From left to right, Justin Blom, Jody Beckstrom, Ryan Liffrig, Kaitlyn Craig, Holly Voss, Gretchen del Bianco, Aaron Cole and Nick Pocius are the latest tenured teachers. Photo by David Richards.
By David Richards
The Byron school board recognized the newly tenured teachers from Byron Public Schools at its May 20 meeting.
Superintendent Jeff Elstad said that in order to receive tenure, an educator must have either came from another district and then taught in Byron for one year, or have been new to the district and taught for three consecutive years.
This year's honorees include Jody Beckstrom; Justin Blom; Ryan Liffrig; and Holly Voss from the elementary school, Gretchen del Bianco from the middle school and Aaron Cole and Nick Pocius from the high school.
Jody attended Winona State University. She graduated with her teaching degree in 2006. She subbed in the Rochester, Kasson and Byron school districts in the beginning years of her teaching career. In the 2009-2010 school year, Jody taught first grade in the Kasson-Mantorville School District as a long term sub. In 2010. she was fortunate to be hired on by the Byron School District as a fourth grade teacher.
Justin went to Winona State University and majored in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Middle School social studies. He student taught in St. Paul as part of the Urban Teacher Education Partnership. Upon graduating from Winona State in the winter of 2007, Justin began substituting for Winona Public Schools. Soon, he was hired as a long term Special Education sub. Justin taught for two years in Winona where he had the opportunity to work alongside many of his former teachers. At the conclusion of his second year teaching fifth grade in Winona, he was hired as the new third grade elementary teacher at Byron Elementary where he has now been for the past three years.
Ryan grew up on a farm just outside Mazeppa and graduated from Zumbrota-Mazeppa High School in 2004. He then went on to college at St. Cloud State University where he graduated with a PE/health major and a Developmentally Adaptive Physical Education minor in 2009. He also met his wife while at St. Cloud St., University. He did his student teaching in the Sauk Rapids/Rice School district and had great mentors. From there, he picked up his first teaching job out in Ellsworth and really enjoyed his time in the smallest public school in the state. However, he always wanted to get back this way and two jobs came open in the Byron school district. He applied for both and received an interview with Byron Elementary School. However, he was bummed because the only time they could interview him was during his Track and Field Day. This is when Principal Rodemeyer and Ryan talked about how we could make this work, and we did - by doing a Skype interview over the computer at 7:30 in the morning.
Kaitlyn graduated from Iowa State University in 2008 with a degree in Elementary Education. Her husband accepted a job at IBM so they made their way up to Rochester. In January 2010, she accepted a long-term substitute teaching job at Byron Elementary for technology, where she worked with first through fourth graders and eighth graders. Then in September, 2010, she was offered a fourth grade teaching position. While at Byron Elementary, she has been involved in a variety of district and building committees, such as the technology committee, the math committee, PTO, "I Love to Read" month, and Wellness committee.
Holly graduated with her undergrad from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She currently holds a license to teach kindergarten through eighth grade. Her middle school emphasis is in math. In 2007, she graduated with her master's degree in curriculum and instruction from MSU, Mankato. She started her first teaching job in 2005 at Sibley East in Gaylord. While there, she taught kindergarten for one year, second grade for four years and fourth grade for two years. This is her first year being part of the Byron School District, and she has taught kindergarten. Next year she will be teaching fourth grade.
Gretchen del Bianco
Gretchen attended college at the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire from 1988-1993 and graduated with a comprehensive degree in Elementary Education and Special Education with an emphasis in learning disabilities.
Immediately after graduating, she moved to Kingman, Ariz. where she taught for six years in elementary school. She worked in cross categorical special education settings with kindergarten students through sixth grade.
It was a school full of cultural and economic diversity in which teachers and staff cared greatly for their students. She learned so much from her experience there and was able to bring that back to Minnesota with her in 1999.
From 1999-2005, she worked at the Kasson-Mantorville Intermediate School in the special education department with students in fifth and sixth grade. Beginning in 2005, she ran a home daycare business for seven years until her youngest child started school full time. She is currently working in the special education department in Byron while finishing up a licensure certificate in developmental disorders from St. Cloud State.
Aaron graduated from Fergus Falls High School and went to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities for his undergraduate degree. At the school of music, he studied trumpet with Dr. David Baldwin and conducting with professors Jerry Luckhardt and Craig Kirchhoff. Aaron graduated with honors and set out to find his first teaching position. Aaron taught in the Osseo-Fairchild District near Eau Claire in Osseo, Wis. for his first two years of teaching. Here, he was responsible for sixth grade band, combined with seventh and eighth grade band and combined high school band. After two years, he decided he wanted to get back to Minnesota and found the Byron High School band position open. He has thoroughly enjoyed his time here, and he is excited to each here in Byron for many years to come.
Nick has been teaching special education for nine years. Prior to coming to Byron, he taught at Bloomington Kennedy High School for five years and in the Osseo School District for three years before that. Along with those responsibilities, he was also boys basketball head coach at Bloomington Kennedy as well as assistant in the program before being head coach and assistant with the Osseo Boys Basketball program before Bloomington. Before he started teaching, he worked at Hazelden Center for Youth and Families as a drug and alcohol counselor for adolescents.
Nick obtained his bachelor's degree in psychology and athletic training from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. After UWEC, he went to Hazelden Graduate School of Addiction Studies where he obtained a master's degree in addiction counseling. When he decided to go into education, he obtained his master's degree in special education from the University of St. Thomas.