Philadelphia, PA (March 14, 2013) Nineteen exceptional educators received the annual National Liberty Museum Teacher as Hero Award on March 14, during an evening ceremony at the Museum and sponsored by State Farm. The 19 winners included four teachers from New Jersey.
The Teacher as Hero award recognizes outstanding educators for excellence, commitment, leadership, conflict resolution and community service despite increasing challenges they face in today's schools and classrooms. This annual program is judged by a panel of Museum officials and educators from throughout the tri-state area. Winners receive a guided tour of the museum for their class; their story featured in the museum Teacher as Hero exhibit; participation in one of the Museum's Act 48 Teacher Training Workshops; and museum membership for their family.
Our honorees excel at preparing the next generation of Philadelphians and beyond for future challenges, said Gwen Borowsky, CEO of the National Liberty Museum. All teachers make a footprint on a student's life, but our winners make a deeper one than others. We are grateful to them for going the extra mile beyond the classroom - with others. We are grateful to them for going the extra mile beyond the classroom - with creativity, dedication and inspiration.
Since 2001, State Farm has partnered with the National Liberty Museum and has been a sponsor of the museum's Teacher as Hero Awards since the program's inception in 2006. Each year the program has grown with more teachers being recognized and more nominations submitted.
As the nation's largest insurer, our investment in education is tied to our company mission to help individuals realize their dreams, said State Farm public affairs specialist, Dwayne Redd. And, our teachers help our children realize their dreams with access to a quality education that helps them to achieve their greatest potential, which helps them become good community citizens, and that helps prepare them for the workforce.
According to the America's Promise Alliance of which State Farm also partners, every 26 seconds a young person drops out of high school. That's more than 7,000 every day and over 1 million each year.
The educators recognized by this achievement have fostered classroom engagement with creativity that promotes personal respect. In turn, their students respond and excel with their guidance.
The success of our future lies within the youth of today.
For those reasons, these incredible teachers are true heroes.
The four New Jersey recipients of the 2012-13 Teacher as Hero Award include:
Mary Desmond, Media Specialist/Librarian, Samsel Upper Elementary School, Parlin, NJ
As the media specialist and librarian in a school of over 900 students, Ms. Desmond adapts to the abilities of all students and colleagues she interacts with. She runs a program called Battle of the Books, in which students read various novels throughout the year and battle by answering comprehensive questions about the books. Another of Ms. Desmond's contributions to the Samsel community was co-chairing the Red Carpet of Heroes, an event inspired by the students' visit to the National Liberty Museum. Students learned research skills by researching various heroes from the museum and nominating them to a Heroes Hall of Fame through a presentation at an awards ceremony. Ms. Desmond incorporates technology into all of her lessons, but also holds fast to the belief that character and ethics are at the root of educating students and teachers alike.
Barbara Fernicola, 11th-12th grade Social Studies, Mahwah, NJ
Ms. Fernicola was nominated by one of her students, who praised her teaching ability and enthusiasm. He notes in his nomination letter that she tells stories from history with so much detail, as if she was actually there, truly enhancing how her students remember and learn the information. Ms. Fernicola is also passionate about involving students in the political process by advising the Student Council, advising the Young Politicians Club, and holding voter registration drives for eligible seniors. She even worked with students to craft a new cell phone policy for the school, showing them firsthand the process of government.
Linda Michalski, 9-12th grade Scripture and World Religions, Benedictine Academy, Elizabeth, NJ
Ms. Michalski has been a teacher for nearly 18 years, ten of which have been at Benedictine Academy. Her student leadership team, the Benedictine Cor Defenders, work to raise awareness about abolishing human trafficking. This fall, in conjunction with the History and English teachers, the student leadership team worked with nine other schools across the nation to write a New Proclamation of Freedom in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. In addition, Ms. Michalski prepared her students to speak before the New Jersey State Senate in support of an anti-human-trafficking bill (which was later passed).
Vicki Robbins, K-5th grade Music, Gloucester Township Elementary School, Blackwood, NJ
Mrs. Robbins involves her music students in opportunities that enrich their lives and connect them to the community. She is pivotal in producing the Gloucester Township's annual 'Americanism' program, a musical production celebrating patriotism and showcasing student talents, which has been held since 1976. In her teaching, she blends music history education with hands-on opportunities to use instruments. She is incredibly committed to her students, prioritizing them even as she struggled through several bouts with cancer.
Dave Phillips, Public Affairs, (610) 358-7667
The National Liberty Museum is dedicated to preserving freedom and democracy by fostering good character and understanding of all people. The museum's exhibits of glass art - combined with heroes from around the world - inspire visitors to appreciate the strength and fragility of democracy and recognize the role we all play in safeguarding our freedom. The Museum is open 10am-5pm, Tuesday through Saturday, 12pm-6pm on Sundays. The facility is fully wheelchair accessible. For more information, call Sherry Hawk at 215-925-2800, ext. 105 or visit www.libertymuseum.org. Also, visit us on facebook and follow us on Twitter.
State Farm and its affiliates are the largest provider of car insurance in the U.S. and is a leading insurer in Canada. In addition to providing auto insurance quotes, their 17,800 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve 81 million policies and accounts - more than 79 million auto, home, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is also available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 43 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com or in Canada http://www.statefarm.ca.