Laurel-Concord-Coleridge welcomes new staff, preps for new school year

Laurel-Concord-Coleridge Schools are busy prepping for their 2020-2021 school year, set to begin on Wednesday, Aug. 19. In doing so, the district is welcoming several new staff members, as well as implementing plans to handle whatever a school year during the COVID-19 pandemic may mean.

"We had some retirements this year and so we're excited to welcome our new faculty and staff," LCC superintendent Jeremy Christiansen said.

With two retirements and three faculty members moving out of the district, there was space to fill. In addition, Christiansen said the district created a new position that they're happy to have filled.

"Of all the positions you know one of them is a brand new position a newly created position for our district and that was the the Mental Health Provider," Christiansen said. "I did have experience in my prior position and school district, working with mental health providers in school districts and in the ESU region and so that was one thing I was looking for and forward to work very closely with our ESU in Wakefield, ESU 1. In my first two years, we shared a part-time mental health provider position and we were seeing such positive response and gains from that position at a part time level, (but) at the same time our needs were increasing. We're trying to look at the approach for our student wellness, as a whole-child and total wellness approach."

Families are under strain at the best of times, and particularly now, with COVID-19 changing so much so quickly, Christiansen hopes the full-time Mental Health Provider position, filled by Brandi Settje, will aid not only LCC students, but in turn the community, as well as breaking some of the stigma surrounding mental health treatment.

"We know that our students and certainly their families tend to be under a lot of stress and a lot of external pressures and oftentimes, the whole concept of mental health has had a negative connotation or negative stigma attached to it," Christiansen said. "We really wanted to take the approach in the school district of talking about it and having students have very open conversations about a person's social, emotional well being and how important that is to your overall health.”

Other new staff members include: Kristina Steinle, Early Childhood Program teacher; Christy Koehler, Elementary Resource teacher; Jennifer Backer, 5th/6th Language Arts teacher; Tejlor Strope, Ag Education teacher; Mark Leonard, Middle School principal; Jeff Bermel, Director of Facilities and Maintenance; Lisa Dohmen, library assistant; and Karen Schulz, kitchen assistant.

Staff and faculty will welcome students on Aug. 19 for what is hopefully, a full year of in-classroom learning.

"We've got a lot of procedures and protocols that  are in place regarding both sanitizing of surfaces and spaces, as well as social distancing structures in place in terms of routines and passing periods and those sorts of things," Christiansen said.

LCC faculty have also been planning in case the COVID-19 situation changes again and students will have to return to off-campus learning.

"We recognize the reality is that we need to be flexible enough that we can shift or pivot into a remote learning scenario or a hybrid kind of model, really at any point, whether it's for an individual student, small groups of students, or maybe even a grade level or a building," Christiansen said. "What we wanted to do is learn, take what we learned from this spring and the spring closure when we did our remote learning types of processes, and then take the best of that, and be able to refine that to make plans so that we were much more prepared."

LCC information and school year updates can be found at lccschools.org.

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