Awards & Recognitions
The AIU is extremely proud of the accomplishments of its employees, programs and divisions. Below are just a few of the recognitions and awards that our caring and compassionate staff have recently received.
2022 Apple Award
LISA MEHALIC, a teacher at the Cornerstone Preparatory Academy, is the recipient of the 2022 Apple Award. The award is presented to a K-12 professional in the AIU’s Non-Public Schools Program who demonstrates superior contributions, commitment and the highest level of support as an AIU ambassador. Lisa serves with distinction and displays leadership, expertise and compassion to all students and staff. She is patient and kind, and she has always advocated reading and math programming to support student growth and development.
2022 Annie Sullivan Award
TRACY STRACHAN, a nurse at Sunrise School, is the recipient of the 2022 Annie Sullivan Award. The honor acknowledges Strachan’s dedication and efforts to promote and champion the needs of individuals with disabilities and to promote disability awareness in the community. Named for Helen Keller’s teacher and friend, the Annie Sullivan Award recognizes an educator who goes above and beyond her or his professional duties to facilitate acceptance of people with disabilities in school and the community. Tracy has created an atmosphere of trust and support within Sunrise School which allows students, staff and administration to feel safe and cared for every day.
2022 Award of Excellence
COURTNEY ONYSHKO, a professional with the AIU’s Alternative Education Program, is the recipient of the 2022 Award of Excellence. Courtney was nominated by her peers for exemplifying team leadership, support and problem solving in the classroom environment, as well as for demonstrating superior instructional practices and professional interventions with students and families. A valuable leader, Courtney’s ability to plan and adapt to ever-changing circumstances has been instrumental to the success of the Alternative Education Program.
2022 World of Gratitude Award
SARAH HARRITY, a teacher at Carnegie Elementary, is the recipient of the 2022 World of Gratitude Award, which is presented to a K-12 English as a Second Language (ESL) professional in the AIU’s K-12 ESL Program. Harrity received the honor for demonstrating an exemplary level of professionalism and dedication to students and staff while displaying leadership, expertise and compassion. An advocate for all students and their families, Sarah goes above and beyond helping the ESL department implement new practices, concepts and resources.
2022 Helping Hands Award
KIMBERLY CRISS, a paraprofessional at Pathfinder School, is the recipient of the 2022 Helping Hands Award. The award acknowledges an employee who goes beyond their required duties to enrich the lives of the students they serve. Kimberly, who has worked at the AIU for two decades, supports a diverse group of students, embracing all as a caring and compassionate educator. She has displayed patience, knowledge, persistence and dedication throughout her career.
2022 Heart of a Hero Award
DONNA REINHART, an Early Head Start Teacher, was awarded the Allegheny County Head Start Association's Heart of a Hero Award, given to the individual who exceeds expectations for the nomination because of their dedication to the program. This employee goes above and beyond for their children and the families in the Early Head Start Program. Donna was recognized for showing a positive attitude in all situations, putting the needs of the children in the classroom and their families first. She is always willing to help everyone in every possible way she can.
2022 Mission-Possible Award
The Mission-Possible Award is presented to AIU employees who have exhibited a positive and influential impact on their work environment, overcame an obstacle or fostered cooperation and collaboration in their work group, all while carrying out their responsibilities.
The work of Mission-Possible Award honrees demonstrates excellence in supporting the AIU’s core mission of advocating and advancing equitable opportunities for every learner. These staff members exemplify going above and beyond to complete a mission.
The winners of the 2022 Mission-Possible Awards are:
Janet Breiding, Internal Services
Betty Diamond, Early Childhood, Family and Community Services
Debra Hofmeister, Special Education/Pupil Services
Joe Pisciotta, Teaching and Learning
Pisciotta reflects on Mission Possible Award and a decade working at the AIU
This past spring, Joe Pisciotta was selected as one of four AIU employees to receive the Mission Possible Award for his positive and influential impact in the workplace.
Pisciotta, the AIU’s federal and non-public school program coordinator, said the award was meaningful, but credited the work of others in the non-public schools program as having equally significant importance.
“We have a lot of people who do good and important things,” he said.