WARREN, NJ – Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) Class of 2020 graduating seniors Alyssa Krutis and Kelly Saum have been named the recipients of Watchung Hills Regional Education Association (WHREA) Scholarship for Future Educators. Coincidentally, Krutis and Saum both attended Warren's Woodland Elementary School.
“Congratulations to Alyssa Krutis and Kelly Saum for being selected as this year’s recipients of the WHREA Scholarship for Future Educators,” said WHRHS Social Studies Teacher Greg O’Reilly, the WHREA association president. “Since 2007, the WHREA has granted more than $24,000 to future educators from our school. The scholarship is funded by members through an annual WHREA event in addition to individual contributions.”
O’Reilly continued, “Our association has always been supportive of students looking to become educators. It is inspiring to see young adults, who were raised in a community that prioritizes virtues such as integrity, empathy, and patience,decide to dedicate their lives towards public service. There are several Warrior alumni who are employed in various capacities in our district as educators. It is always incredibly special to work alongside homegrown teachers and staff. WhereverAlyssa Krutis and Kelly Saum eventually teach, it is rewarding for us that we were able to help."
Krutis plans to attend Kutztown University, Kutztown, Pa., west of Allentown, Pa., to major in Elementary and Special Education.
Krutis’ said her experiences at WHRHS have been influential and have nurtured her dream to someday work as a teacher in an elementary school.
“I’ve always loved caring for children,” she said. “My high school experience has helped me choose my major and it has validated my passion for working with children.” Krutiscompleted all of the courses offered in the WHRHS Child Development Program.
Patricia Buzby is one of the instructors in the program and during the past two years, she has watched Krutis mature and grow while becoming more confident as a future teacher.
“Alyssa always has a calm demeanor and a gentle nurturing sprit,” said Buzby. “The preschoolers in our classroom reactedwith joy when Alyssa teaches a lesson.”
In Buzby’s opinion, Krutis’ educational experience in the WHRHS Child Development Program should help her find success as an education major next year, and during the years to come.
Krutis started babysitting when she was just 12-years-old, and it was then that she realized that she loved being around kids. Looking back to her elementary school years, Krutis remembers the significance and influence a reading teacher had on her development.
She recalled, “When I struggled, she was there to offer help, support and encouragement. She never let me quit. I did notknow it at the time, she eventually become an inspiration for me.”
As a freshman at WHRHS, Krutis already had a strong suspicion that teaching was in her future and she set out to foster that goal. It was in the Child Development courses that Krutis learned how to organize a classroom, create, and implement academic lessons and monitor the progress of the preschool children that attended each day. And, by working with the children, Krutisalso learned the value of teaching kindness, empathy, and patience.
Krustis also nurtured her thirst to grow her service-oriented interest. Her active connection to the Warren Lions/Leo Youth Group provided Krutis with an outlet to help others, As a member of the group, Krutis has been a part of many activities that have benefited those in need. As with many teachers, hergiving nature will always be an asset as a teacher, O’Reilly said.
Her love of working with children has also been exhibited through her work as a recreational youth softball coach, and a camp counselor with her town’s day camp. These high school opportunities solidified her dream of becoming a teacher.
“As a coach and a counselor, it was important to me to teach my players and campers to be kind to each other,” Krutis said. As a teacher, Krutis said, “I try to use every opportunity to teach a positive life lesson. Yes, academics will always be important to students. But so are the other life skills we learn in school and like Mrs. Brown, I want to help younger kids become the best person they can be.”
The other recipient of the WHREA Scholarship for Future Educators, Kelly Saum, plans to attend Shippensburg Universityin Shippensburg, Pa, just west of Harrisburg, to study Early Education, Special Education
Like Krutis, Saum said she has also been greatly influenced by her high school experience at Watchung Hills. Saum’s strong academic achievement, along with her meaningful connection to several school and community groups, have been key in guiding her to decide to study education in college. She too has completed courses in the Child Development program and Saumhas built a strong foundation for her future studies.
Growing and maturing as a student at WHRHS, Saum believes that the “classroom has provided me with great learning opportunities and the chance to increase my leadership skills.” This has also happened outside of the classroom because Saumis an active member of student government as well as several service organizations.
“As a member of The Red Cross Club and the BELIEV club at school, I’ve had the chance to give back to people in need,” Saum said. “To me, helping others is a huge part of what drives me into the education field.” Service runs in her family, she said. Her mother is a teacher and her father works in law enforcement. “Teaching and service are my blood,” Saum said.
Outside of school, Saum has a connection with a local Lion’s Club. Saum was elected president of the Lion’s Club youth group.
Additionally, her employment record is deep and significant. This is her third year working as a teaching assistant with a local childcare learning center. The part-time job has helped Saumearn a little money but, as importantly, gain first-hand experience working with younger kids. Saum said, “Witnessing how I can influence a student’s success has been enjoyable and enlightening for me. In a way, it has helped me realize what is in my future.”
There is one other very important connection Saum has with WHRHS and that is her position with the wrestling team. Throughout high school, Saum has been the statistician and team manager for the program. And, as many locals will note, the Warrior Wrestling Program has always been regarded as one of the more successful programs in New Jersey, winning County, District and even State Sectional championships. Saumhas been a part of that achievement.
According to Head Coach James Huff, “Kelly is the definition of what Warrior Wrestling means. She is committed, hard-working and a high character person who always strives both in school and out of school,” Huff said. “Her dedication to the wrestling program has been extremely beneficial to the growth of the program’s success.”
“The words ‘dedicated, committed, hard-working, and high character’ truly summarize what Saum has to offer the world as a future educator,” O’Reilly said. “With full enthusiasm, the Watchung Hills Regional Education Association proudly acknowledges both Saum and Krutis as this year’s scholarship recipients.”
For information, contact:
Joseph Toye, Selection Committee Coordinator, 908-647-4800, ext. 4842 (firstname.lastname@example.org)