Introducing new teachers at Crestwood, Notre Dame

HOWARD-WINNSHEIK CSD - Each year, teachers retire or leave, which makes a space for new teachers to begin or continue their careers in the How-Winn school district. New teachers this year, answered some questions to let the area know a little more about who is teaching the students.
Jennifer DeVries is the Playgroup teacher and Director of FAST at Notre Dame. She graduated from University of Northern Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a reading, language and math endorsement.
“I was born and raised in the Lime Springs, Iowa area. I grew up on a farm, and I am very passionate about animals and the environment. I enjoy painting and exercising at Family Fun & Fitness.”
She shared she loves being outside and working alongside students. She says every student has the potential to succeed when given the right learning environment.
“This year is going to be an explosion of learning for both myself and the students! I am so excited to be teaching at Notre Dame! I cannot wait to get to know and develop a relationship with all of the students.”
One of her favorite memories at Lime Springs Elementary School were some of the awesome projects her class did in third grade. “I remember acting out what it was like to be in the Titanic, performing magic tricks and building a 3-D community. Mrs. Judy Morgan was one of my favorite teachers, and I try to incorporate fun activities as she would.”
Karn Friedges will be teaching fourth grade at Notre Dame. She grew up in Cresco and still lives there with her husband, A.J. and their three children, Caroline, age five; Avery, three; and Emerson, 11 months.
She graduated from Crestwood and earned a B.S. in Elementary Education at Iowa State University.
“I hope to get to know my students each as individuals and have fun every day!” she said.
For extra fun outside of school, Friedges enjoys cooking and baking, gardening, reading and watching Netflix.
“My favorite memories of school are Mr. Spindler in fourth grade and Mrs. Balk in fifth grade. I vividly remember those years and really enjoyed every day with them.”
Meghan Harrod is the English Language Learners teacher at Crestwood. She grew up in Cresco, where she is currently living, with her husband, Ryan. She graduated from Crestwood High School in 2011. This year, she will be the JV volleyball coach.
“My goal is to get to know the students and families and help them transition to our school system be as positive as it can be.”
She enjoys family time and athletics.
“My favorite memory of K-12 at Crestwood is growing up in a great community and having teachers who made learning so much fun.”
Tia Heien is Crestwood’s 7-12 Instrumental Music teacher. She grew up in Sioux City, Iowa and now Cresco.
She said, “I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with my Bachelor of Music in Music Education.” During college, she taught band lessons for a year at the Boys and Girls Club in Waterloo and also taught group lessons for the UNI New Horizon Band for two-and-a-half years.
She added, “My goal for the year is to connect with the students and grow together making music!”
In her free time, she likes to read and exercise.
Jessica Hillers will be teaching high school special education. She currently lives outside of Harmony, Minn. with her three elementary-aged children.
She grew up at Delhi, Iowa and got an AA in Liberal Arts from Kirkwood Community College; A B.A. in English Teaching and grades 5-12 Iowa reading endorsements; and M.A. English (TESS) at University of Northern Iowa . “I am currently taking classes through Morningside to finish my special education endorsement,” she said.
“I taught one year in Minnesota and 12 years previous to that in Eastern Iowa. This is my 14th year teaching and first year in special education.”
Hiller wants to help her students reach their goals and form meaningful relationships.
In her spare time, she enjoys reading, attending her kids’ activities and traveling.
“My favorite memory from K-12 is the influence my elementary and high school teachers had on me, and my love for reading. They played a huge role in the reason I wanted to become a teacher.”
Abby Huhe is teaching second grade at Notre Dame. Many readers will probably recognize her, as she grew up on the family farm just north of Cresco and graduated from Crestwood High School. 
In addition, she graduated from Upper Iowa University in May 2019. “I graduated with my Bachelors in Elementary Education.” She has endorsements in reading (K-8), English as a Second Language (K-12), Strategist 1 (K-8), Strategist 2: Intellectual Disabilities, Behavioral Disabilities, Learning Disabilities (K-12).
“My goal is to help all students believe in their ability to learn. I hope they will be the best students they can be!” she said.
In her spare time, Huhe loves reading and camping. She also loves showing dairy cows and sheep.
“My favorite memory from K-12 would be story time. I loved listening to our teachers read to us.”
Leslie Smith is teaching kindergarten at Notre Dame. Her husband, Michael, teaches low brass in the music department at Luther College. 
The couple has two sons, Ian, age 19 and Matthew, 16. They live in Decorah, although Smith grew up in Longview, Texas.
She has a Bachelor and Masters degrees in Elementary Education.
“My goals are to help the children grow both spiritually and academically, while providing a fun and safe environment.” Her hobbies are reading and cross-stitching. Her favorite memory of K-12 was band.
“I am so excited to be a part of the Notre Dame family, and I look forward to the new adventures coming my way this year.”
Rhonda Todd is working in the junior high special education department. She grew up and still lives in Calmar, along with her three boys.
She attended Waldorf College for two years and later transferred to UNI. “I have taught at CFS (Calmar, Festina, Spillville) Catholic School for 25 years, and I also had a few years as a preschool teacher on Long Island, N.Y.” In addition, Todd has worked in the restaurant business for many years.
“I enjoy going for walks, started golfing again this summer and watching the many sporting events my sons participate in.”

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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