Allison Stephens is the 2018–2019 recipient of the Ammerman Distinguished Teaching Award for Religious & Interdisciplinary Studies, while Michele Poacelli is this year’s Zern Excellence in Teaching Award honoree. The awards, which are presented on an annual basis to two members of the Mercersburg faculty, were announced August 24 by Head of School Katie Titus.
Stephens has taught at Mercersburg since 1989. She was first hired in 1987 as the school’s director of annual giving before moving into the classroom, where she has taught history, English, American studies, and the Quinn-Ferguson Honors Seminar. Stephens serves as an adviser to the Mercersburg NEWS, Mercersburg Model United Nations, the Rainbow Alliance, and the Women’s Activist Club. She is a faculty adviser in Swank Hall.
Stephens has held the Rumbaugh Chair for excellence in teaching since 2011, and is a graduate of Amherst College and Wesleyan University. She and her husband, fellow faculty member Dave Holzwarth ’78, have two children: Wynn Holzwarth ’11 and Zack Holzwarth ’13.
Poacelli, who teaches English, has served as director of the school’s Writing Center since 2015 and spent four years as the dormitory dean in Culbertson House. She has taught in Mercersburg Summer Programs’ Young Writers Camp, and also spent two summers as its director.
Poacelli has worked with Mercersburg students as a tutor in English and history and has also held instructional and leadership positions with Teach for America, The Dalton School, Summerbridge of Greater Philadelphia, and Hagerstown Community College. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and a master’s from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. Poacelli and her husband, fellow English faculty member Todd McGuire have two children.
The Ammerman Distinguished Teaching Award for Religious & Interdisciplinary Studies was established by Andrew Ammerman ’68 and his mother, the late Josephine Ammerman, while the Zern Excellence in Teaching Award was established by Allen Zern ’61 and his wife, Judith. Andrew Ammerman and Allen Zern are both emeriti members of Mercersburg’s Board of Regents.
Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 435 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $7 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center. Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance of New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. 300 East Seminary Street, Mercersburg, PA 17236 GPS Address: 10951 Buchanan Trail West, Mercersburg, PA 17236 717-328-6173