Lakeland High School and
Walter Panas High School
Lakeland Central School District graduates can be found in a wide variety of occupations throughout multiple geographic areas. On this page, we will be highlighting some of those graduates while providing a glimpse into their lives after graduating from Walter Panas or Lakeland high school.
Visit our Alumni in Action Digital Magazine, it highlights more Alumni and their stories. If you are a Lakeland High School or Walter Panas graduate, please share your story with us.
Joe Poandl's Alumni Story Debbie Speedling's Alumni Story
Joe Poandl - Lakeland High School Class of 1989
As a graduate of Lakeland High School (Class of 1989) to an employee of the Lakeland Central School District, Joe Poandl will always greet everyone with a friendly smile, is respectful to anyone who comes in contact with and takes pride of his work. “I am honored that my children attend the schools where I was lucky enough to receive my education too,” said Joe.
In all his positions, Joe has touched the lives of administrators, staff, students, and the community with his friendly personality and his positive attitude. He started his career in the district in 1994 as a night custodian at Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School. In 2000, Joe moved to Walter Panas High School where he worked for eight years. In 2018, he began working for the Building and Grounds Department. Before Joe’s new position as Groundsman for the district, he worked as a custodian at Lakeland High School, bringing his excellent work ethic and interpersonal skills with him.
“The best thing that ever happened to me was I met my wife, Michelle, a Thomas Jefferson Elementary School third grade teacher while working at the school,” Joe says with great pride.
Joe makes a positive impact wherever he goes. These are just two of many quotes from graduates that knew him as a student. He says Lakeland is his second family, which is why he feels very close to the Lakeland community.
“Joe was one of the friendliest people in the Panas staff. He was always smiling and interested in our day-to-day lives and future plans. He is one of the genuine people that are hard to come by,” said Adrian Prodan, NYPD PO Highway 1, Class 2006.
“Whether it was 5:30 am when we arrived for training or 8:00 pm at a school function, Joey was all smiles. He was a huge part of the fabric of our day to day lives. He would ask us about our everyday pains and aspirations, colleges we are evaluating, and everything in between. His inquisitive, encouraging, energetic, and genuine nature shines through effortlessly with every interaction. Joey’s undeniable authenticity and sense of character are attributes that I admire,” Andrew Carcova, Enterprise Solutions Architect, Class 2006.
Retired teacher, Amy Penna-Walker, and Math teacher, Sally DiBartolo were teachers that had a vested interest in his success at Lakeland High School. Joe stated, “They were dedicated teachers that would help me in any way to succeed and raised my confidence, making me realize I could accomplish anything if I worked hard.” Lakeland High School teacher aide, Eli Brown, was another person who Joe remembers as always willing to help him. Retired Lakeland High School counselor, Henry Weitman, was someone who always gave him good advice.
“Joe was the student that teachers dream of - hardworking, polite, and dedicated. Lucky has the Lakeland Central School District been to have Joe return to the District as a member of staff. He continues to strive for success in each project he is involved in and truly makes Lakeland a special place to be,” Sally DiBartolo, Lakeland High School teacher.
In the fall, after school, you could find Joe on the football field getting ready for Saturday’s game. Joe loved being part of the team, building relationships, and knowing we were there for each other. You can still find Joe and his family at the games, but as a spectator and a dad watching his daughters cheer for the team. His wife, Michelle, coaches the cheerleading squad at Lakeland High School.
"Every morning, you can count on it that Joe will greet you with a smile and a handshake or a hug. He will ask you about you and your family, and when he does, it is evident that he truly means it. When he speaks about his family and his girls, he lights up as he speaks about their trips and accomplishments. Joe is respectful, responsible, hardworking, and caring. Wonderful traits to have in a fellow alum,” Chris Cumming, Lakeland High School Principal.
Today, we can find Joe in the District with his crew maintaining fields, pruning, planting, removing snow, maintain drainage systems, etc.
“I would like to say adding Joe to our grounds staff was probably one of the best staff changes we have ever made. He has been a tremendous asset. His work ethic is phenomenal; he will do whatever it takes to complete a job. His “can do” approach and a great attitude are infectious and have been great for morale, not only within the department but districtwide,” stated Chris McCartney, Assistant Director of Facilities.
The accolades from former students, administrators, teachers, and supervisors are a testimonial of Joe’s exemplary work throughout the District, and his approachable, friendly demeanor makes Joe an asset to the District.
Debbie Speedling - Walter Panas High School Class of 1983
Lincoln-Titus Elementary School (LTES) is very fortunate to have a caring and dedicated secretary, Debbie Speedling, who is a primary individual in the front office; she greets and assists students, staff, and the L-T community. Debbie can remember as a shy young child walking with her father down the hall to her kindergarten classroom at LTES. “My teacher, Mrs. Graham, and the staff were very kind to me, and by the end of the week, I couldn’t wait to begin my day at L-T,” Debbie remembers.
Since 2000 Debbie has been an important part of Lincoln-Titus. While the school’s main office can be a busy place, Debbie always makes everyone that enters her number one priority, and somehow, she gets her work done, too. “As an administrator in various districts throughout my career, I have worked with many support staff. Debbie is the best professional secretary a principal could ask for. She makes me strive to be a better principal and person.” said Elizabeth McGowan, LTES Principal.
Debbie’s K-12 education was in Lakeland schools and she is a graduate of Walter Panas High School, Class of 1983. She remembers her high school accounting teacher fondly, Mr. Piermarini, who inspired her to pursue a degree in accounting at Pace University. Ms. Schultz retired English teacher helped Debbie to become a better writer and to enjoy reading. A large part of her life is Lincoln-Titus Elementary School and the Lakeland Central School District.
Debbie and her husband, Gary, moved their young family to the Town of Cortlandt so her children could attend Lakeland schools. “I loved growing up in the Lakeland community and wanted my children, Stephanie and Steven, to have the same wonderful experiences and opportunities while receiving an excellent education,” said Debbie. Her daughter, Stephanie, who received a Masters in Elementary Education at Mercy College, is an L-T second grade teacher. Growing up, I always admired my mom’s hard work and dedication to Lincoln-Titus. I am happy to be able to work with her, and I try to bring the same work ethic into my teaching every day that she does. She is always there to help out when needed and has the answers to our questions,” Stephanie said.
A few years ago, a teacher’s son waited with Debbie until his dad completed his day. While he was waiting, Debbie would help him pass the time by finding him things to do like make paper clip necklaces for his sisters. Recently, he visited Debbie and thanked her for being so nice and spending time with him.
"The L-T PTA is so very grateful to have Mrs. Speedling as a part of our school community. Her dedication and commitment to our school are unsurpassed. She is the voice and smiling face of LTES. Whether she is assisting students, parents, teachers, staff, or anyone, Mrs. Speedling gives a smile and isn’t satisfied with her effort until the job is done. She goes more than the extra mile; she puts her heart into every student she helps, and every person who relies on her expertise,” commented Benedetta Mazzanti and Carolyn Maykut, PTA Co-Presidents.
"Since the first phone call I received from Debbie for my interview, I could tell from her tone and kind words that L-T was the place for me. She welcomed me in and always has looked out for me. For that, I am truly grateful. Debbie is one of the important pieces to our Lincoln- Titus puzzle," Megan Quinn, Instructional Coach commented.
It might be Debbie’s job, but she feels like LTES is her second home, she enjoys helping the staff to make their day a little easier and watching the students flourish while at Lincoln-Titus.