– A longtime teacher at the Western Wayne School District will be retiring after 43 years.

Frances (Fran) Vitovsky, the business department chair in the district, will be bidding adieu July 4.

She is also the advisor for the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA).

Starting roots

Vitvosky started teaching in September 1971 at the Waymart High School before it was torn down.

“I was out of college in May and worked as a secretary during the summer,” she said. “Then I heard about the opening.”

Vitovsky has taught almost all of the business subjects.

“My very first year I taught problems of democracy, which was a social studies class,” she stated.

She added they moved to the new building in January 1973.

“I think I’m the last one around that was actually here when we moved to the building,” Vitovsky explained.

Changes throughout the years

“There have been a lot of changes,” she said. “I think there's changes in kids. One of the changes is you're more of an entertainer at times because they have such a short attention span.

“Because of video games and all of that kind of stuff you have to get them fast, otherwise they're onto something else. That's the major change.”

She added the administration and faculty has changed a lot, but the class day hasn't changed too much.

Initiating a legacy

FBLA was started in 1977 by Mrs. Walsh, a business teacher at the district.

“She was out on maternity leave and someone asked her to come and judge an FBLA Regional Conference at Valley View,” Vitovsky explained.

“It incorporated all of the schools in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties. It was really a big thing.

“When she came back to school she said we need to start FBLA [at Western Wayne]. At first I wasn't too keen about it because when she was gone, there were three teachers that took her place and it was training each one each time.

“Slowly I got into it and all of a suddenly the roles flipped and I became the advisor in 1978.”

Vitovsky said out of all the school participating in FBLA, Western Wayne is number one in the most winners over the last 10 years.

“We’re talking competing against huge schools such as Stroudsburg, North Penn and Haverford and we're number one,” she stated. “I'm pretty proud of that. The kids have really done well.”

She added there weren't any challenges building the program because there was total support from the district.

To join FBLA students have to be enrolled in a business or business-related class.

Any student in grades 9-12 can join.

“There are activities that are like community service, but the focus is the competitive events,” Vitovsky explained. “There are 60 different events. Once you compete in one event, you can't do it again.

“So if you choose to be in public speaking 1 you can't do public 1 again. You have to find another event.

“Once you try it and realize you like it you can't do it again so you have to find something else. In the course of four years it's sometimes difficult because sometimes kids can't take the courses we want them to take because they're taking several AP classes and their schedule doesn't fit it in.

“Trying to find four different events can be hard.”

Success breeds success

“Once the kids saw that some kids were becoming successful, they just couldn't wait,” Vitovsky said, “or when they had a brother or sister that did well, once they moved up from the middle school, getting involved in it was the first thing they wanted to do.”

Vitovsky has gone to Nationals with students every year since 1980. Each year Western Wayne has had winners or state officers.

She said to be a state officer you have to run a campaign trail and get elected.

“You give a speech in front of 3,000 people and you have to have a campaign booth to meet all the delegates,” Vitovsky said. “Once you're an officer you have to attend some meetings.

“The officers also run the State Workshop and State Conference. They are invited to other Regional Conferences and they have to give workshops. There's a lot of work for them to do.”

Vitovsky said so much of her career has been connected to FBLA.

“I've had 23 state officers, with six being presidents,” she said. “When you realize there's only nine officers in a given year and we've had 23, that's definitely been a highlight.

“Seeing so many of the kids do so well is a highlight and hoping that you had a little part in it.”

She added leadership skills, how to be a good citizen and how to be a good member of their class are some of the skills FBLA gives students.

“I've noticed that when kids go to these conferences and come back, they immediately want to run for student council,” Vitovsky explained. “They're not afraid anymore. They're willing to take that risk where before maybe they were a little timid.”

National competition

There are 11 students from Western Wayne currently competing in different events at Nationals in Nashville, TN.

This is also the first time in 20 years that a Parliamentary Procedure team from the district is in the national competition.

Nationals started June 27 and will end July 3.

Theresa Lubash will be taking over FBLA and Vitovsky will be volunteering with them.

“I'm going to stay involved,” Vitovsky said. “ I'm going to continue on the Pennsylvania Board of Directors so I’m not only going to stay and volunteer with Western Wayne, but will also be involved with making policy.”

During the State Conference Vitovksy was named Advisor of the Year.

“It was a total surprise,” she said. “I had no idea.”

She said you have to apply and fill out the criteria. The person with the most points earns the title.

“I never filled it out,” Vitovsky said. “When they started announcing, they said this year's Advisor of Year will be retiring after 43 years of teaching, I was like that's me.”

High School Principal Matthew Barrett was there along with one of her former presidents, Brett Hollister, and her sister and brother.

“They were sneaking around the hotel so I wouldn’t bump into them,” she said. “It was quite a surprise and honor.”

Vitovsky is the first one to be named Advisor of the Year two times. The first was in 1995.

“Once you get it you have to wait 10 years before you're eligible again,” she said. “This way you give others a chance.”

Moving on

“It feels like home here [at Western Wayne],” Vitovsky said. “That's what I’m going to miss. I told my students it's like my room and all I’m missing is a bed.

“I'll miss working with the kids. That’s probably the most fun, working with the kids whether it's in the classroom in an official class or FBLA. I'll definitely miss the faculty too.”

“The past 10-12 years have been the best years in teaching,” Vitovsky said. “I think those are the ears you're learning, not how to deal with kids, but you're learning the material.

“I can't thank the district enough. I've had a wonderful career. Some people change theirs six, seven times in a lifetime.

“I've seen and done a lot in my 43 years. The district is terrific. They've been supportive with everything. The kids are terrific and the parents have been great.

“I have no complaints. People can go out sour, but I’m going out very positive.”

She said it's a strange feeling that she won't be going back to school.

“It'll be different but it'll be good,” Vitovsky said. “It's been great working with the teachers. I've had a lot of fun over the years.”