive impact on the students that I teach,” McMichael said.
Emily Overton will teach kindergarten. A Marion native, Overton spent one year teaching second grade at Logan Avenue School in Emporia before joining Marion Elementary.
Her Marion childhood made her want to return here.
“I grew up in Marion,” Overton said. “I like to see the positive environment and I enjoy the staff.”
Growing up, Overton said she always enjoyed kids. She got her first taste of teaching while still in high school.
“I did a work release my senior year, came to the elementary school and worked with Lana Stevenson in kindergarten,” Overton said. “Seeing the difference we made in their everyday lives really made me want to make a difference.”
Eventually, Overton would like to go back to school herself and get a master’s degree in education.
Mark Lockhart will teach industrial arts, including woodworking principles, furniture and cabinetry fabrication, carpentry, and drafting.
He has 23 years of teaching experience under his belt.
He chose teaching because he likes working with youth and hopes to help produce productive workers for employers.
Randy Skiles will teach high school algebra, geometry, robotics, and engineering. He’ll also coach middle school football and basketball as well as sponsor the freshman class.
He has 23 years tenure as a teacher.
“I took the job because I have been on the administration side for several years, and I really missed the contact with kids, so I wanted to get back in the classroom,” Skiles said. “My hope is to impact as many lives as I can through my teaching.”