Meet Natalie Jones,
our Middle School Title 1 teacher!
Natalie grew up outside of Fairfield on her family's farm. She now lives on the farm with her younger sister and their two dogs. Natalie graduated from FHS in 2016 and from Central College in 2020.
She really enjoys teaching title reading because it gives her a chance to show kids the joys of reading. Natalie stated, “Most students show immense growth over the course of the year, and it is exciting to see their progression throughout their middle school career. The smaller class sizes also help me to build relationships with each student which helps me to make learning fun even though the subject is difficult for them. Seeing students test out of reading support is bittersweet because it means students are succeeding, but they will no longer be in my class”.
One of Natalie’s favorite things about the Middle School is my coworkers and admin because she knows they are always there to help and support her.
Natalie likes to spend time with her family, read, bake, golf, watch movies, and help out on the farm.
This is what a student said about Natalie.
Because she helps us when we need it and she tell us what to do and she teaches us Reading stuff to help us.and she is very nice to her students, so that is why I want to give a shout out to her. Natalie, thank you for all you do for our students!
A group effort occurred at Camp Courageous this past week to save the life of a staff member who had a seizure while underwater and essentially drowned. Luckily, the Washington team realized the emergency and took action! The team of heroes includes Brad Carlson, Michaele Cook, Paige Holderbaum, Holly Harris, Mandy Ford, Claire Christensen, and Jenny Christensen. Brad stated, “Everyone did their job, we had a great working system, and everyone communicated without communicating”. Brad went on to explain that people stepped up and realized an emergency was happening and filled in to do the jobs without any preparation for such an emergency. The students were taken care of and everyone was in good hands. All the preparation for trauma this year brings this emergency home. Thank you, Washington staff, for your quick actions. You are true heroes!
Meet Rachael Bair
Rachael is originally from Braddyville, Iowa, and graduated from Clarinda High School in 2016. She then attended DMACC in Boone, Iowa, and played volleyball while getting her associate's degree. After DMACC, Rachael attended Iowa State University and received her degree in Kinesiology and Health. Rachael lives in town with her fiance Gavin. She is excited about her wedding in October of 2022.
In the fall of 2021, Rachael student taught physical education at Cardinal Community School District and at Fairfield Middle School with Mr. Belzer and Ms.Westercamp. She has been the long-term sub in Middle School Vocal Music since January 2022. While student teaching, Rachael was able to create and build many great relationships with students and staff. The great relationships that she built helped her transition into her role as a vocal music teacher and made her feel more comfortable and prepared for the transition.
Though vocal music is not Rachael’s specialty, it has allowed her to go out of her comfort zone with lessons and activities. This transition has given her the opportunity to focus on the classroom environment to better enhance the experience for her students. Rachael believes in positive affirmations and enjoys writing notes to students when she sees they are excelling or turning a new leaf.
Since moving to Fairfield, Rachael has been involved with Fairfield Attack Volleyball Club and coached the 12’s team this year. They were able to develop fundamental volleyball skills as well as teamwork skills.
She also has been helping with the high school track team. Rachael enjoys being a part of a competitive program that continues to grow!
A student at the middle school sent this message about Ms. Bair: Ms. Bair should get a staff shout-out because she is nice, caring, and kind. She makes music fun. During the week she chooses people that she thinks are kind and doing really well and gives them a note saying that she appreciates their effort! So that’s why I think she should be getting a shout-out! Rachael, thank you for being a part of our team and helping out with music. I am glad you are there and making a difference for the students at the middle school.
Click the following link to check out the spotlight video that aired on KTVO featuring the FHS Esports Club. Listen to what your athletes have to say about the club and esports as a whole.
Meet Josh Wiley,
Josh started working at the Van Buren county hospital in 1999 through the Van Buren County High school MOC program, after graduation he was offered a position in the maintenance department. Josh worked there for 15 years, He left Van Buren County Hospital to take a job as the Maintenance Director for the Van Buren Good Samaritan Center. Six and a half years later, he decided to further his career and came to work for FCSD.
Josh owned his own lawn care and landscaping business from 1996-2008 and he still owns a snow removal business on the side. Josh has a daughter that's 9, it's been just the two of them since 2015- what a learning experience! They love to travel, camp, and just be outside.
Employees have been impressed with the work that has been completed since Josh has taken the helm. Parents stated they are excited to see things fixed around the schools. Some employees have stated items that have been broken since they started working are now fixed. When Josh started, there were over 400 work orders and they are below 40. Thank you, Josh for joining our team!
Meet Matt Schenck,
our 6th grade Middle School Social Studies Teacher!
Matt currently teaches 6th Grade Social Studies at Fairfield Middle School. This is his 5th year in this position, before that Matt taught 6th grade Math for 10 years, also at FMS. Matt grew up in Fairfield and feels very fortunate to have the opportunity to give back to the district that meant so much to him growing up. Matt went to college at Iowa Wesleyan, where he received a Sport Management degree and played baseball. After finding jobs were not easy to come by in the Sport Management field, Matt went back to school and got his Elementary Education degree and later received a Masters in Educational Leadership from Viterbo University.
Matt enjoys spending time with his family, playing golf (even though that is a work in progress), traveling, and cheering on the Hawks and Cubs. He also enjoys coaching track in the spring because it is an opportunity to do another thing he loves with some of his closest friends. Matt has really enjoyed being part of a staff that gets along so well during season but also out of season. He also enjoys being able to go cheer on his students, former students and his "nephews" in their school activities. Seeing students enjoying other activities outside the classroom always brings Matt joy.
Several parents have submitted Matt’s name for the staff shout outs. Here is what they said, “Matt has really impressed me with his parent communication this year! He diligently sends weekly e-mails with an outline for the week's learning projects and upcoming events. He is positive and enthusiastic about his content and about sharing the strengths of his students. I genuinely appreciate the extra time he takes to make sure we are in the loop with everything going on in his classroom!” Another comment: “I would like to nominate Matt Schenck for the Staff Shout Out. His communication with parents this year has been amazing! Every week he sends out what the students are doing in his class each day and when their assignments are due. He also tells us if there are dress up days or special things going on in the middle school that week. On top of all of that, I have a child with dyslexia and anxiety. He has really built a great relationship with her so she feels safe in his classroom and she is thriving in his class.” Matt, thank you for all you are doing for the students and parents in your classroom. We are glad you are part of the FCSD team!
Staff Shout Out! Shout Out Form
Teacher of the Year 2022 Program
Honoring Retiring Teachers and Staff:
Together our five retiring employees have a combined 42 years of walking the halls of Fairfield schools. Words are not enough to share our deep gratitude for your service to our students and the district. Administrators have collected a few stories on our retirees.
Cathy has been with the district for six years as a cook at the Middle School.
Marla Crew has been with Pence Elementary for the past 4 years. Prior to coming to Pence, she did daycare for her 4 grandchildren for 13 years within her home. Prior to that, she had worked at First National Bank. Marla has been a gift to Pence for the past 4 years. She is a quiet busy bee that is always doing something to help not only her 1:1 student, but other students around her and the teachers she works with. Her calm demeanor is comforting to so many and she is willing to jump into any job handed her way. Marla's genuine smile, care and concern will be missed at Pence next year, but we will for sure see her on the sidelines of the various activities that her grandchildren are involved in. Best wishes, Marla!
Sheila works at Washington Elementary as a Title Reading associate. She worked for the AEA for 18 years as a speech pathologist assistant and then spent the last 6 years as a paraeducator. Sheila loved working with the “younger” students and seeing their growth in reading while making social connections with them. She is known to find and plan out cool activities that go with books and holidays, cute potluck ideas and rocking the stop sign outside to make sure all are safe getting to school.
Sheila grew up and graduated from Fairfield High School. She then moved to Missouri where she met her husband Scott and they moved to Florida where she found her happy place. She later returned to Fairfield to be close to family, when her daughter Jessica was born with Down Syndrome and a severe heart defect.
Sheila is a big advocate for individuals born with disabilities and was a Special Olympics coach for 15 years, and was involved with Challenger baseball. She has two daughters, Jennifer and Jessica (deceased), 1 son, Justin, and his wife Kristen as well as 4 grand puppies.
She is excited to become a Florida snowbird, travel more and spend more time with family as she retires. Sheila is an avid gardener and shell collector. She could spend endless hours playing in the dirt or walking the seashores. Sheila follows and cheers for the St Louis Cardinals and Iowa State Cyclones in her spare time as well.
When describing her mother, Jennifer stated that she is the most organized and thoughtful individual. She truly enjoys giving to others and making everyone feel loved and cared for.
Connie Keller - 19 years
Connie Keller navigates and serves every child from Kindergarten through fourth grade. She spends many hours preparing for concerts and ensuring she meets all the diverse needs of our students. With all the changes with COVID, she has even managed the art of having music on a cart. Connie is always so excited to prepare for a concert. She has taken great pride in this work through the years, as she works tirelessly to find music that fits the students and the audience they are performing for. This past winter, she put on an amazing performance with Christmas Around the World. It was so heartwarming to have numerous families approach me after the concert and thank Connie for thinking of their religion and culture. Being in Fairfield, we serve so many people worldwide, and her thoughtful actions truly made these families feel like they belonged here in Fairfield.
Chuck Benge- 8 years
Chuck Benge has worked in Fairfield for eight years. Four as the Pence principal and four as the Curriculum Director. We have learned he loves to cook and feed his staff. He also loves the kids and calls them all his babies. A short video has been prepared of some of the fun events through the years.
Thank you, Chuck!
Friends of Education Award
Kristen McCready presented the Friends of Education Award to Brittney Tiller.
Teacher of the Year Award
The Fairfield Teacher of the Year award was sponsored by Fairfield Economic Development Association (FEDA) and Fairfield Manufacturers Association with $1,500 from each organization along with Druzilla Clark Foundation for an additional $2,000. The 2022 Teacher of the Year will receive a $5,000 award. The 2022 selection committee represented each association in reading the applications and narrowing down the selection, it consisted of Josh Laraby, FEDA executive director, represents the FEDA Board, Chad Christensen on the behalf of Fairfield’s Manufacturing Association and Gloria Countryman representing the Druzilla Clark Foundation.
This year as is each year, there were many deserving teachers nominated for the Teacher of the Year award.
The 2022 recipient always steps up when asked to help out. The colleague stated this teacher has a smile on their face and is a true team player. They have a passion and mission to include all students and support them along the way. This teacher works hard to help students be successful and will not give up on any child. This year there has been an increase in behaviors among students across the schools. This teacher continuously shows up for their students and others within the school to support behaviors. This time does not take away from the support given to coworkers, and is always willing to help colleagues. The team approach is carried out throughout the daily work.
The 2022 teacher of the year builds relationships and, through actions, shows she will not give up on anyone. Her actions demonstrate unconditional love and patience. She is tenacious yet caring, stern yet loving, and encourages independence yet is supportive. This teacher tells the students they are worthy of the effort and won’t give up on them because they struggle with something.
For example, a student may need additional time or a calm down walk, and this elementary teacher is there for the student. A student or family check-in may be at 7:00 a.m. or 9 p.m. it is whatever it takes to support the student successfully. Students respect this teacher because they know she will not tell them what they want to hear and won’t hold them to a lesser standard than their peers. Each curve ball that faces a child is taken on by this Pence teacher with love and sincerity.
Her colleague stated there are many reasons she is a great teacher deserving of this award, but the largest reason is that she chooses to keep showing up for the kids when many of them are used to people giving up on them. Congratulations, Hannah Baker!
Meet Shawn Klehm!
Shawn is one of our middle school teachers.
Shawn has been teaching for 27 years. She was an associate for two years at the middle school when they moved to Fairfield because there were no open special education positions. Shawn left Fairfield to teach BD students in Mount Pleasant for three years at the high school level. She came back to teach at FMS as a special education teacher in 1998 and has been co-teaching since 2002, which she finds very rewarding. Shawn gets to work with the students on her roster but also gets to work with all students in her co-taught classes.
Shawn stated that helping all students learn has always been one of her passions. Shawn’s mission statement is "Every day is a new day." and genuinely believes that and tries to help students reach their full potential. Shawn also stated, “I love teaching and working with kids, and I understand that it's about relationships that you build with students. If kids know you really care about them, they will work for you”. Shawn also said she is fortunate to have had great associates around her over the years who have helped her reach her students. She wouldn't be able to do what she does without them.
Another passion is her family. Shawn loves spending time with her family, whether they are fishing, boating, gardening, raising labrador retrievers, or just being outside. Her husband, Cory, is a science teacher at FMS, and they have three children and one future daughter-in-law. Corynn is finishing her Master's in Bio-Medical Sciences at Iowa State. Reese, who works at Agri-Industrial Plastics; his fiancee Destiny, who works at Lomont and teaches a business class at Iowa Wesleyan College; and Khai, a senior at FHS.
Shawn’s other passions in life are scrapbooking, taking photos, crafting, reading, and hanging out with friends. She enjoys going to Iowa State athletic events with her family and going to Dan & Shay concerts with her girls.
A student sent in Shawn’s name with this comment for the staff shout-out. “She is an awesome, kind teacher. She helps anyone she can and is always ready for helping stop conflict”. Shawn, thank you for what you do every day to make a difference in the life of a child! Thanks for being a part of the Fairfield team.
Today, Grant Ward and his parents, as well as his two high school esports coaches, assembled in the Esports Arena at Fairfield High School. The reason? They were all there to meet with the Esports Director from St. Ambrose University.
Several months ago, Grant was accepted as a student there for next year. On this special day, Grant signed a letter of intent to play for the Fighting Bees on their Smash Bros Ultimate team beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. By signing this letter, Grant is also accepting a scholarship from the school. This is the first college specific scholarship for a student in the FHS Esports Club. This is a very exciting day for everyone involved.
Grant, your coaches and fellow team members are proud of you and wish you the best of luck at St. Ambrose next year!