BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
A Clarkston school bus pulled up to Cook’s Farm Dairy on Aug. 13 and a slew of new district teachers unloaded to go enjoy ice cream and each other’s company during an orientation activity.
This year, a total of 28 new teachers and staff members have been hired to fill positions across the district. The teachers are replacing teachers that have either left the district or retired. Of the 28, nine were 2018-19 late hires that attended orientation this year.
“The community I grew up in has always been so welcoming and so friendly,” said Springfield Plains kindergarten teacher Melissa Chamberlain, also a 2011 Clarkston graduate in his second year of teaching after getting hired the week before school started last summer. “I’ve known that I wanted to be a teacher since I was young and seeing all the teachers and their love of learning and passion for education in Clarkston.
“It’s absolutely a dream come true to teach here. I like that you can have fun with the kids and with kindergarten, every day is different, and the kids are so energetic. They love coming to school every day, and it’s so exciting to see them all grow and learn throughout the year.”
Chamberlain noted that in the few years since she was a student in Clarkston, many things have become bigger and better.
“I feel like Clarkston Pride has become even more,” she said. “It was a thing when I was in high school, obviously, with the football team and everything, but so much has grown, like athletics and robotics. Every aspect has grown and is more recognizable across the state and even further than that.”
Samantha Wiens-Wice, a physical education teacher at Clarkston High School, joined the district last school year and can’t wait to get rolling in his first full year at CHS.
“I came in just after spring break from Royal Oak,” explained Wiens-Wice. “I was lucky enough that there was an opening and I got to be here at the end of the school year, which was very fun. It’s extremely exciting to be back. When I got hired in, we didn’t know if I was going to be able to stay at the high school but then I found out I was, and I was just ecstatic. The facilities here are gorgeous and I love this atmosphere. I have worked in other districts and this, by far, has been my favorite atmosphere. I remember walking around after my interview and just thinking, ‘Can I stay here, please?”
Wiens-Wice said she teaches stress management and female team sports, “not necessarily something that is a traditional PE setting.”
“It’s still very fun, and I enjoy doing those classes,” she said. “I learn a lot with the kids, which they think is funny because I am not the best yogi and there are poses I struggle with right along with them, so I think that also makes me look a little bit more human and gives a better connection to know that not everyone is good at everything. It’s OK to fail and be really bad at something, as long as you keep trying.”
Joining Chamberlain and Wiens-Wice as new teachers are Brooke Battiata (Pine Knob, first grade), Mckenzie Brown (Sashabaw Middle School, math), Haley Burns (North Sashabaw, first grade), Emily Cavaleri (Clarkston High, social worker), Laura Cosentino (Andersonville, special education), Sarah Cox (Clarkston Junior High, special education), Hayley Crouchman (Clarkston High, special education), Michelle Curry (Clarkston Junior High, French), Brittney Doyle (Sashabaw Middle School, ESL), Alicia Franz (Renaissance High, math), Emily Greene (North Sashabaw/Springfield Plains, psychologist), David Hunt (Clarkston High, business/marketing), Brooke Jablonski (Independence, kindergarten), Kelley Johnson (Clarkston/North Sashabaw, art), Brittany Kilgore (Andersonville, social worker), Angela Leskinen (Andersonville, kindergarten), Justin Losey (Clarkston High, language arts), Warren Meehan (Sashabaw Middle School, counselor), Michelle Miller (Renaissance High, post-hi), Emily Samarian (Independence/Clarkston, speech and language pathologist), Naomi Schwartz (Clarkston Junior High/Clarkston High, social worker), Edna Soave (Renaissance High, English), Ciara Swoboda (Pine Knob/Bailey Lake, psychologist), Fawn Terry (Pine Knob, special education), Erin Uhrick (Springfield Plains, special education), and Kaitlyn Witt (Bailey Lake, Young Fives).