By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item
SUNBURY — A much-beloved Shikellamy High School teacher has been chosen as the 58th annual Sunbury Rotary Club’s Citizen of the Year.
Ellen Boyer, who teaches communications, arts, theater and gifted students in the Shikellamy School District, may best be known for her success as director of the Shikellamy forensics team, but judging by the artful speech she made at Thursday night’s awards dinner in the Edison Hotel, she’s pretty good at the podium too.
“It is beyond words to be in this company tonight,” she told an audience of more than 120 people. “And I am so incredibly humbled and honored to see all these beautiful faces out there.”
In a speech that lasted about 20 minutes, Boyer reminisced about teaching at Shikellamy, her professional acting career (“Theater is in my blood”) and then her return to the district in 2000. She tearfully remembered her best friend and husband, Jerry, who died two years ago.
And she ended by saying “this evening will be in my heart for the rest of my life.”
Boyer is well respected by her students and has taught several who have gone on to careers in the theater and the arts.
“She is a marvelous choice for us,” Rotarian and panel member Anne Rebuck said. “Ellen has been a positive influence on so many teenagers. It was an easy decision for us. She rewards talent, and she finds ways to involve students who she thinks need an outlet.”
Boyer is a 1971 Shikellamy graduate and was active in school plays. She was on Shikellamy’s first forensics team under the direction of Fred Guinn.
“I am delighted,” Boyer said. “It was a shock, and I was surprised.”
Boyer said Rotary members called her and said they wanted to visit her at the high school to discuss something.
“I had no idea what they wanted,” she said. “They just told me they wanted to come see me, and it was such an honor once they informed me.”
Another honor bestowed upon Boyer was by Mayor David Persing, who declared Thursday Ellen Boyer Day in the city.
Kathy E. Keiper, of Sunbury, was the 2012 Sunbury Citizen of the Year, and John and Ellie Fogarty, of Sunbury, received the award in 2011.