Alumni Awards

Alumni Spotlight

Conner Bayer ’14

Conner Bayer graduated from East Stroudsburg University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and history. Living in East Stroudsburg his entire life, he began researching other locations while substitute teaching after graduation. After attending a job fair in Raleigh, N.C., in 2015, he began teaching with the Wake County Public School system at Athens Drive Magnet High School.

Bayer teaches history to high school students with courses in AP World History, American History II, and an elective course on the Vietnam War to juniors and seniors. For the Vietnam War classes, he invites a group of veterans to speak about their experiences to the students.

In addition to teaching, Bayer is a coach, leading the varsity girl’s volleyball team for four years. He also spent two years coaching JV baseball and a year with the football team. The past year has been rough for the young volleyball team. Wake County is a very competitive county for volleyball, having crowned the state champ the last four years running.

Bayer was named School Teacher of the Year, 2019-2020, by his peers and was a semi-finalist in the Wake County Public School System competition for that award. Teaching runs in the Bayer family, his brother Kyle graduated from ESU in 2012 and teaches in the same county at a different high school.

Always a big fan of history, Bayers credits ESU history professors Dr. Gray and Dr. O’Donnell with sharpening his interest and shaping his career. Dr. Lare’s course in education impacted his choice to become a high school teacher. Along with many memories of ESU basketball games and flag football, Bayer remembers the friends who helped advance his education. “My time at ESU was well spent,” he said.

Michele Lapchak Gresh

Michele Lapchak Gresh graduated from ESU in 2001 with a B.S. in Recreation and Leisure Services Management and a concentration in therapeutic recreation. She shares her post-ESU career below.

After graduating from ESU, I accepted a position as a creative therapist in adolescent psychiatry for Northeast Counseling Services in Nanticoke, Pa., as part of their inpatient and outpatient programs. I married Jeremy Gresh ’02 in 2002 and we moved to the Philadelphia area. I spent the next 10 years in the subacute rehabilitation unit at the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, working as a recreational therapist specializing in neurological rehabilitation as part of the brain injury team.

My love of neurological rehabilitation later led me to work as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) for ReMed Recovery Centers in Paoli, Pa., on both inpatient and outpatient levels, doing community reintegration with traumatic brain injury. In 2016 I accepted my first managerial role as a CTRS with Fox Subacute, a ventilator-dependent nursing home in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., as their Recreational Therapy Director. That same year, I discovered I was pregnant with our daughter, Henley. After a very difficult pregnancy, I decided to take a step back from my career and focus on being a mother.

During my years at ESU, I struggled with obesity and developed a genuine love and passion for fitness and wellness. Having directed myself through a weight loss journey and overcoming the battle of postpartum recovery, I decided to take a turn with my career. In 2018 I became a certified personal trainer.

While continuing as a CTRS on a per diem basis, I accepted a part-time position as the group fitness coordinator at our local community center in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. When Covid 19 hit and the world shut down, I made it my mission to help people continue to stay both mentally and physically healthy. For nine straight weeks, I went live every day on social media, offering free fitness classes.

Realizing the lockdowns weren’t about to end anytime soon and receiving the news that I had lost my job, I took the biggest chance of my life. The fitness classes I started had a solid following and they developed into my own virtual fitness program called G-Fit. This online fitness community now has over 400 members across the country many of whom are ESU grads. More than 1,600 pounds have been lost within the group since the start of the pandemic.

I am still able to tie my love for fitness and recreation into my career and thanks to Brad Seid and his commercial recreation classes at ESU, I had the tools I needed to start my very own business. From a therapeutic standpoint, it was Angela Vaute, who gave me the knowledge that it takes to confidently accommodate people with underlying conditions into my wellness program. I am forever grateful to East Stroudsburg University for helping me become who I am today—a successful CTRS, a business owner and, most importantly, an influencer within the community.