New W-M teachers ready to learn

By Theo Tate
Posted 8/31/22

Heather Van Horn will get to follow in her mother’s footsteps this year.

The 2018 Wellsville-Middletown graduate has returned to her alma mater to work as an art teacher. Her mother, Tracy, …

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New W-M teachers ready to learn

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Heather Van Horn will get to follow in her mother’s footsteps this year.

The 2018 Wellsville-Middletown graduate has returned to her alma mater to work as an art teacher. Her mother, Tracy, taught at the W-M R-I School District for 30 years before retiring after the 2019-2020 school year.

“Every time I would come here and sub, I would say, ‘Hey, if there’s a job opening, let me know. I would love to come back,” Van Horn said. “This is my home community. I love it here and this is where I want to stay. They reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, if you’re interested, we have an art opening.’”

Van Horn is one of five new teachers at the W-M School District for the 2022-23 school year. The others are Devyn Burton, Casey Johnson, Audrey McDowell and Erik Wallace. All of them participated at the W-M Open House on Aug. 18 at the parking lot of the W-M campus, where they got to meet students and returning teachers.

Wallace is the school’s new physical education teacher. He will also take over head coaching duties for the W-M baseball team next spring.

Wallace is from Valmeyer, Ill., which is 30 minutes south of St. Louis. When he was a senior at Valmeyer High School, he helped the baseball team place second in the state tournament.

Wallace, who graduated from Hannibal-LaGrange University in May, said he has a simple goal for his first year as teacher at W-M.

“I really just want to keep everything fun,” Wallace said. “I know it’s been a tough few years for some students, especially the elementary kids. They had those COVID years that threw things out of whack.”

McDowell, who graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in May, is the new agriculture teacher. She’s sharing advising duties with Emily Brune-Holbert in the school’s FFA chapter.

“I really love FFA, so getting to meet those kids is a really good time,” said McDowell, who is from Bucklin, a town that’s 30 miles west of Macon. “We had some FFA meetings this summer where I got to know them better. It’s a really good group.”

Burton, a 2017 W-M graduate, will teach sixth grade. She had a five-year career with the William Woods softball team that included a couple of trips to the national tournament.

Johnson, a 2016 W-M graduate, will teach fifth grade. She’s an assistant coach of the W-M softball team.

Van Horn will teach while attending her final semester at the University of Central Missouri this fall. She is majoring in art education with a minor in art history and an emphasis in ceramics. She will be teaching every Friday at W-M.

“It will work out,” Van Horn said. “It will be fun. It’s a lot of work, but I love it.”

Van Horn said teaching wasn’t one of her plans when she enrolled at UCM four years ago.

“When I went to school, I really had no idea what I wanted to do,” Van Horn said. “I remember during my first week of college, I was talking with my mom. They were out there helping me move in. I said, ‘I don’t know what I wanted to do.’ So she implemented that idea into my head that maybe I should go into art education because I always loved art. So, sure enough, I took a couple of classes and I just love them. My professors have been amazing.”

Van Horn said she’s thrilled to be part of a new group of teachers at W-M.

“I got to meet a couple of them and they’re just as excited as I am,” Van Horn said. “I think it will be a lot of fun. The community and teacher atmosphere here are so open to help each other. I think we’re going to have a great year this year.”

W-M’s first day of classes was Aug. 23.

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