May 03, 2016
The Washington County Community Foundation (WCCF) has named Virginia Vasko, a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) educator from Bentworth School District, the recipient of this year’s Dr. Howard Jack Outstanding Public Educator Award. Criteria for the award are that the educator inspires students of all abilities, has earned the respect of colleagues, students, and parents, and is actively engaged in the community.
“The children of Bentworth School District are fortunate to have access to such an inspirational and creative educator as Virginia Vasko. Her enthusiasm for her work has impacted many, and her dedication is indicative of someone who sincerely upholds Dr. Howard Jack’s philosophy on education,” remarked WCCF Chairman Deborah Takach.
Colleague Joycelyn Gazi writes, “I am not alone in my high regard for Virginia; her reputation is one of the finest in the Bentworth School District as well as in the community. I am always impressed by her devotion to her children, her unstoppable energy, and her educational influence.”
A life-long resident of Washington County, Vasko grew up on a family farm in Bentleyville. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Clarion University and her Master’s degree with Principal Certification from California University of Pennsylvania.
Over the course of her nearly 30-year career, Vasko has taught children of all abilities different subjects in different grades at both the elementary and middle school levels, always adjusting and adapting to ensure every student has the best experience.
In her current role as the fifth grade STEM educator at Bentworth Middle School, she is committed to collaborating with the other teachers on her team so that coursework can be successfully integrated between the disciplines. She is someone who believes the value of an education is not always measurable with tests and exams. It is about fostering a life-long love of learning for her students as well as instilling a desire to explore the world around them.
Additionally, Vasko has dedicated her free time to many school and community activities including: the Leo and Ski Clubs at the high school, Bentleyville Lioness Club, Ave Maria Parish, Washington County Fair, Pike Run 4-H, Girl Scouts, and softball teams. However, one worthwhile cause that is particularly near and dear to her heart is the Mrs. Claus Club, which helps individuals who are battling cancer.
When reflecting on her career in education, Vasko, who plans to retire at the end of the 2016-17 school year, remarked, “It’s about the love of what you do . . . Show them respect. Show them love. Every child wants to feel important.”
The Dr. Howard Jack Outstanding Public Educator Award will be presented to Vasko at the WCCF’s annual Legacy Luncheon on Friday, May 20. In her honor, the Foundation approved a $1,000 grant to Bentworth School District in support of an outdoor classroom.
For more information about the WCCF, please visit www.wccf.net.