WHREA Scholarship Winners Announced

Watchung Hills students Carlyn Vautin and Katie Holtz win WHREA future educators scholarships

Congratulations to future educators Kathryn (Katie) Holz and Carlyn Vautin.  Katie and Carlyn are recipients of the 2012 Watchung Hills Regional Education Association Scholarship for Future Educators.  The WHREA is proud to honor both students for their outstanding academic record, as well as their commitment to extra-curricular activities and community service.  Katie and Carlyn are energetic, enthusiastic and dedicated students with great potential as future educators. 

This is the seventh year the WHREA has offered the scholarship.   Katie and Carlyn will each receive $800.00 to help with college expenses next year.   Since 2006, the association has awarded over $8,000.00 in scholarship money to future educators.   The scholarship is fully funded by donations from individual members.  According to Joseph Toye, selection committee co-chair, “Our members have always been very supportive of students who choose to pursue education as a career.   Donating to the scholarship fund is a concrete way to show that support.”

For both Katie and Carlyn, being connected to education in some way has always been a priority.  Both site community activities as the initial source of interest in education.   In addition, Katie and Carlyn note the many rewarding experiences they have had with teachers throughout their primary and secondary education.  For both girls, positive interactions with teachers helped solidify and confirm their desire to become educators. 

Katie Holz:   Katie has always been an excellent student at WHRHS.  With the exception of two class, Katie has earned straight A’s at the school.  In addition, Katie has logged close to three hundred community service hours.   Working as a camp volunteer with younger adopted Chinese girls made a big impression on Katie.  As a junior, Katie selected to participate in the WHRHS Peer Outreach class.  According to Holz,

“It was my Peer Outreach class that really started my interest in special education.  The class covered many disabilities and disorders and the daily challenges people with them experience.  I felt compelled and interested in helping students with special needs from then on.”   

Senior year, as part of the WHRHS Career Assistance Program, Katie has worked with special needs students in cooperation with three WHRHS special educators.  Holz stated,   “My Career Assistant teachers, [Mrs. Gechtman, Mrs. Thunberg and Mr. Bird], taught me that the students with special needs just learn differently and that they are capable of lots of things.  We just have to find those things as teachers.”

For Katie, the path to becoming a special education teacher will begin next fall at Raritan Valley Community College where she will be an Honors Student as well as a NJ STARS participant.   This is a great accomplishment for Katie because her tuition will be paid by the program – a true testament to her hard work and dedication.  “Yes, I was accepted at both a private college and a state school… But in the long run, it’s hard to turn down the future tuitions savings I’ll have as a STARS student,” Katie commented.

Carlyn Vautin:  Even as a little girl, Carlyn knew that teaching would be in her future.   As she matured through middle school and high school, Carlyn’s interest in teaching only strengthened.   At Watchung Hills, Carlyn has always taken demanding and rigorous courses including several Advance Placement classes.   Taking academically challenging courses left Carlyn little time for classes in WHRHS’s education department.  However, Carlyn did manage to take Intro to Early Childhood Education as a junior.  According to Carlyn, “It was one of my favorite electives because the children are adorable.  Teaching them life skills was a most enriching experience for me.” 

Like Katie Holz, Carlyn also has spent many hours working as a volunteer.   A great example is Carlyn’s impressive longevity with Scouting.  She has been a scout since age sixth.  Organizing and running a clothing drive Carlyn called “Clothes for Columbia” helped her earn the Girl Scout Silver Award.   For Carlyn, community service with the Girl Scouts also offered a connection to teaching.  As a Scout, Carlyn had a chance to work with younger students as a mentor and counselor.  Carlyn stated, “I was a counselor at Jockey Hollow Girl Scout Day Camp for four years and I developed a passion for working with 5- and 6-year olds,”

Carlyn has excitedly exclaimed, “I can’t wait to go into Early Childhood Education next year as a college student!”  For Carlyn, her journey towards teaching will begin at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.   At Watchung Hills, Carlyn has been ultra involved with school groups and athletics.   She’s a four-year member of the lacrosse team and a leading member of several service groups.   As in high school, Carlyn is enthusiastic about being an active and committed participant in her college community.  

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