MEDIA Anthony Grisillo tells parents of his elementary school students that they are welcome to visit their child's class, but that they need to wear clothes they wouldn't mind getting dirty.

Grisillo, who is known in the Rose Tree Media School District for his hands-on lessons that both entertain and educate children, was honored Monday as Pennsylvania's teacher of the year.

Eric Bucci, the principal of Glenwood Elementary School, one of two schools where Grisillo teaches, said that he had seen Grisillo build a life-size plastic whale and hang models of the solar system from the ceiling.

James Wigo, the district superintendent, praised Grisillo for his 15 years of teaching in the district's gifted program.

Tracey Fritch, one of the 11 finalists for the annual honor, also teaches in the Rose Tree-Media School District. The other finalists from Southeastern Pennsylvania are Lori Gallagher and Nicole Miletto of the Hatboro-Horsham School District.

Gov. Corbett made the announcement as part of the Keystone Awards of Excellence program. The teacher of the year acts as a representative of the teaching profession in the state for the next year.

Of teaching, Grisillo said, "It's one of the few jobs you can truly say you're trying to make a difference in the world and change the future." - Julie Zauzmer