By Jenna Comes
Three new administrators start the new school year in the MVAO Community School District.
New MVAO Superintendent Jeff Thelander is excited to be a part of this community and for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year.
“I’m really excited to be here,” Thelander said. “There are wonderful kids, I’ve met some wonderful parents and community members already. We have some big things ahead.”
While Thelander officially took over duties as superintendent on July 1, this past spring he had the option to get involved with the school district by meeting people and was able to get a survey of everything.
“That has been very helpful in hitting the ground running a little earlier,” he added.
Thelander knew at a young age that education might be in his future. His grandma was his fourth grade teacher, and his mom was his Sunday school teacher.
“Being in a small school, I had the opportunity to be involved in a lot of things,” said Thelander, who grew up in Whiting. “That created a lot of relationships with teachers and coaches.
School was like my second home.”
He received his Bachelor’s degree at Morningside, his Master’s in history from the University of South Dakota, a Master’s degree in Education Leadership from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and an Educational Specialist degree at the University of Sioux Falls.
He and his wife, Beth, have been married 21 years and currently live in Lawton with their three children, Ben (18), Joey (16), and Kate (11).
Thelander has been in education for 22 years as he taught, coached, and was the athletic director at Westwood, then became the principal at Lawton-Bronson before becoming superintendent in 2007, and then a shared superintendent between Lawton-Bronson and Whiting in 2014.
He also worked full-time in ministry for three years prior to becoming MVAO superintendent.
Thelander sees an overlap between the two roles of education and ministry.
“You have to understand the needs of people by talking and encouraging them,” he said.
After teaching for a number of years, Thelander said he always had a fascination with the leadership role that comes with school administration.
“I liked the opportunity to lead,” he noted.
Thelander is looking forward to working with the staff and is excited to work with students and learn their dreams and what they want.
“I’m excited about our administrative team. We have an outstanding board. We have wonderful, supportive parents and students,” Thelander said.
With the changing world, he said the school district has to look into the best way to prepare students academically, socially, and emotionally.
“We want to provide the best experience for them,” he added.
Thelander said that he has three key goals for the 2019-2020 school year ahead:
• Academic Goals – make goals based on the state assessment results and see where students are right now. Thelander said they are going to set goals based on data and make data-driven decisions as this gives them a way to chart and measure process.
• Social/Emotional Goal – the goal is that every child that is part of the MVAO/MVAOCOU knows that they are valued and cared for and that they bring value to their school.
• Community Goal – making communities connect as there are lots of communities involved in this school district. He wants to hear and listen to people from each community so they can make the best decisions for the school district.
He also wanted to keep the infrastructure and facilities up-to-date in Mapleton and Anthon so the buildings are clean and safe.
While Thelander will be busy in his first year as MVAO superintendent, he said, “It’s a wonderful busy, and I just love every minute of it.”
There is great energy and excitement for the kids, staff, and community for the year ahead.
MVAO Middle School
Rochelle Maynard is the new MVAO Middle School Principal.
“I am looking forward to getting to know all of the students and their families, as well as providing students with varied educational experiences,” Maynard said.
This will be Maynard’s 13th year in education. She previously taught high school English, talented and gifted, and Spanish.
Maynard decided to go into administration so that she could have the opportunity to create a safe and positive environment for all students.
“No two days are ever alike,” Maynard said. “As an administrator, I am responsible for all students and staff and ensuring each day runs smoothly. As a teacher, I was solely responsible for the students in my classroom.”
She is originally from Danbury and has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Spanish Secondary Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Master’s of Arts degree in PK-12 Administration from the University of South Dakota, and an Educational Specialist’s degree in PK-12 School Superintendency from the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
She and her husband, Matt, and have two children, Max, who will be a third grader, and Emilia, who will be in TK at MVAO Elementary-Anthon Center.
Kathy Hamers has been in education for 36 years and has worked in the MVAO district as a kindergarten teacher and as the K-12 Instructional Coach. She will now be the new elementary principal at the Anthon Center.
“I always wanted to be in education, as I loved working with kids. My time as Instructional Coach has given me a chance to work with teachers in a leadership role,” Hamers said. “Now, as a principal, I can continue my leadership role working with the entire staff, students, and community to create a learning environment that allows success for everyone. It will be a great opportunity to lead and to share the vision for the school. This position will allow me to support our staff as well as continuing to help students, which is exciting.”
Her role as a principal will allow her to see and work with all the students in the school, not just one class at a time.
“Truly, being a principal is like being a teacher. I will continue to have a hand in what is best for kids. As the principal, I will have a hand in guiding and supporting the entire staff so they can be the best,” Hamers said.
Hamers is originally from Mapleton and graduated from Maple Valley. She has her Bachelor’s degree from University of South Dakota and Administrative degree from Buena Vista University.
Her husband, Bob Hamers, also grew up in the area. He was a partner of Rick’s Computers in Danbury. They have two daughters, Michelle and Amy, who both work and reside in Chicago.
“I am looking forward to continuing the dedication to excellence here at MVAO. I am excited about working with the amazing staff and visiting the classrooms to see what great things the teachers are doing and what I can do support them,” Hamers said. “Also, (I am) looking forward to chatting with the students, getting to match the names to each face, and start learning more about the students, parents, and the community members. I am looking forward to experiencing the next step in my profession and learning together so we all can be successful.”