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Keith Dixon: Shining the spotlight on our top local educators

Over the course of a career, a teacher can impact the lives of thousands of students. Our time with a single student may last a few months, a year or even several years, helping that young person learn and grow. We may see results right away; in ...

Over the course of a career, a teacher can impact the lives of thousands of students.

Our time with a single student may last a few months, a year or even several years, helping that young person learn and grow. We may see results right away; in some cases, we may not recognize the impact we have as educators until years or even decades into the future.

After 42 years in education I still receive personal cards, letters and e-mails from former students. They tell me what they're up to, how things are going.

They might remind me of a funny thing that happened years ago in school or class, or talk about their current challenges and successes, their families or travels. One recently sent me an invitation to her wedding.

The point is, they want to keep in touch -- they want me to know how they're doing. Most educators can tell a similar story.

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It speaks to the power of teaching and the magnitude of that relationship. Ask someone to list the people who most influenced their life and most will name at least one teacher.

The national PTA has designated May 2-8 as Teacher Appreciation Week, a time to honor teachers for helping children develop into healthy, happy and successful adults.

Students come to our schools in all shapes, sizes and colors, with all manner of abilities.

They come to us with different hopes and dreams and needs.

Our teachers, with grace and skill, patience and perseverance, provide them the tools and direction they need to help them learn and grow and realize their potential.

In association with Teacher Appreciation Week, we're announcing nominees for the Goldfine Gold Star Teacher Award.

Two esteemed members of the Duluth community, Manley and Lillian Goldfine, established the award through the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation to recognize teachers who stimulate the intellectual development of our students and provide a strong foundation for educational, personal and professional success.

Members of the Goldfine family present $5,000 annually to an outstanding teacher within the Duluth Public School system.

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The award is intended for the personal use of the recipient and there are no "strings" attached.

This year the award will go to a secondary school teacher; last year it went to an elementary school teacher.

Teachers are nominated based on several criteria, including impact in the classroom, school and community, and their efforts to pursue professional development.

Congratulations to this year's nominees, selected through a competitive application process:

  • Holly Bowen-Bailey, Woodland Middle School
  • Peggy Ehlert, Secondary Technical Center
  • Laura LaFontaine, Denfeld High School
  • Cheryl Lien, East High School
  • Sue Solin, Morgan Park Middle School
  • Deb Wendling, Central High School
  • Dani Westholm, Unity ALC

All of these people are great professionals who know teaching and have high levels of expectation for their students.
More than that, they have the ability to build positive relationships with students and push them to realize their higher potential. They inspire students, and, in doing so, inspire all of us to further dedicate ourselves to the young people we serve.

Keith Dixon is the superintendent of Duluth Public Schools. Contact him at 336-8752 or send an e-mail to keith.dixon@duluth.k12.mn.us .

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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