Among the changes for the upcoming school year in Poland will be a new face behind the principal's desk at Poland North. Tracy Kaschak is heading back into the classroom and Dobbins second grade teacher Stephanie Mateja will take over the position.
"Tracy wanted to go back in the classroom," said Superintendent David Janofa. "She wanted more time with her family, but would like to return to the position down the road when her kids get older."
Janofa said when Kaschak's request was approved, a committee was formed to search for a new North principal. He said 10 applied and each had a different level of experience to offer. He said the committee made the choice for Mateja.
Former Dobbins kindergarten teacher Nick Henry gets some last minute suggestions from last year’s second grade teacher Stephanie Mateja, who will be taking over as principal of Poland North this month.
"It's always nice to have one of your own step into a higher position," he said. "Mateja is well trained in the new evaluation practices. It will be a big step for her, but we're thrilled to see her in the position."
Mateja is a 2003 graduate of Neshannock High School in New Castle, Pa. She went on to earn her degree in early childhood education at Youngstown State University and master's degree in education from Westminister College in 2011. She finished an education leadership program in 2013, just in time to make the move up the ladder.
In Poland, she started as a part-time remedial teacher and moved into a kindergarten teaching position for four years. In the 2012-13 school year, she taught second grade at Dobbins, and was eager to apply for the principal's position when it became available.
"The timing was perfect for me," she said. "I had just finished my Westminster program and this was a great opportunity."
While her years at Dobbins were a bit of a drive while still living in New Castle, this year won't be a problem. She said within the next few weeks she will be moving to Poland.
She said her first goal will be to get acquainted with the building and the staff.
"I am thrilled about the entire staff," she said. "I've heard wonderful things about them and to have Tracy staying in the building to teach third grade will be a plus."
She said her second goal will be to make the Poland North staff feel comfortable with all the changes coming in public education.
As for her position at Dobbins, Nick Henry will move from kindergarten to take over Mateja's second grade class. This week he met with Mateja to go over the materials that she is passing on to him.
"He'll be awesome teaching second grade," Mateja said.