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Alumni Society Awards

a list of Alumni awards granted by the Penn State College of Education Alumni Society

The College of Education Alumni Society presents awards each year to graduates and student teachers who have distinguished themselves in their profession. Please scroll down to view a list of awards and criteria.

To submit a nomination:

Alumni Award Nomination Form

Email completed nominations to:

Wanda Wasilko

Nominations are accepted throughout the year. Award recipients are chosen each spring.
The deadline for the 2021 Awards is 
January 31, 2021
Nominations received after the deadline will be considered for the next year.

General Guidelines for all Awards

Complete nominations shall consist of:

  • Completed Alumni Award Nomination Form
  • Resume or Vita
  • Letters of Support

1 from Nominator
2 additional letters of support


Nominations remain active for two selection periods.
Selections are made by Alumni Society committees.
Honorees are announced in the spring.
Honorees are invited to a Recognition Dinner during the fall semester.

    For more information about the awards program, please contact the office of Alumni and Development at 814-863-2216.

    2020 College of Education Alumni Society Award recipients

    Alumni Excellence

    Sharon Suritsky '83 B.S., '92 Ph.D. Special Education
    Deputy/Assistant Superintendent
    Upper St. Clair School District
    Pittsburgh, PA

    Service to Penn State

    William Vitori '73 B.S. SECED
    Bunny Vitori '69 B.S. SECED (California Univ.)
    William - Volunteer and Retired Science Dept. Chair
    Bunny - Volunteer and Retired French Teacher
    Elizabeth-Forward School District (Elizabeth, PA)
    Bellefonte, PA

    Outstanding Teaching

    Mary Lou Heron '73 B.S. EK ED
    Training and Consultation
    Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit 19 (Archibald, PA)
    Clarks Summit, PA

    Leadership & Service

    Paul M. Healey '97 Ph.D. C&I
    Executive Director
    PA Principals Association
    Mechanicsburg, PA

    Outstanding New Graduate

    Stephen Payne '15 B.S. Education and Public Policy
    Director of Corporate, Foundation and Government Relations
    Muhlenburg College
    Allentown, PA

    Outstanding Student Teaching

    Caroline Dawson '19 B.S. EECE
    Collegeville, PA

    Erika Felker '20 B.S. EECE
    Third Grade Teacher
    Manheim Central School District/Lancaster County, PA
    Carlisle, PA

    Jillian Testa '20 B.S. SECED
    Robbinsville, NJ

    Claire Watsik '20 B.S. SECED
    Substitute Teacher
    Scotts Ridge Middle School
    Ridgefield, CT

    Description and Award Criteria

    Alumni Excellence Award (formerly the Excellence in Education Award-revised 2014)

    The Alumni Excellence Award is the highest honor bestowed upon alumni of the College of Education. It is awarded to recognize career-long, sustained excellence of contribution and achievement in the nominee's chosen profession.

    Specific criteria:

    1. Nominees will be evaluated for significant contributions to their chosen profession (in or out of the field of education) over the span of their career, for a period of 15 years or more;

    2. The nomination should include clear, compelling, and documented evidence of excellence through contributions to the nominees chosen field as exemplified in leadership, innovation, commitment, and/or service;

    3. Nominee must be a graduate of the College of Education (certification, baccalaureate, or advanced degree).

    View previous Alumni Excellence and Excellence in Education Award recipients

    J.E.D.I. (Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion) Award (New in 2021)

    The J.E.D.I. Award recognizes alumni who showcase exemplary insight in the area of workplace and/or community diversity. Selection is made on the basis of: fostering an environment in which diversity is understood, valued, and promoted; meeting the needs of employees and/or community members of traditionally underrepresented groups and/or diverse populations; collaborating with others who have shared goals around justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion; and creating diversity programs and/or initiatives that positively affect the nominee's organization and/or community. Specific criteria include: (1) Nominee has been a catalyst for change regarding workplace diversity and/or has impacted change within an industry, organization, and/or local community; (2) Nominee must be a graduate of the College of Education (certification, baccalaureate, or advanced degree).

    Leadership & Service Award

    The Leadership and Service Award recognizes those alumni who have distinguished themselves in their chosen profession, in or out of the field of education. Selection is made on the basis of leadership and service within a career, a community or to society in general.

    Specific criteria:

    1. Achievement in a chosen field, in a community, or in society;

    2. Nominee must be a graduate of the College of Education (certification, baccalaureate, or advanced degree).

    View previous Leadership and Service Award recipients

    Outstanding New Graduate Award

    The Outstanding New Graduate Award recognizes recent graduates who have distinguished themselves in their new careers. Selection is made on the basis of the individual's advancement and excellence in a new job, in or out of the field of education.

    Specific criteria:

    1. Outstanding contributions to and achievements in a new job;

    2. Nominees must be graduates from any program and of any degree level within the College of Education within five years of the date of nomination.

    View previous Outstanding New Graduate Award honorees

    Outstanding Student Teaching Award

    This award recognizes up to four outstanding student teachers every academic year. (Note: Nominations for this award are solicited through the College of Education’s Office of Curriculum & Instruction Field Experiences.)

    View previous Outstanding Student Teacher Award recipients

    Outstanding Teaching Award

    This Outstanding Teaching Award recognizes an exemplary individual in a full-time teaching capacity in the education profession. Selection is made on the basis of overall excellence in teaching methodologies, knowledge of the subject matter and the ability to inspire students.

    Specific criteria:

    1. Nominee must be employed full-time in the teaching profession (traditional or non-traditional setting);

    2. Nominee must be a graduate of the College of Education (certification, baccalaureate, or advanced degree).

    View previous Outstanding Teaching Award recipients

    Service to Penn State Award

    The Service to Penn State Award recognizes those alumni and friends who have made significant contributions of time and talent to the College and/or the University.

    Specific Criteria:

    1. Nominee will be evaluated on the basis of demonstrated commitment and dedication to enhancing the objectives of the College and/or the University.

    View previous Service to Penn State Award honorees