Can you believe that school has been back in session for almost a month?
With the academic year underway, we are excited for our community to meet some of the newest faces in Vliet. This year, we’ll be celebrating #WorkplaceWednesday all October long. Check back each Wednesday as we introduce you to new teachers and staff members from around the district.
We look forward to seeing the difference they make in our community!
Meet Ms. Luca Rentz
First Grade Teacher at Watervliet Elementary School
Ms. Luca Rentz is one of the newest teachers to join our team at Watervliet Elementary, but is a familiar face in the district already.
Luca studied Interdisciplinary Studies at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut and went on to receive a masters degree in Elementary Education (1-6) from Quinnipiac. She is from Latham and a graduate of nearby Shaker High School.
“I went to elementary school in a few different places, one including WES for 3rd grade,” Rentz said. “Stepping into this position was a no-brainer for me. I always knew I wanted to be an elementary teacher and working with the littles has always been a passion of mine!”
Rentz says her work keeps her on her toes, but is rewarding in many ways.
“I look forward to creating relationships with my students that will last a lifetime for them,” she said. “I think back and remember the teachers who had an impact on me, and I’m thrilled it’s my turn to do that for others.”
“Always look on the bright side.”
I try to find the good in everything and stay positive for myself and others.
I love watching movies and I have so many that I love, but a classic that I will always be ready to watch is The Titanic!
Meet Mr. Nick Tarricone
Social Studies Teacher, Watervliet Jr-Sr High School
Watervliet Jr-Sr High School is excited to welcome Mr. Nick Tarricone to our school community.
Mr. Tarricone is from nearby Brunswick, New York and currently lives in Cohoes. He attended SUNY Potsdam for his undergraduate degree and attended SUNY Albany for his graduate school.
After completing his education, Mr. Tarricone spent time working in the museum field. It was there that he realized how much he liked working with students. He also worked as a teacher assistant for Brittonkill Central School District for six years.
“Teaching is rewarding and also very demanding,” Mr. Tarricone said. “I am looking forward to making connections with my students and building a community within my classroom.”
I believe that patience and understanding goes a long way in helping people of all ages.
Last of the Mohicans
Meet Mrs. Christa Follette
English Teacher, Watervliet Jr-Sr High School
Mrs. Christa Follett is one of the newest English teachers to join our staff at Watervliet Jr-Sr High School.
Mrs. Follett is originally from Carmel, NY and went on to study English Education at SUNY Plattsburgh.
No stranger to the Capital Region, she recently nearby at Albany High School.
“I came to Watervliet so I could find a new environment to work in,” Follett said. “I feel so comfortable and welcome in the Watervliet community and look forward to having conversations with my students about things related to class, and things not related to class.”
Follett’s love for literature was sparked by the escapism it offered her growing up. She loved being immersed in fantasy worlds involving dragons and good virtues.
“A big part of my job is teaching eleventh grade students to think critically and analyze texts for meaning.”
My philosophy is to always think positively because thinking negatively doesn’t make a situation better.
My favorite book is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Meet Mr. Steve Keena
Business Teacher, Watervliet Jr-Sr High School
Watervliet Jr-Sr High School is excited to welcome Mr. Steve Keena to our school community.
Mr. Keena was born in Miami, Florida, where he lived for 26 years. He studied Theater at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and also received degrees in Business and Math. He also received a Masters Degree in Education and Administration from the College of Saint Rose.
For the last twelve years, Mr. Keena worked as a math teacher at The Charlton School in Burnt Hills, NY. Prior to that, he taught business education at Hoosick Falls High School.
Mr. Keena is excited to return to his roots in business and looks forward to making a difference in the lives of his students.
“My plan is to teach the students of Watervliet the skills needed to be successful in high school and prepare them for college and employment.”
“Enjoy the journey. It doesn’t last long and memories fade.”
I enjoy putting puzzles together.
Meet Ms. Madison Bell
Ms. Madison Bell is one of the newest teaching assistants to join our Watervliet City Schools staff.
Ms. Bell is originally from Brooklyn, NY and is currently attending SUNY Empire for Child & Family Studies. She recently worked at Troy Middle School as a secretary.
“The work I do is the best,” Bell said. “It’s interesting to learn new techniques for working with young adults.”
She is looking forward to making a positive impact in the daily lives of our students and enjoys being a part of their educational journey.
“All students have the chance to be successful,” Madison said. “I came into this role because I really enjoy working with children. I want to be the extra support or someone they can go to when they need it.”
“The only place you will find fair is in the dictionary.”
I love the Twilight series.
Meet Miss Brittany Ableman
Art Teacher at Watervliet Jr-Sr High School
Watervliet recently welcomed Ms. Brittany Ableman into the the district as an art teacher at Watervliet Jr-Sr High School.
Ms. Ableman grew up nearby in Guilderland and then went on to study Accounting at SUNY Oswego.
“I originally went to school for accounting,” Ms. Ableman said. “I found out that was not the path for me and switched my major to art.”
At Oswego, Ableman received her undergraduate degree and masters degree in Art Education (K-12) and is going into her second year of teaching.
“I get to go to work and do something I love every day,” she said. “When you have a breakthrough moment with a student and they have that aha moment, it’s a really wonderful thing to see and be a part of.”
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Painting and going to the beach are my favorite things to do!
Meet Mr. Nick Grolley
Mathematics Teacher and Girls Soccer Coach (V) at Watervliet Jr-Sr High School
Mr. Nick Grolley is one of the newest mathematics teachers to join our staff at Watervliet Jr-Sr High School. He is also the coach of the Varsity Girls Soccer team.
Mr. Grolley was born and raised in Saratoga Springs. He continued his education at SUNY Plattsburgh, where he earned his degrees. A member of the Plattsburgh track team, he owned a record in the 4×100 relay for a short period of time. In Plattsburgh, he also student-taught secondary education and took coaching courses.
Prior to coming to teach in Watervliet, he taught mathematics in Green Island and in other nearby school districts. Additionally, he spent time training his fellow teachers how to use technology in their classrooms and created efficient tech tools to assist in all things education for teachers, students, and administrators.
“Making a change after almost 10 years (in a district) is never easy, but it felt right,” Grolley said. “It was time to step into a new role to further grow as an educator. I am grateful I still can influence my Green Island students from previous years through coaching, and at the same time I get to meet more students here and help them grow.”
“Refuse to be average.”
I want my students to strive to be the best versions of themselves and to not settle for mediocrity.
My favorite hobby is being active with my kids in whatever they are interested in. Currently they are enjoying golf and soccer, so that is where I have been spending most of my time.
Meet Ms. Allison Fried
4th Grade Teacher at Watervliet Elementary
Ms. Allison Fried is one of our newest 4th Grade teachers at Watervliet Elementary School.
Ms. Fried grew up in Long Island, NY and earned her degree in Early Childhood and Childhood Education with a concentration in English from SUNY New Paltz. Currently, she is a graduate student at the University of Albany, where she is working towards a Literacy Specialist certification.
Allison is looking forward to watching her students establish confidence within themselves.
“I am thrilled to be teaching fourth grade this year,” Ms. Fried said. “It is such a special year for students to learn and grow as they prepare to enter the Junior-Senior High School.”
“Make the most of every day!”
Each day will not be perfect, but as long as we made the most of it and did our best, that’s a win in my book!
My favorite hobbies are crocheting, hiking and weightlifting.
Meet Ms. Araela VanWagner
Administrative Assistant (Special Education) at Watervliet Jr-Sr High School
Watervliet Jr-Sr High School is excited to welcome Ms. Araela VanWagner to our team.
Ms. VanWagner is originally from nearby Schenectady, NY. She attended Schenectady High School before attending Schenectady Community College (SCCC). Prior to working at Watervliet, she worked as the Office Secretary at the Teresian House Nursing Home for twelve years.
In her new position, she is looking forward to helping others, learning new things and being a part of an important team.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
Meet Mrs. Jania Dockery
Special Education Teacher at Watervliet Jr-Sr High School
Mrs. Jania Dockery is one of the newest Special Education teachers to join our team at Watervliet Jr-Sr High School.
Mrs. Dockery is originally from Brooklyn, NY and went on to receive her Master’s degree in Special Education from Brooklyn College. Prior to working at Watervliet, she worked at Franklin D. Roosevelt High School in Brooklyn. Prior teaching, she worked with adults with special needs at an Adult Day Habilitation program.
“That experience made me realize the root of my passion,” Mrs. Dockery said. “I love helping individuals with special needs be the best they can be. I sincerely believe that student learning takes place best in a positive and safe environment filled with laughter. Students require a learning environment where they feel accepted for who and where they are in their educational journey.”
Though the work is busy, Dockery looks forward to helping her students become productive citizens who live a meaningful life.
“As a teacher, I understand that each approach taken with my students should be student-centered. Therefore, I prioritize building student relationships and cultivating a supportive learning environment.”
“Before students learn, they need to know that you care.”
I am a firm believer that to become an effective educator, you must prioritize getting to know your students. As adults, we often take for granted that children and adolescents, like us, all want the same things — to be understood, valued and acknowledged. Even the little things, such as greeting your students by their name each day and asking them about their weekend or their hobbies is impactful. When students recognize that you truly care about them, they will become more engaged and motivated to learn.
My favorite book is The Great Gatsby.
I really enjoyed reading about the displays of the social, cultural, and political tensions of the 1920s.
Meet Mrs. Ashley Redding
Special Education Teacher at Watervliet Jr-Sr High School
Mrs. Ashley Redding is one of the newest Cannoneers to join our team at Watervliet Jr-Sr High School.
Mrs. Redding grew up nearby in Poestenkill, NY and went on to attend the College of Saint Rose where she earned her bachelors and masters degrees.
After graduating, she worked in various middle and high school settings for six years as a special education teacher. In 2014, she earned her National Board Certification. Mrs. Redding has also taught online graduate Special Education courses and several professional development seminars for teachers.
Mrs. Redding is proud of the work she does, which consists of designing rigorous instruction, supports, and assessments that are based on the individual needs, strengths and interests of each student.
“I am looking forward to returning to the classroom setting this year as a special education teacher in the Watervliet City School District,” she said. “I am committed to supporting the learning of all students, through collaboration with colleagues, families, and the school community.”
“Every child deserves a champion:
an adult who will never give up on them,
who understands the power of connection
and insists they become the best they can possibly be.”
– Rita Pierson
I love to travel with my husband and kids.
Meet Miss Jessica Erickson
Social Worker at Watervliet Jr-Sr High School
Ms. Jessica Erickson is one of the newest social workers to join our team at Watervliet Jr-Sr High School.
Ms. Erickson is originally from South Glens Falls, NY. She went on to study sociology at SUNY Plattsburgh and then social welfare at UAlbany.
“Each and every day, I look forward to helping students in any way that I can,” Jessica said.
One of Ms. Erickson’s main responsibilities is to provide support and guidance to our students, which will help them succeed. Prior to joining our team at Watervliet, she worked as a family therapist.
“Becoming a school social worker has always been a goal of mine and I am very happy to be here.”
“Life is a one time offer, use it well!”
I love to travel and have been to about 15 different countries.
Meet Mr. Matthew Kellish
Social Studies and Special Education Teacher at Watervliet Jr-Sr High School
Mr. Matthew Kellish is a new Social Studies and Special Education teacher at Watervliet Jr-Sr High School this year.
“I have taught at multiple schools in the region, but am very excited to work in Watervliet,” he said.
Kellish describes his work as enthusiastic and fun. He grew up in the Capital Region and went on to earn his teaching certification from SUNY Brockport in 2016.
Most recently, Mr. Kellish taught Special Education in the Mechanicville CSD. Prior to that, he taught special education in Middleburgh.
“I look forward to learning something new everyday from the students,” he said. “I enjoy building relationships and engaging with them.”
Believe in yourself and work hard.
My favorite book/movie is The Lord of the Rings and I enjoy playing rugby.
Meet Ms. Katie Zito
1st Grade Teacher at Watervliet Elementary
Ms. Katie Zito is one of the newest Cannoneers on staff at Watervliet Elementary School this year.
Katie is a graduate of nearby Bethlehem Central High School. She went on to attend SUNY New Paltz where she studied Early Childhood/Childhood Education with a concentration in Mathematics.
Ms. Zito recently completed her student teaching at Watervliet Elementary. This year, she is looking forward to meeting new people and trying different ideas in her classroom.
“I have absolutely loved my experience here,” she said. “I am very excited to officially be a part of the district!”
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
I love playing lacrosse! I played in college.
Meet Nurse Hewitt
School Nurse at Watervliet Jr-Sr High School
Mrs. Dakota Hewitt a.k.a. “Nurse Hewitt” is one of the newest faces to join our team at Watervliet Jr-Sr High School.
Nurse Hewitt is originally from Seattle, Washington but has been living in New York for almost 20 years.
She attended Hudson Valley Community College for nursing and earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).
Prior to working at Watervliet, Nurse Hewitt worked in various medical fields including alternative medicine, oncology, med/surgery, labor/delivery and postpartum. In her new position, she is looking forward to making a difference. As a school nurse, she helps our students through various ailments and crises while managing vast amounts of records and paperwork.
“Prior to joining the district, I heard amazing things from the staff who worked here,” she said. “The sense of community and family at this school is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered. It truly is a team effort, and I am very proud to be a part of it.”
Be kind to your mind.
My favorite hobby is snowboarding.