- Cheltenham School District
EP's Dr. Andrew Vassall Nominated for PA Teacher of the Year
A fifth grade teacher who’s been at Elkins Park for six years, Dr. Andrew Vassall has been nominated for the 2023 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year award. The nomination from a community member indicates Dr. Vassall is one of the state’s best, most talented and caring teachers. Dr. Vassall accepted the nomination and completed the necessary forms to move onto round one of the competition. The Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year celebrates excellence in teaching, honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the young people of Pennsylvania, and serves as the selection process for the National Teacher of the Year award.
The 1990 Cheltenham High School graduate and author of the children’s books “The Black Crayon” and “Family Means Love” will face a rigorous selection process, including scoring criteria incorporating the components of the Standards Aligned Systems to validate his instructional methods in the classroom and ability to communicate educational philosophies and issues to a wide audience.
“As an educator, I understand the importance of developing adequate college and career readiness skills because they are essential for developing successful scholars,” said Vassall, who earned his master’s degree and doctorate in reading and literacy from Capella University. “In my daily instructional practice, I make sure students are developing five important soft skills: self-motivation, critical thinking, knowledge integration, perseverance, and communication.
“The question I ask is ‘how can I inspire my students and sustain a culture of learning?’ Developing trust amongst my students and parents/guardians allows me to help a student create their own personalized learning goals which develop a student’s intrinsic motivation.”
Vassall, who had a learning disability he persevered through as a student, embraces his responsibility to be a role model for his students.
“I love working with children,” he said. “Every year, I have the opportunity to plant a seed in my students’ learning development. Growing up, I didn't see a lot of teachers that look like me. African American male teachers make up 2 percent of the teaching profession. So when students see me, they see how those five soft skills for college and career readiness skills were utilized to receive the highest degree of honor in education.”
The National State Teachers of the Year-Pennsylvania Chapter, a service organization representing educators, will name 12 finalists and the eventual winner. Being a Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year and nominee for the National Teacher of the Year is a great honor and responsibility. Regional finalists for Teacher of the Year and the national nominee, in particular, will be asked to participate in a variety of activities, such as serving on Pennsylvania Department of Education committees and making presentations to various groups. The national nominee will also be invited to participate in state nominee activities.
PA Teacher of the year semifinalists will be announced in the middle of February.