STATE — Lillianna Fells, a third-grade student in North Pocono School District, is the winner of the “My teacher is an Olympian” contest, sponsored by the Pennsylvania State Education Association, Partners for Public Education, and the Pennsylvania PTA.

The announcement comes as the world watches the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

Fells’ entry explained the reasons she believes Sherri Hughes, her third-grade teacher at Moscow Elementary Center, exemplifies the qualities of an Olympic athlete.

“Educators in Pennsylvania’s schools give their all every day to ensure the success of their students, just as the U.S. Olympians give their all representing our country,” said PSEA President Dolores McCracken. “Sherri Hughes is a shining example of the great things happening in classrooms across the state.”

The “My Teacher is an Olympian” contest was open to Pennsylvania students in kindergarten through third grade. Students were asked to write and illustrate three original reasons explaining how an educator or support professional they know demonstrates one or all of the following qualities of an Olympian: friendship, solidarity, and fair play.

Hughes was honored to be compared to an Olympian.

“I have such a high level of respect for these particular athletes,” she said. “They show stamina, perseverance, motivation, and a respect for other human beings. As an educator, I must show up every day with the same qualities.”

The contest aimed to recognize the great work of the educators, support professionals, and administrators in Pennsylvania’s schools, while showing students that being an Olympian means so much more than being an athlete.

“We are proud to recognize the inspirational work of Sherri Hughes,” said Pennsylvania PTA President Bonita Allen. “She has made a lasting, positive impact on her student. We applaud Lillianna’s creativity.”

The grand-prize winning entry, along with other winners, can be found at

PSEA represents approximately 181,000 future, active and retired teachers and school employees, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania PTA is a not-for-profit association of parents, educators, students, and other citizens who are active in their schools and communities.