At a voluntary meeting held Friday, May 26, Dr. Conway, Executive Director of the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit, addressed current Support Staff, Classroom Assistants, and Personal Care Assistants, stating that at the administrative team’s recommendation and with board support, the organization has agreed to provide a Retention Bonus to full-time support staff employees, full-time classroom assistants, and full-time personal care assistants. In addition, a Retention Bonus was also given to part-time support staff employees, part-time classroom assistants, and part-time personal care assistants. The bonus checks will be distributed before June 15. He also announced a Signing Bonus Program ($1,000) for new hires starting after today’s date. Employees are eligible for the Referral Bonus Program, where employees could receive $500.
Dr. Conway said, “We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sticking with us. We know the retention bonus will never equate to the time, effort, and challenges you faced during the pandemic. However, we hope you view the bonus as a sincere token of our appreciation and that you are proud to be part of the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit family and encourage others to join us!”
Terri Pajak (Classroom Assistant/Employed for 30 years, Local President, and ESP PSEA President of the Southwestern Division) was delighted, stating, “ This means we feel appreciated and valued. Thank you to the board of directors and administration. The bonus will help us enjoy our summer break!”
Melanie Soich (Early Intervention Secretary/Employed for 23 years), “I'm excited about the bonus! This will help many people enjoy more summer activities with their families that they may not have been able to do in the past.”
Beth Geismann (PCA at Clairvew School/Employed for ten years) immediately sent a thank you and said, “We deeply appreciate this gesture, and it is nice to know we are appreciated.”
Valinda Savehla (Classroom Assistant at Clairview School/Employed for 17 years) was shocked to learn the good news, “I remember several years ago when Dr. Conway took over as executive director, he said he ‘wanted to take IU7 to #1’ we are progressing in the right direction, there are so many good thinking happening in this organization. The Westmoreland Intermediate Unit is a fantastic place to work and keeps improving. I am so proud to say I work here!”
Dee Petrie (WIU Receptionist/Employed for 10 years) was also shocked, “As a support staff employee, I would like to thank the WIU Administrative Team and Board for this generous bonus. It is nice to know that we are appreciated for our work behind the scenes. This bonus will allow me to experience more opportunities on my vacation.”
Cameron Kovatch (Clariview School Teacher/Employed for 3 years) was happy for his colleagues. He said they are highly deserving, “The work of our Classroom Assistants, Personal Care Assistants, and Support Staff is often overlooked. These individuals play an invaluable role in the education and growth of our students. The impact we make, and the opportunities I can provide as a teacher are greatly improved by the adults that aid the students. Without the support, trust, and willingness of our Classroom Assistants, Personal Care Assistants, and Support Staff, Clairview and the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit would not be the amazing place it is today!”
The Westmoreland Intermediate Unit plans to invest in a teacher apprenticeship program offering paraeducators the opportunity of instruction, coaching, and classroom experience in a cohort-based apprenticeship program where they could earn a fully accredited Bachelor’s Degree in Education. This career ladder would help fill vacancies while creating sustainable long-term pathways into education.
(Classrooms Assistants and Personal Care Assistants) provide instructional and behavioral support to students. Classroom Assistants assist teachers in the educating and training of students. Personal Care Assistants help students with non-instructional activities such as eating, mobility, and activities of daily living. Our paraprofessionals Our Support Staff consists of secretaries, custodians, clerks, receptionists, and technicians who do critical work behind the scenes and support all aspects of the organization by keeping our daily operations running.
The Westmoreland Intermediate Unit’s mission is to provide a collective support system to enhance educational opportunities for our community and the learners we serve. Since the General Assembly creation of the intermediate unit system in 1971, we have expanded our educational leadership, using our expertise to provide services not only to Westmoreland counties' 17 public school districts but also to non-public schools, education agencies, parents, preschools, adult learners, businesses, municipalities, and more. Despite this growth, everything we do supports our core mission of improving student learning.