A Pinelands Regional High School teacher has won the top prize in the National Liberty Museum's "Teacher as a Hero" contest.

Katherine Poerner was chosen as the Grand Prize Winner and honored at a special ceremony at the museum in Philadelphia on Saturday.

According to a press release,

She received her award, in the “Exceptional Teacher Award” category, after being nominated by PRHS Advanced Placement Program Coordinator Gina Frasca.

 

“I was surprised and humbled to hear that I had won a Teacher as Hero award. I do not teach to receive awards and recognition, but rather, to make an impact on my students’ lives. However, it’s nice to have both,” said Poerner.

 

In addition to receiving her award, Poerner, who teaches Advanced Placement (AP) United States History I and II, will be featured in an exhibit at the museum, and received $500 for being the grand prize winner. Seven additional teachers won the “Exceptional Teacher Award;” two other teachers also received separate awards. The “Exceptional Teacher Award” criteria included six qualities: fostering an appreciation for diversity in the classroom; teaching students how to resolve conflicts respectfully; giving students a deeper understanding of the relationship between rights and responsibilities; honoring student voice in the classroom and in public spaces; taking risks in order to remove an obstacle to a student’s liberty; and incorporating the above concepts in relationships with colleagues and community members.

 

Poerner has been teaching history at PRHS since 2004. She has been a leader in growing the school’s AP program; when she first introduced AP History in 2005, 11 students took the class, but this year, 84 students will take the AP History test. She leads AP Pep Rallies at the school – this year was the Fifth Annual – and also held a summit in her classroom for teachers and administrators earlier this year.

 

“Katherine has made an impact on each and every one of her students’ lives,” said Frasca. “Even if her students don’t get the best score on the AP exam, every one of them admires Katherine and comes back to tell her how her class prepared them for life after high school. She makes students think differently and it’s very effective. She always is on the cutting edge and trying something new, and provides a springboard for her students’ intellectual journeys.”

 

“We are so lucky to have Katherine Poerner teaching our students in the Pinelands Regional School District,” said Superintendent Robert Blake, Ed.D. “We are especially proud of Katherine, who always is professional, positive, and setting our students up for success.”

 

Blake noted that this was the second consecutive year that a district educator was named “Teacher as Hero”; former School Based Youth Services Director Carol Turano received an award last spring before retiring in the fall.

 

This is the tenth year that the National Liberty Museum has held the “Teacher as Hero” awards, sponsored by State Farm Insurance. The awards program recognizes dedicated teachers who inspire, motivate, and educate young people, according to its website, www.libertymuseum.org.