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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  •  Retiring math teacher counts nearly 58 yearsOther WASD teachers, board members were her students

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  • For most of nearly 58 years, Melva Vogler has been a staple in Wallenpaupack School District’s education system, teaching countless students and influencing numerous others through her involvement in various programs and activities. But, March 31 will be the last day for the longest tenured faculty member at Wallenpaupack Area High School as she moves onto trying for a different seat on the Public School Employees’ Retirement System’s Board (PSERS).
    She started with the Wallenpaupack schools in 1960, teaching at the old Hawley High School on Academy Street. She was teaching prior to that at the former Lake Ariel school.
    For the last 18 years, rather than standing in front of students, teaching calculus or trigonometry, Vogler has been an in-class lab teacher, because of her involvement in PSERS. She says if not for PSERS, she likely would have retired a long time ago. Currently, Vogler represents active teachers, but because the one seat for an active retired person has opened, she is going for that seat. Aside from PSERS, Vogler chairs the Math Department and is the President of the Wallenpaupack Area Education Association.
    Today, although she says she would teach for another 50 years, initially when Vogler first started teaching, she says she became a teacher because it appeared as though women didn’t have the career opportunities they have today. Typically, she says, women were nurses, teachers and worked in factories. With other teachers in the family, Vogler says seeing their careers, "looked like a good idea to me."
    Vogler says she has missed standing in front of the class, but through her participation in PSERS she has met many interesting people as she has worked on pension and school issues. She has also gained leadership skills and traveled to countries like China, Jordan and Egypt.
    A graduate of Susquehanna University, Vogler smiles as she talks about teaching math because, "the answers are either right or wrong." Aside from math, Vogler is also certified in history, English and German because, "in my day, you got as much certification as you could," she explains. Through the years, Vogler has taught English and health, but health she says, she didn’t need to be certified in because, "in those days, you taught whatever they assigned you."
    For 30 years, Vogler has been the chairmen for the Math Department, she says because she liked the leadership position, but also because she, "likes having my fingers in everything." Being a chairman, has enabled Vogler to stay busy and, "keeping out of trouble or in trouble," she jokingly adds.
    Of today’s education system, Vogler says there is, "far too much emphasis on statewide tests and trying to get all students into one size widget type education." She explains that there are students who do not need algebra two, and instead they should teach other subjects that will benefit students better. Education, Vogler says, "keeps changing and that’s a good thing, you need to have constant change and you need to have constant improvement."
    Page 2 of 3 - Having been an educator for so long, Vogler has worked with former students who moved on to become educators just like her. Educators like Superintendent, Michael Silsby or school board members John Kiesendahl, Lisa Smith and John Drake and several present teachers all sat in Vogler’s classroom. Some of her former students became teachers and have already retired.
    At the young age of 79, aside from running for the retired seat on PSER’s Board, Vogler says she does not have plans on moving anywhere because her husband of 57 years, Harold who also owns Ernest Vogler and Son Feed Store in Hawley will not move. As for waiting to see if she will win the seat, jokingly she says that, by the time she learns if she has won, she won't care because she'll be 80.
    Vogler says she has had a great career and part of why it was successful was because she was happy at Wallenpapuack. Of the school, she credits the community’s support, great teachers and administrators because together, "we’re quite exceptional in the way we work together."
    A math teacher at Wallenpaupack, Colleen Connors has worked with Vogler through the teacher’s association. Having gone to the House of Delegates with Vogler, Connors says Vogler is respected throughout the state and the country by members of the many committees she has been a part of. Connors adds that, Vogler is a, "wealth of knowledge, and it’s been an honor to have her at our district."
    James Ball, another math teacher at Wallnepaupack, calls Vogler a, "brilliant educator," as he has worked in the district long enough that he remembers seeing Vogler teach in the classroom. An, "exceptional teacher," Ball says Vogler is, "very humorous, she's very professional, you won't find somebody more knowledgeable or intelligent than she is in any of the mathematics or in anything to do with our union." He continues, "She's exceptional, a tremendous asset that we are losing for our school, it’s going to hurt for a long time."
    Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Joann Hudak, has worked with Vogler for 18 years. She
    credits Vogler for having helped women, through her involvement in various committees and boards, because she, "took a leadership role when women weren’t in leadership positions." Hudak calls, Vogler an, "exceptionally bright and strong leader."
    Always an interesting job, Vogler says part of what has made being an educator so great is that there’s always something new and different happening. After a moment of thought, Vogler says the biggest thing she has taken away from her career is a feeling of, "involvement, a feeling that hopefully I made a difference."
    Follow Katie on Twitter at Katie Collins @neaglereporter
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