Kriegel takes pride in moving the MCSD forward, elaborating with staff

Gretchen Kriegel (right) works with Dana Merfeld, math consultant with Grant Wood AEA, on new math curriculum for the MCSD. Kriegel’s job involves collaborating with teachers and staff across the district with every course, helping to implement initiatives, programming, and curriculum. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Panther Professionals
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Panther Professionals is a weekly series highlighting educators, administrators, staff and aides who are dedicated to the future of the Monticello Community School District.

     “I feel blessed to be here,” spoke Gretchen Kriegel, the curriculum director of the Monticello school district.

     Just visiting with Kriegel, you get a sense of her love, excitement, and passion for the MCSD.

     “The staff here is great,” she said.

     Kriegel has been with the MCSD for 11 years now, helping to implement and adopt curriculum throughout the district. The latest endeavor was adopting Standards Referenced Reporting, which was quite an undertaking, but proving to be successful.

     “This fall we had full implementation across the district,” explained Kriegel.

     Up until now, the grading system was piloted in different grades and courses throughout the district.

     “Forty percent of the courses were already doing it,” added Kriegel. “And most schools are heading this way.”

     Standards Referenced Reporting simply means students aren’t receiving letter grades. Kriegel said it’s about students are learning versus what they’re earning (in grades). “It takes the competition out of learning,” she said.

     Kriegel works with every grade level throughout the MCSD, every subject/course matter assisting teams of teachers researching curriculum that’s best for the students here in Monticello. She said she sees the dedication the MCSD teachers have in going above and beyond for their students.

     “They go out and look for initiatives for the kids,” she said. “They try to find ways to make it happen, find the funding. We have really great teachers and an administration that does great work with the kids.” Kriegel admitted her job is made easier by the outstanding staff.

     Kriegel said the school board has always been open to ideas from the teachers, and has supported the funding of such initiatives.

     In addition to her curriculum work, Kriegel also works with the districts’ leadership teams, professional development, and TLS (Teacher Leadership System).

     “I work with the instructional and technology coaches,” she said. “We all support each other in the work that we do.”

     Special programming also falls under Kriegel’s realm of duties. That entails talented and gifted, special education, ELL (English Language Learners), counseling, teaching mentoring, and more.

     In the five years since the MCSD has implemented the ELL program, Kriegel said the amount of students involved as increased significantly.

     With the counseling staff, she said they focus on the at-risk students.

     Kriegel’s whiteboard in her office goes into detail about which new staff is paired with which district mentors.

     “Basically I deal with everything every child receives,” she said of her job.

     As you can see, Kriegel’s job is not easy to explain, yet she loves every minute of it.

     “I just love the daily interaction with the teachers and school administration,” she said. That’s why Kriegel wanted an office within the middle school versus the district office. She wanted to be around students.

     “I love working with kids and collaborating with educators,” she added.

     Kriegel earned her undergraduate degree in education from Winona State. She also her master’s degree from Drake University in education specialist, with a superintendent endorsement.

     “That’s been very beneficial with working with different education systems and programs here,” she said.

     Before taking on the role as curriculum director, Kriegel taught for 10 years at three different schools. She also worked for Keystone AEA for a few years.

     “But I missed the kids,” she said of getting back into a school. “I identify with schools, where you can see the impact of the work you do on a daily basis.”

     Kriegel said she never intended to end up where she is today, but now feels Monticello is where she’s meant to be.

     At the start of the school year, Kriegel also started working for the Vinton-Shellsburg School District. She does the same work for that district one day a week.

     “It was a professional challenge broadening my relationships and shared information,” she said. “It gives me the opportunity to help implement what the MCSD is already doing, coaching their coaches.”

     Kriegel said that has been the eye-opening aspect of her job, collaborating with so many different staff.

     “Monticello has initiatives and programs in place from K-12 for every kid,” she said. “Not every district can say that. People here are willing to do the work and take risks for the kids.”

     Kriegel and her husband, Scott, who is also in education, live with their three daughters in Center Point. Their girls are in grades second, fifth and a junior in high school.

     The Kriegel family stays busy attending their girls’ many sporting events during the week. One thing Kriegel takes pride in is designating one day a month to a family outing to spend time together outside of work and play.

     “We love to travel and go on road trips together,” she said.



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