Story by Tamyra Horst
Good-byes are usually sad--yet sometimes they are a celebration. This month the Pennsylvania Conference education team is saying good-bye as Toni Wlasniewski, a teacher at Reading Junior Academy, and Machelle Williams, head teacher for the Pocono Adventist Christian School, Stroudsburg, Pa., are both retiring from education and moving into the next adventure God has planned for them. The team surprised both educators during the end-of-year Zoom teachers meeting with flowers and cake delivered and words of gratitude shared by Jeremy Garlock, education superintendent.
“Teaching was not just a job, but Machelle’s passion—it defined who she was,” shares Kisha Richards, a friend and teacher at Pocono Adventist Christian School. Williams began her teaching career in the Northeastern Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in 2007. She taught in the Southern New England Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and the Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, where she also served as principal, before moving to Pennsylvania in 2015. Williams, head teacher for the Pocono Adventist Christian School, Stroudsburg, Pa., teaching grades 1-8, especially enjoyed working with students who had challenges reading, watching them improve their reading skills. The “light bulb” moment when a child figured out how to complete a difficult task they were tackling, was one of her favorite moments in the classroom.
“Mrs. Williams is an experienced educator who has blessed our Conference, and the Pocono Adventist School in particular, for the last five school years,” shares Garlock. “She has been a valued member of the team, bringing wisdom and passion to young people on a daily basis, whether times were good or bad. Rarely has such a dedicated servant of the Lord been seen in our schools. Machelle will be missed!”
Williams intends to spend a little time relaxing after working so many years. She’s looking forward to painting again and to moving to Florida with her son, AJ, and also spending time with her other four children and her grandchildren.
Toni Wlasniewski began her ministry as a teacher in the Chesapeake Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in 1973. She has taught at Eastern Shore Junior Academy, Maryland, and at Pioneer Valley Academy, Massachusetts. Toni also worked for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Silver Spring, Md., and at the Reading Rehabilitation Hospital, Reading, Pennsylvania, before joining the Reading Junior Academy team in 1987 where she has taught English and Social Studies for grades 7-10 for the last 33 years.
“Known by her students as Mrs. Ski, Mrs. Wlasniewski has served the conference, and Reading Jr. Academy in particular, since 1987,” Garlock says. “During that time, she has not just taught history and English, but has led out in art instruction, taught home economics, mentored young people, and provided one of the strongest academic preparation for high school I have ever seen. She has touched the hearts of many and will be greatly missed!”
(See our article on Wlasniewski and her father, Jake Randall, who was also a teacher from 2017 here. Photo by Willow Street Pictures)