Seton Hill Honors Six Outstanding Educators with Excellence in Teaching Awards

June 10, 2013
Author: Jennifer Reeger
Seton Hill University honored six outstanding educators with the inaugural Excellence in Teaching Awards during a ceremony and reception held at Seton Hill University’s Performing Arts Center on Thursday, June 6, 2013.

The awards recognize alumni and friends working in the field of education who demonstrate outstanding achievement in their field and who inspire their students. The six distinguished educators honored during this first-ever event are dedicated to their profession, their communities and their students.

“Each of the honorees has affected the lives of many young people in a profound way,” Michele Ridge, chair of Seton Hill’s Board of Trustees, said during the award ceremony. “We celebrate their commitment to education, their passion for learning and their deep care and concern for students.”

The honorees include Mark J. Campayno, of Sterling, Va., Sister Mary Helen Meyer, S.C. of Greensburg, Helen Normile Quinlan of New London, N.H, Barbara Nolan Reilly of Wilmington, Del., Marguerite Fiori Slavonia of Diablo, Calif., and Kara Stenger of Latrobe, Pa.

Mark J. Campayno began his music career with the guitar in 1982, teaching himself theory and technique. In 1999, after a 13-year stint as a goldsmith, Mark decided to pursue a degree in Music Education. After graduating from Seton Hill University in 2003, Mark accepted a position in Sterling, Va. with Loudoun County Public Schools as director of the guitar department at River Bend Middle School. In 2005, Mark was recognized by then Virginia Governor, Mark Warner, for teaching excellence. In 2010, Mark moved up to the high school level, directing the guitar program at Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Virginia. Mark has more than doubled enrollment in the guitar program at Broad Run. Mark also owns and operates his own performance school, StudioRock of Northern Virginia located in Sterling, Va.

Sister Mary Helen Meyer, S.C. entered the Sisters of Charity in 1939 from Assumption Parish in Bellevue, Pa. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Studies from Duquesne University and a master’s degree in Biology from the University of Notre Dame. Sister Mary Helen began her 70-year teaching career in elementary and secondary schools of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, which include Saint Luke (Carnegie), Saint Anselm (Swissvale), and Sacred Heart (East Liberty). Sister Mary Helen was also an instructor in chemistry at Seton Hill University during the summer sessions of the 1960s. In 1967, she was assigned to teach biology and chemistry at Greensburg Central Catholic High School, a position she held for 45 years. A recipient of numerous honors and awards for her meritorious work with science students, Sister Mary Helen’s dedication to her ministry was witnessed by two, possibly three, generations of former students. But in the spring of 2012 at the age of 92, Sister Mary Helen made the decision to retire from teaching. Her legacy will continue to inspire and motivate the students of Greensburg Central Catholic High School where “The Sister Mary Helen Meyer Excellence in Chemistry Award” will be presented each year to a graduating student on Senior Awards Day.

Helen Normile Quinlan followed in the footsteps of her mother, Catherine Franey Normile, to Seton Hill College. Helen, a native of Binghamton, N.Y. graduated from Seton Hill in 1959 with a Bachelor of Science degree, where her mother earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1930. Helen was a student of Seton Hill’s Cadet Teaching Program. Through the program, in exchange for teaching in one of the schools operated by the Sisters of Charity, Seton Hill student participants earned tuition credit. As part of the Cadet program, Helen lived on campus and taught third grade at Saint Bruno School in Greensburg with Sister Harold Ann Jones, S.C. as her mentor and principal. For 35 years, Helen taught first, second or third grade in several states. She taught first grade in Mont Vernon, New Hampshire, for 28 of those years. There, Helen introduced the school’s first Readiness Program. She served as the secretary for the Mont Vernon Teachers’ Association, as an advocate for special needs children in New Hampshire and as a Board member for the Area Agency for Developmental Disabilities, Region IV Nashua, New Hampshire. She also started a club for Special Needs individuals, which continues to meet after 40 years in existence.

Barbara Nolan Reilly began her undergraduate career at Seton Hill College with the intention of becoming a lawyer. She was accepted to law school, but her father, Dr. Daniel P. Nolan, a professor of chemistry at Saint Vincent College, and her mentors at Seton Hill, strongly encouraged her to complete her English degree first. Along with English, Barbara decided to pursue teaching courses. After her student teaching experience, she decided to pursue a career in teaching and never looked back. Born in Omaha, Neb. but reared in Latrobe, Barbara began her teaching career at Mount Pleasant High School in 1948. Barbara’s teaching career has taken her to schools in Indiana, New Jersey and Delaware, where she has spent 30 years teaching at St. Mark’s High School. Barbara retired from St. Mark’s in 2010 because she knew layoffs were planned for the school as a result of budget cuts, and she wanted to ensure the jobs of younger teachers were saved. However, she has since returned to the classroom at St. Mark’s, where a scholarship was created and named in Barbara's honor to benefit St. Mark's students.

Marguerite Fiori Slavonia graduated from Seton Hill College in 1964 with a Bachelor of Music degree, 30 years after her mother, Florence Favero Fiori, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree. Margi, a Leechburg, Pa., native worked as a teacher in Chicago before switching tracks to focus on starting a family. After moving to Diablo, Calif., Margi began volunteering in the office of St. Isidore School, the parochial school that her sons attended. This opportunity evolved into a 27-year career with St. Isidore, six as a volunteer, 14 as the kindergarten teacher and the last seven as an administrator. Margi created the school’s first kindergarten in the fall of 1982, teaching Spanish and launching the renowned Kindergarten Spring Musical. The musical was unique because it represented the culmination of a year’s worth of learning: Students took field trips to theatrical productions, helped write the script for the program and developed language arts skills of brainstorming, planning and editing. In 1995, Margi was chosen as one of only 12 teachers in the country to be honored with the National Catholic Education Association’s Distinguished Teacher Award. When the construction to double the size of St. Isidore School was complete, Margi retired from teaching and accepted the position of vice principal. Even with the move to administration, Margi continued to teach music in her beloved kindergarten.

Kara Stenger is an Autistic Support teacher at Baggaley Elementary School in the Greater Latrobe School District. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and earned her Master of Science degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Saint Vincent College. Kara taught in an Emotional Support classroom in Virginia before moving to Latrobe to teach in a Learning Support Classroom, eventually transitioning to the Autistic Support classroom. For the past nine years, she has also enjoyed teaching in a summer school program for the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit at Clairview School. Last year, through fundraising and grant writing, Kara was able to initiate the addition of a multi-sensory room at Baggaley Elementary School. This room was one of the first of its kind in a public school setting in Westmoreland County. The multi-sensory room provides a controlled space where students with autism can interact with their environment since many of the children have difficulty with sensory processing. Since the addition of the room at Baggaley, more sensory items have been purchased for other schools in the Greater Latrobe School District.