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Three Bethlehem Area School District Teachers Selected for 2018 B.E.S.T. Awards

Bethlehem, Pa., August 24, 2018—Three Bethlehem Areas School District teachers were recently selected by the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation to receive the 2018 Bethlehem Educational Scholastic Trust (B.E.S.T.) Awards.  The B.E.S.T. Fund provides annual awards to recognize excellence in teaching by educators who work in the Bethlehem Area School District (BASD).

Bernie Story and Dr. RoyBernie Story, President and CEO, Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, presented the awards at the BASD opening convocation ceremony on Wednesday, August 22, 8:00 a.m., at Liberty High School. “At the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, we are so pleased to make these awards each year,” said Story. “It is so critical to the community as well as students that outstanding teaching be given special recognition. Recipients of the B.E.S.T. Award receive a certificate and a cash award.”

Jacquelynn Venable, kindergarten teacher at Calypso Elementary School was awarded The Seymour and Sophie Haber B.E.S.T. Award for excellence in teaching at the Elementary School Level. She was joined by Kathleen Bast, Principal.

Jacquelynn Venable Recieves BEST Award from LVCFStory relayed statements that were included in Ms. Venable’s nomination, “Jacquelynn has spent nearly two decades devoted to educating young children. She gives individualized attention to struggling students, improving their academic skills and confidence, as well as gifted students—who need higher challenges. Her leadership in school events, afterschool and summer programs all show how much Ms. Venable cares about the whole child. Jacquelynn has high expectations for her students and supports them in achieving their goals. She provides a challenging yet nurturing environment, guiding her students with firm boundaries and goals, while tending to their imaginations.”

Tammy McDonald, who teaches Gifted Seminar to 6-8 graders at East Hills Middle School, was awarded The Bernie Cohen Award for Excellence in Teaching at the Middle School Level. She as joined by David M. Horvath, Principal.

Tammy McDonald Receives BEST Award from LVCFStory shared comments made by a parent and former student of MacDonald that included, “Mrs. McDonald has dedicated her entire life to education, making sure that students not only learn skills for her class, but also for high school and life afterwards. She has an incredible ability to draw in her students and help them connect to the lessons. She puts together creative projects that play to students’ strengths and help them improve on their weaknesses. Mrs. McDonald is a motivational person, and wants to see her students succeed—just as much as they do.  I am so grateful that I had Mrs. McDonald as a teacher in middle school to push me in the right direction. She has been a huge inspiration to me and to others because she puts so much of herself into what she does.

 Amber Chiafulio, who teacher 9th-12th grade AP Biology, Honors Biology, Biotechnology, Genetics at Freedom High School was awarded The Anthony Ruggiero Award for Excellence in Teaching at the High School Level. She was joined by Freedom High School Principal Michael LaPorta, Jr.

Amber Chiafulio Receives BEST Award from LVCFStory relayed statements that were included in Amber Chiafulio’s nomination, “Amber has created a technology-rich experience that best prepares her students for life and higher learning.  Her passionate approach to STEM education is unmatched. Through her infectious love of science, Amber inspires students to apply their knowledge from the classroom to real world situations.  Amber is a strong advocate of equitable opportunities for all students. She forms meaningful and dynamic relationships with her students, their parents and her colleagues that makes Freedom High School a better place for all.”

Since 2000, the B.E.S.T. Awards reward excellence in teaching at the K-12 levels in the BASD.  The B.E.S.T. Fund at the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation began more than two decades ago by a group of Bethlehem civic and business leaders who believed that the work of teachers is so critical to the community—as well as to the students—that outstanding teachers required special recognition.  Since then, recipients of the B.E.S.T. Awards are chosen by a committee which is comprised of teachers and educational professionals from outside the district as well as several past recipients of the B.E.S.T. Award.

The Bethlehem Area School District, in partnership with the home and community, is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment in which each student will attain the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to become a productive citizen and life-long learner in our technologically demanding and culturally diverse society.

The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation is a permanent foundation that provides grants to improve the quality of life in the Greater Lehigh Valley.  The Foundation gathers and pool contributions large and small, invests them wisely for growth, and makes grants to a wide variety of charitable organizations. Learn more at