Five join staff at Remsen St. Mary’s Schools

Thursday, September 15, 2022
The five new teachers/staff joining Remsen St. Mary’s Schools for the 2022-2023 school year include, pictured above, from left: Denise Rolfes, Melissa Ruden, and Karen Bartolozzi. Not pictured: Dannielle Book and Ellen Plagman.
(Photos contributed)

Remsen St. Mary’s adds five new staff members for the 2022-2023 school year. There will be two new teachers at the school: Denise Rolfes, fourth grade; and Melissa Ruden, who will teach 9-12 online art classes. Karen Bartolozzi, Dannielle Book, and Ellen Plagman join the staff as teacher’s aides. The new year began on Tuesday, August 23, 2022.

Denise Rolfes

Teaching fourth grade at Remsen St. Mary’s Elementary is Mrs. Denise Rolfes.

She was born and raised in Le Mars, graduating from Le Mars Community High School. For college, she earned her BA in Elementary Education from Buena Vista in Storm Lake and endorsements in reading and ESL from Morningside University in Storm Lake.

Denise has much experience when it comes to teaching. She started as a Resource Aide at Kluckhohn Elementary in Le Mars for grades 1-5 for five years; Pre-K – 8th grade English as a Second Language Teacher at Gehlen; 5th grade for one year; 4th grade, Title I and Reading Recovery, Head Teacher, and Middle School (Grades 6-8) English Language Arts at Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools for 18 years, and now as the fourth grade teacher at Remsen St. Mary’s Elementary.

She student taught first grade at Kissinger Elementary in Merrill and fourth grade at Clark Elementary in Le Mars. She also was a substitute teacher for one year after college graduation.

Besides teaching, she has also worked for the ASCS (Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service Office) for a couple of years and waitressed at the Truck Haven for many years before college.

Denise is married to her husband, Ed, who is retired but is working as a part-time truck driver for Holzman Trucking in Le Mars. They live in Le Mars and have two children and four granddaughters with a fifth grandchild on the way. Daughter, Jacque (Craig) Homan and their children, Quinn (9), Emily (8), Paige (6), and Becca (4), live in Remsen. All four girls attend Remsen St. Mary’s. Son, Ryan Rolfes, lives in West Des Moines.

Denise stated, “In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my granddaughters, reading, and hiking.”

When asked why she chose this profession, she answered, “Growing up, school was my safe place, and I loved learning, so I wanted to offer a safe place to others and help them learn.”

What she enjoys most about teaching are the students, stating, “The students are the best part of teaching. They are truly the reason I teach.”

“I am very excited to be a part of the Remsen St. Mary’s family! Thank you for being so welcoming and helpful.” Denise expressed.

Melissa Ruden

Mrs. Melissa Ruden is the new Online High School Art teacher at Remsen St. Mary’s.

She is originally from Orange City and graduated from Unity Christian High School. For her college education, she has a BA from Iowa State University in Advertising, focus in graphic design, minor in art history; a BA from Dordt College in K-12 Art Education; and a MA from the University of Northern Iowa in Art Education.

Melissa has been teaching for many years, “This is my seventh year of teaching. Previously, I taught K-12 art at Boyden-Hull (’15-’19) for four years, and K-8 art at Remsen-Union for two (’19-’21).”

She also student taught at Rock Valley teaching grades K-12, and at MOC-Floyd Valley High School.

Besides teaching, she has other word experience as well, “After graduating from ISU, I worked for a real estate firm in San Diego in their graphic design department. I later returned home to earn my teaching degree. Currently, I work at Staples Promotional Products as a Program Merchandiser. I am grateful for this opportunity to use my talents both at Staples and at RSM concurrently.”

She is married to Justin Ruden, who works at Remsen St. Mary’s as the PE and Health teacher and is also the head varsity boys basketball coach. They have a son, Rowan, who turned one-year-old on September 11. They live in Remsen.

Her mother, Mary Jane, lives in Orange City. She has two older brothers: Michael lives in Cherokee with his family, and Kelly in Orange City with his family.

She has several hobbies, “I enjoy golfing, running, watching movies (especially the Marvel universe), and spending time with our 14-year-old Miniature Dachshund. We are a very sports-minded family and our tv is typically on some type of sport, especially the Twins and Vikings.”

She has always been drawn to art, “I love art and have always been drawn to the multiple opportunities it offers in life. I truly believe that everyone is an artist, just different types of artists. Art helps to think outside the box and express oneself without fear and hesitation. It can calm the mind, soothe a soul, but also energize and invigorate an entire community movement. We are surrounded daily by art in so many different ways, and I hope to help students discover these seemingly hidden forms and seize their own unique style.”

Melissa explained what she enjoys most about teaching, “I enjoy that each day brings unique adventures, challenges, and fresh starts. I truly appreciate the teaching and staff communities at RSM that help to make everyday a success for our students and are willing to help in any way. I also welcome the opportunity to teach in such a dedicated Catholic community, knowing God is the center of our lives and education. To witness generations of families, share in a faith-based education is a very special connection not many communities have the privilege to claim.”

Her favorite quote also happens to be from her favorite artist, Vincent Van Gogh, “Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck, your profession is what you’re put here on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.”

Karen Bartolozzi

Serving as a TK/Kindergarten and first grade aide is Mrs. Karen Bartolozzi.

An alumna, Karen graduated from Remsen St. Mary’s in 1973. This is her first year teaching.

She worked at Farmers Savings Bank, which then became Iowa State Bank for 48 years in Remsen.

She is married to Craig Bartolozzi, who is retired and a former Chief Deputy at the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office. They live in Remsen and have three children, Jill Galles, Kari Carpenter, and Ashley Schuttpelz.

Her parents are Arnold and Kathryn Fielder. She comes from a family of six sisters and four brothers, with two of her siblings being deceased.

Her hobbies include attending grandchildren’s activities, reading, and travel. Her ten grandchildren keep her busy.

What she enjoys most about teaching is watching the kids eager to learn. The kids are cute and very entertaining.

When asked why she chose to pursue this profession, she stated, “I saw the position in the bulletin and though it would be fun and interesting, having gone to the same school myself.”

She is excited to work at her alma mater, adding, “Remsen is a great community to live and work in.”

Ellen Plagman

Ellen (Frederick) Plagman will serve as the three- and four-year-old preschool teacher’s aide.

She grew up in Omaha, Neb., graduating from William Jennings Bryan High School. She attended Barber Community College to receive her Nebraska License in hair cutting and has done all kinds of hair dressing for years and worked at Wells for nine years before wanting to be a teacher’s aide again.

She moved in 1984 and lived in Remsen for years until 2010, then moved to Cleghorn, where she resides now with her husband, Larry Plagman, who is a trucker for Schuster’s.

Ellen has three children, Adam Frederick, Emily Frederick, and Andy Frederick (deceased). She has four granddaughters, Ava, Alivia, Nora, and Everly.

For hobbies, she likes reading, playing with grandchildren, and making quilts.

What inspired her to be a teacher’s aide was her love for children. She stated, “I feel like I have a special connection with them.”

What she enjoys most about teaching is “guiding children about making good decisions and learning social skills, and independence.“

She stated, “I am excited to be a part of the RSM Community and look forward to meeting people and all the new kids.”

Dannielle Book

Dannielle Book will serve as a teacher’s aide at Remsen St. Mary’s.