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5abeb3d9e333e (Left to right) Sandra Harman, SPED Teacher Gina Witt, Kathy Almquist, David Noren, Vickie Leitner, Gail Cathcart, Tiffany Witt, Merry Reeh, Tammy Holllibaugh
(Left to right) Sandra Harman, SPED Teacher Gina Witt, Kathy Almquist, David Noren, Vickie Leitner, Gail Cathcart, Tiffany Witt, Merry Reeh, Tammy Holllibaugh

Meet our para-professionals

DCHS Journalism

March 30, 2018

Decatur Community High School is lucky to have eight paras helping students and teachers.  Four of them began working at our school this year.  Meet our paras.   

 

Mrs. Witt

By Isabel Grafel

Tiffany Witt grew up in Bayard, Neb. and has been a para at Decatur Community High School since August of 2017. She attended Bayard High School and Scottsbluff High School. She then graduated from cosmetology school and attended Western Nebraska Community College for basic business and engine rebuild classes.

Mrs. Witt is married to Tyler Witt. They have two children. Trevor is 7 years old and in second grade, and Tessa is 5 years old and in kindergarten. Before working as a para, Mrs. Witt owned a daycare for nine years. Her hobbies include doing fun things with her family, exercising, and running long distances.

Mrs. Witt said her favorite subject to help students with is math: "I love working with kids and watching them grow."

Mrs. Cathcart

By Chloe Withington

Gail Cathcart has been working as a paraprofessional at Decatur Community High School since 2004. Before working at DCHS, she worked at an alternative school for boys in Monument for three years.

Mrs. Cathcart said that her favorite part of the job is getting to watch her students grow through the years. Her favorite class is algebra along with physical science. She said she likes numbers and the formulas that come with these two classes.

Mrs. Cathcart was born in Flandreau, South Dakota where she spent her early childhood years. At the start of grade school, her father was in the army and was transferred to Norton. She graduated from Norton Community High School and attended Colby Community College.

Mrs. Cathcart is married to Bill Cathcart and they have three children: Sarah Cathcart, Baron and Emma Green. They also have two teenage grandchildren, Haley and Kohen, who live in Kearney.

As a family they enjoy going to the Kansas City Royal baseball games and do a lot of boating. Every two years they go to Flandreau for family reunions during the summer.

This year her husband and son took her to AT&T stadium for the national football game between her loved Dallas Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Mrs. Hollibaugh

By Aspen Gallentine

Tammy Hollibaugh began working at Decatur Community High School in October.  Before moving to Oberlin, she lived in Goodland. She was also a foster mom to two sons, hoping to make a difference in children's life.

She grew up in Wallace, Neb. on the Gibson Herford Ranch.  She attended Wallace High School and North Platte Community College. She has a medical transcription certificate.

 “I love working with the math students,” she said. “My favorite part of my job is getting to work with some pretty awesome students. I love coming to work because it is a very rewarding job.” 

Mrs. Hollibaugh and her husband Mike have three children.  She also has three stepchildren and nine grandchildren, ranging in age from five months to 16 years.

Mrs. Hollibaugh likes to spend time with her grandchildren and her dogs, and she and her husband like to watch football, especially the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Some of her hobbies are quilting, working with wool, gardening and baking.

“I go home every night feeling so good about my job," she said. 

 

Mrs. Leitner

By Jean Soderlund

 

Vickie Leitner has been a para at Decatur Community High School since August  2015, but she was a para at Oberlin Elementary School for 16 years before transferring the high school.

Mrs. Leitner grew up on a farm south of Oberlin and moved into town after the fourth grade. She attended Oberlin Elementary School for grades 5 and 6 and Decatur Community High School for grades 7 through 12.

She and her husband Royce have three children: Alissa, Ryan, and Roland, and nine grandchildren, ranging in age from 21 months to 18 years. Her husband is the pastor of the Assembly of God church. 

"I enjoy helping kids be successful in learning and improving their skills,” said Mrs. Leitner. "My favorite classes are 7th and 8th grade history and geography. I like relearning facts that I forgot from my high school days."

Mrs. Reeh

By Jean Soderlund

 

Merry Reeh lives in Atwood currently, but works in Oberlin every school day. She began working as a para in September.

 

Mrs. Reeh worked at Development Services of Northwest Kansas for the past ten years.  Before that, she was a para in Atwood for two years. She was also a caretaker for an 100-year-old woman from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. She would take her out shopping and to eat, but Starbucks was a requirement every night.

 

Mrs. Reeh grew up in Phillipsburg and attended college in Florida.  She worked as a dental assistant for 30 years.

Mrs. Reeh has a two grown children, a son, who lives in Oberlin, and a daughter who lives in Atwood and goes to college. She also has two granddaughters and four grandsons, ranging in ages from one year-old to college age. Mrs. Reeh has been a widow for 16 years.

She enjoys sewing, single dances, and cross stitching. She is currently cross stitching blankets for her grandchildren.  She also enjoys playing with her grandchildren over her lunch break.

Merry helps students with computers, wood shop, American history and English. “The thing I enjoy most about my job is being around the kids and helping them with everyday challenges.”

Kathy Almquist

By Isabel Grafel

 

Kathy Almquist has been a para-professional at Decatur Community High School since 2002. She grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire) and later in Chicago, Illinois.

 

Ms. Almquist attended the Ubangi Academy in the Democratic Republic of Congo (and Von Stuenben High School in Chicago. She went to college at North Park College in Chicago and has a bachelor's degree in English with minors in history and French.

 

She also attended graduate school at North Park Theological Seminary and at Northeastern Illinois University (both in Chicago) where she earned a master’s degree in linguistics with an emphasis in adult Teaching English as a Second Language.

 

Before coming to Oberlin, Ms. Almquist taught English classes at Northeastern Illinois University. She then worked for World Relief teaching English to immigrants and newly arrived refugees.

 

"I most enjoy helping students with language skills and understanding literature," she said.

She also said she loves one-on-one and small group tutoring with students. "It is rewarding to be part of ‘light bulb’ moments, and to witness and know that I have been a part of students' academic growth over time," she said.

 

Ms. Almquist is very involved in her church. She loves music, literature, travel, and learning new things.  She has three cats; she plays piano and French horn, and she is a member of the Oberlin Community Band.

 

"Having grown up overseas, I am multilingual, love learning about other cultures, and tend to view life from multiple perspectives,” she said.

 

David Noren

By Kaylen Ashley

 

Another relatively new para is David Noren. He began working at Decatur Community High School in November of 2016. 

Mr. Noren grew up in Oberlin and was homeschooled for all four years of high school, and then he attended Central Christian College in McPherson. He has a bachelor's degree in biology.

His favorite subject to help students with is biology. He said, “Biology is something that I really enjoy helping students to learn. I like helping students to better understand things that they do not quite grasp.”

 

His favorite hobbies are reading, gardening, and cooking.

Sandra Harman

By AJ Zillinger

 

    Our newest para is Sandra Harman. She started February 1. Her husband, Scott, grew up in Norcatur and graduated from Decatur Community High School.

Mrs. Harman is originally from Switzerland. She went to school in Switzerland at Hotelfachschule Belvoirpark, Zurich, where she majored in hotel and restaurant  management, and then to Fachhochschule Nordwest Schweiz for three semesters to study applied psychology.

 

Before working at DCHS, Mrs. Harman was a stay-at-home mom to her three-year old, Aden; a dog trainer, and a rancher.

Her favorite subjects that she likes helping students with are life science and health science. “I like learning along with the students and helping them to find their own way to success,” she said.

She also likes reading and learning new languages. She is currently fluent in seven languages: Swiss German, German (she said that Germans can not understand Swiss German), Italian, French, English, Russian and Hindi. “Russian and Hindi are rusty and only spoken,” Mrs. Harman said.

 

Mrs. Harman also enjoys working with animals. She started training dogs when she was nine and trained other dogs for competition at the age of 13. She is certified through the Animal Behavior College and was one of two main trainers of juveniles and dogs where they helped kids achieve their goals with their dogs, as well as competing on a national and international level.

 

Now she offers classes and private lessons in basic obedience but also works with the K-9 unit of the Dodge City police department.

Currently she is also working on her practitioner for horse acupuncture.

 

 

 

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