Pequea Elementary School gave a rousing welcome on Wednesday to Pennsylvania’s newest Teacher of the Year — Elizabeth Raff — who returned to her classroom for the first time since earning the prestigious honor.
Mrs. Raff, who teachers sixth grade at Pequea, had been in Hershey since Sunday, participating in the 2022 Teacher of the Year conference. On Monday, she was selected for the award from among 12 finalists from across Pennsylvania.
Wednesday’s ceremony at Pequea featured the Penn Manor High School Pep Band and Cheerleaders and a video presentation from several of Mrs. Raff’s former students on how she influenced them and continues to inspire them today.
“I had Mrs. Raff in 2016, and I absolutely adored her,” said Blessing Mmugambe, a Penn Manor High School junior. “She shaped me to be the woman that I am today.”
Another former student, Stella Thomas-Wenger, attended the celebration and talked about how Mrs. Raff made her classes engaging, creative and thought-provoking. Two days earlier, Stella had introduced Mrs. Raff in Hershey at the Teacher of the Year ceremony.
State Senator Scott Martin also was on hand to present Mrs. Raff with an official commendation from the Pennsylvania Senate.
Mrs. Raff thanked the audience and said it was great to be back home at Pequea.
“You guys are my home. Penn Manor is my home. Pequea is my home, and I am so proud and thankful for my time here,” she said.
As Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Raff 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.
She 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 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.
Welcome back, Mrs. Raff!