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Pennsylvania names Pocono-area educator as the 2017 “Teacher of the Year,” Announces Blue Ribbon Schools

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BRADDOCK, PA - AUGUST 24: Young children work on a computer at the 4 Kids Early Learning Center August 24, 2004 in Braddock, Pennsylvania. The center is funded mostly by The Heinz Endowments. The average family income of children at the center is about $13,000 a year. The H.J. Heinz Co., based in Pittsburgh, once was one of the former industrial center's major employers. Now, Heinz's manufacturing has gone global and the impact on Pittsburgh is less. The Heinz family and its namesake foundation are no longer tied to the company, but their influence lives on, through philanthropy and the involvement of John Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, the widow of the late U.S. Senator H. John Heinz III. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

State Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera announced yesterday that Michael Soskil, a teacher from the Wallenpaupack Area School District in Wayne County, has been selected as Pennsylvania’s 2017 Teacher of the Year. The announcement was made during the SAS Institute, the Department of Education’s annual professional development conference.

Soskil, an educator for 19 years, currently teaches science to third through fifth graders at Wallenpaupack South Elementary School.

“Teacher of the Year is a fantastic program to not only recognize some of the commonwealth’s finest educators, but to celebrate the profession of teaching,” said Secretary Rivera. “Michael is an education leader in his community, and now over the next year he will have the opportunity to engage with educators and others from around the country to exchange ideas and innovative approaches that he will be able to share with his community and in turn those ideas can impact classrooms across Pennsylvania.

“Since he took office, Governor Wolf has invested an additional $640 million in public education,” Rivera continued. “This investment gives teachers like Michael the resources they need to give our children the education they deserve, and to invest in innovative approaches in our classrooms.”

Soskil was one of twelve finalists from across the commonwealth contending for 2017 teacher of the year. During the ceremony, each of the finalist was introduced by a student. Soskil was introduced by his son Michael Jr., who is also his student Wallenpaupack Elementary.

As Pennsylvania’s Teacher of the Year, Soskil will travel the state, to meet and speak with other educators, and will represent the commonwealth in next year’s National Teacher of the Year competition.

The Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year program is co-sponsored by the Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National State Teacher of the Year, and began in 1995.

The 12 educators were nominated by students, parents, colleagues and members of the community who wish to recognize their achievements both in and outside the classroom.

Rivera said that nominations for Teacher of the Year can be submitted all year long by students, community members, parents, or teachers, by completing a nomination form at http://nnstoy.org/chapter/pennsylvania/.

The state’s Blue Ribbon Schools were also announced during the SAS Institute. The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Pennsylvania’s Blue Ribbon Schools are:

  • Fairview Elementary School, Fox Chapel Area School District
  • Folk Arts Cultural Treasures Charter School
  • Great Valley Middle School, Great Valley School District
  • Hampton High School, Hampton Township School District
  • Holy Family School, Archdiocese of Philadelphia
  • James Gettys Elementary School, Gettysburg Area School District
  • Mifflinburg Area Intermediate School, Mifflinburg Area School District
  • Northwestern Elementary School, Northwestern School District
  • Penn Alexander School, School District of Philadelphia
  • Pickering Valley Elementary School, Downingtown Area School District
  • Southern Columbia High School, Southern Columbia Area School District
  • St. Genevieve School, Archdiocese of Philadelphia
  • St. Joan of Arc, Diocese of Harrisburg
  • St. Mary’s Interparochial School, Archdiocese of Philadelphia
  • St. Philip Neri School, Archdiocese of Philadelphia
  • Strath Haven High School, Wallingford-Swarthmore School District
  • Wissahickon Senior High School, Wissahickon School District
  • York Suburban High School, York Suburban School District

Pennsylvania’s Milken Educator, Jayda Pugliese, who was announced at an event in October was also recognized during the three-day conference.

Source: Reuters