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New year, new school a fresh start for area teachers

Staff writer

Kayla Cortes-Sanders’ classroom is ready for the year even if she still has boxes to unpack.

A New Jersey native, she is mostly settled in her new home in Marion as she prepares to launch her first year of teaching.

She and other teachers new to Marion County put up colorful classroom displays, arranged their desks, and set up their laptops Monday as they prepared to greet students Thursday.

Cortes-Sanders will teach seven hours of freshman and sophomore English at Marion High.

“There are quite a few books that are floating around in my mind,” she said as she laughed over this year’s reading list.

Students’ will tackle classics like “The Odyssey” and “Lord of the Flies” as well as sci-fi favorite “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

She has plans for a few less traditional projects. Students will listen to and create their own podcasts.

Cortes-Sanders also agreed to help communications teacher Christopher Rome with forensics.

“Everyone says the first year of teaching is pretty intense, so I am prepared to be busy,” she said, as she looked over a class schedule spread out on her desk.

She never competed in forensics, so coaching speech, like everything else, will be new to her, but Cortes-Sanders already has taken risks for her dreams.

She enrolled in a master’s program in teaching at Kansas State University after shutting a business that left her bored and unfulfilled.

“I had a degree in English and I was just sitting on it,” she said. “I just wanted to do something with it.”

She took a chance on Marion after driving tour of small Kansas towns with available teaching jobs.

Its tidy Main St. impressed her, and everyone was very friendly.

“It was my favorite interview of all the places I applied,” she said. “It just was a really good vibe.”

New Marion High Spanish teacher Cristina Segundo also was charmed with the idea of settling in a small town after teaching at Trinity and Gordon Parks academies in Wichita.

“I moved to the country and I wanted something that would align with my life,” she said.

She will commute to Marion from her rural El Dorado home with daughter Siouxana, 10, who will be a fifth-grader at Marion Elementary.

Segundo will revive Spanish instruction at Marion Elementary for third through fifth grade students and teach Spanish at the high school.

Her goal is to offer Spanish to all grades in the district.

“The hope is to grow the program for students to become interested in language and see the importance of it,” said Segundo, who has a K-12 teaching license. “There is a very high percentage of our population who speak Spanish.”

She hopes her students will gain an appreciation of other cultures.

Segundo plans to have people from Spain and El Salvador visit her students through Skype this year.

She wanted to mix things up with her classroom décor, too.

Segundo likes llamas and succulents, but the star of her classroom is a bright green frog she has yet to name.

“He is just frog,” she said. “I have had him since my first year as a teacher.”

Visitors to Alyssa Kroeker’s classroom in Hillsboro Middle School will be impressed with her blackboard.

Kroeker loves collecting bottle caps and interesting facts. The new math teacher has assembled hundreds of caps in a display that spells out her name.

“These are just Snapple caps, and I put magnets on the back,” she said, holding up a silver disc. “Inside are just interesting facts. I enjoy reading facts about all sorts of things.”

Kroeker will teach seventh and eighth grade math after teaching high school math at Hesston.

The move will put her a floor above her husband Kyle Kroeker, who teaches sixth-grade at Hillsboro.

Her daughter, Blakely, 5, will be a block away as a kindergartner at Hillsboro Elementary.

“We have never been in the same building before,” she said. “It is very handy for us all to be in the same district.

Kroeker is happy to face the challenge of teaching middle school.

“It goes really nice because I know exactly what the seventh and eighth grade will need for high school,” she said. “I taught those classes.”

She is looking forward to spring, when she will take over as coach for Hillsboro’s softball team.

“I am really excited, but spring will be a lot more busy,” she said. “Thank goodness it’s in the spring and not right now, or I would be a lot more overwhelmed than I already am.”

Last modified Aug. 19, 2021

 

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