SRU lands three alumni on The Incline’s “Who’s Next” for education


Jessica Hall-Wirth

Jessica Hall-Wirth, Slippery Rock University assistant professor of special education, was recognized as one of the top 19 Pittsburgh-area professionals in the field of education under the age of 40 by The Incline. (Photo courtesy of Bruce Pinchbeck / The Incline.)

July 17, 2019

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Three Slippery Rock University alumni were named to The Incline's "Who's Next 2019: Education," a list of the top young leaders in the field of education from the Pittsburgh area.

Jessica Hall-Wirth, SRU assistant professor of special education, who earned her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in special education from SRU in 2014, 2015 and 2018, respectively; Heather Price, a 2011 graduate with a degree in special education; and Michael Zeiler, a 2007 graduate with a degree in music education, were recognized by the The Incline, a Pittsburgh news organization.

Each month, The Incline recognizes the most dynamic influencers in the Pittsburgh area under age 40 in different fields. In June it selected 19 teachers and administrators from nominations submitted by readers for inclusion on their list.

"(This recognition) means a lot to me because my previous students nominated me," Hall-Wirth said. "It's a great honor to know that students feel the way that they do, and it puts into perspective how blessed I am to be able to teach every day."

Hall-Wirth was nominated by former students, Jake Paterline, a 2017 graduate with a degree in early childhood/special education, and Cassandra Spirnock, a 2019 graduate with a degree in social work.

Paterline and Spirnock credited Hall-Wirth with always coming up with new and better ways to make education individualized for students and for her research into the causes of stress for special education teachers in southwestern Pennsylvania.

In addition to serving on the SRU faculty, Hall-Wirth is the director of the nonprofit Students with Exceptional Abilities, a program operated under the Pine-Richland Youth Center in Gibsonia that offers tutoring for all children and after-school and extended school year programming for children on the autism spectrum, with developmental disabilities, social concerns or other special needs.

Price is the behavior and instruction support consultant at The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh, working with an autism support program and coaching a team at the institute's Day School.

Zeiler is the choral director, musical director and choreographer at Highlands High School in Natrona Heights, where he organizes musical productions and is credited with growing the school's arts program.

For a complete list of The Incline's "Who's Next 2019: Education," click here.

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