Marlene Ballou will be retiring after 40 years of teaching. Ballou has been in Audubon for 10 years and is in charge of “structured study halls” and teaches a junior high math class. Ballou has touched so many students by showing them their true ability when it comes to succeeding in academics. Senior Clarisa West said, “Ever since I was in middle school she has always been there for me when my grades were not doing so hot. She made it where she made sure my grades came up and stayed up. If it wasn't for her I don't know where I would be at today.”
A memory that many students in Mrs. Ballou’s study hall could recall includes a bouncy ball. Whenever someone is sleeping or listening to music, Mrs. Ballou would throw a bouncy ball at that student to get their attention. Sophomore Eryn Cozad mentioned how much help she was when it came to math questions. Ballou’s plans for the following year is to sleep when she is tired and eat when she’s hungry.
Laura Granger is another teacher leaving Audubon. She has been teaching for 9 years and 8 of them have been in Audubon. Granger teaches 8th Grade English, Practical English, Student Publications, and English II. She is also the head speech coach and the yearbook and newspaper adviser. Many relationships are built in the Student Pub. class and the speech team. Miss Granger has transformed the yearbook into an amazing documentary of the past school years. Geena Weber said, “My confidence came from having her as a speech coach and she helped me figure out that I want to be a journalist.”
Many speech memories have taken place that will stay with a majority of the students in high school and alumni. Senior Tess Albright said, “I will never forget speech practices. Although I wasn't a part of it [speech team] the past two years, I don't think speech will be the same without her silly personality. I am grateful for what time I had with them.”
Kyle Polson will miss not being coached by Granger, but he truly believes that she is the best speech coach in the Southwest District. Miss Granger hopes to continue coaching speech and teaching in another school district in Southwest Iowa.
Joni Madsen, a teacher of 19 years, has been teaching in Audubon for 12. While teaching many high school English courses, she also teaches DMACC college classes, Madsen finds entertaining ways to teach her students. Sara Wede looks back at freshman year when Ms. Madsen taught them the "Romeo and Juliet" unit. “Ms. Madsen would act out the parts of both male and female and it forced me to pay attention because it was so interesting,” said Wede. There is no doubt that Ms. Madsen has a very unique way of teaching. Her energetic and sarcastic attitude makes class entertaining, but also educational.
Senior, Courtney Rudolph remembers a conversation with Ms. Madsen, “She said, ‘You better take that sucker out before you go into my mouth.’ She meant room [instead of mouth] but after that she kept joking around with me the whole period.” Madsen does a great job including everyone in discussion while in class. Ms. Madsen plans to move to Windsor Heights and teach at North Polk High School. Even though she is leaving she will miss the colleagues, administration, and community. Audubon is her hometown and she will always be a Wheeler.
Carrie Bauer will be leaving Audubon Schools after 16 years of teaching and 10 years at Audubon. She has touched the lives of many of her students. Seniors Bryona Cozad, Logan Nielsen, Joseph Letera and Bradley Jorgensen all appreciate the time she dedicated to each of them one on one. Cozad said, "If it wasn't for Mrs. Bauer, I wouldn't be where I am today." Mrs. Bauer has taught a variety of classes including Reading, Adult Living, Careers, Work Experience, Life Skills, and Functional Math and Reading. She is also a prom adviser.
Tess Albright said, “Many students thought Mrs. Bauer was 'mean,' but it wasn’t too long ago when I realized how amazing she is. Mrs. Bauer isn’t mean and she wasn’t being harsh on the students, she was simply pushing them beyond what others 'thought' they could do. Mrs. Bauer is an amazing, courageous and commendable woman and she changes the lives of others.” With the help of Mrs. Knuth, Mrs. Bauer helps every junior class organize, set up, and help with prom. No matter what the circumstances or money they have in their budget. Since January, Bauer has been filling in two days a week as a substitute Special Education Consultant for Heartland Area Education Association. She will be transitioning next fall to a full time consultant. She will be assigned to the Audubon Community Schools and Exira-EHK. Bauer will miss her work family and all the friendships at the Audubon Community Schools but is looking forward to this new career opportunity to grow and help other teachers and special education programs.
Gina Scheffler has been teaching in Audubon for 6 years. Scheffler runs the alternative program or school-within-a-school "Success Center," which includes credit recovery and dropout prevention with opportunity for independent instruction as needed. She has taught many different subjects, but mostly core classes. Along with her high school position, she also teaches a middle school art history class. Michael Rudolph said, “Her classroom was a very quiet place to get a lot of work done. She also let us go on walks when I would ask.”
Leaving Audubon has been a difficult decision for Scheffler. She plans to relocate in Des Moines until her house sells in Audubon and then possibly movie to Arizona where the rest of her family resides. Scheffler plans to work as a substitute teacher or work in an office while in Des Moines. Scheffler will miss the Audubon School District very much. If it were her decision, she would move her home with her. She enjoyed working with Audubon’s students and teachers.
Every student in Audubon appreciates all that these teachers have done for us. They have made an impact on our lives and will never be forgotten.
Many Changes in the Works for Audubon
Audubon is changing quite a bit in the school system. They are introducing instructional coaches to help teachers with their curriculum and instruction. The school will also be hiring many new teachers to fill the open spots. With a lot of teachers leaving, the Audubon Community Schools will be looking to hire teachers eager to take the place of some outstanding faculty members. Many high school students are concerned about the availability of college classes while in high school. Principal Eric Trager said, "Our first priority is to find teachers that can teach high school, but a teacher qualified to teach college courses is definitely second priority." Interviews have started for the open positions and the students are on the edge of their seats to hear what is to come for 2015-2016.
Nichole Olsen and Bob Hoffmann will be leaving their current positions to help the Audubon Community School teachers in both the elementary and high school to become instructional coaches. The school district applied for and received the Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) grant. The first step was to hire two coaches for next year. The coaches will assist teachers in using strategies that improve their curriculum and instruction. Olsen looks at this as a chance for her to become a better educator as she observes and assists the teachers. Olsen will be the instructional coach for PreK-5th grade.
Hoffmann will be working with the 6th-12th grades and notices as the school gets smaller more teachers are pressured to teach more classes. With all of the classes to teach, Hoffmann believes they have less time to learn from and work with each other. Hoffmann has had experienced staff members talk him through conflicts with students, parents and administration; he hopes, with the new position, he will be able to help other teachers and improve levels of achievement.