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When you stay at a place of employment long enough, you see many friends move on for several different reasons. As they do, the district often looks to fill those positions, and at times, even creates different positions based on the needs at any given time.

And again, this year, we welcomed new folks into the district, filling various capacities.

As I do every year, I contact each new hire and give them the opportunity to be included within the article introducing our newest district members. I respect the decisions of each individual: Some wish to be included, and others respectfully decline.

This article will highlight five people whom we have welcomed to our district recently. I will introduce them in alphabetical order:

• Jessie Jefferds, a district parent, Elbridge graduate and now a one-to-one aide, once provided day care for family members, which also allowed her to be a stay-at-home parent. Having a passion for gardening and spending time with her family, the favorite part of her position is working with children, as she works to learn every need her students have.

• Kayla Lake is a former student of mine and daughter of a wonderful friend, that being Julie Hotchkiss. Kayla actually joined us during the school year last year. Also a one-to-one aide prior to her new position, she was a stay-at-home parent after working at Doug’s Fish Fry in Skaneateles. She completed her two-year associate degree at Cayuga Community College, with a major in liberal arts. When I asked her what she loves about her job, she expressed that it is having the opportunity each day to see all of the children.

• Deb Parker has joined us as an academic intervention specialist. Working part-time for our district, Parker recently retired from the North Syracuse Central School District. With a bachelor’s degree in elementary education for K-12 and a master’s degree in reading education for K-12, she finds that the most challenging part of her position is the unfortunate limitation of time necessary to meet the needs of each learner. Enjoying living and boating on Cross Lake, Parker decided to continue her career in an effort to help students struggling in math and reading. Parker told me she “loves figuring out what keeps at-risk learners from being successful, and then works to convince them that they can learn with the correct instruction.”

• District alumni and longtime community member George Piascik has been hired as our recreation attendant at the fitness center. He is also the scorekeeper for basketball, in addition to being a special friend, and parent of one of my previous students and now district employee Patrick “PJ” Piascik. A retired master scheduler at Xylem, Piascik enjoys playing golf and spending time with his grandchildren. He also greatly enjoys spending quality time around the students and community members of Weedsport schools.

• Lastly, but by no means least, Deb Wilke joins our staff, and received her bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from the University of Buffalo, and her master’s degree from Le Moyne in inclusive elementary education. What used to be ESL (English as a second language) is now ENL (English as a new language). Wilke is the district’s ENL instructor in our building, and came to us after doing so in the Syracuse City School District. Prior to Wilke’s career in teaching, she worked for about 20 years in health care, finance and compliance, in addition to health insurance contracting, while volunteering her time with Literacy Volunteers of Syracuse, working as an ESL instructor of basic literacy to adults. When asked what she loves about her position, she said, “I love learning about the culture and native languages of my students. I enjoy getting to know the families.” She went on to tell me that she “has met amazing people from all over the world, and it’s been a life-changing experience for her.”

Each individual brings so much to our table, and more importantly, to our students.

Their beginnings and previous experiences are wonderfully diversified, and help to enrich our school community that much more.

I close with a sincere welcome to all of our newest members of the Weedsport Central School District, and wish each of you well while staying with us and beyond!

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Lynn Cheche Baker is currently a third grade teacher within the Weedsport Central School District and is the owner and instructor of the Successful Steps Tutoring Service in Auburn. She can be reached at (315) 253-0750.

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