The following excerpts are from the nominations submitted to the Lindback Foundation for the winning Philadelphia School District high school teachers. These teachers will be honored Tuesday at the Prince Theater.

Michael Ames

Science Leadership Academy

A special education teacher for 15 years, Ames believes that project-based learning is uniquely suited to meet the needs of all students.

Russell Benditt

Philadelphia Military Academy

Benditt, a social studies teacher and athletic director, is passionate about working with students in urban schools. He has taught for 11 years.

Nija Birchett

Overbrook High School

Birchett's work as a juvenile case manager inspired her to become an educator; she has been a special-education teacher since 2003. She believes in lifelong learning and feels all students deserve the opportunity to reach their highest potential.

Lisa Blum

Saul High School of Agricultural Science

Blum, who has worked at Saul for 12 years, teaches greenhouse management and floriculture. She works as a teacher mentor and helps students build the school's annual exhibit at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Alexander Buxbaum

Parkway Center City High School

Buxbaum, who has taught for six years, is one of the most ambitious members of Parkway Center City's school community. This year, he's produced and directed three student-written plays, managed a student-run library, and hosted a book club while juggling a full roster of English and drama classes.

Stephen Chicano

Edison High School

Chicano has taught math for 11 years, three of them at Edison. Seeing students succeed despite their struggles outside the classroom motivates him.

Ayris Colvin

Building 21

Colvin has devoted her career to the improvement of urban schools. She has taught special education in a variety of settings, creating an environment of high expectations, individualized supports, and positive relationships.

Lawrence Conlan

Benjamin Franklin High School

Conlan is a team player who puts his students first. When Vaux High School closed, he followed his pupils to Ben Franklin, where as a history teacher he works to provide his students with meaningful experiences.

Abram Cushner

Swenson Arts and Technology High School

Cushner has shared his love of science with Philadelphia middle and high school students for 22 years. He is a member of Swenson's leadership team.

Christina DeAngelo

South Philadelphia High School

DeAngelo, a career and technical education teacher who leads Southern's Future Business Leaders of America chapter, relishes providing students with internship and summer residency opportunities. She set her sights on a career in education at a young age, and loves watching her students master high-tech skills and grow as people.

Kathleen DiTanna

Philadelphia High School for Girls

DiTanna, who has taught English to adults in the Middle East and worked for the district since 1997, is committed to personal growth and the development of students and colleagues. At Girls High, she has served as English teacher, disciplinarian, department chair, class sponsor, and other roles.

Florica Dragomir

Central High School

Dragomir, a math teacher, has taught for 23 years, 10 of them in the district and five at Central. Dragomir was a second-place finisher in the National Math Olympiad of Romania.

Max Feldman

Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush

Feldman is a city native and product of district schools. He was inspired to become an English teacher after having "amazing, mind-expanding" English teachers himself.

Marlene Goebig

High School for Creative and Performing Arts

Goebig has taught in the district since 1986; since 2003, she has been a theater teacher at CAPA. Long after the final bell rings - and often on weekends - she can be found working with students on scenes, painting sets, and creating costumes.

Kevin Hamilton

Penn Treaty High School

Hamilton is roster chair and teaches in the school's AVID program for college readiness. He has a tremendous passion for teaching and prides himself on being fully involved with students' education from the first day they enter Penn Treaty until the day they graduate.

Patricia Hendrick-Emore

Philadelphia Learning Academy-South

Hendrick-Emore, a 20 year veteran of the district, serves as special education liaison and learning support teacher. She works with students, staff, and families to meet young people's diverse needs.

Corey Ilgenfritz

Hill-Freedman World Academy

Ilgenfritz has distinguished himself early in his education career, which spans a year and a half. At Hill-Freedman, he teaches history, coaches JV girls' basketball, leads curriculum development, and manages the school's technology initiative.

Angela Iovine

Kensington Health Sciences Academy

A graduate of the district, English teacher Iovine began her teaching career at Temple University, but soon realized that she wanted to work with children. She strives to give them what she received as a student: a strong academic foundation and sense of community, as well as support and encouragement in the pursuit of goals.

Karen James

George Washington High School

James teaches fashion and communications technology classes and is a dean of discipline. She has been teaching at Washington since 2000.

Anna Johnson

Fels High School

This 13-year math teacher's dedication to her school and students is described as "unmatched." Johnson's lessons demystify equations and enlighten students about the thrills and rewards of solving challenging problems.

Karla Johnson

Robeson High School

Johnson is a school-based teacher leader and science teacher. She has demonstrated tremendous leadership and taken on multiple responsibilities at Robeson, including testing coordinator, roster chair and class sponsor.

Stacie Johnson

Martin Luther King High School

Johnson, a communication and information technology teacher, prides herself on creating engaging lessons to motivate students to get involved with their community. Under her directions, teens operate a tax-preparation center and work on projects to promote environmental awareness.

Louise Jordan

Lincoln High School

In her 35-year career, Jordan, a special education math teacher, has spent countless hours providing support for Lincoln students. Her passion is advocating for her students and coworkers.

Christy Kenney-Quinn

Northeast High School

Kenney-Quinn, an English teacher, continually finds new ways to challenge her students and encourage them to sharpen their skills. She excels at preparing her students for the rigors of college while modeling professionalism, personal courage, and the power of tenacity and hard work.

Desmond Kirton

Dobbins Technical High School

A master barber for the last 20 years, Kirton has taught barbering at Dobbins for the last 21/2 years. He is a military veteran and a student at Temple University.

Colleen Krakauskas

Franklin Learning Center

Krakauskas, a history teacher, creates a classroom environment that stimulates curiosity, authenticity, and a search for knowledge. She is the coach of the mock trial team and dean of students.

Colleen Lawson-Thornton

Academy at Palumbo

Lawson-Thornton wears a number of hats at Palumbo: special education liaison, learning support case manager, class sponsor, student activities coordinator, homeless support sponsor, and assistant dean. She teaches yearbook and philosophy courses.

Breanne Lucy


Lucy, a first-year teacher in Philadelphia, works with freshmen who "surprise me with their brilliance and willingness to tackle challenges, and who make me laugh."

Jennifer Lydon

Philadelphia Virtual Academy

Teaching is Lydon's second career. She worked in administration at her local community college, where interactions with staff and students encouraged her to work more directly with children. She is a special-education teacher.

Denise Magasich

Kensington International Business, Finance and Entrepreneurship High School

Magasich teaches sports marketing management and works tirelessly to secure internships, create hands-on learning experiences, and prepare students for real-world experiences. Community and parent involvement are key to her success.

Dorianne Malone

Widener Memorial School

Malone works with students with a range of physical and cognitive challenges from kindergarten through high school. She assists in implementing various literacy programs, helping students to expand their love of reading and writing.

Charlena Martin

High School of the Future

Martin, a 32-year science teacher, has always had success connecting with her students, and has been at School of the Future since 2007. She prepares her students for the real world and takes pride in educating the whole child.

Kathryn May

Parkway Northwest High School

An English teacher at Parkway Northwest for eight years, May offers advanced classes in AP English and comparative literature, serves as senior adviser, and coordinates the senior project.

Miles Mayers

Motivation High School

Mayers uses physical education to develop leadership skills, dedication, integrity, confidence, hard work, discipline, and mental toughness. He has been a district teacher for seven years.

Nicole McGowan

Philadelphia Learning Academy-North

After switching careers a few times, McGowan realized her passion was math. She is most fulfilled when she's in the classroom and she strives to bring her love of her subject to every student she encounters.

Jameka McGraw-Byrd

Strawberry Mansion High School

McGraw, who has taught math and business during her 10-year career, has helped to build a business program, providing her students with internships and entry into certification programs. Her love of math, instructional leadership, and teacher coaching skills have contributed to student success.

Keyonna Minor

Sayre High School

Minor, an autistic support teacher at Sayre, is a role model for students. She teaches summer programs and coaches cheerleading.

Martin Moyers

Kensington High School for Creative and Performing Arts

For 11 years, Moyers has created a positive school environment where students are held to high academic and behavioral standards. He is math department chair and dean of students, and has led social and environmental stewardship programs.

Lena Namnun

Frankford High School

Namnun is a masterful teacher and directs Frankford's peer-mentoring program. She has inspired many students to become successful citizens.

Entela Ndrecka

Kensington Urban Education Academy

Ndrecka does not accept no for an answer. She works to bring chemistry to life for her students, and challenges them to rise to the high expectations she holds for them.

Kim Kelter Neu

Julia R. Masterman School

As a shy girl, district music teachers helped Neu find her voice through music; Neu's goal in life is to help each of her students find his or her voice. She serves as music teacher, conductor, and arts department head at Masterman.

Christopher Pilla

Science Leadership Academy @ Beeber

Pilla left the corporate world and a job as an electrical engineer to become a teacher, engaging students in design thinking while showing them how to build their projects. He has led the drive to create a maker space at SLA@Beeber, and is so popular with students that his room is often more crowded at lunchtime than it is during class.

Bartholomew Pointdexter

Bodine High School for International Affairs

Pointdexter left careers in law and IT to follow his passion for history. His storytelling and love of African American history create a highly engaging classroom model.

Wilbert Michael Riley

Mastbaum Technical High School

After securing two postdoctoral fellowships in chemistry, Rowe worked in private industry before becoming a teacher. He has taught at Mastbaum for three years.

Helen Rowe

The Workshop School

Rowe, a former social worker and community organizer, runs a ninth grade advisory at the Workshop School, where she is an English and social studies teacher. She is known for her thoughtful demeanor and commitment to students; their accomplishments are a tribute to her ability to form relationships, challenge teens, and foster student engagement.

Douglas Rowland

Carver High School of Engineering and Science

A 39-year veteran of the district, Rowland has taught at Carver for 23 years. He is a faculty leader, an expert in American history, Advanced Placement U.S. history teacher, and dean of students.

Vincent Rutland

Girard Academy Music Program

Rutland is an important resource at GAMP, providing students with a caring ear, knowledge, and guidance. His experiences as an educator, performer, arranger, and musical director instruct, motivate, and assist students in developing their talents to the fullest.

James Santore

Parkway West High School

Santore is an English and social studies teacher and class sponsor. He also serves as an instructor in Overbrook High's evening school program.

Neil Shander

Lankenau High School

Shander encourages healthy habits among youth as a physical education and health teacher and athletic director. He is dedicated to curriculum, but also is a mentor to students, helping them work through personal issues.

Margaret Stephan

The U School

Stephan, an artist, has worked as an educator for more than three years. She is the founding special educator at the U School.

Derek Stevenson

Roxborough High School

Stevenson garnered multiple awards, including Emmys, for his work as a television producer. He left the TV industry in 2010 to teach cinematography, and calls his current job "the most rewarding assignment I've ever had."

Kathleen Thomas

Furness High School

Thomas discovered the joy of teaching after a career working for IBM. She has been a Spanish teacher for 22 years, is respected by staff and students, and was instrumental in establishing Furness' Multicultural Fair, a celebration of the school's diversity.

Jesse Todd

Constitution High School

Todd, a Spanish teacher, engages his students using food, music, and cultural excursions, and is also an adviser to the mock trial team. He works tirelessly to develop the Spanish curriculum, offering tutoring, online instruction, and AP options.

Darlena Ward

Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center

Ward is a special-education teacher of 28 years and an advocate for at-risk youth. She joined the Juvenile Justice Services Center School staff four years ago.

Joe Williams

Randolph Technical High School

Williams, who teaches welding, has a passion for teaching and a strong work ethic. He builds strong relationships with everyone he comes in contact with, and has helped every one of his graduating seniors secure postgraduate employment.

Nadine Williamson

Pennypack House School

Williamson has served the students of Philadelphia for 20 years. She teaches social studies and Spanish, and believes that students' needs always come first.

Lillian Wood

Bartram High School

Wood began teaching at Bartram as a Teach for America corps member. As a learning support teacher and special education liaison, she works with students, parents, community agencies, and staff to ensure that all students have the support and opportunities they need to reach their full potential.

Ronald Wood

West Philadelphia High School

Wood is a former chef and small business owner who returned to college at age 45. He has taught math and served in leadership positions at West Philadelphia High since 2011.