By Carol Murphy
The new high school principal at Morrill High School is Kent Swearingen. He is originally from Colorado Springs, CO, where he graduated from High School in 1982. He is also a graduate of Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He has been working on his doctorate since 2009, in the field of Education Administration. His research is focused on bullying in schools, which he says occurs everywhere, no matter the size of the school or the economic locality.
One of his interests is history. He has been through here with his family following the Oregon Trail, stopping at Guernsey, viewing the wagon ruts, stopping at Scotts Bluff Monument and other historical places. “That’s how I got to know the area and I’ve always liked it a lot. The valley is full of history and places to visit. When I heard about the job at Morrill School, I applied and knew if I got the position as principal, I would love it here.”
He has worked for the Colorado Springs School District for 26 years. He has been in the classroom for 21 years, teaching vocational and computer classes. The last five years, he has been in administration as principal, always working with smaller schools in the district. “I like the smaller schools, like Morrill. They are the best place for students to get a good education. The quality of life for a family is so much better than in a big city.”
Right now he has found a place to rent in Henry. He has a son Cole who started his freshman year at Northern Arizona at Flagstaff. His daughter Emma is a junior at Castle View High School in Castle Rock, where she lives with her mother. Both of his kids have been out here and he knows he will be traveling back and forth to see them along with his mother who lives in Colorado Springs. His mom, who is retired, taught elementary school for 39 years. She was a big influence on him.
His hobbies right now include finishing his doctorate and being a good dad. When he has time, he also likes to ride his mountain bike on dirt roads and by the river.
He is really enthused about his new job. He was looking for a challenge and to make a difference in the lives of students. “I want to help teachers to help students. I like my work; it’s the best job in the world. I am glad to be here, it’s a great community, very welcoming. I’m proud to be Morrill’s new principal. I’m looking forward to good things happening in the district and I want Morrill students to reach their full potential.”
T. J. Norris is teaching 7-12thgrade social studies, including Jr. High History and two computer classes in Morrill this year. Norris attended school through the eighth grade at LaGrange, WY. Then his family moved to Central City, NE and he graduated from Nebraska Christian High School in 1996. From there, he went to Calvary Bible College in Kansas City, MO where he graduated in 2001 with a major in secondary education, social studies/history, government, geography and social sciences. He also played basketball while he was in college and loves the sport.
After college, he didn’t want to teach right away. “I wanted adventure. I tried officer training school where I started flight training. I didn’t qualify for the military because of an injury and a color vision problem. I went to flight school in Macon, GA and was a flight instructor at Colorado Springs, flying for Great Lakes Airlines.” In the future he would like to be a flight instructor and give lessons.
Before taking the teaching job, he and his wife Katie and three daughters lived in Cheyenne, WY. His oldest, Reagan is 5 years old and started kindergarten in Morrill this year. Piper is 2 and Jackson is 1½ months, all girls.
He complimented his wife and said, “She is a baker; she makes wedding cakes, specialty cakes for birthdays, cupcakes, cookies, anything you want.” I can attest to the cupcakes he gave me, they were wonderful, thank you Katie!
He and his family live south and west of town. They’ve only been moved in for two weeks. Norris said, “I’m excited about my job in Morrill. I’m not using it as a stepping stone. The school board and administration are very committed to developing Morrill School. Superintendent Schafer and Principal Swearingen have been great to work with. Everyone works well-together. I know Morrill Schools had some problems, but they are being fixed. All the teachers are excited to get started on the school year. The students are also excited and looking forward to a good year.
Norris is also going to be the girl’s basketball coach. “I see great potential for these athletes and with seven seniors out, I think we will be up to the challenge. Plan to see some good games when our season starts,” said Norris
Norris said his hobbies include spending time with his family, and he has a small roofing business to keep him busy.
“I like Nebraska football, I’m glad to be out of the Big 12 and like the Big 10 better. Bo Pelini is a good fit for Nebraska with his tough defense.”
Norris is excited about the Morrill School. Teaching is his #1 desire. “The school has welcomed us tremendously and I’m looking for good times ahead.”
Kaiya West teaches seventh through tenth grade reading at Morrill Junior-Senior High School along with 12thgrade practical English. She will be the advisor for the school newspaper they are trying to get started. She will also assist Cathy Reynolds with the volleyball team. Reynolds was her former coach in Gering.
West has her own place in Gering, not far from her parents, Greg and Tiara West. She also has an older sister Marissa, who is in cosmetology school.
A 2007 Gering graduate, she is also a 2011 graduate of the University of Nebraska at Kearney where her Bachelor of Arts Degree is in English and Psychology (7-12 grade). She started working on her masters degree this summer, K-12 reading from UNK. She will be a reading specialist when she’s done in three years.
Before she took the job at Morrill, she taught high school English last year in Sidney.
West said her hobbies include reading and doing big jig-saw puzzles. “I also play league volleyball at the YMCA in Scottsbluff and enjoy my two dogs Molly and Bella, who is a puppy.”
“The school and community have been very welcoming and have offered to help me in any way,” said West. She stated that it’s been an enjoyable place to work so far, particularly since there have been several young staff members she has met. “I’m also looking forward to the journalism class and starting up a newspaper.”
“The volleyball team, which I’m helping with, has a lot of natural talent. We are working on fundamentals right now. We have good leadership from our senior girls. Our varsity will be strong, we will be very competitive and I’m looking forward to winning games.”
Bobby Wiegel, who is originally from Morrill, is starting his first year of teaching at Morrill Public Schools. He graduated from high school in 2004, got his associate degree from WNCC, and then graduated in 2010 from Chadron State College with a Bachelor of Science in health and physical education, K-12. Actually it’s his second year in the district, as he worked as a substitute, teaching in Morrill and Mitchell last year. Before that, he student taught at Mitchell.
At Morrill, he teaches PE, kindergarten through 12th grade, weights and health. He is at both schools, teaching elementary PE for K-6 students half the time.
Not only does he teach PE, but he is one of several assistant football coaches. He is the junior high and high school head wrestling coach, assistant track coach for both junior high and high school and is the boys junior high assistant basketball coach. All that should keep him really busy. He said he loves sports and likes to play and watch a variety of team sports.
Wiegel said he lives in his parent’s old home in Morrill since his parents, Bob and Tamara Wiegel, have moved to a new home outside of Mitchell. His brother David Wiegel, his sister Cassie Paterson and his Mom all graduated from Chadron.
He is excited about the coming year and says, “We have a lot to look forward to as a new eight-man football team and we also have good wrestling prospects in Class D. Morrill School is moving in the right direction. As a first year teacher, I am very optimistic.”
Dog groomers set up shop in Mitchell
By Carol Murphy
A new dog grooming business has opened in Mitchell at 1238 Center Avenue. Actually, Joleen Wetherington opened her Classic K-9 Dog Grooming shop in June, moving it from her home on 17th Avenue where she had been located for several years. Kristal Reisig joined her on August 8 and her business is called Pooch Place. Both ladies are experienced dog groomers.
Joleen started working for Sherri Beebe at age 11, working until she was 16. She started out as a dog bather, and then moved up to grooming. Then she worked for Joyce Bartlett for seven years at Heads and Tails, until she went out on her own. She said that both these ladies taught her a lot. She’s been in dog grooming for over 15 years.
Kristal was around dog grooming all her life. Her mom Renee Klaudt was a dog groomer when Kristal lived at home. Kristal also learned the skills from Joyce Bartlett at Heads and Tails in Scottsbluff, where she began working in December of 1998. Kristal left Dogs Day Out, another dog grooming shop, to be on her own. Kristal has been a groomer/stylist for over 13 years.
What makes Joleen and Kristal both good at their work is they like dogs. They talked about joining their businesses together for quite a while. Kristal decided to make the move because her boys go to school in Mitchell and since they live here, it seemed to be the logical thing to do. It’s handy for her to work where she lives.
Both ladies said they enjoy dog’s different personalities. They try to go slowly with the younger dogs and are patient with the older ones, too. Joleen said, “I respect the dogs and like their different personalities.” Kristal also said, “It’s important to make a dog’s first grooming experience pleasant, they will want to come back.”
Joleen and her husband Jarrod remodeled the shop, replacing the floor, redoing the walls and making it presentable. Now it looks really nice. There are four children in their family, Jessamyn Strauch 18 attends college in Scottsbluff; Jordyn Lewison 16 is a junior at Mitchell High School; Dylan Wetherington 16, lives in Gering and Jadyn Wetherington 8 is in 3rd grade at Mitchell.
Krystal’s family includes her husband Raymond and sons Riley 12 and Carter 7.
They feel their prices are competitive. You don’t need an appointment to do toenails, just drop in with your dog. They also try to get the dogs done without much waiting. They only work on three or four dogs a day, because they want to get them in and out. Their hours are very flexible.
Their grand opening is Friday, September 7 from 4-8 p.m. You can register for a free dog grooming that day and if you book an appointment that day, you will get a discount. There will also be refreshments, so stop in and visit with Joleen and Kristal and see their new doggie salon.