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WHES Scholars Welcomed Back by Familiar Faces

Woodmen Hills Elementary School may have welcomed some new students for the first day of class Aug. 2, but some things were as constant as ever. As young learners arrived, several long-standing staff members were there to greet them for another year. The WHES family has three team members who have worked at the school since it opened in 2000.

JoAnne Gebhardt, third grade teacher, helps students get settled in on the first day of class at WHES Aug. 2.


JoAnne Gebhardt, third grade teacher, is a seasoned, well-traveled teacher at the school. She has taught both third and fourth grades at WHES, and her educational career includes instructing students in three different countries and four states. “I’m excited for another year,” shared Gebhardt. “This gives me a whole new crop of learners to grow.”


Mary Hopper, project-based learning (PBL) teacher, will mark her 25th year of teaching, all of which have been in School District 49. Hopper first started her career at Falcon Elementary before moving to WHES. Her experience includes teaching kindergarten through second grade, and the 2018-19 school year will mark her third year instructing PBL. “Each year I look for new ways to deepen my own learning, so I can challenge students,” Hopper remarked. “The world around us is changing, and I want to keep up.”


Shirley Milazzo, health assistant, also made the move from Falcon Elementary to WHES when the doors first opened. After 20 years with District 49, Milazzo is more than pleased with her career path. “I love it here,” she commented. “It’s like family.”

Shirley Milazzo, health assistant, updates student information at WHES on the first day of school Aug. 2.   The Weatherby children patiently wait to enter their classrooms on the first day of school at WHES Aug. 2.  . Mary Hopper, project-based learning teacher, shares an activity with students on the first day of school at WHES Aug. 2.

Amy Matisek
719-495-1149, ext. 2136