10 SV teachers, staffers retire
June 18, 2014
JACKSON TWP — Ten teachers and other staff members with the Seneca Valley School District retired at the end of the school year, taking a cumulative 255 years of service with them. Many of them spent decades with the district, and all of them were honored June 11 at a luncheon at the school.
The most tenured of the them is Curt Johns, the middle school's dean of students who worked for the district for 37 years.
He started out as a science teacher at the middle school before becoming a guidance counselor for 15 years. He became the dean of students in 1998, a position that deals mainly with student discipline in a “quasi-administrative” role, he said.
Johns said that he'll miss many aspects of his job, including the daily interactions with colleagues and students.
Johns loved his job, if only for the fact that every day presented a new situation or circumstance.
“I might have gone to work at the same time every day, but what happened between then and when I left was different every single day,” he said. “I'll definitely miss that.”
It wasn't an easy decision to retire, Johns said, but it was a decision made easier knowing that the current staff is the best it's been during his tenure at Seneca Valley.
“As difficult as it is to leave, it's made easier knowing the teachers, administrators and school board are all very much interested and invested in the education of the children,” he said. “They are very connected to what's going on inside these walls. I can't say it's ever been better than it is now.”
Johns is proud of many things from his time with the district, but said he is most proud of the strides the district has made in the past several decades.
“I'm proud to be part of the growth of Seneca Valley, going from a smaller, semirural school to being one of the driving forces in education in Western Pennsylvania,” he said.
“We're on the cutting edge in education in many respects, and a lot of districts are looking to model their programs after ours. It was great being a part of that.”
Johns said he looks forward to spending more time with his grandchildren and enjoying the outdoors on a more frequent basis.
Susan Van Arsdale
Another long-tenured teacher is Susan Van Arsdale, a music teacher in the district for 36 years.
Like Johns, she said she'll most miss interacting with students on a daily basis.
“My favorite memory will always be the first lesson I would give a new band student and the excitement that child would have over seeing their new instrument for the first time,” she said. “It never got old for me seeing that child's face.”
She added that so many things have changed during her tenure as a teacher, with technological advances being the most prominent change.
“Computers in the classroom were nonexistent when I started teaching in 1978,” she said. “Now, everything is done with computers and students are good at using them.”
Rae Anne Bosnyak
Rae Anne Bosnyak was an instructional facilitator at Haine Elementary for 15 years before retiring.
She said there are many things in retirement she looks forward to, although there are many things she'll miss.
“My fondest memory is always the first day of school each year,” she said. “Students and teachers arrive with expectation and excitement for a new year. It makes me realize how fortunate I am to be a teacher and how much I enjoy my profession.”
Bosnyak said she takes “great pride” in being part of the Seneca Valley community, and that she's confident the staff will continue to take the school district to new heights.
“I know that all of the teachers and administrators are dedicated to providing the best education for each student we serve,” she said.
Superintendent Tracy Vitale said she is “forever appreciative” of the contributions made by the retiring teachers, and thanked them for dedicating their careers to education.
It's their hard work and dedication, she said, that has made Seneca Valley what it is today.
“There's no doubt in my mind that they are the reason we have been able to build and maintain educational excellence in our district,” she said. “It's difficult to imagine that they will no longer be in our buildings. However, they will forever remain a member of the Seneca Valley School District family. They will be missed.”
The other retiring teachers include senior high learning support specialist Donna Davison, who worked in the district for 20 years; Michael Lonzo, a custodian for 11 years; Michael Lutz, an intermediate high school science teacher for 29 years; Vicki MacDonald, an intermediate high school math teacher for 24 years; Leah McDowell, Haine Elementary grade 4 teacher for 24 years; Stephen Mayes, a senior high health and physical education teacher for 34 years; and Becky Tomei, an Evans City Middle School paraprofessional for 25 years.