|Ralph Worthen looks forward to the challenges ahead as principal at Castle Dale Elementary|
Castle Dale Elementary is the scene for a few changes as the new school year opens. They will begin with a new principal and two new teachers to the school. Ralph Worthen will take the reins as the new principal. He has been teaching at the school for 13 years.
He said, "I have spent all the years I have been involved in teaching at Castle Dale Elementary. I have been here the past 13 years. I grew up in Ferron and graduated from Emery High School. I attended Southern Utah State College and was in the first freshmen class for the college. I also returned years later and was in the very last graduating class before it became the College of Southern Utah. It is now Southern Utah University.
"I spent 10 years in the coal mines. I started around 1972 or 73. I worked at Deseret for six years and at Wilberg for four years. I was laid off just two months before the mine fire. I knew all of the crew that was lost in the fire. One of which was my brother-in-law. It was a tough deal. I did enjoy mining coal, however. I worked wherever I could find a job for awhile. I worked for the county on mosquito control, at Killpack's Butcher Shop and at Johansen and Tuttle Engineering. Most of the work was seasonal though, by this time we had four kids and I needed to find something more permanent.
"We decided that I would go back to college, so we loaded up the family and headed to Cedar City where I finished school. All six of us were in school at the same time. My wife attended Evans Cosmetology School while we were there. My wife Loretta and I are the parents of Jarom, who lives in Salt Lake now; Anthony who is temporarily employed in Alaska; Andrea who is a law student at Brigham Young University, she graduated from BYU last year; Dustin who is a junior at BYU; and McKayla our caboose who is beginning the third grade this year at Ferron Elementary. We also have a grandson named Parker.
"I majored in elementary education and did my student teaching in Cedar City and then we moved back to Ferron. The year I earned my degree there was only one teacher hired in the district. I went to work at Millsite golf course for Ferron City. I let them know that if a teaching position came up I would take it. I also worked summers at the golf course until I went back to get my master's degree.
"We spent two summers at the University of Utah campus and worked for two years through the EdNet program both at Emery High and at Carbon High School. There were five of us from Emery County who did that at the same time. It was great to have the friendship and support of these other teachers. We had a good time and got to know each other and spent time together. I am the fifth of those teachers to move into a principal's position in the district. There were Larry Davis who is now at Canyon View Junior High, Nolan Johnson at Green River High and BookCliff Elementary and Garth Johnson at San Rafael Junior High.
"My wife Loretta has been very supportive of me in all that I've done. When we came back from Cedar she opened her shop it's been in three different locations and she really enjoys it.
"I really enjoy being around the kids in school. It's also good steady employment, at the mines there are a lot of ups and downs. The consistency of a school setting means a lot. Seeing the kids grow and develop is wonderful and I enjoy making an impact for the good in their lives.
"All my years of teaching have been here at Castle Dale. I started teaching the fifth grade and was in the multi-age team teaching program which included fourth, fifth and sixth grades. I have spent most of my time here in the sixth grade. When I first started at Castle Dale we had 300 students. We will start this year with a population right around 170 students. Every room was occupied, now we have two vacant classrooms and a room just for the aides to use. We also have a room available that we call the wet room where the teachers can take students in there for messy art projects and things of that nature.
"I like how things function at Castle Dale Elementary and would like to see things continue as they have in the past. I really like the CLIP program which lets teachers work with students individually and gets them the help they might not receive otherwise with their reading. It really makes a difference and I would like to see that continue.
"We also do the mini-workshops on Halloween and view it as a very constructive and educational activity. The public has been very supportive of coming in and helping on this day and sharing their talents. I also like the mighty math program. Our PTA also runs a very successful reading incentive program. We have a wonderful PTA that is very supportive. Another program is Shurley English Made Easy. This program helps the students learn the different parts of speech, by using jingles and asking questions. One of our teachers did a presentation for other teachers and invited some students who were in the program last year to come and demonstrate how it was done. They hadn't used the program for the three months school was out, but they still retained the information. The sixth graders just loved it. On the last day of school when everything was finished and there wasn't a lot going on the kids asked, 'Can we do Shurley?' It's a great program and I am curious to see how this will carry over with them as the kids move into junior high whether or not they will have an easier time with English.
"This program is easy to teach and the kids do it all on their own. We even had sixth graders helping their older brothers and sisters and have had good feedback from parents. They use a question answer flow to go through a sentence and determine what part of speech it is.
"We have a wonderful school here at Castle Dale Elementary. I enjoy coming to school and hope we can continue the successes we have had in the past. We want the students to come to school each day prepared to have an exciting day. The teachers are prepared and we have a good atmosphere at our school. We have two new teachers, Cindy Jones will be teaching sixth grade and came from San Rafael and Jamie Olsen will be teaching second grade and transferred from Huntington Elementary. Everyone else has been working here together for 12 years or more. We have a close faculty.
"When I'm not here in the school I like to get out and enjoy the mountains. I enjoy spending time with my family. I am also interested in computers and enjoy working with them. It's been a busy summer getting ready for school, I've only had five days off this summer.
"I want to be a visible image in our school, in the halls and at recess time. I want the kids to see me at other times, other than when a problem arises. I want them to be comfortable talking to me at any time. We are looking forward to a good year and I'm excited to get started.
We also have a new secretary, Colleen Bott; so we are learning together. We lost one teaching position at our school this year. The Emery District is wonderful to work with and they work hard to shuffle teachers around so they don't have to lay anyone off. They are supportive of their teachers and do everything they can to help.
"I am really looking forward to having a great year here at Castle Dale Elementary," said Worthen.