English Teacher Awards

2023 Award Winners

Jason Marchioli: Administrative Leadership

Jason Marchioli began his career as a business education teacher, teaching a wide-array of business and computer courses, while also serving as a basketball coach and DECA advisor. Jason has served as a school administrator in the West Seneca Central School District since 2016, and is currently the Principal of West Seneca East Middle School. In addition to actively working with students and staff members, Jason spends a great deal of time working with aspiring educators and new teachers to help them strengthen and develop their craft. He is most proud of his recent work with The Buffalo State English Education department, and is grateful for the relationship he has enjoyed with Dr. James Cercone and Dr. Kristen Pastore-Capuana. Together, they have created many opportunities for educators to gain meaningful experiences in the classroom, while always placing emphasis on the importance of fostering a nurturing learning environment designed to promote success. Jason currently lives in East Aurora, NY with his wife Lisa and their daughter Vienna Capri.

Michael Gunsolus:
Early Career Teacher

Mike Gunsolus teaches English 10 Honors and a senior elective course entitled Social Justice at Lockport High School. His focus is on creating classrooms that are centered around the student, inquiry-based learning, and culturally relevant pedagogy. Mike is also the advisor of the high school’s newspaper and the Take a Look At Teaching Program (TALAT) which gives high school students who aspire to be future educators opportunities to learn more about the profession. He earned his BS from Niagara University and his MSED from SUNY Buffalo State, both in the field of English Education. Mike and his wife Aman love traveling, and currently reside in Tonawanda, NY with their 14 year-old dachshund Cooper.

Brandy Kinney:
Experienced Teacher

Brandy Kinney is currently in her 17th year of teaching. Although her career started in Jamestown City School District with Videography and Sports Journalism, she has spent the last sixteen years teaching ninth and tenth grade for the Salamanca City School District. In addition to being a classroom teacher, she is co-advisor of Student Council, a Volleyball Coach, a Team Leader, and Head of the English Department. Brandy is the creator and coordinator of the SCCD Mentoring Program where within her role she provides information, support, and encouragement for the success of educators/staff new to the district. She is a member of NCTE and has presented at their conference along with ISTE, and NYSCATE. She is also an ADL Jacques Wolf Educators’ Conference presenter. She is a partner of Echoes and Reflections which provides professional development to empower educators to become transformative classroom teachers about the Holocaust and has presented at Yad Vashem. She was recently recognized by the NYS Board of Regents with the Louis E. Yavner Teaching Award for her work in Human Rights and the Holocaust in the classroom using her engaging and interdisciplinary project Atrocity Museum. Brandy earned a Master’s Degree from Edinboro University in Curriculum and Instruction, and a Bachelor’s Degree from SUNY Fredonia in English with a minor in Sports & Exercise Studies.

Diane Meaney:
Lifetime Achievement

Diane (Eggenweiler) Meaney graduated from West Seneca West High School in 1984. She graduated from Canisius College in 1988 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in English. She continued her education at Buffalo State, earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Secondary Education and eventually her Master’s Degree in Reading. In 1991, after working as a substitute teacher for West Seneca Central Schools she was hired as an Inclusion Aide for the district which eventually led to the positions of Teacher’s Assistant and finally full-time English teacher in 1997. Diane was the advisor for West Horizons newspaper for ten years. In addition to teaching English 9, Diane has been the co-teacher for WSTV (West Senior TV) which produces a live morning broadcast daily for the past seventeen years. She has worked with 13 student teachers during her career, three of whom she is proud to say work in the West Seneca School District. Throughout her years in West Seneca, she and her husband have been active members in the West Seneca West Alumni Association since its inception in the early 90’s.

Scott Reimann:

Scott Reimann has a B.A. in English from John Carroll University, a M.A. in English from Stony Brook University, and a certification in English Education from the University at Buffalo. Scott has taught both middle and high school at local public and charter schools. Currently, he teaches English and communications courses at Bryant and Stratton College.

A proud graduate of Buffalo State College for both her BS in English Education 7-12 and MS Ed in English 7-12 — Go, Bengals — Darla has taught for the past 28 years. She has worked with WNYNET for several years and has also hosted many student teachers from Buffalo State. Darla is the president of her local teachers’ union, president of the Niagara County Teacher Presidents, and sits on the NYSUT Board of Directors for ED3. She is active in unionism and education. Her greatest accomplishment is working to shape the minds of students and future teachers - a legacy that has a lasting yet immeasurable impact. It is with humility and honor that Darla accepts this prestigious award.

Melissa Meola Shanahan:
English Education Alumnu Award

Dr. Melissa Meola Shanahan is an educator and theatermaker. She has worked at Lafayette International High School for over two decades, exploring language, identity, and agency with her students in the English Language Arts classroom. Meola Shanahan is the founder and advisor of two extracurricular clubs. Meola Shanahan also serves as an adjunct professor at Buffalo State University and University at Buffalo, teaching courses to preservice English Teachers. Melissa is also the co-founder and Associate Director of Torn Space Theater, a contemporary performance company located on the Eastside of Buffalo. Each spring, she facilitates collaboration between LIHS and TST with a project called Agents of Change. Agents of Change is a community-based research project exploring the talent and assets of people in Buffalo. The students create a public installation and present their research findings at a community event. Meola Shanahan recently earned her doctorate in Learning and Instruction at the University at Buffalo this spring.


The WNYNET English Teacher Awards recognize English educators in the Buffalo-Niagara region who have shown a commitment to the young people of our region through the meaningful teaching of English Language Arts in grades 7-12.  

  -  The New and Early Career English Teacher Award is given to an educator that has taught 7-12 English for 1-5 years. Recipients of this award are developing as leaders in their departments and schools. They engage in meaningful, reflective practice within their classroom and work to connect teaching to their students’ lived experiences. They incorporate new technology and current research in the field to significantly enhance student engagement.

  -  The Mid-Career English Teacher Award is given to an educator that has taught 7-12 English for 6-20 years. Recipients of this award demonstrate the same commitments as above while also assuming leadership roles in their districts and Western New York through the mentoring of new and pre-service teachers, their engagement in local, regional, and national professional networks (such as WNYNET, NYSEC, NCTE) and in other capacities that support and encourage meaningful teaching in our region.

  -  The Lifetime Achievement in English Teaching Sponsored by Just Buffalo Literary Center is given to an educator that has taught 7-12 English for over 20 years. Recipients of this award have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the meaningful teaching of English Language Arts throughout their careers. In addition to the above, these teachers have served as leaders in their communities, worked for many years as mentor teachers, and have continued to develop their understanding and advocacy for meaningful English teaching in our region, state, and country.  

  -  The Administrative Leadership in Support of English Language Arts Award is given to building and district administrators who have supported the meaningful teaching of English Language Arts in their schools and/or districts.

Who can nominate an educator? 

Anyone can nominate an educator. This includes colleagues, parents, administrators, pre-service teachers, educational professionals, or any member of the community. 

Nominations will be reviewed by the Western New York English Teachers officers according to the standards set forth by the organization.

How does WNYNET define meaningful teaching in the English Language Arts classroom?

To define what constitutes meaningful English teaching, The Western New York Network of English teachers draws from standards set forth by the National Council of Teachers of English as well as leading researchers and teachers in the field of secondary English education.

While meaningful teaching can be described in many ways, the following characteristics may be helpful in determining potential award recipients. Teachers that may qualify for these awards are teachers who:

Nominate an Educator for the 2024 awards

To nominate an educator,please use this form. Nominations are due March 5, 2024.