Four new teachers joined Grand Meadow Public Schools this year. The Fillmore County Journal asked each of them a few questions to introduce them to the community.
Faith Gehling teaches sixth grade math and science. She’s also the varsity cheerleading coach and co-advisor for the National Honor Society.
Gehling grew up in Grand Meadow, where she graduated in 2018. She continued her education at Rochester Community and Technical College, where she earned her associate degree in liberal arts. She finished her bachelor’s degree at Winona State University in Rochester in 2021. Gehling first worked as a long-term substitute teacher at schools in Winona, Byron and Zumbrota-Mazeppa before returning to Grand Meadow this year.
“After spending a couple of years long-term subbing, I wanted an opportunity to have my own classroom,” Gehling says. “It had become very difficult for me to establish close relationships with my students only to leave them after 6-12 weeks.”
Now she says she is thrilled to have her own classroom in the same community in which she grew up and has been very busy between teaching and coaching. She adds that one of her favorite things about teaching is to help kids and to explore ways to help children learn and grow.
“One of my principles is to develop relationships with my students. Because of this, I get just as excited – and sometimes more so – when students have personal victories, whether it’s academically or in other areas of their life.
Gehling is the youngest of five kids and has three sisters and one brother. She is also the aunt to six nephews and two nieces.
Wyatt Garten teaches ag/industrial science.
He is originally from Owatonna, where he graduated from high school in 2019. He then went to South Dakota State University, where he graduated with a bachelor of science in agricultural education earlier this year.
Before coming to Grand Meadow, Garten worked at Lee J. Sackett Inc. in Waltham. The company restores antique tractors. Now he enjoys the close-knit community in Grand Meadow, which drew him to the district.
“I really enjoy working with community members, and I thought this would be the perfect place to do it,” Garten says.
His first weeks have been going great, he says.
“It’s been a good time for the kids to get to know me and to share my teaching philosophy with them,” he says. “I enjoy being able to bring about a wider and broader acquaintance with the agricultural industry.”
Alyssa Severtson teaches elementary special education.
She grew up in Albert Lea, where she graduated from high school in 2016. Earlier this year, she earned her degree in elementary education at Winona State University.
While she’s worked a number of jobs over the years – including as a dance teacher and through Reading Corps – she’s been busy with “non-stop classes” the last two years.
“I did about 18 weeks of student teaching in fifth grade at Glenville-Emmons,” Severtson says.
That’s also where she formed the idea of teaching at Grand Meadow.
“I had a couple of meetings with principals from Southern Minnesota Education Consortium (SMEC). They talked highly about Grand Meadow, so I jumped on applying,” she says.
Severtson adds that her first days were stressful but that she’s been able to rely on her support system at school. She also learned she really enjoys working with the kindergarten classes.
Asked what she enjoys most about teaching, Severtson points to the creativity that comes with the profession.
“I love being able to customize things and research new ideas to implement in my classroom. It’s so exciting to watch a student learn something new or finally understand something they struggled with,” she says.
Severtson and her husband Ethan have two kids, four-year-old Chandler and two-year-old Ophelia. She also stresses that she is Post Malone’s number one fan.
Lauren Holets teaches fifth grade reading and social studies.
She wasn’t available for an interview but on her teacher profile webpage she shared that this is her first year of teaching.
She also shared that she was born and raised in Austin and attended Riverland Community College for two years before transferring to Winona State University. She holds a bachelor of science in elementary education.
“I enjoy shopping, reading, going for walks and playing in the backyard with Winnie,” she wrote.