CRESSON – If you attended Penn Cambria High School over the past three decades, and weren’t hiding under a rock, chances are you worked with longtime Spanish teacher and class adviser Ramona Rodgers.
In fact, you most likely heard her over the microphone at the prom or on a charter bus trip, listened to her stories about her “The Sound of Music” soundtrack, or heard her singing the “HersheyPark Happy” song.
Known by many as “Miss Rodge,” the popular teacher recently announced her retirement. Her absence will leave a gap for Penn Cambria administrators to fill, as Rodgers was not only an educator, but served as an adviser of the junior and senior class, student council, prom and other events, while also serving as a clock operator and game manager of athletic functions.
Over her career, Rodgers served as the homecoming and homeroom representatives adviser, and more. Her desire to provide students with fun activities throughout their high school career is obvious and fits her fun-loving personality.
“Ms. Rodgers has been an anchor for our Spanish Department since I came to Penn Cambria in 2007,” said Superintendent William Marshall.
“She has helped move our Spanish curriculum into the dual-enrollment setting and our students are able to attain college credits for some of their Spanish courses if they elect to do so.”
Marshall also commended her on her involvement at the school.
“She has also been actively involved in many student organizations,” he said.
“She has served as our adviser for the junior/senior class and student council for many years. Through all of her efforts, she has helped prepare all of her students to be not only productive citizens but also leaders for tomorrow.”
Students and colleagues turned to Rodgers for advice and assistance when it came to planning or commonsense decisions. Her ability to make events come to life for students seamlessly has always been respected, admired and appreciated.
“I always worked with Ms. Rodgers for formal dances,” said Class of 2005 graduate Jackie Perry.
“Her guidance on snowflakes and proms created lasting memories while teaching us the importance of communication and teamwork for event planning. While Penn Cambria will be losing such a dedicated educator, I know she has risen the bar so that only greatness can follow.”
Alyssa Montgomery, a graduate of the Class of 2017, agreed with Perry.
“Ms. Rodgers was someone who always told it how it is,” Montgomery said.
“She could joke around but became serious when needed. She helped out a lot around the school and kept it running well. I think Penn Cambria will miss her greatly and all the life she brought into the school.”
Crowning hundreds of homecoming and prom royalties over the years, chaperoning trips and volunteering to pass out programs or collect tickets at school musicals, Rodgers’ career could be compared to the many roller-coaster rides she took at HersheyPark with senior classes.
This writer was lucky to have Rodgers during his special occasions in high school from ninth grade through graduation, and then to work with her as a colleague. Her upbeat and “peachy” personality has always kept others on their toes, and maybe sometimes rolling their eyes. She taught me a lot about leadership, organizing and maintaining professionalism while being one of the first to remind me to have fun.
“I have been so lucky to have Monie as a mentor,” said fellow Spanish teacher Mandie Manning. “For 20 years, we have worked together effortlessly. I will miss her so much as a colleague and friend at school.”
Longtime Penn Cambria administrator and current school board Director Guy Monica taught Rodgers in his first year of teaching.
“(Monie Rodgers) was a student in my language classes during my first year as a teacher,” he said.
“I could see then the potential she had as a future language teacher. Her gregarious personality and her generosity to others were early characteristics of a good person and future teacher. Little did I know that her talents as a teacher, generosity toward others and her love of children would contribute so greatly to the Penn Cambria School District students. When I retired, it was difficult to leave many of the programs which I initiated, including the SAT testing program. It made my departure a little less painful knowing that I was leaving these programs to her guardianship.”
Melanie (Bernazolli) Thomas, Class of 2004, said she couldn’t think of a student who didn’t like Rodgers.
“She’s a great person,” Thomas said.
“She was always there for the students. She knew what we needed to hear, when we needed to hear it, and she was brutally honest when she needed to be. She was there when we suffered through the loss of friends. She’s everything you want in a teacher – a guide, a role model and fun.”
Brianna (Kearney) Leahey, a 2012 graduate, said, “I once read this quote about teachers, ‘A good teacher is like a candle, it consumes itself to light the way for others.’
“This was Rodgers. She was more than just the Spanish teacher for all of us, she was someone to look up to, to turn to for help, and someone you could always count on for a good laugh and advice. The lessons she taught us weren’t just about conjugating verbs, but about life – lessons I myself still carry with me today. She plays a vital role in the Penn Cambria community, and she will be greatly missed upon her retirement.”
“Penn Cambria is losing a teacher who truly cared for her students and the school,” said Ealisha Hoover, Class of 2002. “Ms. Rodgers made class fun. Spanish class was something to look forward to with creative projects like pinatas and skits.”
While Rodgers is stepping away from the limelight and the many hats she wears at Penn Cambria, all who know her know that she will continue to find ways to entertain, make others laugh and smile, and have a good time. Her efforts over the years to lead and inspire students have certainly earned her an enjoyable retirement.