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.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Adele Knight Excellence in Teaching Award has rich history

I hate to leave a story only half-told, hanging in mid-air, as it were.

So allow me to complete the tale begun in this space a couple of weeks ago when I wrote of two teachers in the Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools honored with the Adele Knight Excellence in Teaching Award.

They were, you may recall, Carisa Lindsay of Willoughby South and Paula Clark of Eastlake North.

I think it is important to know how the award came about, and who the previous winners were.

It all began in the fertile mind of Dr. Wesley P. Pignolet, who had a vigorous family practice in Willoughby but decided, after delivering a few hundred babies and curing a couple of thousand stomach aches, that what he really wanted to be was an ophthalmologist.

So he went back to college, came back home to specialize in the eye business and went about calling his friends with great ideas as they occurred to him. Which was frequently.

He called me about a number of them. I don’t know how many actually worked out, but at least they materialized in a number of free (for me) lunches which Wes was kind enough to underwrite.

One project I remember vividly was to buy a telescope for one of the local schools. I don’t think the dream ever panned out, but I remember the lunch quite well. It was at Mentor Harbor Yachting Club. Wes, if you didn’t know, was a sailor of note.

The Adele Knight Award was spawned during a lunch at Gavi’s Restaurant in Willoughby, the loss of which is still mourned on a daily basis by its many regulars

Miss Knight was a Latin teacher at the former Willoughby Union High School. I always believed Wes was one of her favorite Latin students. That was an honor never bestowed upon me as she always seated me in the front row – a vantage point reserved for her students whose grasp of Latin was less than stellar.

But no matter. She had a great many students who loved and respected her, and we took it upon ourselves to establish an excellence in teaching award for teachers at North and South who embodied the principles near and dear to the heart of a lady who considered it a requisite for all humanity to be able to conjugate a verb in Latin.

Teachers thus honored received a handsome plaque and a check for $500. Winners are selected by their peers. Because of a shortage of funds, only one teacher was honored from 2000 to 2004. After that, our bank account grew, and since then we have been able to honor a teacher from each school.

Here are the previous Adele Knight Award winners:

2000 – Bob Prince, North.

2001 – Chuck Koelling, South.

2002 – Lorraine Gauvin, North.

2003 – John Pennington, South.

2004 – Patricia Norris, North.

2005 – Victor St. Hillaire, North; Lydia Komocki, South.

2006 – Betsy Lichtinger, North; Carol Fishwick, South.

2007 – Sherry Wagner, North; Marjorie Masci, South.

2008 – Sharyn Zeppo, North; Charles R. Stewart, South.

2009 – Karen Donahue, North; Karin Maniche, South.

2010 – Patrick L. Kwiatkowski, North; Ann Armstrong, South.

2011 – Mary Slak, North; Alison Grant, South.

2012 – Mary Beth Adams, North; Beth Frabotta, South;

2013 – Deanna Elsing, North; Steven Nedlik, South.

And, of course, the 2014 winners are listed above.

When we began discussing an award to honor Miss Knight, somewhere back in the last millennium, I recall there was a fairly large committee in on the talks. Now, sad to say, there are but two of us remaining – Ann Kassing, a teaching colleague of the award’s namesake, and me.

Two of most active and dependable members were Dr. James T. McCann, a Mentor dentist, and Greg Johnson, both students in the pursuit of knowledge in the field of Latin, which I must confess was Greek to me. But that’s just me. I was a whiz in plane geometry. And in college I starred in anthropology. But I digress.

And Wes Pignolet attended meetings with regularity until his death.

But I am pleased to announce a new member has been added to the committee. Former Lake County
Commissioner Jack Platz taught at North with Miss Knight, and he considers it an honor to be serving on a group with such a noble purpose.

And it is, Jack. You will be hearing early next year from Jen Chauby, principal at North, about an invitation to lunch at the school.

And that’s about all the work there is to serving on the committee.

The really important work is done by the teachers at North and South who select the award winners each year.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Readers share feelings about sports announcers

You don’t need much imagination to watch a baseball game or football game on television. The action unfolds before your very eyes and you don’t have to have an interpreter to tell you what is happening.

But radio. Ahh, that’s an entirely different matter. As you listen to the sportscasters describe the play, your mind’s eye is busily translating the words into mental pictures so that you have – with only the words as your guide – a clear vision of the game as it progresses.

I mentioned, a couple of weeks ago, some of the announcers I enjoyed in the days of yore, including Jack Graney and Pinkey Hunter of Indians broadcasts, plus Mike Hegan and Herb Score of Tribe games. Also,
Bernie Kosar, who did color commentary of the Browns’ pre-season games on TV before he was unceremoniously canned by higher-ups in the team’s organization.

I didn’t realize how many others also enjoyed those word pictures on radio, and some of them on TV, until the feedback began to flow in.

Larry O’Donnell of Willoughby Hills hunted me down at a meet-the-candidates luncheon at Pine Ridge to tell me how much he enjoyed the broadcasting arts of Graney and Hunter.

He recalled, especially, how Graney would describe center fielder Roy “Little Thunder” Weatherly jumping on his Flying Red Horse to chase down a fly ball.

That, of course, was reference to the logo at Socony-Vacuum filling stations, a sponsor of the Indians.

Larry also mailed a copy of a column written oh-so-many years ago by my longtime colleague, the late Bob Murphy, who noted that Weatherly put the Bug-a-Boo on the fly ball.

I remember that vividly, Larry. But I also recall the joyful repartee between the two announcers as they touted the product.

“Never give a bug a break, Jack, give ‘em Bug-a-Boo,” Pinkey would say to his partner at the mike.

“Does it kill ‘em, Pinkey?” Jack would ask.

“Kills ‘em dead, Jack,” Pinkey would reply.

I have heard that line a thousand times. That was long before anyone owned television sets.

Many times Weatherly didn’t have to run far to catch the ball. Jack would say, “He’s under it, waiting for it and takes it.”

I can’t guess how many times I have heard that line, either.

In another product-related line, Jack would say, “Averill hits a hiiiiiiigh fly ball, going out to deeeeep right field. And it’s a case of Wheaties for Earl Averill.”

Every Indian who hit a home run in those days got a case of the breakfast cereal. What made the call fun was the way Graney dragged out the words hiiiiiiiiigh fly ball and deeeeeeep right field.

It took him longer to describe the action than it took for the ball to fly over the friendly, nearby wall in right.

“Lest we forget,” Kevin Sroub wrote in an email, “in the early days Graney and Hunter did it the hard way – from ticker tape.”

You bet I remember, Kevin. Jack and Pinkey recreated the action, pitch-by-pitch, as they read the story coming in on tape.

I recall watching them one day when, as a young lad, I saw them doing a broadcast from Euclid Beach Park and they were reading the action from Western Union.

“Watch out, Jack!” Pinkey yelled. “It’s a foul ball coming right back into the press box!”

With that he thumped his fist on the table in front of them. He sure made it sound like a foul ball.

Another email, from Janet Salesky, echoed my comments on the poor announcers that replaced Rick Manning and Matt Underwood when the Indians were playing on a nationally televised broadcast on ESPN.

“My husband and I were saying the same things when having to endure the ESPN announcers,” Janet wrote.

“You don’t realize how entertaining our Rick and Matt are until we listen to the mindless drivel that was given to us from ESPN announcers.

“Thanks, Rick and Matt, for the great information and the stats you give us in such an interesting way.

“We also agree with you about Bernie,” she wrote. (Thanks, Janet.) “We needed Bernie announcing to give us some insights on what happened in the second half that should have happened in the first half.”

I think she may have been talking about the Browns loss to the Steelers, which was a regular season game, not a pre-season contest.

But she is absolutely correct in her observations about needing Bernie for color commentary in football.

The point of both letter writers is clear: The over-the-air comments of announcers on sporting events is important to some of us, and if they are not doing a good job, we notice.

Boy, do we ever. And we let those thoughts be known.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Teacher honorees from North and South truly deserving

Let me introduce you to the 2014 winners of the Adele Knight Excellence in Teaching Award. They are:

At South High in Willoughby, Carisa Lindsay.

And at North High in Eastlake, Paula Clark.

The award is named to honor a teacher from long ago at the former Union High School in Willoughby.

Back in the 1990s, a committee began to take shape to pay tribute to a beloved Latin teacher who was a legend in the district.

I can attest that she was a great teacher, because I don’t recall anybody who liked Latin, with the exception of Adele Knight and her attorney father, Augustus Caesar Knight.

Committee members first talked about handing out yet another scholarship. But then someone said, “Wait.
Here is a better idea. Why don’t we set up an award to pay tribute to an outstanding teacher at North and South every year, someone to be chosen by his or her peers.”

So we took that route. As the money came in, we began to honor one teacher each year, rotating the award between the two schools.

The winner each year received a plaque and a $500 stipend. That continued from 2000 through 2004. Then more contributions came in, and we were able to give two awards each year – to a teacher from each school.

Let me tell you a bit more about this year’s winners. Here is what her nominee said about Carisa Lindsay:

“Carisa is a true professional who goes above and beyond in all she does. Her behind-the-scenes work ensured technology ran smoothly at South.

“Carisa is a technology guru who used her expertise to assist her fellow teachers with the implementation and integration of technology into the classroom, therefore positively impacting student learning and achievement.

“Carisa instructed numerous professional development courses for Anyplace Learning. She spent tireless hours fielding computer questions and patiently taught and retaught South staff members technology.

“When not providing formal or informal computer lessons, Carisa could be seen running around the building before hours and late into the evening, putting out technology fires.

“She extinguished technology issues like a pro and was meticulous in assisting with the field testing process.
Carisa coordinated technology for building presentations, paying attention to all details, including extra batteries for the remote.”

(Editor’s note: Making sure there were extra batteries for the remote is an area in which even I could have excelled! But I digress.)

“All of this took place before she took even a step into her own classroom to teach a lesson. Carisa is an outstanding educator in the classroom who has an excellent rapport with her students. She implements project-based learning in order to differentiate and meet the needs of all learners.”

That is high praise indeed. Now, here is some background on Paula Clark:

She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Hiram College. She received her master’s degree from Cleveland State and then continued at Cleveland State for her high school mathematics license. She has taught second, third, seventh and eighth grades along with her favorite – high school courses.

“Here at North,” her nomination said, “she has served as freshman class advisor, Student Council advisor, where she organized and ran many blood drives, and volunteered for other programs, including the attendance committee and the levy committee.

“She has organized both student and teacher teams for Relay for Life and is the Math Department chair.”

Here is what one of her colleagues had to say about her:

“Paula Clark is an awesome teacher. She is creative, fun and always well-prepared. The students are better off for having her as a teacher.

“Paula does a great job as our department chair at North. She is a leader and a facilitator in the true sense of the words. As a fellow teacher I steal from her, share with her and consider her a true friend.

“There is no one more deserving than Paula Clark as a master teacher. I am proud to have her as a friend and colleague.”

Those are two wonderful tributes, let me tell you.

We had our usual annual lunchtime gathering this year at North, hosted by Principal Jen Chauby.

As a special treat, two of our luncheon guests were the first two recipients of the Adele Knight Excellence in Teaching Award, Bob Prince of North in 2000 and Chuck Koelling of South in 2001.

Teachers who are honored with this award are the cream of the crop. I am proud to know all of them.

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Indians fans lucky to have these two calling the games

I have often observed that I don’t need announcers to enjoy a baseball game, a football game or a track meet on television.

I can figure out what’s happening simply by watching carefully and paying attention as the action unfolds.

But good announcers, and I mean really good announcers, measurably add a lot to the proceedings.

And of course, really bad announcers can make viewing painful.

For Exhibit A of bad announcers, I give you the two guys on ESPN who were doing commentary a week ago on an Indians game.

Our regular announcers, Rick Manning and Matt Underwood, had been set aside for the day so the ESPN team could do the talking on national TV. What a mistake!

I was already familiar with one of the ESPN guys. He was a former ballplayer. Throughout the game, the two of them told me nothing I didn’t already know. When they divulged that Masterson and Cabrera no longer played for Cleveland, the volume of useless information began to rise.

Virtually everything they said was already household information for an Indians fan – and I presume for anyone who has even a scintilla of knowledge of baseball.

What they achieved was to underscore my appreciation for Manning and Underwood, who have developed into two of the finest sportscasters to ever grace a microphone on the Cleveland scene.

Also underscored was my long-standing disappointment that Gavi’s Restaurant in Willoughby is no longer open. The lady of the house and I went there virtually every Tuesday for dinner, and on many occasions Rick Manning was there with his wife.

Quite often we sat and talked. Rick could talk baseball 24 hours a day. And the conversation never got dull or boring. I looked forward to seeing him and challenging him on baseball trivia, which was not really a challenge because he knew his subject matter so well. Alas, those days are gone. But I digress.

I don’t know if people around here are aware of what a treasure Rick and Matt are, but I have been listening to the Tribe on radio and later on TV since about 1936, and they are at the top of the electronic heap.

They can make a good game exciting, and even a dull game interesting. That is because they pull no punches.

If a player messes up, they don’t hesitate to point it out. And they give plenty of credit when our heroes do themselves proud.

I would hesitate to list all the Indians’ announcers who have helped shape my understanding of the game. I can’t recall all of them and I would surely leave some out.

But who could forget Jack Graney and Pinkey Hunter of the old, old days? Or, as they sometimes referred to each other, John Gladstone Graney and Cartwright Maxwell Hunter.

They were simply great. If I close my eyes, I can still hear Jack Graney saying, “It’s a hot shot, through the box, out over second base for a single.”

Or: “And it’s a fast double play, Boudreau to Mack to Troskey.”

I liked Mike Hegan a lot, and I still miss Herb Score. Many others were superb at the mike.

But on the subject of announcers, let me get this off my chest. It’s about football.

I was extremely annoyed, and still am, that Bernie Kosar was taken off the air during the Browns’ pre-season, or as they used to call them, “exhibition” games.

Jim Donovan is OK as the play-by-play guy, but replacing Bernie with Soloman Wilcots is like replacing fresh creamery butter with day-old lard.

If two quarterbacks as talented as Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel are fighting for the starting job, does any football fan in his right mind think there is an analyst in the booth who can come as close to assessing their capabilities as Bernie?

That is a self-answering question, but I will answer it anyway. Nobody could match Bernie’s skill in pointing out the abilities of a quarterback.

Taking Bernie off the broadcasts was a terrible loss that was inflicted on the fans.

We will never know what he might have had to say this past pre-season, unless there is some magical medium I don’t know about. Lacking that, it is just one more example of the disdain the team has for the fans, and one more reason why I think the owners deserve nothing quite so much as another 4-12 season.

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