RIVER FALLS — Classes started up this week for what what is sure to be an academic year full of new experiences amid pandemic-related changes, and doubly so for the district's new teachers and staff.

We asked the incoming academic staff about their backgrounds, interests and reasons for getting into education. Here's what they said:

Elementary School

Rainbow Barry

Hometown: Rhinelander, Wis.

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Teaching position and building: Special Education, River Falls Public Montessori Elementary

College attended: University of Wisconsin-River Falls, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Family: I have lived in River Falls with my husband and two children for 14 years. Before becoming a teacher, I ran a small horticultural business for 10 years. My teaching experience includes high school biology, middle school science and special education.

Interests: I love to spend time outdoors and learn about the natural world. I also enjoy reading, making art and building things.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I love to laugh and learn alongside kids. I generally find that kids are more compassionate and considerate than adults, and I feel there is no better place than a school community to invest my ideas and hard work.

Please tell us anything else you would care to share with us: I am excited to join the awesome staff and students at RFPME in their newly restored building!

Lisa Flanagan

Hometown: Amery, Wis.

Teaching position and building: Occupational Therapist, Rocky Branch/Greenwood Elementary

College attended: Concordia University, Wisconsin

Family: My husband and I have grown up, and still live in rural northwest Wisconsin. We like small-town atmospheres and hope to continue to build our lives in this area. We have a spunky dachshund named Dexter that enjoys taking long naps in the sun and avoiding walks! I have been an occupational therapy assistant in pediatric and geriatric settings since 2013. I decided to pursue my goal of becoming an occupational therapist and earned my master's degree this summer. I am very excited that River Falls has chosen me, and I look forward to this school year.

Interests: I enjoy gardening, kayaking, yoga, fishing, hunting and riding our UTV on the many trail systems around our home. My husband and I enjoy going to Montana and try to get there at least once or twice a year. We kayak, hike and try to get lost while we're there!

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I chose a career in occupational therapy because my niece had received services when she was young. I saw the impact OT had on her ability to reach developmental milestones, and I knew I wanted to pursue pediatric OT. OT addresses the many daily occupations of a child. School is a major occupation in a child's life. I want to support children in their academic career and limit the barriers they encounter so they can reach their full potential.

Jacqueline Glomski

Hometown: Marion, Iowa

Teaching position and building: K-2 Special Education, Westside Elementary

College attended: Mount Mercy University

Family: My husband, Trevor Glomski, and I moved to River Falls a little over one year ago. We welcomed our first baby, Kynlee Anne Glomski, last June. She has been the greatest blessing for our little family. Ziek, our British Labrador, is adjusting well and loves being a big brother. This school year will be my eight year as a teacher. I have worked as a general education teacher and a special education teacher in previous experiences. I recently taught in the Prescott School District, where I served as a 3-5 Special Education Teacher.

Interests: I am very passionate about overall wellness. I love to strength train, run, hike, kayak and spend time outdoors. My family means the world to me, so I adore making memories together on little adventures any chance we get. I also love reading, crafting, fashion, organizing and home decor.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I chose teaching as a profession because I am really passionate about meeting the diverse needs of students and advocating for positive change.

Sara Butcher

Hometown: Cottage Grove, Minn.

Teaching position and building: 2nd Grade, Rocky Branch Elementary

College attended: University of Minnesota-Duluth

Family: I was born in California and moved to Minnesota when I was nine years old. I grew up playing hockey and soccer and have always loved an active lifestyle. I come from a blended family. I have four half-siblings and six nieces and nephews ranging from ages 12-18. I have a sister and a nephew who are the same age.

Interests: I am a certified Crossfit coach, as well as a nutrition coach. I enjoy Olympic weightlifting and CrossFit.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I have always loved working with kids, and I followed my older sister's footsteps in becoming a teacher. I saw how much she enjoyed it and spent time with her in her classroom and knew that it was what I wanted to do.

Joe Hames

Hometown: Pulaski, Wis.

Teaching position and building: School Psychologist, Westside Elementary

College attended: University of Wisconsin-River Falls, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Family: I grew up in the Green Bay area, and have two brothers. I met my wife, Cassie, while at UWRF, and we now live in New Richmond with our cat and new puppy.

Interests: I enjoy playing and watching sports, being outdoors, reading the occasional book and spending time with friends and family.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I was interested in Psychology ever since I took my first course in high school, and working as a school psychologist allows me to help people and truly make a difference.

Addison Hanson

Hometown: River Falls

Teaching position and building: Half-time 5th grade, Westside Elementary

College attended: University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse

Family: I am a River Falls native and currently live in town with my fiancée and 1 year old daughter.

Interests: I spend most of my time working at Farmers Markets selling kombucha and honey, or spending time with my family.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? Teaching is a true adventure

Stephanie Heinen

Hometown: Waverly, Iowa; Lakeville, Minn. and Milwaukee

Teaching position and building: Special Education, Greenwood Elementary

College attended: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Family: I have done all of my teaching in Milwaukee Public Schools. I am sad to leave, but excited to begin and hopefully retire in the RFSD. My family (parents and four other siblings) are all in the Twin Cities area, so they are thrilled to know we are moving close. I have a husband, Joel, and two children, Wesley (3) and Liza (1) and a dog (a boxer), Vinny (6).

Interests: I enjoy being active — playing volleyball, walking, playing outside. I like to sing and play music (guitar or bass). I like learning how to be the healthiest I can be — food is medicine!

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? The students!!

Victoria Hoffman

Hometown: Waukesha, Wis.

Teaching position and building: 2nd Grade, Westside Elementary

College attended: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Family: Earlier this year, I moved to Hudson and bought a house with my fiancé Matt. I have a mom who is a middle school Spanish teacher and a sister who also teaches second grade.

Interests: I love to read, spend time with friends and family, listen to music and explore my new town!

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I’ve always loved building relationships with people, especially children. Watching my students discover their unique talents and skills and supporting their personal development is my “why” for becoming a teacher.

Kiersten Jacobson

Hometown: Bristol, Vermont

Teaching position and building: 5th Grade, Greenwood Elementary

College attended: University of Wisconsin-Superior

Family: Husband, Mitch (works at the high school in science department); children, Christopher (3) & Eloise (1). We live in River falls.

I completed my student teaching assignment with Greenwood Elementary during the 2018-2019 school year. I went on to teach middle school physical science at Somerset Middle School during the 2019-2020 school year. Before teaching, I worked in banking, helping borrowers navigate the process of home buying and refinancing.

Interests: I enjoy reading and crafting when I find the time. I like cooking and baking for my family! My favorite recipes are cookies and cheesecakes, though I like to try new recipes. I also love to craft; whether it’s on my own or with my kids ... for myself, someone else or for a school project, I find immense joy in being creative!

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? During my education, I was blessed with some amazing teachers, instructors and professors who helped me develop a deep love of learning. Those experiences helped me grow as a person in every way. Though I often struggled in school, I found success thanks to those teachers and experiences. I want to do the same for my students — help them grow and find their success (whatever that might be).

Please tell us anything else you would care to share with us: I’m happy to be a Wildcat!

Audrey Johnson

Hometown: Hudson

Teaching position and building: Elementary Art, Rocky Branch Elementary

College attended: Iowa State University, University of Northern Iowa

Family: I was born and raised in Iowa before moving to Wisconsin with my husband, Mike, and our two boys, Henry and Andrew. I have a Bachelor's degree in Fine Art and a second bachelor's degree in K-12 Art Education. This will be my tenth year teaching, and I am currently pursuing my Master's in Education from Viterbo University.

Interests: I enjoy anything with a creative outlet or that is outdoors! I love trying new art techniques, cooking, gardening, running, fishing, and spending time back in Iowa or up north with family.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I have always enjoyed working with children, and I strive to instill a love for art in all my students. The creativity that children have inspires me to continually reflect on my teaching and my own art-making.

Erin Kost

Hometown: Hudson

Teaching position and building: Virtual/e-School Instructor, Primary Level

College attended: Augsburg University

Family: I have been teaching since 2006 and completed my Master's degree from Augsburg in March 2013. Before coming to River Falls, I previously taught in early education, kindergarten, second and third grades. My goal is to create a caring community of learners in an online classroom where character counts. My passion is to awaken the inner-reader in every child.

Interests: My husband and I live in Hudson with our two children and my mom. We also adopted a Pandemic puppy, and she literally keeps us on our toes as she has very sharp puppy teeth! I love music, Broadway, libraries, and bookstores. My kids and I try to garden and love to laugh and play games.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? As a teacher, I get to play a part in shaping the next generation while laughing and learning along with my students every day. Teaching is never the same day twice and is full of love, growth, and challenges. It is the way I can give the best of myself to the future.

Mary Miller

Hometown: Grew up in North Branch, Minn., but lived in several places in the past 20 years.

Teaching position and building: Library Media Specialist, RF Public Montessori Elementary/River Falls High School

College attended: University of Wisconsin-River Falls, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Family: I have two children, Claire (9) and Emma (6), my husband Isaiah (Ike) teaches at Meyer Middle. We moved to RF from Luck, Wis., last year upon Isaiah receiving the position. I grew up on a farm in Minnesota; had a marketing career (I still do some graphic and web design services); did some outdoorsy gigs like guiding and ski instructor.

Interests: Hobbies/likes include yoga, hiking, riding my horse, being on the water, painting and reading, but most of the things I do are with my family. We are outdoorsy and love about anything outdoors (of course, lots of fishing because Isaiah). I have always loved to read and with my library program, I have gotten back to children and YA books which I am really loving and am excited to share with students.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? When I was working at a Montessori school in Colorado as their PE teacher and started working in the classroom and connecting with kids. They completely stole my heart. It was such a warm, happy place, and I swear I could see and feel the buzz of learning taking place. The work I did felt so much more meaningful and personal than the advertising job I had before.

Cassandra Munoz

Hometown: Jump River, Wis.

Teaching position and building: 3rd Grade, Westside Elementary

College attended: University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Family: I was born and raised in rural Wisconsin. I met my husband here in River Falls while we were both attending UWRF. We moved out to Southern California for eight years and had our two daughters while living there. River Falls is such a wonderful community and we are so happy to be back! My daughters are going into 3rd grade and Kindergarten this fall, and we are excited that we will all be at the same school!

Interests: My family has cabins up in Jump River, Wisconsin, that we try to visit as much as we can. I love being outside and enjoy biking, making campfires, and exploring trails with my daughters. Usually, we are running around with summer sports and activities, but this year has forced us to slow down and just enjoy nature! I also enjoy woodworking, crafting and reading.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I enjoy working with children, and I love feeling like I can truly make a difference in someone's life. I was blessed with a younger brother when I was 14 years old, and he was my little shadow. Watching him learn and grow was so rewarding. It was then that I decided to go into teaching. I have also had some very wonderful teachers that showed me the impact a good teacher could have on a student. I have remembered them and the things they taught me long after leaving school!

Carolyne Pellegrini

Hometown: St. Louis, Mo.

Teaching position and building: Special Education-EBD, Rocky Branch Elementary

College attended: University of Dayton

Family: I was born and raised in Saint Louis. I am the oldest of three kids, I have a sister named Rose and a brother named Frank. I have two golden retrievers named Gertrude and Louise. I grew up within 3 miles of my entire extended family so we all are super duper close.

Interests: I have moved to River Falls (Hudson actually) without ever being to this area on a whim. I am an outdoorsy person so my hobbies include anything outside: kayaking, camping, climbing, hiking, biking, hanging with friends, gardening, and jogging with my dogs. I absolutely love to cook and I adore curling up in bed with a good book. My recent obsession is true crime podcasts.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, even when I was really little. I chose teaching as a profession because I came to love and treasure the relationships that are built between teachers and students as well as student families/communities. I always loved my teachers and I knew I wanted to inspire students just like my teachers inspired me.

Drew Rohl

Hometown: Mahtomedi, Minn.

Teaching position and building: Gifted and Talented/EL Support Teacher, Elementary/Middle School

College attended: University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Family: My husband Travis and I live just south of River Falls with our three children Mckenna (2nd grade), Wyatt (1st grade), and Molly (PreK). I worked in South Washington County Schools in Minnesota for six years before staying home with our children starting in 2017. I am excited to begin teaching in the community we call home!

Interests: In my spare time I enjoy reading, being outside playing volleyball, going for walks, and spending time with my family.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? Ever since I was in high school, I knew I wanted to have a job working with kids. I worked for my hometown summer park and recreation program coaching t-ball and soccer, and also helped coach youth basketball and volleyball camps. These experiences helped me realize that teaching seemed like the best fit for me. I love that teaching is different every day. You may work with the same group of students, but each day still brings new challenges, laughs, rewards and fulfillment.

Karen Swanson

Hometown: Stillwater, Minn.

Teaching position and building: School Counselor, RF Public Montessori Elementary

College attended: BA: St. Olaf College, MS: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Family: My husband and I have three boys. The oldest one is a married engineer living in Iowa. The middle one is a PhD candidate in chemistry at Georgetown in Washington, D.C., and the youngest is about to go to Winona State to study nursing. We moved here from Milwaukee three years ago for my husband's job. Kyle is the Dean of the College of Sciences at Metropolitan State University. We share our nearly-empty nest with our big black lab, Red.

Interests: I'm happiest in my kitchen, where I love to cook and bake. I also love to hike and kayak. Someday I would like to get back to traveling and hanging out with other people!

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I love watching kids grow and learn. I love seeing the sparks when they "get it"!

Please tell us anything else you would care to share with us: I'm really excited about working for the RF district! I have heard such good things about it from Milwaukee friends as well as folks in the twin cities! I am hopeful that we can have a smooth start, despite the chaos around COVID-19.

Sarah Westman

Hometown: Golden Valley, Minn.

Teaching position and building: 5th Grade, Westside Elementary

College attended: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Family: I am originally from the cities but moved to Wisconsin for college. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2017 with a degree in Middle Childhood- Early Adolescence Education with a Math Education minor. During the last three years, I’ve continued my education at UW-L, earning both my masters degree and my reading license. I taught for the last three years in the School District of La Crosse, one year in fourth grade and two years in fifth grade.

I just recently moved to St. Paul to be closer to my family and friends. I am excited to be an auntie to a sweet baby girl, as my sister is expecting her first child at the end of August.

Interests: In my free time, I love to spend time with my family, friends, and dog, Tucker. I enjoy being outdoors and active. I like exploring new places and trying new things. There is also nothing I love more than a hot cup of coffee and conversations with the people I love.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I decided to become a teacher because I love learning. Teaching is not only a profession where I get to be a lifelong learner, but I also get to instill that love for learning in my students. There is nothing I enjoy more about my job than building strong relationships with every student who walks into my classroom. These relationships are what make teaching the best job ever!

Middle School

Julia Johnson

Hometown: Eden Prairie, Minn.

Teaching position and building: 8th Grade Special Education - Learning Disabilities, Meyer Middle School

College attended: University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Family: I have one sister and a nephew named Cullen, who is about a year and a half. I also have a tortoiseshell cat named Lady.

Interests: I love to craft with my Cricut, read, spend time outside, and with my friends and family.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I want to be a support for all students to succeed and grow.

Jacob Lemke

Hometown: Phillips, Wis.

Teaching position and building: Microbiology, Zoology & Broadfield Science, Meyer Middle School

College attended: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Family: I have two older brothers and an identical twin brother. I also have a dog named Ember.

Interests: I am very interested in the outdoors, mostly fishing and I play some video games. I also love hockey.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I've always loved the way teachers have impacted my life both in school and out of school, and I decided to become a teacher to help students learn more about the world of science and hopefully a lot about themselves.

Nicole McKone

Hometown: Birnamwood, Wis.

Teaching position and building: ELA, Meyer Middle School

College attended: University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Family: Here’s just a little bit about myself. In 2016, I student-taught with Debbie Keller and fell in love with the School District of River Falls. Before making the move west, I taught 7th and 8th grade ELA in Elk Mound for four years, while coaching 7th-grade volleyball and middle school track. I was also the advisor for the middle school leadership club. In March, I was able to get married TWO DAYS before COVID-19. In July, I graduated with my Masters in Education and a special education license from Viterbo University.

Interests: I have seven nieces and nephews with two more on the way. I love to travel, read, bake, craft, and spend time with my family on both the golf course and the lake. Matt and I have a 2-year-old puppy named Hershey, who keeps us active and on our toes!

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I’ve always loved spending time with kids and babysitting my little cousins growing up. It’s been a life goal to leave a positive impact on society, and teaching seemed like the perfect way to do so.

Stephanie Nelson

Hometown: Sheboygan, Wis.

Teaching position and building: Physical Education, Meyer Middle School

College attended: St. Cloud State University

Family: I am a former soccer player from St. Cloud State, where I studied Physical Education. I met my husband, who is a PE teacher at Viking Middle School in Woodville, in a dance class. I married Chase in August of ‘08, and shortly after I taught part-time PE at RFHS for two years. After sadly having to leave due to budget cuts, we moved to Merrill, WI, where we both taught for the past ten years. We have three spunky kids; Addy who just turned 9 and will be a third-grader at Greenwood, Brody who just turned 7 and will be a first-grader also at Greenwood, and Cooper, our 5-year-old who will be attending 4K at Abundant Life. We’re so excited to be back in the RF!!

Interests: I enjoy working out, hanging out in the pool, getting artsy or doing pretty much anything different with my kids, and I love embarrassing everyone around me with my vocal stylings!

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I was an athlete my entire life, so I wanted to continue that after my playing days. Now that I’m more mature and less self-centered, I LOVE teaching about healthy habits and trying to find a way for our students to break the cycle of lack of whole person wellness.

Please tell us anything else you would care to share with us: It takes a lot to embarrass me, so just give me a microphone and I’ll get us all to break out of our shells!!

Annie Nuzum

Hometown: River Falls

Teaching position and building: Special Education-Intellectual Disabilities, Meyer Middle School

College attended: University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Family: I recently married my husband, John, in June. We are settling in our home in Roberts. and can't wait to bring home a dog soon.

Interests: Anything outside is my favorite! I enjoy hiking, downhill skiing, and taking long walks with my sisters. I am a very big Green Bay Packer fan and enjoy going to at least one game a year.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? From reading to my stuffed animals when I was little to volunteering my time to spend time with kids, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I discovered my passion for teaching students with disabilities in high school and have not turned back yet. It is great to assist all students achieve and learn the academic and functional skills that they can.

Taylor Stevens

Hometown: St. Charles, Ill.

Teaching position and building: 8th Grade US History, Meyer Middle School

College attended: University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Family: I have one younger sister and love animals. I lived in the same house my whole childhood and have always wanted to be a teacher. Both of my parents are educators.

Interests: I love being outside. I love hiking and camping. I am really passionate about mental health awareness and the environment. I play the violin and have always been involved in the arts through orchestra, choir, and theater. I also really enjoy reading. In addition, I love house plants and have 20 of my own. I am also a vegan.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? As a teacher you have the power to not only educate students but impact the lives of hundreds of students everyday. Education is an amazing opportunity to create community and create change seeking leaders of the future.

Jacy Walker

Hometown: Manvel, N.D.

Teaching position and building: Choir, Meyer Middle School

College attended: University of North Dakota

Family: I am the baby of my family (3 older siblings), 2 of which are college professors. I just celebrated my 5 year wedding anniversary to my band teacher husband. I am beginning my 5th year of teaching and ecstatic to be in River Falls!

Interests: Walking our dog, watching Netflix, running, DIY projects, singing

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I believe it was always what I was meant to do. Singing and musicals gave me such a purpose growing up that it felt only natural to provide this opportunity to future generations. Using music as a tool, I believe we are helping to shape well rounded, kind, creative, passionate humans.

Charlie Yang

Hometown: Holmen, Wis.

Teaching position and building: 8th ELA, Meyer Middle School

College attended: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Family: I am Hmong, which is a group of people that come from Laos. My grandparents and parents were refugees and were placed in the Midwest. I am the oldest son with one younger sister and two younger brothers. My biggest role in the family is being a good role model and older brother for all of my siblings and cousins.

Interests: I spend most of my time listening to music and creating playlists for people. I am also a big fan of watching films and movies. When I get the chance to, I always say "yes" to camping, canoeing, and the outdoors. Setting up aquariums has been a new hobby that I recently got into. I want to get back into playing video games and playing with trading cards now that I am done with my undergrad. I would say that my strongest skill and favorite hobby is cooking. One thing I would like to do more is travel and explore.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I chose to teach for the rest of my life so that I can learn for the rest of my life.

Please tell us anything else you would care to share with us: I can cook minute rice in 58 seconds.

High School

Tyler Anderson

Hometown: North Mankato, Minn.

Teaching position and building: School Psychologist, River Falls High School

College attended: Hamline University, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Family: I grew up in Mankato, and as an adult, I have lived in the Twin Cities and Wisconsin. My wife and I just relocated from Green Bay and got married this summer. I have several family members who live in western Wisconsin, including some who have attended UW-River Falls.

Interests: I like to ride my bicycle and recently started sewing and gardening.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I want to make a difference in the lives of children by empowering them as they grow into adults. After teaching for four years, I switched to school psychology because of my interest in psychology and the unique opportunities school psychologists have to assist in the education of children.

Logan Figueroa

Hometown: Valders, Wis.

Teaching position and building: Tech Ed, River Falls High School

College attended: University of Wisconsin-Stout

Family: I grew up on an elk farm outside of Manitowoc with my mom, dad, brother, and sister.

Interests: I spend a lot of time traveling during the summer with my motorcycle or four-wheeler to see new things. I also enjoy football and wrestling.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I enjoyed working with other students through early coaching opportunities, which eventually helped me make the decision to switch from engineering to teaching.

Jacquie Graham

Hometown: New Richmond, Minn.

Teaching position and building: Social Worker, Renaissance Charter Academy & River Falls High School

College attended: University of Wisconsin-River Falls, University of St. Thomas

Family: I have been a medical social worker with a local home health and hospice agency for the last five years, which has been very rewarding. I knew I wanted to work as a school social worker after I completed my clinical internship at Hudson High school. I LOVED meeting with the students hearing about their lives and assisting them in finding a path to success. My husband and I have four children who we enjoy spending time with.

Interests: Spending time with my family, camping, hiking, and boating on the St. Croix River

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I chose social work as my profession because I enjoy facilitating positive change, building strong relationships, and finding solutions to what can seem like impossible situations.

Angie Haugland

Hometown: New Prague, Minn.

Teaching position and building: English, River Falls High School

College attended: MSU Moorhead, Concordia University, Wisconsin

Family: I have my undergrad degree in Creative Writing, and then worked in corporate jobs for a decade before getting my teaching degree and Master's in Education from Concordia University Wisconsin (Madison area). I taught at Middleton High School for three years before moving to the cities area, and my husband, my 5yo son, and I just bought a house in Hudson to put down roots and stay.

Interests: I love writing, and I'm working on a novel. I'm a huge sci-fi/fantasy nerd, and I love learning new things. I'm a DIYer to my core (I actually just sat down now after making some plant hangers out of some jute twine I had laying around), and I'm a self-taught silversmith jeweler. Our new house has an awesome separate building that will be my studio space very soon.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? Because I felt a calling to it ever since I was young. I had a teacher in high school really inspire me, and I knew I would ultimately end up here. Getting pregnant with my son solidified my need to build my teaching career and show him that community, education, and hard work are important.

Please tell us anything else you would care to share with us: I'm excited to meet everyone, from a safe distance. :)

Briana Petersen

Hometown: Brandon, Wis.

Teaching position and building: Mathematics, River Falls High School

College attended: Ripon College

Family: I grew up in the midst of my grandparents' farm in central Wisconsin with my 5 siblings. During my time at Ripon College, I met my husband, Todd. We got married this summer and I moved up here a few days after the wedding.

Interests: I like to play board games and card games. My favorite game is definitely cribbage. I also enjoy spending time outdoors hiking, biking, kayaking, and more. In college, my husband was on the track team and convinced me to join the team as a sprinter; I ran track in middle school but did volleyball and softball in high school. Despite my lack of experience, I succeeded in track, and it has become a huge part of my life.

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I did well in my high school classes which meant I would complete assignments relatively quickly. I would then end up spending that extra time helping my classmates. After being told by my peers and teachers that I was a natural teacher, I began considering teaching as a profession. And I guess the rest is history.

Whitney Sutton

Hometown: Merrill, Wis.

Teaching position and building: School Counselor, River Falls High School

College attended: University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire: Bachelor of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Stout: Masters in School Counseling

Family: I live with my husband and our two cats, Kitty and Biscuit. My husband and I are both from Merrill, WI and graduated from high school there. I completed my Bachelor's degree in Psychology from UW-Eau Claire, and my Master's degree in School Counseling from UW-Stout.

Interests: I love all things Disney, board games, movies, puzzles, mini golfing, and my cats!

Why did you choose teaching as your profession? I chose to become a school counselor because I have a passion for supporting students where they are and helping them become who they want to be. I love to help students figure out their next steps in life! I am so excited to work with at RFHS.