Hello! I am Wanda Swarr, one of the Upper Level teachers. I am very excited about Pathways, and awed by the opportunities and people that are involved.
I graduated from Pennsylvania State University with my degree in Elementary Education. I taught in the public school system for seven years, and have homeschooled my own six children for the last 23 years. I have been with Pathways since its founding. I have taught at various homeschool cooperatives and in recent years have grown to love teaching high school students! For the past thirty years I have had the privilege of doing year-end evaluations, testing, and consulting for homeschool families. I enjoy watching the children progress from year to year, and encouraging the parents. I now have the joy of evaluating the children of children I evaluated years ago!
My educational roots are in evironmental education. I spent six years working at the Pennsylvania Conversation Leadership School, volunteered time for the Lancaster County Youth Conservation School, and volunteered at nature centers and parks. I have always enjoyed the outdoors, learning about nature, and sharing that love with others. My favorite class in high school was environmental agriculture, and being involved in FFA is what inspired me to go to college! I am thrilled to be part of a school with environmental stewardship as part of it's identity.
Some of the things I enjoy are spending time with my family and friends, biking, walking/hiking, campfires, riding my horse, history, reading, and our dogs, Max and Buddy. (Notice how original my family is with dog names!) I love to write when I have time, my favorite poet is Robert Frost, and I love to learn new things and skills. Two years ago I biked the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and now one of the top things on my bucket list is to return to Spain to hike the Camino! Another bucket list item is to learn to cross-county ski. I love snow. My favorite food is dark chocolate, but I think anything tastes good when it is shared with family and good friends....
My philosophy of education is to inspire kids to be curious and to enjoy learning. To do that, I think it is important to serve as a guide, facilitator, and fellow learner rather than a dispenser of information. I am anxious to encourage my students to become engaged in learning about the world around them!
I am a follower of Christ. If I were a plant, you might say that I am being pruned daily, but am secure in the knowledge that He who began a good work in me will complete it. A verse that has been meaningful to me over the past few years is, “The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 (NLT). It just so happens to be Pathways' verse :)
My name is Kathy Stoltzfus. I am one of the middle school teachers.
My educational background is in elementary education. I received my Bachelors of Science degree in elementary education, grades 4-7, at Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia and spent the next 30 plus years teaching various grade levels at three local Christian schools. I obtained my master’s degree in curriculum and instruction: elementary through Eastern Mennonite University’s Lancaster campus and shortly thereafter served as administrator at Hinkletown Mennonite School for six years. Since leaving administrative work, I taught a year at Linville Hill Christian School, taught at a cyber charter school and worked in a similar school/homeschool program as Pathways.
On a personal level, I live in New Holland, PA with my husband Keith and our cat, Miko. We attend Groffdale Mennonite Church. We have one son, Austin, who lives in Indianapolis, IN.
When I am not working on school work, I enjoy reading books, watching a good movie, cooking and gardening. I also enjoy traveling and exploring new places. I have visited most of the lower 48 states, as well as Alaska and Hawaii. Our family enjoys camping, kayaking and hiking together as well. Occasionally my husband and I “flip” a house together. I enjoy doing the interior designing, landscaping and staging, but I have been known to swing a sledge hammer in demolition work as well. My favorite foods are soups and sandwiches, rotisserie chicken, ice cream and anything flavored lemon or mint.
A favorite Bible verse is Prov. 3: 5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” A favorite quote I value is by Parker Palmer, “Learning is a journey, not a destination.” I hope to model this myself as I learn along side the students this year.
Hello! My name is Susan Shirk and I am one of the middle school teacher here at Pathways. I graduated from Kutztown University with a bachelor’s in Elementary Education/Special Education. Right out of college I went to work at Lampeter-Strasburg School District where I was a high school learning support teacher. In addition to teaching, I served as the equivalent of a department head chairperson for several years. I loved my students at L-S, but felt very constricted by the law and politics in how I felt they should have been educated. After twelve years of teaching, I left L-S to be a mom. My husband and I adopted an adorable little girl from Russia. Once at home, I embarked on the homeschool journey. My daughter and I were involved with the TEACH co-op where I taught multiple classes and helped out on the administrative level.
Teaching has been my life for the past 26 years, so there hasn’t been much time for hobbies. However, when I do get some time, I enjoy making cards, crafting, perusing Pinterest, thrift shopping with my daughter, reading, playing with our dog, Mishka, and just hanging out at home with my family.
I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and firmly believe He is the only way for salvation. I love that His mercies are new every morning for this wretched soul! Many words in Scripture are precious to me, but what I love about the Bible is that it is the story of Christ’s redemption of man from Genesis 3:15 all the way through to the end of Revelation! How blessed we are to be saved by an amazing, sovereign God!!!
Hello! My name is Ronni Derr. This upcoming school year I am the 3rd - 5th grade teacherat Red Run Church.
I am a graduate of Geneva College in Beaver Falls, PA. I graduated with my Bachelor’s of Science degree in Elementary and Special Education with a concentration in reading.
While in college, I had the opportunity to do part of my student teaching experience at the International School of Iceland, located outside of Rekjavik, Iceland. I also have worked for the past several summers at Cocalico Care Center in Denver, PA as an assistant teacher.
In my free time, I enjoy running and reading as well as traveling. One of my favorite locations to travel is a cabin up in Tioga County. There I enjoy biking and spending time reading God’s Word. My favorite verse is Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
I am extremely excited to be teaching at Pathways this year. I look forward to being able to apply what I have learned as well as connect my passion for education with my passion for Christ. I look forward to helping my students see how they can work on those aspects of Christ while learning all about God’s special creation.
Hi! My name is Rachel Graves. I am a teacher here at Pathways.
Over the past eight years, I have taught history and science at the elementary and high school levels at various homeschool organizations. In addition, I have worked in diverse environments that have cultivated my thirst for knowledge. I spent three years working in the scientific research community in which I achieved my ALAT certification, and another three as a seamstress constructing mascots. God led me to Pathways on a road I never expected to be traveling. He opened the door and I could not be more thankful! The community and energy of Pathways inspire and invigorate my faith and love of learning.
I am excited to be teaching history at Upper Level this year! I see the world as a tapestry in which every fiber is connected to the next. HIS-tory rolling through the millennia, leading right up to you and me. The narrative of time is not simply a record of meaningless names and dates but rather one of pain, and redemption, of success, and disaster, of science and literature, art and the heart of man himself. History is the thread that binds them all together. Learning the way of humankind has so much to teach us about our own actions and how they undoubtedly will affect the future.
Some of my favorite pastimes include recreating historic clothing (so far, my collection spans 100 years!), traveling to new places (either to see the history first hand or to marvel at the handiwork of my creator), anything outdoors (hunting, archery, camping, hiking, campfires), collecting antiques, learning new things, spending time with family and close friends, cultivating relationships, reading and writing. There is so much to know and discover!
“The question is not, -- how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education -- but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”
― Charlotte Mason
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Hello! My name is Grace Long. I am one of the 3 - 5 grade teachers here at Pathways. I graduated from Eastern College in 2000 with my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Special Education. I performed jobs as Teacher Assistant for Special Education in several different schools as well as substitute teaching. I spent one year working at Spring Center of Learning where the students ran a greenhouse business from seeding to selling vegetables and herbs. Most recently, I spent three years teaching the Life Skills class at Lancaster County Christian School.
I live in Lancaster with my husband Matt, our two teenagers (Arianna and Carl), and our Chihuahua, Monica. We attend Mission Church where my daughter and I serve in the Children’s Ministry and my son and husband serve in the Production Ministry.
In my spare time, I enjoy tending to my flower garden and vegetable garden, reading, campfires with my family, and hiking.
Several characteristics drew me to be a teacher at Pathways. The close-knit feeling of the community between the parents, students, and teachers is very unique. Also, we are able to observe our students’ strengths and interests and use those to develop a creative curriculum that they are excited to explore.