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Drexel University Honors High School Teachers Behind Every Graduate

May 31, 2011

Drexel University will present four teachers with the Harold W. Pote “Behind Every Graduate” Award for excellence in secondary teaching at its 124th commencement to be held on June 10-11. Recipients of the award are nominated by Drexel graduating seniors who recall the high school teacher who inspired them to pursue a college education, seek a new perspective on learning or pursue a particular major or career.

  • Melissa Parr, an architectural and engineering design teacher at Clearview Regional High School in Mullica Hill, N.J., was nominated by her former student Danielle Castley, a mechanical engineering major who is graduating from Drexel’s College of Engineering. Castley nominated Parr for the award for teaching her the importance of engineering student organizations, experiential education and mentoring. “Due to her encouragement, I founded the Technology Student Association at my high school,” said Castley. “Her passion for education was apparent every day when she brought enthusiasm and practical knowledge into the classroom. My diverse career and extracurricular experiences would not have been possible without Ms. Parr’s preparation.”
  • Lois Tyburski, a biology teacher at Villa Joseph Marie High School in Holland, Pa., was nominated by her former student Caitlin Harvey, a culinary science major who is graduating from the Goodwin College of Professional Studies at Drexel. Harvey noted that Tyburski acknowledged the efforts of students in meaningful ways, organized and sponsored many field trips to encourage learning outside of the classroom, and inspired students by simply doing what she loves: teaching. According to Harvey, “Her goal as a teacher was to motivate, inspire, and challenge every student who walked through her classroom doors. I, along with many of the other students who graduated from Villa Joseph Marie feel that she not only fulfills that goal, but surpasses it.”
  • Joy Vander Vliet, an English teacher at Council Rock North High School in Newtown, Pa., was nominated by her former student Emily Pugh, a nursing major who is graduating from Drexel’s College of Nursing & Health Professions, for fostering a love of reading and writing in her classroom. Pugh described Vilet as an outstanding teacher who served as a true role model. “She encouraged me to follow my other passion and become a nurse,” said Pugh. “She served as my mentor, encouraging me to always love the written word, appreciate the value of education and to believe in myself and my abilities.”
  • Bethany Van Veldhuizen, a math teacher at Phil-Mont Christian Academy in Philadelphia was nominated by her former student Andrea Gould, an entertainment and arts management  major who is graduating from the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design  at Drexel. Gould honored Van Veldhuizen for playing a key role in students’ personal development and preparation for college and their future careers. According to Gould, “Ms. Van Veldhuizen helped me to prepare for the SATs after school, offered guidance and support, and most importantly, saw my potential and invested time in me,” said Veldhuizen.

Awardees will receive a $2,000 prize from Drexel and an additional $2,000 will be presented to their high school.

In 2006, Drexel University initiated the “Behind Every Graduate” Award for excellence in secondary teaching. Since then, Drexel has honored 21 of these teachers and the students who nominated them.

In recognition of the importance of superior teachers in preparing students for college, Drexel University has endowed the “Behind Every Graduate” Award in the name of Harold W. Pote, a late university trustee who was deeply committed to recruiting the highest caliber of undergraduate student to the University.


News media contact:
Niki Gianakaris, director of Media Relations, Office of University Communications
215-895-6741, 215-778-7752 (cell) or

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