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Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week!

Heather Garis – Kindergarten Teacher, Henrietta G. Lewis Campus School

Heather Garis has been with New Directions since 2012. Heather received her Bachelor of Education from SUNY Fredonia and her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Buffalo State University. She began as a teacher’s assistant for the 2nd grade class, before becoming the kindergarten/1st grade teacher.

Heather currently serves as Elementary Team Leader, ensuring effective communication among the team, planning for events, delegating responsibilities, and helping her team members in any way possible. Within her kindergarten class, it is Heather’s responsibility to set her students on a path of success for the rest of their schooling, whether it be here at HGLCS or upon returning to their district school. She creates a nurturing learning environment and builds the framework for her students to feel successful in and love school and learning. It means a lot to Heather to be such an influence in her students’ emotional, social, and academic success.

Heather loves the passion that everyone at H. G. Lewis shares, for helping others as well as the team-mentality that her co-workers and administrators have shown toward each other and clients. She greatly values her growing experience in effective behavior management and trauma-informed care.

In her free time, Heather loves spending time with her husband and her 9-year-old son. She and her husband are superfans of 90’s band 311 and over the past 15 years, they have traveled across the country to see concerts and many “311 friends”.

Thank you for creating a vibrant and caring learning environment for our day students, Heather!

Shannon Zaranek – Elementary Teacher, Henrietta G. Lewis Campus School

Shannon has been with New Directions since 2012. She holds a BA in Elementary Education and MS in Literacy Education, both from Canisius College.

Shannon teaches students in a 6:1:1 setting. She differentiates and modifies curriculum to accommodate each student’s individual needs. Her lessons involve a lot of hands-on learning, movement, and music. Watching students grow academically and emotionally makes Shannon happy and feel like she is making a difference in their lives. Her class motto is: “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” It is all about modeling good character and positive thinking in Shannon’s class!

Shannon’s favorite part of working at New Directions is having a front row seat to watch the strides that her students have made throughout the years. It is extremely rewarding to help a student overcome a struggle and start to comprehend the material being taught and the life lessons taught to them in the classroom each day. She thinks that it is simply wonderful working and collaborating with the other staff members to help students progress and improve in all aspects of their lives. It is 100% a team effort at HGLCS!

In her spare time, Shannon enjoys hanging out with family and friends, watching her nieces and nephews play sports, working out and training at Shannon-Connors Fitness, binge-watching shows on Netflix and going for walks on nature trails. She is an all-around fun, energetic and loyal person! Shannon is a die-hard athlete and played Division 1 volleyball and received MAAC Athlete of the year. She even landed in the Athletic Hall of Fame at her high school, St. Mary’s in Lancaster.

Thanks for helping to shape bright futures, Shannon!


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