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Pittsburgh-Area Educator Named Finalist for National Teacher of the Year


North Hills, PA - Secretary of Education Dr. Noe Ortega today announced that Joseph Welch, an educator at North Hills Middle School in Allegheny County, has been named one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

“Pennsylvania is home to some of the best educators in the country, and it’s exciting to see one of our own in the running for National Teacher of the Year,” said Sec. Ortega. “PDE and educators across the commonwealth applaud Joseph Welch for his dedication to his students and community, and we are cheering him on as he competes for this great honor.”

Welch, an eighth-grade history teacher, was previously named CCSSO’s 2022 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year. He has taught at North Hills School District for 15 years and served as seventh and eighth grade team leader for more than 10 years. Welch was named the 2020 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year, the 2019 National Middle Level Educator of the Year by the Association for Middle Level Education, as well as the 2019 Pennsylvania Social Studies Teacher of the Year. In 2018, he was honored as National History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

If named National Teacher of the Year, Welch will spend the next year serving as an ambassador for education and an advocate for teachers and students across the country.

“This is a tremendous honor for Joe, our district and the entire North Hills community,” said North Hills School District Superintendent Dr. Patrick J. Mannarino. “He is a leader among his peers and admired by his students and colleagues alike. We are so fortunate to have Joe at North Hills and thank him for his tireless and unwavering dedication to his students and to his profession.”

Welch joins three other finalists, with the National Teacher of the Year being named at the end of April:

  • Autumn Rivera, sixth-grade science teacher and CCSSO’s 2022 Colorado Teacher of the Year
  • Whitney Aragaki, high school science teacher CCSSO’s 2022 Hawai‘i Teacher of the Year
  • Kurt Russell, high school history teacher and CCSSO’s 2022 Ohio Teacher of the Year

“We are thrilled to learn that Joe Welch is a finalist for National Teacher of the Year,” said North Hills Middle School Principal LaMont Lyons. “He is a dynamic educator and role model for everyone in our school. This is a well-deserved honor, and we congratulate him.”

Pennsylvania’s most recent National Teacher of the Year finalist was Ryan Devlin, former 11th-grade English and 9- 12th-grade technology teacher at Brockway Area Junior/Senior High School, in 2014. There has never been a National Teacher of the Year from Pennsylvania.

CCSSO’s National Teacher of the Year program identifies exceptional teachers across the country, celebrates their work in and outside the classroom, and, through one-of-a-kind professional development opportunities, helps them amplify their voices and empowers them to take part in policy discussions at the state and national level.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, please visit the website or follow PDE on FacebookTwitterYouTube, or Pinterest.  

MEDIA CONTACT: Kendall Alexander -

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