Honoring Educators: Celebrating Teachers

May 14, 2024 / Christine Coddington

Teacher Appreciation Week holds a special place in the hearts of educators, serving as a reminder of the impact they have on shaping the future generation. Eastern Mennonite School (EMS) recently celebrated its faculty and staff with a Spring Appreciation Banquet, dedicated to honoring milestone years of service and bidding farewell to those embarking on new journeys.


Among the laughter and tears shared during the banquet, administrators took the opportunity to express heartfelt farewell wishes to some of the school’s most cherished educators. Among them was Rebecca Yutzy, who dedicated 28 years of her life to maximizing opportunities for professional growth and advocating for her students’ needs, leaving a lasting mark on the EMS community.

Kevin Carini, with 7 years of service, was celebrated not only for his passion for teaching chemistry, physics, and robotics but also for his unique sense of humor and willingness to think outside the box, which left impressions on countless students.

Leah Huyard, Tom Mitch, Donna O’Roark, and Sharon Norris, each with their own distinctive contributions, were also honored for their unwavering dedication, remarkable work ethic, and the lasting impact they’ve had on the EMS community.


The celebration turned to recognize milestone years of service, with educators like Shirley Rodeffer, Valeria Eshleman-Robles, Erika Gascho, Sarah Mitch, Erin Williams, Jen Stoltzfus, and Patsy Seitz being commended for their commitment to excellence and their profound influence on the school’s culture and student body.

Valeria’s teaching was likened to an inspiring ballet, characterized by thoughtful planning and student-centered lessons that engaged and empowered learners. Erika was praised for creating a classroom culture where students felt known, accountable, and empowered to take ownership of their learning; and bringing that same approach to her relationships as new middle school principal.

Sarah, Erin, Jen, and Patsy were acknowledged for their exceptional contributions in various fields, ranging from science to art, each leaving an unforgettable mark on the EMS community through their passion and dedication to their students’ growth and well-being.

As Patsy, with 20 years of service, was honored for her vulnerability, humility, and integral role in school leadership, the banquet served as a reminder of the relationships and friendships that unite the EMS community. Our vision at EMS is to embody the love of Jesus as a learning community where every student belongs, thrives, and joins God’s work in the world. 


The Spring Appreciation Banquet not only celebrated teachers’ achievements but also emphasized the collective commitment to excellence, compassion, and lifelong learning that defines the school’s values. It was clear that the impact of these educators extends far beyond the classroom, shaping the lives of students and the community for years to come.

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“The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;

the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” 

Numbers 6:24-26

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