Clay Olstad, 2nd grade
Clay Olstad will be joining the 2nd grade team at Rushford-Peterson which should be a great fit for him since he’s always enjoyed being part of a team and working with people in education. Olstad declares, “I like to share my passion for learning and making ourselves better one day at a time. Teaching gives me great opportunities to develop relationships with staff and students.”
Olstad went to high school at Plainview-Elgin-Millville. He earned his degree at Concordia Saint Paul University, playing basketball as well for all four years he was there. Olstad comes with extensive experience in teaching; he taught one year in Eagan, Minn., and six years in Lake City, Minn.
Olstad and his wife Jade and son Zayden make their home in Rushford Village. Along with family time, Olstad enjoys sports, jamming out to music, and any type of competitive games.
Looking ahead to the new year at R-P, Olstad foresees COVID as the biggest challenge. However, he says, “I’m looking forward to working with great people and getting to know the awesome community and culture at R-P.”
Courtney Thorman, Ag education
Courtney Thorman is originally from Macomb, Ill.; she attended high school as well as college (Western Illinois University) there. She student-taught last spring at Seneca, Ill.
Thorman chose ag as her field after she experienced the warm welcome from her first two ag instructors; she had gone to a neighboring school as a freshman since her own school didn’t offer ag. She found FFA and ag created a welcoming, family atmosphere that other subjects didn’t; as a result she knew she wanted to teach ag as well.
Thorman is making her home in Rushford; while she is close enough to travel back to Macomb, she is far enough away to make her own impact here. She is the fourth of five children and an aunt to seven nieces and nephews. She always connected with and looked up to her teachers as a youth. Teachers in her extended family served as role models for her.
Thorman realizes that as a new teacher in a new town in a new state, getting acclimated to the area and culture will be one of her challenges. She acknowledges that connections with the students will be key to a good year and that the students will actually teach her as much as she will them.
Thorman is excited to be working with another ag teacher; she knows that will help as she learns her way around R-P. She looks forward to collaborating for future growth and change in the program. Thorman likes to encourage students to get out of the classroom and listen to others’ perspectives; she welcomes visitors when possible to speak and work with the students.
Darrin Hegland, High school SPED
Darrin Hegland has lived in the R-P area most of his life; now he will be teaching at R-P as well. Hegland, who has always enjoyed working with and teaching young people, graduated from Luther College and went on to get his teaching certification at Winona State University.
Hegland has taught for 14 years; most recently he taught at the Hiawatha Valley Education District’s SAIL program. He considers COVID the biggest challenge of this year, just as it has been for the last year and a half. He looks forward to “working with the wonderful students and great staff at R-P.”
In his spare time, Darrin enjoys hunting, fishing, sports such as wrestling and football, and spending time with his family. He currently lives in Rushford with his wife of 19 years, his three children, two dogs and a cat.
Welcome to R-P in your new capacity as a teacher, Mr. Hegland!
Elizabeth Landherr, Elementary music
Elizabeth Landherr is originally from Rochester, Minn.; she attended elementary and high school at Dover-Eyota and college at Winona State University. While at WSU, Elizabeth met her husband; they married and moved to Fargo, N. Dak., in 2018 where her husband studied for his Masters in Piano Performance. Elizabeth taught elementary music grades 1-5, 4th and 5th grade choir, and beginning 5th grade band at Wahpeton Elementary School in Wahpeton, N. Dak. She later moved to Sleepy Eye, Minn. and taught elementary music and choir there for two years.
When she and her husband heard of the opening at R-P, they took advantage of the opportunity to move back to the area. The couple had always wanted to return to southeastern Minnesota. They have now made their home in Winona, where they had first met and married.
Landherr knew she wanted to be a teacher since elementary school; her older sister is a teacher as well. Landherr had planned on becoming a math teacher until a career counselor suggested she become a music teacher since she enjoyed being involved in music so much.
Elizabeth is looking forward to working with the other R-P music teachers; Mr. Mahlke, Mr. George, and Mrs. Landherr were all at WSU at the same time. She’s looking forward to “an exciting year and years to come” with her music department.
Mrs. Landherr shared that she is very excited to be teaching elementary music; while she had enjoyed teaching high school students at her previous school, she said she finds true joy in working with elementary students.
While at WSU, Mrs. Landherr had always said she would love to teach in the Three Rivers Conference, now she’ll have that chance at R-P.
Mrs. Landherr is looking forward to getting to know her students and the community; she’s hoping for a close to normal school year so she can make some great connections with the families and students of R-P. She anticipates a great school year!