About Our Teachers

Mrs. Ahrens

Hello! My name is Erin Ahrens and I teach Kindergarten through second grade Special Education at Prairie Elementary. I have been teaching at Prairie since 2011. I graduated from Winona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Special Education. I have licenses in the areas of Specific Learning Disabilities as well as Developmental Cognitive Disabilities. I absolutely LOVE working with kids every day. It amazes me to see the growth they make through their elementary years.

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Mrs. Anderson

Hi! My name Mrs. Anderson. I am a Speech-Language Pathologist who works with grades one and two at Prairie Elementary. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Disorders in 1996 at South Dakota State University, and my Master’s Degree in 1998 from the University of South Dakota. I have worked in the public school system and rehabilitation setting since I graduated. I enjoy working with pediatrics and geriatrics.

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Mr. Bauer

My name is Austin Bauer, and I am the DAPE instructor for the Worthington school district. I graduated from South Dakota State University with a degree in P.E.T.E (Physical Education Teacher Education). I also received a minor in health education. I have worked with special education students in the past through a number of different capacities. Some of those capacities include: Special Olympics, Therapeutic Recreation Camp and resource room volunteering. An interesting fact about myself is that I have hiked the Rocky Mountains on three separate times.

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Mrs. Blanchard

Mary Blanchard grew up on a dairy farm outside of Worthington and is still a farm girl at heart. She loves to read, and hike while camping with her husband and two kids. She received her teaching license at Southwest State University in Marshall and her Master’s degree in Counselor Education at Winona State. She is licensed to teach elementary education and special education K-12. 

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Ms. Brignac

My name is Rebecca Brignac and I started at Prairie Elementary in 2019 as a Special Education Teacher. I grew up in Worthington, graduated from Worthington High School. I received a Sport Management degree from Wayne State College in 2010. I am currently working on receiving my Special Education degree from Walden University which I will receive in 2021. I have two kids, Taliyah and Treyson. We enjoy being outside as much as possible playing games, walking, and biking! I look forward to working with your children and seeing them learn and grow!

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Mrs. Bruns

Hello! My name is Anne Bruns. I am a Special Education Teacher at Prairie Elementary. I graduated from Worthington Senior High School; attended Worthington Community College, where I earned my AA degree; attended SMSU in Marshall, where I earned my BS in Elementary Education; and, after teacher General Education for a number of years, I went back to school for my Graduate Degree in Special Education at Minnesota State University, Mankato. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.

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Mrs. Gath

I graduated from the University of South Dakota in 2013 with a Bachelors of Science and in 2015 with a Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy. I have recent work experience in medical settings, but am excited to grow in this position with ISD 518.  My husband and I live on an acreage near Spirit Lake and we enjoy spending our time with our daughter and family.

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Ms. Feldman

Hello!  My name is Tricia Feldman. I am a Teacher for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing for District 518. I have been working here since 2012, but have been an itinerant teacher in several other districts and states since 1998. I graduated from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, majoring in Deaf Education and Elementary Education.  

I work with students with varying degrees of hearing loss and needs.  I truly love what I do, and it is always different every day! My most rewarding part of my job is when I see a student advocate for themselves in different situations, and when skills are carried over to the classroom or in social situations. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family at our lake cabin.

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Ms. Gruszeczka

My name is Ewa Gruszeczka, and I am Special Education Teacher at the Prairie Elementary. Recently, I graduated from Roosevelt University with a Master’s Degree in Special Education with Learning Behavioral Specialist endorsement. I am a Polish national and completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood and Primary Education in my native country. The thing I like most about teaching is my students. I love teaching them and learning from them.

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Mrs. Hartzler

Hello! My name is Kelsey Hartzler, and I am the district Occupational Therapist, who will primarily be working with students in 2nd-12th grade levels. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Health Sciences from the University of South Dakota in 2013. I then went on to graduate school, where I received my Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2016. While in graduate school, I worked at Coulee Connections, an alternative school for at-risk youth; it was during this experience that I realized my passion for working with the pediatric population with unique needs.

I am so excited to be a part of the Worthington School District and get to know students and staff in all buildings, as I will be traveling between the elementary, middle school, and high school to work with a wide variety of students!

An interesting tid-bit about myself is that my dad and sister both work at Prairie Elementary as well!- My dad is a PE teacher and my sister works in the preschool special ed room!

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Mrs. King

My name is Barb King and I have a bachelor’s degree from Augustana College and a Masters degree in Learning Disabilities from Minnesota State Mankato. I started working for the district as a special education, learning disabilities teacher in 2008. In 2013 I joined SEAT (Special Education Assessment Team) as an educational assessment specialist.

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Ms. Melby

Hello! My name is Rhea Melby and I teach Special Education at Prairie Elementary. I graduated from SMSU in 2020 and currently live in Luverne, MN with my boyfriend, Logan, and dog, Bo. Outside of school you can find me at the lake or relaxing outside.

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Mrs. Miller

My name is Tonisha Miller and I am a Special Education Teacher. I went to Minnesota West Community and Technical College and received my AA. I then attended Minnesota State University Mankato and received my BS in Special Education, Developmental Cognitive Disabilities. I have since went on to add licenses in Emotional/Behavior Disorders and Autism Spectrum Disorders. The thing I enjoy most about teaching is every day is new and exciting. They keep me busy and I love it!

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Mrs. Mulder

I teach occupational therapy. I received a B.S. from Mount Mary, Milwaukee Wisconsin and a MBA from University of Sioux Falls, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

I have worked in healthcare for twenty years then changed to education in 2009. I have specialized in pediatrics for several years while in healthcare. I enjoy the day to day hands on with the children. When the child understands the concept, it’s very exciting and rewarding. I am an avid, diehard, relentless, understanding U of M gopher fan! Go Maroon and Gold!

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Mrs. Murphy

My name is Darcy Murphy. I am a speech language pathologist employed with the Worthington School District. I am working with third grade, fourth grade and high school students. I graduated from Lakefield High School and attended Mankato State University where I obtained both my undergraduate and Masters Degree in Communication Disorders. I have eighteen years of experience as a Speech Language Pathologist in the school setting working with all ages. I have an additional six years of experience working with adults in the nursing home and hospital settings. 

I reside in Round Lake, MN on a farm with my husband and daughter. My husband farms and my daughter is a student at Jackson County Central. I also have an adult son currently living in Mankato.

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Mrs. Neuman

My name is Jenny Neuman, and I am the specific learning disabilities teacher for 3rd grade at Prairie Elementary School. I have been teaching students with special needs since 2010. In 2009, I obtained my BS degree in Elementary and Exceptional Education from the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point. 

I am originally from Rochester, MN, but have taught in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Alabama. I started teaching in the Worthington Public School District in 2014. I love teaching children and each new challenge the profession brings my way.

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Mrs. Oltmans

I’m a Learning Disabilities Teacher. I graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato with a degree in Elementary Education and have a Master’s Degree from Minnesota State, Mankato in Learning Disabilities. I started working for the district in 1997 at West Elementary. 

Working with children is so exciting! Every day is different and the students have so much energy. I love to cook and bake! Experimenting in the kitchen is one of my favorite things to do.

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