Educator Tributes

The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching is proud to receive contributions honoring an educator who has positively influenced a donor's life.

"If we are to achieve the promise of education for all young people, we must focus efforts on the predominant human capital component in the system — talented educators — people who are the heart and soul of education, the inspiration for the young people they teach."

Lowell Milken

Chairman and Founder, NIET

NIET gratefully acknowledges the following Educator Tributes:

Mr. Ali Ahmed
"In honor of Ali Ahmed Sir and all the other Sirs who, against considerable odds, succeeded in driving some sense into us!"
Muhit Rahman and the rest of MCC '68, Santa Monica, CA
Lew Solmon
"In loving memory of Vicki Solmon's mother. Our prayers are with you. The Hirschs"
Jeff & Sherre Hirsch (CA '), Los Angeles, CA
Mr. Md. Younus
"In honor of my childhood teacher: Mr. Md. Younus."
Muhit Rahman, Santa Monica, CA
Alex Zakonov
"Thank you"
Polina Cherkasova, Bellevue, WA
Frances Wilson Stanley
"As a young child I awoke to my mother quoting poetry, not an alarm clock. She promoted lifelong learning in all of her six children and was a wonderful role model to demonstrate the power of learning. I inherited a passion for literature from my mother who was a school librarian and later in her career became an elementary school teacher. She was a very creative teacher and always strived to meet the needs of every child. It was a great honor for me to share my mother with so many children who wanted to learn and be successful in life. It was mother's undying commitment to the field of education that inspired not only me but also my three sisters to become elementary school teachers. She encouraged me to become involved after retirement. As a result, I now volunteer in a first grade classroom assisting children in learning how to read and developing a love of reading. Thanks for the opportunity to share information about a very special educator my mother, who passed away several years ago."
Emily Myers, Bluffton, SC
Dr. Merwin Lyng
"Dr. Lyng stressed the importance of a logical approach to every problem. He entered the classroom everyday excited about Mathematics, and our soon-to-be knowledge of it."
Delise Kirkeide (ND '92), Fesseden, ND
George Harris
"Mr. Harris was my 6th grade teacher. He opened the world of intellectual pursuit by enthralling his students with an appreciation for history through his wonderful stories. He brought art and music into the classroom for us to see and listen to and then gave us the opportunity to produce both for ourselves. He took us on our first field trip into the woods to experience nature first hand out. He taught by experiential learning long before its value was recognized by most educators."
Anne Neidhardt (MD '94), Severna Park, MD
John Blankush
"John was an educator for over 3 decades until he prematurely lost his life to ALS in 2008. He spent his career as a choral director and principal in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. John became a father figure to me in high school as my choir teacher after the death of my own father. He always pushed me to be my best and helped to cultivate my leadership abilities. He taught us how to practice and perform like professionals during his tenure at Denfeld High School in Duluth, MN. He was energetic and passionate about young people and that really came through in his work, where he often showed a great sense of humor. He touched all of our lives and will be missed but his legacy lives on in our hearts."
Tom Tusken (MN '07), Duluth, MN
Peg Frankenfield
"Closing my eyes I am a freckle-faced seven-year-old in my second grade classroom. I can see the desks, my friends, the hardwood floors and my beloved Mrs. Frankenfield leading a reading circle. She was young and beautiful, caring and kind, but most of all, she truly liked me. She was my hero in 1951. With eyes wide open, in 2009, neither of us is young (both of us are retired), but she is still beautiful, and most of all, she is still my hero. Thank you, Peg Frankenfield, for being a special part of my life. "
Linda Depro (PA '98), Lancaster, PA
Mildred Bowen
"Now deceased, Mrs. Bowen was an excellent English teacher who taught us well and motivated her students to excel above and beyond the norm. She was a great teacher, and I will always remember her."
Wallace Fujii (HI '97), Kahului, HI
Conswela Riddick
"This gift is a tribute to Conswela Riddick, a first year Geometry teacher at Grassfield High School in Chesapeake, Virginia! Conswela has a phenomenal capacity for teaching and learning. As a first year teacher, she taught one of the most challenging and underachieving classes, but by the end of the semester 92% of these students passed the Virginia SOL Tests! Her success can be contributed to the high expectations she has for all children and the quality of her outstanding lessons. It is such a joy to have such talent teaching high school math, but most of all, it is a blessing to have her as a daughter! I am so proud of her success!"
Doreatha White (VA '02), Chesapeake, VA
Dr. Thomas Sills
"Dr. Sills of the University of West Georgia was my advisor and mentor. He recognized my potential before I realized I had it. He is the person who led me to the University of CT for my doctorial work with Dr. Vincent Glennon. This led to a beloved teaching career in CT along with educational leadership opportunities I could have never dreamed possible for myself."
Patricia Proctor (CT '93), Villa Rica, GA
Nicholas Louis Salerno
"To my Dad...a 30-year educator."
Nick Salerno (CA '97), El Monte, CA
Anna E. Williams
"I wanted to pay tribute to a special educator, my 95-year-old mother, Anna E. Williams (Hope High School, Hope, AR), whom Mike Huckabee recognized in his book, Character Counts, and the one who “pushed” him. He said on pg. 80 of Character Counts: “no matter how much I accomplished, she would always point out what more I could have done with a little more effort. I look back now and realize she was instilling in me discipline useful throughout life.” I echo these thoughts!"
Jacqueline Rogers (MS '92), Collins, MS
Michael J. Chase
"Michael J. Chase has worked with the students and staff of Biddeford Middle School this year to help us work toward our goal of becoming the "kindest middle school in Maine." Through Michael's work, each of our students and staff have learned to live the 9 characteristics (elements) of a kind heart: ATTENTIVE, AUTHENTIC, CHARITABLE, COMPASSIONATE, COURAGEOUS, ENTHUSIASTIC, GRATEFUL, INSPIRATIONAl and PATIENT. Michael's inspirational talks to our school have motivated each of us to become kinder and now nearly two hundred students are part of our school's "Kindness Crew." There are so many stories to tell of Michael's impact on our students and school. Because of the space limitation, let one example suffice: After reading about the "hateful" acts against a synagogue in Portland (ME) recently, the 6th grade students in Annie Cogrove's reading classes wrote letters and created cards filled with messages of hope and kindness to Rabbi Herzfeld and his congregation. The students then created a large Star of David poster with these notes and cards. Michael will continue working with us next year as our Kindness Initiative expands into the high next year."
Thomas J. Sferes (ME '91), Kennebunk, ME
Dr. & Mrs. Charles R. Aiken
"My tribute is to my parents, Charles and Jane Aiken. My father was a college professor and my mother was an elementary teacher. They were both outstanding professional educators, as well as teachers in the home for my siblings and me. They were the reason that I wanted to pursue education as a career."
Nancy Varian (OH '94), East Canton, OH
Frank Brumbaugh
"A great teacher, coach and supporter."
Evelyn Andrews (OR '90), Tualatin, OR
Robert James Dematteis
"Bob Dematteis became the youngest head of the Early Childhood Education department at Mt. Hood Community College at age 23. Over the next 20 years, until his untimely death at age 43, Mr. Dematteis had an enormous influence on the teachers, staff, and caregivers in early childhood programs around the state and nationally. He was active in working for Oregon's youngest citizens, both at home, in child care programs and in schools - both public and private. Mr. Dematteis worked in a variety of ways: legislatively, teaching adults, serving on local (PAEYC), state (OAEYC) and national (NAEYC)governing boards, as well as continuing work as a public speaker. He spoke of developmentally appropriate practice before there was a name for it, and helped adults in many venues create programs that fit children's needs, rather than pushing children to fit into one-size-fits-all programs. Even after his death, his work continues to live in the work of many Oregon educators, parents and policymakers. In honor of him, we celebrate the diversity of all children and the educators who work to help them become all they can become."
Robin Lindsley (OR '94), Forest Grove, OR
Andrea Elliott
"Andi, You have made such a difference in so many lives, especially mine. Your superb skills as a true instructional leader served as a role model for me as I became a principal. Thanks for all your contributions to education and your lifelong lessons on being a better person and leader."
Linda Fisher (CA '98), San Diego, CA
Karen Diamond
"You are so unassuming, and yet such a towering educator. You refuse to knuckle under to the stereotypes of the shortsighted, and you carve your inimitable style into the hearts of those of your faculty who can see with unbiased eyes. For so many of us, your leadership and your compassion will never be forgotten."
John Snyder (NV '92), Las Vegas, NV
Kathryn Elizabeth Olesen Wharton
"To Kate: You hold the future in your hands. Thank you for becoming a teacher and believing you can make the world a better place. You can, you know. Love, Mom"
Susan Olesen (IA '94), Greenfield, IA
Miss Levings
"In third grade, I checked Louisa May Alcott's An Old Fashioned Girl out of the school library. After renewing it two weeks in a row, the librarian told me time was up. My wonderful teacher Miss Levings had her bend the rules to let me reach my goal... a dual lesson in flexibility and support for a young person that has remained with me."
Bonnie Somers, Calabasas, CA
Alice Flores
"Dr. Alice Flores' core beliefs and corresponding actions coincide perfectly with the tenets of the National Teacher Advancement Program, propelling this special tribute. As Director of CalStateTEACH (teacher preparation), Monterey Region, California State University, Dr. Flores powerfully influenced the "creation" of hundreds of new teachers who acquired and live the TAP philosophy to the direct benefit of countless students. Dr. Flores is the consummate advocate of the importance of the teacher's role, and contributor to the success of the profession. In addition, Dr. Alice Flores is an education leader, par excellence, by modeling integrity, vision, drive, standards and benevolence. Thank you for allowing me to include this special person in the 'tribute of achievers!'"
Peter Krasa (CA '91), Pebble Beach, CA
Sue Way
"A thank you for the support and vision you share. Your passion for teaching and providing the best possible learning experience for children is admired by many. You continue to inspire and motivate...thank you!"
Susan Couch (LA '04), Lake Charles, LA
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