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Fredonia praises STEM program, announces new hires

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Elementary Principal Mark Drollinger, pictured, and STEM teacher Margaret Grey gave the Board of Education a special presentation on the district’s new program for elementary students.

A former Fredonia student is now enhancing the experience of the district’s next generation.

At the most recent meeting of the Fredonia Board of Education, the board was given a special presentation by teacher Margaret Grey and Elementary Principal Mark Drollinger on the district’s Elementary STEM Program. Grey – a Fredonia graduate – is in her first year as the district’s STEM teacher.

In the presentation, Grey and Drollinger shared activities the students have participated in and upcoming projects as well, including work with technology such as Artificial Intelligence, Drones and Robotics.

Drollinger noted that the district’s interest in the STEM program was enhanced when elementary students were given technology lessons for the first time during years of COVID restrictions. “We realized right away that we were on to something really special,” said Drollinger.

The Board of Education was impressed by Grey and Drollinger’s presentation. “It’s a fantastic program. I’m so excited to have STEM in the elementary and middle schools,” said Board of Education member Steven Johnston.

Also at the recent meeting, Fredonia announced the probationary appointment of three teacher aides and a cleaner.

“It’s always good to have new employees coming on board,” said Fredonia Superintendent Brad Zilliox.

Tara Whitfield, Stepheney Lysek, and Christina Vazquez were appointed to 10-month probationary teacher aide positions through Nov. 29, 2023. Caleb Sullivan was appointed to a 12-month probationary position of cleaner through Nov. 29, 2023.

Whitfield is honorably retired from the U.S. Marines, who possesses a Master’s Degree in Human Services, a Master’s Degree in Health and Education Promotion, a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and a Doctorate Degree in Family Counseling. Whitfield has been involved as a suicide prevention facilitator and an assault victim advocate with the Marines, and she also worked in administrative support for the Georgia Department of Health. “We are absolutely excited to have Tara on board to share some of those experiences with everybody in the district for the betterment of our students,” said Zilliox.

Lysek is a Silver Creek High School graduate and a parent of a student in the Fredonia district. She has also worked as a substitute in the special education classrooms at Fredonia. “In her interview, she talked about being excited to see growth in young people and also serving as a good example and a role model to our students,” Zilliox said.

Vazquez is currently working toward obtaining a degree in criminal justice and has multiple years of experience in customer service. “In her interview, she brought a lot of enthusiasm. She has a polite and pleasant demeanor. It seemed like she would be a really good fit,” Zilliox said.

Sullivan is a graduate of Dunkirk High School who has served as a substitute at Fredonia this year. “He has really done a nice job — very cooperative, very helpful, very thorough in fulfilling the duties of the position,” Zilliox said. Both Zilliox and Board of Education President Brian Aldrich noted an impressive letter of recommendation on Sullivan’s behalf, as well.

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