Prairie View adds six teachers to middle and high schools
Updated: Sep 28, 2022
New teachers for Prairie View Middle School and Prairie View High School include, front row from left, Kara Speer, Ashley Richardson, Jacoby Johnson; back row, James Beltz, Nathan Haefele, and Jordan Kupersmith. (Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)
LA CYGNE – Prairie View High School and Middle School will see some fresh new faces on the teaching staff this year. Three of the new teachers – freshman English, business – will only be at the high school.
The new music teacher will be in both schools. A new middle school math and physical education teacher will be coaching basketball and volleyball, and the sixth-grade science teacher is hoping for some extra duty assignments to further participate in school activities. And a new resource teacher will work with sixth- and seventh-grade students while coaching football and basketball for the high school.
James Beltz will be teaching choir and general music at the middle school and high school this year. He is certified to teach K-12 music, both instrumental and vocal. He also will be the music director for the high school musical and will direct the middle school play
This will be his 20th year teaching. For the last 15 years he taught K-12 classes in the Pleasanton school district.
Beltz grew up about five miles south of Fulton, Kan., and graduated from Fort Scott High School. He graduated from Pittsburg State University with a bachelor’s degree in piano performance in 1999, and received a bachelor’s degree in music education from Pitt State in 2003.
“After learning about my students, I want to expand my choral students' singing experiences and build a strong program that is very visible,” Beltz said.
He is married with four children; three boys and a girl.
“Our oldest son works for Cerner in Kansas City, our two middle sons are in the U.S. Army, and our youngest is a junior at Ottawa University on a competitive cheer Scholarship,” he said. “She is majoring in education and planning on teaching junior high English.”
Nathan Haefele will teach ninth-grade English at the high school. In addition to being certified to teach English in grades 6-12, he also is certified in K-12 music education.
For the past three years he taught English for students in seventh to 12 grades in Glasco, Kan., which is north of Salina. However, he is very familiar with eastern Kansas.
He was assistant band director in Louisburg for three years and taught elementary school band in that district for a year. He recently completed a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, and he holds a bachelor’s of music education and a certification in English.
“It is my goal to help my students understand and improve on their reading and writing skills,” Hefele wrote in an email. “English skills are very important for most classes and especially for going into college and many careers. I want my students to have more confidence in their ability to read and interpret text in any area going forward in life.”
Haefele lives in Louisburg with his wife and two children. His family likes walking around nature areas, zoos, parks, and enjoying the outdoors. He said his music career allowed him to travel quite a bit, and his notable destinations include New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Italy.
Jacoby Johnson is replacing Andrea Richardson as business teacher and FBLA sponsor at the high school. And she comes to the classroom with a solid background in business.
The Drexel (Mo.) High School graduate holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in accounting. She also earned master’s degrees in both business administration and special education. Prior to being hired by Prairie View, Johnson taught at Miami R-1 school in Amoret, Mo.
Both she and her husband are professional rodeo contestants and perform all over the Midwest. The two and their 1-year-old son live on a farm in Mapleton.
Jordan Kupersmith has been hired as a resource teacher for sixth- and seventh-grade students. In addition, he is certified to teach sixth- and seventh-grade social studies and K-12 physical education and weight training.
He will also be coaching high school football and basketball.
After growing up in Overland Park and graduating from St. Thomas Aquinas High School, he earned a bachelor’s degree in social science and a master’s degree in secondary education. He is currently working on a master’s degree in special education, and his teaching experience includes teaching eighth-grade history at Spring Hill Middle School.
“My expectations are to make a positive impact on the students and players I interact with and to help them exceed their own expectations and limitations,” Kupersmith said.
A La Cygne resident, he and his wife Megan, who is a graduate of Prairie View, have three children and one on the way. He said he enjoys watching the Chiefs play football and golfing.
Ashley Richardson will not have traveled far from her roots when she begins teaching sixth-grade science in the middle school. She grew up in Louisburg and graduated from Louisburg High School in 2010.
With a bachelor’s degree in education, Richardson taught at Nike Elementary School in Gardner for six years – five years in third grade and one year in fourth grade. While she doesn’t have any supplemental assignments so far, she said she would be happy to take on other duties.
Her family includes her husband, Matt, and her daughter, Adeline. Plus the family is very close to a niece and nephew as well. The family lives north of Linn Valley, and Richardson said she loves to do anything outdoors with a special passion for angling for catfish.
“My goal is to pass on a love of science to our students,” she said. “Always stay curious!”
Eighth-grade students will see Kara Speer in both the classroom and the gym. The new teacher, who grew up in Tulsa, Okla., attended Metro Christian Academy there.
In the classroom, Speer will teach eighth-grade math, but she’ll double as a physical education instructor for eighth-graders as well. While this is her first year teaching, she served as a paraeducator in physical education last year.
She holds a bachelor’s degree with a major in kinesiology and minors in education and psychology. And while she was earning her degree, she also played basketball for University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals, an NCAA Division 1 school. So in addition to her teaching duties, Speer will also serve as a coach for high school basketball and volleyball.
A resident of Linn Valley, Speer has a family connection to the middle school. Her aunt, Gretl Shelton, teaches eighth-grade English.
Her plans for this year? “My goal is to build relationships with the students while making them excited to learn,” she said.