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Meet the new teachers

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A “Wildcat-Wowser” panel of veteran teachers, from left: top photo, Principal Jarrad Rinne and teachers Faith Sullins, Jimmie Stephens and Kendra Goforth shared words of wisdom with the new teachers at Licking R-VIII, bottom photo.

By Christy Porter, Managing Editor

Kids will not be the only ones starting a new year at Licking R-VIII. The district and the community welcome several new teachers for the 2023-2024 school year.


Mackenzie Atterberry continues her nine-year teaching career with the second grade at Licking Elementary. She enjoys reading, crafting and watching sports. “This is my tenth year teaching at the elementary level. I live in Plato with my three children, Brooklyn, Blake and Rylen,” shared Atterberry.

Kaitlyn Cook continues a six-year teaching career, as a Kindergarten teacher. Originally from Licking, her hobbies naturally include watching Wildcat basketball and baseball. She also binge watches Netflix and enjoys a good cup of coffee. “I have lived here my whole life, and I’m glad to be back ‘home,’” said Cook. “I’m a proud Wildcat fan and enjoy time with my family.” Cook is also a dog mom to an Aussiedoodle.

Ashley Creek will be teaching third grade. “I’m a first year teacher and coach. I enjoy camping with my family and spending time with my friends,” said Creek. “I’m so excited to begin teaching at the school I went to!” Her hobbies include camping, hiking, reading and board games.

Crystal Keller will teach fourth grade math the 2023-2024 school year. She has been teaching for two-years, but this will be her 11th year in education. Keller is from Licking and Success, and enjoys singing, kayaking, outings with friends and family, and exploring with her four children, John, Lydia, Zane and Ava. She is married to her husband, Robert.

Kermit Lonning begins his first year teaching elementary music. He is from Licking and Houston. “I have been working in the public schools for many years. This year I begin a new adventure in teaching,” shared Lonning. His hobbies include family and music.

Hannah Terrill will be teaching third grade; this is her first year of teaching. She comes from Salem and her hobbies include crafts, flipping stuff, painting and coloring. Terrill has been married three years, and was previously an assistant teacher at a Pre-K daycare for 2-1/2-years. She has two golden retrievers.

Kassidie Werkmeister exuberantly said, “I am beyond excited to start my first year teaching second grade!” From Licking, she is raising a daughter and spending time with the rest of her family. “My family is one of the most important things to me,” she continued. Werkmeister also loves to read.

Junior High

Shenelle Karnes will be teaching English Language Arts and Reading; she has six years of teaching experience. Karnes is originally from Licking and enjoys crocheting and reading. Karnes has been married for 16 years. She and her husband share three children and lots of books.

Eriq Kristek is from Waynesville, and will be teaching junior high math. He joins Licking R-VIII with six years of teaching experience. His hobbies include athletics, farming, hunting and fishing. Kristek played Division II baseball and is finishing his Master’s degree.

Tania Wood will be teaching seventh grade English Language Arts; she joins us with 12-years of teaching experience. Wood came to Licking via Salem and Springfield. Her many hobbies include gardening, taking pictures, sports and the outdoors, including hiking, hunting, fishing and side-by-side riding. “I love sports and we spend most of our days on a field or court,” says Wood, who has three kids, ages 18-, 17- and 14-years old.

High School

Kayla Lewis says, “I am excited for the upcoming year.” This will be Licking-native Lewis’ first year, and she will be teaching high school Special Education. Her hobbies include anything with family and friends, hiking, kayaking, swimming and horseback riding. Lewis has three kids, Ryder, Maxten and Austyn.

Annie Macon teaches Biology, Human Body Systems and Project Lead the Way (PLTW), an innovative project-based learning program that incorporates science, technology, engineering and math. With 18-years of secondary science experience, she has lived all over the United States. She enjoys reading, gardening and repurposing stuff. She may be recognized around the campus as she has been a nurse for the last 10-years, most recently at Licking Elementary. “I am so happy to be returning to teaching,” Macon says.

Tammy Miller just completed 27-years in education. She will be teaching Physical Education at the junior high/high school level. Miller, from West Plains, has coached for 22-years; her son, Mason, is the boys basketball head coach at West Plains and he is married to Sam. Her daughter, McKenna Tavenner, is a nurse and is married to Bronson. Gus and Hattie, two canines, are also part of the family. “My hobbies are spending time with my family, fitness, and watching all kinds of sport,” said Miller.

George Snelling has been teaching for 17-years, and joins the staff as a high school science teacher. Snelling is from Licking and enjoys comics, computers, his pets and church. His favorite candy bar is a Reese’s Fast Break; he loves computers and new tech, and lives with three Boston Terriers.

Licking Educational Alternative Department

Donna Shanks is a LEAD instructor, bringing 25-years of teaching experience to Licking R-VIII. Shanks is from Newburg and her hobbies include trail riding, camping and visiting her son. “I am married to my best friend, I’m the proud mom of a soldier, and I love horses and my blue heeler, Ike,” said Shanks. She is joined in the LEAD Department with Marcie Ammons, Jordan Pounds and Crystal Reiner.

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