By Julie Ann Madden
As students begin the 2014-2015 school year on Thursday, they will have a few new faces to learn. A dozen to be exact.
There seems to be a new staff member in every department:
• A-W Business Manager/Board Secretary Cari Brogden. She replaces Jodi Ryan who resigned to take a similar position in the Sioux City School District.
• Rachel Colfack, Middle School Special Education teacher. She replaced Allisa Foley.
• Rick Dirks, A-W/West Sioux Shared Transportation director. He replaces Gerad Gradert who resigned.
• Sherry Fickbohm, Art teacher. She replaced Leah Baryo who took a position at the Hinton School District.
• Jayln Havill, Vocational Agriculture teacher/FFA advisor. She replaces Randy Kroksh, who resigned two years ago but filled in last year.
• Darwin Kluender, A-W Maintenance director/Middle School Head Football coach. The director’s position had been reduced 1.5 years ago but administration decided to refill it.
• Amy Schoenfelder, Grades 7-12 administrative assistant. She replaces Bridget Graves who retired in June.
• Matthew Sheley, Industrial Arts teacher. He replaces Matthew Jongeling who resigned in June.
• Annie Solberg, Preschool teacher. She is well-known as the Akron Children’s Center four-year-old teacher, and that is the position she will continue to teach at the Akron Children’s Center. However, she will now be on the A-W payroll as a 0.6 part-time preschool teacher.
• Eric Thien, Elementary Physical Education teacher/Cross Country coach. For one year, Thien and PE Teacher John Ludwig will both work on their master’s degree through USD’s PCD program.
• Brittany Van Den Top, Middle School/High School English teacher, replaces Inglish Hartwig who resigned from teaching. Hartwig will continue to be A-W’s Head volleyball coach.
• Gina Vreeman, Spanish teacher. She replaces Kammi Kuhlmann who resigned to take a position at Lawton-Bronson School District.
Here is a little bit of information — just in case there would be a pop quiz on Who’s Who this week.
Cari Brogden is “nearly” a lifelong Akron resident with the exception of one year of her life.
She graduated from Akron-Westfield in 1995 and earned an associate’s degree in Small Business Management from Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville. In 1999, she received her bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Minot State University in Minot, N.D. She also completed paralegal certification through American Institute of Paralegal Studies.
Most recently, Brogden was employed at Morningside College in Sioux City and Wells Enterprises Inc. in Le Mars.
Brogden and her husband, Mike, have three children: Ty, an A-W fifth grader; Cal, a second-grade Westerner; and Jase, age 2.
Brogden enjoys photography, boating and watching her children play sports.
They are members of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Akron. She is a member of the Akron Parks & Recreation Board.
This Kingsley native graduated from Kingsley-Pierson High School in 2010 and earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Special Education from Dordt College in Sioux Center in 2014.
Colfack is engaged to Joe Kelderman of Hudson, S.D., and they are planning to wed Oct. 25.
She enjoys fishing, cooking, being outdoors and spending time with family.
Colfack is a member of Bethany Reformed Church in Canton, S.D., where she currently lives.
This lifelong Akron resident graduated from Akron High School in 1975.
Dirks earned a bachelor’s degree in Business from Iowa State University in 1979 and returned home to work in the family’s business, Dirks Motor Company. After 35 years, he is starting a new career — school transportation.
He and his wife, Robin, have three children: Kristin and her husband, Caine Radway of Hinton and their children, Julian, age 7; and Rex, age 4 months; Jordan of Akron; and Dan, who is a sophomore at South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D.
Dirks enjoys attending high school sporting events and reading. He is a member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.
Sherry Fickbohm, an Elk Point, S.D., native, graduated from Elk Point High School in 1972, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education with a minor in Art in 1976. She has completed several endorsements over her teaching career, which includes 15 years at Alcester-Hudson High School.
Fickbohm and her husband, Dwight, have four children: Nick and his wife, Dawn of Akron and their children: Adam and Allison who attend Alcester-Hudson; Leslie and her husband, Heath Van Roekel of Elk Point, and their two children: Kaithlyn and Brody; Stacy and her husband, Brent Heath of North Sioux City, S.D., and their three children: Coltin, Grayson and Carter; and Angela and her husband, Collin Swartos of Elk Point.
Fickbohm enjoys camping, boating and reading. She is a member of Union Creek Lutheran Church.
Jayln Havill, a New Liberty native, graduated from Tipton High School in 2009. She earned an associate’s degree in Feed & Fertilizer Marketing from Muscatine Community College in 2011 and a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Education from Northwest Missouri State University of Maryville, Mo., this past spring.
Havill enjoys playing with her new dog, Pete; visiting with family and friends, helping on her family’s farm and listening to music.
She lives in Akron and attends New Horizons United Church of Christ.
This Westfield native graduated from A-W in 2003 and attended Iowa Central Community College for one year, playing football; and then studied Criminal Science at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, S.D.
In 2006, Kluender joined the U.S. Air Force, earning the rank of E5 Staff Sergeant and serving in Afghanistan in 2010-2011. He continues to serve in the Iowa Air Guard.
Kluender graduated with an associate’s degree in Mechanical Technical Program from Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City.
The last two years he has worked for Kalins Indoor Comfort in HVAC.
He and his wife, Eva, have one child: Ronnie Florke, an A-W Kindergartner. They are members of Faith Lutheran Church in Sioux City and live in Akron.
Kluender enjoys fishing and playing baseball and rugby.
Amy Schoenfelder has been “on the job” since early summer. She is the Grades 7-12 administrative assistant.
The Akron native graduated from A-W in 2001 and received an associate’s degree in the Legal Administrative Assistant Program at Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City in 2003.
Schoenfelder brings to her position 8.5 years of banking experience from local banks.
She and her husband, RJ, have two children: Bailey who is an A-W Kindergartner; and Kirsten, age 2 1/2 years.
Schoenfelder enjoys watching NASCAR events, spending time with family and friends, and working along side RJ on their farm.
They are members of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Sioux City.
Matthew Sheley of South Sioux City, Neb., graduated from South Sioux City High School in 2010 and earned a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology Education from Wayne State College in 2014.
He will begin his teaching career as A-W’s Industrial Arts teacher. Sheley has his own construction and fabrication business as well as increased his experience in his field by working at FIMCO, Love Bros. Trucks & Trailers, JED Cabinet Installation, and Triple M Logging.
Sheley enjoys hunting, fishing and car racing. He is a member of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in South Sioux City.
Annie Solberg is a lifelong resident of Akron. She and her husband, Eric, have two children: Kate, an A-W first grader; and Lane, age 2.
She graduated from Akron-Westfield High School in 1999 and earned a bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education: Birth to Age 8 from South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D., in 2003.
After being an A-W substitute teacher for one semester, Solberg joined the Akron Children’s Center staff as the four-year-old preschool teacher, a position she has now held for 10 years.
When not working, Solberg enjoys playing volleyball, baking and teaching dance to children, from preschool through second grade, at the Dance Depot.
Eric Thien, a Tipton native, now lives in Akron.
He graduated from Tipton High School in 2009 and earned a bachelor’s degree in Grades K-12 Physical Education in December 2013. Since then, Thien has been a paraprofessional at Yankton (S.D.) Middle School.
Thien enjoys exercising and told The Akron Hometowner he is “very competitive,” and loves competing in triathalons and 5K and 10K road races.
Brittany Van Den Top
This Rock Valley native graduated from Rock Valley High School in 2009. She continued her education, earning an associate’s degree in General Studies at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon in 2011 and a bachelor’s degree in English Education from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, S.D., this past spring.
While attending college, she has worked in a residential group home for handicapped persons and tutored students.
Van Den Top enjoys reading, writing, watching movies and spending time with family and friends.
Gina Vreeman of Ireton joins the A-W faculty after teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to West Sioux elementary students the past 11 years.
Vreeman is a native of Lima, Peru. In 2011, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Education with a Grades K-12 ESL endorsement from William Penn University in Oskaloosa.
Vreeman and her husband, Scott, have three children: U.S. Navy Corpsman Rodrigo Banda and his wife, Alyson of Gaithersburg, Md.; Isabella Banda, who is a West Sioux junior; and Ashley Vreeman and her husband, Brad Stout of Little Rock, Ark. They are expecting their first child — and the Vreemans’ first grandchild — in October.
Vreeman enjoys gardening, cooking, music and movies. She is a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Ireton and its Women’s League.