News Post

Brian Swauger and Heather Capezzuti Recognized for Teaching Excellence

Each year, Winchester Thurston School teachers are recognized for teaching excellence. Congratulations to Brian Swauger, City Campus fifth grade teacher, the 2017 recipient of the Judy Apt Nathenson Memorial Chair for Excellence in Elementary Education and Heather Capezzuti, current science teacher at the North Hills Campus and soon-to-be Director of the North Hills Campus beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, the 2017 recipient of the Jane L. Scarborough Award for Teaching Excellence.

Judy Apt Nathenson Memorial Chair for Excellence in Elementary Education: Brian Swauger

Head of School Gary Niels and the 2016 recipient of the Nathenson Award, WT Visual Arts Department Chair and North Hills Campus art teacher Sally Allan, presented the award to Swauger at the 2017 Lower School Moving Up Ceremony.

Swauger, who just completed his eighteenth year at WT, is known for his energy, enthusiasm, and playfulness, his commitment to lifelong learning, and desire to embrace learning and leadership opportunities.

"Whether it is teaching fifth grade math, supervising before school care, chaperoning one of the overnight trips, or supervising kickball at recess, Brian approaches each task with joy and a 'can do' spirit," shared Allan.

Swauger is also celebrated for building relationships with each student, inspiring them to push beyond their comfort zones and achieve their personal best. "He takes the opportunity to give praise when it's earned and has a remarkable ability to help students understand the importance of personal responsibility," noted Allan.

The Judy Apt Nathenson Memorial Chair for Excellence in Elementary Education was established in memory of Judy Apt Nathenson, a 1969 graduate of Winchester Thurston School and Kindergarten teacher who sadly passed away in 2000. Judy vigorously championed the importance of early childhood education at Winchester Thurston School and throughout the Pittsburgh community.

Jane L. Scarborough Award for Teaching Excellence: Heather Capezzuti

Capezzuti, a 26-year WT veteran, was chosen by a committee comprised of faculty members, students across divisions, and two members from the WT Board of Trustees, who received 109 nomination letters from faculty and students. Niels and the 2016 recipient of the Scarborough Award, Upper School English teacher Sharon McDermott, presented the award to Capezzuti at the 2017 Commencement ceremony.

Capezzuti was celebrated in many letters from her colleagues and students. "Among the accolades written," shared McDermott, "She is described as 'teaching ... with an understanding and appreciation for science as a never-ending pursuit of the truth.' She 'challenges her Lower School scientists to find how many ways they can make a bulb light by using a piece of wire and a battery, clean filthy water with a few simple materials, and design a bridge that holds the most weight.'"

Capezzuti is valued as an integral part of the North Hills Campus community by students and faculty alike. She is known for developing dynamic, hands-on science programs using the North Hills Campus's outdoor classrooms, and forging community partnerships that enrich her students' understanding of and appreciation for science, research, and the outdoors. McDermott shared a faculty member's admiration for the personal bonds she develops with each faculty member and a colleague's summation of her exemplary service: "'North would not be North, and the Lower School curriculum would not be the rich and engaging program that it is without Ms. Heather Capezzuti.'"

The Scarborough Award is given by the Board of Trustees to a returning member of the faculty who values, respects, and demonstrates intellectual inquiry and discovery.