York Avenue: Memories of Mrs. Roach

Throughout the course of the first semester, I wrote about my incredible experience at the North Penn School District in five posts. With the hopes of not only expressing my genuine appreciation for the education that I received, but also conveying how my K-12 experience helped me discover my passion for education, I mainly focused on broad subjects, such as York Avenue Elementary School as a whole or the NPHS staff collectively.

Within each of the five posts from last semester lie stories, and I think telling these stories will help convey how meaningful my experience as a student was. While this idea of storytelling might seem like I’m wandering from the idea of connecting each post to my passion for education, I can promise you that I’m not. Each story has stayed with me for a reason, and they remind me every day of why I am so passionate about education.

My blog format for this semester will follow the same outline as the last, but here’s a little reminder, since it’s been a while:

  • Post One: York Avenue Elementary School
  • Post Two: Penndale Middle School
  • Post Three: NPHS Classes, Clubs, and other opportunities
  • Post Four: NPHS Staff
  • Post Five: NPSD Organizations

With that said, it’s time for the first story from York Avenue. As an elementary school student, I was blessed with incredible teachers, like Mrs. Groth, Mr. Melchior, Mrs. Ferretti, Mrs. Roach, Miss Harper, Mrs. McGuire (I was lucky enough to have her two years in a row!), Mrs. Bryan, and so many more.

However, some of the most beautiful memories that I have from York Avenue are with Mrs. Roach, who was not only my third-grade teacher, but also a Penn State alum. In fact, one of her classroom management techniques involved her yelling, “WE ARE,” and the students responding with, “PENN STATE!” This was used to quiet the class down or get everyone back on task.

Mrs. Roach unfortunately passed away, but I think of her beautiful soul constantly. I think of how she would invite her sister, who we called Aunt Helen, into the classroom to bring us cookies from the bakery she worked at, how she was so passionate about the “Goin’ Buggy” play we put on, how she would brag about our class all of the time, how she sat us all down on the floor and explained some of the health issues she was having.

When Mrs. Roach passed away, an award, The Loli Roach Spirit Award, was created in her memory, and it would be given out at the sixth-grade awards ceremony by her family. When my time at York Avenue came to an end, I was fortunate enough to receive this award. I cherish the plaque with her picture on it and the crazy hat (She was known for wearing crazy hats, so this is a part of the award) that I was given.

As a third grader, I never imagined that I would be in the College of Education at Penn State yelling the same “WE ARE” chant that Mrs. Roach used in the classroom. Or that I would remember the red “Hot Seat” in her classroom that was used when a student was reading to the class. Or that I’d smile at the thought of the “Goin’ Buggy” play and all of the cute costumes we wore. Or that I’d recall the excitement I felt when Aunt Helen paid a visit. My memories of Mrs. Roach remind me of the beauty and lasting impression of a teacher.

A district of opportunity: highlighting the work of NPSD organizations

When I think of North Penn School District (NPSD), I think of opportunity. Not only is the district staffed with some of the most passionate, professional, inspiring, dedicated educators that a school could have, but also offers something for everyone. The latter part of that statement may sound cliché, but it’s true. The NPSD never rests, because it’s always busy with organizations working to improve the educational opportunities and experiences for the students in the district. With that said, I’m going to be talking about how the organizations in the NPSD provide the students with incredible opportunities that provide students with a unique, enriching education.

All of the organizations affiliated or in partnership with NPSD have one thing in common: they want to help the students. Throughout my educational career at NPSD, I was lucky enough to become familiar with many organizations, but I want to highlight two in particular in this post, because they impacted me in ways that I’ll never be able to express accurately.

The first organization, The Educational Foundation, is a separate entity from NPSD, but works in partnership with the district to provide financial support for the schools. As a ninth grader, I was allowed to serve as a student liaison with The Educational Foundation, and I was able to witness how many community members and district employees really value the enrichment of students’ education. Seeing all of the time, money, and effort that the trustees and NPSD community members contributed to ensure that The Foundation could keep funding grants that NPSD educators can apply for was a unique feeling and something that I will always appreciate.

I try to imagine how NPSD would be different without The Foundation, and I realize just how many experiences would be missing. Since 1988, over $1 million in grants have been funded throughout the district in grades K-12 covering the following areas: English as a Second Language, Health/Physical Education, Music/Arts, Reading/Writing/Language, Special/Gifted Education, Family Outreach, History/Social Studies, Science, STEM, and Other.

The second organization, The International Friendship Committee, is an exchange program that seeks to promote peace and understanding in the world by sending and receiving students. When I was a sophomore at NPHS, I applied for the opportunity to study abroad in Spain through this organization, and I was fortunate enough to be selected. The fact that NPSD has an organization that values educating their students about peace, foreign countries, languages, and cultures, and global citizenship is admirable.

For the students at NPHS, the experience is funded through a full scholarship. In order to ensure that the scholarship is fully funded for each student, the IFC hosts craft shows in the NPHS cafeteria on a Saturday. Having volunteered at the craft shows myself, it’s amazing how the IFC transforms the area from a cafeteria to a lively atmosphere where crafters from all over come to support the students.

NPSD is home to many more organizations, but I think that the above two do a great job representing just how many opportunities that the district offers. As a former student, these organizations have allowed me to prosper in more ways than I can count. As a future educator, these organizations inspire me to ensure that my students have access to opportunities like these.

Thank you to all of the organizations in NPSD!

NPHS Part 2: How the staff influenced my passion for education

Have you ever considered how different your life would be without someone who has influenced you significantly? I’ve internally considered this question every single day for a few years now with regards to the staff at NPHS. I wonder how my passion for education would have developed differently without their presence, guidance, and constant involvement; I strongly believe that without the strong team of staff members at NPHS, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Nothing that I could ever say or do would accurately express the appreciation that I have for them, but I think that dedicating this post to them is a start. With that said, I’ll be discussing the staff’s passion for education, intense dedication and involvement, and positive attitude to demonstrate how they helped to develop my passion for education.

Their Passion

I think one of the most important characteristics of the NPHS staff is their obvious passion for education. I always had the feeling that the staff not only genuinely wanted to be there, but also wanted to ensure that the students were successful, which made me more excited and appreciative of my education.

Their passion was contagious too. Witnessing the excitement and enthusiasm that teachers, administrators, custodians, lunch ladies and gentlemen, security personnel, guidance counselors, secretaries, and numerous other staff members demonstrated at NPHS made me feel more passionate about the opportunities that education offers.   

Their Dedication and Involvement

It’s important to realize that NPHS isn’t a building that runs on a set schedule. Because of all of the events, activities, and other opportunities, the building barely sleeps. In order for any of these things to happen for the students’ benefit, the staff needs to be present and willing to participate.

Whether it was seeing the principals present and actively involved after hours and on the weekends, attending AP review sessions hosted by teachers in the evenings, receiving extensive help from guidance counselors throughout the college application process, staying after school for extra help, realizing how many staff members serve as advisors for extracurricular activities and organizations, etc., it’s clear that the staff dedicates so much more of their time than what their job description outlines.

There’s something to be said about the time and effort that the NPHS staff puts into ensuring that students receive a quality education inside and outside of the classroom. Without their dedication and involvement, I wouldn’t have been exposed to the various ways staff members can make a school a better environment.

Their Positive Attitude

As a student at NPHS, I was always excited to come to school. While I was excited to learn and challenge myself, I think I was more excited to see the staff, because their positive attitude had such a large impact on my educational experience.

NPHS always felt like home to me; however, that feeling wasn’t established by the building itself. The environment of the school was, and continues to be, cultivated by the attitude of the staff. Without their positive attitude, I never would have felt so welcome there or eager to learn, share my thoughts, or get involved.

 

As a future educator, I hope to follow in the footsteps of the staff at NPHS and always appreciate what they’ve done for me. Thank you, NPHS staff!

Here’s a slideshow of photos of some NPHS staff members:

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NPHS: Outlining the importance of the classes and extracurriculars

After having such an incredible experience at Penndale Middle School over the course of three years, I was pretty disappointed to leave; however, I was excited to take on new challenges and reap the benefits of the endless opportunities and variety of resources at North Penn High School (NPHS). To accurately capture how NPHS developed my passion for education, I’ve decided to divide and conquer. In this post, I’ll be covering the classes and extracurricular activities and organizations, and the following post will revolve around the staff.

Classes

Simply put, NPHS offers a ton of classes. I think it’s important to point out two main characteristics of the classes offered: the level of difficulty and the variety. When it was time to schedule, I always found myself wanting to take more classes than I could fit into my schedule, because I always felt like I was missing out on an interesting class or an opportunity to challenge myself.

Having the chance to attend a school that not only recognizes, but also supports the varying performance levels and interests of their students is crucial. In doing so, NPHS embodies the idea that education is not one-size-fits-all and recognizes the importance of exposure.

Reflecting on all of the classes I had the opportunity to take at NPHS, I have to say that I appreciate each and every one of them. Each class allowed me to realize the importance of providing our students with rich academic experiences through a variety of classes offered at different levels. Not only that, but I’m grateful for what I learned and how I was prepared.

While I loved all of my classes, courses like News Journalism and AP Literature and Spanish are just a few that allowed me to pursue my passion and interests. In addition, once I came to college, I realized how much of an impact one single class can impact you. I find myself regularly referencing the classes I was fortunate enough to take.

Extracurricular Activities and Organizations

With over 75 clubs and activities offered at NPHS, there proves to be something for everyone. Emphasizing the importance of learning experiences available outside of the classroom, NPHS cultivates an environment that not only places an emphasis on academic achievement, but also pursuing individual interests and experiential learning. 

The clubs and activities allow students to experiment with the concept of membership, showcase their talents, pursue leadership opportunities, and learn how to manage academics and extracurricular activities. Because NPHS is home to over 3,000 students, getting involved in the unique, diverse culture makes the large environment feel more like a family.

When I try to imagine NPHS without The Knight Crier, the sports department, the theatre and arts programs, the International Friendship Committee, the flyers for different club meetings, fundraising events, etc., I always wonder how high school would have been different.

I think that the clubs and activities are what make NPHS so unique. The high school is so inclusive, and it’s a special feeling to know that your high school supports its students. I always had the feeling that NPHS was always awake; the building was always being used for something, whether it was a baseball game, play practice, or various club meetings.

 

Thank you, North Penn High School!

Penndale Middle School: A turning point in my education

I remember I spent the night before my first day of middle school wide awake for what felt like hours. After finally falling asleep, I woke up ridiculously early to make sure I was prepared, dressed, and early for the bus. Because I felt so at home in my elementary school, I was pretty nervous about transitioning to a new environment, where I would have to learn everything from scratch. What I didn’t know then was that this new environment, Penndale Middle School, would be the home of the discovery of my passion for education. Throughout this post, I’m going to discuss how the size and diversity, opportunities, and staff at Penndale helped develop my passion.

Size and Diversity

Amongst the three middle schools in the district, Penndale was the largest. While the size and number of students was a bit intimidating at first, I quickly realized the benefits of attending a large public school. Not a day went by that I didn’t meet someone new, whether it was a student, teacher, or staff member.

With such a large student and staff population, the diversity in my school was incredible. Throughout my three years at Penndale, I was able to interact with and learn from students who came from different backgrounds, spoke different languages, had different interests, etc. Penndale made me realize that being different is what cultivates an enriching learning environment.

Opportunities

Throughout middle school, I was involved with various sports, clubs, and organizations. I ran and eventually managed Girls’ Track and Field, was a member of the National Junior Honor Society and the Harassment and Bullying Intervention Taskforce team, served as a student liaison for the district’s Educational Foundation, and volunteered for various events.

Having the chance to take advantage of the countless opportunities at Penndale, I realized that some of the richest, most influential learning experiences occur outside of the classroom in an uncontrolled environment. With that said, I’ll always appreciate the fact that Penndale allowed their students to involve themselves with extracurricular activities to explore their interests and expand their knowledge.

Staff

I decided to save the best for last. While size and diversity and opportunities undoubtedly played a major role, the staff at Penndale is who truly allowed me to realize the impact that education can have in a student’s life. Each teacher that I was fortunate enough to have and staff member that I interacted or worked with, made me want to come to school. It was the staff’s passion that made me excited to learn and challenge myself.

I think that when students feel supported by and connect with the staff in their school, their feelings about the environment of school improve. If I had to characterize the Penndale staff in five words, I would describe them as inspiring, passionate, supportive, encouraging, and considerate. Because Penndale is home to too many wonderful staff members, I don’t want to name anyone specifically and accidently leave someone out. I just want my readers to know that the Penndale staff cultivated a positive learning environment that I will forever be grateful for.

Thank you, Penndale Middle School!

How York Avenue paved the way for my passion

Over the course of thirteen years, I had the privilege of being a student in the North Penn School District (NPSD). Throughout my educational career at NPSD, I discovered my passion for education. If it weren’t for the excellent academics, plethora of opportunities, and highly qualified, supportive, encouraging staff members in the district, I’m not sure where or how I would have discovered my passion. Although I’ve always tried my best to show appreciation towards the district and those who have helped me, I know I can do better.

By dissecting the origins and development of my passion, I’ve decided to dedicate this blog to acknowledging who contributed to the discovery and development of my passion in each post. I decided to make a little spoiler alert by outlining the general anticipated blog post schedule:

  • Week One: York Avenue Elementary School
  • Week Two: Penndale Middle School
  • Week Three: NPHS Classes, Clubs, and other opportunities
  • Week Four: NPHS Staff
  • Week Five: NPSD organizations

With that said, it’s time to talk about York Avenue. As an elementary school student, I definitely was not thinking about my passion, because I probably didn’t even understand the true meaning behind the word at that point. However, while I was unaware of the possibilities for the future, I think my experience there allowed my passion for education to develop positively.

Looking back, I value the fact that the school was so small (I think my sixth-grade class had about 60 students), because York Avenue always felt like home to me. I went to school with and grew up with the same group of kids that lived in my neighborhood, so I often thought of my peers as family. I think this type of environment that I felt from York Avenue is crucial in any elementary school, because it sets the tone for how students will view school in the future.

In addition to the atmosphere and environment of York Avenue, I want to take the time to acknowledge the teachers I had and staff members that I built a relationship with. If it weren’t for the caring, dedicated teachers that I had, like Mrs. Roach, who put on the annual third grade play, or Mrs. McGuire, who helped me develop my writing skills, I don’t think that I would have enjoyed class so much. I’ll always value the relationships I made with the staff, too, like the custodian Mr. Wayne and the secretaries Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Brennan.

As a student in college, I appreciate the nature of my educational experience at York Avenue on a much deeper level. The teachers and staff members didn’t simply come to work; they came to educate and inspire young minds through interesting lessons, projects, and discussions. I strongly believe that my positive experience at York Avenue led me in the right path to discover my passion. As I pursue my goal to become an educator, I will always remember these experiences and never forget how influential a teacher, staff member, or learning setting can be. Thank you, York Avenue Elementary School!