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Fayette Chamber honors Connellsville's curriculum director

| Monday, Nov. 12, 2012, 8:53 p.m.
Tammy R. Stern, curriculum coordinator for the Connellsville Area School District, was chosen by the Education Council of the Fayette Chamber of Commerce as 2012 Educator of the Year in the Support Staff-Professional category. Nancy Henry | for the Daily Courier

Connellsville Area School District's director of curriculum, Tammy R. Stern, Ed.D., was recently recognized by the Education Council of the Fayette Chamber of Commerce. Stern was among a group of educators named as 2012 Educators of the Year.

Stern was named in the support staff-professional category.

“We are very proud to honor Dr. Stern with this award,” said Muriel J. Nuttall, chamber executive director. “It is part of our mission as a chamber of commerce to bring attention to our educators for their outstanding work with the children of our community. We know there are heroes in our schools every day, and we believe they deserve to be highlighted for their dedication, their innovation, their creativity, and their impact on all of our futures. It is our honor to award Dr. Stern.”

Stern was pleased and proud to have been chosen, mentioning many around her.

“I accept this distinguished honor on behalf of Miss Linda Shearer, English instructor at the Connellsville Area Senior High School,” she said. “Miss Shearer is not only a great English teacher, but also is the founder of the CAHS Patriots group in our community. She works tirelessly throughout the year with student volunteers to see that our military troops who are thousands of miles away from home are never forgotten. She, along with her student volunteers, have packaged numerous supplies through the years and shipped them overseas. Our community and school district have been very supportive of the efforts of Miss Shearer and the Patriots as well.

“I also accept this great honor on behalf of all of the educators of our fine school district,” she continued. “It is truly a blessing to work with such dedicated staff.”

Stern thanked her husband, Chris, and her parents for their support. “Their support has enabled me to spend the time I need to do the job I love,” she said. “It is my mission to help provide the best education possible for the children of our fine school district. Someday, we will need them to carry the banner for our great country.”

Stern's father, Jim, is a former Connellsville Area School District superintendent.

“The Fayette Chamber of Commerce does such a wonderful job of promoting the good of our community. I thank them so much for this program and this distinguished award,” Stern concluded.

Lillian Cale, education council co-chairperson, said the chamber is excited about the new nomination and awards process.

“It better defines the attributes to providing exceptional education to our young people today,” she said.

“Our mission is to highlight the unsung heroes of education in our county,” Nuttall said. “The quality of the education of our students should be the top priority for both residents and businesses alike.”

She explained that after a nearly year-long revision of the criteria and selection process involved in the Fayette County Educator of the Year Awards, a committee comprised of education council members and members-at-large compiled a new nomination process. The nominations were received in the spring, evaluated and four winners were announced.

The new criteria changes the process from one that could award up to 11 educators (including one educator in each district plus early education, post-secondary and vocational-technical) to a new format that can award one educator in specific categories for a possible seven awards, including: pre-kindergarten, kindergarten through fifth grade, middle school (grades sixth to eight), high school (ninth through 12th), post-secondary education, support staff-professional (administration), and support staff-non-professional.

The new criteria sets a level playing field for educators in the county. Instead of competing against all of the educators in one district, regardless of teaching placement (kindergarten through 12), the educators will be evaluated against others who teach the same level. Elementary school educators will be evaluated with elementary school, middle with middle, etc.

The other three 2012 awardees chosen by the education council were Edward Zelich, principal of Hatfield Elementary School, in the kindergarten through fifth grade category; Susan Cech of Rainbow Dreams Learning Center, in the pre-kindergarten category; and Donna Heintz, career development and soft skills teacher at Fayette County Career & Technical Institute, in the high school category.

The 2012 awardees will be honored at the Fayette Chamber's Annual Awards Dinner on Thursday at Anthony's Lakeside Party Center.

The Fayette County Educator of the Year Awards have been part of the Fayette Chamber's program of action since 1989, with Margaret Emelson as the first recipient.

Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.

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