Hampton teacher 1 of 12 finalists for Pennsylvania’s Teacher of the Year award

Wednesday, May 13, 2020 | 2:51 PM

A longtime educator with the Hampton Township School District is among the dozen finalists for the 2021 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year award, Gov. Tom Wolf announced today.

Mathematics teacher Kathleen Dickensheets, who has been with the district for 33 years, is one of three teachers from western Pennsylvania selected as a finalist for the prestigious award.

“Teachers impact students far beyond the traditional classroom, connecting with them and inspiring them during some of our most difficult times,” Pedro A. Rivera, the state education secretary said in a news release announcing the finalists.

“We witnessed that extraordinary commitment this spring as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, with educators stepping up to make sure students and communities are fed, comforted and educated,” the secretary said.

Dickensheets attended kindergarten through 12 grade at Hampton and was salutatorian for the Class of 1982. She graduated from Duquesne University in 1986.

Dickensheets said being named a finalist is an accolade she shares with her colleagues.

“There are countless Hampton teachers who are deserving of recognition and a Teacher of the Year award,” she said. “The same is true of our scholars, support staff, administration and school board. I am proud to be just one person in the Hampton team.”

The team, she said, is focused on doing whatever is needed to “foster student learning, growth and personal well–being in a respectful manner.”

“Every decision I make is based on the answer to the question: ‘What is best for this student at this time?’” she said.

Dickensheets’ teaching philosophy is “to have a student-centered classroom where all students are respected, valued, safe and motivated to learn.”

“One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching is getting to witness students who initially don’t feel confident in their learning or self-worth begin to thrive, learn and respect themselves,” she said. “I’m saddened when students don’t recognize their self–worth as a person and learner.”

Dickensheets was nominated for the award by Hampton student Brooke Hathhorn.

“The Hampton school community is thrilled to have learned that Kathy Dickensheets has been nominated as a finalist for teacher of the year in Pennsylvania,” superintendent Michael Loughead said. “Mrs. Dickensheets is a consummate professional educator that has made a positive difference in the lives of thousands of students at Hampton High School during her stellar career. We are extremely proud of her nomination and we wish her very best as a finalist for teacher of the year in Pennsylvania.”

The other finalists from western Pennsylvania are Nicole Darroch, Ambridge Area School District, Beaver County; and Denise Leigh, McGuffey School District, Washington County.

The 2021 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year will be announced in December.

The 2020 Teacher of the Year is Joseph Welch, a middle school history teacher in the North Hills School District.