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Phoenixville EA member John Odell is in his second successful career after 24 years with the Army.
PA’s minimum teacher salary ($18,500) hasn’t increased since 1988. PA's minimum wage ($7.25), hasn’t been raised since 2009, and is lower than all neighboring states.
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Voice: March 2017
Two unfamiliar women came on to the stage and approached the podium at the Tamaqua Elementary School Veterans Day program.
Having been asked to MC the program at the last minute, Zachery Evans assumed they were presenting an award, and he walked to the side of the stage.
It was indeed an award presentation. The women were from the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National State Teachers of the Year, and they were there to surprise Evans with the chapter's first-ever Hilda M. Sundermann Award honoring the spirit and love of elementary teachers. The late Hilda Sundermann was a long-time elementary teacher in Pittsburgh.
"I listened to them describe Mrs. Sundermann, and how influential she was, not just through her students, but also through her peers and friends," Evans said. "They described how much she loved being an educator. Then they announced me as the recipient."
Evans had been set up for the surprise the night before when he got a call that the scheduled MC wouldn't be available, and asking if he would do it. He was told to make sure he dressed in a shirt and a tie, and to be "extra presentable."
"I was speechless," Evans said. "It's not a profession you go into to receive accolades. You do it because it's a passion. From what I've heard about Mrs. Sundermann, this is quite an honor."
Jolene Barron, a fellow teacher in Tamaqua, Schuylkill County, nominated Evans for the award.
"Mr. Evans is a strong, passionate educator who works hard to advocate for all students," Barron told Times News online. "He voluntarily chooses to work with students who struggle due to learning disabilities or behavior problems. His high expectations for academics, student behavior, and his ever-present encouragement prompt students to their best at all times."
Evans received a framed certificate and $250 to be used for his classroom, or as start-up money for an educational project.
And one other thing, he enthusiastically noted: "I got to high-five all 500 kids in the school."