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Citadel Credit Union Celebrates Milestone $500,000 Commitment to Teachers through Lifetime of Citadel Heart of Learning Awards Program

Citadel Heart of Learning 2024 Winners holding their award

400+ teachers from the Greater Philadelphia area have been honored with the prestigious Citadel Heart of Learning Award, selected from thousands of nominees.

EXTON, Pa., June 6, 2024—Citadel Credit Union, a leading credit union serving the Greater Philadelphia area, has recognized 35 Greater Philadelphia teachers for going above and beyond and truly "building strength in education" as part of the company’s Citadel Heart of Learning Awards program. Since the awards' inception, the company has awarded the winners over $500,000 in grants enabling them to enhance their classrooms with new resources aimed at fostering educational excellence.

Citadel has a strong track record of giving back and making a difference for the communities it serves. Through the Citadel Cares program, Citadel donates funds and volunteer support to non-profits and charities across Greater Philadelphia with a focus on creating impactful prosperity and strength. Citadel’s efforts fall within four key pillars, demonstrating an established giving program: Education & Youth Prosperity, Health & Wellness, Building & Development, and Food Security.

The Citadel Heart of Learning Awards, established in 2001, honors exceptional teachers who inspire their students and make a significant impact on their communities. Each year, students, parents, and colleagues nominate thousands of teachers, with a select group of winners chosen based on their dedication, innovation, and commitment to education.

This year's winners each received our treasured glass heart award and a total of $60,000 in grants and prizes, including $10,000 for each of the three grand prize winners ($5,000 for the teacher and $5,000 for their school) and $1,000 for each of the remaining county level winners. Citadel also coordinated with the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU), who co-founded the program with Citadel 23 years ago, to recognize six additional district level winners from Chester County who received the glass heart award and a surprise ceremony from the CCIU.

"We are immensely proud of the Citadel Heart of Learning Awards and the incredible educators it celebrates,” said Bill Brown, President and CEO, Citadel Credit Union. “Reaching the half-million-dollar mark in donations underscores our long-term commitment to supporting teachers who are shaping the future through their passion and dedication. These teachers not only educate but also inspire and uplift their students, often going above and beyond their call of duty. It is our honor to recognize their extraordinary efforts and provide them with the resources they need to continue their invaluable work."

The 2024 Grand Prize Winners include:

Chassidy King, Marketing Teacher, Chester High School

Chassidy King has been nominated for the Citadel Heart of Learning Award for her exceptional dedication. In one of Pennsylvania’s lowest-performing districts, she initiated Clipper's Closet for free hygiene products and started an after-school girls' group. She teaches financial literacy, marketing, and more, and serves as Senior Class and DECA Advisor. Known for her unwavering support to both students and staff, Chassidy overcomes significant challenges, making a profound impact on her school community.

An excerpt from a nomination: “I’m nominating this teacher here for the simple fact she is like an angel sent from heaven. Meaning she is a true blessing to the Chester High School community. Many students in the building have a relationship with her. She has helped many students through adversities. She shows she cares, she’s our number 1 advocate. She believes in us like nobody else.”

Travis Lick, Math Teacher, G.W. Carver Middle School of Engineering and Science

Travis Lick has significantly contributed to the academic success of 7th grade Math and 8th grade Algebra students. Under his guidance, STAR growth scores improved from 43% to 63% at or above grade level, with a nearly 60-point average increase, marking one year of academic growth. This achievement places his students at the top of their Learning Network. Known for his innovative teaching methods and collaboration with colleagues, Mr. Lick's dedication has had a profound impact on his students' academic success.

An excerpt from a nomination: “In my observations of Mr. Lick, he continues to work hard and find new ways to engage middle school students, build instruction with SDP resources, collaborate with teachers, and prepare middle school students for academic success…This is the hard work that should be acknowledged and praised! He deserves this honor and his data reaffirms his impact on our community!”

Elizabeth Pandosh, Kindergarten Teacher, Kings Highway Elementary School

Elizabeth Pandosh is a dedicated teacher at Kings Highway who goes above and beyond to make families and students feel welcome in the Coatesville community. She engages with every family and creates a close-knit classroom environment. As a phenomenal teacher of reading, math, and science, she finds ways to engage and challenge each student, including those who already have advanced skills. Her dedication, talent, and welcoming nature make her a standout educator, beloved by students and colleagues alike. Elizabeth's impact extends far beyond academics, shaping her students' social skills and future success.

Just one example of the touching tributes read: “The impact she had on my child will continue through the years as she continues to build on her very solid kindergarten foundation…The students in her class are able to learn so much about community, diversity and inclusion, friendship and social skills during their time in her class…Whenever we see her in the community, she makes us feel welcome! She is kind, encouraging, welcoming, resourceful, talented, engaging and is known by her former students and colleagues to be one of the best teachers in the county.”

All other Citadel Heart of Learning Award 2023-24 Winners by Grade Level:

High School:

Victoria Duffy - 21st Century Cyber Charter School
Tracey Parker - Coatesville Area Senior High School
Matt McCloskey - Downingtown West High School
Doreen Steinmacher - Owen J Roberts High School
Daniel Weinstein - Phoenixville Area High School
Caihong Ye - Bishop Shanahan High School
Kim Guarneri - Avon Grove Charter School
John Achille - Lampeter-Strasburg High School
Robert Gregory - Avon Grove High School
Katie Oxenfeldt - Tredyffrin-Easttown Middle School
Brian Newbert - Belmont Charter High School

Middle School:

Natalie Handley - Downingtown Cyber Academy
Rory McMullen - Palisades Middle School
Carol Stem - Charles F. Patton Middle School
Mitch Hoffman - Peirce Middle School
Roseanna Fabii - Great Valley Middle School
Chiara Bouchard - Garnet Valley Middle School
Cara Weil - Hazel I Jackson Middle School
Natalie Cohen - Eisenhower Science & Technology Leadership Academy
Sue Subers - Pathway School
Joseph Coyle - Octorara Jr-Sr. High School
Tracy Gruin - Twin Valley Elementary

Elementary School:

Tiffany Hamilton - Tinicum Elementary School
Kerianne Darragh - Elk Ridge Elementary School
Andrea Roszits - Bancroft Elementary
Rita Trainer - Saints Peter and Paul School
Maureen Segal - Ithan Elementary
Greg Moore - Radnor Elementary
Anita Girvin - Salisbury Elementary School
Cyndi Kirschner - Worcester Elementary School
Meagan Carbonell - CCIU
Renee Butler - Sankofa Freedom Academy

The Citadel Heart of Learning Awards program started 23 years ago in partnership with the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) to recognize local teachers who show dedication in and outside of the classroom with a unique sense of heart and dedication. The award also specifically spotlights teachers who go above and beyond to foster connection with students and ensure the desire to learn is never compromised. To nominate a local teacher who should be considered to win this award, visit CitadelBanking.com/NOMINATE.

Brooke Swales
Gregory FCA for Citadel Credit Union

About Citadel Credit Union

Citadel Credit Union is a not-for-profit, member-owned financial institution that provides banking, investments, and insurance services to more than 260,000 members. At $5.9 billion in assets, it is one of the Greater Philadelphia area’s largest credit unions, proudly serving residents of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. Citadel is recognized as a Forbes 2022 Best-in-State Credit Union, a 2023 Faces of Philanthropy Award recipient from the Philadelphia Business Journal, and a certified 2023 Great Place to Work. For more information, visit CitadelBanking.com.

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