TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — After more than a year of remote learning, now more than ever, we’ve come to truly appreciate our educators.

At Mount St. Marys in Tonawanda, anywhere you look, you’ll find the statement “We believe in you.” It’s more than just a phrase. It’s a commitment from the academy to bring out the best in some of Western New York’s brightest minds — with educators, Principal Katherine Spillman says, who go above and beyond.

One of the most exemplary educators on Mount’s staff is Jo Ann Wiatrowski is affectionally referred to by her students as “Mrs. Wi.”

The English and French teacher of 39 years has been at Saint Mary’s for the past six and is currently dividing her time as a student council moderator, teacher mentor and volunteer.

Even with three decades of experience under her belt, Wiatroswki is far from finished, offering her young people a balance of gentleness or correction when they need it.

Mrs. Wiatrowski prides herself on being consistent and reliable and no matter what her students face outside of her classroom, Wiatrowski wants her kids to know that whenever they are in her presence, they are safe, valued, and above all else — loved.

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Jhas Williams is a traffic/feature reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of her work here.