Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Another fine area teacher honored

As I was saying...

Last week’s message announced the North High School winner of the Adele Knight Excellence in Teaching Award for 2011 — Mary Slak, an English teacher selected by her peers to receive a plaque and $500 stipend that go along with the award.

This week I am pleased to introduce Alison Grant, the only Family and Consumer Science teacher at South High, who was also chosen by her peers for the honor, which carried with it similar rewards.

As noted previously, the award was named for the late Adele Knight, a revered Latin teacher at the former Willoughby Union High whose high standards for teaching were legendary.

The program was initiated by the late Dr. Wesley J. Pignolet, a graduate of Union High and a student who cared enough about Miss Knight to propose establishing a fund in her honor.

He called upon several of his friends to form a committee to launch the fund. There must have been a dozen of us at first.

The only ones still around are Dr. Jim McCann, a retired Mentor dentist, Ann Kassing and me.

At first we considered giving scholarships with the money we raised. Because there were many other scholarships available, we chose a different path — to honor a top teacher each year at North and South.

The awards were begun in 2000 by rotating them between North and South.

By 2005 we were able to present an award to an outstanding teacher from each school.

I offered words of praise last week for Mary Slak of North. And now, here is what you should know about Alison Grant, and why fellow teachers chose her this year for the Adele Knight Award for South.

The staff at South notes that by definition, a teacher is one whose occupation is to instruct. But for Alison it’s much more than an occupation. It’s a passion.

She has been teaching eight years, six of them at South. She received her bachelor’s degree in vocational education from Kent State University and her master’s in educational administration from Ursuline College. She is currently working toward her second master’s in school counseling at John Carroll University.

She single-handedly developed the Family and Consumer Science program to be much more than the stereotypical cooking and sewing classes.

She has transformed it to include a variety of reality-based projects. From budgeting fictional salaries to researching prospective cars, apartments and careers, the studies are designed to teach students real world skills.

She is also responsible for starting a mock interview day in her classes in which representatives of local businesses come to school to help students with their interview skills.

The project for which she is best known, however, is her child-care simulation project, in which students realize the full responsibility of parents as they care for, feed and change an electronic "infant" just as they would a real child.

Alison is involved in activities outside the classroom as well. Other than teaching, her main passion is her Student Council group.

As adviser, she has organized and facilitated events such as the Red Cross Blood Drive, Teacher Appreciation Week, Homecoming, a weekend training session for Student Council members, South’s talent show, spirit week and the Salvation Army’s Adopt an Angel program.

The most anticipated events, however, are Shantytown and the iLead Conference. During Shantytown, students become aware of what it’s like to be homeless by spending a night in cardboard boxes. Clothing items are collected and donated to the local Salvation Army.

The iLead conference reinforces what it means to be an effective leader in the school and community. The Student Council has thrived under her leadership and care. Its accomplishments have earned some participants the distinction of All-Ohio members and the council as a whole has been recognized as Honor Council with Merit.

In addition, Alison was elected a representative on the Ohio Association of Student Councils board.

This year she has been part of the Olweus anti-bullying committee at South. She assisted in creating and implementing the school-wide curriculum.

And she recently gave a presentation at John Carroll’s Celebration of Scholarship for counseling and bullying in schools.

Whew! What a teacher! I wonder what she does in her spare time — if she ever has any.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read your article today about EPA closing CEI plants. They should not do that. I agree with everything you said. Can you send copies to our state senators, congressmen and governor?

February 5, 2012 at 5:06 AM 

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