Excerpts from Lindback winner nominations

Posted: May 10, 2011

The following excerpts are from the nominating information submitted to the Lindback Foundation for the winning Philadelphia high school teachers. There is one winner from each school.


Nancy Nayowith

Academy at Palumbo

Nancy Nayowith is the Academy at Palumbo's health and physical-education teacher and dean of students. She is known for supporting colleagues and students with effective teaching and learning strategies. Her contributions extend beyond the walls of the school, as Nayowith has served on the School District's committee for writing physical-education curriculum and has represented the district at national conferences on health-education assessment.

Melissa Hogg

Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush

Melissa Hogg is among the founding faculty members of the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush. This magna cum laude graduate of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania teaches ninth-grade biology and is the sponsor of the school's Girls for Change club. As a participant in the Philadelphia Writing Project, she co-facilitated a 2010 two-week summer camp for young writers.

Bernadine Waterman

Audenried High School

Bernadine Waterman's undergraduate degree is from Pennsylvania State University, and she holds a master's degree from Gwynedd-Mercy College. A School District educator for 27 years, she teaches Algebra 1 to special-needs students at Audenried High School. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Waterman serves as the dean of discipline. According to her colleagues, she is a marvel of multitasking.

John Schaffer

Bartram High School

After working as a professional nurse for 30 years, John Schaffer realized that it was crucial to prepare secondary and postsecondary students to enter the "health-care pipeline" to ensure a highly skilled workforce. Since joining the staff of Bartram High School, Schaffer has committed himself to building a vital and sustainable health-care education program integrating school- and community-based learning experiences.

Beverly Tucker

Bodine High School for International Affairs

Beverly Tucker, a health and physical-education teacher at Bodine, has dedicated a lifetime to the profession. She is "the quiet strength and voice of wisdom" at the school, where she is never more than a phone call away from students. She has expanded their horizons by leading Outward Bound expeditions, college visits, spring trips to Italy and France, and participation in the AIDS Walk.

Ronald Paulus

Bok Technical High School

Ronald Paulus serves as mentor to new teachers and encourages struggling students. He is credited with helping establish Bok's success on the PSSA tests, having designed a teaching model complete with Saturday classes. More than two-thirds of the students attended. This English teacher and the entire faculty celebrate the fact that the school has attained adequate yearly progress six out of the last seven years.

Charlotte Brickhouse

Carroll High School

Charlotte Brickhouse, an English and special-education teacher at Carroll High School, is a key member of its instructional leadership team. In the classroom, she strives to make learning innovative and exciting for her students, and she uses focused strategies and tools to raise student achievement. In addition to teaching, Brickhouse is the special-education liaison, who advocates for Carroll's students.

Joseph Dougherty

Carver High School for Engineering and Science

A lifelong Philadelphian, Joseph Dougherty has taught English at Carver since 1994. During his tenure, he has served as sponsor for three graduating classes, and taught poetry, psychology, and SAT prep. His colleagues note that he "employs incisive instructional strategies." Dougherty also has been adviser for the school's multicultural club and coached several teams, including tennis, bowling, and boys' and girls' volleyball.

Galeet Cohen

Central High School

Galeet Cohen, who teachers Advanced Placement environmental science at Central High School, exudes excitement about her subject and inspires the same enthusiasm among her students. She is known for successfully incorporating both traditional and progressive teaching methods. Students, staff, and parents all recognize Cohen's excellence as an instructor, her commitment to preserving the environment, and her ability to connect classroom teaching and learning to real-world issues.

Karin Robinson

Communications Technology High School

Karin Robinson leads in the classroom and in a wide variety of sports venues. The health and physical-education instructor, she also teaches video production and serves as dean of students. Robinson was a pioneer in coaching girls' track and field and cross-country when these competitive areas were incorporated into the menu of girls' sports in Philadelphia public schools.

Kathleen Melville

Constitution High School

Kathleen Melville grew up in the Philadelphia area, graduated from Swarthmore College, and spent two years teaching in Guatemala City. She joined the staff of Constitution High School in 2008 as an English and Spanish teacher. A 2009 participant in the Philadelphia Writing Project's Summer Institute, Melville leads the drama club and partners with Philadelphia Young Playwrights.

Frances Peagler

Dobbins Technical High School

Frances Peagler has provided effective and stimulating classroom instruction to students in her science classes at Dobbins since 1996. Her students describe the courses she teaches as "educational, full of wonder, and exciting." For them, she is a valuable role model. For colleagues, she is always ready to share with fellow teachers and help them and other staff members resolve difficult issues.

Sean Ryan

Douglas High School

Since joining the Douglas High School faculty in 2008, algebra teacher Sean Ryan has been involved in just about every aspect of the school. He was bowling coach in 2009-10, became math department lead in 2010, and this year serves as head of the newly formed freshman academy. Ryan leads the positive behavior support team and codirects the Saturday academy.

Carol Chatman

Edison High School

A native Philadelphian, Edison High School's inclusion program teacher Carol Chatman is a graduate of what is now Cheyney University. She is an active member of her congregation at St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church and a member of the Order of the Eastern Star of Pennsylvania. Chatman says she feels "blessed to work with dedicated staff and a great group of students."

George Dufner

Fels High School

A 15-year district teaching veteran, George Dufner has served at Fels High School for 10 years. Currently a social-studies teacher, he is also certified in English and has taught that subject. The same high standards that Dufner sets in his classroom he also sets for the bowling and baseball teams he coaches.

Nora Karasanyi

FitzSimons Young Men's Leadership High School

"Ms. K," as Nora Karasanyi is known to her students, exudes kindness, empathy, and encouragement - and gives a good, strong push when needed. Her successes at FitzSimons include enabling more than 180 former dropouts to graduate within three years. In addition to teaching English to juniors and seniors, Karasanyi leads the 11th- and 12th-grade academies and advises 12th graders on their senior projects.

Linwood Stevens

Frankford High School

Teaching as a career has allowed Frankford High School math teacher Linwood Stevens to make a positive impact in the Philadelphia community. His colleagues describe him as a resource for them and a valuable member of the school's ninth-grade academy team. Stevens' students learn not only math but also that with patience, persistence, and care they can achieve anything.

Richard Upshaw

Franklin High School

Richard Upshaw, a special-education teacher at Franklin High School, also is an expert in crisis intervention and parent-family conferencing. His peers regard him as an inspiring role model for his students who is a great person to have on their side. Fellow faculty members emphasize that Upshaw demonstrates the highest level of skill and commitment in everything he does.

Christina Whitt

Franklin Learning Center

Franklin Learning Center's Christina Whitt is a national board-certified teacher in early-adolescent and young-adult art. The creator of FLC's Advanced Placement art program, Whitt encourages creative, global, and innovative thinking. She is the recipient of grants for travel and study in Japan, China, South Korea, and Turkey. Because she has traveled extensively, her knowledge of various cultures is reflected in her students' work and knowledge.

Patricia Ternove

Furness High School

Patricia Ternove has left her imprint on many aspects of the daily life of Furness High School. She is an exemplary English teacher who motivates students to give their best by modeling this practice herself. As after-school program mentor and golf, mock-trial, and debate-team coach, Ternove has shared her many gifts with countless appreciative students and has actively supported these and other after-school activities and athletic teams.

Eleanor Boli

Germantown High School

Spanish teacher Eleanor Boli has seen much in her career and brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and skill to her classroom. She engages her students and makes the learning environment fun and exciting. By integrating real-world experiences into everyday lessons, she connects with her students and makes the material relevant to their lives. In 2009, she received the Best New Teacher Award at Germantown High School.

Erica Lee

Girard Academic Music Program

Erica Lee strives to make sure that each of her students understands the material and excels in her classroom. As a ninth- and 10th-grade math teacher, she encourages her students to build a foundation for mathematics that will serve them throughout their high school careers and beyond. She has coached the school's National Academic League team to three consecutive city championships.

Linda Anderson

Gratz High School

A 38-year veteran of the district, Linda Anderson embodies what it means to be a quality teacher. She frequently and without hesitation goes above and beyond her duties to make sure her students reach their goals. Anderson encourages her students to become lifelong learners and challenge themselves to achieve all of their dreams. She has been a friend, mentor, colleague, and role model.

Elizabeth Harvey

High School of the Future

As a science educator, Elizabeth Harvey is adept at working with numbers. She uses her skills with numbers to develop engaging lesson plans and stimulating material that empower each of her students to succeed. As a "data miner" for the school, she has developed new ways to improve teaching and learning and make the entire school community more knowledgeable.

Jazmin Torres

Kensington Creative and Performing Arts High School

Spanish teacher Jazmin Torres brings real-world experiences into every lesson she teaches. Her classroom is a cultural hub, and students are encouraged to challenge themselves to go beyond what they believe they are capable of. She has a genuine interest in her students' success and gives them the tools to reach their goals.

Kimberly Brandes

Kensington Culinary Arts High School

As founder of the running club at Kensington Culinary Arts High School, biology teacher Kimberly Brandes is able to transfer lessons taught in the classroom to the rigors of long-distance running. Focusing on qualities such as perseverance, persistence, and determination, Brandes makes her lessons come alive and keeps student interest high. She also serves the school in other roles, including coach, mentor, guidance counselor, and friend.

Ilcedes Faro

Kensington International Business High School

Ilcedes Faro has led the English as a Second Language program at Kensington International Business High School for the last 15 years. Her students are rewarded with high academic achievement and confidence in their ability to succeed. Faro is a member of the instructional leadership team at the school and collaborates with her colleagues to ensure that every student is seen as an individual.

Sarah Rittenhouse

Kensington Urban Education Academy

Sarah Rittenhouse is a Spanish teacher at the Kensington Urban Education Academy and is valued by students and staff alike. She is co-planner for the school's advisory program, assisting students with their emotional and social growth. She creates lessons that are relevant to her students' lives and that allow them to discover a passion for learning based on their progressive achievements.

Ross Hamilton

King High School

Bringing history into the classroom is the daily goal of King High School history teacher Ross Hamilton. He shares with his students his passion for linking events of the past to current situations and future scenarios. Hamilton routinely goes out of his way to offer advice and guidance to his students and is an asset both inside and outside the classroom.

Edward Love

Lamberton High School

Serving as dean of students at Lamberton High School, Edward Love regularly interacts with and engages the entire student body. He is a dedicated advocate for the success of his students and has developed a range of extracurricular activities for students to participate in and achieve greatness. Love's candor and openness make him a valuable source of advice for both students and staff.

Michael Hardisky

Lankenau High School

Michael Hardisky, biology instructor and technology teacher coordinator at Lankenau High School, values the power of a team. A passionate advocate for each of his students, he strives to make sure they succeed and reach their goals. By making lessons relevant, Hardisky gives them tangible evidence that the material will serve them for the rest of their lives.

Brian Wagner

Lincoln High School

Lincoln English teacher Brian Wagner has already made a great contribution in only his second year at the school after 10 years in the military and a stint at a suburban school. He is known for his effective methods and for his ability to motivate students. Young men and women preparing to take the SAT and PSSA tests benefit from Wagner's impressive instructional skills.

Olga Torres

Mastbaum High School

A skilled multitasker, Mastbaum health-information management teacher Olga Torres is passionate and dedicated to her profession and, more important, to her students. Her colleagues describe her as a source of inspiration for the school community and a leader in and out of the classroom. She is a graduate of Kensington High School and has been with the district for 15 years.

Nabeehah Parker

Masterman High School

Masterman High School biology teacher Nabeehah Parker is a 34-year veteran of the education field and is a valued and trusted member of the school staff. She is an active member of multiple extracurricular programs at the school and is the sponsor of several clubs and organizations. Parker challenges her students to achieve their potential both inside and outside the classroom.

Alicia Williams

Motivation High School

As sponsor of the National Honor Society and Student Government Association at Motivation High School, Alicia Williams witnesses daily the potential of each of her students. Her students are exposed to lessons on culture and global issues that they are able to take with them in their lives after high school. Williams is totally accessible to students and always ready to listen and encourage them.

Patricia Ryan

Northeast High School

As a leader in the academic language program at Northeast High School, Patricia Ryan has given her time, energy, and knowledge to the English language learner population at the school. A key member of the school's leadership team, Ryan continually strives to improve the lives of her students and make the job of her colleagues easier. She routinely creates a positive supportive environment for every student entering her classroom.

Melanie Keiper

Olney East High School

Melanie Keiper is a six-year teacher at Olney East High School and has held multiple leadership roles in her time there. Serving as the English department liaison, she is a resource for fellow teachers and an asset to her students. A natural leader, Keiper has developed relationships with her colleagues that make her invaluable in her leadership role at the school.

Lauren Vargas

Olney West High School

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Lauren Vargas heads the math department at Olney West High School. As a math teacher leader for the last six years, she consistently offers advice, support, and optimism to colleagues and students. Her knowledge of the material combined with the enthusiasm of her students create an environment of success for all who enter her classroom.

Amjad Ali

Overbrook High School

When the Overbrook High School leadership team decided to place special-needs students in a regular 11th-grade Algebra 2 class, Amjad Ali volunteered. As a result, he took his special-needs students from 4.5 percent scoring proficient in the state test to 12.1 percent. Ali also helps raise achievement by tutoring students after school and working in the credit-recovery and Saturday PSSA prep programs.

Joshua Rothstein

Parkway Center City

Joshua Rothstein, a Temple University graduate, is a valued and passionate member of the Parkway Center City High School staff. As a 10th-grade English and drama teacher, he produced Parkway's first play last year - Fences, by August Wilson. Rothstein often goes out of his way when mentoring his students to improve their skills, encourage their success, and inspire them to achieve their potential.

Beverly Trimboli

Parkway Northwest

In her 35-year career as a teacher, Beverly Trimboli has developed numerous drama and playwriting programs for the students of Parkway Northwest. A graduate of DeSales University with a K-12 principal certification from Holy Family University, she is consistently named by her peers as one of the most knowledgeable teachers in her field. Trimboli also serves as roster person and college and testing coordinator.

Jerry Fluellen

Parkway West

Jerry Fluellen has been a music teacher at Parkway West for the last seven years and is trusted and respected by peers and students alike. He makes learning fun and relevant for his students, and his involvement with the All-City Choir and Parkway West Productions have left an indelible mark on the Parkway West community.

Raymond Lackey

Pennypack House School

Throughout his 13 years with the School District, Raymond Lackey has devoted himself to working with youths at risk. One of his students at Pennypack House School for adjudicated youth says, "I was always smart but lacked the discipline needed to be successful in school. [My teacher] provided me with a different way to learn and be myself, while encouraging me to do my best."

Malikah Jenkins

Philadelphia High School for Business and Technology

Malikah Jenkins is an integral member of the Philadelphia High School for Business and Technology's faculty. She engages her students with lessons relevant to their lives and pushes them to achieve their potential. She is responsible for multiple duties in addition to teaching, such as guiding the math club and the yearbook and prom committees and serving as junior-senior sponsor and testing coordinator.

Cynthia Kulesza

Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts

In her 35-year career, Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts math teacher Cynthia Kulesza has earned the respect and admiration of her peers and students. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a master's degree from Villanova University, she previously taught at South Philadelphia and Overbrook High Schools. Kulesza is CAPA's energetic National Honor Society sponsor and highly organized testing coordinator.

Alfred Hanssen

Philadelphia High School for Girls

For nearly 40 years, Alfred Hanssen has mentored and guided students in the School District. As a history teacher at Girls' High for 18 years, he is respected and admired by his administrators, fellow teachers, and students. As a softball coach, cultural club sponsor, and National Honor Society sponsor, he encourages his students to reach their potential and achieve success.

Jessica Melman

Philadelphia Learning Academy North

High expectations, a wealth of knowledge, rigorous instruction, the building of bridges with students, the creation of a community atmosphere, and the willingness to go the extra mile are some of the superlatives that come to mind when describing Jessica Melman. The daily practice of challenging each student to meet or exceed his or her potential is part of the climate in Melman's classroom at Philadelphia Learning Academy North.

Sarah Truitt

Philadelphia Learning Academy South

Sarah Truitt exemplifies what a dedicated teacher should be. She is intensely committed and gives 100 percent to her students, her colleagues, and her craft. Certified in English and special education, Truitt works tirelessly in preparing lessons and is exceptionally creative in her instruction. Her talents, dedication, and desire are evident every day in her classroom and throughout Philadelphia Learning Academy South.

Judith Dunn

Philadelphia Military Academy at Elverson

As chair of the English department at Philadelphia Military Academy at Elverson, Judith Dunn expects much from her students. A graduate of Rider University with a graduate degree from Cheyney University, she is consistently mentioned as one of the top teachers in her field. Her students value her knowledge and her ability to get them to think beyond what they know to achieve success.

Ariel Weiser

Philadelphia Military Academy at Leeds

Ariel Weiser, a recent graduate of the University of Chicago, is a chemistry and physics teacher at the Philadelphia Military Academy at Leeds. He encourages his students to approach science in ways they had not thought of previously. Weiser helps students realize their potential; he expects much from them in their pursuit of success.

Benjamin Young

Promise Academy at University City High School

Benjamin Young is a teacher of Algebra 2 and statistics at the Promise Academy at University City. His students thrive in a classroom environment that is student-friendly yet challenging. Young developed the school's peer group connection student leadership program, which sends sophomores, juniors, and seniors into the ninth-grade academy advisories to serve as mentors. He is also head soccer coach for the Jaguars.

Tracey Petty

Promise Academy at Vaux High School

After serving for seven years as a registered nurse at a School District elementary school, Tracey Petty is in her third year teaching health-related technology. She provides students with opportunities for internships, community service, and competitions. Petty also is the Promise Academy at Vaux's senior class sponsor, graduation coordinator, and adviser to its chapter of the Health Occupations Students of America.

Thomas McLaughlin

Randolph Career Academy

Thomas McLaughlin teaches journalism and American history at Randolph. He takes pride in educating the whole student, both in and out of the classroom, and has served as yearbook sponsor, cross-country coach, class sponsor, dean of students, and roster chair. His colleagues recognize McLaughlin as the "go-to" man, willing to put in extra effort to improve the school and student outcomes.

S. Ryann Skraitz

Rhodes Young Women's Leadership High School

S. Ryann Skraitz came to the School District from the private sector, uniquely enabling her to bring her unique knowledge and skills to the classroom. As an architecture and math instructor, she shares her passion and desire to see her classes succeed for every one of her students. Skraitz incorporates hands-on learning and gives students authentic skills that they are able to take into their post-high school lives.

Carmelle Jean-Paul

Robeson High School

Carmelle Jean-Paul brings her quest for knowledge and her passion for her field into the classroom every day. As a social-studies instructor for the last nine years, she regularly challenges her students and gives them opportunities to explore the intricacies of government and the greater society. Jean-Paul is passionate and creative, and her students greatly appreciate her energy and enthusiasm.

Denise DiFrancesco

Roxborough High School

Denise DiFrancesco has been an integral part of the Roxborough High School family as a teacher, mentor, class sponsor, school roster grade chair, and currently as the special-education liaison. As a result of her efforts, the school has a record of 100 percent compliance with state mandates. Parents and students know that DiFrancesco is always willing to assist them during and beyond the school day.

Theresa Maas-Anger

Saul High School for Agricultural Sciences

Making her way to Saul from a staff position at the Philadelphia Zoo, Theresa Maas-Anger is a biology and physical science teacher with a talent for multitasking and wearing multiple hats. In her nine years of teaching, she has developed several clubs and extracurricular activities to help her students reach their goals. She is a graduate of Hillsdale College in Michigan.

Vendetta Smith

Sayre High School

Vendetta Smith is one of the most dedicated and compassionate special-education instructors at Sayre High School. She considers it her mission to improve the lives of her students and give them the tools to succeed in the classroom and beyond. Working in the district since 1980, Smith has seen her work pay off through the achievements and accomplishments of her students.

Pia Martin

Science Leadership Academy

With no gym, Science Leadership Academy relies on the creativity and knowledge possessed by health and physical-education instructor Pia Martin to ensure the students are healthy and active. An 18-year veteran of the district, she engages her students and challenges them to achieve their potential. Martin's students rely on her advice and knowledge both inside and outside the classroom.

Dean Coder

South Philadelphia High School

Dean Coder teaches Advanced Placement calculus and statistics at South Philadelphia High School. He is dedicated to perfecting his craft, motivating students to excel, and being an advocate for rigorous academics and staff solidarity. Coder is cofounder of the school's math club, initiated a swim program for students at a nearby community center, and developed a greenhouse at the school.

Patricia Whyatt

Strawberry Mansion High School

A multiple award winner and 30-year teacher, Patricia Whyatt is an icon at Strawberry Mansion High School. She is often credited by her students with empowering them to achieve their potential and experience success both inside and outside of the classroom. Instrumental in bringing the African American history curriculum to the district, Whyatt regularly impacts the lives of her students and gives them the tools to succeed.

Alvah Smith

Swenson Arts and Technology High School

A teacher at Swenson since 1977, Alvah "Jim" Smith has guided and supported the development of thousands of students. As welding instructor and career and technical-education coordinator at the school, he imparts his skills and expertise to every student that enters his classroom. Smith encourages all of his students to reach beyond what they believe they're capable of and to discover a passion for learning.

Bernadette Clapp

Washington High School

An educator with 30 years of diverse experience in special education, Bernadette Clapp is the first teacher called upon by the administration at Washington High School to share best practices during professional development and peer coaching sessions. Even after three decades in the profession, Clapp consistently brings energy and passion to her work in a way that is truly unparalleled.

Rainiel Guzman

West Philadelphia High School

Cultural events are a regular occurrence for students of West Philadelphia High School Spanish teacher Rainiel Guzman. In just his first year of teaching, he has opened his students to a broader, more cultured view of the world around them. Guzman engages students in learning to bring out their strengths and often provides support above and beyond what is asked of him.

James Scanlon

Widener Memorial School

With more than 35 years working with special-needs children and 24 years with the School District, James Scanlon has a wealth of knowledge and experience. As a coach and mentor, he has offered countless students advice, guidance, and instruction over the years. Scanlon is an asset to the district, and as those who know him would say, "He personifies 'the Widener way.' "

Anthony Williams

Youth Study Center

Anthony Williams, a veteran Youth Study Center educator, is fluent in Spanish and certified to teach all subject areas. He is a mentor and role model to his students, who are young men in a detention setting. Williams consistently demonstrates proficiency, commitment, compassion, and support using techniques that engage all of his students and motivate them to be lifelong learners.

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