Burrell teacher is a finalist for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year

A Burrell geography teacher is one of a dozen finalists for the 2023 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education this week announced the names of 12 educators, which included Ashlee Peters-Roberts, a teacher at Burrell’s Huston Middle School.

The state’s Teacher of the Year program recognizes excellence in teaching by honoring K-12 teachers in public education who have made outstanding academic contributions to Pennsylvania’s school-age children, according to the Education Department.

Peters-Roberts, 33, of Everson, Fayette County, has been a teacher in Burrell for five years. Previously, she taught in the Kiski Area School District.

She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and California University of Pennsylvania, respectively.

“I am honored to have been nominated,” Peters-Roberts said. “I am excited to represent Burrell teachers like me and innovative teaching doing everything we can for our students to want to be at school as we are teaching career-ready skills.”

While the new map technologies offered by Google and other platforms bring the world to students, Peters-Roberts’ classes enhance the educational experience with world cultures and history.

“To make it relevant to the kids and connect it to real life and help them to understand the historical and cultural context is fun but challenging,” Peters-Roberts said.

Burrell administrators were excited to learn about Peters-Roberts’ honor as a finalist.

“Ashlee is a learner-focused teacher who uses collaborative tools to promote student agency, engage her learners and build community in her classroom,” Superintendent Shannon Wagner said.

Huston Middle School principal Brian Ferra nominated Peters-Roberts for the award.

Ferra said it wasn’t a surprise that the state named her a finalist and that it was a fantastic accomplishment for Peters-Roberts and the district.

“Her project-based learning approach to geography is student-driven and evolves as each learner creates their own learning path,” Ferra said. “Ashlee is a model of how personalized learning can be utilized to engage and motivate middle school students.”

Additionally, he said, she works well with instructional technology that she is willing to share with colleagues.

Peters-Roberts is a human rights advocate. As such, she is coordinator of Burrell’s Leadership through Innovation in Genocide and Human Rights Teaching (LIGHT). Burrell’s LIGHT Center at the Huston Middle School is one of 15 centers in Western Pennsylvania with a dedicated, permanent space to remember victims of the Holocaust, human rights violations and genocide.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, mthomas@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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