Marywood Blogs

2017 Sister Benedicta Berendes Award Recipients

Posted by Byrne on 2017 April 23

(Pictured from left to right): Dean Terri Peters, Ph.D., Award Winners Emily Celli and Katie Fotta, and Dr. Joseph Polizzi

The students, faculty, and staff of the Reap College of Education and Human Development and Marywood University would like to congratulate students Emily Celli and Katie Fotta on being the honored recipients of the 2017 Sister Benedicta Berendes Scholarship Award!

The Sister Benedicta Berendes, IHM Memorial fund is a generous award provided by two alumnae, Dr. Mary Kay Pieski and Sally Covaleskie, that aids in covering the air travel to Poland for participants in the Teaching English in Poland (TEIP) Program. The Kosciuszko Foundation TEIP program is a well-known and respected organization around the country, especially here at Marywood, in which dozens of students and faculty members have traveled to Poland to teach the English language and American culture to young Polish students. The program started over 25 years ago by the Kosciuszko Foundation where Polish students are immersed in the American language, culture, food, music, and various other traditions with the help of the spirited and welcoming volunteers.

Ms. Celli and Ms. Fotta are appreciative of this profound opportunity to not only teach enthusiastic children in Poland, but to also have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Polish culture and travel throughout the country. Ms. Celli is a graduate student pursing her Master’s degree in Education as well as her Spanish K-12 certification through the Marywood Education department. Due to her “love for language and travel”, she studied abroad in Spain a few years ago, and had the opportunity to teach English in Spain, where she then fell in love with teaching.

Ms. Fotta is pursuing her Master’s degree in Education, particularly pre-kindergarten through fourth grade and special education kindergarten through eighth grade. She was selected for the Sister Benedicta Berendes Award due to her passion for music. She stated, “As the date approaches [to begin her Teaching English in Poland experience], I get more excited about this opportunity to share my love of music with high school students in Poland.” She has a desire to “unlock different worlds for [her] students… and unlock different worlds for [herself].”

Ms. Celli is excited and appreciative of this opportunity to be a part of the TEIP program thanks to the help of the Sister Benedicta Berendes Scholarship. Ms. Fotta considers it her “privilege to represent Marywood University and [her] country while traveling to Poland this summer.”

Dr. Joseph Polizzi, Associate Professor of Education and Educational Leadership, has been a staff leader and the Marywood University coordinator of the TEIP Program for five years. He commented, “This is a nationally recognized program that excels in developing mutual understanding, good will, and intercultural competency between the United States and Poland. I encourage students and faculty from all majors to become involved.”

Congratulations to Emily Celli and Katie Fotta for receiving 2017 Sister Benedicta Berendes Scholarship Award! It is an honor bestowed only on students with exceptional charisma, passion, and appreciation for teaching and sharing their love for various cultures and languages. We wish them the best of luck in their future teaching endeavors and with their trip to Poland this summer!

For additional information about the TEIP Program through Marywood University, please contact Dr. Joseph Polizzi by calling (570)-348-6211 ext. 2497 or email him at

Topics: Education

Posted by Erin Byrne

Erin Byrne, who is pursuing a master's degree in speech language pathology at Marywood, is a graduate assistant in the Reap College of Education and Human Development.

Read more from Erin Byrne