There is a strong contingent of Wheeling Park High School Career and Technical educators who are teaching right where they learned.
There are 15 current CTE teachers at Park who are Patriot graduates. Of those, nine are teaching in the program they completed as Wheeling Park CTE students. Teachers Bryan Michaels, Jill Hillberry, Aaron “Gus” Fedorke, Caroline Dillon, Micah Farmer, Melissa Marshall, Walt Bugaj, Wil Myers, Mike Harris and Scott Nolte are teaching in the programs they completed at Park. Patriot CTE teacher Ethan Bloomfield, Tyler Cooley, Bill Crow, Stephen Turbanic and Audrey Abraham also graduated from Wheeling Park High School.
As Patriot students, Fedorke, Hillberry and Michaels earned state championships in Machine Tool Trades, Culinary Arts and Accounting/Finance respectively. They now teach at Park in the subjects in which they won.
Stephanie Bugaj has been the Wheeling Park CTE director since 2012. She said Park’s CTE department has long been a source of pride for Wheeling Park and also Ohio County Schools. Bugaj said the CTE department is a success because the teachers love to teach, and they are teaching the subjects they love.
“I’m proud of them, and they are proud of what they do,” she said. “They are giving back. They left Wheeling Park with these skills. Some of them went into industries and used these skills, but now they are bringing them back to teach these students. It makes me feel great.”
Wheeling Park’s CTE department offers 18 different programs in a wide variety of fields such as Broadcast Technology, Collision Repair, Welding and Personal Fitness and Wellness Training. Park’s Simulated Workplace program features 15 companies that transform the classroom environment into a viable company workplace. The initiative enhances instructional delivery and permits students the opportunity to take ownership of their performance as it impacts the overall success of their education.
“Park’s CTE Program has anything you could want to do,” Bugaj said. “We are teaching our kids skills for careers, but we are also giving them skills to live. The Wheeling Park CTE department is helping students to have thriving careers and successful and happy lives.”
Hillberry is the ProStart Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management teacher at Wheeling Park. She said, as a Park student, she loved her CTE courses because they helped her to find her career path. Prior to becoming a teacher, she worked as a sous-chef and in several positions in restaurant management. She returned to Wheeling Park in 2010 for a specific reason.
“I thought it would be great to share my knowledge with aspiring chefs,” Hillberry said. “I love being around the students and seeing what they create. They surprise me often. I only see the program growing, and this year is going to another great year. The students are taking the lead, and they are making the program more well-rounded.”