Together We Rise header image
  • We are excited to announce the February CSIU: Together We Rise Nominees!

    As announced at 2021 Professional Leadership Day (PLD), the CSIU has implemented a new award program, "CSIU: Together We Rise!" The program recognizes colleagues for their commitment to: 

    • Rising through innovative work: A person who has demonstrated innovation in the workplace.
    • Rising through service to others and self-care: A person who modeled service or self-care or who helped a person or team with service or self-care.
    • Rising through equity: A person who embraced equity in the form of learning (self-growth), teaching (providing or organizing professional learning experiences for others), or practicing (ensuring equity for served populations).

    February brought in 23 nominations for the awards! Please take a few moments out of your day to read about these valued members of the CSIU family and to congratulate them for making a difference by RISING through innovative work, service to others and self-care, and/or equity!

    Nominate a colleague for a March award by the 30th.

February Winners

    Kerri Kubilak, Soniris Arroyo, David Morales

    CARES Team; DCW Heroes Staff
    Rising through Innovative Work Award

    Why Kerri, Soniris, and David were nominated: 

    Together, these individuals are rising to support their DCW Heroes participants with a new state nurse-aide credentialing site. The team is collaborating with the state to identify obstacles and solutions. Kerri, Soniris, and David have remained patient and resilient in helping their participants navigate this new site.

    Jose Reyes-Lua, David Marshall, Karen Lehman, Missy Wellington
    & Christina Tinoco

    Center for Schools and Communities (CSC)

    Rising through Innovative Work Award, Nominated by Ellen Withrow

    Why Jose, David, Karen, Missy, and Christina were nominated: 

    Led by Jose, this team has developed an innovative application for a federal Farm and Food Workers Relief Grant that, if accepted, will provide a $600 payment to 42,500 farm workers and meatpackers in six states‚ PA, IA, MI, NY, OH, & TN. Jose requested and received support from Ms. Carmen Medina, Chief, PDE Bureau of Teaching and Learning, Division of Student Services, to pursue this application and forge a strong team of statewide Migrant Education Programs. This entire team has worked well and hard to create a strong application. Shoutouts also to the business office and technology teams for their support and help in determining how this payment can safely and securely be applied for and delivered via a cash card‚ all to benefit the people who help put food in our grocery stores and in our homes!


    Lisa Black 

    Facilities Receptionist
    Rising through Service to Others and Self-Care Award, Nominated by Dr. John Kurelja

    Why Lisa was nominated: 

    I received the following message from one of our superintendents, Dr. Cathy Keegan:

    "Dear John, 
    I wanted to take a moment to give the CSIU 16 receptionist a big SHOUT OUT!  She represents the organization well. She is funny, kind, and welcoming; all attributes needed by the first person you meet in an organization. Please pass along my appreciation for her. 


    This type of feedback is actually common because of how good Lisa is at her job. We are fortunate to have Lisa at our front desk. She brightens the day of everyone that comes through our doors! We are blessed to have her at the CSIU!

    "Lisa epitomizes everything we look for in the value, Service to Others... and talk about a wonderful ambassador!" — Dr. John Kurelja


    Nancy Padula-Bradley 

    Special Education; Partial Hospitalization Clinical Coordinator
    Rising through Service to Others and Self-Care Award

    Why Nancy was nominated: 

    Nancy has been filling in for other positions at Five Star due to staff shortages while continuing her own work. She did this selflessly and put the needs of her program first. Thank you to Nancy for keeping things going during this difficult time.


    Jess Harry 

    Special Education and Off-Site Facilities Support Program Supervisor
    Rising through Innovative Work Award

    Why Jess was nominated: 

    Jess is always thinking about the needs of the program and how we as a department can work together to meet those needs. At times, this means thinking outside-the-box to meet the needs of our students and staff. Thank you to Jess for continuing to provide meaningful ideas for our department, even when short-staffed!


    Tanya Dynda

    CARES Team; Instructional Technology and STEM Support
    Rising through Service to Others and Self-Care Award; Nominated by Colleen Epler-Ruths

    Why Tanya was nominated: 

    As I am approaching my first year anniversary, I am so appreciative of all the help Tanya has given me as I assumed her old role. She was always there to answer questions and make the path straighter for me. I am grateful for her care of me here at the CSIU.


    Susan Amarante

    Special Education; Preschool Speech Therapist
    Rising through Service to Others and Self-Care Award; Nominated by Laura Adams

    Why Susan was nominated: 

    Sue has always been a supportive Individualized Education Program (IEP) team member. In the last couple of years, she has become an amazing support to the whole faculty at the Watsontown Children's Center too. Sue makes sure that if teachers need anything, she will lift a hand or reach out to get them the needed help. Sue supported a fellow Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) by providing her student teacher with sessions when her peer was off. She is also mentoring a new SLP in our program. Sue is always willing to help fellow SLP's with getting screenings and evaluations completed when her caseload allows. Along with the amazing extra tasks she takes on, she is also a very skilled speech pathologist. Her students make marked progress.

    Kristin James

    Special Education; Teacher of Visually Impaired
    Rising through Equity Award


    Why Kristin was nominated: 

    Recently, Kristin James, CSIU teacher of the visually impaired, taught 1st graders at Warrior Run School District how to use a Braille Writer and a slate & stylus to write in Braille. By teaching 1st graders what these are, she is breaking down barriers and promoting inclusivity for our students!

    Jose Reyes-Lua

    Statewide Migrant Education Program; Recruitment Managing Coordinator
    Rising through Service to Others and Self-Care Award, Nominated by Karen Lehman


    Why Jose was nominated: 

    Jose Reyes-Lua is the statewide recruiter for the Pennsylvania Migrant Education Program (MEP). In this role, he acts as an advocate, both for the recruiters that he trains and for migrant families across the state. In the past two years, Jose has worked hard to make sure that recruiters have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at their disposal, including $5,000 for PPE from an anonymous funder. Jose worked with that same donor to obtain a $20,000 cash donation, with $12,500 going directly to MEP families across the state, and $7,500 for non-MEP eligible families. Jose's ability to coordinate the efforts of partners makes these acts of kindness and generosity impactful for families across the state. Thank you, Jose!

    Katherine Vastine, Soniris Arroyo, Tammie Confair, Ann Miller, David Morales, Kim Renz, Linda Walker 
    & Ashleigh Williams

    CARES; DCW Heroes Team
    Rising through Service to Others and Self-Care Award

    Why Katherine, Soniris, Tammie, Ann, David, Kim, Linda, and Ashleigh were nominated: 

    The DCW Heroes staff goes above and beyond, even outside their daily duties, to help the individuals they serve. From assisting individuals with personal barriers, including language barriers, to assisting them with training and employment and providing praise and support for their accomplishments, all while carrying high caseloads of participants.