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Happy to Be Here: A teacher crowned with love


Nadine Sobusiak was beside herself with excitement last Friday.

Before a stadium filled with thousands of cheering fans, the Buckingham Elementary School second grade teacher was introduced as a Phillies All-Star Teacher of the Year.

“It was one of the most meaningful experiences in my professional career,” she said after the game. “So much love and appreciation.”

She had walked around the stadium — she estimates four miles — trying to catch a glimpse of every student who was there.

“It was very emotional,” Ms. Sobusiak said. “Some were crying. I was crying.”

It was a crowning moment in a 35-year career as an educator — a teacher and a guidance counselor in the Central Bucks School District.

A former student, a third grader named Bryce (Ms. Sobusiak called him “Harper”) had seen the Phillies’ contest announcement.

“Can we do this Mom?” he asked, and the nominations started.

Former and present teachers, parents, administrators and students sent essays in support of Ms. Sobusiak’s nomination.

Former colleague Geri Delevich sent a winning essay and the news from the Phillies arrived on April 4.

“Your essay was selected from our judging panel, meaning that Ms. Sobusiak has been selected as one of the Phillies 10 All-Star Teachers this year.”

Delevich had told the Phillies panel, “You could not choose a better Phillies All-Star Teacher than educator Nadine Sobusiak.”

At the Phillies Teacher Appreciation Night last Friday (Phils vs. Giants) the Bucks County teacher joined nine other All-Stars on the field as they were honored by the Phillies. And in the stands parents, students and colleagues cheered as loud as their voices could go.

Delevich had taught for years at the Buckingham school when she met Ms. Sobusiak as a new recruit. She related a scene from the past in her nomination letter.

“‘So what am I chopped liver?’ With laughter, I jokingly utter these words when I walk outside for recess duty with my friend...Nadine Sobusiak. As soon as the kids on the playground spot Ms. Sobusiak, they run to her to say hello and give her a hug. I was always a popular teacher, but she amazed me at how the students just loved her so much.

“Nadine was the perfect example of when you win their hearts, their minds will follow. Her students loved coming to school and loved to learn, but one of her most important lessons was the sense of community that she created among her students. They cared for one another, they supported one another and worked as a winning team with laughter, respect, determination and a love for the learning game.

Delevich was an award winning teacher herself and she had taught for 16 years before Ms. Sobusiak arrived. Her own passion for teaching spilled over into the plea to the Phillies. “As a co-teacher, Nadine taught me to have as a goal every day to find at least one thing to say to every student in my class that was a kind and positive message.”

Delevich expounded on her own philosophy: “Teaching is much more than the academics. More importantly, teaching is about molding caring, kind, thoughtful, respectful students with a winning attitude, a love of learning and a team spirit.”

Her nomination letter surely attracted the contest judges’ interest but Delevich said the students were the driving force. They wrote essays, persuaded their parents to write more, and former teachers and administrators from the school chimed in.

“What a wonderful essay about someone who is clearly making a difference for her students, colleagues and community,” Mary Ann Moyer, director community initiatives for the Philadelphia Phillies, wrote in her announcement letter.

“I love Philadelphia. I love the Phillies,” Sobusiak said. She grew up with three brothers in a family of Phillies fans. She lives in Langhorne today but was raised in the city’s Great Northeast, a graduate of George Washington High School and Penn State with counseling certification from Rider University.

Vivid memories of the game were still in place when I talked to her. They’ll probably never go away.

“I danced with the Phillie Phanatic in the bottom of the seventh inning. I added my own unique dance moves.”

“The kids made lots of signs. We saw them on the jumbotron.”

“The name on the back of a T-shirt said ‘Sobusiak Brainiacs.’”

The icing on the Phillies cake is a check for $1,000. The honored teacher will send it to Bustleton Elementary School, which has been renamed Anne Frank Elementary School. Ms. Sobusiak attended that school as Nadine Novick.

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