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 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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