Six are inducted to Wall of Fame

WELLSBURG – The six individuals inducted to the Brooke County Schools Wall of Fame Wednesday served the school district in a variety of capacities, including school board member, teacher, coach, teacher’s aide and custodian.

But testimony from them and those who have known them showed they had at least one thing in common: all loved their jobs.

“I always tell people I’m living a dream. I’ve had so much fun in Brooke County,” said Bill Ewusiak, a teacher and coach at Follansbee Middle School and Brooke High School for more than 40 years.

Since his retirement six years ago, he has remained involved as a substitute teacher.

Also expressing a love for their professions were fellow inductees Richard Pannett, a teacher, coach and school board member for the district over a 33-year period; Joann Stoetzer a third grade teacher at Jefferson Primary School for 30 years; and Betty Traubert, a teachers’s aide at Franklin Primary School for more than 30 years.

Family members and colleagues said that same spirit was shared by posthumous inductees Edward Forker, a custodian and maintenance worker at Brooke High School for 20 years; and James Skews, a biology teacher and assistant principal at Follansbee and Brooke high schools.

Board President Jim Piccirillo, who nominated Ewusiak for induction, said of him, “He is proud, humble and not one to celebrate his personal accomplishments, and they are many.”

Piccirillo said after setting school records as a football player at Fairmont State College, Ewusiak applied the same athletic spirit to coaching football and basketball. He added Ewusiak had no less enthusiasm for teaching biology and though he could have become a principal or athletic director, he chose to remain in the classroom.

“He was always on time, prepared, dedicated, well dressed, loyal and willing to help every child,” Piccirillo said.

Brooke County schools custodian Mark Ross said Forker was imposing in size but quiet and gentle in nature and remembered by those who knew him for his warm smile, kindness and willingness to help others through his skill at carpentry and other talents.

Flora Lewis agreed her brother “had love in his heart for everyone. That was the kind of guy he was.”

Brooke County schoolteacher Holly Yarter recalled Pannett’s teaching career began at his alma mater, Edgewood School, where he taught science and physical education in the 1960s.

Though he left the school district to teach in Ohio for 14 years, he returned to Brooke County in 1978, serving as a social studies and driver education teacher and boys and girls basketball coach at Brooke High School before retiring in 2001.

Yarter said Pannett helped every player to contribute, treating all with respect, and he often is approached by former athletes who hold him in high regard.

“I never had to get up in the morning and not want to go to work,” Pannett said, adding he even enjoyed monitoring the cafeteria at breakfast, when he was able “to move from table to table and talk with the kids.”

“I loved every minute of it. I wouldn’t trade my profession for anything,” he said.

Janet Tarr, who nominated Skews, said his “great joy and love were the students.”

She said as assistant principal, Skews often handled discipline problems but dealt with each with patience and understanding. When he discovered a student had stolen items from a local store, he accompanied the boy as he returned them and convinced the owner to accept the boy’s apology, she recalled.

Former Brooke County Schools bus driver Duane Heck, who nominated Stoetzer, noted she was unusual in holding the same third-grade teaching position throughout her career.

“Can you imagine how many lives she started off in her tenure at Jefferson Primary School?” he asked.

In accepting the honor, Stoetzer said, “We never get anywhere in life unless we have help along the way.” She said many helped to make Jefferson Primary a great school while she was there.

Stoetzer credited her parents for instilling in her solid values, from insisting she share her things to seeing that she wrote thank-you notes for gifts or acts of kindness, and her mother for convincing her father to allow her to attend college.

Those who have worked with Traubert reflected on her high energy and concern for the children.

Franklin Primary Principal Scott Donohew said that ranged from asking him to contact a parent when their child was arriving with a lunch comprised of candy to ensuring children got on the right bus when their parents needed them to ride to a grandparent’s house.

“Franklin Primary was clearly a better place because she was there,” he said.

Former Franklin Primary School teacher Betty Lou Harris said Traubert is “one of the most tireless persons I know. She would run around the building like she was 15.”

Traubert said she came to love Franklin Primary School and its staff and pupils, and former Franklin Principal Ed Schupbach told her, “We felt the same way about you, Betty.”

Harris, who chairs the Wall of Fame selection committee, said it’s not easy for the group to choose from nominations each year because there are so many deserving recipients.

The community is invited to submit nominations and may re-submit a nominee if that person isn’t chosen initially.

In addition to receiving certificates of recognition, recipients’ names are added to a plaque displayed in the board’s meeting room.

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