Indiana County Excellence in Education Partnership with Colonial Auto Group

The Indiana County Chamber of Commerce recently announced a new initiative to recognize the excellent work being done by both Indiana County teachers and students.

This Excellence in Education initiative will highlight various students and teachers from each of the seven-county public school districts as well as Indiana County Technology Center (ICTC) throughout the school year and will culminate with the Indiana County Excellence in Education Awards in the spring.

Student & Teacher Nominations

The program will include a senior student nomination each month from each school district. These students along with their parents, will be invited to the awards banquet in the spring of 2023 with a chance to win a new car donated by Colonial. Once the nominees are all chosen by the school districts, an independent panel will review all of the nominations and choose one individual to be Colonial’s Indiana County Student of the Year.

In addition to the students, one teacher in each school district, grades Kindergarten through Grade 12, will be chosen as that district’s Teacher of the Year and will be invited to the banquet with an opportunity to win a new vehicle of their own. An independent panel will review all of the nominations and choose one individual to be Colonial’s Indiana County Teacher of the Year.

Colonial Auto Group is happy to partner with the Indiana County Chamber on this initiative. CJ Spadafora, owner of Colonial Motor Mart and Colonial Toyota, noted that he has been looking for a way of giving back that would help to shape the future members of the community. “Our company wants to give back to the community and felt as if the next generation and the teachers who are educating them do not get a lot of recognition,” Spadafora explained. “This is our way of saying thank you to the community for allowing our family to be here for over 75 years, and we hope that we will be here for at least 75 more.”

To learn more about the requirements for Teacher Nomination and Student Nomination, click here to be directed to the Indiana County School Districts website for detailed information on the nomination process and requirements.

2023 Winners

Colonial Auto Group in partnership with The Indiana County Chamber of Commerce announced a new annual initiative to recognize the excellent work being done by both Indiana County teachers and students.

This program highlights various students and teachers from each of the seven-county public school districts as well as Indiana County Technology Center (ICTC) throughout this school year.

Fifty-seven students were chosen on a month-by-month basis by the ICTC and each school district (eight from Indiana Area, seven from each of the others).
In addition to the students, one teacher in each school district, grades Kindergarten through Grade 12 were chosen as that district’s Teacher of the Year.
The first Indiana County Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Education Awards Ceremony banquet was held on May 8, where one student and one teacher were awarded as the winners for this initiative and each presented with a new car donated of CJ Spadafora and the Colonial Auto Group of Indiana.

The winners were Kristy Hopper, a teacher in the Marion Center Area School District, who received a 2023 Toyota Corolla from Colonial Toyota, and Andrew Beer, a student at Purchase Line Area High School, who received a 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage from Colonial Motor Mart.

Eight student finalists were chosen from those 57 nominees: Justley Sharp from Homer-Center, Maura Knepper from Indiana Area, Rylie Miller from ICTC, Maggie Shadle from Marion Center Area, Kathleen Dixon from Penns Manor Area, Cheyenne Weimer from River Valley, Emily Mack from United, and Beer.

Teachers Kristy Hopper was nominated along with Kirstin Curci of Homer-Center School District, Melissa Milanak of River Valley School District, Sean Moran of Indiana Area School District, Adelle Dolney of Penns Manor Area School District, Michael Thom of Purchase Line School District and Sandra Zulcik of Indiana County Technology Center.

Indiana County Chamber of Commerce President Mark Hilliard recalled how the idea of presenting cars came about.

“It’s about two years ago that C.J. Spadafora, the owner of Colonial Motor Mart and Colonial Toyota, came to me with an idea, and usually when C.J. comes with an idea, you listen,” the chamber president said, “but then when he tells you he wants to give away a brand-new car, really listen to him.”

“You are here because you are raising the bar in our public schools,” Gov. Josh Shapiro said in a recorded message sent along with his regrets for not being able to attend the event 520 others attended Monday night, honoring outstanding teachers and students from throughout the county.

Shapiro was introduced by state Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana, who urged the student nominees from seven districts as well as Indiana County Technology Center to “dream big,” to “reach big and you’ll go far in this life.”

Hilliard, Struzzi’s successor as president of the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce, was master of ceremonies, while Struzzi’s predecessor as a state legislator, Dave Reed, now Pennsylvania State President for First Commonwealth Bank and chairman of the Indiana County Chamber’s board of directors, opened the event.

“Workforce development is one of our core areas of focus as we walk toward the future of Indiana County,” Reed said, “and the development of career readiness for our students has a priority in helping us train and grow our workforce for future employers right here at home in our community.”

Involved in the organizing committee for the Excellence in Education Awards were IUP Director of Strategic Partnerships Christina Koren and Vice President for University Advancement Khatmeh Osseiran-Hanna, Indiana Area School District’s outgoing Superintendent Michael J. Vuckovich, River Valley School District Career Transition Consultant Dr. Jeffrey Geesey, First Commonwealth Bank Executive Vice President for Human Resources Carrie Riggle, and Indiana Regional Medical Cenger Chief Human Resources Officer Dr. James “Jim” Kinneer.

This year’s event has sparked a lot of excitement for this program for the coming years for both teachers and students of the Indiana County area. We are looking forward to future programs and to see our students succeed in all their future endeavors.

Sponsors of Monday’s event included Colonial Motor Mart, The Reschini Grouip, Tri-County Workforce Investment Board, Delaney Automobile Group, B&G Brothers Rentals, state Sen. Joe Pittman, The Indiana Gazette and the Northern Appalachian Folk Festival Inc.

Photos courtesy of: Kris Mellinger Dupont; Comments courtesy of Indiana Gazette

 

cj winners and hilliard
 
Colonial Toyota Indiana County Excellence Award Ceremony
 
Colonial Toyota Indiana County Excellence Award Ceremony
 
Colonial Toyota Indiana County Excellence Award Ceremony
 

Colonial Toyota Indiana County Excellence Award Ceremony
 
Colonial Toyota Indiana County Excellence Award Ceremony
 
Colonial Toyota Indiana County Excellence Award Ceremony
 
Colonial Toyota Indiana County Excellence Award Ceremony
 

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