HARRISBURG >> Council Rock High School North English teacher Hollie Woodard has been named a finalist in the 2021 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year competition organized by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
“Teachers impact students far beyond the traditional classroom, connecting with them and inspiring them during some of our most difficult times,” said Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera, in announcing the 12 finalists. "We witnessed that extraordinary commitment this spring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with educators stepping up to make sure students and communities are fed, comforted and educated. The Department of Education applauds this year’s finalists, who represent the commitment and professionalism that so many Pennsylvania educators share.”
Woodard was nominated for the honor by a member of the Council Rock community for her advocacy work in dyslexia.
Woodard subsequently received approval from Superintendent Dr. Robert Fraser to move forward with her application and received letters of recommendation from her principal, a colleague and a parent.
Woodard was also asked to submit several essays about teaching, learning and education focusing on advocating for the utilization of Ed-tech and 21st Century instructional strategies to generate personalized learning paths for all students.
Woodard then participated in an interview with a member of the Pennsylvania Department of Education and was named one of 12 finalists. She now has one more round in which she will have to record a lesson to be reviewed by PDE.
The other 11 finalists include: Andrea Baney, Danville Area School District (Montour & Northumberland counties); Debra Barrick, Selinsgrove Area School District (Snyder County); Nicole Darroch, Ambridge Area School District (Beaver County); Kathleen Dickensheets, Hampton Township School District (Allegheny County); Jessica Fellin, Penns Valley Area School District (Centre County); Gerald Kaplan, Loyalsock Township School District (Lycoming County); Caitlin Keiper, New Hope-Solebury School District (Bucks County); Denise Leigh, McGuffey School District (Washington County); Kerri Lynn Markert, Easton Area School District (Northampton County); Elizabeth Raff - Penn Manor School District (Lancaster County); and Katie Wisnosky, Tunkhannock Area School District (Wyoming County).
Nominations for the Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year were submitted by students, parents, peers and members of the community seeking to honor and recognize educator achievements both inside and outside the classroom.
The finalists must be prepared to effectively carry out the duties of the state’s Teacher of the Year, including being Pennsylvania’s nominee for the National Teacher of the Year. The recognition program is co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania chapter of the National State Teacher of the Year, which was founded in 1995.
The 2021 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year will be announced in December.
Pennsylvania’s 2020 Teacher of the Year recipient is Joseph Welch, a middle school teacher in the North Hills School District in Allegheny County.
Secretary Rivera said that nominations for Teacher of the Year can be submitted throughout the year by students, community members, parents, or teachers. More information is available on the PDE website.
For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, visit the Department of Education’s website or follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.