North Hills Middle School teacher among 12 in state vying for Teacher of the Year honor
A teacher in the North Hills School District is among the dozen finalists for the 2020 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year, Gov. Tom Wolf announced.
Joseph Welch, who teaches 8th grade social studies at North Hills Middle School, and 11 other teachers across Pennsylvania were nominated to receive the statewide honor “by students, parents, peers and members of the community wishing to honor and recognize educator achievements both inside and outside the classroom,” according to a news release issue on Monday by the governor.
Welch is the only teacher from Allegheny County to be named as a finalist for the award.
The only other teacher from Western Pennsylvania to be nominated a finalist for the honor is Paolo Tolomeo, who teachers fourth grade at Haine Elementary School at Butler County’s Seneca Valley School District.
The 2020 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year will be announced in December at the state Department of Education’s annual professional development conference.
“Teaching is more than a profession; it is a calling,” said state Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera. “Teachers spend their lives educating and serving students, inspiring them to recognize their potential and to achieve their goals. The Department of Education applauds this year’s finalists, who represent the commitment and professionalism that so many Pennsylvania educators share.”
Welch was selected because of his dedication and commitment to providing students with the highest quality education and his contributions to public education, according to district officials.
He was nominated for the award by fellow middle school teacher Larry Dorenkamp and North Hills parent Carlene Bensch, district officials said.
Welch was named National History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History earlier this school year.
Welch has built a reputation for his creative and innovative projects that bring American history to life for students.
Student projects in Welch’s class include, among other things, creating animated videos, remixing songs to analyze an era of American history and creating illustrated children’s books to explain primary sources.
The 2019 Teacher of the Year was given to Marilyn Pryle, who teaches English at Abington Heights High School in Lackawanna County.
The 2020 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year finalists are:
• Joseph Welch, middle school Social Studies, North Hills Middle School, North Hills School District, Allegheny County
• Matthew Binder, science, Hempfield Senior High School, Hempfield School District, Lancaster County.
• Michele Bittner, 5th grade English, West Penn Elementary School, Tamaqua Area School District, Schuylkill County
• Amanda Connell, food service production and management, Northern Tier Career Center, Bradford County
• Colleen Epler-Ruths, science, Shikellamy High School, Shikellamy School District, Northumberland County
• Javius Galan, 6th to 8th grade special education, Wilson West Elementary School, Wilson School District, Berks County
• Leanne Jarossy, math, Central Bucks High School, Central Bucks School District, Bucks County
• William Melvin, English, Central Bucks High School, Central Bucks School District, Bucks County
• Katona Miller, 7th and 8th grade science, South Scranton Intermediate School, Scranton School District, Lackawanna County
• Kristen Moose, 8th grade science, Dallastown Area Middle School, Dallastown Area School District, York County
• Melissa Pierce, 3rd grade English, Pennypack Elementary School, Hatboro-Horsham School District, Montgomery County
• Paolo Tolomeo, 4th grade all subjects, Haine Elementary School, Seneca Valley School District, Butler County
Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368, [email protected] or via Twitter .