WMS Special Ed Staff

Mrs. Burch

My name is Mrs. Burch and I am the Social Worker for the Middle School. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Southwest Minnesota State University in 2005 and my Master’s degree from the University of South Dakota in 2018. I have been working for District 518 since 2009. I currently co-facilitate several social skills groups with the school psychologist. I also work individually with the students spending time focusing on specific needs they may have. I find my job here to be very rewarding as I get to work with not only some great students but also their families.

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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. Bautista

My name is Beatriz “Betty” Bautista. I joined Worthington ISD 518 in 2016 as a high school special
education paraprofessional. In 2021 I obtained my educator license in Elementary Education K-6
and in Special Education K-12 from Western Governors University located in Utah. I currently teach
7th grade special education in the area of Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) at the middle school.
My goal as an educator is to guide my students so they can reach their fullest potential by providing
a safe and positive learning environment.
Worthington has been my home since 2001. I was born in Mexico and lived in south Texas for seven
years. When not teaching my students I love to spend time with my family and friends.

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Mrs. Crouch

My name is Randine Crouch and I am a special education teacher at the Worthington Middle School. I graduated from Buena Vista University with a degree in elementary education and then attended Mankato State University and earned a degree in Emotional Behavior Disorders and Specific Learning Disabilities. I have been teaching many many years and love it!

My first job in District 518 was with the Adult Basic Education program teaching English to hundreds of adults, plus I was able to work with the preschoolers in the Even Start program. It is so rewarding to teach adults and children English. This was an amazing and enjoyable experience and the staff was terrific to work with.

Then I had a calling to work for the special education programs in District 518 and I’ve now landed at the wonderful world of Middle School Life. Every single moment is eventful and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

A fun fact about me is that I wrote and published my first children’s book called, “Scleroderma Sisters” this summer 2019. My dream since the age of 14 years old has always been to write a children’s book and I’m so proud that I accomplished that. DREAMS DO COME TRUE!!!

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Mrs. DeKam

Hello! My name is Jessica DeKam. I am a special education teacher at Worthington Middle School. I graduated from Southwest Minnesota State University with a degree in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education.
My family and I love to be outside and explore new places. We enjoy traveling and being with our family and friends.

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Mr. Duffy

Hello! My name is Mr. Duffy. I have taught at the Worthington Middle School since 2007. I have been teaching special education students during this time. The classes I teach are: Math, English, Reading, Science, Social Studies, Life Skills, and a Directed Study. I enjoy watching my students grow mentally and physically throughout the school year. During the year my class goes on various field trips and takes numerous exploratory classes to enhance their understanding of the world around them. When they do graduate from high school, they’ll then be ready to appreciate the world they live in. Go Trojans!!!

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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. Jirele

Hello, my name is Mara Jirele.  I am a Speech/Language Pathologist and work with students at Worthington Middle School.  I received my Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Speech Language Pathology from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.  I work with students of all ages to improve communication skills in areas such as articulation, language, voice, fluency, and social skills.  I have worked as a school-based Speech/Language Pathologist in both Iowa and Minnesota, and have also done part-time work at hospitals and long term care facilities.  I grew up in Iowa but have lived in Minnesota for many years.  My husband and I have two grown children.  Outside of school I enjoy bicycling, antiquing and reading.

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Mrs. Jungers

Hi, my name is Mrs. Jungers and I’m a Special Education teacher at the Worthington Middle School. I have been teaching in District 518 since the Fall of 1999. I teach Reading, Math, and Written Language to students with learning disabilities. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Special Education.

The highlight of teaching is watching students grow academically and socially. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband and three children, camping, boating, attending my children’s school activities, playing board games, and reading.

Mrs. Lord Anderson

I am one of the Significant Learning Disability (SLD) special education teachers here at Worthington Middle School. Although, the majority of my students have learning disabilities, I am also licensed to work with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Developmental Delay (DD), and Emotional/Behavioral Disorder (EBD). I am also a certified trainer for Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI), and I am on the district’s Assistive Technology Team. I am devoted to working with students who struggle with academics, social skills, emotional/behavioral needs, study skills, and organization.

I moved with my family to Worthington from Brighton, Colorado on May 31, 2014. Just in time to unpack everything on our new farmstead right outside of town and get ready for the 2014/2015 school year! My husband and I have 2 awesome daughters, a wonderful hunting dog, a crazy indoor cat, and a pack of outdoor cats. In addition to teaching; I love to read, quilt, sing, help out in the community and watch the fireflies over the corn fields!

I am a native from Colorado, born at the Air Force Academy, but I spent my middle school and high school years in Lake Park, Minnesota (not Iowa). I graduated from Lake Park, MN and went on to get my Bachelor of Art degree from Moorhead State University, Moorhead, MN and my Masters in School Psychology from Moorhead State University as well. When we moved to Colorado, I tried my hand at home childcare and teaching preschool. I eventually decided to go back and get my Special Education Specialist license from Metro State in Denver, Colorado. I worked for 7 years as a special education teacher in a middle school in Aurora, CO. But, the Midwest lakes, family and farm life drew us back to Minnesota, specifically Worthington, MN. Thanks for the opportunity to work with your children and help them reach their potential.

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Ms. Nguyen

Hello! My name is Nhi Nguyen. I have joined Worthington Middle School since 2017 as a 6th grade Special Education Teacher. I live in Heron Lake with my husband Nathan, and my lovely children (William 4 and Chloe 2). I received the Academic Behavioral Strategist (ABS) degree from Southwest Minnesota State University. I also obtained my 1st degree in Business Administration from Northcentral University, Arizona, in 2011. It is my goal to provide students with a high quality learning environment. I endeavor to create a caring place where my students can grow, and feel safe and be themselves.  Besides, I consider myself very fortunate to be among such a professional and caring faculty.

When I’m not teaching, I enjoy cooking, or travelling to different places to explore new cultures, and cuisines. I have luckily visited 10 countries, and 17 states.  

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Mrs. Nissen

My name is Lisa Nissen. I have been teaching special education at the Worthington Middle School for 3 years. I work with 5th and 6th grade students with emotional and behavioral disorders, as well as students with learning disabilities. I graduated from Buena Vista College in 1995 with degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education. I taught elementary education in Sheldon, Iowa for 9 years before making the decision to stay home with my children. Prior to being hired by District 518, I worked as a substitute teacher and a special education paraprofessional. I love my job and enjoy getting to know the students that I work with and their families. I live in Sibley, Iowa. I have 3 children; 2 sons who are grown and out of the house and a daughter who attends middle school in Sibley. I also have 3 beautiful granddaughters.

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Mrs. Schomacker

Ms. Schmokel

I graduated from Minnesota State University-Mankato in the Spring of 2019. I started teaching in Worthington in the fall of 2021 after I moved to the area just before the start of the school year. In my free time I enjoy reading, exploring the outdoors, crafting and hanging out with my goldendoodle, Brooks.

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Ms. Taarud

My name is Amber Taarud. I started at the Worthington Middle School as a Special Education Teacher in the 2019-2020 school year. My direct position is working as the 8th grade Student Learning Disability Teacher. I was born and raised here in Worthington. Graduated from Worthington High School. I then attended MN West Community and Technical College in Worthington, MN where I earned my AA in Liberal Arts and AS in Human Services. From there I attended Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, MN where I earned my BA in Psychology and Social Welfare. I moved back to my hometown where I spent 7 years working as a Special Education Paraprofessional. In 2018 I decided I loved education and started my journey through Western Governors University based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Through Western Governors University a Bachelor’s in Special Education and General Education will be earned. I have one son, Corbyn, and one daughter, Gracelyn (gained wings during pregnancy). Outside of school, I enjoy spending time with my son, family, and friends. We enjoy activities like dirt track racing, truck pulls, bond fires, amusement parks, zoo’s, swimming, and much more. I look forward to working with your children throughout the year and seeing them learn, grow, and become successful.

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