Each year, a local lifestyles magazine asks its readers to vote for the businesses and organizations in Northeast PA that have the happiest customers, and this year Fell Charter School in Simpson and its principal, Mary Jo Walsh, were among those honored.

Happenings Magazine recently announced the names of local businesses and organizations that won the fourth-annual “Happie Awards.” Winners were chosen in over 100 categories by satisfied customers who voted for the area businesses and organizations that made them most “Happie.”

“Beginning in June, we invited our readers to vote at www.HappeningsPA.com or mail in a ballot for businesses and organizations that make them the most ‘Happie.’ We had a huge response – and a lot of fun – with this unique and quirky spin on regional awards! This is not another ‘Best of…’ contest. These businesses were able to rally customers to vote because they excel at creating and keeping ‘Happie’ customers, which is an exceptional skill in today’s business world. Thousands of votes were cast, and the awards created quite a buzz. Now we are the ones who are ‘Happie’ to announce the winners,” said Happenings president Paula Mackarey.

For the third time since the Happie Awards have been issued, Fell Charter School garnered the most votes in the category of Best Elementary School, while Mary Jo Walsh was honored to be voted Best Elementary School Principal for the first time this year. The school, located at 777 Main St. in Simpson, was founded in 2001 and currently employs a staff of 24 serving 170 students.

“I believe that people voted for Fell Charter School because we have a small enrollment, therefore each student gets a personalized student success plan. Most of all, I think our reputation is that no matter what your socioeconomic status, ALL students at Fell succeed. We tap into what makes students want ‘more’.  I don't think it hurts that each year for the last 10 years, 50% of our graduating 8th grade students went on to a local private Jesuit school for high school, either," said Ms. Walsh about what she believes are the school’s reasons for winning the Happie Award.

As for her own award, Ms. Walsh was surprised and honored to have received the most votes in the Best Elementary School Principal category. “I felt honored and humbled.  I believe they voted for me for two reasons: one, they know I care that each student reaches his or her full potential as a young person and two, that I have assembled the best team of teachers and staff in the area,” explained Ms. Walsh.

She continued, “I think it is important to note that we always say we are not better or worse than any school, we are just different.  We are a choice.  It is our belief that where a child attends school should not be limited to their zip code, that is, where they live.”

The Happie Award winners were showcased in the December issue of Happenings Magazine and were invited to receive their awards at a Happie Awards Presentation, held on January 25 at The Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel in Scranton. Rev. Monsignor Joseph Quinn provided the benediction, while the St. Paul School Singers performed for those gathered at the breakfast event. Attendees also watched a brief video previewing Happenings Magazine’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2019. Ms. Walsh said she and the other Fell Charter School staff that attended welcomed the opportunity to meet and talk to other Happie Awards winners at the event.

“Happenings Magazine has celebrated the best of Northeast PA since 1969. By inviting the people of our region to choose businesses that make them most ‘Happie’ and honoring those outstanding businesses with this award, we are thanking those who are doing an exceptional job at creating ‘Happie’ customers,” said Barbara Toolan, managing editor.

Besides being honored in the December Happenings’ digital and hard copy issues, winners are currently featured on the Happenings website at https://www.happeningsmagazinepa.com/2017/12/01/2017-happie-award-winners/ . Founded in 1969, Happenings Magazine reaches more than 110,000 monthly readers across Northeast PA and beyond. The hard-copy version is distributed at hundreds of locations throughout the region, and www.HappeningsPA.com is viewed by thousands of visitors weekly. Happenings covers events, lifestyles, people, and businesses and has become a well-known forum for telling the region’s story in the most positive way.