Construction ushers in new MMCRU school year

Thursday, August 25, 2022
MMCRU teacher Cory Spangler takes another wipe at the desks in his classroom before the school’s open house on Aug. 17. Spangler teaches special education for students grades 5-8.
(Sentinel Photo by Beverly Van Buskirk)

REMSEN/MARCUS — There will be a lot of activity in the MMCRU Schools this year, not only by teachers and students but by construction workers as new facilities and renovations get underway.

Superintendent Dan Barkel is excited about the new construction plans.

“In Marcus, the MMC district is in the middle of perhaps the largest infrastructure change in the district’s history. We are building a new elementary school, and we are completely renovating the high school,” he said. “We are creating an addition to the Industrial Technology building, and we are building a community daycare facility which is attached to the new elementary building.”

He expanded on what the updates will mean for students and staff.

“Our updated high school facilities will make for a safer and better learning environment for students from both the MMC and RU districts. In addition, the addition to the industrial technology building will create even more opportunities for our Industrial Technology program that is already probably the best in the state of Iowa.

“The new elementary building will create a more pleasing and safer environment for PK-4 students in the MMC district, and will be more conducive to collaboration and effective learning than our current facility,” he said.

In addition, the community daycare wing attached to the new elementary building will offer families in the Marcus area and beyond a greater opportunity to secure daycare for their children, which is very much in need in the Marcus community, he added.

The first day of class for all students is Tuesday, Aug. 23. Students and parents attended the district’s open house from 5-7 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 17.

Teachers at the elementary level will be implementing a new reading curriculum this fall.

“Our biggest curriculum change is that we are introducing a new reading curriculum at the elementary level called CKLA. This curriculum is based upon the five components of the science of reading, and the pedagogy and practices of CKLA have been proven by extensive research to effectively teach children how to read. All of our elementary students, in both Marcus and Remsen, will begin using this curriculum this year,” Barkel explained.

Using ESSER funds, the MMC district purchased several Viewsonic technology boards in anticipation of the new facilities.

“Our 1:1 technology program continues with each student in the MMCRU Schools having access to a computer,” Barkel said.

MMCRU will have a number of new certified staff members this fall.

At Remsen, the new teachers are: Emily Oetken, middle school reading; Alexa Neumann, middle school social studies; Kelli Gleason, kindergarten; and Calah Payton, middle school science/social studies.

At Marcus, new teachers are: Cammy Ly, high school English; Brenda Bird, high school Spanish; John Weller, 7-12 art; Alli Stevick, PK-6 art; Melissa Young, high school physical education; Melissa Lansink, first grade; Megan Letsche, fourth grade; Alicia Hergott, elementary counselor; Dawn Bates, PK-4 special education; and Brandon Weisert, PK-4, 9-12 principal.

While there are a number of new teachers, the athletic program has had a great deal of stability and coaching staff according to Barkel, who noted the biggest change will be the addition of high school PE teacher Melissa Young, who will be an assistant coach for the girls basketball team at the high school.

Barkel reports the district has just enough regular route drivers to get students to school each day, but has very few substitutes.

“We currently have four bus routes each in both the MMC and RU districts,” he said.

Anyone interested in driving a school bus at MMCRU, may call Barkel at 712-786-1101.

There’s a lot to look forward to in the 2022-23 school year.

“I am most looking forward to the construction of our new buildings at the Marcus site, and the planning for improved facilities at the Remsen site, where construction improvements will begin in the summer of 2023. I am also looking forward to the great things our students and teachers/paras will bring to the classroom each day,” Barkel said. “We anticipate having a banner year for the MMCRU Royals in 2022-23.”