South Fayette School District News Article

HS Teacher Wins National Award

The administration of South Fayette Township School District is pleased to share that High School teacher Dr. Felix Yerace has been recognized by the National Association for Student Activities (NA4SA) with its highest honor, the 2023 National Earl Reum Award. This award is given annually to someone who, through personal experience and expertise, encourages and inspires others in the field of student leadership; as well as someone who is instrumental in student leadership training and who promotes student leadership within their state and at the national level. This recognition began in 1991, and Dr. Yerace is only the second recipient from Pennsylvania in the award’s 33-year history.

“I’m so glad to be able to represent South Fayette and our student government, as well as PASC, NASC and NASSP, and NA4SA, in working with adults who are daily making a difference in the lives of their students by helping them to become better leaders,” said Dr. Yerace. “As classroom educators, we are tasked with teaching our students on particular subject matter, but I believe one of the greatest contributions we can make is by preparing our students for the real world. Developing and encouraging their leadership skills will take them far no matter what they choose to do after high school. That’s why I so enjoy working with other teachers through these different organizations across the nation. I know they are going to help their students make a huge difference in their schools while helping those students become better people at the same time.”

Receipt of the National Earl Reum Award highlights Dr. Yerace’s work on a local, state, and national level to promote and enhance student leadership development. Locally, Dr. Yerace partnered with the University of Pittsburgh to establish his leadership class at South Fayette as the first College in High School (CHS) leadership course in Pennsylvania. The class is now offered in 12 high schools across the state, allowing students to learn leadership in their classrooms along with college credit. 

At the state level, Dr. Yerace is the Assistant Executive Director for the Pennsylvania Association of Student Councils (PASC) which includes serving as the PA Coordinator for the US Senate Youth Program on behalf of the state’s Department of Education. He is also co-director of the Advanced Summer Leadership Camp offered through PASC. 

Nationally, Dr. Yerace serves as the Education and Engagement Coordinator for NA4SA and oversees training programs for activity advisors and leadership class teachers. He has worked extensively with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), serving on its Student Leadership Advisory Committee from 2015 to 2017, as an National Honor Society (NHS) State Summit Faculty Member, and in 2019, he worked with NASSP’s National Association of Student Councils (NASC) to host the National Student Council Conference at South Fayette High School.

“Dr. Yerace is extremely deserving of this award,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michelle Miller. “Even with all of the phenomenal teachers we are fortunate to have at South Fayette, he stands out for his dedication and commitment to our students and their leadership opportunities. He continuously gives of himself, and his students are quick to share their appreciation for the opportunities he provides for them in the classroom and across regional and national levels.”

With the goal of helping his student leaders engage with their peers across the state and nation, Dr. Yerace traveled in September with students to the PASC State Leadership Convention, where South Fayette’s student government received the Distinguished Keystone Council Award and five students were named Distinguished Student Leaders. As a Certified Master-in-Training for The Leadership Challenge program, he also escorted students to the NASSP LEAD Conference over Veteran’s Day weekend where he presented on The Leadership Challenge Model for both student and adult attendees.

Dr. Yerace has been with South Fayette High School since 2005, where, among other classes, he teaches leadership and positive psychology courses. He is co-advisor to the high school Student Government, Interact Club, and SF BeWell, and also coordinates the high school’s annual trip to Washington, DC. Dr. Yerace is the founder of the school’s renowned MiniTHON, which has raised over $1.4 million dollars during the past ten years for Four Diamonds to combat pediatric cancer. He is also responsible for creating the Homecoming Carnival, Glow Run, and student representative program on the South Fayette School Board. 

For his work as a student council advisor, Dr. Yerace was recognized in 2010 as the Pennsylvania Student Council Advisor of the Year by PASC and was a nominee for NASSP’s Warren Shull National Student Council Adviser of the Year Award. Last year, the South Fayette Student Government was recognized by NASSP as a Gold Council of Excellence and also received the Governor’s Civic Engagement Award from the Pennsylvania Department of State for helping to get students registered to vote.

Dr. Yerace was presented with the Earl Reum Award at the 2023 National Conference on Student Activities, December 1 - 3, 2023, in San Francisco, California. The conference featured speakers and presenters dedicated to student leadership as well as extensive networking opportunities for national leaders in the field of student leadership and activities.

To listen to Dr. Yerace's interview on the WESA-FM morning show, or to read the transcript, click here.

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