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St. Vincent College honors 7 local high school teachers

| Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Seven local high school teachers were among 35 recognized as part of St. Vincent College's Great Teacher Recognition Program on being nominated by former students who are now freshmen at the college.

In letters of congratulations to the selected teachers, college President Norman Hipps thanked the teachers for “making a difference” in the personal and intellectual development of their students.

“Teaching is a wonderful profession,” Brother Hipps said. “And St. Vincent College recognizes the important role teachers play in the development of youth.”

Four teachers from Greater Latrobe were recognized, along with two from Derry Area and one from Ligonier Valley.


Business teacher Michele Butler, English teacher Jeff Duda, calculus and Young Engineers Program teacher Cindy Pompelia and current issues teacher Robert Saveikis were the Greater Latrobe teachers honored.

“Mrs. Butler is an amazing teacher who dedicates her life to the school,” Cierra Forsyth said of Butler in her nomination. “I had the privilege of having her for classes every year at the high school, and she has influenced my college major decision. Mrs. Butler is passionate in what she does and would be there for anybody who needed her, no matter what.”

Leah Poponick, who nominated Duda, said the teacher “was truly my hero during my senior year of high school.”

“No matter what kind of day I was having, his class always brightened it,” Poponick said of Duda. “Although I'll probably never read ‘Hamlet,' ‘Beowulf' or ‘Brave New World' again, he somehow managed to make literature enjoyable and taught me how to appreciate it. In the year that I had him, Mr. Duda taught me more than just English. The life lessons I learned from him, I'll remember for the rest of my life.”

Mary Yeckley recalled Pompelia as “a teacher dedicated not only to teaching students math, but also to the well-being of her students. Throughout the year, she would take time out of the busy schedule to teach us life lessons. She would stay after school for as long as was needed to help any student who needed help. She was a teacher that really valued the student as an individual, rather than just part of a class.”

Steven Sanner nominated Saveikis on being inspired by the teacher's dedication and commitment to his students and subject matter.

“He always treated his students with the utmost respect, acting as a father figure,” Sanner said of Saveikis. “Also, he always told his students that he woke up at the crack of dawn to study current issues. It was apparent that he was not lying because the information he presented to us in class was very detailed. Mr. Saveikis was a role model and has inspired me to work hard at everything I do.”


Derry Area English teacher Mark Curcio and math teacher Becky McGann were also recognized on being nominated by former students.

“Never did I ever have a teacher that impacted my life more than this man did,” Breana Liberoni said of Curcio. “Not only did he make me love English, a subject I hated, but he had a charm and spark when he taught that showed his love of teaching students, not just the subject. Even outside of the classroom he is one of the most involved teachers in the school and is always willing to do whatever it takes to make high school an enjoyable experience for his students.”

“My math teacher, Mrs. McGann, not only taught me math, but she taught me about life and how my future can be a benefit to me,” Alan Cray said. “She was a role model and was always a huge support to me. I enjoyed having math class with her and learned an infinite amount from her.”


John Gregorich, who teaches honors chemistry and anatomy and physiology at Ligonier Valley High School, was nominated by former student Hailey Umbaugh.

“Mr. Gregorich is a great teacher not only because he does his job very well, but because he also takes a personal interest in each student and works to make sure that each student is learning to the best of his or her ability,” Umbaugh said. “I wish Mr. Gregorich the best and thank him for his guidance while at Ligonier Valley High School.”