Building Strength in Education
Citadel Heart of Learning Award
At Citadel Credit Union, we’re committed to serve those who work every day to build a better future for us all. That’s why every year, we honor teachers across the Greater Philadelphia area in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Lancaster and Philadelphia counties with the Citadel Heart of Learning Award.
The Citadel Heart of Learning Award is one of our longest standing initiatives. We started the program 21 years ago in partnership with the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU), to recognize local teachers who show dedication in and outside of the classroom.
Citadel Heart of Learning Award 2021-22 Winners
Grand Prize Winners
Deb Rooney, Bradford Heights Elementary, Downingtown Area School District
Miss Rooney is a third grade teacher in the Downingtown Area School District who has been teaching for over 33 years. In addition to teaching third grade, Miss Rooney leads several after-school educational programs including Broadcast Club and Intramurals. Parents say she is creative with her curriculum and goes above and beyond with various lessons to incorporate life skills. Whether it’s encouraging the students to contribute gifts for people in need during the holidays, helping a new student adjust and make friends, or tutoring a student struggling with virtual learning, Miss Rooney is the kind of patient and caring teacher every student deserves. Nominated for helping students find their passion for learning again or to work through anxiety during the pandemic, Miss Rooney is an accomplished and driven educator that truly teaches with heart and dedication for building good people.
George Hankins, Colonial Middle School, Colonial School District
Inspired by his mother who was a teacher, Mr. Hankins has been teaching U.S. History and Social Studies for over 20 years. With more than 60 nominations, his students, their parents, and his peers say he's an amazing teacher who goes above and beyond to make learning meaningful. Over 30 students raved about how he brings “nothing but positive energy” to the classroom by having students reenact historical events, wearing a tie associated with the lesson theme of the day, or dying his hair green for school pride. Mr. Hankins was also selected due to multiple students claiming he “lets them know it’s okay to be different and a little quirky.” Students claim, “He’s both a leader and a friend. He makes my school experiences and challenges worth it.”
Louis Lozzi, Paul Robeson High School, Philadelphia School District
Mr. Lozzi is credited with developing a model college & career readiness program that assists students in forging a personalized pathway to success following graduation. Mr. Lozzi's work as leader of the Paul Robeson High School Math & Science Department and member of the school leadership team has been credited for helping the school achieve a 95% annual graduation rate, significantly higher than the Philadelphia average of 70%. Thanks largely in part to his amazing work, PRHS received a "Best Schools" honorable mention in U.S. News & World Reports. Mr. Lozzi's work with establishing university partnerships was most recently featured in "Penn Today" News. With personal endorsements from the Honorable Mayor Jim Kenney and the City Council of Philadelphia, Louis Lozzi is not only committed to advancing student achievement, his program initiatives and community partnership have become models for providing equitable opportunities for students of color in the city of Philadelphia. Not only does he believe in academics, but with a background in banking, he fosters an appreciation for kids understanding the basics of personal finance and life skills.
Elementary School winners:
- Elena Carlson - Gladwyne Elementary
- Shawntae Brabham - Disston Elementary
- Michelle Jacobs - Warwick Elementary
- Matt Rogers - Salisbury Elementary
- Miriam Coppola - Wayne Elementary
- Amy Hess - French Creek Elementary
- Jason Baughman - Jordan Bank Elementary
- Jennifer Burns - Robeson Elementary Center
- Dawn Oldenski - Chadds Ford Elementary
- Deb Rooney - Bradford Heights Elementary
- Jennifer Franz - Sarah Starkweather Elementary
Middle School Winners:
- Riley Paolino - Rudolph Blankenburg
- Kristi Gases - Maple Point Middle School
- Ryan Hipp - Donegal Junior High
- Linda Homer - Darby Township
- Lisa Adamski - Scott Sixth Grade Center
- George Hankins - Colonial Middle School
- Lisa Gray - Phoenixville Middle School
High School Winners:
- Marissa Regad - Central Bucks HS West
- Veronica Vladimirova-Cambria - Harriton High School
- Louis Lozzi - Paul Robeson High School
- Elyse Minder - JPMcCaskey High School
- Chrissa Kuntz - Penncrest High School
- Kyle Sollenberger - TCHS Brandywine
- Michael Kowalski - Avon Grove High School
- Kyle Hess - Great Valley High School
- Wendy Kotz - Kennett High School
- Kelly Holub - Octorara Junior/Senior High School
- Orlando Carvajal - Conestoga High School
- Dante Coles - Malvern Preparatory High School
Traci Watson Heart Award:
- Mike Deegan - Mastery Charter Harrity Upper School
Celebrating Teachers Everywhere
All too often, teachers are unsung heroes. If you know a teacher who goes above and beyond the call of duty, share their story and how they’ve impacted your life or a student’s life. You can submit a written nomination, or email us a video nomination.
Learn more about our commitment to the community.Explore Now
Meet the 2022 Citadel Heart of Learning Award winners. In another academic year challenged by the pandemic, 31 Greater Philadelphia teachers have been recognized by Citadel Credit Union for going above and beyond and truly “building strength in education.” Teachers from across Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties were nominated by their students, peers, parents, and administrators, and were recognized and received their awards on May 2 at The Mann Center in Philadelphia. Citadel has donated over $58,000 to the teachers in grants, gift cards, and prizes for this year's recipients.
The Role of a Teacher
Within this past academic year, we’ve seen teachers taking on many different roles and hats in their classrooms.
Citadel Heart of Learning Award Eligibility
• All nominees must be Pennsylvania-certified active teachers in a Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Lancaster, or Philadelphia county public school or non-public school. Exceptions may include teachers in non-public schools who are not required to be certified, home school teachers, tutors, etc. Retired teachers are eligible as long as retirement date was at max, one year prior to award year.
• For the purpose of the Citadel Heart of Learning Award, a public school shall be defined as a school under the jurisdiction of one of the public school districts listed above and which is publicly funded; employs staff that are required to be certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education; and meet the policies, rules, and regulations of the Pennsylvania School Code.
• For the purpose of the Citadel Heart of Learning Award, Charter schools and home schools are categorized as non-public schools.
• For the purpose of the Citadel Heart of Learning Award, cyber school teachers will be eligible for nomination if the student or parent submitting the nomination resides in one of the aforementioned counties.
• All nominees must provide direct instruction to students in a classroom setting. This includes classroom teachers, subject teachers, certified teaching professionals who provide direct instruction to students, k-12, in a classroom setting, such as a reading specialist, speech therapist, learning support teacher, librarian, etc.