Students from Julie Erb’s kindergarten class at Martin Elementary School in New Kensington are looking forward to a special Friday party to honor their teacher.
Erb is one of two Alle-Kiski Valley educators who received statewide recognition this week for excellence in academics.
The Education Partnership named Erb its Elementary Teacher of the Year. Kiski Area East Primary School Principal Pat Marchand won Principal of the Year in the partnership’s third annual Teacher Appreciation Awards.
The winners were selected by public online voting, and the Education Partnership received more than 90 nominations.
Voting participants were able to select one educator per category and vote once daily.
The Education Partnership is a nonprofit organization serving public, charter and private schools with school supplies for students in need.
To date, it has distributed supplies totaling more than $35,000 to nearly 375,000 students from 157 schools in eight counties across Southwestern Pennsylvania.
For Erb’s 21 students, the win created a corridor of excitement as they prepared to celebrate with a classroom party.
“I told them we would have a Happy Meal party,” Erb said, referring to the popular kid meals.
Erb called the McDonald’s restaurant in the Parnassus section of New Kensington to preorder 21 Happy Meals, which she planned to buy for her students.
But the McDonald’s manager had other ideas.
“They called and told me they’re so happy and excited that I won this award and that McDonald’s would pay for the meals,” Erb said. “It’s so kind of them. I cried a little.”
Erb was notified of her award via email Monday evening while on the phone with her mother.
“I started to cry and told my mom, and we were both so elated,” Erb said.
Erb, 42, of Springdale was raised in Arnold.
A 1998 graduate of Valley High School, Erb graduated from Point Park University and received her master’s degree from Penn State University.
She has taught in the New Ken-Arnold District for almost 20 years.
“They have a pure joy in learning something new,” Erb said of her students. “They’re very proud when they can do something for the first time.”
New Kensington-Arnold Superintendent Chris Sefcheck praised Erb’s dedication to her students.
“She’s an excellent teacher in a building full of exemplary teachers, making this so special,” Sefcheck said. “Her efforts in and out of the classroom reflect the vision shared by our teachers at Martin. She’s well-deserving of this honor and represents the best part of our district.”
A Navy veteran and principal in the Kiski Area School District for almost 20 years, Marchand credits his co-workers and school environment as contributors to his successful leadership in the district.
Calling the win an “honor,” Marchand, a Norwin High School alumnus, said he’s proud of the work culture at Kiski Area.
“When you’re surrounded by great people, good things such as this award happen. I’ve been fortunate to be around incredibly talented and dedicated people throughout my career as an educator. This award speaks to the hard work that they accomplish with children every day,” said Marchand, whose parents were teachers.
Marchand has served as principal for 19 years at Kiski Area East Primary in Vandergrift.
He began his educational career teaching fourth grade for eight years.
He has served as principal at North Washington, Washington and Laurel Point elementaries — all in Kiski Area.
Marchand earned his doctorate of education in leadership and administration from Point Park University in 2020.
Kiski Area Superintendent Misty Slavic offered her congratulations Wednesday.
“We’re incredibly proud of Dr. Marchand. He exemplifies all of the virtues that we hope to instill in our Cavaliers: compassion, empathy, work ethic and school spirit,” Slavic said.
Marchand and Erb plan to attend the Teacher Appreciation Awards held June 9 at Southpointe Golf Club.
Joyce Hanz is a Tribune Review staff writer. You can contact Joyce at 724-226-7725 , firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .