St. Marys native Dr. Divonna Mohr Stebick wears many hats as an instructor. Now living in Hanover, Pa., she is an instructional consultant for many school districts across the country, assisting teachers in helping students meet greater success.
She has taught students from grades K-12, is a reading specialist, serves as an adjunct faculty member for Johns Hopkins University, McDaniel College and Keuka College, and has been a full-time assistant professor at Gettysburg College since 2003.
"I had always dreamed of teaching third grade at South St. Marys Street Elementary School - ever since I had Mrs. Kathy Herzing in kindergarten.Â However, I believe that Gettysburg College is where God needs me to be right now - preparing pre-service teachers, those teachers who will teach my own sons," Stebick said.Â "I feel that I can touch even more lives with this teaching position than I could when I had a class of 30 in a K-6 building."
Stebick is the daughter of Linda Stewart Mohr and Bill and Linda Erich Mohr. She and her husband Tim, the son of Janet and the late Kenny Stebick of St. Marys, have two sons, Jarrod, 10, and Jonathan, 7. She has a sister, Laura, and a brother, Adam, who is married to Michelle and has two sons, Carson and Brenan. Her maternal grandparents are Bette Stewart and the late Girard Stewart of Stewart's Jewelers, and her paternal grandparents are the late Leo and Dorothy Mohr, all of St. Marys. She is a 1991 graduate of St. Marys Area High School and received a bachelor of science in Elementary Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), then earned a master's degree in Reading Science from McDaniel College and a Ph.D. in Special Education and Literacy Policy from Union Institute and University.
"Dr. Barbara Illig-Aviles from IUP and Dr. Debra Miller from McDaniel College have influenced me greatly with their great wisdom and support as I continue to be a lifelong learner," Stebick said.
And as a lifelong learner, Stebick feels strongly about helping others learn to the best of their ability. She is the co-founder and educational director of Enlightened Learning Center.
"Enlightened Learning Center uses an authentic approach to learning where we consider each individual's needs and tailor lessons/instructions/activities based on the individual's strengths and areas of concern," Stebick said. "Here I evaluate all new clients, design their tutoring plans, train teachers, and also tutor about six clients each week."
"We founded it because we thought it was the perfect blend of our talents-- Tim's management and finance background and my education background. We thought the business would be a perfect 'marriage' of our assets and we truly believe to give back through our own gifts. God blessed us with many gifts; this nonprofit is one way in which we can give these blessings to others. However, it has been very tough with all the grant cuts and such. We did get some funding through private donors and the EITC program this summer, and were able to give 10 scholarships."
She noted that while her plans were different at one time, she is very glad to be where she is now.
"I wished I could have returned to St. Marys to teach at South St. Marys Street Elementary School when I graduated from IUP, but it just wasn't an option at that time-- no employment was available for those who hadn't substituted," Stebick said. "However, I learned that I needed to persevere and go elsewhere to pursue my dream of teaching. I have pursued that dream. I didn't ever imagine I would land a career in higher education, let alone a private college, but I have. I am very much a public education advocate."
Outside of education, Stebick has a number of activities she enjoys.
"I love to run; it is my de-stressor!" she said. "I love to cycle and hike and camp with my sons."
The family lives near Codorus State Park and Lake Marburg. They like to take their boat out to the lake and fish, picnic and swim.
"I love reading and look forward to a vacation where I can read for pleasure. I also like to cook and bake, especially when folks come hungry!" Stebick said.
In addition, she volunteers weekly at her sons' school, including in Mary Rose (Scutella) Lawhead's classroom. There is a hometown connection there, as Scutella is the daughter of Rose Scutella of St. Marys.
"I also volunteer many hours at Enlightened Learning Center, and have taught SRI (CCD) at our church in the past," she said.
Stebick said she has many fond memories of her hometown.
"I really miss Pizzas 'n Cream's twisty cones with crunchy sprinkles! I miss working at Memorial Park, where I met my husband. We had great fun during those summers saving Uni-Bucks, helping kids have fun, playing volleyball, and watching ice melt. Life was so simple then," Stebick said.
"I miss my friends-- it seems as though we have spread across the U.S.A. Facebook has helped to reconnect, but it would be nice to have the time to actually visit face-to-face."
Stebick has been the recipient of the Sallie Mae Foundation First Year Teacher Award, IUP Distinguished Alumni Award, Outstanding Senior in Masters Program Award and Distinguished Research Award for Doctoral Student. Although she has received many prestigious acknowledgements in her field, for Stebick, the reward comes from what she does, not from what she receives.
"I believe that God gave me this gift of teaching so I could share it with others. When teaching feels like work, I sure hope I have another passion lined up, because there would be a black hole in my heart," Stebick said. "Teaching provides so many rewards: seeing the light in someone's eyes when a new idea finally makes sense, seeing folks go further and do more because of what they have learned, and just knowing that I am helping others get the education that they need so that they can make informed decisions and have a good life."