John Bakalar - Business Teacher, Chagrin Falls High School
John Bakalar graduated from Lakewood City Schools in 2003 where he participated in baseball, basketball, rugby, and Student Council. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree from Kent State University in 2008 majoring in Integrated Business Education with a Minor in Physical Education. In 2014, he earned a Master of Arts in K-12 Technology from Bowling Green State University. For the past 13 years, he has taught at Crestwood High School and Middle School as a Business/Finance/Technology Teacher. He has taught courses titled Financial Management, Financial Literacy, Business Management, Sports Management, Entrepreneurship, Introduction to Technology, Web Design, TV Productions, Graphic Design, and Animation Effects.
Mr. Bakalar holds a (4-12) ODE License in the teaching field of Integrated Business with an additional endorsement for Computer Technology (PreK-12). He has pursued additional coursework beyond his Masters from Notre Dame College, Ohio University, and Hiram College.
Mr. Bakalar had some very positive references. Professionals in the field spoke about Mr. Bakalar and said some very excellent comments…”He is gifted in positive connection with students in the classroom.” They also mentioned that John has a “high standard for the learning of his students and always prepares lessons with a great deal of detail and organization.”
In 2010, he was selected as Crestwood High School’s Teacher of the Year. During his tenure at Crestwood, he has served as the head varsity baseball coach for the last 10 seasons, leading Crestwood to eight seasons with a .500 record or better. In 2019, Mr. Bakalar was selected by his peers to be the President of the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association and has
served in that capacity since.
Mr. Bakalar lives in Reminderville and has some very positive experiences in the Chagrin Falls area with family and friends. John is very excited to bring his expertise and be teaching here in Chagrin Falls School next year.
Brooklyn Benkowski - Preschool Early Childhood Intervention Specialist at Gurney Elementary School
Brooklyn Benkowski is the new Early Childhood Intervention Specialist at Gurney Elementary School Preschool. Ms. Benkowski grew up in Twinsburg, Ohio. She graduated from Twinsburg High School where she also played softball and volleyball. Ms. Benkowski went on to graduate from Bowling Green State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Inclusive Early Childhood Education. After graduation, Ms. Benkowski was hired at Mentor Public Schools for last school year (20-21 SY) where she served as an Early Childhood Intervention Specialist. The program she worked in at Mentor was an Integrated Preschool Program where Ms. Benkowski serviced students with special needs as well as their typically developing peers. This program matches the same design as the preschool program at Gurney. Also during her time at Mentor, she became the JV softball coach.
Hailey Bockbrader - Science Teacher, Chagrin Falls High School
Hailey Bockbrader is a native of northeast Ohio and currently living in Stow with her husband and rescue pup. She pursued her degree in Integrated Science at Kent State University and graduated this past May with a Bachelor of Science in Education. This will be her first year teaching with her Ohio licensure. She completed her student teaching at Highland High School with Biology and Environmental Science students, working with students in all grades 9-12. In addition to her student teaching, she has completed three semesters of various fieldwork with Kent State and also taught English and Science in El Salvador while working with an after-school organization in the spring of 2019.
During the interview process, she discussed her participation in Science Olympiad. She also stood out as a teacher who highly values collaboration and input from other teachers. She discussed her lessons and units with the Chagrin High School science department teachers in the interview process and she did an excellent job in her teaching demonstration lesson during the final interview round.
Ms. Bockbrader was inspired to become an educator based on her love of science, in combination with her love of education for the growth of future generations.
Hannah DeWolf - Intervention Specialist, Chagrin Falls Intermediate School
Hannah DeWolf grew up in Pepper Pike and attended Orange City Schools. In high school, she played volleyball for Orange but could never seem to beat Chagrin.
She graduated summa cum laude from Miami University with a Bachelor of Science in Education. Upon graduation, she will obtain both Mild/Moderate and Moderate/Intensive licenses, as well as a certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders. During her time at Miami, she played club volleyball, coached a local club volleyball team, and tutored middle school students in math and reading.
Ms. DeWolf stood out in the interview process as a teacher that has a warm and genuine connection to students, but also a high degree of professional training for special education and intervention work.
Molly Klodor - Technology Integration Coach
Mrs. Klodor has taught high school English for 10 years serving most recently at Streetsboro High School where she also acts as a district technology specialist. Mrs. Klodor has a Masters from Kent State University in Curriculum and Instruction and is a Google Certified Teacher and Trainer.
Mrs. Klodor has the ability to help teachers and students with a variety of issues through her technology skill set coupled with her upbeat and optimistic personality. Her collection and analysis of data demonstrates how she makes informed decisions and adjusts her strategies based on feedback.
Some of her former colleagues say...
“Molly is a master teacher. She knows her curriculum well enough to teach it professionally and passionately. However, she is always striving to learn more. She goes into a situation with the mindset that she can always grow. This mindset directly transfers to her the people she is around and they want to learn more and grow.”
Molly frequently faces challenges related to the many extra duty positions she has (technology coach, quiz bowl coach, prom coordinator, professional development instructor, along with many more). She manages her time and stress levels with such ease that others look up to her. Others consistently rely on her levelheadedness and expertise. Molly works to overcome every challenge by doing everything possible to keep things moving forward in a positive and productive way.”
Nicole Martorello - RTI Tutor 7-12
Ms. Martorello has her Middle Childhood Education Licensure with a focus on mathematics and science. She completed her undergraduate degree at Kent State University where she majored in Health Sciences with a minor in Psychology. Following her time at Kent, she attended John Carroll University to get her Master of Education in Middle Childhood Education. She holds an ODE teaching license in Middle Childhood in the areas of mathematics and science. She has a true passion for working with children and loves teaching math.
Since graduating, Ms. Martorello has had the opportunity to teach math in a variety of grade levels and learn about the trajectory of math throughout the middle school years. Ms. Martorello is finishing a one year long-term substitute teaching position with Solon Schools and in the 2019-20 school year, held a long-term teaching position in Kenston. In 2018, Ms. Martorello served as a long-term substitute at Chagrin Falls Schools as a seventh-grade math teacher where she made a very positive impact with her students.
After school, Ms. Martorello enjoys teaching gymnastics, walking her dog, and spending time with her friends and family.
Grace McDevitt- Intervention Specialist, Chagrin Falls Intermediate School
Grace McDevitt grew up in Fairview Park, Ohio. She graduated from Kent State University in May 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Special Education, where she completed field experience in a wide range of settings, including student teaching at Crestwood High School in Mantua, Ohio. Ms. McDevitt is in the process of obtaining her teaching license in the area of Special Education (mild to moderate) and her letter from Kent noted she is on track for obtaining her license.
Ms. McDevitt is knowledgeable in the area of special education. She believes that helping a child learn to read and building their confidence in school is incredibly powerful. In her free time, she enjoys playing music, participating in community theater, and spending time outside.
Caitlin McPheron - RTI Tutor 7-12
Caitlin McPheron was born and raised in Somerset, Kentucky. Caitlin graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a B.A. in English, then from the University of the Cumberlands with a M.A. in teaching. Caitlin taught English Language Arts for two years in Kentucky, and spent one month teaching English in Madrid, Spain. She holds a Ohio Teaching license in the area of 7-12 Integrated Language Arts/English.
Ms. McPheron has two years of teaching experience in Kentucky at both Wayne County Middle School and Winburn Middle School then this past year completed two long-term substitute teaching positions at Chagrin Falls Middle School where she has ended the school year in supporting students as an RTI tutor.
Ms. McPheron enjoys gardening, cooking, hiking, camping, playing piano and guitar, reading, spending time with her family and friends, and spending time with her two cats.
Jennifer Nagano - Computer Science, Chagrin Falls High School
Ms. Nagano has 20 years of experience teaching mathematics and computer science in a variety of educational settings. She graduated with honors from Case Western Reserve University with a B.S. in Computer Engineering. After graduation, she joined the Peace Corps and taught mathematics in French in Guinea, West Africa for two years. Her most recent teaching experience has been at Western Reserve Academy where she also coordinated math contests and served as a student advisor. She also holds a Master's degree from Cleveland State University in Mathematics Instruction. Ms. Nagano holds an Ohio Department of Education Teaching license in 7-12 mathematics and qualifies for an endorsement for adding Computer Science to her license. Ms. Nagano's capabilities of computer coding and knowledge in computer science are excellent. Ms. Nagano lives in Solon, Ohio with her family. She enjoys running, dancing, and reading bedtime stories with her two daughters.
Casidy Reed - Band Teacher, Chagrin Falls High School
Casidy Reed is a musician, educator, and advocate for music education. She is native to Buffalo, New York and is currently teaching 7-12 Band in the Rochester area. She is also currently finishing her Master of Music in Music Teaching and Learning at the Eastman School of Music. She graduated with her Bachelor of Music Education as a trumpet primary from the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music in 2019. Casidy has also spent the past several summers teaching music to special education students through Erie 1 Region - BOCES (Boards of Cooperative Education Services).
Professionally, she has presented at the New York State School of Music Association (NYSSMA) conference, the Gender Equity in Music Conference at the Eastman School of Music, and is an editor of the International Women’s Brass Conference journal. She also is the host of her own podcast which focuses on issues of equity in the music industry. Ms. Reed holds a PK-12 Music Teaching license in both Ohio and New York.
Ms. Reed looks forward to moving back to Northeast Ohio to the area that was once her home and hopes to establish here in Chagrin as a dedicated teacher to creating music and teaching others.
Melinda Sawicki - Grade 4 Teacher, Chagrin Falls Intermediate School
Melinda Sawicki grew up in the Youngstown area, attending Youngstown State University and graduating with a degree in Elementary Education in 2001. From there, she married her husband, Mark, and moved to the suburbs of Cleveland. She has 12 years of prior teaching experience across numerous subjects. She graduated from Kent State University with her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction in 2005. Mrs. Sawicki spent a few years raising her family before returning to the classroom again in 2019, as a third-grade substitute teacher in Solon. This past year, Mrs. Sawicki was the permanent building substitute at Gurney Elementary. During her time at Gurney, she was inspired by the intellectual community of teachers and staff and found great rewards in working with every student in the school.
Mrs. Sawicki has a great deal of experience in teaching literacy and writing to middle-grade students. She impressed the teaching team with her understanding of assessment in literacy as well as her collaborative approach to team teaching.
Mrs. Sawicki and her husband have two daughters, Katie and Kara, along with two feisty miniature schnauzers, Moses and Cecil.
Courtney Mooney - Tutor, Gurney Elementary School
Courtney Mooney has been serving in the School District as an educational aide this past school year, where she is primarily supporting a small group of students in second grade. Over the course of this school year, she has exemplified everything we look for in a teacher at Gurney Elementary School. Mrs. Mooney is great at building rapport with students. She has quickly learned the Gurney Responsive Classroom strategies and language. Mrs. Mooney stood out this past school year in helping other staff work on special projects. At Gurney, Mrs. Mooney has taken over the Sunshine Committee, providing staff morale ideas to implement throughout this challenging year, and has been an encouragement to many of her colleagues.
In collaboration with Mrs. Czerr, Courtney turned the Gurney Learning Lab into a place that students were excited to be in every day. Mrs. Mooney created a community feeling in there along with adding some predictable routines, some fun breaks, and continuous learning support.
Mrs. Mooney holds a bachelor's degree in education from Bowling Green State University and has over 10 years of teaching experience focused on elementary classrooms. Prior to Chagrin Falls Schools, she served most at St. Anselm School in Chesterland. Before that, she was a teacher at Valley Christian Preschool in Chagrin Falls. Courtney started her teaching career in a fifth-grade classroom at St. Francis of Assisi School in Gates Mills.
Nicole Kennedy - Aide - Gurney Elementary School
Claudia Thompson - Aide - Gurney Elementary School
Stefanie Hanley - Aide - Chagrin Falls Intermediate School
Sally Goss - Aide - Chagrin Falls Intermediate School
Kelly Sukol - Transportation Secretary
Marc Jacobson - Bus Driver
Diane Phifer - Food Service Helper - Chagrin Falls High School
Sue Rebszenko - Food Service Helper - Chagrin Falls High School
Eileen Curtis - EMIS Coordinator - Central Office