Gowanda Board of Education honors two staff members

GOWANDA – It was a night of praise and honors at a recent Gowanda Board of Education meeting. The board honored two of their employees for outstanding professional work and for helping in an emergency situation.

Guidance Director and School Counselor Beth Westerheide has been named by the New York State School Counselor Association as School Counselor of the Year. Westerheide received her award at the annual conference held in early November. Charles Rinaldi, superintendent, said the award is a “nice day for Gowanda and Westerheide.” He commended her for her service to the district over the past decade.

“The experience she brought to the table and everything you’ve learned since you started in 2002 has moved (the district) forward,” Rinaldi said.

High School Principal Dr. Robert Anderson said Westerheide is a great addition to the district. He said with the help of Westerheide and the district’s guidance office, the district has implemented a science, engineering, technology and math academy for students, a behavioral program and a suicide prevention program.

“She has been a great friend and a great colleague,” Anderson said.

Westerheide was not the only employee who received recognition at the meeting. Middle school science teacher Scott Barto was honored by Principal David Smith. Barto, along with a fellow teacher, helped save the life of a middle school student. A student, while walking in the hallway, had a pen cap stuck in his throat causing the student to start choking and being unable to breathe. Barto performed the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the pen cap, Smith said.

Barto was presented with a plaque of appreciation for his work and Smith expressed his gratitude for Barto’s quick thinking, calling his actions “courageous and heroic.” Barto said he did what was instinctive for him when he saw the student in need in the hallway.

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