Blue Ridge welcomes new staffers to district

There will be some new faces in the Blue Ridge School District when classes begin next month.

The school board welcomed new teachers and staff members after approving them for hire at the Monday, July 18, meeting.

The following teachers were hired: Erin Brown, secondary Science;

Jennifer James, secondary Math;

Kimberly Hurst, secondary Math;

Danelle Hinkley, long-term sub, elementary Special Education;

Deirdre Hobart, long-term sub, middle school History/English.

The board tabled the hiring for one secondary Science teacher position that appeared on the agenda.

The board approved the hiring of Erin Stec as an IT Support Specialist/Para Educator, effective Aug. 8.

Nine other Para Educators were also hired at the meeting: Chad Bennett, Brian Bais, Maura Gillespie, Amanda Hall, Michelle DesLonde, Kellie Jesse, Jenna Crocker, Melissa Tierney, and Audrey Cameron.

Nicholas Swaha joins the staff, effective July 19, as the Director of Transportation and Athletics/Activities.

The hirings came following the resignations of Scott Summers, Athletic Director/Trainer; Paul Sokoloski, secondary Math teacher; Sarah Herbert, secondary Math teacher and National Honor Society advisor; Mimi Tilberry, LTS secondary English teacher; and Jennifer Bowker, Para Educator.

As the district readies for the coming school year, the board also approved the addition of two volunteer advisor positions:

Paul Oliver as the advisor of the middle school Interact Club, a Rotary youth service club; and John Ord as the advisor for the middle- and high school Archery Club.

A list of van and bus drivers will Cosmello Busing, Hawk Busing, MacGeorge Busing and Lewis Busing was approved.

Prior to the meeting, the board met in executive session to discuss personnel, as well as a potential land purchase.

In the public comment portion of the meeting, Rebecca Bourassa and son Josh thanked the board and school administrators for allowing Josh’s participation at graduation. Josh has Krabbe Disease, a rare genetic disease of the nervous system.

Bourassa told the board that Josh’s wish had been to “go to school and meet friends.” She offered her thanks to Principal Casey Webster (who was not present at the meeting) for helping to make that happen. However, amid COVID concerns, Bourassa said she pulled her son from in-person classes, but that he really wanted to graduate.

“Graduation is a big deal,” Bourassa said, “It was their special day, and they made it special for him, too.”

Josh – who was seated among the Class of 2022 – was presented with a certificate of completion during the graduation ceremony by Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Jeffrey Burman.

“Thank you,” Josh told the board.

Board members briefly discussed a request of support from Hallstead Borough for planned upgrades in fencing and lighting at the ballfield located on Route 11.

Superintendent Matthew Button told the board the borough expects project costs of about $89,000.

The school’s softball team uses the field.

Board president Jessica Wright noted that the district maintains the field during the season. “I would be hesitant,” she said. “Multiple people use (the field).”

Board member Brooke Slocum asked if any of the other organizations that use the field are also contributing to the upgrades.

The district had hoped to move back to a 3 p.m. dismissal time this year, but Button said that in order to cover classes, the schedule will be amended back to the 2:20 p.m. dismissal time, giving teachers a prep period at the end of the day.


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