Wilkes University’s Celebration of Education Honors Alumni Educators on Nov. 13
Faculty, staff and students honored fellow educators during Wilkes University’s Celebration of Education event on Wednesday, Nov. 13. Honorees were recognized by the School of Education for their outstanding contributions on campus and in the community.
New this year was the awarding of the Joseph and Barbara Bellucci Distinguished Graduate Award. It is named for two longtime employees and educators who were instrumental in establishing Wilkes as a leading provider of graduate programming to teachers on campus and in distance-learning formats. The Belluccis were also honored at the event.
Awards and honorees include:
Joseph and Barbara Bellucci Distinguished Graduate Award – Samantha Masco M.S. ’18. The Joseph and Barbara Bellucci Distinguished Graduate Award honors a graduate who earned an educational master’s degree from Wilkes and demonstrates courage in the face of adversity, dedication to academic success and selfless commitment to their school and community.
Masco teaches in the Carbondale Area School District, where she also serves as the head coach of the district’s Unified Track and Field program. In partnership with the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania, Unified Track and Field joins people with and without intellectual disabilities to compete on the same team. It was inspired by the principle of training together and playing together as a quick path to friendship and understanding. Masco earned her master’s degree in Middle Level Education from Wilkes in 2018 and her STEM letter of endorsement in 2019.
Educator of the Year Award – Anne Thomas ’70. The Wilkes University Educator of the Year Award celebrates excellence as demonstrated by a competent, caring and ethical educator who is a graduate of and embodies the mission of the Wilkes education program. The award recognizes a teacher who is a lifelong learner, reflective practitioner and an effective communicator who continues to grow academically and professionally while presenting the ethic of service and dedication to all students within the learning community.
Thomas has worked in various education roles for nearly 50 years. She began her career as a high school English teacher in the Hanover Area School District before joining Wilkes University. During her time at Wilkes, she served as the coordinator of the Upward Bound program, the coordinator of field experiences, the coordinator of the secondary education program and was a faculty member in the School of Education.
The Diane Place Doctoral Dissertation Award – Charles Stricker Ed.D. ’18 and Rodney Taylor Ed.D. ’19. The Diane Place Doctoral Dissertation Award honors Wilkes graduate students who exhibit perseverance in completing doctoral studies, commitment to lifelong learning, resilience in the face of adversity, strength of character to advance in life through education, collegiality with peers, leadership in education, and excellence in academics.
Stricker started his career in engineering before branching into education, teaching math, physics and technology education. At the Berks Career and Technical School, Stricker creates partnerships with post-secondary schools that focus on dual-enrollment programs that provide college credit to high school students. He works with students to develop technical and leadership skills that are used in higher education, industry positions or academic skills competitions.
Taylor has worked as an educator for more than 20 years with the goal of providing access and opportunity to his students. He is a certified teacher of English, French, Spanish, Latin and social studies. Using autoethnography, a form of qualitative research in which an author uses self-reflection to connect personal experience to wider social meanings, Taylor’s dissertation explored the need for greater cultural understanding, fairer retention and hiring methods and diversity in the field of education.
Pictured left to right (sitting): Joseph Bellucci; Barbara Bellucci; Anne Thomas, Educator of the Year Award recipient; (standing) Charles Stricker, Diane Place Doctoral Dissertation Award recipient; Suzanne Gallella, Wilkes School of Education undergraduate department chair; Samantha Masco, the Joseph and Barbara Bellucci Distinguished Graduate Award recipient; Charles Smargiassi, Wilkes School of Education master’s-level department chair. Missing is Rodney Taylor, Diane Place Doctoral Dissertation Award recipient.