Moorcroft Leader - The Voice of the Community Since 1909, Serving Moorcroft and Pine Haven, Wyoming

Welcome Teachers


August 29, 2019

Moorcroft and Pine Haven welcome nine new teachers and a new counselor working and giving their best to the children of the Moorcroft schools this season.

Shanna Kinnick

Shanna is not unknown in the local school system as she has taught STEM in the junior high grades; this, though, is her first year teaching physical science and biology to ninth and tenth graders.

She says she has “loved” teaching special education and elementary classes, “There’s something to love about every single age, they’re all really cool in their own way.” Once she started teaching the older kids, though, she found that she enjoyed encouraging her students as they began to question and make connections.

Shanna had found her niche and when she was able to obtain her masters in the sciences for which she has a passion and subsequently, the position, she can only smile as she says, “I can’t believe that I’ve gotten this opportunity to teach science all day, [it]’s a dream come true.”

Between her freshman and sophomore classes, she works with around 100 students. Shanna and her husband currently live in Upton.

Melissa Buckmiller

Melissa worked in the school last year as a EWC coordinator, a position she has held for 16 years. “It was a very rewarding.” She recently received her master’s degree in education administration, but realized that she wanted most to become a teacher, helping kids who struggled with certain life skills.

“I worked with kids applying for scholarships and job applications; I just saw a lot of kids who were struggling with writing and things like that,” she says.

She says that seeing her own kids succeed made her want to see that kind of success for all of the kids so she returned to school for her second master’s in secondary education and English language arts. While she received several offers, Melissa wanted to return to MHS; “When it came down to it, this is home.”

Melissa is teaching a group of freshmen, sophomore and a couple of seniors English and computer apps this year. She plans to concentrate on helping her students with the evolution of their communication skills. “I want to make sure that they have the best foundation to build from before I let go of them.”

Melissa is working with 55 students in her class and expresses her pleasure with their bright attitudes.

Emily Bishop

Emily grew up in New Jersey and knew that she was going to be a teacher since she lined up her stuffed animals for class when she was a child.

Several years ago, her step father told her that she should take some time to explore the “west” while she could and Emily decided to do just that. She came to Wyoming for a summer and worked at the Paradise Guest Ranch, managing the kids program.

After that summer, she knew that she would return and two years later, in 2015, she did. “I packed up my truck and said ‘see you later Mom and Dad, I’m going to chase my dreams out west.”

She met and married her husband and they lived in his home town of Gillette for a couple of years, but the couple decided to move somewhere with more acreage, which brought them to Moorcroft. They and their son enjoy their home, “We love it, it’s beautiful here with a nice small town feel.”

Nine kids listen to Emily’s wonderful stories in her kindergarten class.

Thea Dittman

Thea is originally from Spearfish and graduated from Black Hills University. Through local friends and acquaintances, she was informed of the second grade teaching position at the MK-8, applied and was accepted. Thea lives with Bentley, her red golden retriever.

She is excited about her class this year, “This is perfect for me; building the relationships with the kids and having a fun time learning”.

Thea plans to employ a strong participatory experience for her students, regardless of the subject, “making it real to them”, as her philosophy is that “we tend to learn best when we’re active, engaged and having fun.”

Thea expresses her excitement with being accepted for the position. “I love the team I’m with and the school has been so supportive helping me out for my first year.”

There are currently 14 youngsters in her class this year.

Mandy Connally

Mandy came from Mitchell, SD and has lived in Moorcroft since 1998. She and her husband have raised three kids in this school district and with one in college and the other two in high school, Mandy is ready for her next adventure.

She began substituting about five years ago and fell in love with the job, “I got addicted to the class room so I went out on my own.”

After graduating, she applied to the MK-8 and now teaches fourth grade, “It’s where the kids are finding themselves and their sense of humor and who they are.” She works with 17 students.

Hannah Bauernfeind

Hannah is from and still lives in Hulett and after graduation from Black Hills University, chose to remain in Crook County.

She is teaching science to 108 seventh and eighth grade students: “My eighth graders are working in Earth and physical sciences and my seventh graders are working in life science and biology.”

Hannah had originally wanted to work with kindergarten through fourth grade. “But,” she said, “I have enjoyed these students so far so we’ll see.”

Arlie Hulm

Arlie hails from Faith, SD and currently lives in Spearfish with his wife, who teaches as well. He has been teaching for more than 20 years: “I got into teaching because of my love for kids and wanting to make a difference.”

The couple moved to Spearfish about five years ago, where he taught math last year, but when an opportunity arose to work in this school district, “I applied to get on because, besides the money and retirement, there’s a lot more opportunity for me to coach. To be part of the mix and be able to coach again is worth the drive.”

Arlie loves coaching and has worked with kids on field, court and track over the years. He is coaching golf this year and is proud of his athletes as they start their season.

110 seventh and eighth grade students study English with Mr. Hulm.

Devin Robinson

Devin left her home town of Riverton, WY a few years ago to explore a little of the country on her own, working in Montana for a silversmith, in Albuquerque, NM for the World Series Team Roping and teaching second grade for a year; she found her niche with the children, but she was still single and foot loose and wanted to travel a bit before she settled down.

She followed her fiancé to Moorcroft, marrying him last Saturday. She works with 110 seventh and eighth grade students in her STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) class. “I used to love STEM back when I was in school, learned so much about hands on learning and the importance of it [and] I love it here, it’s a great school and great people.”

Justin Gonzales

Justin lives near Belle Fourche, SD with his wife and two kids and has worked as a teacher in Houston, TX for a year before moving to Sundance to teach for 16 years. “I like dealing with kids, trying to get them to think outside the box - to formulate their own opinions.”

He was transferred to MK-8 this year to teach civics and history to seventh and eighth graders, but has worked with all grades in his years of teaching and appreciates the “individual perks” of each age group. “I enjoy all of them.”

Justin hopes to instill in his students an understanding of the importance of history and how it affects them now and what it means to be a citizen of this country, “Expanding their knowledge.”

Anne Carlsen

Anne calls Evanston, WY her home town; she, her husband and their five children live in Gillette. Anne was hired for the counseling position at Moorcroft K-8.

“I was very interested in the K-8 scenario, I had never heard of a k through eighth grade, usually, where I’m from, it’s K through five.”

After only a few days of school, Anne considers the work is going well, while admitting that “there’s a lot to learn.” The role of advisor is different than that to which she is accustomed; coming from an environment focused more on mental health/individual therapy as opposed to this school/social side of the field.

“Now,” explains Anne, “I’m making sure they learn social skills and management coping skills, that kind of thing.” She will be focusing on kindergarten through fourth grade.

She’s enjoying her new job so far, “Everyone’s been very welcoming and it’s a wonderful environment. I’m excited to get moving and going and start working with the teachers and children.”


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