New Faces of Normal

A Q & A with 2023’s new instructional, administrative and support staff members
New Faces of Normal
Mr. John Boenzi

Mr. John Boenzi is an Algebra and Geometry teacher entering his fifth year coaching track and field at Community.

Boenzi taught math for three years between Calvary Christian Academy and El Paso-Gridley Middle School after graduating from ISU with a degree in Mathematics.


What has the transition between teaching at smaller schools to a large school like Community been like?

“It’s definitely an adjustment, but I love it. I went to a high school that was about this size. I feel back in my own world, just feeling back at home even though I’m not from here.” 

Beyond coaching track and football, how do you plan on being involved at Community this year?

“I want to be a part of I-Club… I think it’s a great chance for our students to learn how to be leaders and learn how to step out and do things for our community and for our school. I’d love to be a part of that.”

What were your favorite classes in high school?

 “Geometry for sure, so I got lucky to be able to teach it. I would say close second to that would be my foods class… I took it for two years, and that’s actually where my love for baking and cooking came from.” 

What are you most excited about this year?

“Finally being in the building with the kids that I’ve coached and getting to see them in a different way. It’s awesome seeing the kids on the field, but in the classroom, they are different people. I love to see both sides of them.”


Mrs. Brooke Bollmann

Ms. Brooke Bollmann joins Community’s counseling department this year after a decade as a counselor at West.

Bollmann graduated from ISU with a degree in political and social science education before attending DePaul University for her master’s in human services.

What drew you to Normal Community?

“We recently moved five minutes away… it was a 30-minute commute back and forth, and I was missing out on opportunities and missing out on knowing families that my kids know. Not only was it beneficial for me, so I could spend more time at school, but for my students so that I could get more involved in their lives, even outside the school day.”

What inspired you to become a school counselor?

“My school counselor at my high school… my counselor helped me through everything because I’m a first-generation college student… and he always helped me and always made me feel really welcome. Just being there for me even when I didn’t need a lot, just knowing that he was there. I wanted to be that for other students.”

What is something that high school students might find surprising?

“Four years ago, I donated my kidney to one of my friends that was in kidney failure.”

Mrs. Kim Clark

Mrs. Kimberly Clark is an Educational Office Personnel Professional who is in charge of the students’ parking passes, attendance, mail, bus requests and much more.

What drew you to Community?

“I have gotten a chance to experience the community [here] and it was something that I wanted to try. I wanted to be here. I felt like it was my purpose.”

Are you a big people person?

“I don’t know that I would call myself a people person- I like to give my energy to youth. I think that that’s where it is most needed.”

What has been the highlight of your year so far?

“The highlight of my year is getting to interact with the students.”

Mrs. Sharon Collins

Ms. Sharon Collins is an assistant principal at Community, specifically focused on working on student support with Ironmen who have 504 plans.

Collins graduated from ISU with her Business Education and Educational Administration degree, originally teaching in Chicago for 21 years before moving back to Bloomington.

Why did you want to be a teacher?

“I’ll be honest with you, when I was in college, it wasn’t initially to go into education… I have a passion for working with people, and when I was out volunteering and doing things with my university, I felt a connection that I wanted to be somewhere in education. At the beginning I didn’t know where but the professors at ISU definitely worked with me and encouraged me to move towards education.”

What are you most excited about this school year?

“I’m just excited about being here. I have relatives that graduated from here… They are so proud of Normal Community and they say it’s a wonderful place to not only to attend as a student but also to work at as an adult. So I look forward to growing and to be apart of the Ironmen family.”

What has been the highlight of the year so far?

“What makes my day is the staff and students that are willing and able to walk up to me and introduce themselves. It makes my day because it makes me feel welcome and noticed. You know, like people know that you’re new but they are welcoming you to this new environment that they know can be overwhelming.”

Mrs. Ashley Durdan-Levy

Mrs. Ashley Durdan-Levy teaches English I and English II, along with being a Freshman Mentor sponsor.

Previously, Durdan-Levy taught Language Arts and Kingsley Junior High for five years, along with teaching educational courses at ISU.

How are you liking working at Community so far?

“It’s definitely a challenge. Some days are easier than others. I have a lot to learn… So I’m having to just you know, try new things. And step outside my comfort zone. I’m confident I will get there, but I’m not there yet.”

What are you nervous about this year?

“Knowing the content well enough to teach it… Especially since I’m coming from [teaching] middle school, I am nervous about that. I want my kids to do well, I don’t want my being new to impact my students. I want them to leave my class feeling ready for the day.”

If you weren’t a teacher, what would your dream job be?

“I would be a famous author. I would just travel the world on book tours. And I would get all kinds of perks, and free merch and great hotel stays; all the good things.”

Mr. Jason Fields

Mr. Jason Fields teaches math and business as a learning resource at Community.

Fields graduated from ISU before teaching for over 20 years between Pontiac, Peoria, Mendota and Delevan, Illinois.

What inspired you to become a special education teacher?

“Being able to impact youth in a very real and specific way, and just being able to shape lives. Special education definitely lends itself to that.”

What drew you to Community?

“The culture… there’s a family feel to Normal Community. It feels close. It feels like people genuinely care for one another, and that’s attractive. Especially professionally.”

Do you plan on getting involved in anything outside of the classroom?

“I have been connected to the eSports program that is shared between West and Community. The eSports program is amazing, and it provides an opportunity to connect with students that might not be as ‘mainstream’ as those in football, basketball, baseball, those types of sports.”

Ms. Mackenzie Kraft

Ms. Mackenzie Kraft is an agriculture teacher at Community.

Kraft earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science at Iowa State University after graduating from Community.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

“I went to Normal Community High School myself. And I was in the FFA program and took ag classes while I was here… the only reason why I was interested in animal nutrition was the interacting… part of it.”

What are you excited about your first year of teaching?

“I am super excited to meet all the kids and get to know their passion.”

If you could give high schoolers one piece of advice, what would it be?

“If you just are willing to give your teachers a chance, it can make or break the experience that you have.”

Mrs. Margaret Lehr

Mrs. Margaret Lehr teaches Culinary Arts and PBR (Personal Behavior and Relationships) at Community, and teaches Child Development at West.

This is her first year officially teaching, but Lehr has been a substitute teacher, working from kindergarten all the way to high school, and has worked as a child birth educator in hospitals, all within the last 20 years.

What brought you to Community?

“I like Unit Five. I appreciate Unit Five. I’m very familiar with Unit Five. And so my goal, if I was going to come into teaching, was to be within Unit Five and so I was open. I guess that is what t drew me to Normal Community and West… I actually really liked the idea of being a travel teacher between the two high schools and having the opportunity to get to know the differences between the two schools. ”

How do you plan on being involved this year?

“As of right now, I’m still getting my footing in terms of really knowing what all of the opportunities are. But that’s the one thing I love about Unit 5 is that there are tons of opportunities. So I’m definitely open. You know, if a student were to approach me about being a club sponsor, that’d be something I’m open to.”

Mr. Larry Lewis

Mr. Larry Lewis is a biology, mechanics and BSAA teacher.

Although his first year here, he has been an educator for over 15 years.

What did you do before you decided to work at Community?

“I spent 13 years in the swine industry when the hog market had a major crash, and I’d lost my job while jobs were pretty scarce.  I had an opportunity to start teaching without a teaching degree so I did that.”

Are you nervous about anything going into the new year?

“Technology has really got me mixed. You know, there was no such thing as Google Classroom back then so that’s probably the biggest thing. I’m just kind of getting caught up on technology and making sure [I don’t make] a complete idiot of myself.”

Do you have any advice for high schoolers today?

“Be open to different opportunities. I never in a million years thought I would be teaching school when I was in high school. Explore; figure out what’s right for you. You have so many opportunities nowadays. It’s not even funny.”

Mrs. Melissa Pummill

Mrs. Melissa Pummill is a Special Education teacher at Community.

A Community alum, Pummill taught in Peoria County for seven years after graduating from Illinois State University.

What are you most excited about this year?

 “Meeting all my new kids, getting to know them better and taking them out into the community.”

How do you plan to get involved outside the classroom this year? 

“Best Buddies, for sure. I want to attend football games, as well. I liked doing that when I went here.”

What are your goals for this year? 

“One of my big things is inclusion, for my students to be included as much as they can in the school.”

What is your favorite TV show?

 “The Office.”


Ms. Jenna Rynerson

Ms. Jenna Rynerson is a Learning Resource, Science and English teacher at Community.

Rynerson received her degree in Special Education from Louis University in Romeoville, Illinois. 

What inspired you to become a teacher?

“I worked at Chestnut Health Systems before and was teaching a lot of different kinds of skills, and I just really enjoyed helping and working with teenagers. Couple that with a belief that all students should be educated, it just naturally lends itself to Special Education.”

How does it feel switching between different subjects over the course of the school day?

“There’s an aspect that’s really fun because I get to do different things, and there’s an aspect that’s really intimidating because they’re very different. Having to plan for those things can be intimidating at times, for sure.”

What is one of the most interesting things you’ve done?

“I ran a mom blog called the Potty Diaries that rated all the parks based on their bathrooms.”

Mr. Victor Velazquez

Mr. Victor Velazquez teaches Spanish I and II, and this is his first year teaching high school. Velazquez also teaches courses at Heartland Community College.

Velazquez received his master’s degree from ISU. 

What are you most excited about this year?

“I’m excited about learning how everything works internally. Like planning classes, how to prepare everything for teenagers, and finding out games and ways of keeping them engaged in the classroom. And I think it’s also gonna be a little bit challenging because I’ve never done that before. ”

What has been a highlight for you?

“Meeting everybody in my department. They have really helped me a lot. They know that I’m new. They know that I’m from a different country. So I say that the foreign language department is good for me. They are there for me.”

What is some advice you have for high schoolers?

“The person you are now is not who you’re going to be after high school. So don’t be scared about basically anything. Try new things.”

Mrs. Rachel Ward

Mrs. Rachel Ward is a Geometry and Algebra II teacher at Community.

Ward taught for five years between St. Joseph-Ogden and Villa Grove High School after graduating from ISU with a degree in Secondary Mathematics Education.

Why did you decide to accept a teaching position at Community?

“My brother-in-law, Mr. Ward, definitely encouraged it… and I liked the idea of a change of scenery. I really liked my small schools, but having a little less work here is nice.”

What memory from your teaching career thus far stands out to you?

“When I taught at St. Joseph, we were still in the midst of COVID. At one point, there was that debate of, ‘Are we taking off masks, or are we keeping them on?’ And then we finally got the ruling that they were going away. At that time, I was super sick. I have an autoimmune disorder. All of my students heard that from my principal and still wore masks in my class, just to be sweet. That was such a highlight.”

What extracurricular activities did you participate in during high school?

IHSA Badminton, Gymnastics; Future Educators Association (FEA) Club

Ms. Megan Wright

Ms. Wright is a biology and chemistry teacher at Community.

Wright student taught at Community while pursuing her teaching degree from ISU.

What drew you to Community?

“I noticed when I was student teaching here that the students care a lot about each other and about the school. There’s a lot of iron pride here that isn’t fake; it’s genuine.”

Did you have a passion for science as a kid?

“I always watched the nature shows and stuff… I really enjoyed, as a kid, learning about the natural world. I was that kid with like the chemistry set. You know that nerd? That was me.”

Why did you decide to become a science teacher?

“I had a really good science teacher when I was a kid, and he made science really, really interesting. I still remember a lot of the things that he said as a teacher that really stuck with me.”

Mr. Sam Wurster

Mr. Samuel Wurster teaches metal and woodwork.

Wurster has his master’s and teaching degree.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

“I got into tech ed because a lot of my buddies in high school hated school. And I was, I guess, good at school. So I used to tutor them.

But the one class they always liked to be in was the tech ed and woodworking metals construction. So I figured that there’s no better area of the school to be in.”

Where did you get your teaching degree?

“I got my teaching degree from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and I have my master’s degree from ISU.”

What do you do in your free time?

“I like to mountain bike and do a lot of things outdoors like skiing, jet skiing, snowmobiling… things like that.”

Ms. Taylor Kovack

Ms. Taylor Kovack is a family and consumer science teacher at Community. 

Kovack taught for six years after receiving her teaching degree from Illinos State University.

What inspired you to become a teacher? 

“I went and observed my former junior high FACS teacher and I just knew right then and there, that’s truly what I wanted to be and what I wanted to teach.”

What are you most excited about this year? 

“I am super excited to meet my students and be able to teach Culinary Arts and Parenting.”

What piece of advice would you give high schoolers? 

“Enjoy every moment of high school because I learned so much in high school. I learned so much about myself, who I am, what I wanted to do in my future.”


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