CCSD#2 welcomes new principal, asst. principal/AD

Courtesy photo

Glenrock High School Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Sharon Tietema (from left) takes a tour of the town’s golf course with head coach Tara Chandler during the school’s home golf meet.

New Glenrock High School Principal Eric Makelky, a big Notre Dame football fan, wore a pullover representing the college team, because he said he enjoys incorporating his love for sports in his career. (Brooke Young / Glenrock Independent photo)

Brooke Young



Glenrock Jr./Sr. High School has experienced quite a few changes since the school bells kicked off the beginning of a new year Aug. 22.

With a new principal and assistant principal/activity director (AD), some students, parents and district staff may be wondering about the educational history of the newly employed administration team.



GHS Assistant Principal/AD Sharon Tietema said she bears a long history in education. She has worked with students of all minority groups and ages, from “knee-huggers to teenagers,” and she was a student herself when Title IX was first implemented. Now, she hopes to apply her profound knowledge and passion for quality education to Glenrock’s student body. 

“The people have been so welcoming and I really enjoy the kids,” she said, wearing a Herder purple and white pullover. “For the vast majority, they’re respectful, they’re nice, they’re welcoming, they’re curious. I just really love that.” 

Tietema said she first launched her career in education after receiving a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health at Sheridan College. She began teaching and coaching at St. Labre Indian School of Montana, serving students from Crow and Northern Cheyenne tribes – which hit close to home for her.

“The second half of my junior year (in high school) and all of my senior year I attended school in Pryor (Montana). It was a true culture shock in that the kids tested me,” she said. “99% of the kids were Crow and spoke the language fluently. There were two other non-native kids there, so I was the third non-native student in the school of 56 kids.” 

Tietema said that although the experience of being a minority was challenging, she would not have changed it for the world and her time in Pryor has really moved her to make some of the choices she has in education.

“I really had to learn a lot about myself,” she said. “I think everybody should experience being a minority at some point in their life, because I had to learn about other cultures and I kind of had to revise some of my thoughts and be more aware of how other people felt instead of just me in a safe world with friends just like me.” 

Tietema noted that she’s worked on reservations throughout most of her career in education while living in Montana. While teaching in Billings, she even started a program to assist at-risk students entering the ninth grade. However, one of her favorite jobs was from her time working in the psychiatric intensive care unit at Yellowstone Boys & Girls Ranch from 1989-1990.

“You know, I have quite a bit of patience, but I will tell you, I really learned patience there,” she said of the experience, laughing.

Perhaps one of Tietema’s favorite things about her new role as Glenrock’s AD is getting to see firsthand the formation of girls-only sports teams, paying special reference to the newly established girls wrestling team at the school.

“My freshman year (of high school) was the first year they ever had basketball for girls. And, because not everyone had a team yet, we would play against whoever we could get a game with. It was a great experience,” she said. “I just think how lucky girls are now to be treated as equals. We’re still not there, but it’s so different. What’s best is that girls finally get to wrestle against girls. As an athletic director, that’s really cool,” she said. 

Although the new AD and former collegiate athlete has a passion for sports, she really enjoys offering support to students facing adversities in life.

“I have discovered that there are a lot of kids that do not have what they need in terms of resources,” she said.

She also shared an experience of a time when she had to play the role of the parent when her great nephews moved in with her. According to Tietema, she has worked with thousands of kids, but this experience gave her a more well-rounded viewpoint.

“Being one of the parents that had to get them up, on their way, make sure they did their school work and be there to discipline – it was a good experience and gave me kind of a more rounded view on what parents have to go through at home. It’s not easy, it’s a tough job.” 

But, regardless of the difficult challenges Tietema has faced throughout her career, she said she is thrilled to have found a community with the perfect small-town feel to finish out her remaining years. 

“I have been in small towns lots of times and I wanted to get to know the kids and their families. I saw the assistant principal job and I applied,” she said cheerfully. “I just love the hominess.”



Having been brought up and educated in a small, rural Montana community, Eric Makelky knew he wanted to provide a similar childhood and educational experience for his children.

Luckily for him, he stumbled upon Glenrock.

“The small town feel, the small district... I think kids just get a better education there. I think it’s a better place to be as an educator, as a student and as a parent,” Glenrock’s new High School Principal said. 

The Rocky Mountain College alum and former teacher, coach and instructional facilitator has had his fair share of challenges over the last 13 years while working in education. Using all that he has learned, he is now looking forward to applying his philosophy in his new position.

“A person can create a large, positive ripple effect on parents, the school and the community with good school leadership,” he said. 

Makelky first kicked off the start of his teaching career in Pinedale.

“I didn’t know much about Wyoming, but then I went fishing and I was like, ‘All right, same good small town communities, good values, they fund education and you can fish? I’m teaching in Wyoming!” he said with a chuckle. 

After teaching English and social studies while coaching football, wrestling, and track and field, Makelky acquired a job as an instructional facilitator at the school, receiving a master’s degree in administration leadership shortly after. 

He said the combination of administration leadership coursework and his advancement in the school district allowed him to get a glimpse into all of the work principals actually put into their schools and students. He was surprised by the hard work required to run a school safely and effectively, but he knew it was a position he eventually wanted to fulfill.

“I’ve gotten to work for some of the best principals and superintendents in the world, and I got to see firsthand all that they do,” he noted.

Makelky found himself taken by surprise and honored when his former superintendent, Jay Harnack, delegated him to become the principal at a newly established alternative high school in Pinedale – Sky Academy. 

“That was my first administration experience. I did that for four years. We got to start literally from scratch, kind of re-imagining the physical school,” he said. “I learned a lot.”

According to Makelky, the students at the new school struggled with attendance and some behavioral problems, but his efforts, and the efforts of his team, paid off. Sky Academy achieved a 100% graduation rate the second and third years following its establishment, beating the graduation rate at the traditional high school in the town. 

“The first year, it was just like, ‘Oh man, we have to hire staff and figure out what we’re going to teach.’ But it was a lot of fun and at the end of the day, very successful.”

Following his success at Sky Academy, Harnack transferred Makelky to be the principal at Pinedale Middle School, where he remained the last three years before his arrival in Glenrock.

He said he is grateful to have been trusted with a new opportunity in a wonderful Wyoming community – one that proudly boasts purple and white.

“The number one thing that is obvious the minute you pull into any of the schools here is the pride the district takes in the facilities and the grounds. I’m kind of a lawn nerd. When I pulled in this summer, my wife was like, ‘They mow diagonal, all the trees are trimmed, they have bushes . . .  there’s nothing to help with!’” he recalled, laughing. “Everything is so well cared for. And it has been, as far back as written history goes – that (the staff) take care of the facilities. People appreciate that when they come to events or when they visit the school.” 

According to Makelky, there have been plenty of positives he’s noticed since his arrival. 

“The teachers and our staff really, truly, genuinely care about our students and will do anything to help them. I’ve even heard that from the kids.”

He recounted a time when he was speaking to a foreign exchange student during the third week of school, asking how his experience has been thus far.  The student found himself delighted to be educated by “teachers that actually teach.”

“One of the things he told me, that I also heard from many kids, it that the teachers actually teach and help you if you don’t understand,” Makelky said. “Even though I’m new and have had nothing to do with that, it still makes me proud.”

He described GHS’ students as great. And, despite changes that he did not anticipate, such as being more clear about the expectations and consequences of phone use in the classroom, he said feedback from staff and students has been positive. 

“One of my goals this year is to try and eliminate all of the things that get in the way of teaching and learning. So, I need to get kids here and make sure they are present and engaged. The biggest distraction from learning is phones. It’s not just an interruption to learning and teaching, but social skills,” he said.

Makelky said he was speaking with a staff member who has been working in the school for quite some time. According to the principal, she was astonished that after 10 years of working in the building, she is noticing for the first time that students are making eye contact and greeting her with “good mornings,” due to the absence of their cellular devices. 

“She told me, ‘I love it. It’s like the 1990s again.’ Social skills – it’s an important skill,” he said.

He also spoke of his excitement at the amount of support students and activities receive, paying tribute to the many “random” people that come in to offer their services to kids, such as donating money for school lunch balances, donating water, offering to help with events and more. 

“People literally just ring the doorbell and come in and say, ‘I want to help.’ That’s awesome,” he said. “Glenrock has a lot of pride in its school and there’s a lot of tradition. People really do support what we’re doing.”

Although students, staff and visitors to the school might occasionally find football fanatic Principal Makelky representing Notre Dame gear, he is proud to be a herder, and is looking forward to serving his new students with excellence.


Glenrock Independent

Physical Address:506 W. Birch, Glenrock, WY 82637 Mailing Address: PO Box 109, Douglas, WY 82633 Phone: (307) 436-2211

The Glenrock Independent is located in the Bronco Building

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