Excellence in Education Awards & National Merit Scholar Recognition Ceremony Goes Virtual
On May 20, 2021, Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 premiered the stream of the Excellence in Education Awards & National Merit Scholar Recognition Ceremony, which is held annually to celebrate outstanding educational programs and students throughout the public schools across Colonial Intermediate Unit 20.

This year's virtual ceremony featured pre-recorded video messages from all of the Excellence in Education Award winners and National Merit Scholar students honored this year.
Excellence in Education Award Winners
Category 1: Educational programs or activities that take creative approaches toward providing highly effective teaching and learning opportunities.
  • Secondary MTSS Structure and Processes, East Stroudsburg Area School District
  • Learn From Home Initiative, East Stroudsburg School District
  • Transitioning Math Support into a Virtual Setting, Pocono Mountain School District
  • Professional Learning Teacher Showcase, Northampton Area School District

Category 2: Educational programs or activities that are built around active engagement of parents, families and/or the community in school efforts that strengthen or enhance student performance and school success.
  • Virtual Family Fitness, Pocono Mountain School District
  • Navigating the New Normal: A Connected School Counseling Program, Pocono Mountain School District
  • South High School Immersive Platform, East Stroudsburg Area School District
  • 25 Tunes of Christmas, Nazareth Area School District

Category 3: Non-school entity that has a demonstrated commitment to supporting efforts to strengthen and preserve public schools.
  • Sanofi Pasteur - Partnership with PMSD on “Outbreak Alert” program
National Merit Scholar Students
Bethlehem Area School District
Liberty High School
Liam M. Burke
Daniel Anda Li
Angela J Rhee

Bethlehem Area School District
Freedom High School
Advay S Deshmukh
Sebastian Jaskowski
Katherine M Marakovits
Jewel A Levy
Katherine Harper

Delaware Valley School District
Joshua Caraballo
Connor LaMarca
Eric Sutton
Stella Tannenbaum
Hannah Williams

East Stroudsburg Area School District
South High School
Stephanie Rodriguez-Solis
Omar Sharaf
Easton Area School District
Yajusha Krishna
Samyukta Neeraj
Noah Smith
Christopher Taverner
Kara Nghiem
Darshon McMillion

Nazareth Area School District
Megan Conklin

Pleasant Valley School District
Jaxon Havens

Saucon Valley School District
Helen Keetley
Rebecca Dettmar

Stroudsburg Area School District
Karen Defino

Wilson Area School District
Anish Kanduri
Chloe Park
Family Engagement Activities Continue Across CIU 20 Programs
Colonial IU 20 continues its partnership with the CIU 20 Parent Support T.E.A.M. in planning bi-monthly events that invite administrators, teachers, and family members to participate in partnership advocacy activities that focus on communication and understanding. The March 31st session featured information on navigating the chain of command when advocating for a student, and the upcoming June session will involve best practices for supporting student behavior.
On April 22, 2021, the Nonpublic School Services department conducted its annual Parent and Family Engagement Night that showcased reading and math activities via Zoom.

CIU 20 team members led activities that included a fraction based Breakout Edu, a phonemic awareness Scavenger Hunt, Literary Character Guess Who? and a context clue Video Shorts activity."
Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 is committed to creating a welcoming environment for all by celebrating diversity and inclusion in our students, families, and staff.
143 Day - A Celebration of Kindness
Colonial IU 20 staff and students participated in 143 Day - a day that falls on the 143rd day of the year and encourages people to spread kindness and positivity in their communities to honor Pennsylvania's favorite neighbor, Mr. Rogers. He regularly used 143 as his special code for "I Love You" - based on the number of letters in each word.
Mental Health Awareness Month
Colonial IU 20 was one of the first IU's to provide mental health services to students since its inception as an educational services provider in 1971. Our mental health programming has grown tremendously and we are currently one of the largest IU providers of mental health services in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
In addition to Mental Health professionals being an integral part of the CIU 20 team that provides supports to students in various programs, we also operate programs licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.
  • Partial Hospitalization Program
  • School-Based Outpatient Program
  • Intensive Behavioral Health Services
  • Day Treatment at Colonial Academy
Other mental health services provided by Colonial IU 20 include, but aren't limited to: Applied Behavior Analytics, Diagnostics, Early Intensive and Behavioral Intervention, Individual & Group Counseling, Intensive Behavioral Health Services, Intensive In-Home Services, Interagency Collaboration, Partial Interagency, Respite Services, Therapeutic Activities, and a comprehensive Therapeutic Emotional Support Program.
Staff Spotlight:
Mary Ann Tarantino and Vicki Rishcoff
Devoted Mental Health Treatment Specialists
Mary Ann Tarantino has served the CIU 20 Community as a Mental Health Treatment Specialist for 15 years and will retire at the end of this school year. She says the most rewarding part of the job is connecting with youth and families to help them overcome challenges. Her advice to new mental health workers just starting out is "Do not get caught up with what kids present on the outside. On the surface it may seem like they will chew you up, but underneath they are beautiful and gentle." She credits her own self care activities like mindfulness practices, proper rest and nutrition, and daily positive affirmations for helping her maintain her impact as a mental health treatment provider for all these years.
Vicki Rishcoff has served the CIU 20 community as a Mental Health Treatment Specialist for 21 years and will retire at the end of this school year. She has been the Education Association President for 8 years, and prior to that served as the Grievance Chair and Membership Chair. Vicki says that "Mental health is just as important as physical health, for everyone! Focusing on the mental health needs of our clients, families, and staff promotes positive well being for us all (the CIU 20 Community)." When asked for advice to new employees starting out at CIU 20, she says that "The IU has transitioned to a lot of positive changes over the years, and I credit the current IU administrative leadership with making the IU a supportive place to work."
SHAPE System Evaluates Mental Health Programming at Colonial Academy
Colonial Intermediate Unit 20's Colonial Academy is evaluating the mental health services it provides for students and families using the School Health Assessment and Performance Evaluation (SHAPE) System. Utilization of the assessments and provider resources within the SHAPE System will allow CIU 20 to identify strengths and weaknesses within our current mental health programming, and ultimately increase the sustainability and viability of the mental health of our students.
This system will further the work of Colonial IU 20's initiative to develop comprehensive and equitable services for all students that we serve. In the last two years, Colonial Academy has grown its Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework to assist students with succeeding in their educational, social, and emotional environments. The framework is made up of a layered system that targets students who are struggling academically and behaviorally in school. With the stressors placed on our families with the current COVID-19 pandemic, we have made the commitment to look at mental health services and resources to further guide and support our students and their families as we move forward from the COVID-19 uncertainties.

The School Health Assessment and Performance Evaluation (SHAPE) System is a public-access, web-based platform that offers schools, districts, and states/territories a workspace and targeted resources to support school mental health quality improvement. SHAPE was developed by the National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH), in partnership with the field, to increase the quality and sustainability of comprehensive school mental health systems.
Follow Us to Learn More
Follow us on our social media channels to learn more about the resiliency of #AmazingIU20Kids and creative approaches to learning that our #AmazingIU20Staff have implemented!
At Colonial IU 20, we believe in RELATIONSHIPS that support student growth, RESPONSIVENESS to stakeholders crucial needs, RESULTS demonstrated through effective services and programs, and INNOVATION to improve student outcomes.
Colonial IU 20 provides educational, administrative, and management services to 13 school districts and 3 career and technical centers in Northampton, Monroe, and Pike Counties. As one of the community’s largest employers and contributors, the 1,400 full and part-time staff at CIU 20 provides direct and indirect services to 79,000 public school children; 9,000 non-public school children; and 7,000 professional staff in our service region of 1,200 square miles.