ELL Specialist & Spanish Translator


Minerva Seehusen, an English language learner herself, grew up in Puerto Rico, and moved to Iowa to earn her degree from ISU. Her husband, Alan, is a pastor. They have four children: Don-30, Annie-27 (married to Spencer Roland), Katie-25, David-21. Expecting our second grandchild in March. This is her 5th year of helping ELLs with their learning, and her favorite memory is seeing the priceless wonder written on one of her first students faces when he started reading after many struggles. What she enjoys most about education is helping families with their physical needs and the students with their learning.

English/ESL Teacher-Coordinator

Profile Pic.jpgBrielle Cerven, originally from Stanton, Iowa was a preschool teacher for two years before earning her ESL endorsement and joining the Atlantic Community School District. She fell in love with English Language Learners while student teaching in South Korea in 2009. She serves as the K-12 ESL Program Coordinator while also working with students in grades 4-8. Ms. Cerven's favorite part of teaching English language learners is being exposed to their cultures while also teaching them about the American culture. Overall, she loves the opportunity to impact the life of every student she comes into contact for the better.

jen_profile_1.jpgJennifer Hartwig, originally from Alta, Iowa, spent 11 years as a legal assistant and 3-1/2 years as an online copy editor for CNN before feeling the call into education and ESL at the beginning of 2005. Since then she has earned her teaching degree, ESL endorsement, and Master of Arts in English, serving as the K-12 ESL Coordinator and teaching high school English. Her favorite part about teaching English language learners is when a non-English speaker suddenly makes a new connection and gets that bright and happy look of victory in his eye, while her favorite part of teaching overall is to help students make the connections that strengthen their own learning and abilities.

Chuukese Translator

Ancherson.JPGAncherson William, an English language learner himself, grew up in Guam and moved to Iowa when he attended Grace University in Omaha to earn his degree in psychology and Bible. He and his wife, Amelie, have four children and one on the way. Ancherson serves as the pastor of the Chuukese Christian Fellowship Church in Atlantic. He is also employed at Menards Distribution Center. He translates and interprets for our Chuukese families and also spends time mentoring and tutoring the many Chuukese students here in Atlantic.



Pre-K - Kindergarten


Becky Osborne, ECSE Preschool teacher, grew up in Nebraska but now lives in Atlantic. She and her husband have a wonderful family which includes a son and daughter who live in Omaha. For 20 years of teaching, she has loved watching children learn. Six of those 20 years have included ELLs, and she says her favorite part about teaching ELLs is meeting families and hearing their traditions.

IMG_2238.JPGCathy Renaud, Discover Garden teacher

Margo Magill, Kindergarten teacherMagill.jpg


Pat Nelson, Kindergarten teacher, originally from Northwest Iowa, lives in Atlantic. She and her husband, Jef, have two sons: Josh and Joe. She has been a teacher for 32 years, four of those including ELLs. She has loved watching ELL students become a part of their environment around them and feel confident and comfortable. And she enjoys learning from all her students. She says the students always teach her more than she teaches them.


Marsha VonSeggern, Kindergarten teacher, who grew up in Akron, Iowa lives in Atlantic. She and her husband, Tom, have three kids: Ashley, a nurse, Tyler, a junior in college, and Derk, a senior in high school. She has been teaching for 20 years, four of those with ELLs. She enjoys being able to see her ELLs participate and verbalize their ideas within a group. What she likes best about teaching is the variety of coming to work and not knowing what 5 and 6 year olds will do or say and that it is different every day of every year.

1st Grade


Deb Murphy, 1st grade teacher, originally from Omaha, NE lives in Atlantic. She and her husband have three daughters and two grandchildren. The first 5 years of her 30 years of teaching were in Nebraska, and the rest have all been in Atlantic. She has taught ELLs for four years and enjoys that all of the children are so nice and polite. What she likes best about teaching is helping the children to love learning and teaching kids that school is a good place to be.

Rita McLaren, 1st grade teacher,

2nd Grade

Daugherty.JPGTracy Daugherty, 2nd grade teacher, grew up in Massena, Iowa, and still lives there with her husband (who also teaches) and their four children, Lorna, Mallory, Erin, and Marcus. She has been teaching for 24 years, teaching her first ELL in 1991. Her favorite memory of teaching ELLs was being able to experience a little boy seeing snow for the first time, as well when she sees her ELLs' pride and excitement when they begin reading English. And seeing the personal growth of each of her students makes her glad to be a teacher.

Dreyer.JPGFaye Dreyer, 2nd grade teacher, is currently in her sixth year teaching at Washington Elementary. She has taught ELL students for the past four years and has really enjoyed it. She has always enjoyed the ELL potluck because it is a great way for families and educators to meet, converse, share ideas and share wonderful food dishes. She has taken ELL classes as a part of her M.S. in Education and is looking forward to the year ahead.

3rd Grade


Nancy Christensen, 3rd grade teacher, lives in Atlantic, but grew up in Clarinda, Iowa. She has two kids and five grand kids and has been teaching for 42 years, teaching her first ELL 35 years ago. Though she loves learning about new places from her ELLs, what she most enjoys about teaching is the wonderful children who come to her room.


Sheryl Hinzmann, 3rd grade teacher, moved to Atlantic from Crookston, Minnesota. She and her husband, also a sheltered English instructor, have two children. She started teaching 25 years ago and has had ELLs for a few years. Her favorite memory of teaching her ELLs was when one of her students told her that she was "as sweet as sugar." What she likes best about teaching all of her students is reading to them.

4th Grade


Ed DenBeste, 4th grade teacher, is originally from Huxley, Iowa, but he now lives in Atlantic with his wife, three children (McKenna 12, Tate 9 & Roth 5), and their yellow lab, Millie. He has been teaching for 15 years, including his first ELLs 11 years ago. He loves the interaction with kids and says it is the greatest feeling when you have taught them something new and they truly understand it.

Hascall.JPGJanet Hascall, 4th grade teacher, lives in Atlantic but grew up in Sioux City, Iowa. She and her husband have one son, Adam. She started teaching 28 years ago, and this is the first year she has taught ELLs. What she likes best about teaching is being a part of the process by which kids open doors to their otential and learn new things.

5th Grade


Becky Riesgaard, 5th grade teacher, grew up in Atlantic, but she now resides in Audubon County near Brayton. She and her husband, Gary, have two married sons and two granddaughters. She has been teaching for 30 years. One of her recent years included her first ELL, and her favorite memory from that experience was knowing and learning about him and his family. What she likes best about teaching is working with fun science projects and topics.


Katie Chamberlain, 4th & 5th reading support teacher, lives in Atlantic but grew up in nearby Wiota. Along with her mom and dad, she also has a brother and a special cat. Katie has taught for five years, three of those with ELLs. Her favorite memory of teaching ELLs was when the Chuukese girls danced in the talent show. Overall, though, helping and encouraging kids to learn is what Ms. Chamberlain enjoys best about teaching.


Drew Duff, 4-5 P.E. teacher,

Martha Hatfield, K-5 Art teacher,

Michelle Jones, K-5 Music teacher,

Barb Olsen, K-3 P.E. teacher,


Middle School

Steve Blazek, Physical Education teacher,


Deb Burton, 6th-8th reading teacher, says her family life is busy. Mrs. Burton, who grew up in Harlan, Iowa and now lives in Irwin, has taught for 12 years, and taught her first ELL two years ago. She says her favorite part of teaching is the students.

Mike Davis, Art teacher,

Drew Duff, Health teacher,


Sheryl Dusenberry, 6th grade social studies teacher, originally from Dike, Iowa, lives in Atlantic. She and her husband, Stuart, have two children in college: Evan, a senior at Carleton College in Northfield, MN, and Tess, a freshman at ISU. All of her 26 years of teaching have been in Atlantic, where she has taught a number of ELLs throughout those years, but she has been trained in ESL for the past three years. What she enjoys most about teaching ELLs is when the students have that "a-ha" moment and being able to watch them absorb and acquire the English language. Overall in teaching, she likes to see students challenge themselves, and she looks forward to each day being something different and a fresh start for students.


Linda Joyce, 6th-7th grade science teacher, who has been in education for 20 years, grew up in Exira, Iowa and now lives in rural Atlantic. She is married with three grown sons and two granddaughters. What she likes best about teaching is being able to teach students something new and useful to know that has a connection to real life.

Larsen.JPGCathy Larsen, 6th grade English, reading & social studies & 7th Grade English teacher, lives here in Atlantic where she grew up. She has two children: Blake and his wife Rachel live in Kansas City with Mrs. Larsen's granddaughter, Olivia, and Claire lives in West Des Moines. She has been teaching for 30 years and really enjoys kids and the enthusiasm they have for life. Mrs. Larsen has had ELLs in the classroom for four years and says her most interesting memory about teaching her ELLs is learning more about Chuuk, especially the culture.

Lieferman.JPGMarnie Lieferman, 6th grade reading & English teacher, originally from Mankato, Minnesota, lives here in Atlantic. She describes her family of seven (she and her husband, three children and two dogs) as rowdy, loud, lots of laughter, and organized. She has served many educational roles since 2001: substitute, AEA reading specialist, and teacher, and has taught ELLs for four years. She says she loves to see their smiles when they are successful. What she likes best about teaching is working with struggling readers, watching students grow, seeing their smiles, and working with other teachers as a team.

Lundquist.JPGHeather Lundquist, 7th grade reading teacher,


Mike McDermott, 7th & 8th grade history/geography teacher, grew up here in Atlantic. He and his wife, Christa, have a son and daughter. Of his 13 years teaching, he has been able to teach ELLs for three years and loves to see the cultural differences. What Mr. McDermott likes best about teaching is the students.

Amber Moore, 6th & 8th grade science teacher, though currently living in Atlantic hails from Alabama. When describing her family, she says they are "strange, like me." She has been teaching for six years, which is when she first experienced the joy of teaching ELLs. Her favorite memory of teaching ELLs is when she taught a kid who knew absolutely no English when he came during 8th grade and then played a vocabulary game a few weeks after he came and he won a prize. The look on his face was priceless. He knew he could do it after that, and he tried as hard as he could. What she likes best about teaching is that no day is ever the same.


Lisa Munsey, 6th-8th grade math teacher, grew up in nearby Wiota and lives in Atlantic. Her son, Morgan, and daughter, Brianne, keep her family very busy. She has been a teacher for eight years, and after teaching ELLs for about four years, her favorite memory would be watching an ELL student help classmates on math skills while other students helped him with the words in the word problems. What she likes best about teaching is watching students grow academically and the many other changes they encounter.

Jeff Nederhoff, keyboarding & financial literacy teacher, grew up in Wellsburg, and lives in Altoona, Iowa with his wife and his greyhound, Herky. He has been teaching for 22 years, although this is the first year he has taught ELLs. Mr. Nederhoff enjoys getting to know students and that no one day is the same.

O'Donnell.JPGLeah O'Donnell, MS band teacher, grew up on a military base in Idaho, and then she and her family (three older siblings) moved to Minnesota, where they all still live. She says she was different and came to Iowa. Now she and her husband (high school band instructor) live here in Atlantic. She is in her 10th year of teaching, and has taught ELLs for two years. She says, "Even though I might not be able to speak the same language as ELLs, i can usually connect through music. it's like a new language we all can speak." What she likes best about teaching is starting kids on instruments and seeing how far they've progressed when they get to high school. "It's pretty amazing. You can really see and hear it at the Patty Hannon concert every year."

Angela Oglesbee, 7th grade English & reading teacher, originally from Villisca, now lives in Massena. She and her husband, Steve, have two children: Rylan is in kindergarten, and Reese is in 2nd grade. This is her 13th year in education, four of those including four years. One of her favorite memories teaching ELLs was when she had a student fall in love with a series of books and found that she liked reading. What she likes best about teaching is that each day is a new challenge because middle school students always make life interesting.

Deb Peppers, family consumer science teacher, grew up in Exira but now lives in Atlantic with her husband, Scott, who is a retired teacher/administrator. What she has loved most about teaching during her 27 years is the middle school age students, the things they say, and their facial expressions when they "get it." And her favorite part about teaching ELLs, which she has done several years throughout her career, is the "light-bulb" moments when they get it.

Reilly.JPGAndrea Reilly, 6th grade math teacher,


Vernon Rhodes, 7th & 8th grade math teacher, who says he grew up "everywhere," currently lives in Des Moines. He has been teaching for three years and enjoys the look on the students' faces when they realize they understand something they thought they would never understand.

Joanne Sandage, technology & K-12 TAG, who originates from Clarinda, Iowa, lives here in Atlantic. During her 15 years of teaching, she has most enjoyed watching students grow academically and socially. Her favorite memory of teaching ELLs, which she has done for two years, is being able to watch a presentation of one of our former ELLs perform a native Chuukese dance.

Cheryl Thompson, chorus teacher, grew up in St. Edward, Nebraska and now lives in Corning, Iowa. She and her husband have three children, as well as two grandsons. She been teaching for 18 years, the last two of those including ELLs. Though she loves teaching kids how to sing and to love singing in a choir, she especially enjoys preparing the 5th grade general music program where all students participate.

High School

Tim Duff, physical education teacher,

Nick Hackman, math teacher, who grew up in New Hampton, Iowa, and now lives here in Atlantic, says his family (his parents and five brothers) is very close. He has taught about one ELL each of his four years of teaching. And what he enjoys most about teaching is making a difference in the students' lives.


Meryl Henningsen, family consumer science teacher,

Terry_Hinzmann.pngTerry Hinzmann, history teacher, hails from Clarissa, Minnesota. He and his wife (also a teacher) live in Atlantic and have two children, Nick and Alisha. He is in his 26th year of teaching and has taught ELLs throughout much of his career. One of his favorite memories is helping two Vietnamese students who just arrived in America adjust to school and become kickers on the high school football team. But what he enjoys most about teaching is that moment when the "light bulb" shines and a struggling student understands.

Kathy Hobson, science teacher,


Dan Huey, biology and anatomy teacher, is in his 39th year of teaching, lives here in Atlantic but grew up in Clear Lake and Creston. He and his wife have two daughters and three grandkids. He says the best thing about teaching is the students.

Liz_Huggins.pngElizabeth Huggins, English

Casey Pelzer, Health


Trace Petersen, History


Matt Smith, English, grew up in Austin, Texas, and recently moved to Atlantic. He and his wife keep busy with a 5-year old and 3-year-old identical twins. Matt, who has taught ELLs all of his seven years of teaching, says his favorite memory of teaching ELLs was helping a girl from Haiti navigate the ropes to graduate. And his favorite part about teaching is seeing student success.


Pat Wiederien, Art