The 2020 awards program was presented at 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 24, 2020.
Emily Aikens Honored as PCSS Future Leader
Emily Aikens, Wyoming Seminary Upper School, Class of 2022, is being honored at the 67th Annual (first virtual) Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS) Conference with the PCSS Future Leader Award for her work as an intern of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Office during the spring and summer of 2020. She conducted research on legal aid across Pennsylvania, produced spreadsheets and memoranda summarizing that research, developed public education materials such as an opinion piece for statewide newspapers and a prezi presentation on the importance of pro bono, and provided feedback about PBA law-related education programs. Ms. Aikens’ impressive work was matched by her strong commitment to public service.
Benty Awarded PCSS Rendell Friend of Social Studies Award
Roman Benty, Youth Program Director at the Millvale Community Library, is honored with the PCSS Rendell Friend of Social Studies Award at the 67th Annual (first virtual) Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS) Conference. Benty is being honored for his work developing programming around youth voice, sustainability, civic engagement, and mentorship that provides students in Millvale with the opportunity to take their education beyond the classroom and into their community. Benty’s work creates space for young people to lead, learn, and build relationships. This work has yielded dynamic, student-lead initiatives such as a multigenerational celebration for Indigenous People's Day, and a youth advocacy group focused on critical thinking and community building. It embodies the spirit behind the Rendell Award which celebrates the mission of the Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement to teach the next generation to be engaged citizens through experiential learning.
Cleary Honored With PCSS Leo West Award
Tom Cleary, Penns Valley Publishing, is being honored the 67th Annual (first virtual) Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS) Conference. Cleary will receive the PCSS Leo West Award for Social Studies Awareness & Promotion for his long association as an exhibitor with PCSS dating back more than 50 years. Cleary’s focus on publishing Pennsylvania history gives him a special place at our annual conference. Only PCSS past president and award namesake Leo West has been involved with the organization longer than Cleary and come 2021, PCSS will start to give out an annual award named after Cleary called the PCSS Tom Cleary Conference Award, honoring others who have provided significant support to PCSS at its annual conference.
Corrigan Awarded PCSS President’s Award
John Corrigan, Roman Catholic High School (Philadelphia) Social Studies teacher, is honored with the PCSS President’s Award at the e 67th Annual (first virtual) Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS) Conference for involving his students in Draw the Lines, PA, a program designed to end gerrymandering in the Commonwealth by allowing students to draw their own legislative district maps. Corrigan has worked with DTL since it launched in the Fall of 2018 and is responsible for more than 200 completed maps from his students. Corrigan is described by Justin Villere, DTL Managing Director, as “an innovative teacher who is very focused on hands-on learning from his students as they learn how to be civically engaged.” Here's a short interview with Corrigan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58bBgol4ut0&ab_channel=DrawtheLinesPA.
Daka Honored With PCSS Hiberman Award
George Daka, AP Government Teacher in the Bensalem School District, is being honored at the 67th Annual (first virtual) Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS) Conference. Daka will receive the PCSS Ira Hiberman Award for Social Studies Excellence for using a wide variety of methodology to make real world connections between the material he is covering and his students. This active engagement provides the students with increased opportunities to “master” the materials of class. Daka was singled out for the Hiberman Award for a project that combines entrepreneurial spirit with the political realities faced by many within his community. Through a variety of resources including bringing in several keynote speakers, students in Daka’s class are tasked with a problem and encouraged to research the issues surrounding the problem and then devise possible solutions to the problem.
Gery Honored as PCSS Early Career Professional
Jade Gery, teaching Kindergarten at Saucon Valley Elementary School, is being honored at the 67th Annual (first virtual) Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS) Conference. Gery will receive the PCSS Early Career Professionalism Award for her excellent work in the field as she moves forward with her career. Gery was nominated for her award by PCSS’ Journal Editor and past PCSS Board member Jessica Schocker. Dr. Schocker, who taught Gery at Penn State-Berks, gave Gery the highest praise, noting “I’d be lucky to have her as my daughter’s teacher.”
Kubistek Awarded PCSS Secondary Teacher Award
Kenneth Kubistek, Riverview High School Social Studies Chairperson, is being honored at the 67th Annual (first virtual) Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS) Conference. Kubistek will receive the PCSS Secondary Teacher of the Year Award for his ongoing efforts to promote great social studies education in his district and beyond. Kubistek coordinates the Model United Nations, National History Day and the National Honor Society for his school. A former PCSS Board member and PCSS Executive Secretary, Kubistek has always reached out to make social studies come alive for his students.
McMahon Honored With PCSS Award
Bob McMahon, Veterans National Education Program (VNEP), is being honored at the 67th Annual (first virtual) Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS) Conference. McMahon will receive the PCSS Kay Atman Award for Social Studies Innovation for the excellent work VNEP has done in educating young people about the significant place veterans have held, and continue to hold, in America’s history. VNEP provides excellent videos, fact sheets, and other tools to help students appreciate and reflect on the service of veterans to our nation and the world. PCSS has been proud to feature VNEP at our annual conference for many years and we continue to promote the free materials VNEP provides across all our networks. VNEP’s response to the global pandemic, exploring how past pandemics have been handled around the world, is especially relevant today.
Rivertownes PA USA: Musselman-Vesta Iron Furnace Office Awarded PCSS Program of Excellence
The Musselman Vesta Furnace Office is being honored the 67th Annual (first virtual) Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS) Conference as the 2020 PCSS Program of Excellence. The Musselman Vesta Furnace Office is the last remaining structure of what was eight furnaces built within two and one miles along the Susquehanna River between the towns of Marietta and Columbia. “Hot blast” furnaces using anthracite coal allowed Lancaster County iron masters to use the natural resources of iron ore, limestone and anthracite coal mined from Pennsylvania’s massive deposits in the northeast regions to power the American Industrial Revolution, producing large amount of “pig iron” from 1845 to the early 1930s. Since the complete restoration of the office building, the center has been used as an educational center for the Lancaster County Iron industry, Pennsylvania Canal System and the Dr. June Evans Henry Clay Exhibit. With a huge variety of programs, the Musselman Vesta Furnace Office provides a vibrant educational resource and well deserves the PCSS Program of Excellence.
Quinn Awarded PCSS President’s Award
Thomas Quinn, Central High School (Philadelphia) Social Studies teacher, is honored at the 67th Annual (first virtual) Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS) Conference with the PCSS President’s Award for his work engaging young people in our democracy. The work of Quinn with the Caucus of Working Educators on student registration for the last presidential election led to Philly Youth Vote!, a group dedicated to getting students registered to vote. In our highly partisan times, Quinn has been falsely attacked by the Pennsylvania Republican Party for allegedly trying to indoctrinate his students. PCSS applauds Quinn, and other teachers, who are passionate about getting their students involved in the political process in nonpartisan ways.
West Honored With PCSS
Roberta West, a longtime law-related and civic education champion, is being honored at the 67th Annual (first virtual) Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS) Conference. West is receiving the Ruth Stas Award for Social Studies Sustainability. During 28 years at Temple University School of Law’s-Law, Education and Participation Project (Tempel-LEAP), first as a law student and through her retirement as Temple-LEAP Program Director a few years ago, West demonstrated an incredible passion for law-related and civic education. She promoted civic engagement well beyond the city’s borders, but her Philadelphia impact is most impressive. Almost every educator, political leader, lawyer and judge in Philadelphia since the 1990s has some connection to West and many received their first experiences with the law through her educational outreach efforts. Long before experts recognized that diversity was about more than race, West saw the importance of having all kinds of people, with all kinds of experiences, being engaged in civics. Her experiences growing up in Camden and dealing with a physical disability made her sensitive to the importance of hearing everyone’s voice.
Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Mia Perez participated in the Temple-LEAP mock trial program in high school where she interacted with West and was inspired to achieve. She shares those mock trial roots with Congressman Brendan Boyle and thousands of other young people, some who have become successful in the law and many who are making their difference in other fields, including education. If you worked with West while she was at Temple-LEAP, you still work with her forever forward since West embodies the concept of “paying it forward”. And what has she done in retirement? Not content to rest on her laurels, West went back to school to become certified to teach in the Philadelphia public schools. She is now teaching middle school English. She has also been elected to the PCSS Board. West is inspiring a new generation of young people and earns this award with her energy and enthusiasm for that task..
Zanoni Awarded PCSS President’s Award
Christopher Zanoni, Somerset Area High School Social Studies teacher, was honored at the 67th Annual (first virtual) Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS) Conference with the PCSS President’s Award for his long tenure as the Awards Chairperson for the statewide organization. Zanoni has also served on the PCSS Board and has helped plan numerous PCSS events. PCSS Executive Director and past PCSS President David Trevaskis said, “Chris is a wonderful educator and his commitment to PCSS reflects his commitment to his students and his community. PCSS has depended on his efforts for years and we learned long ago that if Chris promises to do something, it gets done.”