Longtime GHS/GMS art teacher resigns

by nathan oster

Personnel issues were front and center during a special meeting Thursday of the Big Horn County School District No. 3 board of trustees.

The board accepted four resignations, made four new hires and agreed to create another teaching position at the elementary school, where the student-to-teacher ratio of 20 to 1 currently exceeds the state’s recommended 16 to 1.

Topping the list of resignations was Karyne Dunbar, the art teacher at GHS and GMS.  She has been with the district since 1981 — and even though she was not in attendance to hear it, she drew a round of applause from the board and audience for her years of dedicated service to the district.

“She’s been one excellent art teacher,” said Chairman Mike Meredith.

The board moved swiftly to fill the position, approving a motion later in the meeting to offer the GHS/GMS art teacher position to Teresa Boyer, whose husband, Nathan, is a teacher at the elementary school.

The board also accepted the resignations of Joe Forcella, who is stepping down from his duties as an assistant middle school football coach, and Camie Miller, whose resignation as the elementary custodian will be effective April 9.

Lastly on the outgoing side, the board made special accommodations for Kerri Thiel, who last year served as the head middle school volleyball and as an assistant girls basketball coach for the Lady Buff program.

Thiel, who is expecting, will likely miss much of the 2013 volleyball season and asked the board to consider allowing her to step down for one year.  She stated that she would like to return to the bench in those positions for the 2014-15 school year.

The board agreed — but instead of taking action on her resignation, members granted her a one-year leave of absence from her coaching positions.  The task now will be finding someone to fill the positions on a one-year basis, Supt. Barry Bryant said.

On the hiring side, the board accepted the recommendation of its middle school principal, Scott McBride, to hire a Colorado woman, Laura Hodgson, to replace Lindsey Hazen in the GMS counselor’s office for the 2013-14 school year.

The Life Skills position was also filled, as the board agreed to hire Dawn (Crist) Thur to fill the position being vacated by the retiring Cathy Kunkel. A Greybull native, Thur has spent the past year at GES advocating for children with learning disabilities and other children who struggle with reading, writing and math.

Joe Forcella was hired as a fourth coach for the GMS track team, which currently has a roster of 58 athletes and a head coach, Renae Waddell, who is expecting the birth of her child within the next several weeks.  Forcella’s appointment applies only to the current GMS track season.

Lastly, the board authorized Bryant to hire another K-3 teacher at GES, which has gained 20 students since the first day of school. The move was immediately applauded by a group of five elementary teachers which included Lisa Michelena and “Timmy” Anderson, who teach third grade.

This year’s second-grade class — and the one that will be moving into the classrooms of Michelena and Anderson in 2013-14 — has swelled in recent weeks to 47 kids.  As Bryant explained, the plan with the addition hire is to create three third-grade classrooms — one with 15 kids, the other two with 16.  By doing so, the district would be in line with the state mandate of one teacher for every 16 students.  The third teaching position is “dependent upon enrollment,” however, meaning that if the class size drops, the position may be eliminated.