New staff welcomed to Galena schools


Photo by Paul Apfelbeck

The teaching staff for Galena high school students.


New staff at our school and residence hall began their jobs in September working with the students in classrooms and at the dorms.

The Hawk Highlights reporters have been interviewing them to introduce the new staff to the community. At the start of every school year, we make sure that new staff in Galena are properly introduced to the community.

We are looking forward to working with them throughout the rest of the year.

Cora Foster
Cora Foster

Cora Foster, by Autumn Jensen-Roehl, editor

Cora Jean Foster is a new dorm aide in the Galena Interior Learning Academy’s dorms. She is 23 years old. Miss Foster was born in Anchorage, Alaska. She is the daughter of Eva Foxglove and Patrick Foster. She has six siblings, Diana, Deanna, Tracy, Roberta, Gillian, Jesse, and Riley.

Her mother is a stay-at-home mom. Her sibling Diana works for the elders in Buckland. In elementary school, Ms. Foster attended Davis Ramoth School in Selawik, and another year attended Buckland high school in Buckland. In middle school she still was attending Buckland high school and also attended Colony Middle School in Palmer. In high school she also attended the Buckland high school and later on graduated from GILA. After her high school career, she attended the Alaska Christian College, and earned her associates degree in Christian Ministry.

She has not graduated from college yet.

“I work night shifts stairwell, and front desk of Ptarmigan Hall,” she said. One of the reasons she chose to return to Galena was so she could be an example to the students that school is important and can go a long way in life. When Ms. Foster is not at work, she enjoys hanging out with the students of GILA. Ms. Foster said that being her has brought her so much memories and she is ready for more adventures as a staff member.

Donna Matthews
Donna Matthews

Donna Matthews, by Tirzah Bryant, staff writer

Donna Matthews is the new science teacher on the SHS campus. She is 59 years old. Ms. Matthews was born in Austin, Texas. She has three sisters and one brother, Vicky, Linda, Steve, and Denise. Ms. Matthews’ father was a commercial artist.

Her mother was an executive assistant at Western Carolina. She attended Covington Grammar School in Covington, Tennessee. She then went to High School at Covington High School in Coving and then Tuscola High School in Waynesville, North Carolina. Mrs. Matthews has bachelors in biology from Western Carolina University, an AAS in horticulture from Western Governors University, and a masters in science education.

Ms. Matthews said she came to Galena because she could easily get her dogs in and out, she liked the school, and she liked the idea of meeting kids from all over Alaska. She says that so far she likes the town, the kids, and her dogs are happy here. In her free time, she likes walking her dogs by the river. She is a trained operatic soprano.

Jacob Buikema
Jacob Buikema

Jacob Buikema, by Elena Jacobs, staff writer

Jacob Buikema is the new English teacher at the Sidney Huntington High School. He is 24 years old. Mr. Buikema was born in Holland, Michigan. He is the son of Michael and Luanne Buikema.

He has three sisters, Shelby Buikema, 21 years old, Allison Buikema, 19 years old, and Jenifer Buikema, 17 years old, who are all students. Mr. Buikema’s father is an engineer and his mother is a secretary. He attended South Side and Pine Ridge elementary schools, which are both located in Holland, Michigan. He then went to South Shore Middle School, also located in Holland, Michigan.

He graduated from Holland Christian High School. He then got his bachelor’s degree in English Education from Hope College, located in Holland, Michigan in 2015. Mr. Buikema teaches World Literature, Advanced Composition and College Prep. Mr. Buikema said he came to Galena because he always wanted to teach in Alaska and Galena popped up and looked like a fun place to be.

Matthew Conlon
Matthew Conlon

Matthew Conlon, by Mary Coolidge and Chris Semeken, staff writers

Matthew Conlon is the new counselor at the GILA dorms on campus. He is 38 years old. Mr. Conlon was born in Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania. He is the son of Jerome and Patrice Conlon. He has two sisters and one brother. Tara, who is 35 years old, is an art teacher. Katie, who is 32 years old, works at an insurance office.

Last but not least, Quinn, who is 24, works at the park service and Marines. Matthew’s parents worked as teachers, but are now retired. In elementary, he went to school at Roaring Spring Elementary in Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania.

Staying in Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania, he went to school at Spring Cove Middle School for both his middle school and junior high years. He had attended high school at Central Martinsburg High School, in Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania. For college, he had left Roaring Spring and attended the Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania. In 2001, Mr. Conlon got his bachelor degree in science and rehabilitation services. In the year 2004 he had received more degrees in master in education and school counseling.

For his job, he counsels at the dorms to help students in their times of needs and crises they may be having. Working at the Yukon Flats, he wanted to get a feel of working at a boarding school, so he decided to come to Galena. So far, he likes the students and staff members at the dorms. While he’s not working, he likes to lift weights, carve woods, loves outdoor adventures like mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, and sky diving. He also likes white water rafting, and playing the banjo. He was in the Peace Corps for four years.

Kailey Jo Erickson
Kailey Jo Erickson

Kailey Jo Erickson, by Kala Hendrickson, staff writer

Kailey Jo Erickson is the new programmer for resident advisors. She is also in charge of the wellness programs. Kailey was born in Tanana, Alaska. She is the daughter of Dale and Cynthia Erickson. She has one sister who is in nursing school, and a brother who is now finishing up his last year of college for process technology.

Her parents own the store in Tanana, Alaska, and her mother runs a non-profit setsoo-yeh, which means grandma’s house. She attended Maudrey J. Sommer School in Tanana, Alaska and attended middle school at Maudrey J. Sommer school in Tanana, Alaska and Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks. She went to West Valley High School in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Kailey used to teach health and physical education. Kailey wanted to further education so she can work with youth in Rural Alaska. She said she likes the feeling of Native culture. Kailey says she likes to “visit her family and also likes to read and go on hikes” when she is not at work.

Jason Harris
Jason Harris

Jason Harris, by Evan Charlie, staff writer

Jason Harris is the new assistant principal at the SHS campus. He is 38 years old. Mr. Harris was born in Alpena, Michigan. He is the son of Dennis and Nancy Harris. He has one sister, Jody Montie, who works at a clinic. Mr. Harris’ father was a UPS driver.

His mother is a housewife. He attended Sunset Elementary School in Alpena, and Lincoln Elementary School, also in Alpena. He then went to Thunder Bay Junior High and graduated from Alpena High School.

During his high school years, Harris wanted to be a pediatrician. He chose to come to Galena because he wanted to build a house, he was offered a job, and he was attracted by the swimming pool. Something new and exciting Harris wants to do in school is that he wants to “survive at my job.” The sport he is in is swimming. He has two daughters, a newborn and a freshman in college.

Hannah Karlberg
Hannah Karlberg

Hannah Karlberg, by Brenden Fuson, editor

Hannah Karlberg is a new resident advisor at the GILA dorms. She is 22 years old. Hannah was born in Anchorage, Alaska. She is the daughter of Randy and Lana Karlberg. She has four brothers, Lou Karlberg, 27 years old, Leif Karlberg, 25 years old, Hans Karlberg, 20 years old, and Tobin, 17 years old.

Her mother works as a Raven Air flight attendant and her father works as a superintendent at Grace Christian School. Her brother Lou works as a resident advisor in the GILA dorms, Leif is a college basketball coach, Hans is a college student, and Tobin is a high school student working at So-Yo Frozen yogurt.

She attended Grace Christian school from elementary until she graduated high school. She went to the master’s college in California and graduated in 2016 with her liberal studies degree. As a resident advisor, she puts on programs for other students, builds relationships with students, and helps if any students need anything. She likes that this school has lots of opportunities for the students, and that it helps kids find out what they want to do later in life.

She likes to run, to paint and create things, to hang with Britta (her niece), read, and she loves to be outside. She says she’s happy to be in Galena and is excited for this school year.

Makenzie Moore
Makenzie Moore

Makenzie Moore, by Kat Wilde, staff writer

Makenzie Moore is the new social studies teacher at the GILA campus. She is 28 years old. Ms. Moore was born in Palmer, Alaska. She has two siblings, a brother, Everest who is 26 years old and is a P.E. teacher and a sister, Hannah, who is 18 years old and is attending college at the moment.

Her parents are Harry and Jane Moore. Her father works for the state of Alaska and is a commercial fisher during the summer. Her mother works at the Pioneer and Veteran’s Home. She attended Swanson Elementary from kindergarten through second grade and Sherrod Elementary for third through fifth grades. During middle school, she was homeschooled.

She attended Palmer High School. She has a bachelor’s degree in history and sociology, and a master’s degree from University of Alaska Southeast. She teaches American history and government.

When asked why she decided to come to Galena, she said, “They offered me a job, they don’t have many history teaching jobs, plus I find it interesting that there are students from all other places from Alaska.”

She is enjoying being here in Galena because “the students are great. I enjoy the students and the community here, along with the other teachers I work with.” During her free time, she could be found watching Netflix, painting, reading, and being amateur photography. “I’m excited about being here,” she said.

Dawn Pomrening
Dawn Pomrening

Dawn Pomrening, by Anthony Lyon, staff writer

Dawn Pomrening is the new academic teacher at the SHS campus. She is 47 years old. Ms. Pomrening was born in Wausau, Wisconsin. Her mother is Karla Lemmer. She has one sister, Donna, who is 46 years old, and a brother Bruce, who is 40 years old.

Karla, her mother, runs a family restaurant that was also owned by Ms. Pomrening. Ms. Pomrening’s sister Donna was a waitress for their business, and her brother Bruce worked in business administration.

She went to Riverview Elementary in Wausau, Wisconsin. She then went to Horace Mann John Muir Middle School in Wausau.

She graduated from Wausau West High School. She had attended college in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. She teaches academic support and pre-12th grade. She loves Galena because it’s a remote village with almost the same privileges of a bigger city.

She loves the diversity of the students and how she gets to spend 90 minutes with a different group of students each period. She loves to read, crochet, sow, garden, bake, and camp. She is very organized and caring.

Liz Schababerle
Liz Schababerle

Liz Schababerle, by Amanda Kopp, staff writer

Liz Schababerle is the new integrated village science, biology, and Alaska fisheries teacher. She was born December 22, 1987, in Cincinnati.

She is the daughter of Paula and Jim Schababerle. She has one sister, Meghan Schababerle, who is going into her fifth year at design school in Daap. Her father is retired and her mother was a teacher and is now an administrative assistant.

Liz went to elementary school at William S James in Maryland, Holy Cross, and Green Bay, Wisconsin. In junior high, she went to OLSH in Cincinnati. The high school she attended was Saint Ursula Academy.

She attended Ohio State University and graduated with an ecological engineering degree in 2011. When she is not teaching, she enjoys swimming, hiking, campfires and watching movies.

“I moved to Galena because it felt like a really good community, and I feel I can learn a lot,” she said. “I like having a lot of supportive co-workers. I also like the variety of kids I get to teach. I like to create a family wherever I go. I hope Galena becomes home.”

Simone Thistle
Simone Thistle

Simone Thistle, by Angelica Firmin, staff writer

Simone Thistle is the new residence hall event planner at the GILA dorms.

Ms. Thistle’s hometown is Battle Creek, Michigan. She is the daughter of Ruth and Naz Yousef. She has three siblings: Dan 33, Michelle 31, and Steve, 29. Her brother Dan works for the Kellogg’s cereal company, Michelle works as an administrative assistant, and Steve works as a programmer.

Ms. Thistle attended Central Christian School in London, Ontario, in elementary school. She attended Calhoun Christian School in Battle Creek, Michigan, in middle school, then later graduated from there as a high school student. After graduation, Ms. Thistle spent her college years at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pre-counseling.

After graduating from college, she decided to work in Galena after being a residence assistant in college because it “seemed like a good idea.” Her job as an event planner includes scheduling events, contacting parents and programming for the dorms.

Ms. Thistle has been in Galena for the past four years and enjoys her job. “It is a blast to work with high schoolers. Most days it does not feel like work,” she said. When she is not at her job, Ms. Thistle spends her time with her husband, doing activities such as watching movies, working out, and playing music.

Erin Knight
Erin Knight

Erin Knight,  by Katelyn Holmberg, staff writer

Erin Knight is a new language arts teacher this year on the GILA campus.

She was born on June 14, 1990. She is from Addison, Vermont, where she grew up in. Her parents are Charlie and Sally Conway. She only has one sibling, Jamie Conway, and she is 28 years old.

Her mom works as a math teacher at local elementary school, and her father works as a media technician at Middlebury College.

Ms. Knight went Addison Elementary School in Addison, Vermont, and attended Vergennes Union High School in Vermont for middle school and high school. She graduated from University of Vermont in December 2011, then she attended University of Maine at Presque Isle and received her teaching certificate.

She rowed on her high school team for two years, but shifted her focus on other extracurricular activities her junior and senior year, and participated in yearbook, band, chorus, and speech competitions.

She chose to come to Galena because she wanted to be in a community and a school that has strong connections, and she thinks Galena offers that. She is looking forward to meeting the students and community as the year progresses.

She is also excited to attend basketball games, plays, and open mic nights. She also submitted some writing to a literary magazine in Vermont before she left, and found out that it was chosen for publication.