The following excerpts are from the nominating information submitted to the Lindback Foundation for the winning Philadelphia high school teachers. These teachers will be honored Tuesday at ceremonies at the Prince Music Theater. The Christian R. and Mary S. Lindback Foundation celebrates excellence in education and has been awarding the teaching prizes since 2008. There is one winner from each school.
A. Philip Randolph Technical High School
A laborer, a carpenter, a business owner, and now a teacher who's making a difference in and out of the classroom. From the Green House superstars to presenters at the Academy of Natural Science, James Esposito's students have used their skills to reconstruct classrooms inside Randolph and send an important message about the environment outside of school.
Abraham Lincoln High School
Paula Miller is currently the Science Department chairperson at Abraham Lincoln High School. Other responsibilities charged to Miller are cochairing the Biotechnology and Health Related Technology Academy, yearbook sponsor, and field hockey coach. As passionate as Miller is on the hockey field, she is just as passionate about continuous student improvement. Her work with the students has produced great partnership opportunities with Main Line Health Inc. and Lankenau Hospital.
Academy at Palumbo
Christian Pedone has repeatedly demonstrated leadership by organizing clubs and community partnerships. He heads our Climate and Safety Team. He sponsors the Rock Band, Drama Club, Diplomacy Club, and MootCourt team. Hehas also integrated Penn and Temple programs into his classroom. Pedone manages to balance these commitmentswhilemaintaining anexemplary level of academic rigor.
Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush
Denise Masters has been teaching dance for 15 years in public and private schools. In 2003 she completed her master's degree in dance education via a teachers assistantship at Temple University. Her dance curriculum at Rush Arts includes four focus areas: dance technique in ballet, tap, jazz, and modern; historical studies; injury prevention; and creating and composing movement.
Benjamin Franklin High School
Michael Desiderio has been a special-education teacher for more than 10 years. He is caring, compassionate, patient, trustworthy, and always willing to help not only his students, but fellow teachers and staff members. Mr. Mike (as the kids refer to him) had a student with autism who came to him at the age of 11. The student had been extremely neglected and Mr. Mike fought a long battle over the year to get the student the help and assistance he needed. It is evident that on a daily basis, Mr. Mike goes above and beyond for each of his students.
Central High School
Daniel Ueda started as a mechanical engineer for ION Design, where he received patents for prostate cancer research and elbow rehabilitation. After teaching in various locations, including Hunan, China, Ueda came to Central High School in 2008. In the last four years, he has grown the Robotics Club from 15 to 92 members; notably, 35 percent are female.
Charles Carroll High School
Amy Barford-Lee graduated with honors from Temple University, where she gained her bachelor's of science degree in secondary education and history. Barford-Lee is currently working toward her master's in history at La Salle University. She encourages relevance and rigor while teaching social science to seniors at Carroll High School. Aside from teaching, Barford-Lee is roster chair, cosponsor of the senior class, and intramural softball coach.
Communications Technology High School
Kia Ireland-Hall is a distinguished senior career teacher with 23 years of successful teaching and leadership experience. Currently, Ireland-Hall is the science teacher leader at Communications Technology High School. She is highly respected and recognized for her productive rapport with students, parents, peers, and administrators. She is a creative and responsive educator who freely offers aid to new teachers and struggling students.
Constitution High School
Aisha Madhi's enthusiasm for history and background in museum education helped her design innovative and engaging history classes at Constitution High School, including a rigorous advanced-placement program. As the service learning coordinator, she plans and implements several initiatives that teach the value of giving back. Madhi also coaches the award-winning debate team and advises the Historical Society.
Edward W. Bok Technical High School
Dawn L. McDonald
Dawn L. McDonald is an educator with a strong work ethic, persistence, and personal and intellectual integrity who strives for success. McDonald has a special rapport with high school students, especially those from an underprivileged background. She believes that all students should have the same opportunities and should make the best of what opportunities are available.
Frankford High School
Dave Huzzard has been teaching in the Philadelphia School District for 13 years. He has taught AP, honors, and regular English courses, art history and SAT-Prep. He has also taught in various programs such as ninth-grade Summer Bridge, Summer School, TwiLight, EOP, and Saturday School. Huzzard coaches boys' varsity basketball, girls' varsity badminton, and assists with cross-country.
Franklin Learning Center
Jessica Way, a registered nurse and Health Related Technology teacher, specializes in creating a real-world classroom where students see theory and clinical practice in healthcare environments across Philadelphia. She knows that creativity and hands-on learning are essential to motivate students. She pushes students to be professional and compassionate healthcare providers.
George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science
Lee Silverman repeatedly goes above and beyond to improve the school environment as well as support and assist students. He has been instrumental in developing policy, creating programs, and managing schoolwide initiatives. Silverman has been the schoolwide technology coordinator throughout his tenure at E&S. As coach, he puts tremendous effort and personal time into both chess and cross-country.
George Washington High School
When the bell rings I will often say "Showtime" and I truly love the show. This has allowed me to have a great relationship with my students. I will often stay with them after school or text them if they have a problem with the math. I now serve as the leader of the Mathletes team, leader of a study group for all of my classes, and a baseball coach. I also lead the AP calculus team at GWHS each year. We are two-time city champs.
Germantown High School
Catherine Michini has completed more than 20 years of service to Germantown as a math teacher and instructional coach. Words cannot describe the dedication and service Michini has provided to her students as well as to staff members. She has been a mentor for many math teachers over her career and provided many hours of support beyond what is required of her.
Girard Academic Music Program
Kathleen Flaherty's current educational goal is to teach 500 GAMP students to play piano, 32 at a time. Her favorite activities include preparing students for concerts and musicals, accompanying the All-City Music Festival and playing piano and organ for GAMP concerts. This career musician, who has performed locally and abroad, shares the joy of music with her students every day.
High School for Creative and Performing Arts
Meenu Bhutani studied zoology and education at the Universities of St. Joseph's and Delhi, India, earning two bachelor's and two master's degrees. She has taught at CAPA since 1995 and is now the department head. She is a Scleroderma Foundation volunteer and is fluent in Hindi and Sanskrit. She works tirelessly to support her students and is a marvelous asset to our school.
High School of the Future
Thomas E. Emerson
Thomas E. Emerson has taught at School of the Future (SOF) for six years. He graduated from Villanova and completed his master's in education at Penn. Teaching AP English, social studies, and drama, Emerson truly creates realworld experiences for his learners. He authored the school's senior project curriculum and directed four musicals and serves as department chair, continuing to work toward realizing SOF's mission.
Horace H. Furness High School
Doreen W. Coleman
Since 1979, Doreen W. Coleman has given her heart and soul to the Furness High School community. She has a work ethic that is without limits. She truly has a passion for her students, her Furness Family, and the learning process that it promotes. She has been dean of students since 1989 and is the single most stabilizing force in our school climate initiatives.
John Bartram High School
Gillian SmithHines is an inspiration to all. She has a dual master's degree and five state certifications. Although a teacher and an SLC coordinator, she is recognized by staff as a technology expert, always giving technical support. Smith-Hines is also called upon for safety and climate, counseling, mothering, and tutoring. She aids without reprimand, corrects without disparagement, and leads by example.
Jules Mastbaum Technical High School
Drew Knasiak has been teaching social studies with the district for the last 12 years, the last 11 years at Mastbaum. Knasiak believes that relationships are the key to all success. He has used this philosophy in his classroom by forging relationships with all of his students - connecting with them in a supportive, constructive way to not only increase academic skill development, but emotional skill development as well.
Julia R. Masterman High School
Brent Gray, who teaches AP mathematics and computer- science courses, is an excellent teacher who engages students in rigorous learning experiences. Gray makes high-level material both accessible and challenging. In addition to his classes, he continues to educate students as a sponsor of the robotics and mock-trial teams. He generously shares his expertise with staff and students alike.
Kensington - Creative and Performing Arts
Joshua Kleiman teaches special education and photography at Kensington CAPA and specializes in using digital tools to facilitate learning. He founded the student photography club, which has yearly exhibitions in public spaces. He is the Teacher Technology Leader, and collaborates with all staff to promote the integration of technology into the classroom.
Kensington - Culinary Arts the Emerald/Health
Melissa Stubblefield has taught health/physical education at Kensington Health Sciences Academy for the last five years. After earning her bachelor's from Lock Haven University and her master's from Temple University, she was eager to influence the lives of Philadelphia's students. Since then, she has had a tremendous impact on the school community by creacreating numerous school activities that motivate student learning and achievement.
Kensington - International, Business, Finance and Entrepreneurship
Nicholas L. Niedosik
Nicholas L. Niedosik has been an English educator at Kensington International Business for the last eight years and is dean of students. Niedosik also serves as our school's Technology Teacher Leader, and as teacher leader on our Administrative and Instructional Leadership Teams. He received his B.A. in English and his master's degree in education at Holy Family University.
Kensington - Urban Education Academy
Mark Morales is a 2010 graduate of Brown University. Morales is a third-year Teach for America corps member and is pleased to have been placed as a founding teacher at Kensington Urban Education Academy in 2010.This small school allows him the opportunity toworkwithsmaller groups of students, which he feels is important for relationship building and academic progress.
Lankenau High School
Amelia Butler is a graduate of Cabrini College, Drexel University, and Chestnut Hill College and is pursuing a doctorate degree. An exemplary educator, she is an algebra teacher and PFT Building Representative. She is a mentor, advocate, and role model. Butler takes a personal interest in all students' postsecondary goals and aspirations.
Martin Luther King High School
Ryan M. Baxter
Ryan M. Baxter has a background in engineering (biomedical) from Drexel University. His studies were in the area of artificial-joint replacement devices. After graduating, he joined the Philadelphia Teaching Fellow in the summer of 2011. In his second year at MLK, he was selected as academic coordinator of the STEM program at the high school after serving as one of four teachers who participated in the summer STEM program.
Motivation High School
Melika Komrokian is a dedicated teacher who loves her students. She encourages them to strive for high levels of performance. She builds confidence in them and helps them to give their best inall that theydo.Her interactions with youth are nurturing and protective. Although she has a nononsense approach, the students know that she respects them.
Murrell Dobbins Technical High School
Utilizing innovative teaching methods, Aaron Gerwer supports all levels of learners in his English classes. Outside of the classroom, Gerwer frequently collaborates with and offers strategies to colleagues to provide positive outcomes for students. Acting as teacher-sponsor of the RedCrossClub, he has also coordinateda blood drive and gotten students involved in various community service projects.
Northeast High School
Timothy Snyder joined our staff in 2009 as part of the Focus on Success program that strives to help at-risk students overcome their obstacles and achieve academically and personally. He is one of our hardest-working teachers, a team member who is incredibly reliable. He has consistent and positive relationships with his students and maintains a healthy classroom environment.
Overbrook High School
Alva Epps-Edwards, an educational investor, has seeded knowledge and devoted countless hours providing enrichment experiences, resulting in thousands of successful students. In her 36-year career educating Philadelphia's children, she has served as an elementary, middle, and high school teacher and academic coach, NCAA clearinghouse adviser, academy leader, and instructional leader. Her roles impacted students and significantly influenced teacher outcomes.
Parkway Center City High School
Maureen Boland began to teach language arts in underserved communities as a member of the NYC Teaching Fellows in 1999. She taught at Roberto Clemente and currently teaches at Parkway Center City. She was a Fellow Advisor for Philadelphia Teaching Fellows and received a grant to train teachers in Chennai, India. In 2011, she obtained National Board Certification.
Parkway Northwest High School
Andrea Siegel teaches Algebra 1, SAT Prep, and an NFTE Entrepreneurship class. She loves teaching and is always looking for creative ways to connect abstract math concepts to real life. She has also provided several after-school enrichment opportunities for students. As a local Teach for America (TFA) Corps member and adviser, she has served as a mentor and coach assisting in developing and implementing mathematical instructional strategies.
Parkway West High School
Richard Lee Daniels
Richard Lee Daniels is a tireless advocate for all students. He is an outstanding teacher who gives of his time not only to tutor his own students, but thoseof colleagues as well. Daniels is that quintessential blend of mentor and teacher, friend and disciplinarian who can actually connect with kids, staff, and parents.
Paul Robeson High School
Cordelia Luke has been educating children for the last 30 years and a teacher at Paul Robeson High School since 2008. Her motto is "Reach one, teach one." She has an excellent rapport with the students and staff, collaborating with teachers to provide strategies to support at-risk and inclusion students. She is a behind-the-scenes person, ensuring that things get done to improve the school.
Pennypack House School
Steven DiGiovanni is a hardworking and dedicated professional committed to all of his students. He has been a teacher since 2000 and received his master's degree in special education in 2012. As a special educator, he provides a challenging yet enjoyable learning environment. He sets high attainable goals with innovative teaching techniques, and makes a concerted effort to support his students daily.
Philadelphia High School for Girls
Joseph D. Marchetti
Joseph D. Marchetti is a multitalented artist and teacher who is a product of the Philadelphia School District, having graduated from Central High School. He is passionate, driven, and relentless in the pursuit of education. His love of the arts, education, and learning are reflected in his classroom and in the relationships he builds with his students.
Philadelphia Learning Academy North
Addie E. Mair
Addie E. Mair is from Nashville, where she worked as a school-based therapist at Murrell School, a severe behavior intervention school, from 2005-10. She decided to pursue a teaching career by participating in Philadelphia Teaching Fellows in 2010. In 2011, Mair earned her master's in education from Arcadia University. She is in her third year as a special-education teacher.
Philadelphia Learning Academy South
Theresa Higgins, English teacher atLearning Academy South, is a motivated, hardworking, and student-centered educator with high expectations for herself and her students. Her planning and preparedness, organization, dedication, and enthusiasm sustain these expectations. She has a bachelor's degree in English and master's degrees in education and humanities.
Philadelphia Military Academy at Elverson
Deborah B. Matthews
Deborah B. Matthews is a very caring and demanding teacher that challenges all of her students and demands that they perform at a level reflective of their grade and capabilities. She is the type of teacher that ensures that her students are able to be competitive. She is the type of teacher that I would want to teach my child.
Philadelphia Military Academy at Leeds
Joshua Levinson is a social studies teacher and our test coordinator at the Philadelphia Military Academy at Leeds. He demonstrates exemplary dedication to the development of our students. He is turning eager learners into future historians. Levinson utilizes technology in a manner that makes students excited about learning.
Robert E. Lamberton High School
Sharon Jackson works tirelessly; she is dedicated, compassionate, patient, and optimistic. She spends many hours beyond the regular workday to provide extra help to any student. Her students adore her. The staff enjoys collaborating with her. In addition, Jackson is pursuing her National Teachers Board Certification.
Roberts Vaux High School
Donna M. Widmann
After two years at Clemente, Donna M. Widmann transferred to Vaux, where she has made an immediate impact on the staff and the student body. Widmann comes to work every day with an undying belief in the potential of her students and in our staff's ability to support them, despite the myriad personal challenges they face at home and/or in their neighborhood every day. Widmann has her students mastering and exploring their own creativity through PowerPoint, iMovie projects, and analyzing figurative language in literature and music.
Roxborough High School
Originally from Williamsport, Erika McFadden came to Roxborough High School while student-teaching at West Chester University. She enjoyed our staff and students so greatly that she immediately took the opportunity to teach at Roxborough, where she now teaches both regular biology and AP biology. McFadden is passionate about helping students and empowering them to see realworld applications of science.
Samuel S. Fels High School
John C. Zak
John C. Zak has been teaching at Fels for five years. He currently teaches 12th-grade statistics classes, including AP Statistics. Zak is the sponsor of the Philosophy Club at Fels. He teaches philosophy part time at West Chester University in the evenings.
Science Leadership Academy
In his sixth year at SLA, Timothy Best comes to SLA from the Boston area, where he has most recently been working as a high school technology integration specialist, collaborating with teachers to develop technology-based projects. In 2011, Best was named a National Board Certified Teacher. Best's experiences with both inquiry-based science teaching and the use of technology in the classroom make him a great fit for SLA.
South Philadelphia High School
Roberta Emmanuel is an outstanding educator. Emmanuel has taught for nearly 30 years, and served students and the school community in a variety of positions:Teacher, School Based Instructional Specialist, and Dean of Students. She has witnessed the success of many students, and enjoys seeing her students grow and blossom into productive citizens near and abroad.
Stephen A. Douglas High School
Kathleen Radebaugh received a bachelor of arts in 2008 from St. Joseph's University and in May will receive a master of education from Cabrini College. She began her teaching career five years ago at West Philadelphia High School, where she participated in the West Philly Hybrid X Team. In her current position as teacher at Douglas High School, she functions in many leadership roles.
Strawberry Mansion High School
Angela Garabedian has worked at Strawberry Mansion High School for the last 35 years as the autistic support teacher. She has helped students with disabilities to reach their full potential while providing them with the tools that they will need to be productive individuals in society. She has taught them not to allow their disability to be a barrier for success.
Swenson Arts and Technology High School
Wanda Lynn Miller
Wanda Lynn Miller earned a bachelor's in English at Arcadia University with a minor in secondary education. She also earned a master's in English at Arcadia. She began her teaching career in a suburban school district, but chose to pursue her teaching career for the Philadelphia School District. She currently teaches senior English and AP English, and she became the school-based teacher leader for the English department in 2008.
Thomas Alva Edison High School
Maria E. Neilio
Maria E. Neilio has been teaching in the District of Philadelphia since 1991. She has been at Edison High School serving the bilingual population since 1993. She is a teacher of mathematics who enjoys and connects well with all students and staff. She loves teaching; it is her calling.
University City High School
Andrew J. Schiera
First volunteering at UCHS as a Penn student, Andrew J. Schiera has since taught nearly every social studies course offered. His first priority is his students, and he strongly believes that teachers should build learning experiences around a student's talents,interests, and needs that involve real-world situations. Schiera is also an inaugural member of the Lenore Annenberg Teaching Fellowship.
Walter Biddle Saul High School of Agricultural Science
Julie Steiner will meet with students anytime she is available. She assists them in assignments, mentors them with essays for college, and works with students with academic challenges. She strives to instill in all students a love of literacy. Steiner encourages her students to go beyond the walls of the class and seek out experiences. Steiner's unending energy and honesty and her support have proven that she is about the students.
West Philadelphia High School
After joining Teach for America three years ago,CarolynConlon's passion and dedication to urban youth and education have not faded. West Philadelphia High School, the students, faculty, and staff are family, and her mission to bring quality education, as a right for all children, is the reason and purpose for her work every day. It is this mission that led Conlon to receive her master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania while simultaneously researching effective pedagogy for urban turnaround schools.
Widener Memorial School
Katherine Leonard has been a wonderful addition to the staff at Widener Memorial School. Leonard is the captain of her class and takes her students on a literary journey each day. She has brought a wealth of knowledge about transition for high school students and has had a great impact working with students in the Widener Student Center.
William L. Sayre High School
Elizabeth Curry has earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from Chestnut Hill College and a master's in education from Arcadia University. Her passion is education. In her classroom, she implements hands-on, student-centered learning. She has designed a curriculum where students are engaged in their own education through inquiry and discovery. She is currently achieving this through the use of aquaponics.
William W. Bodine High School for International Affairs
Using music and dance, Maeve O'Hara keeps mathematics fun and relevant. A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, and in her fifth year at Bodine, she is humbled to teach math to such outstanding youth. Believing teachers are mentors, she tutors through text messages, visits homes, and has led service trips to Mali and Nepal, highlighting her passion for student growth.
Youth Study Center School
Carol W. Heinsdorf
As the Youth Study Center School librarian, Carol W. Heinsdorf has introduced a variety of programs to the students. She encourages students to strive for excellence. Students engage in creating origami figures for senior citizens during the holidays, and most recently, she has created the Read2Me literacy program for youth to share with their children or other family and friends.