Principal honored as unsung hero

A South Philadelphia native received a prestigious fellowship from the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes.

Jayda Pugliese was named 2022 Lowell Milken Center Fellow following a trip to Fort Scott, Kansas in late June to collaborate with the staff of the Lowell Milken Center, which is an international educational nonprofit.

Pugliese serves as K-8 principal at St. Mary Interparochial School at 440 Locust St. She had previously taught at the former Andrew Jackson School (now Fanny Jackson Coppin School at 1213 S. 12th St., teaching fifth-grade science and math).

The LMC Fellowship is a merit-based award for educators of all disciplines who value the importance of teaching respect and understanding through project-based learning. The Center selects exemplary teachers from the United States and around the world who will collaborate on projects that discover, develop and communicate the stories of Unsung Heroes in history.

Pugliese was one of only 11 educators chosen for the 2022 Fellowship from the United States and the Netherlands.

“Jayda is an inspiration to all of us,” said LMC Executive Director Norm Conard. “Her determination to reach her educational goals and share her passion for math and science with her students and colleagues makes her an exemplary member of the 2022 Fellows.”

Pugliese, a 2005 Neumann-Goretti High School graduate, is profoundly hearing-impaired. She has learned to relate well to students with disabilities and teaches compassion, empathy and understanding.

Pugliese facilitates national and international professional development and training for schools, districts and universities with topics including best teaching practices, designing accessible instruction for diverse learners, STEAM-based technology integration for classrooms (e.g., project-based learning, 3D printing, design thinking and blended/remote learning practices), implementing effective leadership and system-wide strategic planning.

She was the first in her family to graduate from high school, and she earned a college degree from Holy Family University, graduating with a B.A. in Special Education and Elementary Education and a M.Ed. in TESOL and Literacy. She is a current doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership and Administration.

Pugliese was a recipient of the 2016 Milken Educator Award in Pennsylvania, the 2018 National Science Teachers Association Sylvia Shugrue Awardee and was a 2019 finalist for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year. Pugliese became the elementary and middle school principal at St. Mary Interparochial School in 2018.