Since 2003, the award is given to a teacher who displays a love of learning, leadership, and a commitment to the community. The award was established in honor of Ham Clark’s 15-year tenure as headmaster of Sewickley Academy and his wife Ceci’s many contributions to the life of the school.
The Clark Faculty Chair honoree is an individual who best exemplifies the teaching qualities that Mr. Clark most admired: a mastery of his/her subject matter, a love of teaching and interacting with young people, and an engaging and effective teaching style. In addition, the recipient is respected by his/her colleagues and the school community, regularly seeks personal and professional growth opportunities, and is fully engaged in the life of the Academy.
This year’s honoree exemplifies the qualities of the Clark Faculty Chair. Creative, thoughtful, dedicated to supporting the varied interests of students, Mrs. McCloskey makes an enormous difference in all areas of school life beyond the classroom. This year’s honoree is known for being innovative in the classroom, always keeping the content of classes current. The teaching methods employed challenge students to think about how to and then devise ways to solve problems. Supporting critical thinking and problem-solving through meticulous and creative approaches, the very nature of the courses demands a high level of focus and attention to detail. Which is not to say that the work is not fun. There are plenty of opportunities for students to showcase their learning with their peers and have fun in the process, collaborating with one another to develop a collective solution to a particularly difficult challenge.
Mrs. McCloskey has built an exceptional Computer Science Program, one that has supported quite a number of students to go on in their future studies to build on what they first learned in her classroom. More than one student has chosen a college major on the basis of experiences had in her classroom.
Inspiring and serving as an exemplary role model for her students, our honoree began her career at Sewickley Academy after teaching at a variety of schools. Mrs. McCloskey inherited a program that was small, but she has grown it over the years into one that is robust and bursting at the seams. A graduate of a regional high school, our honoree attended a Clarion University and earned a graduate degree from Robert Morris University. A sixteen-year veteran of the Academy, she has served as a teacher, department chair, and grade-level dean. Her commitment to her students is exceeded only by her devotion to her colleagues with whom she generously shares her expertise and knowledge.
Our honoree is smart, thoughtful, kind, and humble. Mrs. McCloskey is recognized as a leader in her field and has become an exemplar of inquiry-based and problem-based education. Her students develop strategies to solve difficult problems and then have to build the tools and machines that will solve them. Her students have taken their skills outside of the classroom to create problem-solving opportunities for the entire community – how quickly can your group escape?
Mrs. McCloskey has also been the longtime advisor to the Knowledge Bowl team, which has performed successfully in KDKA’s Hometown High-Q competitions each year.
For her extraordinary support of her students, her creativity in the classrooms and robotics labs, and her generosity of spirit with her colleagues; for her commitment to Sewickley Academy and support of activities well beyond those that happen in her classroom, it gives me great pleasure, on behalf of the Academy’s Board of Trustees, to present this year’s Clark Faculty Chair to Mrs. Cristy McCloskey.
Congratulations, Mrs. Cristy McCloskey!