A luncheon welcoming 44 new teachers to the Westfield school district was held on August 28th in’s Cafeteria B.
Patch had the opportunity to speak with three new hires: physical education teacher Amanda Diaz, technology teacher Allison Balcof, and guidance counselor Michael Ince.
“I am extremely excited to be able to give back to what my teachers gave me, and I plan on following in their footsteps,” expressed Diaz. “They give you so much and you just want to give back.”
After graduating from the Westfield school district herself and subsequently holding the role of a substitute teacher, Diaz knew for sure that it was the district she wanted to work in. “Westfield is the best district around,” she exclaimed.
Her mother a phys ed teacher as well, Diaz was inspired to take part in a variety of sports growing up (though she recalls not quite having the height for basketball) and explained that she always connected well with her phys ed teachers.
“It’s (necessary) to teach kids about fitness. (It’s) very important and the main goal (in phys ed class) isn’t sports, it’s learning about fitness," said Diaz, who will be traveling between and elementary schools and
Also influenced by a parent, Allison Balcof, whose father worked as in information technology, feels that “There’s so much technology surrounding us, so it’s important to teach kids about (it) because it’s their future.”
Through becoming friends with her former college roommate, Marissa Conneely, who is currently an eighth grade social studies teacher at , Balcof heard “positive things” about the Westfield schools and was led to apply for a position when one opened up. She will teach sixth through eighth grade technology at Roosevelt Intermediate.
Michael Ince, after 33 years in the FBI, will be retiring and joining the Roosevelt Intermediate staff as an eighth grade counselor. He will replace Stephanie Thompson who is on maternity leave. “I’m really excited—it’s a big transition for me,” he said.
In 2005 Ince began preparation for a new career as he knew he faced mandatory retirement from the FBI at age 57. Previously, in the early 90s, he earned a graduate degree in educational administration. He then went on to receive a masters degree in guidance to “fine-tune what I wanted to do.”
When he was in eighth grade, Ince’s own guidance counselor “was a nice guy, but didn’t do a great job. It may not have been his fault—he may have had too many kids to take care of, and things are different now.” However, his counselor’s lack of charisma sparked an idea in Ince.
“I thought that if I had the opportunity, I could do it better and give students a better effort than I got myself,” he said.
After working in law enforcement and being a parent, Ince feels that he has “some good experiences” to share with young people and could “help them achieve the goals that the aspire to.”
Westfield schools open Wednesday, Sept. 5.