By: Preethi Velagapudi and Genevieve Husak
For this article, we thought we’d look back at former LNC teachers who left us for a variety of reasons. We reached out to four former teachers: Tim Swiatek (left 2015), Tim Venable (left 2017), Danielle Derwich (left 2017), and Marc Pecorella (left 2015) to check up on them and see what they’ve been up to since they left LNC!
For those that didn’t have him, Tim Swiatek was the 9th grade World History teacher for four years up until 2015. Since his time as a teacher at LNC, Mr. Swiatek applied for an ESL teaching position in Ulsan, South Korea, as “working abroad (and traveling) were always things that [he] wanted to do” and he felt that it was definitely worth the risk! He proceeded to teach kindergarten in Ulsan for two years and then he saved as much money as possible to travel during his time off and after his teaching contract ended. One of his favorite places to travel is Siargao in the Philippines, where he enjoys surfing (but not so much motorbiking – which he reportedly learned the hard way). At the moment, Mr. Swiatek is working on getting his MA in World History from NYU and plans to apply to History PhD programs next fall in hopes of becoming a “proper historian” and eventually “researching, writing, and teaching at a university.” He’d also like to adopt a dog as soon as he moves out of NYC. When asked if he misses LNC, Mr. Swiatek responded, “Of course! I think about LNC almost every day! LNC is such a great community, and I feel lucky to have been a part of it.” In addition, he misses building relationships with the students, seeing them grow, and working along with other “amazing educators.”
Although Marc Pecorella might have left physically left LNC, he remains very connected to LNC today as a parent of two LNC students and through his wife, Ms. Pecorella, a 6th grade science teacher at the middle school. Marc Pecorella, a 10th grade Civics and Economics and Contemporary Issues teacher, left LNC midway through the 2015-2016 school year to pursue an administrative career as an Assistant Principal at Union Ridge High School where he gets to contribute to the workings of a “large, complex and vibrant school.” As you can see, he is a fan of his new school. Though he has more experience as a teacher, he sees administrative work as “a more active role in education” for him. He is very passionate about helping the students at his new school, just as he was at LNC. As one of the original LNC teachers, he recalls “teaching in trailers across the street and having limited facilities,” which really emphasizes LNC’s growth and prosperity. Though Mr. Pecorella is no longer an LNC employee, he appreciates that he has been a part of LNC’s community and hopes to maintain contact through his other connections to the school.
Midway through 2011, the LNC band program had already hired and lost two band directors (one of whom only made it one day before quitting). Many LNC students and parents worried that the LNC band program was falling apart – however, luckily, the school’s third band director of the year turned out to be exactly what the program needed. Tim Venable worked as the LNC band teacher for both middle school and high school from 2011 to 2017, though he was a substitute teacher here even before then and is a parent of two daughters who both graduated from LNC several years ago. Last year, after investing about seven years of hard work and energy into the LNC band, he decided to retire from his position due to old age and to pursue some of his lifelong dreams: “building and selling a high quality classical guitar” and curling. Though he’s been doing curling for a while, he now has a lot more time to pursue that hobby. Additionally, Mr. Venable has been a guitar player for most of his life, and somewhat recently began playing classical guitar. However, now he is moving beyond simply playing and looking into building also guitars. This takes a high level of skill and commitment, so being retired gives him a lot more time to spend mastering the craft. Though he will still be around working as a substitute teacher at LNC and hosting a guitar ensemble after school on Mondays, Mr. Venable does miss the community here, including the “students, music, performances, rehearsals, and working with [his] colleagues.”
Danielle Derwich, an 11th grade English teacher, had been heavily involved in LNC before she left just last year (2017) to take a leadership position as an elementary school assistant principal at Lincoln Charter. Having been at LNC for nine years, Ms. Derwich helped build student council, worked with the seniors for years, and had gotten close to many students and parents. When she was approached to do a UNCC add-on program from Ms. Stein and Ms. Padgett, she decided to see “where this path would lead [her].” She initially wanted to use the interview as practice, but after getting the job, Ms. Derwich decided it was “time for [her] to take a leap of faith and try something new.” She says, “As hard as it was to leave my students and parents at LNC, I knew if I wanted to push myself and use my degree, this was a chance I needed to take. I am a true believer in things happen for a reason, and this came at a time where I needed a change. I know my calling is education, and my journey may take me back to the classroom one day. The future is undetermined :).” Since last year, Ms. Derwich has been working on finishing up her add-on admin degree at UNCC and graduates on May 12th! She also enjoys her time “watching [her] two boys grow. Austin will be entering kindergarten in the fall and Aiden will be turning two at the end of June.” and “getting lots of love” from her elementary school friends. On LNC, Ms. Derwich exclaimed that she “miss[es] working at LNC every day!” especially because of the relationships she’s built and the memories she’s made. She’s said she misses teaching “EVERY day” and “the interactions, the students making me laugh, the process of seeing my students go to prom, graduate, experiencing these life changing moments.” She also adds, “Please let my students know that I am so blessed to have been a part of their education, and I wish them nothing but happiness and success. They will always have a special place in my heart, and I am always here if they need anything!”
Many teachers, both past and present, have contributed to the growth and positive community of LNC. These teachers include Mr. Swiatek, Mr. Pecorella, Mr. Venable, and Ms. Derwich, all of whom no longer work at LNC but have been very integral to its development and continued prosperity. Although they may not miss grading papers, it’s clear they miss LNC and we’re thankful for their contributions to our school and wish them well in all of their future endeavors! As Mr. Pecorella signed off, “Go Knights!”