Burrell Sixth-Grade Social Studies Teacher Finalist for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year

A Peters-RobertsThe nominations are in, and Burrell School District's Ashlee Peters-Roberts is a finalist for the Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year.

The 33-year-old 6th-grade Social Studies teacher at Charles A. Huston Middle School is among 12 finalists who will be honored this fall in Harrisburg when the winner of Pennsylvania's Teacher of the Year will be announced. The Pennsylvania Department of Education looks for teachers who demonstrate excellence in teaching and offer outstanding academic contributions to students.

"I am excited to represent Burrell School District, specifically my sixth-grade teammates," Peters-Roberts said. "This honor would not have been achieved without the great vision and initiatives that Burrell offers." 

Peters-Roberts teaches geography and world cultures and serves as Team Leader for the sixth grade PLC Team and as liaison to the Middle School Social Studies Department. She's been teaching for 11 years and will start her sixth year this fall in Burrell. She also serves as the LIGHT Center Coordinator for Huston Middle School, part of a Pittsburgh-based education initiative that brings communities together and creates new student-led programs and events.

Huston Middle School Principal Brian Ferra nominated Peters-Roberts for the honor. "Ashlee strives daily to meet the needs of all learners through a variety of instructional practices," Ferra said. "Her project-based learning approach to Geography is student-driven and evolves as each learner creates their own learning path. Ashlee is a model of how personalized learning can be utilized to engage and motivate middle school students."

He praised her as "an instructional leader among her peers" who effectively implements instructional technology into her lessons and is always willing to share with her colleagues.

For Peters-Roberts, the best part of being a teacher is helping students learn through personalized and project-based instruction, a key part of Burrell's philosophy. "I am happy to go to work every day in a culture that supports my view of education."

Peters-Roberts has worked with fellow team members in recent years to implement personalized interventions that help students build executive functioning skills and develop perseverance. "Ashlee truly looks at the whole child to make informed data-driven decisions," Ferra said.  

Peters-Roberts said she enjoys the challenges of her job, such as competing with changing expectations and interests in society. "What is popular with students one day is uncool the next, so it can be tough to make sure that class is relevant," she said. 

Peters-Roberts credits her colleagues at Huston Middle for her statewide honor.

"To me, this honor does not mean that I am the best teacher," Peters-Roberts said. "It means that my sixth-grade team is passionate about the work they do and that they should be recognized."   

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