Maquoketa Valley Community School District is excited to announce a new partnership with Life Connections, a Mental Health & Behavioral Health Service Agency. Life Connections will provide a Licensed Therapist who will be based out of our district three days per week. Any student may be seen for therapy, during school hours, through either their health insurance or the district’s contract with Life Connections. If you feel your child is struggling with symptoms of depression, anxiety, inattention, hyperactivity, self-harm, eating disorders, anger issues, grief of a loved one, low self-esteem, trauma, or other life stressors or adjustments please contact Ariel Brown at 715.630.1381 or email@example.com to discuss starting therapy services. In addition to individual counseling, our school-based therapist will be assisting the district with other various mental health or behavioral health-related things such as conducting groups, consulting with teachers and support staff, professional development, and crisis management.
Each and every year, the beginning of a new school year brings new enthusiasm to our students and staff. It also seems to always coincide with a number of changes throughout our district. Obviously, this year is no exception! First and foremost, we have had some changes in our personnel. With the retirements of Pam Overman, Kevin Kudrna, and Wilma Jesenovec this has driven a number of our changes. With the departure of Pam, Brandy Whittenbaugh has moved over to the high school office. Cheryl Gates returned back to the middle school office after being in the high school office this past year. Sarah Lown, moved from the classroom to replace Cheryl at the high school. Rachel Bonert moved to Sarah’s 5th-grade position. Trevor Arnold was hired to replace Kevin as one of our PE instructors and will also take over the Activity Director Duties. Trevor will also be our new Head Football Coach and weight training coach. Trevor’s wife Rachel will be one of our new special education associates at Johnston. Taryn Fellinger has been hired as one of our second-grade teachers at Johnston with the departure of Sarah Cherne to Guttenburg. Heidi Hoeger has been doing a number of long term substitutes in the district and due to an increase in enrollment in a few specific grade levels this year, Heidi was hired as one of our new 3rd grade instructors. With a 1st grade opening at Johnston, Jessica Dusek, who was our preschool instructor transferred into that position and Brittini Ludovissy was hired to replace Jessica. With a huge influx of junior kindergarten students, Margo Friedlein has been hired as a second JK teacher at Earlville. Tiersa Frasher transferred into our 3 – 8 Behavioral Intervention position and Brianna Pfeiler was hired to replace Tiersa. Samantha Kruse also transferred from the classroom into a full-time special education position within the district and Jackie Moorman will move into that 6th-grade position. With the loss of Marty Tumey, who will be dearly missed, Mark Smith has been hired to drive Marty’s route. Joe Hoeger also returns to one of our bus routes this fall. If you have the opportunity to see one of the new members to our district, please welcome them to our school community.
In regards to facility updates, we have almost completely finished the remodel and renovation of the High School. This summer the blacktop parking area will be ground down and a couple of inches of new blacktop will be poured, painted and sealed. A small portion of the cement pad located in front of the high school entrance will also be replaced due to a defect in the recent replacement. Some minor tuckpointing and soffit repair will also occur. At the time of this writing, we have begun creating a double-door locking vestibule for our middle school and elementary in Delhi. This includes new interior entrance doors and a new entrance into the Middle School and Delhi Elementary office. At Earlville, new carpet has been installed in the hallways and office areas and work on a new gym roof has begun. At Johnston, some minor roof repair and upkeep will also be completed in August. The usual dusting, carpet cleaning, scrubbing, mopping waxing, painting, ventilation filter replacement continues throughout the district. With the arrival of the ash borer to Delaware County, as painful as it is, we have begun a process to remove our ash trees from our campuses. We will strategically replant trees later this fall and next spring.
All of us are extremely excited about the 2019 – 2020 school year. With all of our building projects, our new teachers and support staff that will be joining our MV family, I know it will be a fantastic year! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give me a call, drop me an email, or stop by to visit. The doors to Maquoketa Valley will always be open to the parents and patrons of this district.
100 Great Iowa Nurses – Mary Ries
By Catrina Bruns (Dyersville Commercial)
When Mary Ries was 5 years old, she knew she wanted to be a nurse. Today she has the pleasure to serve children of the same age, as a nurse in the Maquoketa Valley School District.
Ries was recently named a 2019 honoree for 100 Great Iowa Nurses, a program designed to recognize great nurses in Iowa. She was selected from a pool of over 500 individuals, who were all nominated by their colleagues, patients, doctors, friends
“These exemplary nurses are selected based on their concern for humanity, their contribution to the community and to the nursing profession, their leadership and mentoring,” wrote Cassie Raasch, a public relations coordinator for the University of Iowa College of Nursing.
“Nurse Mary,” as she is affectionately known around the Maquoketa Valley School District, has a long background in the nursing field. Her nearly 34 years in the field have taken her to a number of positions around Iowa. She has worked in a medical unit, surgical unit, ICU, CCU
Her passion for nursing began at the age of 5. I had two cousins and two aunts that were nurses and they were excellent role models,” stated Ries. “I have always wanted to help people and felt this was an excellent way to do it.”
Ries decided to become the school nurse for the Maquoketa Valley District to be on a regular schedule when her children started school. This year is her 23rd year in the district.
In addition to her regular duties as a school nurse, Ries stays busy with a variety of other responsibilities. She directs an early morning fitness class that is open to the public in the school fitness room. Ries also oversees staff wellness programming and teaches CPR. She holds a number of responsibilities as the advisor for Teens Eliminating Lies, a student organization in the district. On top of all of this, Ries finds time to send a daily email to staff in the district with an inspiring quote, a suggestion for self-care and a positive affirmation.
Ries believes the reason why she was chosen for the honor is
Members of the school district had much more to say about what makes their humble school nurse truly great.
“Being a school nurse is challenging enough, but Nurse Mary also has to juggle school buildings located in three different communities,” said Ann Norton, the principal at Johnston Elementary. “Regardless of where she is located on any given day, she stays in touch, up-to-speed, and accessible. She is a person that all students and staff know cares about them and can be counted on to be there for support and assistance whenever we need her”.
Mary is always re-educating herself to keep up to date and then disseminates that information for the best interest of the district,” said Donna Kunde, a member of the school board.
“Her dedication and commitment to the students of our district is invaluable, and she is very deserving of this recognition,” said Troy Osterhaus the principal at Maquoketa Valley High School.
Ries says her favorite part of being a school nurse is working with students “from their first days of school until their last. It is rewarding to watch them learn and grow into productive adults.”
Even the newest youngest Wildcats are quick to show their appreciation for “Nurse Mary”. Kindergarten students at Earlville Elementary said Nurse Mary is great because, aside from healing their ailments, she is kind, a good helper, and she follows the Wildcat Way.
“Mary Ries is not only a great nurse,” says Pat Sabers, secretary for Earlville Elementary, “she cares about people and their daily struggles and accomplishments. She truly is special!”
For her accomplishment, Ries will attend a celebration in Des Moines in May. She plans to attend with her husband, Mark, her son Adam and his wife, Megan, her daughter, Emily
“I am very humbled to know that someone saw something in me that made them take the time to nominate me for this tremendous honor,” said Ries, “I hope that I live up to what they see in me. I am truly blessed by my own family and my Maquoketa Valley family.”
The Maquoketa Valley Large Group Contest Speech Team received four All-State nominations today! The events nominated include the ensemble acting, “Emergency Protocol,” the ensemble acting, “Who Doth Inhabit the Primary Position,” the
Other nominations and the schedule for February 16 can be found on the IHSSA website.
What is a Physical Plan and Equipment Levy?
A top priority for our Board of Directors is to continue our renovation efforts at all of our District facilities. For quite some time, discussions have centered around two specific needs of our renovation project. The first concern is the immediate need to increase security of our entryways at Earlville, Johnston andDelhi Elementary Schools. This need includes creating a vestibule with a double locking entry system into our elementary facilities. This also includes purchasing up-to-date surveillance cameras for visitor screening as well as building perimeter and interior surveillance. The second priority for our Board is to continue to build upon our technology plan to update technology access for all of our students throughout the district. In order to fund these priorities, one of the avenues that our Directors have been discussing has been creating a consistent revenue stream through a voter approved Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL).
After months of discussion, at the November 26th meeting the Board of Directors passed a resolution calling for a voter-approved PPEL of 33¢ to be used to update Maquoketa Valley elementary school building entrances for security purposes and annually updating district technology. This allows our District to bring the question of updating our elementary entrances and district technology for our children to our voters on February 5, 2019.
With this resolution, I realize that this may raise a number of questions regarding this vote scheduled for February 5th. Hopefully this article will provide some of those answers.
What is the PPEL?
The Physical Plant and Equipment Levy may annually be certified by our Board of Directors in an amount of 33¢ per thousand dollars of assessed valuation. District voters may authorize an additional PPEL know as a voted PPEL for a period not to exceed 10-years. The voted PPEL cannot exceed $1.34. At this time Maquoketa Valley does not have a voted PPEL, the District only has an approved regular PPEL of 33¢. This 33¢ generates approximately $115,000 in revenue each year for our district. An additional 33¢, which is well below the $1.34 increase allowed by law is being proposed to provide the revenue needed to secure our elementary entrances and ensure that our student technology needs are being met at all levels. Even with an additional 33¢, our overall school levy rate will remain the lowest in our area.
Why is an additional 33¢ levy important now?
First and foremost, with the ever increasing threat of violence in our schools, it is imperative that we do what we can to ensure the safety of all of our children. This starts with building security. With the recent high school remodel we were able to create a vestibule entrance with a locked double door entrance. We also purchased a surveillance system so building secretaries are able to monitor the entrance of the facility. Entrance remodeling now needs to be completed at Earlville Elementary, Johnston Elementary and Delhi Elementary and Middle School. The additional 33¢ will specifically be used for this purpose.
Our regular PPEL of 33¢ currently generates approximately $115,000. With the rising costs of technology, software, technology licenses, technology repair, technology service contracts, roof replacement and maintenance, transportation maintenance, windows, tuckpointing needs, outdoor facility and grounds maintenance, phones, etc., the regular PPEL does not cover our yearly costs to ensure that our technology needs and our facilities are maintained to our expectations. If the voters are gracious enough to approve the additional 33¢ PPEL, this additional revenue will strictly be used to 1st remodel the entrances to all of our elementary facilities, which will be in the neighborhood of $115,000 and 2nd, to ensure that we are able to purchase technology to meet the learning needs of our children. We are currently projecting that for the next 10 years our technology costs will be at a minimum of $130,000 per year. This includes computers, coding apparatus, software applications, servers, projectors, switches, document cameras, computer speakers, yearly software upgrades, repair, technology service and maintenance contracts. This is why the question on the February 5th ballot specifically delineates what these dollars will be used for. If the voter PPEL is approved, the School District Business Manager will ensure revenue from this voter approved PPEL is only used and coded for these specific purposes.
Will this raise my taxes?
The answer to this question at this time is NO. At this time we do not anticipate an increase in our school property taxes. Currently our overall school levy rate is $10.57, which is the lowest in the area. Western Dubuque’s levy rate is $11.53 and West Delaware Community School District is $11.94. Monticello’s rate is $12.29 and will be increasing with their recent bond election. Ed-Co has a rate of $14.09 and North Linn’s is $15.54. Our Board of Director’s have been diligent in their responsibility in managing our district budget and living within our means. The levy rate is a direct reflection of this. That is why the Directors are only requesting an additional 33¢, not the additional $1.34 that is allowed by law. The Directors are only asking for an increase to meet our children’s needs.
What can the PPEL dollars be used for?
By State statute, PPEL dollars can only be used for:
- The purchase and improvement of grounds
- The construction of buildings
- The purchase, lease or lease-purchase of equipment or technology
- Payment of debts for the erection or construction of buildings
- Acquisition of library facilities
- Repairing, remodeling, reconstructing, improving, or expanding the buildings and additions to existing schoolhouses
- Expenditures for energy conservations
- Rental of facilities
- Purchase of transportation equipment for transporting students
- Purchase or lease-purchase of school buildings
- Equipment purchases for recreational purposes
- Payment to a municipality or other entity and
- Demolition, clean-up and other costs incurred within 2-years of a natural disaster.
What has Maquoketa Valley used PPEL revenue for?
Over the past 14 years Maquoketa Valley has used PPEL revenue for the following purposes:
- Bus and van repairs
- Bus security camera
- Hallway security cameras at the high and middle school
- Purchase and maintenance of boilers
- Roof replacement and repairs
- Building window replacement
- Indoor and outdoor door repair
- Door closures and doorlocks
- Fireproof doors and windows
- Facility Updating (painting, ceiling tile, water fountains, air conditioning)
- Copier purchase
- Security fencing
- Classroom shop welders
- Purchase and maintenance of classroom air conditioners
- Innovative TechnologySolutions services
- Computer repair
- Microsoft licenses
- Internet connect fees
- Fire control panel
- Asbestos removal
- Scoreboard maintenance
- Upgrading outdoor athletic facilities
- Sidewalk replacement
- Facility scrubbers
- Facility tuck pointing
- Training room ice machine
- Bathroom stalls and fixtures
- Football press box
- Wrestling mat
- Greenhouse electrical
- HS gym floor
- LED lighting
- Football concession stand landing
- High School track and
- Classroom and library equipment
Are there PPEL Prohibitions?
By State statute, there are prohibitions to PPEL uses. Those include:
- Employee salaries, benefits or travel expenses
- Materials and supplies
- Printing costs or media services
- Heating or cooling costs
- Bus fuels and
- Any other purpose not expressly authorized in Iowa Code Section 298.3
When will the PPEL vote be held?
The vote is scheduled for February 5, 2018. I would encourage you to get out and vote on February 5th, or contact the Delaware CountyAuditor’s office at 563-927-4701 to vote by absentee ballot. It is an important decision for our district, our facilities and our kids If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Doug Tuetken or Erika Imler at 563-922-9422.
Marching Band Takes the Field
There is a new sight to see this year at the Maquoketa Valley home football games. The
Maquoketa Valley marching band has finally made its return, with a half time show that the
crowds at MV haven’t seen in years. In the recent past MV didn’t have a halftime performance
during football games due to the little attention the band was given. Since the high school has
gotten a new band director he has made many good changes to the program, one of them being
bringing back the marching band.
Mr. Ford came to MV last year and has been changing things up in the band program.
Out of the things changed, the one thing that is getting the most attention is definitely the
marching band. The program made many strides in the last year and a half with Mr. Ford being
here. Many people in the community are also noticing the work he has accomplished. A parent,
Tina Weber says, “Every show you guys get better.” The band is not only getting a lot of support
now from the student section but also the older generation. Mr. Meehan, a retired teacher from
MV who is well respected by the community, voiced his opinion to Mr. Ford about the band. Mr.
Meehan stated, “You guys sound really good this year.” To hear this from someone who is so
well respected is such a confidence booster for the band.
Speaking of confidence, Mr. Ford stated, “Marching band has 100% boosted their
confidence throughout the year.” He also said that the band is more comfortable with performing
now than what they were last year. He believes getting out there and showing the community
what they can do helps with confidence greatly. He also stated that being in marching band has
forced the band to use more air when playing their instruments. Making the band louder and
sound more confident.
Mr. Ford also stated that he has no future plans to have the marching band compete.
“This way we can still have the football players, cross country runners, and the other band
students who wouldn’t want to go full out marching band.” If the band were to compete there
would be practices every morning and afternoon to perfect every little detail about the band.
Many other schools in the area do compete but because they compete they lose valuable
members that are involved in other things. That is just something that Mr. Ford doesn’t want to
sacrifice, he wants the band to be diverse and involved in many other activities here at MV.
This year the MV marching band has two drum majors who help assist Mr. Ford in
conducting the band, Maddie Lahr and Madeline Gellerson. Madeline stated she would
recommend younger students in band to try being a drum major, “I was always a quiet person
and I didn’t really talk to other people. It forces you to communicate and it made me come out of
my shell.” Being a drum major does put some weight on your shoulders, because the band is
looking to you for tempos and as a way to stay together. Some people wouldn’t change it for the
world. You become a role model for the younger students to look up to and ask questions to.
There are many times where Mr. Ford is busy and a drum major goes and answers a question that
he doesn’t have the time to answer. A lot of the time drum majors are more there to keep Mr.
Ford on track, and to make sure that he remembers to talk about everything that he wants to talk
about. There are many ways to get involved in leadership positions in high school, and being a
drum major is one of them. If a person is willing to work hard and do a good job then maybe
being a drum major is for them.
Marching band may not be as popular now as what it was here fifteen years ago, but Mr.
Ford is trying to change that. The goal of this year was to play songs that the crowd would sing
to and want to pay attention to. This year the marching band theme is classic rock, with their
songs being “September,” by Earth Wind and Fire, “Come Sail Away,” by STYX and their show
closer being “Livin’ On a Prayer,” by Bon Jovi. He is hoping that by choosing popular songs it
would captivate the audience and make them pay attention to the very precise drill that had been
Observation Writing 2
A Week of Awareness
During the month of October, people around the country take a week out of the month to
focus on alcohol, drug, tobacco, and violence prevention and awareness. This year Red Ribbon
Week falls on the week of the 22nd through the 26th, and the Maquoketa Valley TEL group has
been preparing since September. Currently I am involved in our TEL group at school, and work
on one of the several Red Ribbon Week committees. I want to help educate young people about
the effects of drugs and alcohol on your body, and I feel that this week is a perfect time to do it.
Since the end of September, TEL has been working on plans and activities for Red
Ribbon Week. In the beginning, our leader, Nurse Mary, split our group of forty people into 4
different committees, including: food, prizes, announcements and advertising, and middle school
activities. It was awe-inspiring to watch everyone in their groups talking away about all of the
different activities they were planning. The dedication shown by every person was incredible,
and I could tell that this might be the best Red Ribbon Week that TEL has ever put on. Nurse
Mary stated, “I have assisted with preparations for RRW almost every year since the 96/97
school year.” She goes on to say that in the past most of the work has fallen on her plate. “I am
so glad that I have a very reliable and active TEL group because they have helped me
The games committee had the responsibility of coming up with game ideas for the
tailgate and finding the materials to make those happen. The middle school and elementary
activities fell into the hands of another group. They worked closely with Nurse Mary to
brainstorm forms of entertainment that will also help educate the younger students about Red
Ribbon Week. They came up with dress-up days: pajama day; hat day; red, white and blue day;
superhero day; and wear red day. Watching the kids get to dress up and have fun is another
reason why we continue the Red Ribbon Week tradition. As a high schooler, you never really get
to see the middle school and elementary students and this helps us stay connected. One of the
other committees was advertising and announcements, which happens to be the group that my
name falls under. I specifically chose this committee because I love the hands on activities! We
get to research all different kinds of mind-blowing statistics about drug and alcohol use, and we
use those facts to create posters that hang throughout the school for the purpose of educating
students. We also wrote down different facts to be announced everyday throughout the week in
both the middle school and high school. This helps to spread the Red Ribbon Week message and
connect with our fellow classmates. Also on our to-do list was announcements that are
broadcasted over the speakers at the tailgate. We list facts and draw students’ names to receive
prizes, and almost everyone gets pumped about hearing their name! Through all of this
preparation, there has to be a reason right? True.
Red Ribbon Week is definitely important to our country, but it really affects some
Maquoketa Valley students on a deep level. Kristin Lucas wants to help younger students realize
the harmful effects of different substances before they start. Maddie Lahr agrees with Kristin,
stating, “I want to make a difference in younger kids’ lives because I want them to be educated
so they can make the best choice possible.” I would bet that our whole TEL group could stand by
these statements also. None of us want to see our fellow Wildcats go through something so
dreadful, especially when we have the power to preach and yield facts that could possibly save
their lives. Nurse Mary has been teaching kids for many years about the harmful effects of
various substances and expresses why this is important to her. “For me Red Ribbon Week is
important because it reminds adults, as well as youth, that even legal drugs/alcohol can cause
problems. It shows that education can be done in fun, less structured ways, by doing things that
are memorable.” Many Maquoketa Valley graduates can say that our school has a truly
memorable tradition for Red Ribbon Week: the tailgate.
Every fall, the Maquoketa Valley TEL group puts on a tailgate. It includes games, food,
prizes, and friends. We put on this festivity to show our peers that we can still have fun without
the influences of alcohol, nicotine, or other harmful substances. Many of the committees include
jobs that relate to the preparation for the tailgate. It all started a few years ago with the brilliant
idea of Shaylyn Trenkamp. If you ask anyone about Red Ribbon Week and what happens in our
school, almost everybody says the tailgate. Many of TEL’s group members will also claim that
this is their favorite part of the week. Maddie Lahr expresses her views on the tailgate, “I just
enjoy having fun with my friends and seeing the rest of the high school enjoying themselves as
well. I like knowing that I am doing the best I can to educate people to make educated choices
that are best for them and their bodies.”
Everybody involved put their whole effort into making this year’s Red Ribbon Week at
Maquoketa Valley a great one! Our preparations all paid off and the tailgate was a success. It’s
amazing to see everyone’s energy and passion towards helping other, I firmly believe that we are
going to change lives.
October 17, 2018
The Power Within
Some events in your life are unexpected. These unplanned incidents can be for the better
and unfortunately, for the worse. Life will knock you down at some point, but it’s your decision
to get back up. Pushing you to your limits, life will force you to make decisions that could affect
you for years. The ability to learn from your decisions or mistakes is vital to the growth of a
person. When life seems to never go your way, it’s truly your reaction that sets you apart from
the rest. Should you give up and walk away? Or should you keep fighting to hopefully gain some
The Maquoketa Valley football team were knocked down numerous times through the
duration of their season. They were forced with difficult situations and hard-fought loses but
hopped back up time after time. After losing their first six games of the year, it would be
effortless for this team to give up and loosely play out the rest of the season. Senior wide
receiver Daniel Hunter proudly stated, “I don’t think there’s ever been a time where we felt like
giving up this season. I think part of this is because we don’t want to let the community and our
school down. There’s so many younger kids looking up to us as well. Also, from a senior
standpoint, it’s our last season so we try to give it our all every game.” Daniel and the rest of the
squad have refused to throw in the towel no matter how tough the circumstances may be.
Despite simply playing the game, the senior competitors have more added to their plate.
Winning has been a tradition for the Maquoketa Valley football program with rarely having a
year with a losing record. The community, students, and even athletes’ expectations remain
prestigious; everyone expects an exceptional season. Because of that, the seniors have had to
uphold a critical role of rallying the troops night in and night out to keep their teammates’ spirits
up. Positivity is contagious and a vital aspect among a team. “We try to stay positive by looking
at the things that we have done well, and trying to just learn from the things we did wrong,”
senior quarterback, Norman Wilson, assured. “However, there are definitely people that are more
negative than others, which really makes it hard to keep everyone on the same boat,” sighed
Norman. Wilson faced another unique situation this season. This year he was asked to switch
from tight end to quarterback and also asked to kick extra points and field goals to aid his team.
Possessing some experience as a quarterback in his earlier years, this sudden change didn’t seem
as dramatic as it could’ve been. Being a true team player, Norman embraced the needed changes
to help his team.
Improvement began to show itself as the weeks went on. Maquoketa Valley opened
district play with Ed-Co, the top in the district. The Wildcats battled, making the game close
throughout the whole first half. However, their battle ended in a 7-21 loss to the Vikings. Despite
the loss, the Wildcats had shortened the loss deficit by over half of what they were previously
losing by. After Ed-Co, Maquoketa Valley traveled to MFL MarMac to take on the Bulldogs.
Building upon their one touchdown game versus Edo-Co, the Wildcats were able to put up
twenty-one points, and had a chance to win in the end. Losing in a heartbreaker only fueled the
Wildcats’ drive to succeed. Finally, after the long, grueling weeks of grinding, the Maquoketa
Valley football team won their first game of the season at home against Clayton Ridge. A storm
delay sounded in the opening minutes of the game with the Wildcats being down 7-0. This
circumstance would have dragged down any team, especially one with our record. However, the
boys remained exhilarated and positive throughout the hour and a half delay. As they took the
field, their enthusiasm and motivation was distinctly seen to pull off the win. Four different
Wildcats scored in this game, lifting Maquoketa Valley over Clayton Ridge in a thrilling 15-14
The players uphold a strong desire to learn from their mistakes and build upon what they
had done wrong the week before. “With every game, we learn how to play football again; it’s
like a baby learning to walk,” Norman described. “We are just learning how to be more and more
physical every week,” he informs. The instant reward of winning a football game makes all the
grueling work and tough situations the seniors and the rest of the team had to go through this
season worth it.
The power of perseverance and dedication is key not only in the sport of football, but life
itself. The way the football team gets back up relentlessly after being forced down is a skill many
students should take note of. With their refusal to give up, their ability to remain positive, and
their improvement throughout the year, the football boys have a great chance to build upon their
previous win. Maya Angelou, an American writer and civil rights activist once said, “You may
encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter
the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of
Trying Something New
Everyone will face challenges in their life, big and small. It is whether or not we want to
take on those challenges and try new things or back down when things get tough. Kathy Jurgens,
a retired sixth grade educator at Maquoketa Valley, decided to spend six weeks of her time
substituting in a high school Spanish class.
After spending 34 years (1984-2018) in the education system, she was like a kid in the
candy store who could not stay away and had to come back for more! “I have wanted to be a
teacher since I was in third grade. Every teacher I had every year became my favorite teacher
ever!” excitedly announced Jurgens.
Although entering a high school Spanish class as a retired middle school social studies
teacher might seem terrifying, Jurgens took a leap of faith. “I had some trepidations about it
when Pam first asked me to do it but mostly because of the subject matter. I would have had the
same reaction if she’d ask me to do math or chemistry or anything I wasn’t that familiar with in
the high school courses. I am thoroughly enjoying it though, so I’m glad that I’m here.”
After spending some time in the high school, Jurgens explains that it is nothing to be
afraid of. She enjoys seeing the high school students each day and being able to catch up with
them and laugh. As a matter of fact, she says that she looks forward to coming back when her
grandkids grow older and take up less of her time.
Middle school differs drastically from high school. Speaking from experience, Mrs.
Jurgens realizes that the difference between the two is the level of maturity. After being given
the opportunity to teach at both levels, she cannot pick a favorite. “I enjoy both levels actually.
After subbing in the lower grades, I’ve realized I prefer fifth grade and above. I don’t feel like I
can accurately compare the two levels because I’ve never taught my own classroom full time in
the high school like I did all those years as a fifth and sixth grade teacher.”
Although she is enjoying her time here, there are a few things that make her temporary
job as a substitute difficult. She explains that some students who do not always complete their
work are the students that are extremely capable of achieving academic success. This saddens
her as kids are very talented! While some children might make the experience a struggle at times,
Jurgens knows how to handle situations like these.
Jurgens has learned many valuable skills that has helped her succeed at her job. Over the
years, she has realized that sometimes she needs to take a step back in certain situations. “Certain
students can’t help the things they do or the way they act sometimes because of what may be
going on in their homes. I tried to make my classroom a fun, welcoming, safe place for them to
hang out for a small part of the day.” She has also learned to be more patient and calm with
students. For those students doing well and working hard, Kathy gives the opportunity to her
students, to earn incentives throughout the year like a cake for perfect spelling tests all year long.
If you are planning to visit Maquoketa Valley High School anytime soon, be sure to go to
the second floor and stop in the Spanish room. Say hola to Mrs. Jurgens. Chances are, you
probably already know her or had her as a teacher. Thank her for her time and dedication to
educating the young population of this community.
October 24, 2018
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes
MV’s Got Talent: the perfect place for both nervous freshmen and confident seniors to step outside of their comfort zones. Underneath all those bright lights and fake smiles, there’s a lot of practice and preparation from the choir and from Mrs. Mueller, Maquoketa Valley’s choir instructor. She spends so much time meticulously picking all the songs that are going to be sung. She wants to make sure they fit in with her overall vision of the show before she even shows the
material to the choir.
Mrs. Mueller’s whole world revolves around music. She never gives up an opportunity to better herself: she practices during her prep time, after school, and even her precious weekends at home. But the most challenging task was finding time to rehearse with all the soloists and small group performers. Mrs. Mueller had to compete for time with sports and other extracurricular
activities. Even though there were so many songs that needed to be practiced, she also had to find the time to plan the concert order. This was also difficult because she wanted to portray MV’s Got Talent as a show, not just another concert. She wanted to witness astounding acting with true passion on that stage, and she made it very clear that she would not settle for mediocre.
Mrs. Mueller always has a vision for MV’s Got Talent even before she picks the songs. She bases the songs around a centralized theme and puts the songs in the order of what emotionally feels right to hook the audience. For example, songs performed in the lobby were chosen to be sung there because the songs fit the relaxed vibe of the lobby and played into the
audience’s emotions well. “When I Grow Up” was first because the hope was to grab the attention of the audience with the exaggerated childish acting of the choir while they were singing. Solos and small group performances were alternated based on the style of the song to add as much variety to the show as possible. The song “Walk A Mile” made you reflect on what
it would be like to “walk a mile in your neighbor’s shoes”. When asked about the impactfulness of her song choices, Mrs. Mueller commented, “‘Glory’ had such a powerful message. I felt the bass clef chorus performed this with a lot of passion. This song hopefully helped people think about what they would march for. ‘A Million Dreams’ was the perfect closing song and the faces
of the audience during this song helped to affirm this.”
Not only does Mrs. Mueller have to plan out the concert order, but she also has to figure out how to set up the stage for each song. However, she has to keep in mind that this year’s musical Beauty and the Beast has practice during this season on the same stage. “Sharing the stage with the upcoming musical meant having to think about using the performance space in a different manner. Everything needed to be in front of the mid black curtains and we couldn’t use the normal colored background drop during the concert… decided to use the drop-down screen and have the performers create their own slides to use as a background.” Obviously, Mrs. Mueller is an excellent, creative problem solver for thinking up that clever solution. For “When I Grow Up”, Mrs. Mueller had a tire swing hung up for someone to swing in to give the illusion of a playground. Other props were also brought in like coloring books, crayons, stuffed animals, and costumes to really emphasize the childish feel of the song. While
the boys were singing the song “Glory” from the movie Selma, clips of the movie and pictures of segregation were being played on the backdrop. The guys were also packed very tightly together in order to create a sense of unity among the group to further emphasize the message. “Walk A Mile” had a more even distribution of people to fill up the space because it was a soprano, alto,
tenor, bass (SATB) song. Meaning the entirety of the choir had to fit on the stage. Since the song “A Million Dreams” from the movie The Greatest Showman had an image displayed on the backdrop and was also an SATB song, Mrs. Mueller staggered the choir sitting and standing among the stage and the risers in order to give the audience the best view possible.
“Walk A Mile.” had a thought-provoking message: walk a mile in your neighbor’s shoes. “‘Walk A Mile’ had a powerful statement about challenging yourself to look at people from their perspective in order to better understand them.” Mrs. Mueller explained. We can apply this to Mrs. Mueller in how most people don’t realize how much effort goes into all the preparation for concerts. People need to realize that even through all the hectic preparations, the only thing Mrs. Mueller truly cares about is the well-being of her students: “I looked for songs that I hoped would resonate strongly with the choir (and eventually the audience) and help to build a positive, engaged learning environment in the classroom.”