Congratulations to the 2023 Jeff Koppel Memorial Head Start Scholarship Recipients!


On May 17, 2023, the Jeff Koppel Memorial Head Staff Scholarship Fund in partnership with the Pennsylvania Head Start Association, named Jonathan Cardona (Plymouth, PA) and Breanna Corlew (Jersey Shore, PA) winners of the third annual Jeff Koppel Memorial Head Start Scholarships at the Pennsylvania Head Start Association’s annual membership meeting. The scholarships recognize Head Start graduates, with outstanding academic and personal achievement, along with strong leadership and motivation. Each winner is receiving a $2,500 scholarship towards their post-secondary education.

Breanna has a 4.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) and ranks among the top five percent in her class.  She holds several leadership roles at the Jersey Shore Area High School:  President of the National English Honor Society; and Webmaster, Secretary, and currently President of the Key Club. She participated in the Mock Constitutional Convention-Model United Nations (UN) for four years and won the Superior Delegate Award.  She is a member of the National Honor Society, the Spanish National Honor Society, the tennis team, and the Youth Development Task Force of the Lycoming County Health Coalition, which collaborates with 9 school districts.  A Girl Scout who earned the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards, Breanna also umpires Little League Softball, has held two part-time jobs, and interned at the local newspaper, “The Lock Haven Express.”   

The English teacher who taught Breanna for two years writes, “Breanna has left me speechless on numerous occasions due to her mastery of twenty-first century skills, specifically her ability to think about material and analyze it for depth.  Her exceptional communication skills motivate her to constantly accept leadership roles within group work, designate appropriate roles for others, and guide her peers to success” … Her ability to juggle her rigorous academics, club activities, employment outside of school, while still participating in the community leaves me in a state of awe.”    

Breanna attributes her academic achievements to her attendance at Head Start.  Without Head Start, she writes, she would not be where she is today, and she is forever grateful to the program and to her parents for enrolling her in it.

 Jonathan says Head Start helped him to develop many skills. He still has his notebook with the drawings he made of his family. He also remembers circle time on the carpet, his little blue Head Start backpack, and his favorite lunch, chicken nuggets. At 3 1/2 years old, Jonathan was diagnosed with leukemia. He notes how thankful he is that his teacher noticed something was wrong when he stopped participating in classroom activities. “I am forever grateful to Miss Marlene for reaching out to my mother and letting her know that something was off, and that I was acting differently.”

Jonathan ranks among the top five percent in his class. Additionally, he assumes several leadership roles including President of the Spanish Honor Society and is the first Senior Class President of color in his school’s history. His teacher writes of Jonathan, “Please respect the gravity and sincerity of the following statement: Jonathan is the most outstanding and remarkable student I have ever had the honor of teaching.” Jonathan is also an exemplary student-athlete; he is a member of the school’s varsity soccer, football, and track teams.

Jonathan says he has always had an interest in business. “The independence of being your own boss, the flexibility to develop your own work schedule, the financial rewards, and the many advantages of being a business owner are exciting to me.”

His school guidance counselor says of Jonathan: “His academic prowess, aptitude for leadership, and athletic involvement have been a highlight in the Wyoming Valley West High School during his tenure here. His charisma, problem-solving skills, and athletic discipline are far ahead of his classmates. Jonathan’s magnetism is undeniable. He is the exact product our school hopes to produce.”

Jonathan has overcome some significant personal struggles including childhood cancer and the loss of his sister in a tragic car accident. His guidance counselor writes, “Rather than allowing these tragedies to sideline him, Jon clearly takes inspiration from his hardships and channels it to fuel his fire.”

Jonathan is a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Club, FBLA, and Key Club and organized the school’s first ever “Spartival” (school carnival). Jonathan also works part time as a cashier at a restaurant. In addition to PHSA’s Jeff Koppel Memorial Scholarship, Jonathan is also receiving Luzerne County Head Start’s ‘George R. Evans Memorial Scholarship’ in the amount of $1,000 for his outstanding academic performance and leadership skills.