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Alumni Society Board Honors 2008 Award Recipients

by Pamela Batson

The College of Education Alumni Society Board of Directors is extremely proud to announce its 2008 award winners.PHP_4614.jpg


Excellence in Education Award - Stephen Bagnato

Dr. Stephen Bagnato is the recipient of the Excellence in Education Award. He attended Clarion State College where he earned bachelor degrees in Secondary English and Psychology in 1969. He continued his academic career at Penn State, graduating in 1975 with his master’s degree in School Psychology and again in 1977 with a doctorate in the field.

Since 1987, Bagnato has been a professor at the University of Pittsburgh and director of Early Childhood Partnerships at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. As director, he is responsible for maintaining the community-based consultation, training, technical assistance, and research collaboration services of the Children’s Hospital and the UCLID Center - the University, Community, Leaders, and Individuals with Disabilities Center. He is a tenured professor of pediatrics, professor of psychology, and a core faculty member at the UCLID Center.

Over the course of his distinguished career, Bagnato has received well over $10 million in consultancy and research grant funds and has published more than 120 articles in peer-reviewed journals. His research has resulted in direct service, mentoring, systems reform, and model program development efforts with state, regional, national, and international applications. He has authored or co-authored seven books and serves on numerous prominent editorial boards. Some of his current efforts involve collaboration with multiple U.S. and European universities on a jointly funded training grant in early childhood intervention.

Early in his career, he was a professor at Penn State and the Hershey Medical Center and taught courses at the University of Maryland and within interdisciplinary departments at the University of Pittsburgh.

Bagnato’s career has been marked by numerous accomplishments. He received the 1986 Braintree Hospital National Brain Injury Research Award for his research on preschool children with acquired and congenital brain injuries. He was the recipient of the 2001 University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award for his community-based consultation and research within his Early Childhood Partnerships program and in 2004, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette placed him on their list of “Top 48 Making a Difference in Education.”

More than 30 years after graduating from the College of Education, Bagnato continues to be an internationally respected professor and psychologist. Dr. Joseph Kovaleski, professor and director of the graduate program in School Psychology at IUP said, “Stephen is a person of high integrity and compassion who has made a positive impact on many people. Furthermore, his dedication, innovation, leadership, and outstanding contributions deserve the utmost respect and recognition.”


Leadership and Service Award - Richard Lamberski

Dr. Richard Lamberski is the recipient of the Leadership and Service Award. He completed his bachelor of science in Government, History, and Social Science at Duquesne University in 1971. He obtained his master’s degree in Instructional Media in 1972, and his doctorate in Instructional Systems in 1980, both at Penn State.

Since 1981, Lamberski has been a professor, adviser, and researcher at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). He has designed and/or taught over thirty different courses at IUP, Boston University, and Penn State. He has published in excess of 150 papers, articles, reports, instructional manuals, and creative works which focus upon his interest in personal and organizational marketing, consulting practices, online learning, advising systems, and experiential education. Lamberski has received directly, or in partnerships, over $200 million in research grants and contracts.

Lamberski has distinguished himself as an educator whose main focus has been the design and implementation of effective and efficient learning systems. He has designed, developed, and offered more undergraduate and graduate courses than any other faculty in the communications media department, was among the first at IUP to use the Web for hybrid teaching, and the first to develop and maintain a virtual adviser that has become the model at IUP and other academic institutions.

He is also known for his outstanding reputation as a teacher. Retired IUP President, Lawrence Pettit said that during his bi-weekly lunches with students, Lamberski was only one of 2 or 3 faculty of over 700 who was mentioned time and again by students as someone they respected as a role model. In 1992, Lamberski received Penn State’s College of Education Alumni Society Board Outstanding Teaching Award and in May 2008, he received IUP’s highest award for teaching, the Distinguished Teaching Award.

His significant service to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania includes participation on the Link-2-Learn project which resulted in substantial funds to aid technology development in schools and universities.

Dr. Kurt Dudt, chair and professor of communication media at IUP said, “Richard is highly sought after as an advisor. Faculty members regard him as an esteemed colleague and a mentor who is consistently available for wisdom and guidance. Richard is without peer.”


Outstanding Teaching Award - Beverly Glickman Gallagher

Beverly Glickman Gallagher is the recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award. She graduated in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Kindergarten Education. She earned a master’s degree in Education in 1980 from Temple University. Administrators, colleagues, and parents espouse her work ethic, energy, and enthusiasm for teaching.

Gallagher is a third grade teacher and coordinator of the Lower School Language Arts program at the Princeton Day School in Princeton, New Jersey. She developed the program Imagine the Possibilities and for the past thirteen years has invited authors, poets, storytellers, and illustrators to work at the school encouraging the love of arts and literature in student and colleagues. As coordinator, Gallagher oversees a language arts program that helps children become passionate readers, fluent writers, convincing speakers, and careful listeners. Gallagher believes language is the foundation upon which all disciplines draw.

In addition, Gallagher created a unique program for her colleagues across the country called Weaving Words. This writing retreat offers teachers an opportunity to hone their writing skills and to work with writers such as Georgia Heard, Jacqueline Woodson, and Ralph Fletcher. 

Andrew Hamlin, director of advancement at the Princeton Day School said, “She is a very special teacher and person whose example should be held high for all of us in the field of education. She imbues a whole classroom with a passion for learning and has invigorated an entire school with her teaching style, pedagogical leadership, and ability to marshal resources to benefit both students and colleagues.”

As evidence of her extraordinary teaching abilities, Gallagher has won several awards including the state of New Jersey’s Private School Teacher of the Year Award in 1999, and she was a member of USA Today’s All USA Teacher Team in 2000.


Outstanding New Graduate Award - Katie Ryan

Katie Ryan is the recipient of the Outstanding New Graduate Award. She graduated in 2006 with a bachelor of science degree in Special Education and is certified in Special Education and Elementary Education.

Ryan is a life skills support teacher at Upper St. Clair High School in Pittsburgh where she is responsible for a classroom of thirteen students with moderate to severe special needs. Most of the students struggle with social skills and several use assistive computer devices to produce speech. She runs a cutting edge program that is well respected in Allegheny County. Each Friday her students participate in a community-based training experience that allows the students to practice their learned skills in a real-world environment. Ryan oversees Finding Relationships in Every New Direction (FRIENDS) a high school club that pairs her students with regular education peers and gives them the opportunity to participate in activities in which they normally would not be involved. The club is currently the only one of its kind in Allegheny County.

Ryan provides careful guidance for her students and strong support for their families. During an annual holiday dinner her students made a verbal presentation about their work experiences to an audience of family, district staff, school supervisors, and members of the community. Given her students’ personal challenges, it is not an easy task but Ryan guides them with infinite patience and individualized support. In the two years since graduating, she’s already had a tremendous impact on her school and students.

Michelle Zirngibl, an administrator in the Upper St. Clair School District said of Ryan, “She approaches challenging situations with the right balance of confidence in her own abilities and appreciation of the abilities in others. She builds effective relationships with everyone around her and keeps those relationships focused on her ultimate goal—doing what’s best for her students. I often have to remind myself that Ms. Ryan graduated only two years ago because in all aspects of the job, she functions at the level of a seasoned teacher.”


Outstanding Student Teacher Award


Max Feldman

Max Feldman is a recipient of the Fall 2007 Outstanding Student Teaching Award. A Schreyer Honors student, he graduated in December 2007 with a bachelor of science degree in Secondary Education with an English/Communication option and a bachelor of arts degree in English. He was named to the Dean’s List while at Penn State.

Feldman did his student teaching at Williamsburg Central School, a rural school in central Pennsylvania. He spent sixteen weeks teaching secondary English.

His mentor, English teacher Melissa Kennedy, said, “Max is one of the finest young men I have ever met. He is compassionate, gentle, and considerate. He knows that students deserve a teacher who believes in them, and he feels deeply responsible for providing them with the tools to become independent learners. For Max, teaching is a calling.”

Student Teaching Supervisor Hazel Stryker said, “Mr. Feldman is organized, enthusiastic, and fully committed to education. He displays amazing respect for others’ opinions and is able to guide student discussions as they emerge as independent learners and critical thinkers.”

Feldman began working in the School District of Philadelphia this fall teaching English at Olney West High School. He hopes to become involved with drama, cross country, and track and field.


Kristina Policastro

Kristina Policastro is a recipient of the Fall 2007 Outstanding Student Teaching Award. She graduated in December 2007 with a bachelor of science degree in Elementary and Kindergarten Education with an Elementary Education option. She was named to the Dean’s List while at Penn State.

For her fifteen week student teaching assignment, Policastro was a first grade teacher in the Osborne Elementary School in the Quaker Valley School District in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, and she returned there this fall to teach kindergarten.

During her student teaching experience, Policastro arranged for a prominent children’s literature advocate to speak to the entire first grade class as part of a self esteem and bullying unit that she designed. As part of a Native American unit she turned the first grade hallway into a museum for her students to display their work. She also designed a science unit focusing on bats by integrating a multi-disciplinary approach to learning that incorporated music, movement, and creative writing.

Saundra Waseleski, grade one and head teacher at Osborne Elementary said of Policastro, “I cannot recall a more dedicated student in recent years. She is always upbeat, has excellent rapport with everyone on the staff, students, and parents, and has an unbelievable work ethic.”

Policastro was an active participant in parent conferences and faculty meetings and she assisted with the planning of a school assembly to honor members of the armed forces in the Quaker Valley community. After school, she served as a tutor for the Hard Work Club, an organization designed to help struggling students in upper grades.

Her mentor, Liz Boone, said, “Kristina’s genuine energy and joy toward teaching has been inspiring and contagious.”


Nicholas Phillips

Nicholas Phillips is a recipient of the Spring 2008 Outstanding Student Teaching Award. He graduated in 2006 from the College of Engineering with a bachelor of science degree in Mechanical Engineering. He returned to Penn State and in May 2008 earned a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a Science Education option while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

His internship consisted of teaching physics to both college preparation and honors students at Bellwood-Antis High School in Bellwood, Pennsylvania. Phillips incorporated YouTube videos to highlight concepts of motion problems and he used his guitar to show how pitch can be changed by wavelength and string tension. His organizational skills and previous knowledge of engineering contributed to his success in the classroom. He approached problem-solving in a systematic way and developed strategies that allowed his students to tackle problems with confidence and be involved in their own learning.

His mentor, Alice Flarend said, “Nick’s knowledge of physics is solid and deep and his mechanical engineering background allows him to bring more student-centered applications into the classroom.” She goes on to say, “He has a self-confidence and enthusiasm that makes him a natural teacher who is completely at home in front of a class. This self-assurance cannot be learned in a college classroom.  From day one, he interacted with the students proactively, personally, and professionally.”


Elaine Siddons

Elaine Siddons is a recipient of the Spring 2008 Outstanding Student Teaching Award. She graduated in August 2008 with a bachelor of science degree in Elementary and Kindergarten Education with an Elementary Education option. As the student with the highest GPA in her class, Siddons served as the College’s Student Marshal at the summer 2008 commencement ceremonies.

A native of New York, Siddons moved to Lewistown, Pennsylvania, where she worked at the local newspaper, The Sentinel, as a reporter, photographer, page designer, and editor for twenty five years. She started her journey at Penn State in the fall of 2006 as a returning adult student.

Siddons was a student teacher at Lewistown Elementary School during the 2008 spring semester where she worked under the guidance of fifth grade teacher, Susan Earp and Penn State supervisor Daniel McClenahen.

Earp called her lessons “rich with creativity” and cited many instances where she inspired her students. For lessons on the American Revolution, Siddons researched and wrote The Role of Mifflin County in the American Revolution. Using this text, students saw history come alive through an innovative program where they enjoyed Colonial related activities, such creating clothing, crafts, and newspapers, and playing games. The students were challenged to think critically about the American Revolution and showed interest in their local history. Siddons also joined her students on a four night environmental educational camp at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center.

Earp further commented, “Elaine is an enthusiastic and motivated educator who creates fun-filled lessons to meet the needs of her students. She insists on a high level of student involvement during her lessons. To ensure equitable learning for students’ various abilities, she incorporates a broad variety of activities to guarantee that all students are actively and appropriately engaged.”

Siddons returned this fall to Lewistown Elementary to teach second grade.