Granton Area School District
Welcomes New Administrators and Staff

Granton School District New Administrators and Staff 2017

The Granton Area School District welcomes two new administrators and seven new staff people for the 2017-2018 school year.  Shown front (left to right), Scott Woodington, district administrator and elementary school principal; Megan Utecht, first-grade teacher; Ryan Westaby, business education; middle, Jessica Shier, fourth-grade teacher; Martha Gerlach, 4K-12 art teacher; (back), Julie Kolarik, 6-12 principal; Kimmer Butts, kitchen coordinator; Laura Hanna, Middle school teacher; Shelly Schmitz, PreK-12 guidance counselor.  (Contributed photo)

By Todd Schmidt

The Granton Area School District began the 2017-2018 school year last week with two new administrators and seven new staff people.

Scott Woodington was named district administrator and elementary school principal, and Julie Kolarik was hired as 6-12 principal.

New staff people include Megan Utecht, 1st grade; Ryan Westaby, business education; Jessica Shier 4th grade; Martha Gerlach 4K-12 art; Kimmer Butts, kitchen coordinator; Laura Hanna, middle school; and Shelly Schmitz, preK-12 guidance counselor.

Utecht, 29, graduated from Ozaukee High School and UW-Stevens Point, where she received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in natural sciences-broadfield. Prior to coming to Granton, she taught second grade and fifth grade for the Stevens Point Area School District. Utecht is originally from the Milwaukee area.  She lived in Stevens Point, while attending college, and currently resides in Marshfield with her husband Jordan and their children, Raleigh, 5, and Jack, 1. Her hobbies include camping, fishing, running, and spending time with her family. “I am very excited to continue my teaching career here at Granton, and to become a part of the community,” she said.  “I am looking forward to meeting all the families and students who are a part of the Granton Area School District.  It is going to be a great year of learning and new experiences.

Westaby, 34, is a graduate of Thorp High School.  He obtained a bachelor’s degree in accounting at UW-La Crosse. Westaby brings a wealth of business experience to his position at Granton.  He was employed at Farm Credit Leasing, Minneapolis; Community Bank of Central Wisconsin, Colby; Marshfield Clinic, Eau Claire; and the Independence School District. In addition to teaching business education at Granton, Westaby will serve as a distance learning coordinator and yearbook advisor. His hobbies include football, hockey, racing, hunting, and fishing. He and his wife Anna live in Eau Claire.

Shier, 23, was born and raised on a dairy farm near Granton.  She is a 2012 graduate of Granton High School and UW-Oshkosh, where she obtained a degree in elementary and special education in January 2017.  She graduated from college with Summa Cum Laude honors. While attending UW-Oshkosh, she was awarded a variety of scholarships.  She was one of 26 students to receive the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence, which is a prestigious award that recognizes graduating students for their academic achievement, plus their campus and community involvement.

Shier served as a substitute teacher at area elementary schools and as the 21st Century Grant Curriculum assistant at Granton schools during the second semester of the 2016-2017 school year.  During the month of June, she was one of two summer school teachers in the kindergarten readiness program at Neillsville Elementary School. She and her husband Ezra live in Granton.  They are active members of the Granton FFA Alumni and enjoy volunteering in the community whenever possible.  They enjoy spending time with Granton students and their families and can be found chaperoning and attending many FFA and school events.  They also help with the upkeep of the Granton School Forest and the Francis Steiner Environmental Education Nature Preserve. “When I have free time, I enjoy being able to spend it with my husband and family,” she said.  “we like to spend our spare time in the outdoors, whether it is going for a walk through the woods, siting by a tree and enjoying a good book or simply playing fetch with our dog, Remi.  My family instilled in me a love for the outdoors, and it is something I hope to pass on to my students.”

Shier is proud to say she will be teaching fourth grade at Granton Elementary School. “Growing up and attending Granton schools as a child gave me an appreciation for everything that small school districts have to offer,” she said.  “I was able to achieve my dreams of becoming a teacher because of the opportunities and experiences that was provided while attending Granton schools.  I am beyond excited to be able not only to teach in the school that I call home, but also be a member of a community that is the driving force behind our school district.”

Gerlach, 39, is a graduate of Hudson High School.  She went on to obtain an associate arts degree at UW-Barron County and a bachelor’s degree with a fine arts emphasis in illustration at UW-Eau Claire. She was awarded an Organizational Leadership Certificate at UW-Eau Claire. She received her teaching certification through eduCATE-WI in affiliation with St. Mary’s University in Minneapolis.

Gerlach has lived in Hudson, Cumberland, and Rice Lake, and currently resides in Eau Claire.  She has four children, Josephina, 13, Esme, 9, Mady, 7, and Gabrielle, 4. Gerlach’s volunteer activities include teaching yoga for children, community arts projects, and mural painting.  In her free time, she enjoys yoga, biking, hiking, gardening, reading and travel.

Hanna, 29, graduated from Denmark High School.  She then attended UW-La Crosse, receiving a bachelor’s degree in middle childhood to early adolescence education with a minor in special education. She recently moved from Weston to Marshfield with her dog, Ruby. During her student teaching, she was the assistant forensics coach at De Soto High School.  She also worked with students with disabilities at Catholic Charities.

For the past five years, Hanna taught eighth grade special education at John Muir Middle School in the Wausau School District.  She also ran an after-school book club and study group. In her free time, Hanna enjoys traveling, and exploring the outdoors-especially national parks.  She is always looking for a new area to go hiking or kayaking with her dog.  She also loves to spend time with her family, and reading a great book. This year, Hanna will be teaching seventh and eighth grade at Granton. “I am excited to be part of the Granton community and am looking forward to the school year,” she said.

Schmitz is a graduate of Neillsville High School.  She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in education at Winona State University and a master of science degree in school counseling at Concordia University-Mequon. Schmitz taught for two years at Spencer (second and sixth grades), one year at Osseo-Fairchild (fifth grade), and six years at Neillsville Elementary School (third grade). She volunteers as a Girl Scout leader.  She lives in Neillsville with her husband and three children. Her hobbies include camping, watching sports, crocheting, crafts, reading, and traveling with her family. “I am excited to begin a new career in education guidance counseling,” Schmitz said.  “I look forward to helping the students and families in the Granton Area School District.”

Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

September 13, 2017

Transcribed by Dolores M. Kenyon, September 16, 2017.

Web page by James W. Sternitzky PhD, September 17, 2017. 

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