Mary Jo Pronio, the June Teacher Spotlight, was nominated for promoting cultural literacy in her classroom and incorporating space and time into her social studies lessons. She earned her B.S. from Saint Francis University and her M.Ed. from Penn State University and has been teaching for 25 years. She currently serves as the 5th and 6th grade social studies and 6th grade religion teacher at Saint Margaret Mary School in Harrisburg. In addition to her teaching duties, Pronio coaches the Quiz Bowl team, works with the after-school program, and has facilitated student work on the school newspaper. For the past several years, she has run a week-long summer day camp that prepares students for National History Day by teaching them how to research and execute a mock project. In 2013, she was a recipient of the Diocese of Harrisburg’s Golden Apple Award for her professional excellence, leadership, and commitment to Catholic education.
Pronio enjoys teaching geography as it encompasses all the disciplines of education. From reading and analyzing road maps from around the world, to creating their own personal maps from home to school, to mapping ancient civilizations and their trade routes, her students use reading, writing, science, math, and technology to learn geography. Being able to discuss global issues allows students the opportunity for critical thinking and problem solving and broadens their knowledge of cultures. Teaching students to think globally keeps them connected to economics, climate change, cultural diversity, and more. Geography is a student’s passport to the world.
No stranger to passports herself, Pronio thoroughly enjoys geography outside the classroom as well. She has spent summers hiking and exploring our country’s national parks and has traveled to France, Spain, and Italy. As you read this, she will be hiking and exploring the cliffs and fjords in Iceland on another adventure that will provide even more authentic experience to enrich her students’ learning.
Photo: Standing inside a lava cast in the Lava Cast Forest in Oregon where lava flow made casts of ancient trees 6000 years ago.