Educators & community step up to support new Filipino teachers in Milnor

Valley News Live at 10:00PM KVLY - VOD
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 9:14 PM CDT
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MILNOR, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Milnor Public School had its first day of class on Aug. 23, but their high school math and science teachers didn’t get here until the late night hours of Sept. 9.

“I didn’t believe I’d be here in Milnor. It feels like I’m still dreaming,” says Russel Baredor. She and Orlando Santos are the school’s newest additions to the education team, and they’re from the Philippines. The school found them through a state-approved foreign teacher exchange program.

“They’re very experienced so they will do a wonderful job,” says longtime educator & current substitute Vicki Weber.

Baredor has been teaching for 20 yrs., and Santos is coming in with 18 yrs. of experience.

“I have two double master’s degrees. One of them is Master’s of Arts and Business Administration. I also have a Master’s of Arts and Teaching, specializing in mathematics,” says Santos. “I have my Bachelor of Secondary Education, majoring in chemistry. I have my Master’s in Arts of Teaching, majoring in chemistry,” says Baredor.

Since the two weren’t here until a few days ago, a couple of retired teachers came in to fill that gap.

“Being able to bring a couple of those people back has been phenomenal, especially in this situation,” says Milnor Public School Superintendent Dr. Chris Larson.

Vicki Weber originally had a different long-term substitute job for the year; but the teacher she was going to sub for ended up not needing her. Weber has a special tie to MPS. Her son is the high school principal.

“I was over at my son’s place, the principal, I said, ‘Now, I’m retired again. I don’t have to go to work!’ He said, ‘Oh, you just wait, mom,’” says Weber. She has stood in for Baredor until she arrived in Milnor.

Wayne Hinrichs was a classroom teacher, before he became Lidgerwood’s high school principal for over 20 yrs. Hinrichs is retired now, but he now substitutes for local districts.

“I hadn’t taught algebra or been affiliated with geometry in 30 yrs.,” says Hinrichs. The school asked him to fill in for Santos’ position in the math classroom shortly before the school year started.

“He actually drove over here that day and said, ‘Yup, I’ll be here,’” says Dr. Larson.

“I was so glad Mr. Orlando showed up because I was getting to the end of chapter one,” says Hinrichs.

They’re not the only ones who have shown up for the new residents. The community was able to set them up with bikes and furniture for their apartments.

“Very happy #1 because I was so shocked,” says Santos. Baredor says she has a similar feeling, “It’s great. I’m satisfied with our apartments. I’m very touched.”

To others, the support doesn’t come as a surprise.

“The handful of things that happened are pretty touching, pretty cool, but that’s what small town North Dakota is about,” says Dr. Larson.