RHINELANDER - Just a year ago, days looked a lot different for Rhinelander's Jane Dunbar. For 27 years up to her 2016 retirement, she built a career.
"I worked for the state health department," she said. "I worked in public health for communicable disease and immunization."
Now, Dunbar picks days she'd like to work as a substitute teacher at Pelican Elementary School.
"I've been doing kindergarten today, and I really like the kindergarten," she said on Wednesday. "They're really active."
The School District of Rhinelander wants more people like Dunbar. Dunbar has no degree in education or history working in schools. But she has an interest in giving back to kids.
"We've had some fabulous substitute teachers," said district Director of Instruction Teri Maney. "We call them guest teachers in Rhinelander."
But Maney wishes she and her principals didn't have to spend so much time figuring out how to cover classes with subs in short supply.
"Everybody steps up and helps out. The principal helps out. There's no one who doesn't step forward," she said. "We've had more of a need for longer-term subs. When we have a longer-term placement, that pulls out of our regular sub pool."
Maney says a statewide sub shortage has been years in the making. But it's a new state law which could help to relieve the problem.
"We see it as great news," Maney said of the law.
Substitute teachers used to need a bachelor's degree to be eligible. The degree could be in any field, not limited to only education.
Now, with a provision passed in the state budget, people with associate's degrees can teach after some district training.
"The degree is not really going to be the first and foremost thing that we're looking at walking into the classroom," Maney said. "It's, how do you interact with kids? How do kids interact with you? What can we do to support those relationships?"
Dunbar has a four-year degree, so she's already covered. But she may soon be joined by others like her with even more diverse levels of education.
"I wanted to do something meaningful for the community," Dunbar said. "Just give it a try."
If you're interested in becoming a substitute teacher, call Gen Luebke at the School District of Rhinelander. The phone number is 715-365-9700, extension 5734.
TOMAH (AP) - A veterans affairs hospital in Wisconsin is using nontraditional therapies for pain and mental health as officials continue to address problems with over-prescribing medication at the facility.
Wisconsin Public Radio reports that the Tomah VA Medical Center is one of 18 veterans hospitals across the country launching the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Whole Health program.
Whole Health coaches help VA patients set personal health and wellness goals, address chronic pain, prevent illness or injury and treat mental health needs. The program also uses alternative therapies like tai chi, acupuncture and Healing Touch, which focuses on restoring a person's energy field.
The initiative comes four years after a veteran died at the facility from a mixture of prescribed drugs. Federal investigations found that some staff were over-prescribing drugs.
RHINELANDER - A sustainability fair in Rhinelander connects people who want to keep the earth clean and healthy. Organizers celebrated Earth Day by teaching people how they can accomplish that. Abby Meyer came up from Green Bay for her first Sustainability Fair in Rhinelander Sunday. She sells all natural skin care products.
"It's the future of being able to have a planet, such great energy here," said Meyer. Meyer and 42 other exhibitors feel energized to protect the earth. "It's kind of interesting what other people do and the good they're doing for other people," said maple syrup vendor Leroy Schmieder.
Schmieder said being around people with the same mission is encouraging. "It's kind of a community thing, you learn what everybody else is doing," said Schmieder. Fair organizer Ann Eshelman said the fair teaches the community, but also brings people with a message together. "They're providing something that we as a group think is valuable, they're kinda isolated," said Eshelman. When the fair started eight years ago organizers wanted to end that isolation. Bringing vendors together to share their message, make connections, and walk away with new information. "Giving each other jobs and work and supporting each other," said Meyer.
Eshelman believes that support is what the community needs to help move in the right direction. "[It] can enable even ordinary Northwoods residents to do something for the earth," said Eshelman. It can also show them that helping the environment starts at home. "An important part of sustainability is helping out your community," said Meyer.
RHINELANDER - All That Glitters opened for the first time this weekend in Rhinelander. The store gives customers a chance to experience another culture. Melody Majcherek decided to open the store after developing a love for henna and practicing at art fairs. She said it took her two months to transform the store into a unique outlet. "I wanted to create a space where people can walk in and feel like they have traveled to a different place and oasis. I think I accomplished that," said Majcherek. People can buy henna tattoos products and other trinkets. She incorporated cultures from India and Morocco by buying fabrics and products from there. "Very unique with the different cultures. It's interesting, something different in Rhinelander. Something you don't see all the time," said shopper Chris Albrent. The store is open Tuesdays through Sundays and is on Kemp Street.
TOMAHAWK - Young aspiring writers got the chance to meet two authors over the weekend, and get some feedback from them. The Headwaters Reading Council held a Young Authors Festival at Tomahawk Elementary.
About 30 kids participated in the event. Each author held presentations on their books and explained the process of getting them published.
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