Cascade Schools staff

Mr. Joya transitions from his role as vice principal to principal at Cascade High School. He was not alone, as Cascade welcomed over a dozen new staff members in various roles. Photo credit: Alaina Wall

The 2022-2023 academic school year has brought some dramatic changes for Cascade School District. With over thirty staff changes district-wide, including new and shifted members, it certainly has been a stressful hiring process for the district. While some staff were hired at the end of last school year, others were brought on just mere weeks before the start of the school year.

One new staff member at Peshastin Dryden Elementary is Isabelle Auty. Auty, the new PD and Alpine Lakes Phys. Ed teacher, has been teaching PE for eleven years. “I have taught in Lake Stevens and Seattle schools am originally from Monroe. My very first substitute teaching job was at a 1st grade room at PD twelve years ago,” she said. Auty is excited to “get to know all the students and families and to become a part of the community.” She continued, “and only being 40 minutes away from Stevens Pass doesn’t hurt either.” Additionally, Auty believes Cascade School District is a special place and admires “how personable everyone is. I can tell everyone here truly cares for everyone else’s wellbeing.”  

Although not new to the district, Kelly Coulter, formerly the Intervention Specialist at Alpine Lakes, undertook a first-grade teaching position, a grade which she has taught in past years, as well as  kindergarten and second grade. After years of being away from teaching first grade, she is excited to “have the opportunity to return to the grade that [she] taught when [she] began working at Cascade [and] work with first graders because they learn and grow so much in one year. Also, the first-grade teachers are a great team to work with.”

Alpine Lakes Elementary saw the fewest number of staff changes in the district. One new teacher is Angileen Bates, who teaches music class for both PD and ALPS. Bates has been with the CSD since 2016,  was first a paraeducator, and more recently, a first-grade teacher. “I am extremely excited to share my love of music with kindergarten through 5th grade.  I was in choir all through high school and currently play the piano and guitar,” Bates remarked. Bates has big plans for the elementary schools’ music program: “I am hoping to build a music program that grows more every year and eventually culminates in some kind of performance that showcases their hard work.  We are in the beginning stages of this goal, but I am excited and motivated to help it grow.” In the meantime, Bates hopes music class is “something that students look forward to.  I want music to feel accessible, relatable, and never intimidating.” To make this happen, she has been “integrating music games involving rhythm and singing every week.”

Icicle River Middle School had many new staff join the CSD. One new staff member is Erik Peterson, the new eighth grade ELA teacher. Peterson formerly worked at the Chelan School of Innovation and before that was an English teacher at Chelan High School. The Leavenworth area appealed to him because of “the natural beauty, the friendly people, and the high-performing schools.” He is interested in “incorporating student voice into curricular planning.”

Yet another new member of the CSD is Jacob Carvitto, the eighth-grade science teacher. Before he joined the CSD, he taught seventh grade science in Wenatchee at Foothills Middle School. He is excited to be “a part of the school district in the community [he has] been living in.” Something that stands out to him about the district is how “tight knit the district is, everyone knows everyone.”

Cascade High School has seen, perhaps, the most staff change. Rudy Joya, last year’s Vice Principal stepped up to the title of Principal, and Annika Bibby, previously the Assistant Director of Special Education for the Wenatchee School District, replaced his title of Vice Principal. Before that, “while getting my administrative credentials, I worked at WHS as an assistant principal and subbed as a dean of students. Before getting into school leadership, I taught special education at WHS and 5 years at Vale Elementary,” she said. Bibby is looking forward to “getting to know everyone at CHS and within the district. Overall, I am excited to see each and every student find a successful path forward through and beyond high school.”

In addition, Amy Rieke has been hired as the new CHS College and Career counselor. Rieke has worked the past seven years at Syndicate Smith, an architecture design studio in Leavenworth. She has also been a licensed realtor for four years and has her own bookkeeping business. Prior to this, she was a physics and chemistry teacher at Cedarcrest High School in Duvall for four years. A goal Rieke has for herself in her first year at CHS is “to get to know the students of CHS and help them make sound decisions for their post-secondary education and life.” She added, “I am most looking forward to being back working in schools and working with students.”

 Besides these changes in the Administration office, several new teachers have been hired at the school. One of these teachers is Conrad Wharton. Before teaching at CHS, he taught seventh grade English at Icicle River Middle School and before that, was a Mountain Guide throughout Washington State. Something he is looking forward to this year is “just getting to know the high school and the high schoolers and seeing what they’re capable of. Especially at this level, it’s incredible what students can do.”

Cascade is far from the only district in the nation which has struggled to hire enough staff. In fact, Cascade is in a significantly better position than a lot of districts around the nation. According to “‘Never Seen it this bad': America faces catastrophic teacher shortage", a Washington Post article written by Hanah Natason, schools in several states are taking unprecedented measures to fill the staff shortages. In Florida, one of these efforts is recruiting military veterans to teach classes. “The veterans do not need bachelor’s degrees but must have earned at least 60 college credits while maintaining a grade-point average of at least 2.5.” Similarly, in Arizona, a state law “allows college students to take teaching jobs.” Although the hiring process wasn’t always linear and straightforward, there was never a moment when CSD was at risk of needing unorthodox solutions such as these. Superintendent Tracey Beckendorf-Edou stated that “I don’t think that we have been at a crisis level. I just think we have been very busy.” However, compared to previous years, the hiring process was more difficult simply because of the large “quantity of positions we needed to fill.”

Although CSD is not in a “crisis-state" shortage like some other districts, Superintendent Beckendorf-Edou informed, “We are always looking for substitute teachers, paraeducators and bus drivers. We encourage people who would like to be involved in our schools to sign up to be a substitute.”



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