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Father and Son Lead Industrial Arts at Eagleview Middle School

A father-son teaching duo at Eagleview Middle School (EMS) share special bonds; their passion for education, their first name and a hallway.

Peter Hanenberg, Industrial Arts teacher at EMS explained, “Our classrooms are right next door to each other, so now everyone calls it Hanenberg Hallway.”

His son, also named Peter, started teaching two years ago when his father mentioned an opening at his school.

“When the old woodshop teacher retired, I told him he would be perfect for the job,” the senior Hanenberg said.

When they’re not in the classroom, the duo also coaches the school’s wrestling and football team together. As Peter Sr. eyes retirement, he acknowledges working with son is a gift.

“He grew up listening to me talk about students, teach in the classroom and now we bounce ideas and woes of work off each other,” he explained.

The Hanenberg’s story is just one of hundreds across Academy District 20 (ASD20). Most families report, they didn’t intend to work for the same organization, but were convinced after hearing about their family member’s experiences. In 2019, research by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics reports, “19% of the children of teachers go on to become teachers.”

Recruiting Family Members to Join to ASD20

The McClendon-Miller family argues that going to school in a ASD20 school and later working there is almost a family tradition.

“​There are 13 of our family members who are either attending school, have graduated from or are an employee of ASD20,” explained Katie McClendon, a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) for Literary for the district.

Every Friday, her family gathers for a weekly dinner, where McClendon and her cousin, Kelly Miller, a Special Education Resource Teacher at Prairie Hills Elementary School, are often found brainstorming ideas for the classroom.

“Katie is so knowledgeable in education! She is constantly giving me ideas to use with my students,” Miller said.

Miller’s inspiration to join the ASD20 family started when her aunt, Kim McClendon, Katie’s mother, often bragged about her 18 years at ASD20.

“I have always said what a great district ASD20 is, I’m not sure if that’s why Kelly and Katie applied or not, but I would like to think so,” Kim McClendon explained.

A Family’s Dedication to Education

The Wuerth family has given a combined 60 years of their professional life to ASD20. It started in 1988, when Jonathan Wuerth, started as a teacher at High Plains Elementary School before joining the team at School in the Wood where he is now the principal. In 1996, his wife, Tammy Wuerth, joined ASD20 as a Special Education and remained in the district until she retired in 2021. She now works part-time at EHES.

At the time, their daughter Kendra was just eight months old. More than two decades later, Kendra was inspired to become a kindergarten teacher at EHES.

After decades in education, the Wuerth’s try to avoid “bringing work home,” but their conversations always circle back to their days in the classroom.

“We share our thoughts, ideas and often our funny stories of what we’ve experienced working with students over the years,” Wuerth said.

The common ground between the three is one they hold dear. Wuerth writes, “Having a family member to share our successes with has been valuable, and often heart-warming.”

Teacher Traditions at the Holidays

Bringing work home for another ASD20 family comes in the shape of coffee cups.

Matt Stewart, a Social Studies Teacher at Village High School said, “These gifts are so thoughtful, of course, but there is no way we could drink from all of them.”

Stewart’s wife Janna, a first-grade teacher at Douglass Valley Elementary School and their sister-in-law, Torrie Fuller, a third-grade teacher at EHES have found a creative way to disperse the cups to their family members.

“It’s not uncommon to find these in our family’s White Elephant gift exchange on Christmas Eve,” Matt Stewart said.

Mother-Daughter Duos

The most common of familial connections in Academy District 20 is a mother-daughter duo. Heather Molascon, a secretary at Air Academy High School and her daughter Lydia Molascon, a Special Education Paraprofessional at Eagleview Middle School love when they run into each other in their building’s hallways.

“When I used to work at Eagleview Middle School, I loved seeing Lydia at various times throughout the day,” Heather explained. “I had some proud mom moments seeing her work and hearing from various other teachers and staff what an amazing job she’s doing.”

At Timberview Middle School (TMS), another mother-daughter duo loves having someone who understands what it’s like to make a career change and now work with students.  Kristen Smith is a principal’s secretary and her mother; Carol Wright works as a Special Education paraprofessional. Both worked in the corporate world before finding their home at TMS.

“This is so different from other kinds of careers. It’s good to have someone else to brainstorm with and who understands what it’s like working in a school,” Smith said.