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Four receive Excellence In Teaching awards

Four local teachers will be honored later this month as part of the annual Excellence in Teaching Awards Program.

This year’s award recipients are Dave Driskill, Lydia Smith-Lockwood and Devin Sptizer, all of Shawnee High School, and Elliot Shuman of Springfield High School.

Each of the winners receives a $1,000 check, a crystal apple and a plaque.

“It’s critical we try to recognize four outstanding teachers on an annual basis and continually support some of the great work that’s being done by teachers and school districts throughout Clark County,” said program chairman Ed Leventhal. The Excellence in Teaching is in its 26th year.

Driskill is in his 23rd year of teaching and is currently in the Gifted and Talented Program for grades 1 through 8.

“The first rewarding thing about teaching is being able to instill confidence in a student and witness the results of it,” said Driskill. “It’s rewarding to watch (the students) work harder, become more responsible and accomplish something they didn’t think was possible and see the happiness it gives them.”

Student Chelsea Harrison, who nominated Driskill, said he “makes learning fun, he always makes sure that we cover more than one subject to keep us interested. He focuses on details to let us know that we area doing a good job (and) this makes me try even harder.”

Smith-Lockwood has been teaching 15 years and is currently Director of Choral/Orchestral Music at Shawnee. Principal Nathan Docktor calls Smith-Lockwood “the most outstanding vocal music instructor I have ever had the pleasure to know and work with.”

“She has taken the Shawnee High School choirs and programs from mediocrity to perfection and prestige. Ms. Smith quite simply demands perfection from her students and at the same time, cares deeply for each one of them,” Dockter added.

“She doesn’t care if there is one person of a thousand people, she always makes her students perform at the best level,” said Shawnee junior Alex Ryan, who has known Smith-Lockwood for seven years. “Some people talk about a prodigy or a musical genius, we at Shawnee call ours Mrs. Smith-Lockwood.”

Smith-Lockwood said she “believes the pursuit of music enables adults and children alike to safely explore their passions and find their truths. Because of this, I endeavor to bring to light the imagination within each of my students.”

In his 14 years of teaching at Springfield High, Shuman has taught everything from General Science to Advanced Placement Physics.

“I can think of no other teacher who is more conscientious or hard working and therefore more deserving of this award than Elliot,” said Springfield High School STEM Academy Principal Teresa Dillon, who nominated Shuman. “He has proven himself not only knowledgeable about his subject area, but exceptional in passing that knowledge to hundreds of students each year.”

Springfield High student Zev Lustgarden has know Shuman both as an extraordinary teacher and an outstanding track and field coach.

“He has demonstrated the highest moral character, expertise and dedication on and off the field,” said Lustgarden. “He places the education of students above all and places his full effort and passion within his teaching.”

Shuman says teaching has been a rewarding profession in may ways.

“Many graduates return to simply say ‘hello’ or ‘thank you,’ giving me a wonderful feeling and proving my hard work has indeed reaped rewards,” he said.

Spitzer is currently in his 18th year of teaching and has been at Shawnee since 2003. Former Excellence in Teaching recipient Sherry Akers writes, “Mr. Spitzer is a teacher, mentor, coach and collaborative colleague. His professionalism and leadership skills are exemplary. Devin is someone who represents the ultimate meaning of Excellent Teacher.”

Former student Abigail Baldridge said Spitzer “always displays honesty, enthusiasm, integrity, commitment, leadership and service. I became more interested in the lesson because I could tell he was (interested).”

“While students come to high school with many of the issues as the ones before them, every kid is unique,” said Spitzer. “Being a small part of helping students find their niche in the school community, while at the same time realize their potential as individuals and grow into young adults, is incredibly rewarding.”

The awards will be presented during the Springfield Rotary Club meeting April 14 at The Hollenbeck-Bayley Creative Arts and Conference.

Funding for the Excellence in Teaching Awards Program is provided by the Springfield News-Sun, Columbia Gas, Springfield Rotary Club, Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce and the Springfield Foundation.

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