East Notables

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Seton Hill University has honored six educators with an inaugural Excellence in Teaching Awards:

Mark J. Campayno of Sterling, Va., began his music career in 1982 by teaching himself guitar. In 1999, after years of working as a goldsmith, he pursued a degree in music education and graduated from Seton Hill University in 2003. He worked as director of the guitar department at River Bend Middle School in Sterling. In 2005, he was recognized by then-Virginia Gov. Mark Warner for teaching excellence. In 2010, he moved to Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Va., and has more than doubled enrollment in the guitar program there.

Mr. Campayno owns and operates his own performance school, StudioRock of Northern Virginia in Sterling.

Sister Mary Helen Meyer of Greensburg entered the Sisters of Charity in 1939 and earned a bachelor's degree from Duquesne University and a master's from the University of Notre Dame. She began her 70-year teaching career in Diocese of Pittsburgh schools. Sister Mary Helen was also an instructor in chemistry at Seton Hill during the summer sessions in the 1960s. In 1967, she was assigned to teach biology and chemistry at Greensburg Central Catholic High School, a position she held for 45 years. A recipient of numerous awards, Sister Mary Helen retired last year at age 92. The "Sister Mary Helen Meyer Excellence in Chemistry Award" is presented each year to a senior at GCC.

Helen Normile Quinlan, a native of New York, now of New Hampshire, followed in the footsteps of her mother and attended Seton Hill where she graduated in 1959. Her mother, Catherine Franey Normile, graduated in 1930. Mrs. Quinlan was a student at Seton Hill's Cadet Teaching Program, in which -- in exchange for teaching in one of the schools operated by the Sisters of Charity -- she earned college credit. She lived on campus and taught third grade at Saint Bruno School in Greensburg. For 35 years, Mrs. Quinlan taught in several states, including in Mont Vernon, N.H., where she introduced the first Readiness Program. She was also an advocate for special needs children in New Hampshire and as a board member for the Area Agency for Developmental Disabilities there. She started a club for special needs individuals, which continues to meet after 40 years.

Barbara Nolan Reilly, a native of Latrobe, began her undergraduate career at Seton Hill with the intention of becoming a lawyer. She was accepted to law school, but her father, Daniel P. Nolan, a professor of chemistry at Saint Vincent College, and her mentors at Seton Hill encouraged her to complete her English degree. Her teaching career started in 1948 at Mt. Pleasant High School. She also taught in schools in Indiana, New Jersey and Delaware, where she spent 30 years teaching at St. Mark's High School. She retired in 2010. A scholarship in her honor has been established at St. Mark's.

Marguerite Fiori Slavonia, a Leechburg native, graduated from Seton Hill College in 1964 -- some 30 years after her mother, Florence Favero Fiori, graduated. Mrs. Slavonia worked as a teacher in Chicago before switching tracks to focus on family. After moving to Diablo, Calif., she began volunteering in the office of St. Isidore School, the parochial school her sons attended. This opportunity evolved into a 27-year career with St. Isidore, as a volunteer, teacher and administrator. She created the school's first kindergarten in the fall of 1982, teaching Spanish and launching a Kindergarten Spring Musical. The musical is unique because it represented the culmination of a year's worth of learning: Students take field trips to theatrical productions, help write scripts and develop language arts as they learn how to brainstorm. In 1995, Mrs. Slavonia was chosen as one of 12 teachers in the country to be honored with the National Catholic Education Association's Distinguished Teacher Award.

She continues to teach music to kindergarteners and now is also school vice principal.

Kara Stenger of Latrobe is an autistic support teacher at Baggaley Elementary School in the Greater Latrobe School District. She received her bachelor's degree from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and master's from Saint Vincent. Ms. Stenger taught in an emotional support classroom in Virginia before moving to Latrobe to teach in a learning support classroom, eventually transitioning to autistic support. For the past nine years, she has also taught a a summer program for the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit at Clairview School. Last year, through fundraising and grant writing, Ms. Stenger was able to initiate the addition of a multisensory room at Baggaley. This room was one of the first of its kind in Westmoreland County public schools. It provides a controlled space where students with autism can interact with their environment since many of the children have difficulty with sensory processing.

A ceremony and reception for the honorees was held at the university's Performing Arts Center earlier this month.

More than $2,175 in grants were given to Greater Latrobe School District from the Dr. & Mrs. William D. Stavisky Fund. The fund was established in 2009 to carry out the district's emphasis on academics, arts and athletics, and grants are given to teachers who start programs.

Kathy Kerlin, Title I and literacy coordinator, received $850 for Camp Pathfinder, a new summer program to support the transition of at-risk students entering junior high.

Kindergarten teacher Laurie Golobish received $800 to support the purchase of supplemental math material for kindergarteners.

Physical education teacher Anthony Mehalic received $525 to purchase equipment to support the Fitness Across the Curriculum program.

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