Area educators are 2019 Teacher as Hero recipients

Thirteen local educators have won the 13th annual Teacher as Hero Award from the National Liberty Museum.

The grand prize winner is Tony Rocco, a middle school photography teacher at John B. Stetson Charter School in Kensington.

Among the 2019 winners is Bartholomew Poindexter, an African American who teaches history at William W. Bodine High School for International Affairs in Northern Liberties.

Sakita Tinsley, an English teacher and adviser to the African American Advocacy Club and the Muslim Student Association at North Penn High School in Montgomery County, is also a recipient.

Other awardees include: Robin Alozie, who teaches the academic leadership seminar at Northampton’s Liberty High School; Freda Anderson, who teaches community activism at The U School; George Daka, an AP history teacher at Bensalem High School; Melissa DeClementi from Cinnaminson Middle School in Burlington County; Kristen Degregorio, a special education teacher at Frankford High School; Caroline Gimbel and Kathy Rafter, special education teachers at Abington High School; Darrell Gravatt, chairman of the driver’s education department at Caesar Rodney High School in Camden, Delaware; Andrea Green, a teacher at HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy in University City; Gavin Sikorski, a STEM teacher at Southmoreland Middle School in Westmoreland; and Bob Wolf, a physical education teacher at Cumberland’s Eagle View Middle School.

The awardees will be honored at a ceremony from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 11 at the National Liberty Museum.

Penn Alexander principal accepts position at SDP

The principal of a West Philadelphia school that won accolades as a National Blue Ribbon School from the U.S. Department of Education in 2016 is stepping down to accept a position in the School District of Philadelphia in June.

Penn Alexander School Principal Michael Farrell will become deputy chief for leadership development, which he described in a letter to the school community as a role in which he will be able to “support the professional development for all school leaders throughout the district.”

In the upcoming months, Penn and the SDP will provide further information about the transition, and dates for a community meeting.

“It has been an honor and privilege to work alongside of you on behalf of your children,” Farrell wrote in the letter dated April 2.

Penn Alexander, or the Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School, is a collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania, the SDP and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to build a model university-assisted, K-8 public school. Penn Alexander was honored as a National Ribbon School for narrowing the achievement gap.

Farrell served as leader of the K-8 school for three years after he replaced founding principal Sheila Sydnor.

Penn Teachers Institute receives $6M gift

The University of Pennsylvania’s Teachers Institute of Philadelphia received a $6 million endowment gift from the Ivywood Foundation to support operating costs and the program’s strategic plan to increase its size to nearly 100 teachers over the next four years.

Penn Provost Wendell Pritchett and TIP Director Edward Epstein will host a celebration at 4:30 p.m. on May 9 in the Glandt Forum of the Singh Center for Nanotechnology on Penn’s campus.

TIP is a teacher-centered professional development program designed to serve high-need schools.

Former mayor to speak at Parent and Family Seminar

W. Wilson Goode, the former and first African-American mayor of Philadelphia, will speak during a Parent and Family Seminar on special education and early intervention from 12 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, at the Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Ben Franklin Parkway.

The seminar will include panel discussions about special education law and early intervention services; behavioral health sciences; public, private, charter and Catholic school and childcare obligations under law; advocates, legal advice and parent rights; and community resource supports.

The program is hosted by Essence Allen-Presley, president of the Childcare Institute of America, and the Family Child Care Advisory Council.

The event is free. To register or get more information, email

Spelman College wins All-Star Challenge

Spelman College, Atlanta’s all-Black female institution, is the champion of this year’s annual Honda Campus All-Star Challenge, “30 Years of Advancing Dreams,” held last week during a tournament in the Los Angeles area.

High-achieving students from 48 HBCUs competed in the academic tournament. Spelman’s team beat out Florida A&M University’s team in the championship round.

Spelman won a $75,000 institutional grant. FAMU won a $30,000 grant. The third- and fourth-place winners, Jackson State University and Morehouse College, each won $20,000.

The Spelman team was coached by Daniel Bascelli and included Jessika Agyepong, Maati McKinney, Naomi Steplight and team captain Ariana Benson.

— Compiled by Ryanne Persinger

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