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.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why the News Herald wastes its resources on the ramblings of a cheap, biased old man is beyond me anyone with a smattering of intelligence!

September 24, 2014 at 11:16 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My name is Larry Whinnery - I have been married to Jim's sister Molly for 55 years, so I've know Jim a long time. I just want to say to the "anonymous" who posted the negative comment about my brother in law. You have no idea what you are talking about. If having a strong political persuasion is being "biased" then so bit it - but "cheap" is so far off the mark it is not even funny. Jim has done so much good for his family & his community it would take a large book to tell the story. All of us who know and love this man are very proud of him and resent such a negative comment. I hope the News Herald will continue to use its resources to help Jim keep publishing his ideas & thoughts. God bless you, Jim.

September 26, 2014 at 9:20 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The News-Herald does not waste it's resources on a cheap biased old man! He is the main reason I go on the internet every Sunday and read his column-and the obits, of course. Retired from Willoughby to Tucson, AZ.

September 28, 2014 at 8:51 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Living in Tucson, Arizona, I enjoy reading the NH on line. Jim Collins and the obits column are my best articles! Larry Brown-Willoughby P.D.

September 28, 2014 at 12:48 PM 
Blogger Jerry Stevens said...

Well, you read it Anonymous, so apparently the blog has found its audience.

September 29, 2014 at 5:00 PM 

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