DELAWARE VALLEY - The moment a student finally grasps a lesson is what Alyssa Tomaskovic finds exciting as an educator. After four years of substituting in the Delaware Valley School District, Tomaskovic is one of 16 new teachers to join the staff this year. Less than a week before classes started, during an in-service day, The News Eagle spoke with several of the new educators about their career choice and why they feel their professions are important. This is the second of two stories, this one focusing on the middle and high school teachers.
A science teacher at Delaware Valley Middle School (DVMS), Tomaskovic will be teaching in the district she graduated from. The people and environment, she said is great because everyone is “on the same page” as the goal is for students to succeed which is “inspiring.”
The facial expressions and excitement that happens when a student experiences the “uh huh” moment, is something that Tomaskovic feels is “rewarding” she said. It is her personality though, that Tomaskovic believes will stand out to students, as she is known for being funny as well as accessible. Tomaskovic thinks it is teachers who prepare people for their careers, since they need an “educational base line” for their future. Tomaskovic said she was most looking forward to many hands-on lessons she had planned for her students, since they would do labs and experiments which would translate her “passion” into something the students could then become passionate about themselves. While she did have a few “jitters,” Tomaskovic was more excited since DV has been like a home.
Kate Cronin once had a teacher who inspired her and now, the new learning support teacher at DVMS hopes to be a role model for a student. It is her personality and understanding of the need for role models that led Cronin to become a middle school teacher she said. It will be her “energy and enthusiasm” though; that Cronin believes will stand out to her students as well as a respect that will create “great relationships." Teachers, “mold young minds” and help students figure their futures, which is why Cronin feels educators are important. Cronin actually substituted in the district for four years and a few weeks before classes started, she was ready and excited to teach.
Alexis Polanis will be teaching post civil war era to modern day social studies at Delaware Valley High School (DVHS) this year. A DV grad, Polanis likes helping others achieve their goals she said and so, being a teacher is the perfect way to do that. But, as a teacher she will be mixing her “passion” for social studies and students to help them “grow as individuals.” It will be because she has her own “pathways of communication” that Polanis feels she will stand out to students since they will know she is always available to listen and help them if necessary.
It is in the classroom, that Polanis feels an interest can be sparked for a student and from that, they can prepare for their future. Since her freshman year of college, Polanis has been ready to teach her own class and now, implanting her own “creativity” she said. Polanis substituted exclusively in the district and although she was nervous, she was “super excited” to get the year going because it was her “dream” to one day teach in the district where so many teachers inspired her she said.
Although this is Courtney Tullis’s seventh year as an educator, it will be her first at DVMS where she will teach reading and writing. In years past, Tullis taught elementary age and now, working with middle school students will be “great” as they become more responsible she said. Also, a graduate of the district, Tullis comes from a “family of teachers” but it is her joy of learning that she hopes to instill in students. Aside from teaching students about academics, Tullis believes educators must show their students what is happening in the world and teach them “about goodness and positivity.”
After substituting in special education classrooms for the last four years, Anthony Bergmann realized where he was supposed to go as an educator. The new special education learning support teacher at DVHS decided to become a teacher after being “inspired” by a few educators that taught him more than academics but also “life lessons” he said. Now, Bergmann hopes to have the same effect on students. Since he has been substituting in the district for four years already, many of the students know him, but he believes it is his demeanor and ability to create a fun atmosphere in the classroom that stands out.
Teachers, Bergmann also said are important for children as their interests are discovered when they’re young and teachers can help students’ interest expand as they grow. A few days before classes started, Bergmann said he was very ready to start the year.
While a new teacher to the Delaware Valley District, this is not Gretchen Finney’s first year to the profession, as she has been an educator for 11 years. Teaching family and consumer sciences at Dingman Delaware Middle School (DDMS) now, Finney was once named Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year. The subject, Finney said equates to “life” and the many skills needed to live besides math, science and English since one must know how to cook and budget their finances.
Finney believes it is her sense of humor that will stand out to students, and that she understands there is more to a student's life than academics she said. With a “real-life sense of humor” Finney feels she is relatable and that will mean something to the students. Society’s future, is dependent on good teachers since the youth of today need good role models in order to learn basic life skills, since everyone won’t be an astronaut and the importance of working hard must be known she said.