In September, Brandon Middle School science teacher John Pienkowski learned he had been selected as one of five finalists for the National Association for Alternative Certification (NAAC) 2018 Outstanding New Educator Awards. According to the NAAC, award nominees are in their first three years of teaching, were certified through an alternative route program that is a member of NAAC, and demonstrate passion for and commitment to the success of every student.
On Dec. 14, Pienkowski received the following email message Judy Corcillo, NAAC Executive Director: “Congratulations! You have been selected as a winner of the National Association for Alternative Certification (NAAC) Conference Award for Outstanding New Educators.”
Upon hearing the news, Brandon Middle School Principal Christy McQueeney was quick to share her pride on Twitter.
Pienkowski is in his second year teaching after earning his license through Regent University’s Career Switcher program. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he served for 20 years in the U.S. Navy and retired in 2015 as the commanding officer of the USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19).
In a Sept. 26 Kaleidoscope article about his selection as a finalist for the NAAC Outstanding New Educator Award, Pienkowski reflected on considering a career in education.
“I was in charge of the lives of 365 sailors and marines and an almost $2 billion warship. I had to do a lot of training and teaching,” he said. “I knew I was coming up on the end of my career and had been working with young officers right out of college and young sailors right out of high school. I enjoyed teaching them and seeing that ‘aha’ moment. I thought to myself, ‘I really enjoyed doing that.’”
As a recipient of the NAAC Outstanding Educator Award, Pienkowski receives a $1,000 award, a complimentary registration to the 2018 NAAC Annual Conference held April 4-6 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and a complimentary one-year membership in NAAC. He also has been asked to deliver a five-minute presentation at the awards luncheon Friday, April 6, at which his wife and two sons will also be present.
“I joined the Navy to serve my country, to serve something bigger than myself. I felt [teaching] was a calling,” he reflected in September. “I thought, ‘You really love science. You are really energetic about teaching young people. You served your nation. Go serve your community.’”
Read more on Kaleidoscope about Pienkowski’s reflections on becoming an educator and teaching science .
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