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Teach your children well

Donna Daniels

Almost everyone has fond memories of a favorite teacher. A warm smile, a word of encouragement, a gentle push to try harder.

This year, continuing a 19-year tradition, the L.S. Wood Charitable Trust has named two outstanding educators, Sher Kerschen, from Roaring Fork School District Re-1, and Eva Pasiewicz, from the Garfield School District Re-2, as teachers of the year for 2001-02.

Both women embody the highest standards of their profession.

Pasiewicz, who has taught physical education at Roy Moore Elementary in Silt for six years, rates glowing praise from her school principal, Mark MacHale.

“I asked one of Ms. Pasiewicz’s former students if she would be willing to write a letter supporting this nomination. This seventh-grade young lady became so emotional that she cried, telling me how happy she was for Ms. Pasiewicz and how much she deserved to be recognized. Eva is the kind of teacher that students will remember for their entire lives,” MacHale said.

Kerschen is a third-grade teacher at Glenwood Springs Elementary, where she has taught for 11 years.

A past third-grade student, Natalie Lancaster, remembered Kerschen as caring and committed.

“Learning in her class was always fun. We did things that got every person involved, she never left anyone out and always made you feel that you could learn anything,” Lancaster said. “I even remember I had my tonsils taken out that year. Ms. Kerschen came out of her way to come and see me.”

In his nominating letter, Glenwood Springs Elementary Principal Jim Phillips said, “Of the many qualities for which our teachers are known, the most important is the ability to inspire a love of learning in children. Sher possesses this quality and shares it daily with students, parents and staff.”

Teachers recognized by the L.S. Wood Charitable Trust receive $2,000, and their school receives another $2,000 to buy needed equipment, said trust consultant Nick Massaro.

Kerschen and Pasiewicz were honored at a banquet Sunday at the Buffalo Valley Restaurant.

“It was totally overwhelming. It’s very humbling and very nice,” Kerschen said.

But the honors don’t belong to her alone, she added.

“It’s definitely a group effort here. We’re a team. I certainly consider it an honor for Glenwood Springs Elementary,” she said.

“I was so thrilled, so honored,” said Pasiewicz. “It really hit me hard after I read my nomination packet. I knew I made a difference, but I never knew how much. It’s an experience I wish every teacher could have.”

Pasiewicz said she feels very lucky to be a teacher. She loves to see the spark in her students’ eyes when they figure something out, and to help guide them through part of their growing-up.

Kerschen and Pasiewicz were chosen from among a distinguished group of nominees: Crystal Elementary School kindergarten teacher Susan Tindall; Basalt Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Betsy Friesen; Sopris Elementary school fourth-grade teacher Andrea Struble; and Kathryn Senor Elementary second-grade teacher Deneen Bell.

Leighton S. Wood created the trust by leaving the bulk of his estate to fund educational programs, Massaro said. Wood, who was president of Mid-Continent Coal and Coke Company and Pitkin Iron Corp, died in 1965.

The trust was formed by his equities in those companies, Massaro said. At the time of his death the trust was worth $3 million. Today, because of investments of that money by the Bank of America of Chicago, that fund has grown to $11 million.

In recognizing teachers of the year, the award rotates each year between elementary, middle school and high schools from Basalt to Rifle.

The trust also awards scholarships and grants to graduating high school seniors. Scholarships are awarded based on class standing and scholastic achievement, Massaro said. The scholarships are $5,000 per year to each student and are renewable for four years.

New scholarships will be announced on Saturday, graduation day.


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