Gwynedd Mercy University teachers are difference makers. They carry the GMercyU values of integrity, respect, service, and social justice into their classrooms to transform students into not only lifelong learners, but good people.
In honor of National Teachers Week, we are celebrating GMercyU teachers who are making a difference. If you or a fellow Griffin are one of them, submit your story and a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. #GMercyUTeachers
Derrick Coleman, EdD '17
Superintendent, River Rouge School District
"The Mercy values have significant influence in my work as an educator because they are a constant reminder of the need for unwavering service and commitment in the spirit of the most high. GMercyU has reinforced in me the spirit to help others understand that we must work selflessly to ensure the least amongst us are provided with the dignity and care this university showed me as a student."
Justin Collins '21
9th Grade Teacher, Parkway Northwest High School for Peace and Social Justice
"As a teen, I always wanted to be an attorney. Law and the government have always interested me. Instead of working reactively and helping people get out of trouble, I figured that I could work more proactively and keep people out of trouble. Naturally, I thought about teaching the same subjects that interest me most."
Crystal Edwards, EdD '20
School Principal, William D. Kelley Elementary School
“If anyone’s feelings were hurt or dreams were shattered at other places like me, GMercyU is real. It’s not some walk in the park or easy. No, that’s not it. But it’s a place that takes you seriously. GMercyU is doing the real human work of healing people.”
Pre-K4 Teacher, Queens of Angels Regional Catholic School
"I still hear Ms. Pierantozzi in my head every week as I teach and as time goes on, I am so thankful for the academic foundation she provided us. All of my experiences, both in and out of the classroom, have shaped me into being a Distinctive Mercy Graduate. To me, that means you take with you the values you learned and find a way to make those work in the career path you have chosen. You find a way to weave those into everything you do and how you spread that message to others."
Jacqlyn Gallagher '16
Fifth Grade Teacher, Blue Bell Elementary School
"I truly credit GMercyU with preparing me to be the best teacher I could be and providing me with a toolbox of strategies for the large repertoire of skills it takes to be an effective teacher."
Amanda Hickson, MS '13, '17
Teacher, Holy Cross Regional Catholic School
"One thing that stood out in my time at GMercyU was that the idea of becoming a teacher was not just treated as a career opportunity, but rather as a vocation. It was not just about getting a job post graduation and working, but about going out and making as much of a positive difference as we could in a child’s life through the work we did. As a teacher who has been in the classroom now for eight years, I would say that on top of academic excellence, the ideas of empathy and encouragement are very important to me. My goal is to encourage the students to not only give their best in the work they do, but in how they care for and treat others."
Alexis Howard '20
Third Grade Teacher, Abington School District
"It is important to build relationships and support systems with your students. When I first began my position, it was important that I got to know my students before speeding 100 miles per hour into the academics. I create a safe place for students to share, if they would like. As an educator, I believe students thrive in a nurturing environment."
Evelyn Nunez-Lebron, EdD '17
Chief of Schools, The School District of Philadelphia
“Choosing the EdD Program at Gwynedd Mercy University was one of the best decisions I have made in my educational journey. The high level of guidance and support which I received from the professors and my dissertation advisor was exactly what I needed to facilitate the completion of the dissertation while also working full-time as a Principal in a large, urban elementary school."
Erin Park '16
Kindergarten Teacher, Saint Genevieve School
"It took me a little time to find my dream job, but I found it! I teach at Saint Genevieve School in Flourtown, teaching kindergarten! I also am a Coordinator of Religious education for our parish! GMercyU prepared me so perfectly for the world of education. Thank you GMercyU ❤"
Jo'anna Pray '18
Third Grade Teacher, St. Malachy's
"I think being a Distinctive Mercy Graduate is taking the values I learned at GMercyU and carrying them with me in my life and not just my career. A lot of the Mercy values such as diversity, immigration and helping those who are unfortunate, I take with me not just as a teacher but as a person."
Melissa Russo, MS '18
Fifth Grade Teacher, Horry County Schools
"My Mercy-centered education has prepared me for a lot in my professional career. I feel as if I have more grace, more understanding, and more patience. I hold myself to a standard that I try to reach every day, but I also understand sometimes that standard may not be reached. I don't allow myself to give up, but think of new ways to go about something to hopefully find success."
Steven Rufe, M.Ed. '12
Director of Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports, The School District of Philadelphia
"Would I make more money doing something else? Heck yes! But would I be transforming the world? Would I be helping to make a system stronger and better? Probably not. GMercyU taught me to challenge the status quo not by getting rid of it, but joining systems that need extra love, support, care, and transformation. GMercyU taught me a mindset and perspective and challenged my privilege, perspective, and thinking."
Stacey Lee Salvato '04
Reading Specialist K-4, Francis A. Desmares Elementary School
"As a child, school was always hard for me, papers came naturally but tests were another story. I felt inadequate compared to my peers since I was in the support classes. It wasn't until my sophomore year at GMercyU that my Dean suggested I go and get evaluated. I was diagnosed with dyslexia and then was given the proper tools, not the coping mechanisms I developed on my own, to thrive in my classes. I knew in 3rd grade that I wanted to be a teacher but it wasn't until I was at GMercyU and had the proper support that I knew that dream was truly possible! Fast forward to 2022, I am in my 14th year as a reading specialist and get to help students that are in the same educational position as I was. I struggled with reading and now I get to help students with those same difficulties so they do not feel bad about themselves as I did as a student. Thank you GMercyU for helping me see my full potential and believing in me when I didn't always believe in myself."
Tim Smyth, MS ‘08
History Teacher, Wissahickon High School
"I want to be the teacher/adult I needed when I was a kid, and this keeps me going. These young people need us, and I know what we do matters, each and every day.I have cried, laughed, and hugged so many students over the years. They have saved me in so many ways and I am forever grateful for my students."
Stefanie Wood, MS ‘08
Autistic Support Teacher, Council Rock School District
"Carrying the Mercy values with me throughout my career have allowed me to work with my fellow teachers, students, and families to educate students on the autism spectrum with integrity and respect."
Marianne Boyd, M.Ed.
Professor of Practice, GMercyU
"I tell my students that I am first a learner, and second, their teacher. They will learn teaching from my three perspectives: that of a teacher, a parent, and a building administrator. 'Teaching and Learning' are my passion. This is what I know…I love getting up in the morning knowing I am going to school to teach. I want my students to wake up fifty years from now and feel exactly the same way."
Desiree' Caldwell, EdD
Assistant Professor, GMercyU
"The resilience I see in current students that gives me confidence in their ability to pivot and embrace the challenges of teaching today includes their ability to adapt to their environment and still be successful with their lack of resources. Instead of giving up; our students are finding creative ways to engage students and keep them learning."
Tiffany Cresswell-Yeager, PhD
Assistant Professor of Higher Education Leadership, GMercyU
"As faculty, we focus on helping the students to reimagine their why, to examine the values and motivation that led them to this field and to seek solutions to solve the challenges that educators face."
Marianne Kaemmer, EdD
Adjunct Professor, GMercyU
"Despite the challenges of teaching during a pandemic, I had the pleasure of working with many successful student teachers. I was inspired by their resilience and determination to motivate their learners, work collaboratively with their cooperating teacher, identify areas where they needed to improve and replicate teaching strategies that were effective. While teaching is demanding, inspiring your learners, and leading them to success a wonderful, rewarding career!"
Mary Jo Pierantozzi, MS '72
Assistant Professor, GMercyU
"There is nothing that compares to the joy of watching students learn and grow. That applies to my years of classroom teaching as well as my years at GMercyU. My love and passion for teaching has never wavered. There is an old saying, 'Do what you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.' Teaching has never been a 'job' for me. It has been, and continues to be, my passion and my calling."
Peggy Rosario, EdD
Assistant Professor, GMercyU
"Our students come hungry for ideas to improve their teaching and an interest in connecting with other students and faculty to gain insights into best practices. Their interest in researching a dissertation topic that can impact teaching practice shows their dedication to addressing challenges and sharing their findings to improve teaching practice. So in a sense, they are not only facing the challenges themselves, they are also contributing to the research that can help other teachers face them as well."
Deborah Schadler, PhD, CPCRT, PRSE
Assistant Dean & Assistant Professor Education, GMercyU
"I always tell preparing teachers that, in being a teacher, you are above all, an actor. Regardless of the challenges you are facing, you must make your students feel that this is the best day of your life, because when you are with them, maximizing their learning is YOUR MOST important goal. So whatever drama is going on in your life, must be pushed aside."