Education Secretary Announces Pennsylvania’s ‘2010 Teacher of the Year’

HARRISBURG – Michelle Switala, a mathematics teacher at Pine-Richland School District in Allegheny County, is Pennsylvania’s 2010 Teacher of the Year, Education Secretary Gerald L. Zahorchak announced today.

“Michelle inspires her students with her enthusiasm for teaching and love for mathematics and her job,” Secretary Zahorchak said. “As our teacher of the year, she also will serve as an inspiration to her fellow educators.”

Switala was chosen from among 12 finalists to represent Pennsylvania in the National Teacher of the Year presentation, scheduled for the spring.

She will serve as spokesperson for teachers across the state for the coming year, giving her the unique opportunity to represent the best in the education field.

“I come from a long line of teachers; my parents were public school teachers. There is nothing better than this profession, this truly is the best job,” Switala said after receiving the Golden Apple award during a ceremony this morning.

Switala chairs the mathematics department at Pine-Richland High School, teaches a range of mathematics courses and is instrumental in working on curriculum mapping.

Each teacher of the year finalist was introduced at the awards ceremony by a former student who related how the teacher positively impacted his or her life. Switala was introduced by Tom Robinson, a high school senior, who talked about what distinguished his teacher as one of the great teachers in Pennsylvania.

“Ms. Switala is a great teacher that truly inspires her students to enjoy and learn math,” Robinson said. “Not only does she expect her students to learn and challenge themselves, but she also expects the same of herself. She is currently taking classes to get a doctorate in mathematics education.”

Pennsylvania has participated in the teacher of the year program since 1965. The program is co-sponsored by the state Department of Education and the Pennsylvania chapter of the National State Teacher of the Year.

For more information on Pennsylvania’s teacher of the year, visit

Editor’s Note: A list of the finalists for the 2010 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year follows:

Michelle Switala, Mathematics, Pine-Richland SD, Allegheny Co. (winner)
Michael Bieber, 4th Grade, East Lycoming SD, Lycoming Co.
Barbara Cornibe, 3rd Grade, Pine-Richland SD, Allegheny Co.
Tammy Ficca, English, Manheim Township SD, Lancaster Co.
Stephanie Grande, Science, Abington SD, Montgomery Co.
Karen Kough, Kindergarten, Big Spring SD, Cumberland Co.
Michael Malthaner, Performing Arts/Music, Millcreek Township SD, Erie Co.
Rose McKevitt, First Grade, Centennial SD, Bucks Co.
William McWatters, Physics, Octorara Area SD, Chester Co.
Colleen Myers, 1st Grade, Purchase Line SD, Indiana Co.
Marcia Slaton, Reading/Literacy Coach, Shikellamy SD, Northumberland Co.
Jennifer Youmans, Business, Williamsport Area SD, Lycoming Co.

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