Machmer Named a Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year Finalist



By Eric Foster

Stephanie Meisel Machmer, a ’96/’00M alumna of Commonwealth University-Bloomsburg, was one of twelve finalists for the 2024 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year. She has been a secondary life skills support teacher in the Jersey Shore Area School District for 28 years.

“I was always drawn to education because I enjoyed working with kids, but my middle school guidance counselor suggested I try special education,” says Machmer. “I student taught in a life skills classroom for one of my student teaching placements and really enjoyed it, so when a position at Jersey Shore opened, I immediately applied.”

Stephanie Machmer teaching

“I am a graduate of Jersey Shore, so working there has been great. I love the district and the area is a great place to raise a family,” adds Machmer. “My husband Brian is also a Jersey Shore graduate and ’95 Bloomsburg graduate. We built a home on my family farm and our kids attended the same schools I did growing up and now our youngest is in high school with me and our oldest is in college.”

“When I started at Jersey Shore, we didn’t have a secondary life skills program, so I was able to build the program,” Machmer says. “I love helping students prepare for being successful after graduation. “I’m helping students get ready for life in so many areas—from cooking and daily living skills to self-care and job readiness—I want my students to be as independent as possible in all areas. I love helping students reach their full potential. Many of my students have been told they can’t do things and I love showing them they can do it.”

“In the last five years, I have started a student-run coffee shop, a facility dog program, and a Unified Bocce team. It keeps me busy, but it also keeps things fresh and new for both me and my students. Sharing new programs and projects with my school and community keeps my spark in education burning.”

Stephanie Machmer teaching

“My greatest satisfaction comes from seeing my students be successful, especially in an area where they didn’t believe they could do it. Seeing confidence grow for once timid students. I also love seeing my past students being productive members of their community—both working and participating in the community.”

“I am both honored and humbled to be a 2024 finalist for PA Teacher of the Year. I’m thankful for the experiences I gained because of it, but also for the chance to highlight my school and my students. I work with and know so many wonderful educators, it was hard to believe I was chosen as a finalist,” says Machmer. “While I didn't win the Teacher of the Year, I’m so thankful for the experiences this opportunity provided.”