FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2007
Contact: K.E. Schwab
SRU music education graduate named Pa. Teacher of the Year
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -David Woten, a 1991 Slippery Rock University music education graduate, is Pennsylvania's 2008 Teacher of the Year.
Woten, who teaches in the North Allegheny School District, was named earlier this week. He was selected from a field of 12 finalists from across the state and will represent Pennsylvania in the national Teacher of the Year competition in Washington, D.C., next spring.
According to an Associated Press story, the Carson Middle School teacher oversees the sixth- and seventh-grade chorus and teaches eighth-grade general music. He said he was inspired to become an educator by teachers he had as youngster in the Ambridge School District, and that he chose music because he recognized it was his strongest talent.
"It was something I was successful at early," Woten told the AP.
Woten went on to earn a master's from Duquesne University. He has spent his entire teaching career at the middle school, where the number of students enrolled in the sixth- and seventh-grade music elective classes has grown from 35 to more than 250 during his tenure. He was nominated by middle school principal Brian Miller, who said Woten also plays a key role as a mentor to new hires and to student teachers who are assigned to his classroom.
"His impact on learning is incredible," Miller said.
One of his former students, Amy Mencini, recalled that on her first day in his classroom, Woten greeted students with a song and a huge smile as he stood by the doorway. Mencini, now a 16-year-old high school sophomore, told the AP, "Being the wise teacher that he is, he used his energetic ways and creativity to help a large group of kids, all at different levels of musical talent, to achieve what we thought were unattainable goals."
In the classroom, Woten said he tries to go beyond merely teaching music and help students relate what they learn to other subjects and to life skills they will need to succeed.
"If they can stand up and sing alone in front of their classmates, going to a job interview is easy," he said.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.