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EASTERN Awarded Top Workplace 2021 Honor

Top Places to Work 2021 PlaqueEastern Center for Arts and Technology (EASTERN) has been awarded a Top Workplaces 2021 honor by The Philadelphia Inquirer Top Workplaces, to be published in their August 21, 2021 edition. The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by research partner Energage, LLC, a leading provider of technology-based employee engagement tools. The anonymous survey measures several aspects of workplace culture, including alignment, execution, and connection, just to name a few.

“I am proud of our staff, faculty, and administration for achieving this honor in such as unique year and under such difficult circumstances,” said Dr. Cathleen Plesnarski, EASTERN’s Executive Director. “We worked together to ensure the school was ready for the various methods of instruction employed throughout the school year. We maintained the family-like atmosphere throughout this unprecedented time, and focused on our safety and wellbeing, as well as the safety and wellbeing of our students and the surrounding community. Thank you to Mary McDonnell, EASTERN’s Practical Nursing Department Administrative Assistant, for nominating the school, and thank you to the staff and faculty for their honest feedback.”

EASTERN staff outside of the school

“During this very challenging time, Top Workplaces has proven to be a beacon of light for organizations, as well as a sign of resiliency and strong business performance,” said Eric Rubino, Energage CEO. “When you give your employees a voice, you come together to navigate challenges and shape your path forward. Top Workplaces draw on real-time insights into what works best for their organization, so they can make informed decisions that have a positive impact on their people and their business.”

EASTERN is a public school serving students in nine Eastern Montgomery County school districts. Those districts include Abington, Bryn Athyn, Cheltenham, Hatboro-Horsham, Jenkintown, Lower Moreland, Springfield, Upper Dublin and Upper Moreland. Students benefit from specialized career programs that give them a competitive edge in college or in a career. The campus is at 3075 Terwood Road in Willow Grove. For more information please contact Amy Shields, Marketing and Recruitment Coordinator, at 215-784-4806, or visit the school’s website at Like Us? Become a fan on Facebook –, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @EasternCenter.

Making the world a better place to work together. TM Energage is a purpose-driven company that helps organizations turn employee feedback into useful business intelligence and credible employer recognition through Top Workplaces. Built on 14 years of culture research and the results from 23 million employees surveyed across more than 70, 000 organizations, Energage delivers the most accurate competitive benchmark available. With
access to a unique combination of patented analytic tools and expert guidance, Energage customers lead the competition with an engaged workforce and an opportunity to gain recognition for their people-first approach to culture.

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Student Parking at EASTERN

EASTERN Cares Logo ColorBelow are some details about parking at EASTERN for the 2021-22 school year. Please read the details so you are
prepared to complete the application when it opens on August 26th. Additional details can be found on page 7 of the EASTERN Student Handbook and should be reviewed before completing the application. Click here to open the Student Handbook.

2021-2022 Parking

Due to increased enrollment and limited space, parking permits will only be issued to 12th grade students. *If more spaces become available, we will open the process to 11th grade students.

No students are permitted to park at EASTERN at any time without a permit. *This includes the days at the beginning of the school year.

Spaces will be assigned on a first come first served basis.

Student drivers may transport other students with permission from the parents/guardians of both students (driver & passenger).

Student Drivers need to complete a 2021-22 Parking Permit Application.

Student Passengers need to complete a 2021-22 Passenger Application.
*Each of these documents can be accessed on this website under the “Parents and Students” tab beginning on August 26th.

Once approved, parking passes will be delivered to students in their technical classrooms at EASTERN.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Gerry Rooney
Supervisor of Career & Technical Education
Eastern Center for Arts & Technology
215-784-4804 (fax)

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Cheryl Steacker Appointed as Long-Term Substitute Culinary Arts Aide

Cheryl Steacker, Culinary Arts Long-term SubstituteCheryl Steacker has been selected as the Culinary Arts Long-Term Substitute Culinary Arts Aide for the Eastern Center for Arts and Technology (EASTERN) for three months beginning September 1, 2021. Ms. Steacker will be assisting EASTERN Culinary Arts Instructors, Chef Zachmann and Chef Vozzo, with program instruction, and will be providing individualized assistance to students in the Culinary Arts program.

Ms. Steacker studied at Penn State University Abington campus before discovering her love of the culinary field. Upon deciding to pursue a career in culinary, she obtained her ServSafe certification. The National Restaurant Association, through its ServSafe certification program, aims to educate food-service managers, food-handlers and anyone working in the food-service industry, on best practices for food safety.

Prior to her role at EASTERN, Ms. Steacker was a Philadelphia food event host, on-air demonstrator and culinary content creator, working alongside major appliance brands such as Viking & Subzero. Ms. Steacker also has background in pastry, serving as Pastry Chef and Social Media Manager in bakeries throughout Philadelphia’s surrounding counties.

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EASTERN Safety Protocols Update

EASTERN Cares Logo ColorDear EASTERN Families,

As we prepare to welcome students into our building September 9, 2021 to begin our new school year, we are closely monitoring the level of community spread within our county and the subsequent guidelines and recommendations made by our county’s Department of Public Health.  Click the link for a copy of our updated safety protocols effective today August 16, 2021:  EASTERN Safety Protocols August 16 2021  This document is also posted on our website.  Some of the changes include:

  • Masks:  No change, universal masking mandate indoors for all still in effect.
  • Social Distancing Indoors:  Clarification that staff must distance 6 feet between each other and between themselves and students.  Students must distance a minimum of 3 feet between each other.
  • Quarantine for Close Contact:  The MCOPH does not require vaccinated staff and students who are asymptomatic to quarantine, but they must be tested in 3-5 days after exposure.  Non-vaccinated staff and students must quarantine for 10 days after exposure but can return after 7 days with a negative PCR or antigen test on day 5 or thereafter.


Signature image Cathleen Plesnarski




Cathleen Plesnarski, Ed.D.
Executive Director

EASTERN Administrative Contacts:

Mr. Gerry Rooney, Career and Technical Supervisor,

  • Registration, class changes, attendance questions, parking passes

Mr. Joe Greb, Assistant Director,

  • Uniforms and supplies, industry certifications, curriculum, and instruction

Dr. Cathleen Plesnarski, Executive Director,

  • General feedback or suggestions, pandemic safety protocols
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Welcome, New and Returning Students!

EASTERN Cares Logo Color

Dear EASTERN Families,

We look forward to welcoming our new and returning students to Eastern Center for Arts and Technology on September 9, 2021.  We are dedicated to helping our students clarify and achieve their career goals.  Last year, we launched the school year in a 100% virtual model then transitioned to various hybrid models.  This year we will offer 100% in-person instruction and maintain the recommended safety protocols.  We will not be offering a virtual model for students.  We will open our school for in-person learning five days per week for all students.  We will maintain the same sanitation protocols as last year, but our requirements for masking and social distancing will change as conditions change.  When EASTERN makes these decisions, we look to our county Office of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and our districts to determine protocols for keeping our students safe.  We will start the school year requiring everyone in the building to wear a mask and social distance at least three feet.  As conditions change and our protocols change, we will communicate these changes to parents via our School Messenger email system and by posting updates on our website.  You can access our Health and Safety Plan and current Safety Protocols on the main page of our website.

Safety Planning:  We made extensive modifications to our building last year to increase safety in response to the pandemic.  These include the following:

  • Sanitizing Stations:  Hands-free sanitation stations have been installed at every entrance and sanitizer is available in every classroom
  • Restrooms:  Converted to hands-free functionality (soap, water, towels, and flushing)
  • Water fountains:  Replaced to include filtered fill-stations
  • HVAC System:  Increased air flow and filtration and installation of bipolar ionization
  • Nurse’s Suite:  Moved to larger space to allow for social distancing and isolation room

Safety Protocols:  We have safety protocols in place that adhere to CDC recommendations.  These protocols will be monitored and strictly enforced.  These include:

  • Masks:  Everyone must wear a mask while inside our building.  Masks must be worn correctly, with complete coverage of the mouth and nose.  All masks must have two or more layers of fabric and may not have exhalation valves.  Students and staff will not be permitted to enter the building without a mask.
  • Social Distancing:  Students and staff must always maintain a minimum of 3 feet of social distancing.
  • Water Fountains:  Water fountain “bubblers” have been disabled, but students may refill a water bottle at the fill-station part of the water fountain.  Four of these have been installed in our building.
  • Cleaning/Disinfecting:  High-touch areas will be cleaned multiple times throughout the day and classroom/lab areas will be disinfected after each session.
  • Screening/COVID Reporting:  Staff and students will be asked to self-screen before coming to EASTERN.  Please keep symptomatic students at home.  If your child tests positive for COVID or has been a close contact and is required to quarantine, please email this information to
  • Transportation:  Transportation to and from EASTERN is provided by the districts, but we do have parking for student drivers and a drop off point for parents to use when transporting their children to us.  Please note that you should reach out to your high school for transportation questions about bus schedules and our parking for students is limited.  Due to limitations in parking and an increase in enrollment, only Seniors may apply for a driving pass.  You will be receiving an email from our Career and Technical Supervisor, Mr. Gerry Rooney, with more information. Students must arrive or be dropped off for the AM session between 7:30 and 7:45.  Students will not be able to enter the building until 7:30.  Students must arrive or be dropped off for the PM session between 11:45 and 12:00.  Students will not be able to enter the building until 11:45.

EASTERN Administrative Team:  We have three administrators at EASTERN, including myself.  You should have already received communication from our Assistant Director, Mr. Joe Greb, about uniform purchases and SkillsUSA.  Below is a list of our administrators, their contact information, and areas of responsibility.  Please feel free to contact us.  We love to hear from our parents.

Mr. Gerry Rooney, Career and Technical Supervisor,

  • Registration, class changes, attendance questions, parking passes

Mr. Joe Greb, Assistant Director,

  • Uniforms and supplies, industry certifications, curriculum, and instruction

Dr. Cathleen Plesnarski, Executive Director,

  • General feedback or suggestions, pandemic safety protocols


Cathleen Plesnarski, Ed.D.
Executive Director

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PA Association for Career and Technical Education New Teacher of the Year

Mr. Michael Refsnider, Networking and Cybersecurity InstructorEastern Center for Arts and Technology (EASTERN) is pleased to announce that Networking and Cybersecurity Instructor, Mr. Michael Refsnider, has been named New Teacher of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association for Career and Technical Education. This award recognizes career and technical education teachers with 3-5 years’ experience who have made significant contributions toward innovative and unique career and technical education programs and shown a professional commitment early in their careers. This honor is given to only one teacher in Pennsylvania each year.

Refsnider always wanted to be teacher but didn’t see a path to teaching in the IT world. He enjoyed the training side of his previous job more than any other aspect. Refsnider was nominated by EASTERN’s Executive Director, Dr. Cathleen Plesnarski with the help and support of EASTERN’s Assistant Director, Mr. Joe Greb, and EASTERN Cosmetology Instructor, Ms. Wendy Leyden. Leyden served as Refsnider’ s mentor when he was hired.

“Mr. Refsnider started his teaching career at EASTERN 6 months before the pandemic closed schools and significantly changed the way we teach, work, and learn. Mr. Refsnider immediately went from new teacher to mentor in a matter of minutes,” said Dr. Plesnarski. “He was a lead teacher in implementing a new student information system, implementing online learning, and providing overall technology support to peers.”

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Cosmetology Students Participate in Summer Hours

Jakaya Bennett, junior, Abington Senior High SchoolEastern Center for Arts and Technology (EASTERN) Cosmetology students are hard at work during the summer, earning hours toward the 1,250 hours necessary to take the State Board of Cosmetology Exam in Pennsylvania. Several Cosmetology seniors were able to complete all hours and receive their licensure before the end of the summer program.

Although the majority of the summer program is designed to help the students learn new techniques and refine their current skillsets, the students also had some fun and friendly competitions. They created beautiful bridal looks, hair styles of the 1970s, and recreated their favorite movie characters.

Bee Santino, senior, Abington Senior High School, applying makeup to Haley Tucker

In early April, several EASTERN administrators and staff members volunteered to become certified COVID-19 Antigen Testers so that the summer Cosmetology students could be tested each week, and work on each other. Prior to this initiative, students were limited to working on mannequin heads. Weekly Antigen testing provided peace of mind for the students and their families and gave our students the real-world experience of working on others while refining their client communication skills.

Isabella Matricardi, junior, Archbishop Wood High SchoolHaley Tucker, junior, Hatboro-Horsham High School

“Many people do not realize the time commitment and dedication needed by our cosmetology students to earn their state license. They have to commit to attending summer sessions and giving up their time off. Their creativity and enthusiasm have made this a fun summer to be at EASTERN. We wish the seniors luck as they complete their final week of summer Cosmetology class.”

Save thousands of dollars by taking EASTERN’s Cosmetology program in high school! This two-year program will provide the skills necessary to begin a career in the cosmetology field. In Pennsylvania, as well as other states, cosmetologists must be licensed to practice in the field. To learn more, visit

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Gerry Rooney Appointed New Supervisor of Career and Technical Education

Gerry Rooney, Supervisor CTE for Eastern Center for Arts and TechnologyGerry Rooney has been selected as the Eastern Center for Arts and Technology (EASTERN) Supervisor of Career and Technical Education, effective, July 1, 2021. Mr. Rooney comes to EASTERN from Bucks County Technical High School where he served as Dean of Students. Prior to his most recent position at Bucks County Technical High School, he also was the teacher and Chairperson for Health & Physical Education.

Mr. Rooney received his Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Education from Temple University, and a Master of Arts in Education from Gratz College, and his Principal Certification from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Rooney was the recipient of Temple University’s Young Alumni Achievement Award in 2011, as well as many recognitions for teaching physical education.

“I’ve had the opportunity to witness the positive impact of career and technical education for the past twenty-one years. For many students, it represents the beginning of a successful future,” said Mr. Rooney. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work with the students, staff, and all of the other members of the EASTERN community.”

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