A few months ago, I kicked off a project that had been bouncing around my head for awhile. I called it “This is Our Town.” It’s an ongoing series of portraits focused on the humans that make up my hometown: Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The project is generously supported by my friend, Mike Markowitz, owner of the restaurant where they are displayed.

The first installment highlighted our mayor, Ron Strouse; police officer Dave Carlen; and Women’s Business Forum founder Chanin Milnazik.

For this second installment of the series, I wanted to shine a spotlight on one of the town’s most valued assets: it’s educators.

The Central Bucks School District is the third largest school district in Pennsylvania. More than 18,000 students are spread across the district’s 15 elementary schools, five middle schools and three high schools. The district consistently ranks among the nation’s best. Smart kids, sure. Passionate, dedicated teachers who guide them, push them and nurture them? Absolutely. That’s where the magic happens.

People like Judy Siegle, first grade teacher at Doyle Elementary School who has taught in the Central Bucks School District for more than 20 years and played an integral role instilling a love of reading in her students. As one parent describes Judy, “My daughter only had her for a little over a month and she still talks about her and how much she loved her!”

People like Ian Sanchez, choral director at Tamanend Middle School. Ian is one of the driving forces behind the district’s annual A Cappella Fest and co-founder of the annual VH-1 Save the Music Concert which has raised more than $100,000 to restore music programs in America’s public schools.

And people like Dan Foster, physical education teacher at Gayman and Pine Run Elementary Schools. Dan’s creative and enthusiastic programs and ability to weave Monty Python sketches into physical activity have made him one of the most admired and loved teachers in the district by both students and parents alike.

The kind of teachers — the kind of humans — former students write letters like this to:

If you visit Doylestown, I encourage you to visit Hickory Kitchen and get to know the faces of this town I call home. And if you’d like to see more of my images, check out my portfolio at mikemaney.com or follow me on Instagram.

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