“All-star” is a title for those who excel on the playing field. For three area teachers, their playing field is the classroom.

Carmichael Area High School’s Kevin Willis, Intermediate Unit 1 Waynesburg’s John Kopp and Southmoreland Middle School’s Gavin Sikorski were recently recognized as “All Star Teachers” for their exceptional classroom efforts.

The “All Star Teachers” program is a product of a partnership between Chevron, the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pirates Charities, The Grable Foundation, the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, Intermediate Unit 1 and Kidsburgh to recognize exceptional pre-K to 12th grade teachers in southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia.

In its inaugural year, the program has highlighted 18 winning teachers for making a “significant difference” in their students’ lives by providing engaging instruction and curriculum, encouraging lifelong learning and inspiring a passion for education beyond the classroom.

Willis, a science teacher at Carmichaels for 23 years, was recognized for contributions he makes to students both inside the classroom and district-wide.

Willis was nominated for the recognition by Carmichaels Area High School Principal Lisa Zdravecky for his commitment to mentorship as demonstrated through his work with the school’s award-winning Envirothon team, which captured a state title at the 2018 Pennsylvania State Envirothon last school year and advanced to compete in the international NCF-Envirothon in Pocatello, Idaho, last July.

Willis teaches chemistry, environmental science and integrated science courses at Carmichaels.

Kopp is a teacher in the IU1 Waynesburg Campus’ digital fabrication laboratory, which was installed at the start of 2018 to provide students with a space to develop hands-on STEM skills and explore creative interests as an alternative to traditional book learning.

Kopp was nominated as an All Star Teacher for his continual pursuit of professional development to further enhance his teaching skills and to provide additional learning opportunities for his students.

Sikorski, a STEM teacher at Southmoreland Middle School, was nominated for his advanced and innovative teaching methods that engage students in memorable ways.

Sikorski developed a lesson plan for his STEM students to design a prosthetic for children born without a hand due to a genetic defect. His students then used a 3-D printer to build the hands, which were personalized and sent to two young children in Texas and England.

The Pirate Parrot, Bucco Brigade and Chevron representatives were on hand at each of the three schools to surprise the teachers in a ceremony in front of their students and colleagues.

Each teacher received a $1,000 classroom grant and will be recognized on the field during a Pirates game at PNC Park this season.

“This region has incredible teachers who do amazing things in and outside the classroom that so often go unnoticed,” said Stacy Olson, president of Chevron Appalachia, in a release.

Pirates President Frank Coonelly remarked: “Our teachers go above and beyond by dedicating their lives to helping generations of children reach their potential and making a positive impact in our community. For that, they should be honored.”

All Star Teachers is a continuation of the Leaders in the Classroom program spearheaded by Chevron and the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016 and 2017 to celebrate educators each week of the NFL season for criteria similar.

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