What St. Hilary School kindergarten teacher Mrs. Holland likes most about teaching is being with the children. “There is never a dull moment!” she says. “They are all so innocent and loving. They are like little sponges and so eager to absorb everything I could possibly teach them. What positive attitudes they all have! When I see that light bulb go off in their little minds after it all clicks, it is so rewarding!”
Mrs. Holland enjoys being able to teach all the subjects in kindergarten, and notes that they are all connected in one way or another. She adds that she especially enjoys teaching reading because so many kindergarteners start school without knowing how to read, but by the end of the year, all are reading at some level.
Being a part of a Catholic school is special to Mrs. Holland. “I love being able to talk about God on a daily basis,” she says. “I would only teach at St. Hilary at this point in my life. I student taught here, I was married here, and I had all three of my children baptized here.” Mrs. Holland was a kindergarten teaching assistant at St. Hilary before moving on to teaching. “I taught kindergarten and then fourth grade before starting a family. In 2012, I returned as a part-time kindergarten teaching assistant, and now, I am blessed to have my own kindergarten classroom here at St. Hilary School,” she explains.
Married with three children, Mrs. Holland is proud that her children are products of Catholic education. Her oldest daughter graduated from St. Hilary and attends a local Catholic high school. Her other two children attend St. Hilary. “I am so happy to be part of such a wonderful staff, and sometimes I feel like I never left,” she says. “I could not imagine teaching anywhere else. St. Hilary has been such a huge part of my life for so long. My family and friends are here. It is my home away from home.”
Mrs. Piekarski began her St. Hilary School teaching career in 1986. Since then, she has touched the lives of hundreds of young students. She loves teaching kindergarten because of the enthusiasm of the children. “They are so positive,” she says. “They just make you feel good.” She describes her young charges as being “like sponges”, and enjoys the fact that she can help them absorb everything they need to get off to a good start not only in school, but in life. “I love my job,” she says.
Compared to other schools, St. Hilary is blessed with an abundance of kids whose parents are actively involved and truly care about instilling strong values in their children, according to Mrs. Piekarski. Teaching these students is a joy, she says. “We also have many gifted and talented kids here,” she says, which allows her to make great use of creativity in her classroom.
Many characteristics of the St. Hilary educational experience set it apart from that offered at other schools, says Mrs. Piekarski. She feels the infusion of religion and good values into everything the children do is incredibly important, as are the high expectations and dedication of both students and teachers. “The kids here are all hard workers,” she says, “and the teachers tend not to take much time off. Everyone here has a really strong work ethic.” The availability of varied activities that appeal to many talents rounds out the package.
Technology has been a huge component of the kindergarten classroom in recent years. Mrs. Piekarski has the children using individual iPads in the classroom on a regular basis in several curricular areas. Children also have the opportunity to work on the SmartBoard and classroom computer on a daily basis. The positive feedback from parents when their children are successful using the Superkids Reading Program app at home is so gratifying.
Mrs. Piekarski loves to instill in her students a strong self-concept. “I love to help them understand that they can do anything - that they are all good at something,” she says. One exercise that reinforces this, as well as the concepts of nurturing and giving, is the growth of spider plants throughout the school year. Mrs. Piekarski’s former students who have moved on to junior high level grades bring her spiderlings from the plants they grew while in her class. She uses these to begin the process anew each year, and students have a hand in planting and nurturing the spiderlings to grow what become mature plants by the end of the school year.
Each year, kindergarten students learn their way around the school by following a gingerbread man, in an extension of the popular children’s story. As the gingerbread man sneaks off to different places in the school, the children must find him and, in so doing, meet people and learn about their surroundings. This is one of Mrs. Piekarski’s favorite parts of each school year. She adds that watching the joy her students have sharing their weekends with the class mascot, Kinderbear, is also great fun.
Growing up as one of ten children, Mrs. Piekarski says she was always “in charge” of her younger siblings, so becoming a kindergarten teacher was a natural progression for her. A graduate of the University of Akron, Mrs. Piekarski holds a bachelor of science degree in education (K-8), a master of science degree plus 18 hours in supervision, permanent K-8 certification, computer science certification, and basic religion certification. She loves St. Hilary School and is proud that her two daughters attended the school during their elementary years. Mrs. Piekarski enjoys sewing, reading, gardening, working out, and traveling with her husband to visit their five young grandchildren.
Since 1985, Mrs. Thomson has been launching the school careers of St. Hilary students. She loves working with young children, and enjoys their genuine, forgiving and loving nature. Teaching Christian values and making religion a part of her students’ daily lives is important to Mrs. Thomson as she guides her little ones through their kindergarten year. “I enjoy watching children take these values and apply them in their lives,” she says. “It’s rewarding to hear feedback from parents about how the her students are applying their values.” She also enjoys helping children develop a strong self-concept.
Creating a hands-on experience is important in Mrs. Thomson’s classroom. She incorporates visual aids and much enrichment into her teaching, to allow the children to experience lessons through sight and touch. Science and nature are woven into much of what her students learn. “I love science, because it opens up a whole new world for the children,” she says. Mrs. Thomson also particularly enjoys helping kindergartners learn to read, and delights in seeing the concept of reading “click” for a child newly able to blend sounds into a word.
In more than 36 years of teaching, 30 at St. Hilary, Mrs. Thomson has many memories. Some of her fondest are receiving hugs from former students who come back to visit her classroom and chat with her. She wants to instill in her students more than just a love of knowledge. “I love to see children take what they learn beyond the classroom and develop it further,” she says. “I want my students to leave the classroom with such an excitement for learning that they will spread their knowledge to others.”
Mrs. Thomson feels one of the many things that sets St. Hilary School apart from other schools is the dedication of its staff. She says the teachers spend many extra hours preparing the lessons they teach, to make experiences enriching for the children. For her own part, she says she wakes up every day and can’t wait to come to work. “I love my job!” she says.
Mrs. Thomson is married with one grown son who attended St. Hilary during his elementary school years. She is a graduate of the University of Akron and the University of Alabama, and holds a bachelor of science degree in early childhood and elementary (K-8) education, as well as a master of arts degree plus 18 hours in early childhood education, , permanent K-8 certification, as well as Religion certification. Mrs. Thomson has taken many courses to further her education beyond her master’s degree, and has been a kindergarten teacher for 36 years. She enjoys collecting antiques and items of historical significance, as well as visiting historical sites, museums and science exhibits.
Kindergarten Teaching Assistant
Kindergarten Teaching Assistant Mrs. Goske draws from a range of skills in her work with children, and when her work pays off, it is truly rewarding. “I enjoy watching the children grow throughout the year and seeing the joy on their faces when they learn something new,” she says. Having taught for six years before taking a break to raise her two young sons, Mrs. Goske looks forward to a strong partnership with the teacher in her particular classroom, and with the kindergarten team as a whole. “With my background in gifted education, I hope to work with the teacher in differentiating lessons in small group settings,” she explains. As a former language arts teacher and a lover of reading, Mrs. Goske is also excited about teaching the students how to read and continually developing their reading skills.
Mrs. Goske holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education, grades 1-8, as well as Master’s degree in Gifted Education, K-12, from Cleveland State University. She also has over 15 hours in integrating technology into the classroom. Besides her previous teaching experience, Mrs. Goske has coaching experience as a run coach for Team in Training. She and her husband, a business owner, are parents to a current St. Hilary School fifth grader and second grader. Mrs. Goske’s husband coaches their sons’ athletic teams and serves on the St. Hilary School Board. To relax, Mrs. Goske enjoys reading, watching her sons’ sporting events, and running. After volunteering extensively at the school and enjoying the experiences her sons have had, Mrs. Goske observes, “St. Hilary is very much like a family – we love, learn, pray, and grow together!”
Kindergarten Teaching Assistant
Giving children the boost they need is what St. Hilary School kindergarten teaching assistant Mrs. Haran looks forward to each day. “I love helping children do their best and feel confident about themselves,” she says.
Mrs. Haran is excited to be a part of the staff at St. Hilary School, where she has found a great sense of community with children knowing each other personally and parents being actively involved. She found the school community to be welcoming and supportive when her children enrolled. Prior to joining the St. Hilary team, Mrs. Haran volunteered, did field experience, and worked in a variety of different school settings. She served as an aide to a student with autism and participated in occupational therapy sessions for students with autism.
Mrs. Haran holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and city planning from Ohio State University, a law degree from Case Western Reserve University, and an associate’s degree in occupational therapy which she earned at Cuyahoga Community College after a career break to raise her children. She serves as a Cub Scout leader, and has volunteered as a room parent and in other capacities at St. Hilary School. When she is not working or volunteering, Mrs. Haran enjoys running, reading, cheering on the Cleveland Indians, watching HGTV, and traveling with her husband and children.
Kindergarten Teaching Assistant
The uniqueness of each child is what St. Hilary School kindergarten teaching assistant Mrs. McGrath most enjoys about teaching. “Witnessing their intellectual growth and their compassion toward others throughout the school year is very rewarding,” she adds.
Especially exciting for Mrs. McGrath is watching her students develop their artistic talents and use technology. She explains, “I enjoy watching the children’s creativeness during art classes. I am also amazed at how adept the children are at using technology. I usually learn from them!”
A long-time school volunteer, Mrs. McGrath says her time at St. Hilary has been a truly rewarding experience. She also served as a substitute teacher during the 2012-2013 school year and says that in whatever role she has filled, she has been warmly welcomed and felt the presence of God in the staff, students and parents. “It’s really hard to have a bad day here!” she says.
Mrs. McGrath holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and pre-law from Ohio University, and a law degree from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Married for 16 years, she and her husband have three children who attend St. Hilary School. In her free time, Mrs. McGrath enjoys reading, gardening and hiking.
Kindergarten Teaching Assistant
As the parent of two St. Hilary School graduates, kindergarten teaching assistant Mrs. Parri knows all about what makes St. Hilary such a special place. Mrs. Parri has always felt the presence of faith, family, love, and respect while walking the halls of St. Hilary. "It's a great comfort feeling," she says.
Mrs. Parri states, "From the first day of kindergarten jitters to the last day of kindergarten elation, it is clear to see how each unique child grows spiritually, emotionally, socially, and academically. The children enjoy field trips, cooking, enrichment class, computer lab, putting on plays, and may other activities. It is amazing what these children learn throughout the school year." This is the most rewarding moment to Mrs. Parri.
She also loves the SuperKids reading program. She states that the children relate to this program so well since it is engaging and fun. The children are truly strengthening their motor skills, perfecting their writing skills, using their art skills, stimulating their imagination, and most importantly, learning to read! Mrs. Parri also loves how the kindergarteners incorporate religion throughout their daily routine. She feels that St. Hilary provides a faith-filled and stimulating environment enabling students to develop a healthy and happy attitude toward learning and growing in Christ.
Mrs. Parri attended North Carolina State University for Business Management and received Cheetah Project Management Training. She served as her daughter's Girl Scout Leader and has been a member of the Fairlawn City Parks & Recreation Board for 15 years. Married for 23 years, Mrs. Parri and her husband have a daughter and son in college. Mrs. Parri loves cooking and having her family together. Among her favorite activities are traveling, playing tennis, and running marathons with her husband.
Kindergarten Teaching Assistant
Working in a Catholic school environment is what Kindergarten teaching assistant Mrs. Pelini likes best about her role at St. Hilary School. “The religious aspect of our school helps develop the mind, soul and body,” she says. Mrs. Pelini taught Catechism for 15 years, and describes herself as being committed to the Catholic faith. As the mother of six children, she also brings practical experience to the classroom. “Nurturing young students is so important at this age,” she explains. “I delight in their inquisitiveness and love of learning.”
Unique to St. Hilary in Mrs. Pelini’s eyes are its leadership, religion, and dedicated faculty. She also enjoys the amount of individual attention the school is able to provide to students. “Assisting students gives me the opportunity to work one on one with each child,” she notes. Formerly affiliated with the military, Mrs. Pelini’s family moved multiple times and only her youngest child had the opportunity to attend St. Hilary’s Kindergarten, which she says was the best of all the programs her six children attended. It was her positive experience with the program that led her to want to join the staff as an assistant.
Mrs. Pelini holds an associate’s degree in radiologic technology from Youngstown State University, as well as a Catechist certificate from the state of Maryland. Her interests include reading, gardening, playing softball, volunteering at nursing homes, exercising, biking, attending Bible courses offered at St. Hilary, and especially college football. With five sons and one daughter, Mrs. Pelini says her family is her greatest accomplishment.