Anyone who has lived here knows that Bethel is more than just a school district — it’s a community.
Bethel is a place where multiple generations of a family often attend the same schools and sometimes even share the same teachers. It’s a community that values tradition and rewards loyalty.
Bethel has a unique spirit, and few families represent that spirit more than the Stroms.
Rosie Brackney and Arne Strom met at Bethel Junior High and fell in love at Bethel High School. After graduation, they got married and eventually had two kids, Rachel and Lindsey.
The family could have left the area, but they chose to stay in Bethel.
The Strom girls attended Rocky Ridge Elementary, Cougar Mountain, and Bethel High School before both went off to Pacific Lutheran University to become teachers.
Rachel, who is two years older than Lindsey, graduated from PLU and immediately began grad school. She earned her Master’s degree the same year her sister earned her Bachelor’s degree, and in 2016 both Strom women were looking for teaching jobs.
For Lindsey, there wasn’t much of a decision about where she wanted to teach.
“I was all about keeping it in Bethel, because I want to give back to the people who gave to me,” she said.
Rachel, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure. She was open to the idea of teaching in another district, but Lindsey was determined to keep her in Bethel.
“She was very hesitant,” Lindsey said of her sister. “I told her, ‘Hey, (Bethel) is having a career fair and I’m signing you up — you’re going with me, we’re going together.”
Once at the fair, it became clear that both sisters were meant to be in Bethel. They both interviewed and signed letters of intent on the same day.
In the end, Rachel felt the same connection to Bethel that her sister did.
“I just think it’s really important to return to your community, and teaching is a way you can give back to your community in a really meaningful way and make a really lasting impact,” Rachel said.
Rosie Strom said there was never any doubt about what Rachel was going to do with her life.
“We always knew Rachel was destined to be a teacher,” she said. “At the end of her senior year, the band had a senior celebration and she was voted most likely to return as a teacher at Bethel High School. Five years later that is exactly what she did.”
Rachel is now in her second year in Bethel High School’s Math Department, while Lindsey is in her second year at Rocky Ridge Elementary. Both sisters love where they ended up, but both admitted to feeling an initial tinge of awkwardness about working alongside their former teachers.
“It was weird at first,” Rachel said. “The Math Department is really close, so we hang out outside of school. Calling Mrs. Booth ‘Trudy’ for the first time was the weirdest experience of my life!”
The fact that both sisters now teach at schools they attended as children gives them something of a home field advantage. Unlike other new teachers, there was no danger that the Strom women would get lost trying to find their classroom.
While the familiarity is a bonus, the real reason the Stroms love their jobs is because of their fellow teachers. Both women say they admire and draw inspiration from their colleagues.
“To have my own classroom and to be among these staff members who I loved growing up, I just feel so grateful for that. It’s a good feeling to have,” Lindsey said.
Rosie and Arne couldn’t be more proud of their daughters, and they truly believe being part of the Bethel community helped mold the girls into the strong, intelligent women they are today.
“That is the thing I tell people: We raised two amazing daughters and we stayed very involved throughout all of their school years,” Rosie said. “It takes a village to raise great kids, and Bethel helped us with our foundation of how important education is and supporting great teachers gave our girls the desire to give back into the system and the district that served them so well.”