Twelve new teachers come on board at Madison Central

MADISON CENTRAL has a dozen new educators filling positions in Madison's public school system this fall. The group includes (front, left) Megan Bundy, Kaylee Nielsen, Kim Bruns, Tara Liesinger, Nichole Ludemann, (back) Brenna Johnson, Stacy Thomsen, Cassondra Grogan, Jessica Dawson, Tarynn Bickett, Jacob Ludemann and (not pictured) Jill Ricke.

Madison's public schools will welcome a dozen new educators this fall to help teach more than 1,100 students in the Madison Central School District. Classes start Thursday.

Jill Ricke will teach third-grade students at Madison Elementary School. Ricke graduated from Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell in May and also plans to coach seventh-grade girls' basketball.

As a student teacher, Ricke worked with third-grade students at MES in Lindsey Dietterle's classroom and enjoyed the experience. She said that teaching has always been a personal passion.

"I love working with students and getting to know them on a personal level while also teaching them different skills, in and out of the classroom," Ricke said.

Ricke added that she wanted to continue as part of the Madison community.

Jessica Dawson will instruct fifth-grade math students at MES. Dawson graduated from Dakota State University in 2018 with a degree in secondary mathematics education. She has continued her studies, seeking a master's degree in educational technology through DSU. Dawson plans to receive her graduate degree next May.

During the last two years, Dawson taught eighth-grade math and eighth-grade Algebra I at Huron Middle School. In addition, before graduating from college, Dawson worked for the Learn Create Build Academy that had its staff travel to communities across the Midwest. The academy instructors taught computer coding skills through the game Minecraft to ages 8-14.

Dawson said teaching is a rewarding profession.

"There is something to be said about that `light bulb' moment, when a student finally understands a concept or a major breakthrough has occurred," Dawson said. "Bringing confidence back to students in mathematics and seeing them laugh and smile are memories that I hold near and dear to my heart."

Dawson said teaching offers rewards in setting up students for success at the next level. She was raised on a farm near Artesian and currently lives in Howard with her husband Nathan.

Stacy Thomsen has taken a position as a language pathologist at MES and said her work with students and their families will assist the students' communication, language and social skills.

Thomsen earned a bachelor of science degree from South Dakota State University and a master of arts degree from the University of South Dakota. She has worked as a speech language pathologist for 20 years.

"I have worked with all age levels in the school setting, medical setting and teletherapy," Thomsen said.

Thomsen added that she has worked as a speech language pathologist in many states, including South Dakota, Nevada, Illinois, Texas and Arkansas.

At Madison Middle School, Brenna Olson Johnson will teach social studies, seventh-grade geography and eighth-grade American history. Johnson received a degree in early childhood education from SDSU and a certification in elementary education from DSU. She also plans to coach middle school volleyball.

Johnson has plans to "...be a Bulldog forever."

"I am looking forward to continue my education journey in Madison," she said.

Kim Bruns was previously employed as a preschool teacher and paraprofessional before coming on staff at the middle school. Bruns will teach seventh-grade reading and sixth-grade social studies classes.

According to Bruns, she always wanted to work as a teacher.

"I received my degree in 2003 but was a stay-at-home mom for many years," Bruns said. "Now that our children are in school, I decided it was time to get back into the classroom."

Kaylee Nielsen will provide instruction from the student empowerment room at Madison Middle School. Nielsen earned a degree in special education/elementary education from DSU.

She said, "Teaching has always been a passion of mine."

Before teaching in Madison, Nielsen taught for three years in the special-education room at the McCook Central School District in Salem.

Megan Bundy was hired to serve as the student advocate at MMS. She will also serve as the adult adviser to the middle school student council.

Bundy studied as an undergraduate at Wayne (Neb.) State College and as a graduate student at SDSU.

She has lived in Madison since 2013 and is married to Joe Bundy, a teacher at Madison High School. They have a daughter, Iris.

Previously, Bundy was employed as a paraprofessional at MMS from 2013-16. She worked as a school counselor with the Canistota School District from 2017-19 and as a school counselor with the Colman-Egan School District from 2019-20.

At MHS, Jacob Ludemann was hired to instruct social studies courses that include government, psychology and modern world history. Ludemann will coach in Madison's football and track and field programs.

Ludemann earned his undergraduate and master's degrees from SDSU. He is married and has three children.

Before arriving in Madison, he taught for five years in Worthington, Minn. He has also worked in school systems in Parker and Sioux Falls.

Ludemann said he enjoys helping students become successful.

"Through teaching and coaching, I am able to help kids to grow and better understand the world around them," he said.

Cassondra Grogan has accepted the art teacher's position at MHS. She earned bachelor's degrees in K-12 art and K-12 special education from Augustana University.

Her professional experience includes one year as a high school special education teacher at the LifeScape Specialty School in Sioux Falls and three years as an elementary art teacher and special education academic evaluator in Mitchell. She was previously employed for one year as a prekindergarten teacher for the Boys and Girls Club of the Sioux Empire in Sioux Falls.

Grogan said she was impressed with Madison's public schools.

"I am excited to have a new teaching experience as the high school art teacher for Madison Central," she said.

Tara Liesinger was hired to work as a special education teacher at MHS. Liesinger earned a bachelor of science degree in K-12 special education from Black Hills State University.

This fall, she is also pursuing a master's degree in teaching and learning from Northern State University.

Liesinger was employed for 10 years as a paraprofessional with the Chester Area School District (2004-14). She also possesses six years of experience as a 7-12th grade special education teacher (2012-20).

"I enjoy teaching, mentoring, guiding and observing students to meet their full potential," Liesinger said. "I strongly feel that each student has a place in this community, and it is our job to help them find it."

At both MMS and MHS, Nichole Ludemann was hired as a full-time substitute teacher for students in grades 6-12. Ludemann was raised in the Howard area and, after high school, enrolled and studied at SDSU.

She spent the last 14 years working in management positions at Wal-Marts in Brookings and Worthington, Minn. Ludemann looks forward to a new career in education and wants to get involved in the Madison community.

She and her husband Jacob, another new MHS teacher, have three children.

"Our oldest is starting school this year, so I am very excited to have this opportunity to join the school system as well," Ludemann said.