The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Chinook Will Lose More Than a Dozen Faculty and Staff Members


June 2, 2021

On May 27, the Chinook School District hosted a farewell gathering as a show of appreciation and to wish good fortune to those who will be ending their employment with the district. Fourteen faculty and staff members will either be moving to other communities or working in different capacities.

Darin Hannum has accepted a position as Bainville Public School Superintendent, and his wife, Melissa Evans, who has served as Administrative Assistant at Meadowlark Elementary School, will continue to pursue her home-based business of selling shampoo, skincare, and wellness products. In Bainville, she will also be pursuing a low-carb cooking business.

Although Shandel Fouts will continue to live in Chinook, she will be working full time at Columbia Grain in Harlem where she has worked part time for ten years. She plans to remain connected to the school district with her involvement as a substitute on days that the elevator is closed or as a helper at the book fair and other school events when she is available.

For at least the next couple of years, High School Math Teacher, Drew Linquist will be leaving the teaching profession to work as a Reliability Operator for Hess Corporation, while living in Stanley, North Dakota. Though the future is never certain, Linquist foresees that he will return to teaching if significant changes are made with respect to rural education.

About his service to the district, Linquist stated: "I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to teach here in Chinook and have thoroughly enjoyed my interactions with the students over the last five years. I will surely miss them as well as the other staff members whom I have had the privilege of teaching alongside. I love teaching and working with kids. I will thoroughly miss it."

Linquist also wished to share his perspective of the conditions under which rural educators often work and to voice support for those who essentially serve solo in a department where a teacher plus a half time educator or two teachers are actually needed.

"Quality teachers make sacrifices of time and finances to teach in small school districts, not only to make a living but to provide a service to their communities. These sacrifices take a toll on an educator's personal life, family life, and overall well-being. Yes, enrollment is down, but the same jobs have to be completed with fewer individuals to do so. Serving as an entire academic department has some pros but is riddled with cons, as there is physically not enough time in a day to accomplish everything that should be done to be as effective of an educator as necessary. Add to this the additional duties assigned to these teachers with what feels like little consideration of their already overbooked schedules. For those souls that are in the position of essentially serving as 1 ½ to 2 teachers, there needs to be compensation for their sacrifices in some form or another, and an understanding that they cannot do it all. Treating teachers as assets and working with them for the betterment of the many wonderful students in this community will help to ensure those teachers will be retained," Linquist said.

Others leaving school district employment include Amanda Davies, Jeri Wood, Laura Kellam, Bonnie Ortner, Hope Hamilton, Kelly Warburton, Jaye Anderson, Geoff Qualls, Megan Pruttis, and Dwight Hofeldt-who is retiring after 22 years of service in the Custodial/Maintenance Department.

As people reminisced about the past year at Thursday's farewell gathering, they mingled, sipped punch, and enjoyed doughnuts.


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