New principal and 6 new teachers to welcome students next week
Some new and familiar faces will be showing up at Perkins County Schools with the addition of new junior and senior high school principal Ben Jones and five new teachers.
A Hastings native, Jones is ready to step into his new role as a first-year principal.
His seven years in education have been spent as an activities director and 7-12 business teacher at Blue Hill and Stapleton. He has also coached football and wrestling, and sponsored FBLA.
Jones is currently finishing his master’s degree in educational administration at Concordia University. He received his undergraduate degree from Hastings College in business administration and business education.
Jones said the biggest reason he chose to pursue education was the students.
“I had a great school experience and I want to be a part of that process for students today,” he said.
He feels fortunate to step into a school with a history of strong leadership.
“I hope to only grow on this leadership and be a part of the process that continues to make Perkins County proud of their school district.”
Jones will be living in rural Madrid and is marrying PC graduate Rebecca Cornelius in November.
Seth Burge has returned to his hometown to teach 7-9 science and introduction to ag. He will also serve as co-advisor of FFA and the head cross country coach.
After receiving undergraduate degrees in ag business and management technology from Southeast Community College and ag education from the Univerity of Nebraska in Lincoln, Burge spent the last three years teaching ag and serving as the FFA advisor in the at Conestoga Junior/Senior High School in Murray.
Graduating from Perkins County High School in 2012, Burge said his high school teachers and mentors had a tremendous impact on his decision to pursue education.
“I am excited to return to Perkins County to help influence the next generation of leaders in our community,” he said.
Burge lives with his three-legged goat, Peggy, in the home he recently purchased near his family’s farm southwest of Grant.
Also returning to her old stomping grounds is Whitney (Bottom) Soper, who will be teaching seventh and eighth-grade language arts and coaching junior high track.
After graduating from Grant High School in 2005, Soper received her bachelor’s degree in English education at Hastings College and a master’s degree in script and screenwriting from Regent University.
She spent eight years teaching English in Scottsbluff before moving to Ogallala in 2016 where she taught speech and drama for two years.
Soper said she chose this profession largely due to the educational experience she had in the Perkins County Public School system.
“I knew from a young age that I wanted to work with kids in some capacity, in the hopes that I could impart some of the kindness and encouragement to future generations that I was shown through my educational career.”
She hopes to bring her educational experience to give back to a school system that has given so much to her.
Soper and her husband Troy, also a Grant native, live in Ogallala with their daughter Adler, whom they welcomed July 2.
Living in Grant for the past four years with husband and PC graduate Craig Loeffler, Sarah Loeffler is excited to begin teaching first grade in the district.
Sarah said since moving to Grant, she has been impressed with the ownership the community takes in the school and the pride that comes with being a Plainsmen.
A native of St. Charles, Michigan, Loeffler received her elementary education degree from Martin Luther College in Minnesota. She taught grades kindergarten through third at a private school in Wisconsin and has been teaching kindergarten in Ogallala the past four years.
She will be serving on the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) team at PCS and is hoping to help the new effort grow and be successful.
Loeffler said she knew she wanted to be a teacher since her first day of school and has never wanted to be anything else.
“I’ve always loved school and as a teacher I love helping children learn!”
She and Craig have one son, Wayne, who will turn 1 next week.
Kristin Borman, a 32-year veteran teacher, will start teaching sixth-grade language arts at the end of September, in addition to a couple fifth-grade classes. She is currently finishing a tenure before retiring from Redlands Unified School District in southern California after 30 years. Her other two years of teaching consisted of a year in Michigan and a year in Hawaii.
Originally from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, she received her bachelor’s degree from Northern Michigan University and completed graduate work through California State University, San Bernardino and the University of California.
Borman believes education is a career where a person can share not only knowledge of the subject matter being taught, but also a zest for learning in general.
“After 32 years of working with middle school- and elementary-aged children, teaching is still fun for me. With this opportunity in Perkins County, I hope to share my enthusiasm for learning new ideas and skills with the students—as well as my general excitement about reading and writing, (particularly grammar)!”
Borman will be commuting to Grant from her home at Lake McConaughy, which she shares with husband Richard. The couple has three grown daughters: Ana (30), Samantha (28) and Megan (24), who all reside on the West Coast.
First-year teacher Tristan Stephenson will be taking over the 7-12 art program. He will also be assisting cross country and track.
An Alliance native, Stephenson began his college career at Western Nebraska Community College and received his education degree from Chadron State.
He said he hopes to continue building and growing the PCS art program and continue teaching individuals to think creatively.
“Art is something I am most passionate about, and I am happy I was able to find a career where I could share that passion with others.”
Stephenson is living in Grant with his wife Mikaela and their two dogs Nova and Scotia.
Madison Seamann, a first-year teacher from Hershey, will be teaching second grade. Stay tuned to the Tribune for more on Seamann.