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WALLENPAUPACK - Educators like Aimee Wentzel believe there is more to their professions than teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. One of 10 new teachers in the Wallenpaupack School District, Wentzel spoke with The News Eagle before classes began September 5, as she readied to start her new career.
Having always wanted to make a difference in the world, Wenzel who is a high school math teacher, said she chose her new profession because in addition to teaching math, she must build relationships with her students since there is more to their lives than the subject.
Whereas Dan Gardner who is a new high school special education and emotional support teacher said kids are “fun,” since they do not take “life too seriously.” As an educator, helping students achieve their goals is “exciting.” There were teachers that Gardner recalls being essential in his childhood and so, he hopes to one day mean something to his students.
Inspired to become an educator because of a track coach at Valley View, Mike Phillips is the new physical education and health teacher at the high school and North Intermediate School. Initially Phillips studied automotive in a high school program, only to later realize with the help of his coach Brian Carney that wasn’t what he was meant to do. Carney, Phillips said continuously pushed him and set him on the “right path” as he discovered his future.
A Wallenpaupack graduate, Ross Rosencrance has taken a different career path than most of his new colleagues. A culinary teacher, Rosencrance filled a position made vacant when Jane McCormick retired. Having never taught in a traditional classroom before, Rosencrance said he would like to help students just as McCormick led him in the “right direction.” Before the start of the school year, Rosencrance worked throughout the region in the industry, but more recently he was a food production supervisor at the Pike County Correctional Facility where tools weren’t accessible and most of the inmates didn’t speak English.
Seeing that opening though, Rosencrance figured he could share his knowledge. In addition, he was excited to work with Chef Lewis who he said is the “most passionate person” about culinary. By working with such a person, Rosencrance feels he will not be working, but rather having fun, learning and teaching a field that he enjoys.
The culinary program at Wallenpaupack, Rosencrance said changed his life because while he wasn’t interested in academics he was able to find his way through culinary and he saw the success some of the program’s graduates had once in the industry, which made him consider the possibilities of the field. Although he doesn’t currently have a teaching certificate, Rosencrance will be attending Temple University to earn a bachelor’s degree in teaching. Before the start of this school year, Rosencrance attended a teaching seminar where those in attendance were all joining the teaching profession after working in their various fields.
Also, a Wallenpaupack graduate, Corey Lloyd will be teaching high school health and physical education. For three years Lloyd was a substitute in the district and in January he was hired full time. Before joining the Wallenpaupack community, Lloyd was a strength conditioning coach for adults; but, he later learned that as an active person he enjoyed working with kids which was more of a “natural fit” he said.
Having a family member who is intellectually disabled, Jess Baton who is a new high school special education and ninth grade support teacher, decided to become an educator after realizing she enjoyed tutoring in college. It was from the connections and the variety she encountered each day, that Baton felt being an educator would be a good career since she felt making a “positive impact” was possible she said.
A High School Math Teacher, Beth Wulff held a long-term substitute position in the district, but she chose to be a teacher to “have an impact on the future” she said. As well, Wulff enjoyed school herself and seeing family members who were educators made the field appear “fulfilling” while also being able to make a difference.
Wentzel who was a long-term substitute in the district and has also taught in the Dunmore district, said teaching in the Wallenpaupack district was a goal because her family lives in the area and her children are students in the district which makes the school “like my home.” While a long-term substitute, Wentzel loved the people and the community and so, now she hopes to become a part of the community.
As long as she can remember, Wentzel wanted to be a teacher; but math, has always been “natural” to her since it is comparable to puzzles which people need to solve throughout their lives she said. As a teacher, Wentzel said she will care about the students because teaching is important since there are times when educators are a greater part of a child’s life than their parents during the school year and so, teachers have a part in helping parents. Before classes started, Wentzel was most looking forward to becoming a part of the community and supporting her students both in and outside of the classroom as she is also an assistant tennis coach and her husband is a volunteer football coach. While there was some “anxiety” of starting, Wentzel did feel ready.
Wallenpaupack, Phillips believes has one of the best physical education programs, with there being the lake and trails in the region, he wanted to teach in the district. He feels his “down to earth” personality will make him stand out to students, since he wants to know his students’ interests because everyone isn’t interested in athletics. With so many students to teach, Phillips said the key to getting to know them is by talking with them because they will talk, if not immediately definitely “with time.” Teachers, Phillips said are the “building blocks” of children’s lives, as they work to prepare students for their careers. While he was a bit nervous before the first bell rang, Phillips was looking forward to the start of the year.
Rosencrance feels it is his personality that will make him stand out to students since he knows what it’s like to be a student and go through the culinary program. Since he doesn’t have the same background as a traditional teacher, Rosencrance feels his teaching philosophy will likely be different. But, as of yet, he hasn’t decided exactly what his philosophy is. Working with students and teaching them “how to succeed” in the field, Rosencrance was looking forward to he said. Teachers though, Rosencrance feels are important because they mold the “youth of America.” He acknowledged that everyone cannot be helped, but many can be given direction. While he was nervous, once he was able to start, he would just “jump into it.”
Lloyd said he wanted to teach in the district because he knew it would be a “good district to work in” after graduating from it and substituting in it. Lloyd feels his energy and excitement for the subject will mean something to students since he enjoys activity and the outdoors. So, he hopes to help students to become active. Teachers are important, Lloyd said because they work to “prepare the next generation for the future” while also introducing them to things and possibly working to live a “healthy lifestyle.” This will be Lloyd’s second year coaching softball, but he has been around he said for a few years, so many of the students already know him. While he was a little nervous, Lloyd said he was ready and anxious to get the year going.
Before coming to Wallenpaupack, Gardner taught at East Stroudsburg Elementary, but he had also substituted in the Delaware Valley District. Gardner chose special education and emotional support he said, after being in the navy for 10 years and working with adults who had special needs in group homes; he later became a math tutor in a traditional school and from that, he realized his love of working with kids.
As an “easy going” person, Gardner said he feels school should be a place where students can talk if necessary and he hopes to be a person students will want to talk to. Emotional support he explained is a subset of special education, but a student has to have an “emotional disturbance instead.” Before classes started, Gardner said he was ready to start even though he was a little nervous.
Baton will teach one class of learning support for students whose ages range from 15 to 21 because they are taking state alternative assessment she explained, so they can learn functional math skills. When her family decided to move back to the region, Baton said she knew she wanted to teach in the district. Baton who likes to be involved, has already volunteered to help paint the sets for the plays. By being involved, Baton said she will get to know her students.
Teachers, Baton believes are the “foundation for everything” since everyone starts life as a student she said. Since everyone doesn’t necessarily have good parents, Baton said teachers are essential because everyone is “guaranteed access to a school experience.” Whereas everyone isn’t “guaranteed access to good parents.”
Before classes started, Baton too, said she was ready to start because there was a lot of “anticipation” so she was ready to meet her students. No matter the teacher, Baton believes the first day of school for everyone is “nerve wracking” but she was confident because of the supportive administration.
Wulff believes it will be her “passion for teaching” and showing how math is used every day that will stand out to her students she said. The passion comes from trying to overcome a stigma that math is “scary.” Instead, when a student realizes they can do the work, that moment is “beautiful” she said. Teachers, Wulff believes are important because they impact the “future of the entire world” as students are the “next generation” that go on to work and lead. Being a part of the Wallenpaupack School District Wulff was looking forward to, having already taught in middle school and so the switch she acknowledged may be an “adjustment,” but she was “excited” for the older students. Having coached tennis and cross-country before, Wulff is already familiar with high school students. Although she was a little nervous, more than anything Wulff said she was excited.
Assistant Superintendent Keith Gunuskey said the district wants “great teachers” but because professionals can be trained to be a teacher, educators like Rosencrance are significant because their “experience is absolutely priceless.”
Teachers, Gardner said are important because they “mold the youth of America” which is essential since “school is practice for real life.”
Editor’s note: A separate story is planned about the new school nurses and long-term substitutes.