WCCF names winners of humanitarian, educator awards

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The Washington County Community Foundation has selected Jane Piatt to receive its annual Louis E. Waller Humanitarian Award and Suzanne Ashmore, a world cultures and AP U.S. history teacher from Chartiers-Houston School District, as the recipient of this year’s Dr. Howard Jack Outstanding Public Educator Award.


The humanitarian award recognizes a local individual or organization devoted to the promotion of human welfare or the advancement of social reform as evidenced by humanitarian deeds in the community, whether local, national or international Criteria for the educator award are that the teacher inspires students of all abilities, has earned the respect of colleagues, students and parents and is actively engaged in the community.


“Jane Piatt has spent years performing good works in our community, offering care and compassion wherever it is needed; but her dedication to Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern Pennsylvania is particularly noteworthy,” remarked William M. Campbell, WCCF chairman. “By sharing her own story of domestic abuse, she exhibits a courage that is truly inspiring.”


“She demonstrates a sincere commitment to, and recognizes the importance of, empowering battered women so they may assume control over their lives,” added Lisa Hannum, prevention/education coordinator at Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern Pennsylvania.


As the survivor of nearly a decade of verbal, emotional and physical abuse during her first marriage, Piatt serves DVSSP by leading support groups, participating on the Domestic Violence Awareness Month Committee, volunteering at the shelter, and sharing her personal experience with abuse victims and the community.


“In addition to her service at our local church, Jane speaks at other churches, educating them about domestic violence … I cannot imagine the number of lives that have been touched and transformed by this wonderful woman of faith,” wrote the Rev. L. Stephen Smith Jr., pastor at First Presbyterian Church.


Piatt is also a volunteer for Washington Hospital, the American Cancer Society Daffodil Days Committee and Greenbriar Treatment Center’s Lighthouse for Women. She is also a member and Deacon at First Presbyterian Church.


“I don’t do what I do to be recognized … I do what I do because I care,” Piatt stated.


In recognition of Piatt’s humanitarian service, the Community Foundation has approved a $1,000 grant to Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern Pennsylvania.


After graduating from Trinity High School, Ashmore studied history at Yale University. She returned to Washington County with her degree and spent a number of years in social work before deciding to stay home to raise her family. But as her children grew, Ashmore realized teaching was her vocation.


“The support we received for Suzanne Ashmore’s nomination was absolutely astounding,” said Campbell. “It is evident that her innovative teaching style, passion for service, and dedication to her students have made her a highly valued member of the Chartiers-Houston School District and shining example of the qualities that Dr. Jack embodied.”


Chartiers-Houston Superintendent John George writes, “Suzanne’s attitude is one that implies ‘children are important.’ It is a delight to watch her interact with students.”


Extraordinary learning opportunities happen on a regular basis in Ashmore’s classroom. In fact, it is not unusual to hear her students say things like they mummified hot dogs, re-enacted the Boston Massacre, or bartered for goods in a Middle Eastern market during that day’s lesson. Also, she frequently makes use of cutting-edge technology to keep her students engaged.


“I try to make history enjoyable,” Ashmore remarked. “I do things a little bit differently every year because the kids change from year to year.”


In addition to inspiring in the classroom, Ashmore also sponsors numerous student groups including the National Honor Society, the LEO Club, Students Helping Others and Students in Action. Her mission is to teach kids lessons that can’t always be found in a textbook – like how to be a good citizen and a compassionate volunteer – and she leads by example through her involvement with organizations such as Community Action Southwest and the American Cancer Society.


“I love teaching high school kids. This is such an exciting time in their lives,” she remarked.


In her honor, the Foundation approved a $1,000 grant to Chartiers-Houston for the technology program.


Both awards will be presented at WCCF’s annual Legacy Celebration.


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