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Paynesville Press - September 8, 2004

Five teachers start work in local school district

By Michael Jacobson

Michelle Hesse-Cremers
Michelle Hess-Cremers After seven years at Royalton, Michelle Hesse-Cremers is a new part-time speech clinician at Paynesville Area Elementary School. Though her caseload is still being determined, she will work with students with language and speech difficulties.

Students with communication difficulties may have trouble understanding in school: understanding teachers and lessons, communicating with friends, etc. This makes early intervention so important, said Hesse-Cremers.

A native of Watkins, Hesse-Cremers earned her undergraduate degree and her master's degree from St. Cloud State University. She is looking forward to working closer to home and having a shorter commute this year. She was planning on working only part-time, but Rocori called her recently needing help, too, so she will also work part-time there this year.

Hesse-Cremers lives in Cold Spring with her husband and three children. In her free time, she likes scrapbooking, fishing as a family, and spending time at their cabin.

Ted Nett

Ted Nett Ted Nett, who grew up on a dairy farm between Farming and St. Martin, is a new special education teacher at Paynesville Area Middle School.

Nett, who graduated from Albany High School in 1991, earned his teaching degree from St. John's University and has taught special education in the Elk River School District for the past six years. He will work with EBD students in the middle school and high school.

Nett discovered his passion for teaching while in college, working in a home for disabled young adults. His teaching in Paynesville will depend on each student's needs. In EBD, he helps with students' academic learning and with their social skills and focus.

Nett, who played football at St. John's University, is also an assistant coach on the football team. He would also be interested in coaching baseball and basketball.

Teaching in Paynesville gets him closer to home, Nett said. He and his wife live in Avon with their three-year-old son. Nett plays amateur baseball for the Farming Flames and enjoys helping his father-in-law on the farm and ice fishing.

Leah Neu

Leah Neu Leah Neu, who has 15 years of experience as a registered nurse, is the new school nurse for the Paynesville Public Schools.

Neu, a native of Washington state, worked in her home state for seven years (mostly in hospital settings) and has worked for eight years in Minnesota, since moving here in 1996. She has worked for the Paynesville Area Health Care System, but most recently she worked in home care/hospice care for the St. Cloud Hospital.

She is looking forward to working with youth in her new job as a school nurse and having regular hours, a rarity for nurses.

Her duties include handling emergency student illnesses, dealing with chronic illnesses (like asthma and diabetes), conducting health screenings, and maintaining health records for the student body. She is looking for volunteers to help with vision screenings in October.

She actually started with her new job this summer, having to mail letters to students needing vaccinations or physicals in July.

She will split her time between offices at the elementary school (M/W/F) and the middle school (T/Th). Neu lives on Rice Lake with her husband and their 12-year-old son. She likes to camp with her family and she likes to scrapbook when she has time.

Natalie Todnem

Natalie Todnem Natalie Todnem, who graduated from the University of Minnesota last spring, is the new agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at PAHS.

Todnem grew up in St. James on a hobby farm, showing pigs at fairs through 4-H, being active in FFA, and growing sweet corn to sell.

She intended to go into medicine when enrolling at the university, but decided to pursue a teaching career after working at the pork booth at the state fair and realizing that she enjoyed teaching.

Though her parents are not teachers, her older sister is a teacher in Litchfield and her younger sister is studying to be a teacher at SCSU.

Todnem, who did her student teaching at Brainerd High School, will teach intro to agriculture, animal science, ag shop, and natural resources this fall. She has plans to make the local FFA chapter more active.

She has been impressed with the friendliness of the Paynesville community so far and with its similarity with St. James. Both grow corn and beans while St. James has more hogs and Paynesville more dairy.

In her free time, Todnem enjoys reading, cross-stitching, and spending time with friends and family.

Kelli Woehler

Kelli Woehler Kelli Woehler, the new art teacher at Paynesville Area Middle School, is "thrilled to be here." She is excited to teach in her community, she said, to teach the kids that she knows from church, sports, and from her kids' activities.

Woehler will be working part-time, teaching art to seventh and eighth graders as well as a class of sixth grade reading and high school design. She was a long-term sub in this position a couple years ago before teaching full-time in the Albany School District as an elementary teacher the past two years and coordinated their elementary summer school in Avon.

A graduate of Mankato State University with an elementary education degree with a concentration in art, she is currently working on her master's degree.

In her art classes, student will work in a variety of mediums, dabbling in a bit of everything. Art, she said, allows students to work with their hands and to explore another way of thinking.

Woehler also teaches art classes through Community Education.

She lives between Paynesville and Belgrade on a hobby farm with her husband, Tim, also a teacher at PAMS, and their three children.

Helping Tim with the softball and wrestling programs, bringing her kids to their activities, and pursuing her master's degree takes all her free time, she said.

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