Elder, Allai named Fintel Award winners
May 5, 2004

Morning Sun Staff Writer
When one looks at all the great teachers in Pittsburg schools, it's hard to choose one as the best representative of excellence in education.

That's why members of the selection committee for the annual Anna Fintel Excellence in Education Award selected two winners from five nominees this year, according to Jeff Elliott, one of two masters of ceremonies at the award presentation ceremony Tuesday.

Joe Dellasega, the second M.C., said teachers guide and shape students' lives in a great many ways. "This community cannot show you how eternally grateful we are for the great work you've done," he told those teachers assembled in the auditorium at St. Mary's Colgan.

Mike Elder, an automotive technology teacher at Pittsburg High School, and Dee Dee Allai, a fourth-grade teacher at Westside Elementary School, won the awards this year, each taking home $6,000 of prize money.

Allai has been a teacher for 25 years, 24 of them at USD 250. "Dee Dee is motivated by the feeling a student experiences when they learn," Elliott said in his introduction of the nominees. He said she tries to develop "keen awareness" in her students by building relationships with them.

Elder has been an automotive technology teacher at PHS since 1980. "Mike tries to model and teach hi students that there are times to play and have fun and times when we must be serious, thoughtful and careful in what we do," Elliott said.

Elder strives to ensure each student has some level of success as skills improve.

Other nominees for the Fintel award were Mary Askins, St. Mary's Colgan School second-grade teacher; Judy A. Malle, eighth-grade teacher at Pittsburg Middle School; and Janie L. Scott, fourth-grade teacher at George Nettels Elementary School. Each nominee is awarded $1,000, while the winner receives an additional $5,000.

USD 250 officials also announced Tuesday that Scott has been named the local Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year.

The Fintel award is given each year by an anonymous donor, in honor of Anna Fintel's outstanding impact on the donor's life. Fintel, born in 1895, taught in Capaldo and Franklin before coming to USD 250 in 1920. She taught math until mandatory retirement in 1960, then moved into the St. Mary's-Colgan Schools system.

Selection is based on several criteria, including leadership in the classroom by personal example; using their interest and dedication to teaching to encourage students to do their best; and having a classroom manner that commands respect. Length of service in the schools is not a requirement, and previous winners are not eligible to win again.

Staff Writer Olive L. Sullivan may be reached at (620) 231-2600, Ext. 134, or at olive.sullivan@morningsun.net

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