PA Educator Receives National Teaching Excellence Award
Friday, November 18, 2022
This has been National Education Week, and a Pennsylvania high school teacher is among only five educators nationally to receive one of the profession's highest honors.
The Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence went to Kevin Gallagher, a high school computer science, math and statistics teacher at Keystone Oaks High School in Pittsburgh. It comes with a $10,000 award, and Gallagher will be featured in a mini-documentary from the National Education Association Foundation.
Gallagher, who has been teaching for 26 years, noted that the award recognizes leadership, not only within the classroom but for community involvement.
"Typically, the award is for advocacy for the profession. It's advocacy of our students - levels of intelligence, of diversity, gender, race - any equity in the classroom," he said. "Also for my contribution to my colleagues too, like professional development that I've provided for them."
Gallagher said he's dedicated to increasing diversity, and has worked to eliminate some barriers to learning, such as prerequisites that could otherwise keep students from enrolling in statistics and computer science classes. He was nominated for the award by the Pennsylvania State Education Association.
The award is named after Horace Mann, a member of Congress in the 1800s who advocated for public education.
Gallagher said one of his many responsibilities as an educator is to always encourage students to do their best and use their creativity in their coursework.
"The things that we need to do on a daily basis to keep students motivated, to keep students engaged - it's a very distractible world," he said. "In my classroom, [I'm] always looking to keep students engaged; what do they like to do? They get to code, they get to do computer science exercises in their own personalization."
For example, he said, his school district is highlighting an event Dec. 8 called a Night of Code, when families with kids from kindergarten through eighth grade can take part in coding activities for computer science classes.
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