In Karen Longo's classroom, kindness and making a connection are what matter most.By Ross Guidotti

IRWIN, Pa. (KDKA) — A teacher in Westmoreland County is really making the grade.

Karen Longo’s enthusiasm for teaching, dedication to her students and unshakable belief in kindness stand out. In her classroom, kindness and making a connection are what matter most.

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“She’s probably the best teacher I’ve ever had,” said sixth-grader Presley Kelly.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

For 15 years, Longo has been teaching at Queen of Angels Catholic School in Irwin. Her accomplishments in Catholic education include being recognized by the Greensburg Diocese with the Golden Apple Award.

“That was an amazing honor, that was a career high, “said Longo. “It was great.”

Longo’s skills with the kids are admired by those who work with her, but her impact transcends the classroom and the staff room.

“She’s the first to step up and offer help to anybody on staff that needs it, including me,” said Queen of Angels Catholic School Principal Jennifer Silak. “Her way of connecting with her students, she does as well with her peers, and they respond so positively as well.”

Longo’s classroom is bright, engaging and warm in many ways. That is what her personality is essentially all about, but there’s one element in her teaching prowess and that’s being silly.

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“A few years ago, she turned into a witch in third grade, danced around and made us make a potion. A few weeks ago, she wrote a rap to Earth Day,” said Kelly.

Anthony Longo’s a big fan of his teacher in another way.

“She’s a really good mom. She makes sure she helps me and my sisters and makes sure she has something planned for us,” said Anthony.

One of Karen’s proudest accomplishments is the “Kindless Club.”

“It’s making sure you are thinking of others before you are thinking of yourself,” the teacher said.

So here’s to Karen, who according to her students and peers, is nothing short of an angel.

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“A huge asset to our community. We’re blessed to have her here,” said Silak.