• Last modified 671 days ago (Aug. 22, 2019)


Peabody-Burns welcomes seven new teachers

Staff writer

Peabody-Burns schools have seven new classroom teachers and one new special education teacher this year.

Cierra Goodwin

Peabody native Cierra Goodwin said being a teacher’s aide during her senior year at Peabody-Burns high school gave her an unshakable urge to become a teacher.

The new first grade teacher initially pursued an accounting degree at Butler Community College, but when she transferred to Emporia State University, she switched tracks and went into elementary education.

Joshua Laney

Joshua Laney is activities director and physical education teacher for kindergarten through fifth-grade students.

Originally from Mannford, Oklahoma, Laney spent 12 years coaching basketball and softball, and teaching elementary physical education and computer science.

Peabody appealed to him because it’s close to his wife’s hometown. The community seems caring and supportive of the school, Laney said.

“I’m looking forward to being a part of what is already a great place,” he said.

Taylor McQueary

This is Clearwater native Taylor McQueary’s first teaching assignment.

“I’ve always loved art from a young age and I’ve always explored different media,” McQueary said.

When she attended a University of Kansas graphic arts program, she fell in love with art all over again, she said.

Attending graduate classes at Wichita State University, McQueary spent two years getting her teacher’s license and a third year getting her master’s degree.

Peabody offered class sizes just right for her.

“I really like the small class sizes, which will let me have more one-on-one with my students,” McQueary said. “I also like being able to work with all ages.”

Wayne Rziha

Wayne Rziha will teach middle and high school science classes, especially life sciences, such as biology.

Rziha previously taught at Centre schools.

“During my previous two years teaching, I was teaching business, administration of programs, and coordination of programs,” he said. “This will be really my first time teaching science. I think for the first year it will be about establishing programs that will make it encouraging and enlightening for kids.”

He formerly worked in recruitment and promotion, sold insurance, and did church work with youth and young adults.

Those roles also involved education and service, which he liked doing. Rziha entered an Emporia State University program to transition to classroom teaching.

Kaila Schmidt

Middle and high school English teacher Kaila Schmidt has taught for five years.

Born and raised in Wichita, she taught English at Wichita High School North for three years, teaching regular level to gifted classes.

Then she taught sixth-grade English at Chase Middle School in Topeka for two years.

“I knew that I wanted to be a teacher when I was in sixth grade, and I never changed my mind because I have always loved teaching people and helping them grow as learners and individuals,” Schmidt said. “I also wanted to try and be the teacher that I wish that I had when I was in middle and high school.”

Although her teachers were intelligent and knowledgeable, few actually took time to get to know their students, Schmidt said.

“That is what I always felt like I was missing in my classes,” she said.

Since she was a preschooler, Schmidt loved reading, and grew to love writing, learning, and English.

“I want to teach, encourage, and inspire students to become lifelong readers, writers, and learners as well,” she said.

Schmidt found Peabody appealing because she sees community involvement with the schools, and believes that’s a component that’s often lacking.

Yolanda Upchurch

Although Yolanda Upchurch taught a semester at Yates Center after she graduated from Pittsburg State University in December 2018, this will be her first full year of teaching.

She is Peabody’s new middle and high school family and consumer sciences teacher.

She grew up in Plains, a Meade County town just a tad smaller then Peabody.

“I chose teaching because I had a great experience with my teachers and I want to relay that to all of the students I have in my own classroom,” Upchurch said.

Her high school teachers made education fun, and lessons interesting and relatable.

She knew she would want to teach at a small school district.

When she saw that Peabody-Burns had an opening and experienced its hometown atmosphere, the deal was clinched.

“I knew this is where I should be,” Upchurch said.

Haley Vivone

This is Olathe native Haley Vivone’s first year as a high school counselor.

“I wanted to be a school counselor because I wanted to help students. They are the future and I want to help them be the best they can be,” Vivone said.

Vivone chose Peabody-Burns for the experience of working in a small school and community.

Last modified Aug. 22, 2019