Back to school: East Grand welcomes new teachers |

Back to school: East Grand welcomes new teachers

The new East Grand elementary teachers pose for a quick picture on the Granby Elementary playground. From left to right: Monique Beck, Rosemary Opatril, Emily Thompson, Deanna Horstman, Lucinda Smith, Lisa Smith, and Jordy McNamee.
Lance Maggart / Sky-Hi News |

Students at the East Grand School District will return to the hallways and classrooms of Fraser and Granby on Monday for the first day of classes. When they walk through the doors of the venerable local schools, they will be greeted by several new faces.

There are a total of seven new teachers at the two district elementary schools, Granby Elementary and Fraser Valley; four new teachers at East Grand Middle School; and a new counselor at Middle Park High School.

The new elementary teachers are a collection of new educators and returning veterans with many years of experience.

Granby Elementary

New to the world of teaching this year is Jordy McNamee, who will teach Kindergarten through second-grade science in Granby. McNamee previously worked with the district’s after school programs and also worked for the Fraser Valley Rec.’s summer camp program.

“I am super excited,” McNamee said. “I substituted last year and I have done after school programs and summer camp for Fraser Rec for the past three years. I am ready for this new journey.”

Also taking her first formal teaching position will be Rosemary Opatril, who will spend the coming year instructing third graders at Granby Elementary.

“I have always wanted to be a teacher,” Opatril said. “Now that both of my children are grown up I decided to open up that chapter in my life.”

Joining the two new teachers at Granby Elementary will be Emily Thompson, Granby Elementary’s new interventionist, and Lucinda Smith, who will serve as a half-time counselor.

Thompson enters her new role as Interventionist after many years in the teaching world. She has worked at both Fraser Valley and Granby Elementary in previous years and spent last year splitting her time between the two schools.

“This is a new role for me and I am eager to get in there and get started,” Thompson said, highlighting she is looking forward to working with a broad variety of grade levels. “I am excited for the challenge.”

Smith is a recent transplant to the high country from Missouri. She has nearly 30 years of experience in school counseling and is looking forward to her time in Middle Park.

“I have always loved school,” Smith said. “I have a passion for it. I like helping children and families and believe education is the way to become a very successful citizen.”

Fraser Valley Elementary

Fraser Valley Elementary will welcome three new staff members: Deanna Horstman, Monique Beck and Lisa Smith, each possessing extensive professional educational experience.

Horstman will be teaching kindergarten in Fraser. She was a long-time first-grade teacher at Fraser who retired three years ago, but decided to get back into the classroom for a year to help out the district.

“This is a one year opportunity,” Horstman said. She went on to explain Fraser Valley added a third kindergarten class this year and she will be filling that role. “We have a wonderful community with amazing parents and kids. I am really excited to be able to come back and work with the young children at Fraser Valley.”

Among the new faces at Fraser this year will be Beck, who will serve as a special education teacher. Beck has been in the education profession for several years including a recent stint teaching special education and second-grade at an English language school in Brazil.

When asked why she entered the world of teaching, Beck was clear and concise.

“I became a teacher to empower children and change their lives,” she answered.

Also starting her first year at Fraser Valley will be Lisa Smith, teaching second grade. Smith is entering her tenth year of teaching and comes to Fraser Valley after a previous stint teaching in Commerce City.

“My husband and I have been visiting Grand County for about four years for vacations. It was a dream of ours to live up here. I was looking for a job and found the second grade position. Things just worked out beautifully.”

East Grand Middle School

Up at East Grand Middle School four new teachers will begin their tenure Monday including two brand new teachers: John Clark and Ross Kalsow.

Clark, who will be teaching sixth-grade English, is originally from Oklahoma and recently graduated from Wheaton College with a degree in education. He substituted at schools in the Chicago area during the spring and is excited to be working in East Grand.

“I am ecstatic,” Clark said of his new position. “I am very much looking forward to meeting the students and their parents and the people in the community.”

Fellow new teacher Ross Kalsow will be leading social studies instructions for seventh graders and hails from Broomfield. Kalsow said he is “extremely excited” about his new position.

“It is a little nerve racking,” Kalsow said. “But I know the support within the community and the school will be good.”

Starting her first year at East Grand and her third year as an educator will be girls physical education teacher Shelby Walkinshaw. Walkinshaw moved to Grand County from Douglas Wyoming and has a family history in education.

“My dad was my own physical education teacher,” Walkinshaw said. “And I have always loved to teach and coach. I am putting both of my passions together, this is my dream job.”

Veteran teacher Matthew Fenimore will also be starting at East Grand this year, teaching eighth-grade English. Fenimore comes to East Grand from Rangeview High in Aurora and has been an educator for 14 years.

“I love it here,” Fenimore said of Middle Park. “I have been spending as much time as I am able up here for the last seven years. I got tired of going home to Denver. It is nice to call this home.”

Middle Park High School

Up at Middle Park High, Kate Walker will be taking over half of the counseling duties for East Grand’s oldest students. Walker has an extensive career in public education and was most recently at Mullen High School in Littleton. She got into the counseling world after college when she took a job working at a high school.

“I really enjoyed it and found it rewarding,” Walker said. “And I thought I would like to somehow apply my psychology degree. A school setting is a good place to do that.”

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