Discover who is new at Wallenpaupack Area School District, serving our students. See how the district is making use of local school tax dollars to bring quality people on board.

Discover who is new at Wallenpaupack Area School District, serving our students. See how the district is making use of local school tax dollars to bring quality people on board.


WALLENPAUPACK - History lessons can be about more than America’s forefathers and the many battles, which is what Mark Van Acker wants his students to realize. Instead, the long-term social studies teacher at Wallenpaupack Area High School says students can and should learn about concepts relative to subjects that interest them, perhaps looking at automotive or music history.

A Wallenpaupack graduate, Van Acker is one of six long-term substitute teachers in the district serving during the 2017-2018 school year. While the requirements of lessons on forefathers and battles can still happen, Van Acker said it’s possible to show students that there is more to history than the general subjects, by introducing topics and using the same teaching techniques in the classroom.

James Bryan, a long-term substitute in the North Primary School has recently changed careers. When Bryan was 36, he realized he wanted something else; as a result, he started his college career to become a teacher. Bryan who was a house painter and did construction work, realized his future profession after having a “life event” that made him “reevaluate things,” he said. As well, there was a mentor who suggested he go back to school and it was then, that he realized teaching elementary school was what he was meant to do. Today, the new educator is certified to teach kindergarten through sixth grade, which is where he has been “called to teach” he said, since he has been “blessed with an ability to connect with kids.”  

MaryBeth Booth’s career path is quite different than the other long-term substitutes since she taught for 11 years, 14 years ago. Today, Booth who is a long-term Spanish substitute teacher is filling the spot of a teacher who replaced her when she wanted to start her family. Now, Booth said she is “thrilled to be back at Wallenpaupack.” Working with colleagues who were once her students is “surreal.” Through the years to keep up on her Spanish, Booth joined Spanish coffee groups.

Teachers aren’t the only professionals that educate children. Leslee Klinkiewicz for instance is the new nurse at the North Intermediate School. Always wanting to help people, Klinkiewicz became a nurse 15 years ago. Starting at the Primary School now, Klinkiewicz said it is “exciting.” Before this year she was a substitute at Wayne Highlands. As a school nurse, Klinkiewicz feels it is a different “aspect of nursing” because children spend most of their day in school, if not at home, which makes school the second most “influential place” for children. School nurses, promote issues such as health, growth and are able to work with teachers, which Klinkiewicz feels are important subjects she said.  

A nurse for 26 years, now Jean Pettinato will be a nurse in the high school. Last year, Pettinato substituted in the Primary School.  She also aided a child who needed a registered nurse. When she first entered the field, Pettinato said she didn’t realize what kind of nursing she wanted to do, but over the years she has worked with special needs adults and now with the young children and overall, she loves the field. Being a school nurse today, Pettinato said there is a lot to the profession since “we live in challenging times” as there are medical issues as well as being attentive to lifestyles and emotional issues. All of those components of life are something nurses must be aware of she said, and if necessary, communicate with others who may be able to assist in whatever the situation may be.

Since 2014 Van Acker has been subbing in the district. Before becoming a trained educator, Van Acker first started teaching when he taught guitar lessons at the age of 16, later going on to student teach in college. Because of an ability to engage students and offer them “different perspectives” Van Acker said he likes the work. While he is certified to teach high school social studies, soon Van Acker will obtain certification in art, which he already has in Texas.

It is because of his “youth and enthusiasm” that Van Acker believes he will stand out to his students since he graduated in 2009 and has been involved in the district since 2014. By being a younger staff member, Van Acker said he is able to “connect with students” because he is aware of things they may be interested in, whether it is the styles or TV shows. Educators have a “responsibility” since “kids are the future,” so teachers must work to aid students in becoming “good citizens in the community” by inspiring them to “achieve greater things.”

Because of a few “amazing teachers,” Booth said she discovered her interest in teaching when she was 14. Spanish, is a “world” that she loves because it is “so unique” and allows for never-ending learning opportunities. When she first learned Spanish, not as many people spoke the language in the area, which made the language “unique.” Always, Booth knew she wanted to travel and be a teacher, but combining the two interests was something she didn’t immediately realize. Today, she also teaches English as a second langue. Spanish and the culture is something Booth said she enjoys making “come alive.”

It is her “enthusiasm for Spanish” that Booth believes will make her stand out to her students. She acknowledged that her passion can be annoying to some, but to others it is “refreshing.” She will share her enthusiasm by using multiple learning methods because she doesn’t like to be bored and so, there will be lots of movement in the classroom. Students cannot just “regurgitate” the subject, said Booth, because Spanish is “real-world.” Consequently, lessons must be interactive. To use Spanish, students must practice via role-playing and engagement so speaking the language becomes “an impulse.”

Booth hopes that her students’ excitement grows and they go home speaking Spanish, perhaps singing or teaching their siblings the language. Teachers are important, Booth feels, because they help students realize what they love and then guide them if they decide to pursue the subject she said.  

Having a child in the Wallenpaupack district and substituting for five years now, Bryan said joining the educators has been a goal because of the “experiences” he has had thus far. He explained that there is a “positive attitude within the district” that resonates throughout the administration to the staff who are “awesome,” because they are “concerned” and “involved.” Bryan wants to be a part of those factors.

Having an ability to “connect” with students, Bryan said the connection is essential in building relationships with students because they are then “more willing to be involved in the learning process.” Teachers are important, because they have an “opportunity to touch the future” as they give students incite to academics and careers. As well, in “today’s world” Bryan said teachers have a “responsibility on the social end” that makes the relationship building essential. Before classes started, Bryan was most looking forward to working with the same students daily. Although he was a little nervous initially, Bryan called it a “good nervousness.”

Pettianto currently has two children in the district and her oldest daughter is a Wallenpaupack graduate. The district, Pettianot said she “absolutely loves” because the people and administration make Wallenpaupack a “fabulous” district mixed with a special “camaraderie” and “spirit.” Her oldest daughter went on to become a teacher too and that, Pettinato believes is because of the Wallenpaupack educators who helped her realize her “passion for learning and education.”

Because she has already been involved in the community, before classes started Pettianto anticipated some students already knowing her, since she is a parent too. Ready for the year to begin, Pettianto was most excited to meet the students who would make the job “fun.”

There was a time when Klinkiewicz wanted to be a doctor, but she later realized she preferred the “clinical aspect” of a nurse’s job and the continual interactions and hands-on aspects of the job she said. This is Klinkiewicz’s third year as a school nurse, prior she was at the Community Medical Center (CMC) in Scranton in the telemetry unit, then oncology and then same day recovery. Later, Klinkiewicz went on to open her own CPR basic first aid training center and now she is an instructor, traveling to locations to teach the subject.

To become a school nurse, Klinkiewicz went back to college to earn a school nurse certification and now, she wants to know what the students’ concerns are and hopes to educate them on subjects they’re interested in. Before classes started, Klinkiewicz said she was excited to learn about what she could implement to “make a difference” for the students.

Klinkiewicz also said school is the second most influential place for children and that is why she feels school nurses are important because not every child has a steady home life. As a result, perhaps a nurse can be that one person for a child to “click with.” Before classes started, Klinkiewicz felt every day would be a “new challenge” with the first few days being “chaotic.” Despite being a nurse for 15 years, Klinkiewicz was a bit nervous. But, more than anything she was excited to join the Wallenpuapack team and give the job her all.