EXETER — When Ann Marie Walsh began teaching at Catholic schools under the Diocese of Scranton, she never imagined she would still be doing it 26 years later.
Her hard work and dedication earned her the Pope John Paul II Award, which is awarded to those who work under the Diocese for at least 25 years.
“We know when you hit that 25 year mark, that is the sole eligibility mark so many people have received this award throughout the Diocese,” said Walsh. “But, hey, 25 years at any one job is pretty awesome.”
A language arts teacher for the past five years at Wyoming Area Catholic School, Walsh joins her colleagues — school principal Eileen Rishcoff, Mary Ann Paddock-Kaminski, Toni Griseto and Jerry Renfer — as the only current staff members to receive the award.
Combined, all five staff members have 176 years experience working under the Diocese of Scranton.
Walsh graduated from Wyoming Area High School in 1973 and then from the University of Scranton in 1977 with a degree in English.
In 1979, she was hired as a substitute teacher at Wyoming Area High School before being hired full-time teaching English at the former St. Mary’s Assumption School in Pittston in 1990.
“Back in 1990 I was more concerned about transitioning from high school children down to middle school,” said Walsh. “I think when we become teachers you have that set age group in mind of who you want to teach, and I always said I will only teach high school.”
Before Walsh began teaching at St. Mary’s Assumption School, she underwent an interview process with the Diocese of Scranton and had to take additional credits so she could teach religion.
After the school closed in 2011, Walsh was transferred to Wyoming Area Catholic School by the Diocese where she continues teaching language artssuch as English, spelling and literature.
She teaches sixth, seventh and eighth grade students.
“My first group here was 32 children and that was a big class,” Walsh said. “They were from the coat (racks) to the windows; it was wall-to-wall. That was right after a big consolidation and they had to combine some classes because of how many students there were.”
Although only a teacher at Wyoming Area Catholic School for a few years, Walsh has made a lasting impression on her students and fellow faculty members, of which Rishcoff took notice.
“She’s a phenomenal teacher and we’re lucky to have her,” said Rishcoff. “She does a tremendous amount of work in the classroom and outside of the classroom. She is committed to Catholic education.”
“I don’t regret one minute of the last 26 years,” said Walsh. “They’re fun kids, and every year it’s a different class and they all have different personalities. Some stand out more than others.”