Pequea Elementary sixth-grade teacher Elizabeth Raff has been named the Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year for 2022!
Mrs. Raff, a teacher at Pequea since 2014, was selected from 12 finalists who participated in the Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year Conference, held in Hershey from December 5 through 7.
“We are thrilled that she is being recognized for all of her hard work and dedication,” said Penn Manor superintendent Mike Leichliter. “Elizabeth’s classroom is a dynamic place for her students to learn and grow. She creates a space where students are encouraged to explore ideas in a supportive and respectful environment.”
Mrs. Raff thanked teachers and administrators for persevering over the last two challenging years and credited her students with giving her the opportunity to become a better teacher.
As Teacher of the Year, she will represent Pennsylvania teachers at the state level by speaking at conferences, leading workshops and professional development sessions and visiting school districts, colleges and universities across Pennsylvania. She also will be a candidate for the National Teacher of the Year Award.
Mrs. Raff was nominated for the state award by two previous Teacher of the Year nominees, Jeff Kuntz of Punxsutawney, and Maria Vita, a Penn Manor High School psychology teacher who was a finalist for the 2019 award.
Mrs. Raff was introduced at the conference in Hershey by one of her former students, Stella Thomas-Wenger, now a ninth-grader at Penn Manor High School. Stella praised her former teacher for the way she engaged and encouraged students to not only learn, but to respect each other’s perspectives.
In a letter of recommendation to the Teacher of the Year review committee, Stella’s mother, Marlisa Thomas, had high praise for Mrs. Raff.
“Our family is so grateful that our daughter 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.”
Mrs. 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.
Ms. Thomas said her daughter “was consistently engaged in kind and respectful dialogue around important issues and the value of learning from each other” in Ms. Raff’s classroom.
Mrs. 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 and 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.
Penn Manor School District could not be more proud of Mrs. Raff!