Cornell educator Amy Palo has been named the state’s top history teacher this year by the prestigious Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
Palo, a high school social science teacher since 2007 at the Cornell School District, which serves the communities of Coraopolis and Neville Island, says her work is motivated by a drive to turn her students into effective civic participants.
“I am absolutely honored that a panel selected me as Gilder Lehrman's History Teacher of the Year for Pennsylvania,” Palo tells Pittsburgh City Paper. “I am just one of many fantastic social studies teachers in this state who work hard to develop critical thinking and historical thinking skills, as well foster responsible and engaged citizens.”
A press release issued by the Gilder Lehrman Institute notes the collaborative relationships Palo has built with organizations like the Social Studies Network and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, which, it says “have greatly benefited her students with additional learning and life experiences.”
The Gilder Lehrman Institute was founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman to advance K-12 history education. It is a registered nonprofit entity.
Cornell Superintendent Aaron Thomas says Palo’s enthusiasm for her subject has rubbed off on her students throughout her 15-year career at the district, which has a student body of less than 600.
“Mrs. Palo is the definition of a professional educator and is a shining example to the profession,” Thomas wrote in a letter of recommendation endorsing Palo for the award. “[She] is also extremely dedicated to her students and profession, evident by the classroom activities she leads each and every day.”
As the statewide winner, Palo becomes one of 53 candidates for the National History Teacher of the Year Award which will be announced in October 2022.
Past presenters of the national award include the Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor, Good Morning America's Robin Roberts, First Lady Laura Bush, former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to a press release.