From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 104, Number 35 - August 30, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Pinedale teachers ready for another school year

by Mary Billiter

“There’s something wrong here, having me stand by the Smart Board. Isn’t that an oxymoron?” So joked Pinedale Elementary teacher Marianne Mrak.

The start of a new school term next week may cause anxiety for some teachers, but not Mrak. The 2007 school year will mark her 34th year teaching and the tenured teacher remains smiling.

“I feel really blessed and thankful that out of my 20s I knew what I wanted to do and I did it. I’ve never doubted my decision to teach,” said Mrak, who has experienced many changes in the teaching field. The Smart Board is one of the new teaching tools that Mrak will be implementing in her classroom.

“It can be challenging to be an older teacher and keep up with the technology,” she admitted. Staying current with the trends is something the fourth-grade teacher is determined to master.

“The Smart Board has a lot of possibilities,” she said as she stood in front of a daily lesson plan. With a touch of a finger, Mrak and the entire teaching staff at Pinedale Elementary can immediately access files, homework and post grades. It’s just another tool Pinedale Elementary has made available in its quest for educational excellence.

“We are focused more on individual studentsand what each student needs because if we meet the needs of the individual student, we’ve met the needs of all the students,” said Principal Greg Legerski. Entering his second term as Pinedale Elementary principal, Legerski is looking forward to the year ahead.

“As a staff we want to provide the best educational program and experience we can give to the students so they can experience success,” said Legerski, who supports Governor Dave Freudenthal’s new Wyoming P-16 Education Council. The 15-member council will look at every level of education in Wyoming from pre-kindergarten through college.

“There is a need for a pre-kindergarten program funded by the state,” said Legerski. “Our incoming kindergarten class is very prepared, but there are some students who don’t have preschool experience prior to entering school. A pre-kindergarten class would be a nice bridge for parents and students.” Under the leadership of Legerski, the teaching staff opted to help bridge another gap: summer and the start of a school year. The added strain that school supply shopping can place on parents and students were something Pinedale Elementary wanted to eliminate.

The staff voted to allocate a percentage of its building fund to purchase and provide school supplies for all incoming kindergarten through fourth-grade students. For first-year teacher Tiffany Jackson, the decision made sense.

“When I did my student-teaching, you could almost tell the socioeconomic status in the classroom. Some kids had nice folders and others didn’t,” she said. “I think this is awesome. There’s no judgment, everything is equal.”

Jackson attended elementary school in Bondurant and finished her schooling in Pinedale. The alumni is thrilled to be teaching at her alma mater.

“The staff is so awesome. I’m really lucky,” said Jackson, who has been mentally preparing how to decorate her classroom since she was hired in April. She graduated from the University of Wyoming in May and headed straight for home. “I’ve been waiting and waiting to decorate,” she said with a full smile. “We’re starting with dinosaurs.”

The second-grade teacher’s classroom showed the results of her efforts. Brightly colored bulletin boards adorned the walls and desks were aligned in perfect rows. All that was missing were the children. “I can’t wait for them to get here,” gushed Jackson. “It’s going to be a great school year.”

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