It is Teacher Appreciation Week, and this year it is especially important to recognize Pennridge teachers and the incredible work they do for our kids, our families, and our community.
Ask any Pennridge parent, and you will hear story after story of our kids’ teachers going the extra mile to support students and make learning engaging. Ms. Granite and Ms. Wetzel’s Deibler kindergarteners recently imagined their own creative holidays, and now each day in May, the teachers are bringing the kids’ ideas to life. Bedminster Elementary students sometimes see Ms. Gall on the weekends when she supports her students by attending their outside-of-school concerts. At Guth, Ms. Childs’ class engages in fun-filled purposeful play, like transforming the room into an airport while incorporating math and reading skills. This type of engagement happens at the upper level as well. Ms. Stellino often comes in early and stays late so her North Middle School choir students can fit in extra rehearsal. Mr. Dertouzos’s Modern History class rewrites song lyrics using historical facts and then performs them for their peers. Mr. Czaplicki, inspired by his students’ enthusiasm for their studies, recently arranged a class trip to NYC for enrichment.
Our staff is the district’s greatest resource, and hiring and retaining outstanding educators is essential to our students’ success. Both across the country and here in PA there is an alarming teacher shortage. Last year, state teacher programs graduated a record low number of certified educators. Teachers have options, and, as any business model should tell us, we can’t afford to let our exceptional talent leave.
Unfortunately, the Pennridge School Board majority has repeatedly shown disrespect toward our district’s teachers, discounting their expertise in best practices for instruction, and insinuating that teachers need to be monitored and censored in the classroom. Graduation requirements have been reduced against teachers’ recommendations, and purchased resources and paid hours of curriculum writing have gone to waste as the result of haphazard decision making by the school board. Most recently, a consultant in business for only four months was given a contract at $125/hour (plus unlimited expenses) to oversee teachers’ work. Meanwhile, our Pennridge educators are some of the lowest paid in the county. Their contract is up in June, and despite the district’s healthy financial outlook, the board has not demonstrated thus far that they will negotiate in good faith.
I am grateful to Pennridge teachers for all they do for their students. For those in the community who share this gratitude, I would encourage you not only to show them your appreciation, but also to advocate to our school board that they use their power to retain them, and to attract new, highly qualified teachers to our district.
Dawn Curran, Bedminster Resident and Pennridge Parent