Teacher and Staff Bios

Kyron White

Hello everyone, my name is Kyron White. I am from Chinle, Arizona. I am from the Many Goats clan and born for the Bitter Water clan. Currently, I am in my first year of teaching. I teach Gifted and Talented students at all three Thoreau schools (Thoreau High, Middle, and Elementary School). I graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s in Political Science – International Relations and minors in Sports Management and Business. Out of college I was a Program Coordinator for Dine College. This meant overseeing the functions of student activities, enrollment, admissions and curriculum planning.

Fun facts: I have studied abroad in Singapore. A small, tiny, miniature county in Asia. While I was there I traveled throughout the Asian continent and explored countries like Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Japan and Malaysia. I am also a huge sports fan! I travel a lot for volleyball tournaments.

My message to my students: “Dream Big and Stay Focused. Always remember where you are from and use that as motivation to see the world!”

Mr. Gorton

Mr. Gorton joined Thoreau Middle School in 2016. He teaches seventh grade English and sixth, seventh, and eighth grade Reading Intervention classes. He earned his undergraduate degree from Washington State University and master’s degree from Western New Mexico University.

Mrs. DeGroat

Health Assistant, I have three teenagers. Married to Coach DeGroat at Thoreau High School. It’s been one year since I got hired; I’m learning something new every day. Born and Raised in Crownpoint. I enjoy following my kids around to their sporting events and being their personal cheerleader. I like baking especially during the holidays. I like watching baseball Go Cubs!!

Mr. Tulabing

Mr. Tulabing is currently teaching 7th Grade Regular, Advanced and Intervention Math classes. He is also the 7th Grade Team Leader and Math Department Head. He graduated from the Philippine Normal University with his bachelor's degree of BS Mathematics for Teachers in 2010 and his masters degree of MAEd in Educational Management in 2015. Mr. Tulabing is in his 8th year of his teaching career.

Ms. Bonto

Ms. Bonto is currently teaching 6th grade and Advanced 7th grade English Language Arts and Study Skills classes. She is also the 6th Grade Team Leader and ELA Department Head. She graduated from the Philippine Normal University with her bachelor's degree of BSE in English in 2010 and her masters degree of MAEd in Reading in 2015. Ms. Bonto is in the 8th year of her teaching career. She taught in Marist School and was awarded for her five years of service and punctuality in 2015. Her masters thesis entitled, "Development of Book Selection Criteria Based on Boys' Reading Interest" has also been successfully published in The Normal Lights, Volume 10, No. 1 in 2016. Lastly, Ms. Bonto is a recipient of the Exemplary Teacher Award for school year 2016-2017.

Mr. Rushmeier

Hi my name is Mark Ruschmeier, I have lived in Thoreau most of my adult live and its home. Still, you can take the boy out of Jersey but harder to take the Jersey out of the boy.
I’ve been teaching in one form or another since I was 17 yrs old! I started as a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor, training lifeguards and teaching different swimming classes. Today I teach World History and Art.
During my time off I enjoy looking at southwest art, and making pottery. Love NM but do miss the oceans so summer time you may find me at a beach.

Mr. Pelto

I currently teach Physical Education at Thoreau mid. This is my 24th year at the mid school. I am originally from Upper Michigan and graduated from Northern Michigan University. I love New Mexico and the culture it offers along with the people and climate. I enjoy mountain biking and golf during my time off. Thoreau Mid Rocks!!!!!!

Verna Leep

After graduating from East Central University in Oklahoma, my teaching journey began at Smith Lake Elementary school where I spent five years teaching fifth graders and learning what it means to be a teacher. The journey continued to Thoreau Middle School, where I spent the next 21 years teaching 7th and then 8th grade language arts. Along the way, my educational trip included coaching basketball, and sponsoring drama and newspaper. I served in a leadership role as language arts department head and 8th grade team leader. My journey in education reached a milestone in 2010 when I received National Board Certification in English Language Arts. After retiring in 2017, I moved back to Oklahoma, but I found I missed the blue skies and bright smiles of New Mexico. My journey has moved forward as I have taken on the role of instructional coach, sharing what I have learned about teaching with others and supporting teachers in leading our students towards their own journey of learning for a successful future.

Ms. Fanning

I was born and raised in McKinley county. My family lived at Church rock where I attended Church Rock Elementary school, then Gallup Mid school and High school. We then moved to Continental Divide and I have been in this area ever since.

I started as an instructional assistant in 1997 while attending college to attain my degree as an educator. I then became the 7th grade Math teacher in 2003. In 2016 I became the 6th grade Math and Science teacher and this year I am teaching 8th Grade United States History.

Being a teacher at Thoreau Middle School has been an extraordinary experience. It is such a privilege to see the students learn, grow and mature within the school year and into adulthood. I love seeing the students as adults. The connections we make at this school last a lifetime.

Dan Berndt

Born before the Nuclear Age in 1945, I obtained my SS# at the age of 12 and started working after school and summers in the Kansas town of Lawrence. Grew up 6 blocks from Haskell University and enjoyed many a pow wow and keeping my car running at the school shop. 1963, I graduated HS and went to work for Chevrolet Dealership ( Van Tyle) in Kansas City. Was going to open a new dealership in Iowa when I got the “Greetings “letter at age 21, I was drafted. My wife of three years and I did not have any children so I was not exempt. Joined the Air Force and served overseas, resulting in divorce and a more worldly view.

Returned to Colorado and was married again. This resulted in three “interesting” years of marriage and divorce, two children and a long period of child support. Started working for the Dept. of Revenue in Denver as a Tax Auditor. In 1978 after being an auditor for several years became the youngest Chief of Employment Tax under Gov. Lamb’s administration. As Chief I was responsible for 130 state employees in Denver and 45 State Auditors around the state. With a Several Millon $ budget I was the first Chief to meet all Federal Standards required by the states. Also had the dubious and sometimes fascinating duty of testifying before legislative committees on budget and federal regulations. Found government very founded in not what you know but who you know.

Married again and Third times a charm, now going on 44 years with two grown children and two grandchildren all living in the town they were born in, Denver.

40’s crisis hits some people harder than others. I quit my job and followed my bliss to become a History Teacher. Returning to College I graduated Cum Laude from Chadron College in the Black Hills of Nebraska. After teaching on Lakota Reservation, at Pine Ridge South Dakota I applied and was accepted to a graduate scholarship program at UNM where I first obtained a Master’s Degree in Multi-Cultural & Curriculum Development. A few years later I was approached by the dean of the Special Ed. Dept. at UNM to study in their program and teaching inner city High School gang kids in a CBI (Community based instruction) I helped write.

After 2 Master degrees I left Albuquerque Schools to start my journey in education. Teaching the Lakota, I was honored with the name “Black Bear who Listens Well” from the Lakota People we moved to First Mesa and the Hopi where I coached for the first time and earned Wrestling Coach of the year in Arizona 1998-1999. My name at Hopi was “Movi Eyes” Movi is the Hopi name for the ancient ones. From there I moved to Wyoming to teach Shoshone and Arapahoe. I Ended up being asked to serve in a one on one teaching position with a special needs child who was violent and couldn’t be in a regular setting. The draw of New Mexico brought me back to Pine Hill with the Navajo. While in Wyoming my wife was beginning work with an inter-tribal group called “The Corns” who work with the traditional seed: corn, beans and squash. I was lucky to visit with the head of the Corns at an honoring ceremony for him, White Eagle (Carl Barnes) a Cherokee, in Tahlequah, Oklahoma in October of 2000. I was honored once again with a name by Grandfather White Eagle. He called me Stone Axe, because I cut through the B…S… of life.

The reality of age finally hit and I headed back to the white man’s world in Grand Junction Colorado. I retired after 10 years in the District. Six of those years with Emotionally Disturbed Students and Four years of D level Students. Retirement did not rest well with me or my wife. When she announced that the freezer was full of trout and I “seriously had to find something to do besides fishing”. The cost of Colorado and the draw of New Mexico sparked the next move. Synchronicity and my wife’s love of northern NM brought us to Bluewater Lake where she caught her first fish in 1956.

The last 3 and one half years have been full of building on our land and meeting new and interesting people. The journey continues.

Sadie Perry

Hello , my name is Sadie Perry . I was born on July 4 of 1962. My clan is naakaii nishli ts’ah yisk’ idnii bashishchiin (Spanish people born into sage brush hill clan) . I have 3 beautiful children, two girls an one boy. I have 6 grandchildren, who are all boys , I’ve been married for 35 years. I graduated from Thoreau High School and went to college in Phoenix, AZ. I’ve worked at St. Bonaventure for 14 years, decided to work as a truck driver of 3 years. Afterwards, I started to miss the teaching environment so started working at Thoreau Middle School for 15 years now. I enjoy working with children, it keeps me feeling young and happy.

Eddie Dela Cruz

I’ve been teaching for 13 years in the U.S, certified in Math, Science, and TESOL. I earned my education and master’s degree in the Philippines. My wife, our four children and family live in three continents. Traveling excites me and I’ve seen almost all states from the east to west coasts. I love meeting wonderful peoples around the world and learn their fantastic races and cultures. Above all, I always thank the Almighty for being of service to my family and humanity wherever I reside.

Corazon Tayaban

Education: Bachelor - Saint Louis University, Baguio City Philippines major in Theology and Language Arts English.
Masters in Educational management at the University of Baguio, Baguio City Philippines
Post Graduate: Diploma in Professional Courses in Special in Special Education at the University of Visayas, Cebu City Philippines.
Experience: 10 years teaching in private schools Philippines (Theology)
18 years teaching in public schools Philippines (Language Arts/Values Education)
6 years teaching in US Special education (Resource in Language Arts)
Licensure: Professional License Secondary Teacher III Philippines
Pre K-12 Special Education License Language and TESOL endorsed

Mrs. Lynch

My name is Barbie Lynch, I am a 7th and 8th grade Science teacher at Thoreau Middle School. I have taught 2nd, 4th & 5th grade at Thoreau Elementary School. I have also taught 6th , 7th & 8th grade science at Thoreau Middle School and 9th & 12th grade Science at Thoreau High School. I was born and raised in Gallup, New Mexico and have lived in Thoreau for 30 years. I love teaching science!!

I am very proud of all my students and their accomplishments!! I enjoy hiking, riding horses and break away roping. I also enjoy sewing, knitting and leather work.

Sue House

I am Sue House and I completed my Bachelors of Science degree in K-8 Elementary Education and a minor in Science at the University of New Mexico, and began teaching at Thoreau Elementary school as a preschool teacher for 3 years. I then went to Smith Lake Elementary and taught 3 years there as a preschool teacher and a kindergarten teacher. I came to Thoreau Middle School as a sixth-grade Science teacher in 2001. Through the years, I have taught 6h and 8th grade Science, 6th grade Social Studies, and 6th grade Ramp-Up Math. My extracurricular duties have included AISES Science Fairs, Navajo Nation Science Fair, coaching cross country for 5 years, coaching 6, 7, 8 grade girls’ basketball, and High School C Team Basketball for 2 years. Throughout the years I have also taken other courses to improve my teaching craft such as Western New Mexico, University of Portland, Navajo community College, College of Ganado, University of Phoenix, John Brown University in Arkansas, I have two children who both graduated from Thoreau High School. My son graduated with his B.A. in architecture from UNM in Albuquerque, and has worked several years with the Boys and Girls Club in Gallup and Albuquerque. He recently taught Math at the Turtle High school in Green Bay, Wisconsin. My daughter went to school at NMSU where she met our son-in-law. They gave us 3 beautiful grandsons! Right now they are both in Hawaii enjoying the sunny beach, sea food and the beautiful environment, while my husband and I are here residing in the lovely town of Thoreau.