DOWNINGTOWN, PA — For the past 21 years, Citadel Credit Union has partnered with the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) to recognize local, hard-working teachers who are dedicated to their role and classroom by honoring them with the Citadel Heart of Learning Award. The award is open to any public, private or charter school teacher and nominations are accepted from students, parents, administrators, peers and community members.
Since the award’s inception, it has exclusively focused on teachers in Chester County and has honored 15 teachers each year. This year, Citadel expanded its program to recognize a total of 31 finalists from Chester, Bucks, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.
Out of the thousands of nominations that were received, Kyle Sollenberger, animal science teacher at the CCIU’s Technical College High School (TCHS) Brandywine Campus, is one of 31 outstanding educators selected as a finalist in the 2022 Citadel Heart of Learning Award.
“It’s a great honor to be recognized in this way, and I’m thankful for the opportunity I’m given to come to work every day and do what I love. I’m truly honored and humbled to receive this award.” Sollenberger continued, “I was speechless when I found out that I was selected as a finalist because there are so many other talented, hardworking and dedicated teachers and staff who work at the CCIU.”
Sollenberger has been teaching at TCHS Brandywine for six years. “I love that my job involves working with students to help them take their passion and turn it into the knowledge and skills to help them after they graduate. I love seeing students refine those skills, overcome personal challenges and reach their goals.”
In his role as an animal science teacher, one of Sollenberger’s goals is to instill in his students the idea that hard work pays off and that the world needs more lifetime learners. “It’s amazing to have the ability to teach a subject I am so passionate about. I hope to inspire a love for learning about animals and agriculture in my students as other teachers have done in my life,” said Sollenberger.
“Kyle consistently demonstrates an excellent work ethic, and he is extremely impactful to his students. He builds a positive rapport with each of his students, which helps to motivate them to work hard and reach their potential in the Animal Science program,” said Dr. Frank McKnight, principal of TCHS Brandywine.
Dr. Kirk Williard, CCIU director of career, technical & customized education, echoed Dr. McKnight’s words. “The Citadel Heart of Learning Award is an outstanding honor bestowed upon teachers who consistently strive to make a difference for their students. Mr. Sollenberger is one of those teachers who is always focused on his students’ learning experiences daily, and this honor is an acknowledgement of the commitment and drive that he models every day. During one of the most unusual times in education, it is important to continue to appreciate the efforts of all teachers, and Citadel has been an outstanding supporter of recognizing the teachers who consistently make a difference for the future,” said Dr. Williard
Each finalist was honored at the Citadel Heart of Learning Awards banquet, which was held on Monday, May 2, 2022. At the banquet, three grand prize winners were selected from the 31 finalists – Deb Rooney, teacher from Bradford Heights Elementary School in Chester County; George Hankins, teacher from Colonial Middle School in Montgomery County; and Louis Lozzi, teacher from Paul Robeson High School in Philadelphia County. The grand prize winners each received $5,000 for themselves and $5,000 for their school. The other 28 finalists each received $1,000 to spend on their classroom.
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