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.

Contact Mrs. Burch

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.

Contact Mrs. Bautista

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.

Contact Mrs. DeKam

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.

Contact Ms. Feldman

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.

Contact Mrs. Gath

Ms. Guertin

I was born and raised in MN, I attended Southwest MN state university and received a BS in Education. After graduation I moved to California, where I taught math for 18 years. While in CA, I received my Masters in mathematics curriculum from Concordia University. I recently moved back to Windom, to be closer to my children and my grandson. I am currently teaching 7th and 8th grade mathematics at WMS.

Contact Ms. Guertin

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.

Contact Mrs. Jirele

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.

Contact Mrs. Lord Anderson

Miss Powers

Hello! My name is Lauren Powers and I am one of the SLD teachers here at the middle school. I graduated from the University of South Dakota in 2023 with a double major in Elementary Education and Special Education. I am excited to see where the school year takes us and to see my students grow!

Contact Miss Powers

Mrs. Sandra Sand

I am a Special Education teacher at Worthington Middle School. I received my Bachelor’s degree at SMSU. I have worked for the district as a para in special education for 20 + years. An interesting fact about me is that I have 5 grandkids.

Contact Mrs. Sand

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.

Contact Ms. Taarud