THE STORY OF US ...
Our mission at Sidney Public School District is to develop confident and powerful learners. We achieve this by employing many incredible people who care for students well beyond the classroom. Here are a few of their stories. We hope that during your time at Sidney Public Schools you felt appreciated, inspired, and safe to grow and learn. We hope that you were impacted in a positive manner and maybe one of these incredible individuals helped you through a learning difficulty, or maybe they changed your life? We would love to hear your story and help showcase our teachers, coaches, and staff members, both current and retired. Being a teacher or coach is a very time-consuming challenge and we want to help showcase our staff for all they have done and continue to do. Please share your story via the link below and we will be showcasing those stories on our social media platforms as well as our website. Please feel free to share photos also!
7th Grade Science
Spirit Club Sponsor
Assistant Cross Country Coach
Mrs. Joydene McCarville has been a part of the Sidney Middle School staff since 1996. Her smile is one of the first things you can see when you enter the building in the morning as she stands in the hallway to greet students. She loves being an educator and it’s something she has always wanted to be since she used to “play school” with her siblings growing up in Wood River, Nebraska. She thought of joining the Air Force or possibly being a Lab Tech; a few decades of students have been blessed by her decision to become a teacher.
Joydene recalled a conversation she had with a family doctor when she was on her way to becoming a teacher. The doctor had told her that there were a lot of people studying to be teachers and a lot of people would be applying for the same jobs as her, so what would set her apart? (She said 85 applicants used to compete for a single teaching job) Joydene told me the story and with a big smile on her face, she recalled just what she told him …”Well then, I will just have to work harder on being one of the best” and she has done exactly that!!
Billy Graham once said “A coach will impact more people in one year than the average person will in an entire lifetime.” When I think of this quote, I think of Shawn Dillehay. He is most commonly known as “Mr. D.” or “Coach D.” by the 2 decades of students who have had him as a teacher/coach. Coach Dillehay has been a coach, a teacher, and a mentor in this community for 21 years. He has coached middle school football for 21 years and has been a part of the Red Raider Boys Basketball coaching staff for 19 years. In addition to school sports, he coaches youth basketball and baseball.
Coach Dillehay grew up in Brush, Colorado and said he grew up in a gym watching his father coach sports. He played basketball and baseball in school and graduated from Brush High School in 1991. He went on to play college baseball at the University of Northern Colorado. He graduated from college in 1997. I asked him why he became a teacher and he smiled and said “I wanted to be involved with kids, teaching them skill development and a love for athletics.” Easy to see he has passed that passion along to so many previous and current students of Sidney Public Schools.
Assistant Boys Basketball Coach
Director of Operations
When I see the red truck drive by, I know I will be greeted with a warm smile and a friendly wave. The man in the red truck I am referring to is Sergio Guerrero. Sergio has worked for Sidney Public Schools for 14 years. His official job title is Head Custodian, Director of Operations for Sidney Public Schools. He is also a bus driver for the district. You can see him all over the district and one thing is for sure, when you see him, you will be greeted with a smile and a “can do” attitude.
Sergio was born and raised in Zacatecas, Mexico. He graduated high school in 1990. During his high school years he participated in soccer and baseball. When I asked him about the size of his school, he compared it to the old school in Lorenzo. He said “it was a very small town.” Sergio came to the United States in 1996. He was 23 years old and didn’t speak English. He taught himself the English language and worked 2 jobs to make a living. He started out in Colorado for 4 years but came to Sidney and said at the time “we had no family here and no friends at all in Sidney, but that’s the thing I love about this town, everyone is friendly and makes you feel right at home!”
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Carlos Flores to ask him about his life, his thoughts on athletics, and about his military service. Carlos is married to the love of his life and has been since 1970. Together they have 2 amazing daughters and 5 grandchildren. His love for athletics and watching athletes (especially his grandchildren) compete is very obvious. He has served our country during Vietnam and will tell you that his entire life is such a blessing. Family is everything to Carlos. No question about it.
Carlos was born in Scottsbluff and raised in Bayard, Nebraska. He told me “I am in the middle of 5 children, I have 2 older siblings and 2 younger.” Carlos loved sports, even as a young man. He actually was allowed to play football and run cross country at the same time in high school. He laughed and said “I would do football practice, then after practice, I would go run cross country!” The Bayard cross country team won the Class C state championship both his junior and senior year. He also competed in basketball and track. I had heard from his grandchildren that he was pretty fast in high school. Carlos is very humble, and when I asked him if he was fast, he just smiled and said “I ran in the 4:30’s for the mile. That’s not that fast for today’s kids!” He told me about his junior year when his track team missed being state champions by 1 point. They went back senior year and won the Class C state championship. He told me that Bayard was so blessed with athletes and they split the team one year and half of the team went to Sidney and the other half went to Torrington for a meet. You could tell it was a great memory for him as he laughed and said “we still won both meets!” He also told me about a time when he lost a shoe during a race, “I was running on the Sidney track and my shoe came off halfway through the race. I knew my coach would kill me if I stopped, so I just finished the race with one shoe.”
Pictured above with his wife Linda and daughters Laura Leah and Tanya
Sidney Public Schools Employee, Coach, and longtime Sidney Resident.
2nd Grade Teacher
Anne Belieu has always known she wanted to be a teacher. Since she was a 2nd grader herself, which is ironic because she teaches 2nd grade. When I asked her if she had always wanted to be a teacher, she didn’t hesitate in answering “yes, always!” If teaching had not been an option, she said she would have most likely have gone into nursing. Anne said she’s always thought teaching was a great way to build relationships with others. She knew this was her calling. Teaching would be her way to help others!
Anne grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska and was a 1977 graduate of Lincoln Southeast High School. After high school, she attended Kearney State (now the University of Nebraska at Kearney) and graduated from there in 1981. Anne student taught in Sidney in a 1st grade classroom. She got her first teaching job in Sidney and has been a blessing to 2nd graders of Sidney Public School District for over 36 years. When Anne started in Sidney at North Elementary, the school was a K-4 school. With the restructuring of our district, Anne still teaches 2nd grade but is now at South Elementary.
Brandon Ross is the Sidney Middle School principal in Sidney, Nebraska. He has made a career out of helping 7th & 8th grade students succeed. His entire educational career spans many professional opportunities, but they all happened within the halls of Sidney Middle School.
Let’s start our story in Bridgeport, Nebraska first! Brandon grew up in Bridgeport where he attended kindergarten through 12th grade as a Bridgeport Bulldog. He was active in football and basketball in school. He was even a member of the boxing club! I asked him what his favorite sport was growing up. It didn’t take much thought for him to tell me all about his days as a linebacker and a running back for his high school football team. Football was his first true love. His second true love was his purchase of a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am. “I paid $5,000 for it when I was 14 years old. I had a job, but not all the money so my Dad co-signed a loan for me. I still have photos of it. Oh man, it was a beautiful car!” He proceeded to show me photos of it and mentioned that he’s trying to find it to buy it back.
Middle School Principal
Pictured with her husband Ryan and their children Sam and Blake
School Counselor - Grade 12
If you have had an opportunity to be in Sidney High School since 2011, you have most likely met Mrs. Tess Plummer. Tess started working for Sidney Public Schools in 2010. Her work began in our special education department and although her job has changed and grown over the past decade, she will always hold a special place in her heart for where her job began. Currently her official title is Director of Student Programs for grades 9-12, and School Counselor for grade 12 but as you will see in this showcase, she does far more for the students of Sidney High School than those titles can encompass.
Tess grew up in Sidney and was a 2004 graduate of Sidney High School. She was a “12 sport athlete” meaning for 4 years, she participated in 3 sports. She spoke of her days as a high school athlete and told me about running cross country, playing basketball, and competing in track. When asked which sport she liked the best, she thought for a minute and said “I loved playing basketball but loved the environment of cross country and track with my teammates.” She said “I think running was my strength!” Beyond sports Tess was involved in National Honors Society and “S” Club.
Carla Brauer (Weyerts) was part of the 1st graduating class of Leyton High School in 1979. There were 9 kids in her junior class at Gurley, 7 boys and 2 girls. She recalls thinking combining with Dalton to form Leyton High School with a combined class of 24 would be horrible. She laughed when she told me about their “slogan” for their recent 40 year class reunion - “First out the door plus 40 years more.” She loved growing up in a small town community and grew up on a farm east of Gurley. She was very active in high school, and participated in all musical events, Children’s Theater, Pep Club, Class Officer, Speech, Choir, Track, VB, and BB. She said kids had to do everything in a small town school or there wouldn’t be enough kids to field a team. Carla was part of a team that participated in the 1st Nebraska Girls’ State Basketball Tournament. It was her sophomore year and she said she did get to play in the game.
When asked if she always wanted to be a teacher, her immediate response was an absolute,”YES!” She remembers she was one of only 2 girls in her class K-8 and she said she remembers her first school workbook. It was light blue and had elephants on it and was a math book. She said she also remembers the fat pencils they used to use for school. She laughed and said she can even remember what she was wearing on her first day of Kindergarten!
West Elementary Guidance Counselor
Pictured with his wife Brooke and children Zella and Case and their pup Lady
West Elementary Principal
Seems like just yesterday that Bryan Schoening was playing basketball in the Sidney Middle School gym for the Red Raiders (#44) and this fall (2021), he will begin a new adventure as the West Elementary Principal. Bryan is a 2009 graduate of Sidney High School and is proud to be raising his children in the same small town he grew up in. Although he was born in Grand Island, he has called Sidney home since he was in 1st grade. He is a coach, sponsor for the Sidney Raider Anglers, and has been a math teacher at the high school since 2014. He and his wife Brooke have two children and a lot of passion and love for this town.
Bryan played football and basketball for the Raiders. He has many great memories from his time as a Raider and proudy informed me, “we got 3rd place at State Basketball my senior year!” He told me he wanted to be a teacher since his senior year of high school. He said, “I had some great teachers and I enjoyed math class, so I wanted to be a math teacher. Mr. Schiessler showed me what a really good Geometry teacher was like, and I wanted to be able to teach a difficult subject like Geometry well like he did. He was amazing! Senior year I was able to participate in a student teaching program at the high school and I was able to help out in Mrs. Sylvester’s class and Mrs. King’s classrooms at West; and that solidified my decision to become a teacher.” He smiled and said, “I know the important impact that my teachers made on my life and I wanted to be able to make that same difference with my students one day.”
I saw a quote last week that said “I’m a lunch lady, what’s your superpower?” instantly, I thought of Cindy Curtis. Cindy is the Food Service Director for Sidney Public School District. Cindy is incredibly driven, goal oriented, and as kind as she is hard working. Growing up in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, her family ran a restaurant and her mom was a caterer for over 60 years. Cindy loved to cook but said she had already been everything from a dishwasher to a waitress to a cook and there was no way she was going to grow up and be in the food service industry. Someone in her family told her “it’s in your blood” to be in this business. They were right!
Cindy was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Minnesota and graduated from Greenway High School in 1989. She played basketball, swam, and ran track in high school. When I asked her what events she ran in track, she laughed like it was a hundred years ago, then told me she ran the 100m and 300m hurdles and the 1600m run. She said “I love running and said even up until about 5 years ago, I was running 5 miles a day.” After graduation, she attended Hibbing College, where she continued to play basketball and received a medical lab tech degree.
Food Service Director
Steve Mattoon is a 1969 graduate of Sidney High School, who clearly has a service oriented heart as he has spent over 34 years as a dedicated member of the Sidney Public Schools Board of Education. He joined the school board to give something back for the education he had received. During his senior year at Sidney High, SHS was State Golf Champions, State Track Champions, and top 5 in Cross Country, Football and Wrestling and received the Class B All Sports Trophy. Steve graduated from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln and later, the UNL College of Law. He has been practicing law in Sidney since 1976.
One of his highlights of being a school board member was being a part of the board while his 2 daughters were in school. During his 3 decades as a board member, Steve has seen a great deal of academic accomplishments happen in the Sidney School District. He commented on how rewarding it was to be a small part of Sidney’s success. He also reflected on the academic and extracurricular achievements of Sidney Schools. “It’s been a great time and I have enjoyed working with students, teachers, and administrators. Many great things have happened here and I am concerned for the future of our community but can say it’s a great place to raise kids and practice law. Sidney may be going through a tough time right now but we will band together and rise up strong, just like we have had to do before.”
Retired School Board Member
Sidney Public School District
Mr. Mike Brockhaus has been with Sidney Public Schools for 14 years and recently announced he would be moving to Elgin, Nebraska to be the Superintendent of Elgin Public Schools starting in the 2020-2021 school year. Mike’s career started 29 years ago in Hayes Center, Nebraska. Before we visit that, let’s talk about young Mike Brockhaus.
Mike grew up in Madison, Nebraska, a small town in Eastern Nebraska. He graduated from Madison High School in 1987. As a middle school/high school student, Mike was involved in band (alto tenor sax from 4th - 12th grade) as well as football, basketball, and track. He laughed when he remembered a time he was “Dragon of the Week” for placing 5th in the 3200m race at a track meet. He was normally an 800 runner and had gotten pulled to run the 3200m and got 5th. He said “then I had to run it the rest of the time!” Mike answered easily when I asked him what his favorite sport to play was, he smiled and said “football.”
Sidney Public Schools Activities Director 2006-2020
Elgin Public Schools Superintendent since 2020
Ben & Ann Darling
Retired MS/HS Art Teachers
I had the privilege of sitting down to talk to Ben and Ann Darling this week. Interviewing them for this story took about 20 minutes, but their story is so intriguing that it would have been easy for me to spend all day hearing about their adventures. Ben has been a part of Sidney Public Schools since 2000 and Ann since 1983. Everyone has most likely seen the Darlings as they walk to and from the school campus daily. You may also see them biking together all over the county. They seem to be quite the pair but let’s examine how they became “the Darlings”.
HE SAID …
Ben grew up in Malvern, Iowa and Burwell, Nebraska and his mother was an art teacher. Ben was a 1971 graduate of Burwell High School. He was involved in track and football for one year but told me “I was a worker. I had 2 jobs, one was at a Chevy garage and one was at a local pharmacy. I liked sports but didn’t have a lot of time for them with 2 jobs.” When I asked Ben if he always wanted to be a teacher, he said “I actually spent over 20 years painting houses before I became a teacher.” He laughed when he said he’s always considered teaching a “step up job” from painting houses. Ben started with SPS in 2000 and has always been a traveling art teacher from West to Sidney Middle School to Sidney High School. I mentioned to Ben that I am always so impressed with his artistic talents and again he laughed and said “there are much more talented people in the world, truth is, I just work hard” he then recited one of my favorite quotes “hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard” Ben said he has always gravitated towards painting as a passion but the kids have always performed well with the stamping work.
It’s impossible to be in the same room with Gene Russel and not be aware of his presence. His “can do” attitude and incredibly positive demeanor make him stand out in a crowd. Gene and his family came to Sidney Public School District in 2013. He said he had a lot of Gering ties that spoke very highly of Sidney and he was excited to jump on a great opportunity to be a young administrator so he and his family headed to Sidney.
Gene grew up in Gering, Nebraska and was an incredible athlete for GPS. He played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track. He said “I was probably better at football but basketball was certainly fun!” He did tell me he thinks he still holds the record for the most interceptions in a career at Gering High. Gene went on to graduate from the University of Wyoming in 2010 with a degree in K-12 Physical Education. His first job was in Minatare where he was a PE teacher for grades 7-12 and the head boys basketball coach, head football coach, and head junior high track coach.
Pictured above with his wife Caroline and their children Gene, Allie, and Kennedy
West Elementary Principal until Summer 2021
THE STORY OF US ....
Sidney Public School District is successful because we have a great staff all working together to do what is best for students and our community. Our mission is to develop confident and powerful learners. We know there is power in US all working together. Starting in 2019, we are showcasing stories of the individuals in our district that make up "The Power of US" with the stories of us ... hope you enjoy our stories.
Stay tuned for more stories to be added as we continue to share our story with you.