Solehi Teacher Named PA Teacher of the Year Finalist
Liberty Bell reading specialist Janet Miltenberger is one of 12 finalists for PA Teacher of the Year.
A Southern Lehigh teacher has been named one of 12 finalists for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year.
Janet Miltenberger, the reading specialist at Liberty Bell Elementary School, got word Tuesday morning that she "made the cut." Last month, Miltenberger was named as a semifinalist for the award, presented to the top teachers as nominated by their districts. The 12 are:
- Staci Blair-Millcreek Township School District
- Denise Bolcavage-Forest City Regional School District
- Ryan Devlin-Brockway Area School District
- Nancy Gheysens- Rose Tree Media School District
- Paula Giran- Norwin School District
- Michael Miller- Wyomissing Area School District
- Janet Miltenberger- Southern Lehigh School District
- James Prince- North Allegheny School District
- DeAnn Scherer- Rose Tree Media School District
- Janette Showalter- Northern Lebanon School District
- Jacquelyn Wagner- Penns Valley Area School District
- Denise Williams- Northern Lebanon School District
"It's all still such a shock," said Miltenberger. "I'm so honored."
Miltenberger has been teaching at Liberty Bell for 14 years. She works with individual students and small groups. "I love working with kids because I feel I am meeting students' individual needs," said Miltenberger. "I'm living the dream to really change kids' lives."
Other programs, such as Liberty Bell's "KidBiz" program, are schoolwide. KidBiz allows all students to read a non-fiction article each day, but that article is presented in different formats to meet each student's reading level. Students then answer questions about each article online.
Miltenberger took the program a step further, introducing the famous "bookworms" that now circle the entire interior of Liberty Bell. "When a student scores 88 percent to 100 percent, they get a bookworm," said Miltenberger.
The construction-paper worms are color-coded to identify which classroom the student is from, and principal Sam Hafner added additional incentives for the classroom with the most bookworms. Hafner famously announced that he will walk to Liberty Bell from his home in Macungie as incentive for another schoolwide reading program.
The KidBiz program was originally a districtwide program, but cuts to the budget last year removed it from all buildings. Hafner reinstated the program using building funds after seeing the impact on the student body in previous years. "The program has really taken off," said Miltenberger.
To those who work closest to Miltenberger, the honor is well-deserved.
“I am not surprised at all," said Hafner. "Mrs. Miltenberger is one of the most dedicated educators one will ever come across."
“Great teaching is both an art and a science. Mrs. Miltenberger is a master of both of these aspects of the teaching profession," said Kristen Lewis, the school district's assistant to the superintendent. "Her dedication to the students of Southern Lehigh is unwavering and exemplifies her distinctive qualities as a master teacher.”
Miltenberger's love of education was born from a mixture of great teachers and a natural love of teaching. "I wasn't a stellar student, but I had several teachers who were inspiring for several different reasons," said Miltenerger. "I try to incorporate what I learned from them into every day."
Just walking down the hall with Miltenberger can be an inspiring experience. Students swarm her, offering congratulations, hugs, and high-fives. Spanish Immersion classes line up to tell her how proud they are in multiple languages.
As Principal Hafner said, "No matter what happens from here…we here at Liberty Bell and Southern Lehigh win every day with Mrs. Miltenberger on our side!”
Congratulations Mrs. Miltenberger!