“The struggles I’m facing/ The chances I’m taking/ Sometimes might knock me down but/ No I’m not breaking/ I may not know it/ But these are the moments that/ I’m going to remember most,” are lyrics from the popular song “The Climb” that resonate with all Western Wayne faculty and staff and are especially meaningful to faculty new to the district for the 2018-19 school year. The song was played during a presentation on Pride in Differentiation on Wednesday, Aug. 22 at the opening day in-service for all district employees.
New teachers attended an additional new teacher induction day on Tuesday, Aug. 21 at the District Office. All 11 new faculty members are eager to assist all students with any struggle or challenge they will face throughout the school year and look forward to making the climb to success at Western Wayne with them on a daily basis.
The new teachers include: MaryBeth Booth, long-term substitute high school Spanish; Hannah Fornes, long-term substitute elementary music; Amanda Gruszewski, special education high school; Jessica Short, ELA and science middle school; Samantha Antosh, long-term substitute high school English; Joyce Covaleski, middle school chorus; Ashley Kromko, first grade; Helene Tscheschlog, high school biology; Steven Rovinsky, emotional support; Tara Morcom, elementary guidance counselor; and Melissa Cottone, elementary behavioral specialist.
The new Western Wayne staff members come from a variety of backgrounds yet all share the same passion for working with Wildcat students.
High School biology teacher Helene Tscheschlog comes to us most recently from East Stroudsburg Area High School North where she taught for the last 11 years. While at North, she earned her master’s degree in 2010 from Wilkes University and has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware.
Tscheschlog enjoys teaching biology because of the many new innovations and technologies that enable her and her students to understand more about life.
“It’s exciting to see how scientists take things to the next level and how we are continuously expanding the reaches of the human brain,” Tscheschlog said. “I am excited to work with such great minds and good spirits at Western Wayne! There is a sense of pride that students exude throughout the school that is contagious.”
Fellow new high school faculty member Samantha Antosh, long-term substitute for high school English, also is very excited to share in the pride with her students this year.
“I am very excited to be a part of the Western Wayne community because everyone is so friendly and everything is about helping the students grow and learn,” Antosh explained. “I look forward to seeing what my students will accomplish this year.”
Antosh comes to Western Wayne most recently from a long-term substitute position at Valley View last school year in 7th grade English. She graduated from Marywood University in 2016 and has also been a substitute teacher at North Pocono School District and the Howard Gardner School. She is thrilled to bring her passion for teaching English to Western Wayne.
“My favorite part of teaching English is seeing the students connect with the texts that we read and seeing them overcome struggles in their writing,” she said.
Another new full-time employee is Jessica Short who teaches multiple subjects in the middle school. Short is no stranger to the district. She has been at Western Wayne since the 2016-17 school year when she did a long-term substitute position as a 7th grade language arts teacher. The following school year she did a long term position in 6th grade language arts. Now, for the present school year, Short has been hired full time to teach 6th grade science, 7th grade ELA, and 8th grade ELA.
Prior to working at Western Wayne, Short did long-term substituting at Mountain View in 7th and 2nd grades for two half year positions. Short holds certificates in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Middle School Math, Middle School ELA, and Pre-K through 12 ELA. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Wilkes University.
Short is excited to teach ELA full-time at Western Wayne. “I have always loved reading. Being able to share that love with my students every day is more amazing than words can describe,” Short explained. “I love seeing the light bulbs in their minds turn on when they make a connection.”
Coworker MaryBeth Booth, a long-term substitute for Spanish in the high school, also enjoys helping her students to make connections to her content area.
“I most enjoy empowering students with the ability to connect to other cultures through language,” Booth explained.
Booth previously worked at Wallenpaupack Area High School for 12 years and has also taught at Marywood University along with having studied in Ecuador and Spain on various occasions.
“I have spent several weeks working in orphanages in Venezuela and Colombia,” Booth said. “I have also travelled to Costa Rica and Mexico. I enjoy experiencing other cultures.”
Booth’s students feel eager to learn from an educator with such vast experiences similar to fellow Western Wayne Middle School music teacher Joyce Covaleski.
Covaleski explains that teaching is her “third and most beloved career choice” having worked previously as a Music Therapist and Registered Nurse.
Previously, Covaleski worked at LaSalle Academy in Jessup PA where she taught General Music PreK-8, 8th Grade Religion, and three choirs, and two bands.
“When I started at LaSalle, there was one combined choir for grades 3-8 in a school of over 500 students,” Covaleski explained. “I started the traditional band program from the ground up, finding the best rental agreement for our parents, and teaching students everything they needed to know to play and care for their instruments.”
Among many other accomplishments, Covaleski started a rock band group for advanced students at LaSalle that would even at times accompany students in their general music concerts. Covaleski also broke the choir up into different groups for different purposes. Her show choir group was called the Choir of St. Cecilia of LaSalle Academy and performed all over Lackawanna County.
“Last year, my choir performed twice at the Cathedral for Mass, which was a great honor,” she explained. “Also, I was selected to be the conductor for the Combined Choir for the Diocese’s 150th Anniversary Mass for the Holy Cross School System, a tremendous honor and highlight of my career.”
Covaleski feels very excited to share her vast experience in music education with the Western Wayne community.
“I am very excited about the new opportunities I will find at Western Wayne. I am excited to help our Middle School students build confidence and find their voices,” Covaleski said. “I am excited to show our Wildcat Pride by taking our choral groups out into the community for various performance opportunities. I am very excited to be part of a music program with a reputation for excellence, and I hope to contribute to that excellence.”
Elementary new hire Ashley Kromko, first grade teacher, can’t wait to spend the year contributing to the environment of Western Wayne excellence at the elementary level.
“I am so excited to be a part of the Western Wayne Community!” Kromko said. “I am a graduate of Western Wayne, so it’s very exciting and fun to teach and give back to the community that helped shape me into becoming an educator. I also have worked with wonderful colleagues throughout the years, which has made the district feel more like a second home.”
Kromko had yearly long-term substitute positions at Western Wayne in the past for grades 4, 2,1, and physical education. She is thrilled to now be a permanent member of the Wildcat community doing what she loves.
“My favorite part about teaching elementary students is how excited and eager they are to learn,” Kromko explained. “Nothing can beat starting your day with hugs or smiles at your door, for students who are happy to see you and be in school.”
Elementary co-worker Hannah Fornes, long-term substitute in elementary music, also is eager to share her talents with young Wildcat music students.
This is Fornes first teaching position after having recently graduated from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a degree in music education.
“My favorite part about teaching music is getting to share my passion for music with students and seeing them enjoy learning the concepts I teach them in class,” Fornes explained. “I am most excited about working in the Western Wayne community because growing up not too far from here, I always knew Western Wayne had a very solid background in supporting the arts in education and I am proud to now be a part of that legacy.”
Fellow educator Steven Rovinsky, emotional support teacher, feels just as passionate about his career as Fornes.
Rovinsky earned a degree in speech language pathology from Penn State University and a master’s in special education K-8 with elementary education certification K-4 from Marywood University.
“Over the past several years I have worked in a variety of educational environments at all grade levels,” Rovinsky explained. “I quickly developed a passion for helping students with severe emotional needs and behavioral problems succeed within the context of their classrooms. Special education in terms of a field is exciting from my perspective as I get to work closely and directly have an impact on that student’s growth. It is an honor to work at the Western Wayne School District and provide services for students in the community.”
Amanda Gruszewski, high school special education teacher, also feels honored to provide her services to students in the Western Wayne community.
Gruszewski graduated from Wilkes University with a degree in criminology and from Marywood University with a master’s in education. She worked in education for three years before her position at Western Wayne and feels like this will be her best year in the field yet.
“Everyone here is very welcoming, including the students, which makes each day a wonderful day to be here,” Gruszewski said.
Part of new hire Tara Morcom’s job is making sure her elementary students feel welcome on a daily basis through her position as an elementary guidance counselor.
Morcom received her B.S. in psychology with a counseling concentration from East Stroudsburg University in 2015. During her time at ESU, she interned with East Stroudsburg Area High School South’s Guidance Department. She also graduated from The University of Scranton in 2017 with her M.S. in school counseling.
During graduate school, she interned at Mid Valley Elementary Center and spent time working as a TSS for NHS in Carbondale. Immediately prior to gaining employment at Western Wayne, she worked as an elementary/ middle school counselor at East Stroudsburg Area School District.
“My favorite part about being an elementary counselor is seeing the smiles on students’ faces and witnessing their success. It is a privilege to be given the opportunity to positively impact a student’s life and play a role in his/ her life,” Morcom explained. “When you, as a counselor, see your students’ grow, apply skills you have worked with them to develop, and overcome obstacles, the feeling is indescribable.”
Coworker Melissa Cottone, elementary behavioral specialist, also loves helping students to gain the confidence they need to achieve successes in their lives.
Cottone has worked previously as a mental health professional and behavior analyst. She has worked with many children/ adolescents and their families in a variety of settings from working with families in their homes to intensive clinical settings to private practice. All of these experience has led her to the Western Wayne community.
“Working with students with special needs has been my passion,” Cottone explained. “Helping students grow behaviorally and emotionally is a very rewarding experience. I think what excites me most about being part of the Western Wayne community is that I get to work with a fantastic group of professionals. As individuals we can come up with good ideas, but those ideas can become great when working as a team.”
All of Western Wayne’s new hires look forward to continuing their team work throughout this school year as they work toward the common goal of helping each unique Western Wayne student thrive in the Wildcat community and beyond.