Colonial Middle School's Tanya Prickitt receives Citadel Heart of Learning Award
Colonial Middle School math teacher Tanya Prickitt has been named this year’s grand prize winner in the Citadel Credit Union’s Heart of Learning Award contest, the second year in a row that a Colonial teacher has won this prestigious award for outstanding middle school teachers in the greater Philadelphia region.
An elaborate ruse was organized to surprise Mrs. Prickitt, who until the morning of May 1, did not know she had won the award. Students, fellow teachers, administrators, and Mrs. Prickitt’s family – as well as television/video crews from Fox 29 and Citadel Credit Union – packed into the middle school choral room to await her arrival. Told that she was being asked to attend a meeting, Mrs. Prickitt was ushered into the room to cheers, camera crews, and Fox 29’s Bob Kelly, who was broadcasting live.
Mrs. Prickitt was selected as the grand prize winner of Citadel’s annual contest as a result of the 27 nominations she received. In addition to a glass, heart-shaped award, she was presented with a $5,000 monetary award. Colonial Middle School also received $5,000 as part of the honor.
Mrs. Prickitt said she felt humbled and honored to receive the award.
"I feel beyond thankful for all of those people who have inspired me, encouraged me, and walked alongside me as educators and staff at CMS. I feel touched by the memories of the students who have passed through the doors of room 235 and room 117 and in the hallways over the years," she said. "These are all the important pieces that build the heart of learning that this award is all about."
Students who submitted nominations cited Mrs. Prickitt’s caring nature as a primary reason she deserves the award.
“Mrs. Prickitt…was always a light in my life. She was one of the most positive people I have ever met, and not only effectively taught me how to excel in math, but she served as an example of who to be as a person,” said one student submission.
Others were clearly inspired by her.
“I am nominating Mrs. Prickitt because she is one of the reasons why I am going to college to become a math teacher just like her,” said a student nominator. “She made learning math fun and interesting. We always did something new every class period. We did whiteboard activities, scavenger hunts, and played fun math games. She looked out for all her students and always wanted us to succeed.”
Interestingly, Mrs. Prickitt did not start out her career as a teacher. She was a chemical engineering major at Villanova University and following graduation, was hired to work for Sunoco in their engineering and finance departments. While at Sunoco, she earned her MBA.
She later left the business world to teach math and chemistry at Kennedy-Kendrick High School in Norristown while pursuing her teaching certificate. She also taught at Mount St. Joseph Academy in Flourtown and was hired by Colonial Middle School in 2005.
She has been named a Master Teacher (2010-2012), was Blue team leader at the middle school (2015-2018), and has sponsored student math competition teams, provided tutoring, presented at Best Practice Fairs, and worked on countless building level and district committees.
Students and families appreciate Mrs. Prickitt because of her compassionate and warm style of teaching. Her well-crafted lessons help students gain mastery step-by-step and she makes sure to include brain breaks and active movement so students rarely become overwhelmed by classroom tasks. She often is available at the end of the day or before school to assist anyone who might need a little extra help.
“Among her colleagues, Mrs. Prickitt has the highest respect. She is a great listener and friend when you need advice. She is honest and wants to know how you and your family are really doing. Her consistent commitment to general acts of kindness towards others is infectious and endearing,” said George Hankins, a fellow teacher who serves on the middle school’s Green Team with Mrs. Prickitt and who won the grand prize Heart of Learning Award last year.
Mrs. Prickitt said the award is meaningful to teachers and those they educate.
"This award means hope to me - hope for the students who walk our halls, hope for the future of society, hope for educators all over the world," she said.
Mrs. Prickitt is married to Jeff and they share a daughter, Julie. The family loves getting outside, cheering on Julie in her athletic competitions, and serving their church. To watch the video from Fox 29’s live broadcast, click here.