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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.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Recent Adele Knight award winners make an impact

Picking up where we left off last week, I would like to offer some background on this year’s winners of the Adele Knight Excellence in Teaching Awards.
To me, this award embodies great and significant meaning, because each year the top teacher at North High in Eastlake as well as the top teacher at South High in Willoughby is selected by his or her peers to receive the prestigious award.
Along with it goes a plaque for display in the respective schools and a stipend of $500.
The program has been in existence since 2000. Last week, I listed all the previous winners but didn’t have the space to adequately list the accomplishments of this year’s winners of the award, named in honor of a beloved Latin teacher for many years at the former Willoughby Union High School. She taught in the district for a few years after that school was closed in 1958.
Long after her passing, she remains a beloved figure and icon in the school district and an inspiration to every teacher who loves the classrooms and the students they encounter every day.
The Adele Knight recipient this year at South High was Erin Dodson, who is a 1996 graduate of South.
She has been teaching at South in the social studies department for 11 years and has taught American History, Civics, Sociology and Advanced Placement Psychology.
Her colleagues call her an amazing educator who serves as an inspiration for her colleagues.
“Perhaps most notable,” says South Principal Patrick Ward, “is her ability to reach all of her students and push them to excel both in the classroom and outside the school.
“Ms. Dodson goes out of her way,” he continued, “to assure all of her students are always engaged. She sets high expectations and knows how to reach all her students.
“When you speak to her students, they describe her as intense with a soft side. There is no doubt that she has left a lasting impact on all her students.”
In addition, she is seen as a teacher-leader within the school community. Her relentless optimism, it is said, coupled with her passion for working with her students, is infectious.
During the  2014-2015 school year she led the entire school in an effort to raise more than $7,000 for United Way.
“Ms. Dodson,” Ward added, “is a master educator who captures the essence of what the Adele Knight Award is all about.”
The award recipient this year at North High, Kevin Boyd, attended Bowling Green State University and earned his bachelor’s degree in Science. He secured a license in comprehensive science while majoring in Biology, graduating in 1998.
He has been teaching at North High for 16 years, also coaching football for five years and baseball for four years.
He is currently National Honor Society advisor at North, Science Department chairman and AP Biology teacher.
While at North he completed his master’s degree at Cleveland State University and is working on his administrative license through Ashland University.
North Principal Jennifer Chauby has known Boyd since he began teaching there in 2000, and said, “Kevin strives to bring real-life experiences into his classroom.”
She added that “he exposes his students to scientific information while relating it to events that have shaped our scientific understanding.
“He also engages his students in meaningful dialog that will shape their future and he genuinely cares about the academic progress of his students.”
He has a commanding understanding of the subject matter, Chauby added, and has an innate ability to convey that knowledge to his students.
“It is an honor to work with such a fine educator,” she said.
A teaching colleague of Boyd’s, math teacher Matthew Blair, graduated from North with Boyd, and said he could not think of a more deserving recipient of the Adele Knight Award.
“Kevin is a master teacher who inspires his students and colleagues through his example,” he said. “He teaches very challenging classes and finds a way to push his students to work harder than they ever thought they could.
“His talent and work ethic are an inspiration. I am proud to have him as a colleague and a friend.”
And there you have it, my friends. This year’s winners of the Adele Knight Award. I am glad you gave me an opportunity to introduce them to you.
The committee meets only once a year, at North High for a luncheon hosted by Jen Chauby. Around the table this year in addition to our hostess were Dodson, Boyd, previous winners Robert Prince (2000) and Charles Koelling (2001), South Principal Patrick Ward, Assistant Superintendent Charles Murphy, and two committee members, Jack Platz and me.
Jack, a long-time Lake County commissioner who taught with Miss Knight before a lengthy career as a professor at Lakeland Community College, is a new addition to the committee.
As in all of his other endeavors, his input was valuable. He is a welcome addition to the group.


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