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Local Educator Named Teacher of the Year

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NEWFOUNDLAND -- To his students, he's just Mr. Soskil, the mad scientist, at Wallenpaupack South Elementary in Newfoundland.

But now, he's earned another title -- "Teacher of the Year!"

"Teaching is the best job in the world. Not only do we get to make a difference in the lives of others every day when we step into our classroom, but we get to teach the next generation how to do that also," said Michael Soskil, Teacher of the Year.

Soskil has been an educator for nearly 20 years.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education awarded him with the honor on Monday.

The program recognizes some of the state's finest educators.  He was one of 12 teachers up for the title.

"I was blessed to be nominated by one of my colleagues. It always feels good to have one of your colleagues think that you're doing a good job," said Soskil.

The award is given to teachers based on their leadership skills and classroom performances.

Soskil is no stranger to awards. He was given the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science back in 2013.

This past summer, he was a finalist for "Global Teacher of the Year," an award that sent him to Dubai for a week of festivities with the top teachers in the world.

Mr. Soskil doesn't only credit himself for these awards, he credits all the teachers in the district. Many of them come together to make sure they give children the best education they can.

"I am in a building where my colleagues are amazing and I get to work with them all the time," said Soskil.

Principal Mark Kirsten tells Newswatch 16, he sees the connections his teachers have with one another each day.

He's not surprised one of his own received the recognition.

"They inspire each other and push each other to get a little bit further and do things that are outstanding every day in our classroom," said Kirsten.

Soskil's title comes with some responsibility. Over the next year, he will meet with teachers from around the country to exchange ideas that he will bring back to his classroom.

He's excited for the opportunity and all the learning that is ahead of him.

"It's a big responsibility and a big honor and I hope I live up to it," said Soskil.