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Three local teachers named finalists for state's top honor

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Thursday, May 2, 2013, 11:48 a.m.

Two Westmoreland County teachers and one from Allegheny County are among the 12 finalists for Pennsylvania's 2014 Teacher of the Year, the governor's office announced Thursday.

Nicola Hipkins of the Bethel Park School District, Carol Aten Frow of Belle Vernon Area School District and Jen Klobucar of the Yough School District join nominees Daryl Balseiro and Amy Alleman Burke of Cumberland County; Erin Cernuska of Centre County; Linda Coll of Lebanon County; Tracey Fritch and Anthony Grisillo of Delaware County; Lori Gallagher and Nicole Miletto of Montgomery County; and Kyle Norman of Jefferson County.

Hipkins, an English teacher at Bethel Park High School, said she looks to other teachers to integrate their methods and subjects into her own.

“There are so many wonderful teachers in my department, on my floor,” she said. “I've built so many partnerships with other departments, so my students understand that no learning takes place in a vacuum.”

Frow said her duties as a sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher at Bellmar Middle School in Belle Vernon go well beyond lessons in reading or literature. She also teaches writing of poetry and prose, helps produce the school's literary magazine and is directing the middle school's musical.

“Although my title is English teacher, there's so much more,” she said.

Klobucar, a fourth-grade teacher at H.W. Good Elementary in Herminie, pointed to simple reasons for her nomination.

“I've found a lot of success by being passionate, getting to know my students well and learning their strengths so I can build upon those strengths to overcome any weaknesses,” Klobucar said.

Nominations were submitted by students, parents, colleagues and members of the community, and were followed up with essays from the nominees and letters of recommendation from parents, principals and peers.

A selection committee evaluated and scored applications.

The winner becomes the state's nominee for National Teacher of the Year.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625

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