KND board honors Somsel for years of service

BRETHREN — The Monday evening Kaleva Norman Dickson Board of Education meeting turned into a night of celebration for people associated with the district.

Kaleva Norman Dickson superintendent Marlen Cordes presents retired board of education member Jeanette Somsel a plaque of appreciation for her 21 years of service to the board at Monday's meeting.(Ken Grabowski/News Advocate)

Kaleva Norman Dickson superintendent Marlen Cordes presents retired board of education member Jeanette Somsel a plaque of appreciation for her 21 years of service to the board at Monday’s meeting.(Ken Grabowski/News Advocate)

Longtime board member Jeanette Somsel, who retired from the board at the January meeting after 21 years of service, was honored by the board and Marlen Cordes for her time in serving the district. Cordes pointed out some of the many things that have occurred during that tenure at KND.

“Looking back over the 21 years she has been through three superintendents,” said Cordes. “She has overseen two bond issues, the closing of two school buildings in the district, a $474 per pupil reduction in funding and some rough times school boards went through during that time.”

Cordes also cited the many years Somsel served as board president and what she brought to the district with the service.

“One thing that I learned in the five years of being superintendent is what it meant to have a strong board president like you in place,” he said.”Jeannette was wonderful in that role and thank you for your service.”

Somsel was presented a plaque that read “Jeannette Somsel, in grateful appreciation for your 21 years of outstanding leadership, service and dedication to the Kaleva Norman Dickson Board of Education.”

Monday’s board meeting was also the celebration of the first meeting of new board member Jessica Ward, who was named to Somsel’s position by the board at a special meeting on Jan. 22.

“We welcome you to the board,” said board vice president Karen MacIntyre, who was filling in due to the absence of president Heather Stapley.

Other news of celebration that came to the board was presented by principal Jake Veith. He told the board about news concerning teacher Kirsten Amstutz.

“This is a pretty awesome honor as Mrs. Amstutz has been selected by the Michigan Department of Education as a regional semifinalist for Teacher of the Year,” said Veith. “We are all proud of her and very thankful to have her on our staff. It is very well deserved.”

Veith also pointed out that one of the Brethren High School students attending Career Tech Classes at the Wexford Missaukee Career Tech Center has received a nice honor.

“Nathan Redman was named as the CTC Student of the Quarter for the Career Skills Program,” said Veith.

Veith also called the Brethren Students of the Month for January to be honored before the board and presented a token of appreciation by the principal. They included Annabelle DeLore, Josh Parsons, Destiny Hamilton, Meridee Gutowski and Justin Kissling.

The principal also informed the board about an important day, in terms of school funding, that is coming up.

“Wednesday is the state’s winter count day and we are hoping all the kids that have been sick will be back in school by that day as it is important for pupil accounting and funding for our district,” said Veith.

Veith also reminded parents of kindergarten through third grade parents with children on an Individualized Reading Improvement Plans (IRIP) that they will be receiving some information about their child’s progress.

“At the beginning of the school year you met with your child’s teacher to go over important IRIP data,” said Veith. “Now that we are halfway through the school year, you will be receiving a mid-year progress report.”

Another item Veith brought up was the purchase of a new standing desk for the fifth grade. The desk is designed for students who have difficulty sitting in a normal seat without fidgeting. The $440 desk was purchased with funds donated from a Donors Choose Website that the school has for items of this nature.

Board members also voted 6-0 at Monday’s meeting to name Julie Riggs as the new varsity baseball coach and Jonathan Randall as the new varsity football coach. Athletic director Jason Kemler said Randall was selected after all the candidates were interviewed for the position.

“After we did the interviews we felt he was the best choice,” said Kemler.

Board members also voted to approve the committee assignments for the upcoming year. They are:

• Finance: Ashley Gutowski, Ward and Rob Guenther;

• Negotiations: McIntyre, Kathy Fairbanks and Stapley;

• Personnel: McIntrye, Gutowski and Guenther;

• Policy: Stapley, McIntire and Fairbanks;

• ISD representatives: Fairbanks and Gutowski;

• MASB Legislation and liasion: Bill Edmondson and Ward;

• Health, PE & Athletics: Stapley, Edmondson and Guenther;

• Building and Grounds and leadership teams: McIntyre, Edmondson and Ward; and

• MCSMC Council: Fairbanks and Stapley.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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