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Neil selected as 2020 Educator of the Year

Pitsco Education honors educators at Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce event

Published August 21, 2020

PITTSBURG, KS (August 21, 2020) – Pitsco Education honored three local educators at this year's Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce banquet. Joe Curran, Girard High School; Cooper Neil, Pittsburg High School; and Bridget Walker, Lakeside Elementary School, were selected as the top three finalists from a large pool of applicants. Neil was recognized as the 2020 Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year.

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The Educator of the Year Award is sponsored by Pitsco Education as a means to recognize the dedicated Crawford County teachers. Local educators are nominated by colleagues, parents, and community members for their contributions to their classrooms, school buildings, districts, and communities. Each nominee submits an application, and finalists complete interviews. While Curran, Neil, and Walker have different day-do-day focuses within their classrooms, they all shared a similar passion in helping students develop soft skills such as empathy, communication, self-awareness, responsibility, and perseverance, which are necessary to become happy, productive citizens. They each share an easy disposition and enduring commitment to helping students become their best selves.

Cooper Neil is the instrumental music director at Pittsburg High School, where he is responsible for the athletic band, wind ensemble, jazz band, string orchestra, and theatre pit education; but ultimately, his chief objective is to forge relationships with students through music. He believes that "music demands that people work for improvement for the sake of the betterment of themselves and the betterment of the group." His job and his joy is helping young people to be beautiful, unique, happy humans.

Joe Curran, agriculture education teacher at Girard High School, has been an educator for more than 30 years. His field encompasses a wide range of disciplines that teach not only technical skills but also the soft skills, including a growth mind-set, that students can carry on into their future schoolwork and life. He measures his success by the success of his students. He believes it is important to model commitment to the community within which he teaches, not only to encourage students to be an active part of their communities but also because his programs benefit greatly from local support.

Bridget Walker, fifth-grade teacher at Lakeside Elementary School, believes that students build confidence and achieve more when they have a harmonious classroom, appropriate social interaction, engagement, and equal participation. She loves to use hands-on projects to help students better understand concepts, including cultivating a butterfly garden at the school as part of a science project, building dog houses to help learn fractions, participating with the ArtWalk, and raising funds for a local donation. She enjoys the responsibility in guiding students in the transition from elementary school to middle school. Her ultimate objective as a teacher is to help shape good, solid individuals who take pride in their community.

Hear more from the finalists at

Note to All Teachers:

Events and recognition such as this enable us to celebrate the impact of teachers. And we've been able to celebrate three from within the local area who have made an outstanding contribution to the field, but we know there are educators across the state, country, and world who are learning, innovating, loving, leading, and teaching – and giving it their all. In a time of uncertainty like the current climate, one thing is certain: educators are awesome. Teachers are brave and inspiring, and we, along with countless others, are so grateful. Your commitment and talents aren't to be overlooked. Our hearts are with you this 2020-21 school year as you head back to your classrooms, screens, and hybrid models. We believe in you and are cheering you on!


Pitsco Education is the leading provider of hands-on K-12 STEM solutions. STEM education prepares learners for the future through the integration of science, technology, engineering, and math concepts using relevant hands-on applications to connect school, community, and work. Our various products, activities, curriculum, and solutions promote positive learning experiences and continued classroom success.

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“The level of individualized support you offer our teacher is amazing. It’s like having another instructional coach on our staff. Your relationship and ability to coach with empathy is appreciated. You took time to not only see a successful launch, but ongoing implementation; that level of capacity building is needed to sustain a successful program.”

– Sharrah Pharr, PhD, director of federal programs and grants, Hays CISD, Kyle, Texas

We enable young learners to develop the mind-set, skill set, and tool set needed for future success.

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