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Panther Vy. honors retiring teachers, hires 5

The Panther Valley School Board recognized two of its seven retiring teachers Wednesday night and hired five teachers to fill slots created by those retirements.

Eighth-grade English teacher Kim Laird and second-grade teacher Jo Anne Damian were presented gifts from high school Principal Patricia Ebbert and district Assistant Principal Paula Jones.

Superintendent David McAndrew Jr. and board members thanked them for their years of service. Laird taught at Panther Valley for more than 38 years, and Damian for more than 32 years.

Retirement is bittersweet, Damian said. She feels it takes a village to raise a child, and she has been proud to be part of that collective effort from the administration on down in helping children achieve.

“The hardest part will be to leave that behind,” she said, adding that she will probably still substitute.

Laird thanked Panther Valley for taking a chance on her more than 38 years ago and hiring her.

“I’m a Jersey girl who transplanted myself here, and my heart will always be here with the kids, the staff and all of you, because this is the most amazing place I’ve ever been,” Laird said.

“I have seen kids in the worst home situations that you can imagine, and just come into the classroom and shine because of the people who are here,” she said. “So, thank you.”

The Panther Valley Education Association also congratulated these 2024 school-year retirees: Barbara Hadnagy, Ann Marie Dixon, Liz Saxon, Lucy Kozuch and Robert Thomas, all teachers, and Francine Collevechio and Lisa Macalush, paraprofessionals, on its social media page.

The board also hired five teachers for the start of the 2024-25 school year.

Hired at a salary of $45,003 per year per the teachers’ union contract were: Jacob Taras as an eighth grade English language arts teacher; Julian Costa and Alysha Neff as junior/senior high school special education teachers.

The board also hired Angelina Degler as a second grade elementary school teacher at a salary of $57,277, and Tiffany Bachert as an intermediate school Title I reading teacher at a salary of $58,842. Both rates were per the union contract.

The board also hired Keith Degler as a full-time secretary/transportation clerk effective June 20 at a rate of $16.50 an hour, pending clearances.


The board approved the following teacher transfers: Tiana Barnetti from high school special education to intermediate school life skills; Tatiana Trexler from intermediate life skills to intermediate learning support; Cori Gates from fifth grade English language arts to fourth grade social studies; Michelle Teetz, from intermediate Title I to fifth grade English language arts, and Kim Bittle from seventh grade special education to eighth grade math.


The board also approved the following college courses for two junior/senior high school teachers.

They are Joseph Damiano, Intro to Individuals with Exceptionalities, three-credit course at $516 a credit, at Bloomsburg University; and Evelyn Hydock, The Principalship and Educational Administration, three-credit courses, at $516 a credit, at Point Park University.

Other personnel

The board also approved:

• Placing Tatiana Trexler, an intermediate schoolteacher in the master’s degree column of the union pay scale, effective in the coming school year.

• The following staff for the 2024 Summer Literacy Program: Alice Andrews, Diane Buchman and Amber McFadden.

• Jane Jewells and Jessica Wehr as volunteers, retroactive to May 2024.

• The first reading of the policy number 249, Bullying/Cyberbullying. McAndrew pointed out that there is no change in the policy, but it must be updated on a regular basis.

The Panther Valley School District administrators and board members recognized and thanked two of its long-serving teachers, Kim Laird, second from left, and Jo Anne Damian, center, as they retire this year. Pictured, from left, are: District Assistant Principal Paula Jones, Laird, Damian, Superintendent Dave McAndrew and high school Principal Patricia Ebbert. KELLY MONITZ SOCHA/TIMES NEWS