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New and familiar faces start new year at Rugby Public Schools

By Staff | Aug 22, 2020

Sue Sitter/PCT New teachers at Rugby Public Schools are, from left, Connor Ralph, middle school history and geography; Luke Bacon, high school social studies; Levi Lemer, high school science; Brittany Lovcik, high school family and consumer science; and Abbey Paul, third grade.

Rugby Public Schools will welcome six new and familiar faces to new teaching positions this year.

Among the new faces at school are three who were born in Rugby, two who grew up in McHenry County and another teacher with small town roots.

Abbey Paul, a 2012 Rugby High grad who grew up on her family’s farm outside of town, said she’s glad to be home after studying and working in Bismarck, Moorhead, Minn., and Australia.

Paul will teach third grade this year.

“This is my first full year,” said Paul, who completed her student teaching in Fargo and worked as a Title One aide at Rugby’s Ely Elementary School.

“I’m from Rugby and it’s nice to be back home with all my family and friends,” Paul said. “I just love the community and being able to teach in a smaller community where I can get to know the students and families a little more closely.”

Paul said she was teaching last year “when went to strictly Zoom lessons online” due to the global pandemic. “So it’s nice to have online teaching experience this year. There’s a lot of uncertainty, but we’ll get through it.”

Paul said she plans to use software platforms to put lessons online every Friday as the school year begins. “We usually try to pick a skill or strategy that we want the students to work on or try to master, so they’re very focused lessons. They’re usually only 20 to 30 minutes online. I don’t know if it’s going to be different this year.”

Brittany Lovcik, also a Rugby High grad, studied family and consumer science at North Dakota State University in Fargo. She returns to her hometown after a four-year teaching stint in Rolette, where she developed a family and consumer science (FACS) program at Rolette High School.

This is the first year Rugby High School will have an FACS program.

“I’ll be starting part time, so as (the program) builds and grows, there’s talk of adding in kitchens so I can add a lot more classes to that,” Lovcik said.

“I’m teaching four different classes this year. Child development is a year-long class. Independent living is for juniors and seniors. It’s a year-long class of life skills and things that they’ll need when they leave here,” Lovcik said.

Lovcik said she will also teach a beginning class in clothing, which will include a “give-back project.”

“We donated to the foster care system and abuse shelter in Belcourt when I was at Rolette High, so I’m excited to find Rugby’s little niche. (The project) will depend on what Rugby needs.”

Another class Lovcik will teach “is a split semester. The first semester is nutrition and fitness, so we learn about the body; essential vitamins and minerals that we need. Then, every Friday, we’ll learn about a new way to get fit. I like to open their minds a little more than what they get in gym class or sports. So, that’ll be fun. They always love that.”

Lovcik said she will use technology to teach her Friday fitness lessons.

“The second semester (of Lovcik’s split-semester class) is family living. That’s everything from relationships to choosing a partner, to deciding who you are as a person, conflict resolution, marriage all kinds of things,” Lovcik noted.

“Every school is different, but I’m just excited to be back in Rugby where my family is, and my little family is going to be. The family business is here, so I’m just excited to be home,” Lovcik added.

Levi Lemer, who grew up in Drake, said, “I did some student teaching here in the spring, but this will be my first full year here. I will teach science. I’ll do ninth grade, 11th grade and senior-level classes. I’m going to teach physics, chemistry and physical science.”

“This will be my first teaching assignment,” Lemer said. “Rugby’s pretty nice so far. It’s a pretty warm and welcoming community, especially the school. Everyone’s been pretty good.”

“I think this year will be fun,” he added.

Lemer said transitioning to online-only instruction in the spring “definitely was a little bit of a shock, but by the end, I felt comfortable with everything. The Google Classroom software is pretty easy and it works pretty nicely. It complements the other programs that we use.”

Luke Bacon, who grew up in the McHenry County community of Granville, graduated from TGU High School.

“This is my first year teaching,” Bacon said. “I student taught a couple of springs ago, then spent a year coaching college football.”

Bacon, who will teach high school social studies, graduated from NDSU and did his student teaching in Kindred. He said the technology training he received in college and as a young teacher helped him prepare for the online instructions he needs to deliver every Friday.

“Being a younger teacher, you’re a little more familiar with technology, because you’re a little more tech-savvy. In college, they train you on Google Classrooms and technology that you’ll potentially use in the classroom. Now that we’re in a little different environment, it’s going to be amplified a little bit more. So, being a little younger and being fresh out of college has a little bit more of a benefit in certain situations,” he said.

Bacon said he was glad to come back to familiar territory after almost six years in the Fargo area. “I’m getting used to being back home again and seeing familiar faces and familiar names and that’s been good,” he said.

Middle school teacher Connor Ralph will teach seventh-grade geography, eighth-grade U.S. history and North Dakota history.

“This is my first official job teaching,” Ralph said. “I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead in the spring of 2019.”

Ralph said he completed his student teaching in Minnesota after earning his education degree from Moorhead State University.

Ralph said he was “excited” to use technology for online instruction.

“We learned a lot of stuff about using different online tools like Google Classroom and different websites that you do trivia games on to help kids get ready for tests,” Ralph said of his teacher training. “So, it will be nice to be able to use what I’ve learned and teach with it instead of just going off (others’ lesson plans). I’m excited to use my own techniques.”

“I grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota. It’s a pretty small town, so everybody knows each other and it’s nice to be in a small town. Being in Fargo gets hectic and crazy, so it’s nice being able to walk to school if I want to instead of having a 10-minute drive. So, I’m really looking forward to being back in a small town and getting to know people,” Ralph said.

Terry Jelsing will return to Rugby High this year to teach art.

Jelsing, who taught art at Rugby High in 2005, said, “I haven’t really lost connections with the school. I’ve subbed for several years and have taught in the area at Dakota College and other places.”

Jelsing said online lessons “will be a new area for me, but I’ll give it a whirl.”

“I’m learning and we’re in a learning environment, so I feel pretty good about that. We’ll be doing the best we can with it. I’ve thought of ways from the art point of view because you’re dealing with specific materials, how that translates into a technology environment. So, I have a few ideas that will work both in class and in a distance learning world,” Jelsing added.

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