There are more than 300 staff members around Rockwood School District who were Rockwood students during their K-12 years. "Then and Now" is a series that highlights some of their stories and what has made Rockwood special to them as both students and educators.
There are more than 20 former Rockwood students who are enjoying their first year as a staffer in a variety of roles throughout the district. Let's catch up with some of them as the second semester gets underway.
Jennifer Bourbonais, vocal music, Blevins ElementaryRockwood Schools Attended:
Bowles Elementary, Green Pines Elementary, Lafayette HighGrades Attended in Rockwood:
"I wanted to come back to Rockwood to impact lives the same way that Michele Rodgers, my high school choral director, impacted mine. She was the reason I went into music education. I want to instill a love and passion for music in these students' lives that will carry with them for the rest of their lives. I also wanted my own children to have the opportunity to experience the high caliber of education that Rockwood offers. Although this is my 12th year of teaching, it is my first at Blevins and I love it! Everyone has been so kind to me and supportive of everything I have done so far. They encourage me and check in on me, making me feel part of the family. I couldn't feel more blessed to be part of such an amazing school."
Katie Cofer, family and consumer sciences, Rockwood Valley MiddleRockwood Schools Attended:
Eureka Elementary, LaSalle Springs Middle, Eureka HighGrades Attended in Rockwood:
"My favorite memory as a student in Rockwood was taking Child Development with Mrs. Haywood in high school. She brought a new energy to education for me and inspired me to work harder. It is because of her that I not only chose to be a teacher, but I chose to get my bachelor's degree in Family and Consumer Science Education. I hope that I can bring a similar energy to FACS and get students excited to learn."
Kaitlyn Lindbloom, third grade, Uthoff Valley ElementaryRockwood Schools Attended:
Eureka HighGrades Attended in Rockwood:
"My favorite thing about Eureka was that even though it was so big, it didn’t feel that huge because each of my teachers cared for me and would check in to see that I was doing OK. On my first day at Eureka, I knew five people, and when I graduated, I had made so many lasting friendships! They were champions for me during my years at Eureka, and many of them attended my wedding. Additionally, I loved Eureka because I met my spouse, who was also a student at EHS, during my senior year!"
Kelly Messerla, student support specialist, Rockwood South MiddleRockwood Schools Attended:
Kellison Elementary, Rockwood South, Rockwood Summit HighGrades Attended in Rockwood:
"My favorite memory as a student at Kellison was painting the mural by the kindergarten classes and eating at The Malt Shop on field day! I loved being a part of student council at South, and Summit is where I remember really being able to choose classes that interested me, dances, football games, and it's where I met my husband of 13 years! My son is now a sixth-grader at South, and I really enjoy him popping in my room to say, 'hi, mom.'"
Rachael Nilhas, mathematics, Rockwood SummitRockwood Schools Attended:
Stanton Elementary, Rockwood South, Rockwood Summit HighGrades Attended in Rockwood:
"One of my favorite memories from attending Rockwood is running cross country. I ran elementary through high school and went to state three times! I also got married to Josef Nilhas this year, who I started dating while at Summit. I wanted to come back to Rockwood because of the amazing community and atmosphere at Summit."
Brandon Simpson, social studies, Rockwood SouthRockwood Schools Attended:
Stanton, Rockwood SouthGrades Attended in Rockwood:
"I had amazing teachers at Stanton that loved me and treated me like I belonged. The best thing for me by far was my amazing trailblazing principal at Stanton, Dr. Jerome Woodson, who was not only a great principal, but my uncle. I wanted to come back to Rockwood when I became a teacher because Rockwood has always felt like home. I felt like this school district has provided so many students with an opportunity to receive a great education that I needed to be a part of it. I also want to be a role model in this district to students of all ethnicities. I want to show my students that, as a former VICC student who currently teaches in the building where he once walked the halls, anything is possible with hard work and determination."
Matt Waeckerle, social studies, LafayetteRockwood Schools Attended:
Ellisville Elementary, Crestview Middle, LafayetteGrades Attended in Rockwood:
"When I decided to be a teacher, I knew I wanted to go back to Rockwood. My favorite memories in Rockwood are of the teachers who always went the extra mile to show they cared - from my fourth-grade teacher writing a letter to my family when my grandfather died to my freshman language arts and math teachers who called home to tell my parents how great I was doing. The social studies department here have been the greatest people to work with. I feel so welcomed every time I come through the doors at Lafayette and am so privileged to be in this position. This district is truly a special place."