Mark: My history at South Hills is rather extensive. I began teaching here in 2004, so I’ve been here for 13 years. I started out as a receptionist and an instructor, I also then moved on into financial aid and academic affairs. Now I’m a full-time teacher. Currently, I teach English, Psychology, and Human Relations and I’m a student advisor.
Mark: I began my educational career in 1988, and I was a public school teacher, and for 12 years I taught fifth graders. Then I went on a three-year hiatus; I owned my own business. I kept being told by various people, “You need to be in the classroom!” A friend of mine who works at South Hills strongly encouraged me to apply for a faculty position. I did, and I guess the rest, as they say, is history.
I have stayed in the teaching profession for so many years because I have a strong passion to make a difference in people’s lives. Getting up in the morning, I can’t wait to see what’s going to occur during the day. As most people who know me, they know that I’m highly introverted. They ask me, “Well, how can you do this job? How can you teach?” It all just boils down to passion, wanting to interact with the students, wanting them to be successful no matter one, and also having them make a difference in my life.
Mark: Some words that my students would use to describe me are different, energetic, passionate, stubborn, humorous. Those are just a few.
Mark: Millennials sometimes get a bad rap. Some people think their work ethic isn’t up to par with the older generations, but that’s not what I see. They’re very energetic, very motivated to do well, and I think one of the things I like the most about the Millennials is that they tend to care about each other. They tend to care about society. They have some great core values.
Mark: Owning my own business has really helped me as an advisor. I usually have the BAMM (Business Administration—Management & Marketing) students as my advisees. Having gone through many of the business processes that they are going through here at school such as a creating a business plan, marketing plan, and so forth, I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I’ve also managed people.
Mark: Writing skills are a vital asset for anybody in the workforce. Those who can write well, communicate well…those are the folks who receive the promotions, those are the folks who get the added responsibilities, and often they make more money, which is important to many of our students as well. It’s not just about technical skills in your field, but it’s all of these other, they like to call them soft skills, but I call them essential skills.
Mark: We have numerous resources here at South Hills for struggling students. We have an outstanding faculty who is willing to spend extra time with students one-on-one. We have very supportive staff members ready to help. Our director, Mr Magg,s is always willing to help out as well as our president, Mr Mazza. We also have student tutors who help each other out. It’s just a family-oriented atmosphere, and everybody is willing to assist in whatever way is necessary.
Mark: The capstone project for the business, administration, marketing, and management, students is the Business Plan. Most times they work in groups from two to four, and they are responsible for coming up with a creative idea for a business. That involves making a business plan. As part of the business plan, they have to come up with a marketing strategy, a management structure/hierarchy and consider what kind of employees they’ll need. They must come up with handbooks for employees as far as disciplinary procedures, and expectations. They come up with a budget, which involves quite a lot of accounting work, which some like and some don’t, but it’s very necessary. They also have to present it, much like I did when I opened my business. They have to present it as if they were presenting it to a bank who might fund them.
Mark: Watching my students graduate gives me many mixed feelings. Usually, at the end of term and during graduation, it’s kind of a sad time for me, because I get highly attached to my students, maybe more so than I should. It’s also a joyous time in seeing them actually get their wings, knowing that they’re now going to leave the nest, they’re going to fly off to who knows where, and they’re going to make incredible differences in this world. That brings such great joy and satisfaction to see that.
Mark: In my free time I very much enjoy “tricking out kicks,” which means that I like to design and paint sneakers. I also enjoy music very much. When I was in college, my minor was in music performance, which again, is strange being so introverted, but it’s another thing I have a passion for, is music. I also like to fish, very much into college sports, reading. I have a variety of things that I’m interested in.
Mark: Unless you actually go through the process to find out what you’re eligible for, you won’t know. There are so many grants available to our students, and scholarships, that all one needs to do is just visit our Financial Aid department. I think the student will be pleasantly surprised at who much is available, as far as monies for education.
Mark: My response to somebody who is hesitant to send a child to a two-year school is that, from my perspective, my wife is a graduate of South Hills, she graduated in 1987, and a two-year degree has served her very well. Likewise, I would not be hesitant to send my girls to South Hills, because I really believe that employers are looking for highly-skilled workers, and South Hills does a magnificent job in two years’ time, of really getting to the core, or the essence, of the job, the career, that the student would like to obtain. Sometimes four-year degrees don’t always pan out in the workforce. They can be very expensive, and in this economic time, it can be difficult to pay back student loans, so we’re economical as well.
Mark: South Hills is very different from other schools because here at South Hills we are a family. It doesn’t matter if you are faculty, staff, student, you are part of our family. A word that I’m very fond of is a Hawaiian word, maybe you’ve seen the Disney® Movie, “Lilo & Stitch.” There’s a word in the movie which I really like – “Ohana,” which means family. And in the movie, they say, “Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” Here at South Hills, we do our very best to incorporate everybody into our family, and we try not to leave anybody behind. That makes us special.
Kari Schlegel was born in March 1992 and graduated from South Hills in September 2012.
The Kari Lynn Schlegel Memorial Gallery is named in memory of Kari Schlegel, a lifelong Bellefonte resident and 2012 graduate of the Graphic Arts program at South Hills.
Kari was often the exclamation point in any story about the Class of 2012. Her effervescent good mood, enthusiasm, and seemingly endless supply of optimism and positive spirit was infusive, lighting up the classroom.
Kari (right) is shown with her beloved sister, Mindy.
Her classmates still laugh at the memory of Kari wearing her bunny slippers on the Graphic Arts field trip to New York City. Groan-worthy puns and jokes? Kari had a volume of them. She delighted in sharing stories and photos of her four beloved cats as well as trivia and tales of Harry Potter and Disney World. She was a rare combination of innocence, maturity, trust, and hope. She was filled with a joy of life and an unconditional love for her friends, her family, her pets… and people she just met. That was Kari Schlegel.
Kari dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow for the South Hills “BooFest” Halloween party in 2012.
She loved her school, even coming back to audit several GA classes after graduating. Kari also particularly enjoyed returning to South Hills every summer to perform as part of the Music Picnic Series with the Bellefonte Community Band.
Kari died December 15, 2016, in a tragic automobile accident. It’s a loss everyone who knew her still feels. In the end, Kari truly lived her life with passion and joy, treating others as she wanted to be treated: with love, compassion, and respect.