Two Rose Tree Media School District faculty members are among a dozen finalists chosen from across the state to be in the running for 2017 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera announced this week.

They are Phoebe Simmington, a sixth-grade mathematics teacher at Springton Lake Middle School in Upper Providence and Sandra Lin, a Mandarin Chinese teacher at Penncrest High School in Middletown. Simmington has been on the Rose Tree Media School District faculty for 17 of her 19 years as a teacher. Lin has been in the school district for six of her 14 years in the teaching profession.

“The honor of being selected as a finalist in the competition for the 2017 PA Teacher of the Year speaks volumes about these two professionals. It says that they are respected and admired by their colleagues, our parents and, most of all, by their students,” said Rose Tree Media Superintendent James M. Wigo Sr.

Penncrest High School Principal Ralph Harrison explained that his faculty nominated teachers and voted on the top two nominees in selecting Lin for the honor. Simmington was selected by Springton Lake Middle School Principal Robert Salladino.

“When I visit Mrs. Simmington’s classroom, I am always impressed with the level of thinking and engagement that I observe,” said Salladino. “She brings a high degree of creativity to her lesson design and differentiates for students at a variety of levels, including students that need more challenge and rigor.”

Simmington said, among the reasons she loves teaching, is being able to witness when students finally understand concepts with which they have been struggling

She also enjoys “sharing my love of math with my students and, in turn, hearing from some of them about how they used to hate math but now they love math and working with children and learning about them as students and as children.”

Lin sees her job at Penncrest High School as “ a real-life example of East successfully meeting West.”

“I have experienced the joy and the fulfillment of being a daily participant in the development of a child’s life,” said Lin.

She was especially touched last summer when a winner of a Chinese scholarship returned from her year of study in China and thanked Lin for her guidance, noting that she had met many friends, experienced new cultures and established an international network for the rest of her life that was “unimaginable.”

“I thought to myself, ‘Thank you for your validation and helping me to reconfirm the purpose of my life as a teacher,’” said Lin.

Co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania chapter of the National State Teacher of the Year, the Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year program was founded in 1995. The 2017 winner will be announced in December. Rebecca Foxwell, a first-grade teacher at Lickdale Elementary School in Lebanon County, is 2016 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year.

The winner and the finalists are expected to participate in such activities as making presentations to various groups, serving on Pennsylvania Department of Education committees and participating in the annual Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year Educational Forum.

Semi-finalists and finalists are chosen by committee members of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Network of State Teachers who review and score nomination packets. They are guided and assisted by the Pennsylvania Department of Education a non-voting member of the chapter. Among criteria considered are components of Standards Aligned Systems utilized in the candidate’s instructional methods and the ability to communicate educational philosophies and issues to a wide audience. Nominees must also play an active role in school and community and have the respect of students, parents and colleagues who are eligible to nominate teachers for 2018 by completing a form at by Dec. 15.

The Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year will be a candidate for National Teacher of the Year, chosen by a national selection committee representing major national education organizations. The National Teacher of the Year serves as a spokesperson and advocate for the teaching profession and is released from classroom duties for the year.

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