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Tamaqua Area Teacher Named Finalist for Teacher of the Year

WEST PENN TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- On National Teacher Appreciation Day, some teachers in our area are being recognized for their work in the classroom.

Michele Bittner grew up in the Tamaqua area and dreamed of being a teacher because she wanted to mold the youth. A teacher at West Penn Elementary School, Bittner's been in the Tamaqua Area School district her whole life, and now her passion for teaching in her hometown is being widely recognized.

"I do what I do. It's what I love to do and I'm just very happy and excited that I'm being acknowledged for it. I don't need that acknowledgment, but it's nice to have it," Bittner said.

Bittner has been named a finalist for the 2020 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year. The fifth grade English teacher is one of 12 finalists across the state.

Nominations were submitted by students, parents, peers, and members of the community wishing to honor educators for their work inside and outside of the classroom.

"I think one of the biggest values I try to instill is to be kind, to be kind to others. It's so important in the world that we live, that kindness be at the forefront of everything that we do," Bittner said.

Bittner grew up in the Tamaqua area and takes pride in representing her hometown, adding that it's a dream come true to be able to make an impact on students who are growing up in the community she's always called home.

"She's sweet. She's super-funny. She's really nice and once you get to know her, she's really helpful," said student Francesca Lo Duca.

"I like going in here because I know she'll always be there for me," said student Kira Koch. "The way I look at teachers, I look at them as like my second mom, because they're always there for you."

"The biggest thrill I get out of what I do is that I learn something every day and the students I get to interact with are just amazing," Bittner added.

Bittner's one of four finalists from our area.

Other teachers on the list include Amanda Connell of Northern Tier Career Center, Colleen Epler Ruths of Shikellamy High School, and Katona Miller of South Scranton Intermediate.

The 2020 Pennsylvania Teacher of The year will be announced in December.

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