Pequea’s Raff named PA Teacher of Year finalist

For the second time in two years, Penn Manor has a Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year finalist!

Elizabeth Raff, who teaches sixth grade at Pequea Elementary School, was named one of just 12 finalist for the state honor for 2021.

Raff was nominated by two previous Teacher of the Year nominees, Jeff Kuntz of Punxsutawney, and Maria Vita, who teaches psychology at Penn Manor High School and was a finalist for the 2019 award.

“It is truly an honor and a humbling experience to become a finalist for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year,” said Raff, who has taught at Pequea since 2014. “I am grateful for the opportunity to share my passion and enthusiasm for education!”

“None of this would be possible without the leadership and support from my administrators and fellow teachers,” she said.

In a letter of recommendation to the review committee, parent Marlisa Thomas had high praise for her daughter’s former teacher.

“Our family is so grateful that our daughter, Stella, found a place in Mrs. Raff’s unique sixth-grade classroom. She was nurtured each day and challenged to grow and succeed, not just academically, but in her awareness and maturity.”

Raff’s classroom is decorated in an Alice in Wonderland theme and features a large library with books in every genre, as well as a raised stage where students can present poetry, book reports and original music to the entire class. Raff encourages movement among her students and leads them through physical exercises that help them understand parts of speech, literary conventions and other lessons.

“Whether she was engaged in conversations about our current political climate, building a bat house, chanting the parts of a story, dancing, singing, drawing with erasable markers on her desk, finding her way through a spy laser maze, or participating in a ‘book tasting’ … my daughter was consistently engaged in kind and respectful dialogue around important issues and the value of learning from each other,” Thomas said in her letter.

Raff taught in Philadelphia for two years before joining the Pequea staff. She  graduated from Messiah College with a degree in elementary education and completed her master’s degree in curriculum & instruction from Penn State University. She is currently pursuing her principal certification through Penn State.

Elizabeth lives in Lancaster Township with her husband, Jeremy, and their son, Owen.

The 2021 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year will be named in the fall.

Congratulations to Mrs. Raff on this well-deserved honor!

You can read an interview with Mrs. Raff on LancasterOnline here.