The Pirates and Pirates Charities teamed up with Chevron and The Grable Foundation to recognize outstanding teachers in our region and give them the thanks and acknowledgement they deserve for their contributions to our community.
The award is dedicated to honoring teachers who are making a significant difference in the lives of students across the region by providing engaging instruction and curriculum, encouraging lifelong learning, and inspiring a passion for education beyond the classroom and into the future.
Chevron, Pirates Charities, and The Grable Foundation selected 18 winning teachers based on submissions. Winning teachers received a grant of $1,000 to be used in their classrooms!
Amber Urick - Sunrise Estates Elementary School
Amber focuses on each student individually, implementing unique strategies and techniques to enhance the child's scholastic development. She thinks outside the box to identify tools specific to support learning. She is extremely active through electronic communication and resources for students and parents. Her website is phenomenal, containing apps, games, videos, and interactive electronic learning that kids want to engage in learning.
Amber touches many lives each and every day. She goes out of her way to stay in contact with past students and families, offering support and suggestions.
Anjelica Balkovec Thurner - South Park Middle School
Anjelica teaches students with a variety of learning differences including learning disabilities, Down Syndrome and autism spectrum disorder.
She incorporates many tools into daily curricula to engage students intellectually in an emotionally stable environment. Through a variety of community activities, Anjelica helps students navigate real-world experiences including restaurants, shopping, museums and farms. She routinely asks what she can do to help students feel more comfortable in her classroom and how she can better help them learn. She engages the use of the latest curricula, computer apps, and tools to help her students. Most importantly, the students love her!
Anthony Castelluci - West Allegheny High School
To students in West Allegheny's high school life skills program, Anthony Castelluci is their role model, advocate and idol. And to his colleagues, supervisors and families, Anthony is an innovator whose selfless disposition and leadership have created an abundance of opportunities for community readiness for his deserving students. In addition to building healthy and sustained student relationships, he strives to include the families of his students from the first moment he meets them.
Anthony embraces each school year with new ideas, new strategies and with his "kids first" mentality. His positive and inclusive disposition has gained him the respect of his peers, the paraprofessionals whom he works with as well as his supervisors and families. And most importantly, his students who are in the life skills program undoubtedly recognize how very fortunate they are to have him.
Brianna Amoscato - Hartwood Elementary School
Brianna is a quiet leader that finds a way to light the spirit of every single one of her students as they learn and grow. Her unique style of teaching to each child's individual needs is immeasurable.
Her classroom itself is a spectacular learning environment. Every inch of the room is well thought out with repurposed household items such as aluminum cans as pencil holders, cereal boxes as art carts and more. She creates a magical learning environment for the students showing them that by thinking outside of the box, you can find purpose in most everything.
She ensures her students are meeting and exceeding the state standards, but the breadth in which she challenges the children to think outside the norm and truly believe they can make a difference is awe inspiring.
Jackie Burns - South Side Elementary School
Jackie Burns finds ways to keep her curriculum engaging for students by listening to their interests and incorporating them into lesson plans. She cares for her students not only on an academic level, but also as valued individuals. She provides alternatives to classical classroom learning such as nature walks, educational games and outdoor reading time, to cater to all learning styles. She is dedicated to helping her students reach to their maximum potential, and preparing them for the next level of education. She counsels students individually, going over their unique strengths providing ideas on areas for growth.
Jackie truly values each of her students. She takes the time to praise each of them for their own strengths, whether that be academic achievement, overcoming a personal hardship or loss, or for their kindness toward another student. She is invested in her students, current and former, and is an expert at building confidence and self-esteem.
James Passarelli - Franklin Regional High School
Mr. Passarelli's success as an All Star Teacher goes beyond clever projects and engaging labs. His positive attitude sets him apart and fuels his drive to hone his approach in the classroom.
Jim consistently conveys simple but elusive scientific concepts effecting everyday life, including weather, wind currents, and food and energy sources. These are woven into labs and activities that progressively explore the complex and practical relationship we have with our environment
He asks students to thoughtfully reflect upon their relationship to the physical world. They leave (and often return to) his classroom with real insight. They gain awareness and the ability to ask informed questions about where they are headed and, perhaps most importantly, how they will get there.
Jenna Hixson - Southmoreland High School
Jenna goes above and beyond to provide a welcoming and learning environment for every student and teacher in Southmoreland High School. Every day, she puts her students before herself, and she wants nothing more than to see her children succeed.
She makes time for kids who need guidance. She listens and provides help as best as she can. Mrs. Hixson is the teacher to seek for help with anything, including topics unrelated to her class, like applying to colleges and scholarships.
Jenna is also a cancer survivor. After months of time away from teaching for recovering from surgery, she created what she calls "Always a Reason to Smile." A photography event for families and individuals affected by cancer, she learned how much it meant to support others affected by the same disease she had just beaten. The whole community knows her name because of her acts of kindness and being the outstanding teacher that she is.
Joseph Joswiak - Mars Middle School
Thousands of people have had their lives touched by Joe Joswiak over the years. He knows that effective education is built on forming and cultivating real relationships. He is most definitely a part of the Mars community and generations of families are his friends and neighbors. His passion for the people in his life is what drives him as an educator.
It is Mr. Joswiak's attitude and growth mindset that delivers the most impact. He always has a positive attitude and is encouraging, even to the most difficult students. In fact, it is with these students that he has the most impact.
Katherine Meucci - Benjamin Franklin Elementary
Katherine's classroom is the epitome of technology embedded and student-engaged learning. She is an active participant in school functions and has a vested interest in her students' activities. She is a resource for her building and the district. She takes what she learns, practices it in her classroom and then shares her newly learned strategies. She is open to trying new things and challenges herself as well as her students on a daily basis. She creates opportunities for students to collaborate in groups as well as teach their peers knowledge of their learned skills.
Her wealth of knowledge, genuine passion about teaching and the personal relationships she builds with students and their parents are what simply makes her one of, if not, the BEST teacher at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School.
Lauren Bogus - Streams Elementary
Lauren is an outstanding educator that goes above and beyond for her students, their families and her colleagues every day. She strives to build positive relationships with her students and creates engaging, meaningful lessons to promote learning and a student centered environment. She teaches her students to embrace their differences, be themselves and be inclusive. In her classroom they promote and celebrate diversity.
Mrs. Bogus goes way beyond the call of duty to create a positive learning environment and positive experience for her students.
Mark Popovich - Hampton High School
Mark's consistent innovation is a product of his dedication to lifelong learning. He is always pushing his own academic knowledge forward for the benefit of his students. Students who have returned to the high school building express the wealth of preparation that Mark provided them in his classes and how that has made their transition to college courses that much easier.
He reads profusely and tests everything himself that he intends students to do in class. He believes that working as a team with other colleagues makes his teaching, his classes and his students better. He brings an unmatched fascination for learning for the sake of learning. He brings an unparalleled enthusiasm for the relevance of the subjects. And he brings a level of expectation that challenges his students to perform at the highest level.
Mark Strosnider - Intermediate Unit 1
Mark Strosnider is focused on innovation. He not only teaches all math courses to middle school and high school students; he was trained in the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Science Academy and began teaching a Computer Science course to high school students this school year. He is always willing to pilot new technology and programs to benefit his students.
Each student feels valued when in Mark's classroom. Students often ask to speak to him or go to his classroom when feeling frustrated or upset. Mark maintains a positive communication log with his students' parents and families. Both academics and behavior are addressed in the communication. Mark always encourages students to achieve their fullest potential.
Marsha Mosca - Washington Park Elementary
Mrs. Mosca is the most humble leader. She takes charge at school and is the go-to person for many. Computer problems? They go to her. Curriculum issues? Her. Need a Spanish version of your textbook? She gets one. Having a personal problem? She jumps right in to help.
She is that teacher that goes to work early and stays late. Volunteers to tutor after school. Volunteers to chaperone. Assists at Title 1 events. When someone at the school has a question, out of all the teachers in the building, she is the one called. She thinks of others, always, and puts everyone else's needs before her own.
Megan Pintus - John Marshall High School
Megan helps students follow their dreams and makes the school a better place. She is constantly seeking ways for students to showcase their business and accounting skills in real life. So many of her students win competitions, travel, and shine under her tutelage. Students are recognized and proud of their work when they are part of her program.
Megan is not only creative and community-focused, she is hard-working and dedicated. She balances her life around the school and students. She has sacrificed a great deal to make the school a better place for students.
Megan Sommers - Pittsburgh Westwood Elementary
Ms. Sommers truly loves every second she is in the classroom teaching her students. She not only teaches students about language, but compassion and a thirst for knowledge. She often quotes Nelson Mandela in saying "Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world." Ms. Sommers feels that to her core and fosters that love of learning in her students.
In the classroom, she is a fierce advocate for her students and their families to receive the best educational and services they need. She always is thinking about her students, their educational needs and what she can do to ensure they are being met.
Mindy Tripp - Triadelphia Middle School
Mindy is constantly looking for innovative activities to do with her students, incorporating STEAM projects into her class at least once a week. Many of Mindy's students live in an urban environment, and don't have opportunities to leave their environment, other than to come to school. She has single-handedly organized many activities for her eighth grade students, and for the entire student population at Triadelphia Middle School. Without these activities, many students wouldn't be able to experience the wonders of math and science, or take trips to visit the many things that the region has to offer.
Mindy is a champion for her students and her school. She is a bundle of creativity and energy, always going above and beyond for her students.
Pam DiIanni - Montour High School
Pam is always looking to stretch herself and find unique and innovate ways to grow professionally and to help her colleagues do the same. She can often be found co-teaching, supporting her colleagues and students with research, project based learning and supporting the appropriate and acceptable use of technology and social media through a partnership with Common Sense Media.
Pam's energy, enthusiasm and love for learning inspires her students each and every day. She goes above and beyond each and every day to serve and support Montour High School's students, faculty, staff and families.
Renee Huber - Slippery Rock Area Middle School
Renee has brought Science to life in her classroom. From her planning and preparation to her delivery and assessments, she is nothing less than exceptional. She never backs away from bringing the world into her classroom. She encourages kids to think outside of the box.
Every day Renee brings her A game and educates students in a meaningful and passionate way. She inspires and encourages all of her students and peers to be better. Her efforts make this school and community a better place to learn, grow, and live. She is a coach in the district and she takes on local student teachers. This all combined together with her dynamic and encouraging teaching style results in a life-changing teacher.