Today, in partnership with Rotary District 7390, WITF announced the seven winners of the 2020 Teacher Impact Awards. The awards honor teachers for their exemplary dedication to their students and community.

Rotary District 7390 established the “Teacher Impact Awards” in 2005, with the idea to promote teaching and learning in its seven-county area. “We believe that teachers, especially the top excellent teachers, are often unrecognized and not sufficiently praised for all they do for their students. So, we resolved to give them the recognition they deserve,” explained Janice Black, chair of the project for Rotary District 7390.

“WITF was founded by a group of educators more than fifty years ago. We are proud to partner with Rotary District 7390 to celebrate today’s stellar teachers that emulate the care, professionalism and spirit that we love to be able to recognize,” said Debbie Riek, WITF’s director of education.

From a field of almost 250 nominations, one teacher (or team of teachers) was selected from each county within the Rotary’s district coverage.

COVID-19 added some challenges to the Awards’ timeline. The nominations, which were received by February 28, were scheduled to be judged in March. Winners would have been announced in April, with WITF television producers visiting each classroom and conducting interviews. A celebratory banquet was scheduled for May, where teachers and families could see the video features before the television special broadcast in June.

“Although the coronavirus delayed our celebrations and television productions, it will not impede us from honoring the 2020 winners now,” said Cara Williams Fry, WITF’s senior vice president and chief content officer.

In the new school year, WITF plans to work with teachers and schools to create a 30-minute “Teacher Impact Awards” program to air on WITF TV in November. Then WITF and Rotary District 7390 will celebrate both the 2020 and 2021 “Teacher Impact Awards” winners at a banquet in May 2021. WITF will accept nominations for next year’s “Teacher Impact Awards” in January 2021 at witf.org.

The 2020 “Teacher Impact Awards” winners, listed alphabetically by county:

County: Adams

Teacher: Justine Garman

School District: Littlestown Area School District

Grade(s) & Subject: Kindergarten

Excerpt from Nomination: She treats all of her students as if they are her own and helps them grow at their own pace. She is incredibly patient and kind! Next, I must say she went above and beyond for my son. She came to his karate class and participated for teacher appreciation week and she also came and watched him during his swimming lessons. This meant so much to him and to me also!

County: Cumberland

Teacher: Margeaux Cronce

School District: East Pennsboro Area School District

Grade(s) & Subject: 9th – 12th Grade Family and Consumer Science

Excerpt from Nomination: Everything Margeaux does is student-centered and promotes positivity and self-esteem to students while helping to teach them the skills they need to be successful adults in our society. …Margeaux possesses qualities that cannot be taught; they are embedded in her as a person and a human being. It is rare to find a teacher who is so invested in students and dedicated to all aspects of education – curriculum, character, achievement, caring, and perseverance.

County: Dauphin

Teacher: Timothy Carroll

School: Dauphin County Technical School

Grade(s) & Subject: 9th – 12th Grade Carpentry

Excerpt from Nomination: He sees the “whole student” – meaning, that he understands that all students come with their own backgrounds and struggles. He approaches students with unconditional kindness and shows them the support that they need personally as well as academically… There is no limit to his kindness, and he has provided many students with needed resources out of his own pocket, without question. …Mr. Carroll is a powerful force of positive for the Dauphin County Technical School; students, staff, and parents.

County: Lancaster

Teachers: Greg and Sheila Schmitt

School District: Solanco School District

Grade(s) & Subject: 3rd Grade

Excerpt from Nomination: By using motivation, teamwork, and individual accountability, the students take ownership in their education and their actions…[Mrs. Schmitt] knew and nurtured my child academically and emotionally. (The entire class feels this nurturing and encouragement from the Schmitts. They are the official class cheerleaders!!)… When I look back at our daughter’s experience in third grade, my wish is that every student had the opportunity to be taught by teachers like Greg and Sheila Schmitt. That every child knows that they can do more, to go “above and beyond”, to become lifelong learners. Just imagine what the world could become.

County: Lebanon

Teacher: Holly Serio

School District: Eastern Lebanon County School District

Grade(s) & Subject: 3rd – 5th Grade Chorus

Excerpt from Nomination: Mrs. Serio is a dedicated, enthusiastic, loving, and exciting educator. As she has the wonderful experience of teaching every student at the ELCO Intermediate School, she embraces each child as an individual for learning to help bring out the strengths in each person… Please consider this year’s recipient to be Mrs. Holly Serio for the simplicity in her genuine and sincere care for each and every child as an individual… all through the most powerful influence of life… music.

County: Perry

Teacher: Rick Knepp

School District: Susquenita School District

Grade(s) & Subject: 8th Grade Science

Excerpt from Nomination: He encourages his students to strive for the best they can be and always puts aside his work to help a student. He always makes time for everyone and does his best to attend all school events. Mr. Knepp is one of the best, most caring teachers I’ve ever had.

County: York

Teacher: Brenda Johnson

School District: Northeastern School District

Grade(s) & Subject: 7th – 12th Grade Strings and Orchestra

Excerpt from Nomination: Brenda Johnson is one of these extraordinary teachers: she is a dedicated instructor, a tireless advocate for school music and a visionary who has brought not only musical joy, but also the satisfaction of personal mastery and the pleasures of teamwork to so many students over her years at Northeastern.


About WITF

WITF is a trusted provider of public media news and programming for approximately 2.3 million citizens in 19 counties of Central Pennsylvania, encouraging children and adults to Live Inspired®. A member station of PBS and NPR, WITF children’s programming includes public television on WITF TV, WITFK PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and the PBS KIDS app. Other services include an English and Spanish website for caregivers of early learners at ready.witf.org, an EITC program Explore in the Classroom, WITF Kids Club and a variety of free family events that bring PBS KIDS Characters, STEAM activities and families together. WITF’s mission is to strengthen our communities by connecting us to each other and to opportunities for lifelong learning. For more information, visit witf.org.