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Pennsylvania's Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis recently announced that Ryan Devlin, a 2007 Waynesburg University secondary English education alumnus, is one of the 12 finalists for Pennsylvania's 2013 “Teacher of the Year.”

“These finalists for Teacher of the Year, and many of the professionals in our schools, are dedicated to improving the learning environment for every student and inspiring students to reach for excellence,” Tomalis said. “Teachers play a crucial role in the lives of their students and, as such, they have the responsibility of preparing students for a successful future, both academically and personally.”

The finalists must also be prepared to effectively carry out the duties of the state's Teacher of the Year, which includes being the Pennsylvania's nominee for National Teacher of the Year.

“I truly believe that many of our nation's most passionate and innovative educators are working in Pennsylvania schools,” Tomalis said. “The teachers who have been chosen as finalists for Teacher of the Year are proof of that.”

Devlin is the youngest educator to have been nominated for this award, which comes as no surprise considering the fact that Devlin has known since the age of 8 what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

“I spent a lot of my childhood and adolescent years daydreaming about the type of teacher I wanted to become,” he said. “Teaching seemed like the perfect outlet for my creativity, and I wanted to do something that would enable me to make a difference in the world.”

After graduating from Waynesburg, Devlin was hired as an English teacher at Brockway Area High School in his hometown of Brockway, Pa. Devlin teaches British Literature, Creative Writing, Digital Media and Computer Science. He also serves as the advisor to the senior high gifted program.

In 2009, Devlin completed his master's degree in Education at California University of Pennsylvania. The following year he was hired as the chair of the English Department at Brockway Area School District. On top of teaching and coaching cross country (a program he created at Brockway in 2008), he now oversees the curriculum, plans professional development and analyzes student data for the English Department.

He also plays an active role in introducing new technology to both students and staff at Brockway. Devlin strives to develop 21st century learning skills through creating a classroom environment that fosters creativity, collaboration, communication, innovation, critical thinking and problem solving. As a result, Devlin received the 2009 and 2012 Pennsylvania State Education Association's Innovative Teaching Grant.

The 12 finalists for Pennsylvania's 2013 “Teacher of the Year” were nominated by students, parents, their colleagues and members of their community who wished to recognize their achievements in and outside the classroom. The winner will be announced in December.


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Waynesburg University Stover Scholars recently visited U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Swiss Ambassador Manuel Sager in Washington, D.C.
Justice Sotomayor urged the students to pursue their passions while contributing to the broader community. Sotomayor hinted that one person in the room might one day become a member of the Supreme Court. Sotomayor emphasized that the opportunity to serve should be recognized as a privilege and that it is worthwhile to give of oneself to fulfill his or her vocation.
 
The Stover Scholars, chosen for their interest in the relationship between the U.S. Constitution and Christian Ethics, asked Sotomayor questions about the role of her own experiences, her faith and the personal challenges of being in the public eye.
 
"When people are presented with the privilege of serving the public, they have an obligation to take it," she said.
 
"Meeting Justice Sotomayor was more than memorable to me," said Chase Ayers, a pre-law major from Charleroi, Pa. "Hearing her words conveyed a special meaning that I could not have received from a book."
 
The group then visited Ambassador Sager at the Swiss Embassy. They discussed Switzerland's system of government, strong economic foundation, neutral foreign policy, and Swiss-American relations.
 
"Hearing about Switzerland from the Swiss perspective was unique," said Jeremy Hinkle, a freshman history major from Washington, Pa.
 
The students then met several prominent Washington government officials and scholars at the historic City Tavern Club in Georgetown. Thomas R. Johnson, a partner at the Pittsburgh law firm K&L Gates, spoke on the attributes of strong leadership.
 
“Mr. Johnson reminded us that when we are called to fulfill a duty, it is our civic obligation to do so,” said Daniel Czajkowski, a criminal justice and political science major from Frederick, Md.
 
Reflecting on the trip, Zander Shashura, a business major from Fredericktown, Pa., said, “On this trip, we were surrounded by people who are carrying out what they and the Stover Program preach.” Shashura continued, “Talking to them and listening to the stories they have to tell of their own lives gives us all examples to follow as we aspire to be leaders and change the world around us.”
 
Zachary Mason, a secondary education major from Waynesburg, said, "Our trip to D.C. was a truly remarkable experience that I will never forget. Not every person has the privilege to meet a Supreme Court Justice, meet a foreign Ambassador and have dinner with so many distinguished individuals."
 
Dr. Lawrence M. Stratton, director of the Stover Center for Constitutional Studies and Moral Leadership, said, "I was proud of the Stover Scholars as they conversed with Justice Sotomayor, Ambassador Sager, Attorney Johnson, and the other individuals who are making a difference for civilization. I hope that the Stover Scholars will aspire to follow in their footsteps and that the officials will cherish memories of meeting Waynesburg University students."
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Maya Angelou once said that “Any book that helps a child form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” Without encouragement to read, some children may grow up never knowing the joy of becoming lost in a good book. To foster this growth, the senior Waynesburg University Bonner Scholars recently donated 400 contemporary children's books to the Reading Clinic, an annual spring event hosted by the Department of Education for local children.

To complete the project required by each Bonner Scholar class, students must identify a need in the community by impacting and educating the members. For Leeann Danley, a senior Bonner Scholar and elementary special education major, the need was obvious.

Observing how empty the shelves were in the Reading Clinic, Danley proposed that for their project, the senior Bonner Scholars should raise money and purchase books to contribute to the cause. Her classmates were quick to agree, due to the impact of the donation.

“I was astonished by the response that I received for this project,” Danley said. “So many of the senior Bonners understood the need and took action.”

For several weekends in October and November 2011, the senior Bonner Scholars collected monetary donations from patrons at Walmart and Giant Eagle. As they were collecting the gifts, they were able to tell the community members about the need for a literacy program and the need for the books.

Through their efforts, more than $1,000 was raised. With this money, the group scattered to different libraries and book stores in the area to purchase a variety of books. They attempted to find multiple copies to give to children who participate in the clinic. In total, 400 books were added to the Reading Clinic library.

Dr. Fran Boyd, associate professor of education and director of the Reading Clinic, appreciates the additional books and the continued support of her dream.

“At the clinic, we give the children tutorial skills, but we also teach them to learn to love it,” Boyd said. “In a world of distractions, we want them to pick up a book.”

Each book is marked with a label indicating that it belongs to the Reading Clinic, but an additional insert was included to honor the students that worked diligently to provide for the community. A thank you to the senior Bonner class is visible to all who read the donated books.

Debra Clarke, chair of the department of education, thanked the students profusely for their generous support.

“Their generous donation of many, many new books for the clinic is a wonderful gift and legacy,” Clarke said. “Long after they leave Waynesburg University, children in this community will be reading the books that they have donated. The gifts will help others learn to teach and will help others learn to love to read.”


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Vira Heinz

The Vira I. Heinz Scholarship for Women in Global Leadership has awarded four Waynesburg University women the opportunity to fulfill dreams of learning and serving abroad.

In 2012, four women will dedicate their summers to continuing Waynesburg University's mission of faith, serving and learning in faraway cultures: one as an intern, two as young teachers and all as students of new experiences and cultural differences.

Waynesburg University has been awarded four scholarships which will afford the women the opportunity to experience a journey unlike any other. The scholarships offer the recipients a combined total of $24,000 in scholarship money.

Overseen by The Heinz Endowments and administered through the University of Pittsburgh's Center for International Studies, the Vira I. Heinz Scholarship for Women in Global Leadership started as one $1,000 check given each fall to a junior woman at an area university. Today the Vira I. Heinz Foundation offers several $5,000 scholarships to women at 16 local and regional colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

The four recipients of the 2012 Vira I. Heinz Scholarship for Women in Global Leadership include Jenna Griffith, Angele Hagy, T'Erika Perry and Hannah Szymanik. Through the scholarship, these women will travel and study overseas through three study abroad programs.

Griffith, a junior nursing major from Cambridge, Ohio, will spend her summer in San Ignacio, Belize. From June 2 to June 30, she will serve as an intern in the San Ignacio Hospital to further the nursing skills she has acquired at Waynesburg University.

“Although Belize has many natural beauties, the country still struggles against poverty, inequality and a lack of opportunity,” Griffith said. “This scholarship will enable me to serve and learn in a country where medical assistance is needed and will help shape my life as a nurse.”

Both Hagy, a sophomore early childhood and special education major from Pittsburgh, Pa., and Szymanik, a sophomore early childhood and special education major from Mount Holly Springs, Pa., will spend the summer in Cape Coast, Ghana, through ProWorld, an international study program. The women will volunteer as teaching assistants at an elementary school for five weeks during the months of May and June.

Through Seattle Central Community College, both Hagy and Szymanik will take courses in international education. For Szymanik, the Vira I. Heinz Scholarship for Women in Global Leadership means a jump start to her future.

“A long term goal of mine is to live in Africa as a missionary, and this scholarship allows me to begin that journey,” Szymanik said. “I am excited to start showing love to underprivileged children in a part of the world that has captured my heart.

Perry, a sophomore international studies major from Baltimore, Md., will study in Barcelona, Spain, May 29 to July 27. She will forever refer to this experience as a cotillion of sorts due to an unfulfilled family tradition.
“In my family we have a tradition of holding a cotillion for the women in the family as they come of age,” Perry said. “During the senior year of high school, the women are acknowledged as adults and given the opportunity to travel to surrounding states.” 

Because her mother passed away during her junior year of high school, Perry never received her cotillion celebration.

“Vira I. Heinz is like a cotillion for me,” Perry said. “It is my opportunity to forge a bond as an adult with the women in my family; this program is giving me a chance to get an experience I thought I missed out on.”
The four women were required to submit an application, academic and personal letters of reference and a proposal for their intended plans. Applicants were also required to explain how the trip related to their academic areas of study and future plans.

Each recipient is required to attend two weekend retreats, one before traveling and one upon return, as well as a community engagement experience with an international focus after traveling. These requirements encourage the women to think deeply about their study abroad experience and apply the world lessons to life at Waynesburg University.


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As servants for God, we are called to continually give to others. In 1 Peter 4:10, the Bible states “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.” At Waynesburg University, students are taught to provide assistance using their specific gifts and talents. Each semester, Community Impact Grants are awarded during Who's Your Neighbor Week to students who want to make a difference in the community. Since the fall of 2009, students have been able to see a need within the local community and apply for a grant to aid their choice of project.

This year, three organizations received a total of $3,000. The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), Freshman Bonner Scholars and the 2011 Vira Heinz recipients were selected by a committee consisting of university faculty, staff and administration based on the project's value to the community, the project's fundamental short- and long-term impact and its planning and implementation process.

Sarah Brandstetter, Bonner Scholar coordinator and a member of the selection committee, believes that these grants are a blessing to the community and the students through the application of Waynesburg University foundations.

“It is so exciting to see students connect faith, service and learning through civic engagement,” Brandstetter said. “All three organizations have researched our local community to find its needs and have come up with exciting ways to educate and excite the community about these issues.”

Individuals were able to apply for a $500 grant; classes, groups or organizations could apply for a $1,000 grant. Grant recipients are required to complete their project within the current semester and are eligible for one award per school year. Candidates were required to fill out an application that included a budget and a recommendation from a non-family member.

After being reactivated last fall, the Council for Exceptional Children sought to build relationships and a sense of community between local families with students with special needs and University students. The $1,000 grant received will support Activity Day on campus planned for April 21.

Shannon Bartley, junior elementary education major and CEC president, is grateful for the additional funds that will make this day a success.

“We hope this day we have planned not only provides a fun day for the children, but also shows others that people with disabilities are just like everyone else and deserve to be included,” Bartley said.

The University's freshman Bonner class received $1,000 for its Distractions While Driving project. The goal of the project is to raise awareness about the risks of distracted driving through the “Arrive Alive Tour.” The Arrive Alive Tour enables community members to climb into a vehicle and virtually experience distracted driving through a simulator.

Freshman Bonner Scholar and psychology major Kyle Digiandomenico anticipates the positive effects of the simulation.

“We believe if we can save one life by providing individuals with the experiences and information which enables them to rethink their choices, our mission was accomplished,” Digiandomenico said.

The 2011 Vira Heinz recipients received $1,000 for their Mondo Giusto and Garden: Ethical Consumerism and Sustainable Living project. Mondo Giusto will educate the community and campus about practices of fair trade, buying locally and living sustainably. In addition, the Vira Heinz recipients will hold a dedication ceremony for a garden which will serve as a beautiful and sustainable connection between the campus and community.

Megan Peebles, a 2011 recipient and junior interactive design major, hopes their event will showcase the importance of buying locally and cause community members to consider fair trade.


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