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Knoch grad named top substitute teacher

| Saturday, May 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Submitted | Pine Creek Journal
Eric Farmer was named Kelly Services' PA Substitute of the Year at a special ceremony at Richland Elementary School last week.
Submitted | Pine Creek Journal
Eric Farmer was named Kelly Services' PA Substitute of the Year at a special ceremony at Richland Elementary School last week.

Substitute teacher Eric Farmer, a Knoch High School graduate, suspected a surprise when coworkers insisted that he attend a teachers' luncheon on May 9 — Farmer's birthday — at Richland Elementary School.

“I thought they were going to sing ‘Happy Birthday' to me,” said Farmer, 24, of Youngwood in Westmoreland County.

Instead, Farmer got $100 as the Kelly Educational Staffing Substitute Teacher of the Year for Pennsylvania.

Farmer became a substitute teacher through Kelly Educational Services within weeks of his college graduation in 2012 and quickly got assignments.

Kelly Educational Staffing employs nearly 1,500 substitute teachers in 20 Pennsylvania school districts, said Karen Houseman, manager for the Pittsburgh office that is part of Kelly Services, the temporary staffing agency.

“This award is Kelly Educational Staffing's highest employee honor,” said Houseman.

Farmer is the son of William Farmer of Saxonburg and Kimberly Strobel of Penn, Butler County.

Farmer graduated from Seton Hill University in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and teaching certifications in special education, elementary education and middle school math.

“I just knew that I liked working with kids,” said Farmer, who went to college on a partial football scholarship.

He met his wife, Victoria Lombardo, at Seton Hill, where she is pursuing a master's degree with plans to become a physician's assistant.

They married in December and lead a youth ministry at Victorious Life Church in Greensburg.

During the past 12 months, Farmer filled in for elementary, middle and high school teachers in Pine-Richland School District.

“I've subbed at every school in the district and the kids all over the district are just wonderful,” he said.

“Every time I tried something new, I loved it.”

Farmer is filling in for Stacey Carulli, a special education teacher at Richland, who is on maternity leave.

“Mr. Farmer handles himself professionally, is flexible, and adjusts to the needs of our building and has taken the time to get to know students,” said Mary Catherine Reljac, principal at Eden Hall Elementary School in Richland. Reljac nominated Farmer for his award.

Kelly Educational Staffing honored Farmer for his “outstanding performance and exemplary service” to Plum Borough and Pine-Richland School Districts, according to Houseman.

“Additionally, Mr. Farmer worked 120 days during the school year, filling 99 assignments, 17 of which were same-day requests,” Houseman said.

Deborah Deasy is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 724-772-6369 or

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