PITTSBURGH -- Megan Campedel of Avonworth Middle School has been named the NHL and NHL Players' Association Future Goals Most Valuable Teacher for January.
Campedel, a Pittsburgh Penguins fan who teaches eighth-grade science, was one of 12 individuals nominated when the Most Valuable Teacher program launched at the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1. She won a vote at NHL.com/MVT after using the Future Goals Program to demonstrate how science affects hockey.
"I started using the Future Goals module to reinforce some of the physics and chemistry content that I teach," Campedel said. "Just this fall, though, I kind of broadened what we do with Future Goals to create a project where my students created investigations based on some of the similar topics in Future Goals."
Campedel's students took part in experiments at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, the Pittsburgh Penguins' practice facility in Cranberry, Pennsylvania.
"They saw how mass affects a hockey puck, or how does the angle of a collision affect the momentum of a puck?" said Campedel, who considers center Sidney Crosby her favorite current player. "It was really cool for them to see those concepts in real life. A lot of them love sports to begin with, so to see how science and sports align was really exciting for them."
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The students at the school located about 10 miles north of Pittsburgh were also excited to see Iceburgh, the Penguins mascot, walk into their science lab Tuesday.
At first, Campedel said she wasn't sure what was happening. She assumed each nominee received a visit to thank them for taking part in the program, but realized she had won after opening a gift bag to find a Penguins jersey with the No. 1 on the back and her last name on the nameplate.
The students started an "MVT" chant before joining her for a group photo. Campedel then walked the halls, where teachers and students stopped to congratulate her.
"That was overwhelming," Campedel said. "To see how excited they were was just like amazing. Even kids that weren't in my class right now came over and like gave me high-fives and fist bumps. That was just great to see."
The Future Goals Program partners with Everfi, a critical skills education platform, to teach skills with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) sports curriculum to help prepare students for success in life.
Alyssa Mahramus, Everfi's director of implementation in western Pennsylvania, said Campedel emailed her last summer with the idea of holding scientific investigations at the Lemieux Complex.
"We brought a little bit of the connection, but she really brought it off of the ground, made it come to life," Mahramus said. "She took the kids to the Lemieux Sports Complex, did experiments on the ice. She coordinated all of that, so when she puts that much time and effort so that her students are really getting the most out of everything, it's exciting to make sure she can scream it from the rooftops."
Principal Mike Hall helped organize the surprise.
"I'm super proud of her for taking a leap and trying something a little bit different," Hall said. "It took a lot of work, a lot of planning, but she tried to make it a project that had a lot of meaning and kids could get excited about that kind of learning, and not just memorization."
Matt Herr, the NHL's senior director of youth hockey and industry growth, said the reaction of the students showed the value of the program.
"It's good because with everything that's going on in this world," Herr said, "to walk in and to know that hockey has been the link to this, as well as education, it's a great thing for the National Hockey League and the Pittsburgh Penguins to be able to help move education forward and inspire the young kids of tomorrow to want to learn about science and technology, and everything that's involved in this program."
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Twelve teachers have been nominated for the Most Valuable Teacher of February with voting open at NHL.com/MVT. Another 6-12 will be nominated for March.
Throughout each month, fans, teachers, students and parents can vote once a day, each day, for their favorite teacher. Each month of voting will close at 12 a.m. ET, and the leading vote-getter will be recognized as the Most Valuable Teacher for that month.
The website will be updated April 1 with Campedel, as well as the winners from February and March. A vote for Most Valuable Teacher of the Year will follow, beginning at 12 a.m. ET on May 8. The teacher who gets the highest number of votes will be invited to the 2020 NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
"It's just amazing," Campedel said. "I couldn't even imagine when I won the Pittsburgh Penguins teacher of the month, let alone the NHL Teacher of the Month. Now that it's on to the NHL Teacher of the Year, I'm just so overwhelmed."