Seneca Valley educator finalist for state award
Seneca Valley Senior High School teacher Jim Lucot has made it his business to motivate students to do more.
“These kids are all capable of more, and some of them don't realize what they're capable of,“ he said.
“I'm very fortunate to do what I do. I'm really lucky, and I truly enjoy going in every day. I hope 20 years from now I still enjoy going every day.”
His hard work is being recognized. Lucot, 47, of Cranberry was named a semi-finalist in the 2015 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year competition.
The competition looks at experience, professional credits, community involvement and personal motivations.
The social studies teacher was nominated by former student Samantha Franks, 18, a 2013 Seneca Valley graduate who said she's never had a teacher impact her life as much as Lucot has.
During her senior year, she asked Lucot to write her a letter of recommendation for nursing school.
He refused, saying “you'll be smarter than half the residents on your first day.” He urged her to instead pursue pre-med.
“That had been my dream all along, but I doubt myself a lot, and he was the person to give me that confidence to follow my dream,” Franks said. “No one did that before.”
In her second semester of a pre-med and biology track at Robert Morris University, Franks said it was absolutely the right choice to make.
“I'm so much more excited about my future now,” she said. “Looking back, I didn't know where I'd be if he didn't come into my life at the time that he did.”
Lucot said it's just part of his job to urge kids to reach their full potential, just as his high school teachers did for him.
The veteran teacher with 12 years in the classroom didn't get his start in education.
Lucot said he worked for 12 years as a nurse before pursuing his dream of becoming an educator.
He received a certificate in social studies secondary education from Robert Morris University in 2001.
“I didn't have a conventional upbringing. I think a lot of adolescents today don't, but I had two teachers in high school that were very caring of me,” he said.
“I was a pretty average athlete and academically, and they saw something in me. They took time with me and looked after me and took care of me. During my eight hours at school, it was a place I felt safe, cared for and wanted to be. And if I could just do that for one student...”
He's done that and more for many of his students. Last fall with the help of Lucot's wife and children, Franks secretly rounded up letters from 50 current and former students telling Lucot how much he's impacted their lives.
Fellow Seneca Valley graduate Ian Whittaker, a graphic designer, helped her bind the letters in a book, and the two gave it to Lucot for Christmas.
“About 50 percent of the kids I hadn't stayed in touch with, and they wrote about things I didn't know were so significant in their lives,” Lucot said about the book.
“That was really powerful. It's probably my most valuable possession.”
Lucot will be notified this month if he advances to the regional finalist round.
The state winner will be announced later this year.
Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Butler County grade school friends win championships
- Butler County briefs: ‘Healing Journey’ coming to Cranberry hotel
- Dan Rooney fields questions at Cranberry library
- Butler, Grove City hospitals integrate precautionary Ebola screening
- Delay for Butler VA project prompts groans from American Legion
- Butler redevelopment agency declares it’s broke, in debt