Support offered for WB teacher

BELOIT- West Branch community members Thursday continued to voice support for a teacher whose contract the school board non-renewed last month.

Several parents, former students and fellow faculty members expressed their support for high school English teacher Tracie McFerren, non-renewed last month after serving the past two years on an extended limited contract. She had been eligible for a continuing contract.

The speakers each questioned the reasoning for the board’s decision, citing student support and successful teaching record. High school English teacher Tracy Hinkle noted that McFerren received little feedback on her lesson plans and exams which serve as a vital component in formative assessment and that her evaluations were successful. She said that McFerren also addressed her attendance after it was called into question by the administration.

“Looking at her five-year record, she’s done everything she’s been expected to do as a teacher,” she said.

Superintendent Dr. Scott Weingart said that the board will hold a hearing with McFerren on June 10, after which the board will vote whether to uphold its initial decision to non-renew her contract.

In other news, the board hired the following teachers for the 2013-2014 school year: Cayla Bowers, kindergarten; Daniel Dota, physical education; Todd McLaughlin, social studies; Elizabeth Valerio, fifth grade; Aaron Bernstein, intervention specialist; Debra Clegg, intervention specialist; Samantha Christoff, intervention specialist; Wendy Beal, speech and language pathologist; Danielle Smith, speech and language pathologist; Sarah Jones, kindergarten; Kelly Brothers, high school English; Andrea Soltis, fourth grade; Beth Cooley, high school mathematics; Brooke Lancey, elementary art teacher; Bergen Bauman, kindergarten; Abigail Fox, intervention specialist (pending certification); Stephen Sambroak, intervention specialist (pending certification); Kathryn Sivula-Bowman, intervention specialist (pending certification); Merrellyn Banks, intervention specialist; and Karen Coffee, first grade.

The board also approved head coaching supplemental contracts for the 20132014 school year to Daniel Dota, varsity football; Matt Thomas, varsity boys soccer; Nate Heddleston, varsity girls soccer; Penny DeShields, varsity volleyball; Elaine Bonar, varsity girls tennis; Kevin Buckley, cross country; Gary Allison, varsity golf; Denise Ginocchi, varsity cheerleading; Jason Brown, wrestling; Lou Sellaroli, varsity boys basketball; Walt DeShields, varsity girls basketball; Daniel Dota, summer conditioning (football); Lou Sellaroli, summer conditioning (boys basketball); Walt DeShields, summer conditioning (girls basketball); Penny DeShields, summer conditioning (volleyball); and Nick Hoopes, safety coordinator.

Additionally the board hired as Title I tutors for the 20132014 school year Jennifer Fye, Abigail Zimmerman, Megan Suarez, Marilyn Parker, Laura Enright, Vanessa Emmons, Treva Cline, Lydia Wilmoth, Jennifer Rohaley, Kassie Blazer, MacKenzie Thomas and David Denny; and hired as inclusion aides for the 2013 2014 school year Patti Flickinger, Sherry Smith, Michael Roberto, Debbie Nezbeth, Holly Zion Morrow, Linda Wallace and Sarah Francis.

Also at the meeting, the board hired Gary Martin as summer physical education teacher for the 2013 summer (pending sufficient enrollment); Shannon Keck as a home instructor for the 2012-2013 school year on an as needed basis; Jacob Lagorda as a 2013 technology summer worker and Jerry Sanor for 2013 summer maintenance help in the bus garage, both on an as needed basis.

The board also non-renewed Tiffany Keinath as an aide at the conclusion of the 2012-2013 school year and accepted the resignations at the end of the school year of Bergen Bauman as an educational aide, Marilyn Parker as Title I teacher, Jennifer Ragusa as intervention specialist and Barbara Cackovic as an educational aide. The board also accepted the retirement of Charlotte Wafler as an long-time educational aide at the end of the school year.

Kevin Howell can be reached at