PENNSBURY >> The World Champion Philadelphia Eagles joined students, staff and administrators at the Pennwood Middle School Friday afternoon in cheering on seventh grade science teacher Rebecca Obert-Thorn.
During a raucous pep rally that turned the school’s gym into a sea of midnight green, black and silver, Eagles wider receiver Bryce Treggs, team mascot Swoop and members of the team’s cheerleading squad recognized and honored the seventh grade educator for being named its 2017 Axalta All-Pro Teacher of the Year.
After running into the gym through an archway of green, silver and black balloons with Treggs by her side, Obert-Thorn accepted a $5,000 check from the Eagles organization and Axalta as a roar of support and pride rocked the gym.
Obert-Thorn also accepted a special citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives presented by State Rep. Perry Warren recognizing her vision, energy and enthusiasm for teaching.
“But winning the Super Bowl or Teacher of the Year requires a great team and I’m sure Ms. Obert-Thorn joins me in thanking the staff here at Pennwood Middle School, all the students and the administration who made it possible for Ms. Obert-Thorn to do this outstanding work,” said Warren.
After being cheered by the entire school, Obert-Thorn retreated to the sidelines to watch as Treggs, Swoop and the cheerleaders led students in a variety of physical challenges including races, relays and games, along with cheer performances.
“I am beside myself. I am so excited,” said Obert-Thorn reflecting on the rally and award. “I am really proud to represent all the really awesome Pennsbury science teachers in the district,” she said. “It’s overwhelming how proud I am right now. It’s amazing - the whole experience.”
In the days leading up to the rally, Obert-Thorn said students and former students had been stopping by her classroom to congratulate her and to share in the excitement of the moment.
“It really means a lot,” she said. “You don’t realize how much you affect them until moments like this. It’s really awesome and so rewarding.”
And getting to see and share the moment with Treggs was special, too, said the devout Eagles fan. “He’s from a family of teachers and so he really advocated for coming here today,” she said.
In October, as one of 10 teachers from throughout the Delaware Valley named finalists for the award, she also got to meet many of the players who would later bring the Super Bowl Championship to Philadelphia.
Two months later in December, she returned to Lincoln Financial Field, this time to be honored as the Axalta Pro Teacher of the Year for 2017. Her prize - $5,000 for STEM education and a school pep rally with the Eagles.
Obert-Thorn was selected for the recognition based on a six page nomination letter submitted by former colleague Pam Martin, who beamed with pride throughout the rally.
“I’ve know her since she was a 12-year-old sixth grader here at the middle school and I’ve watched her grow into the professional educator she is today,” said Martin. “I am so, so thrilled she is receiving this recognition for everything she’s accomplished.”
In her nomination letter, Morris wrote about the various grants and classroom extension opportunities Obert-Thorn achieved on behalf of science students at Pennwood, for her years of service on the board of directors at Silver Lake Nature center (where she helped create educational programming) and for the STEM course she developed and taught to students at Bucks County Community College.
“After reading hundreds of nominations, we felt that your story stood out and deserved to be recognized as a member of this year’s class,” the contest judges told Obert-Thorn.
For Obert-Thorn, who taught at Walt Disney Elementary and Pennsbury High Schools before coming to Pennwood, science - in a word - is awesome
“I’m in my element when I’m in front of my class talking about science,” she said. “I get so excited when they realize, ‘Oh, that’s why that does that.’ Science is everything. Science is awesome. I can’t tell you how much I love science. And I want to share that love with my students.”
On Friday afternoon, amidst all the hoopla, Obert-Thorn told reporters that Her message for every student is simple: “Follow your passions and hopefully embrace science,” she said. “I just hope I make science a field that’s not as scary or intimidating for them and help them make that connection to the real world.”
The prize money Obert-Thorn received - $2,000 for being selected as one of 10 finalists for Teacher of the Year and another $5,000 for winning All-Pro Teacher of the Year - will be used in support of the school’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiatives.
From virtual reality goggles to STEM materials and photo cells “I’ve got all kinds of stuff coming,” she said. “I can’t wait.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. William Gretzula was there to cheer on the Pennwood community and to celebrate Obert-Thorn’s achievement.
“I’ve been an Eagles fan for many, many years. It was great to watch the Eagles win the Super Bowl. It was a tribute to high expectations, belief in each other and teamwork,” said the superintendent. “When you think of what Becky has been able to accomplish, it’s the same thing . With a belief in the kids, high expectations, working together, she’s had the same type of success as the Eagles enjoyed on the field.”
And as a season ticket holder, Gretzula added that to see the name of a Pennwood teacher flashed across the screens numerous times at Lincoln Financial Field before thousands of people was a very proud moment for all of Pennsbury.
Established by the Philadelphia Eagles and Axalta Coating Systems, Axalta All-Pro Teachers is a program that recognizes outstanding 6th through 12th grade teachers in the tri-state area for their contributions to their students, school, and community, including their educational drive, innovation in the classroom, and community leadership.
Each All-Pro Teacher receives a $2,000 check from Axalta for STEM initiatives, tickets to an Eagles game, a personalized Eagles jersey and a signed football.
Teachers are nominated by school principals, colleagues, students and community members.