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>  News Releases >   2008 >   June

K-12 teachers recognized with 2nd annual Dartmouth Teaching Award

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 06/05/08 • Media Contact: Latarsha Gatlin • (603) 646-3661

On a day when Dartmouth graduates leave their college life behind and look toward their future as adults, four seniors will get to see their former teachers recognized for their inspiration, dedication and steadfast support for young learners.

The June 8 Commencement ceremony will mark the second year of the Dartmouth Prize for Exceptional Teaching Award. In what is becoming a new tradition during Commencement, seniors are invited to nominate an influential teacher from kindergarten through twelfth grade. This year's winners are:

  • Kristin Hathhorn, a K-12 teacher of reading, writing, math, history, science and technology at the Igiugig School, Iguigig, Alaska
  • Jose Manuel Leavitt, teacher of Italian and history at The Academia del Perpetuo Socorro, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • John Tintle, a 10th and 12th grade teacher of US History at Wallenpaupack High School, Hawley PA
  • Russell Roepcke, a 7th and 8th grade teacher of history and English as a second language at Union Gap Middle School, Union Gap, WA

A nine-person committee made up of students, faculty and administrators reviewed the name-blind nominations and selected the four honorees.

The four recipients will be honored during Commencement, at a luncheon and a reception. Each teacher will also receive a $2,500 honorarium as well as a $2,500 award for his or her school.

Jay Davis '90, Director of the Education Department's Secondary Teacher Education Program and Program Officer in the Tucker Foundation, chaired the prize and selection committees.

"It is exceptionally important that Dartmouth has chosen to so publically acknowledge elementary and secondary school teachers," he noted. "It simultaneously celebrates and elevates a noble yet underappreciated profession."

The idea for the program grew out of a June 2005 New York Times column by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and commentator Thomas L. Friedman in which he praised Williams College's Olmsted Prize for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching. Since 1984, Williams has honored four secondary school teachers with a cash prize and recognition at commencement. A number of people, including Dartmouth faculty, students and alumni, approached the administration about developing a similar program and were met with enthusiasm.

"By establishing this award, the college is encouraging its graduating seniors to reflect on the extraordinarily gifted and dedicated teachers whose work has enabled them to be successful once they arrived at Dartmouth," says Education Department Chair Andrew Garrod, member of the Selection committee.

AlexAnna Salmon '08 nominated Kristin Hathhorn: "It takes a whole village to raise a child, but it only takes one great teacher to inspire an entire generation of leaders, and that is Kristin's legacy in Igiugig. Therefore, my success at Dartmouth is because I am standing on the shoulder of giants; I am a reflection of my parents and extended family, my village of Igiugig, and especially the dedication of teachers, of which Kristin has proven the most exceptional."

Carolina Velaz '08 nominated Jose Manuel Leavitt: "Professor Leavitt wrote my recommendation letters for college and he is without a doubt one of the most loved professors in my school, if not Puerto Rico. No one can call him an 'easy' professor. He is not easy because he expects a lot from his students. He is one of the best professors I have ever had. And not only as a professor but as a person of great sensitivity and humanity, I believe he deserves this prize more than anybody I have ever met."

Claire Wildermuth '08 nominated John Tintle: "Mr. Tintle helped shape who I am as a person by making history more interesting and closely tied to my life, inspiring me to be an independent person, being a strong, respected role model, and dedicating so much of his time and caring nature to ensure that his students strive to be the best they can be and have his whole-hearted support in all aspects of life."

Elizabeth Mendoza '08 nominated Russell Roepcke: "The diversity of his academic background, from being enrolled in a Ph.D. program to working in construction made students like me curious.  As an eighth grader I had never heard of a Ph.D.!  After he explained that a Ph.D. gave you the title of a doctor and bragging rights because you wrote a book-length study, I decided I wanted one.  From then on, he called me Dr. Mendoza.  It is incredible how much the little things matter. What the rest of America perceives to be insignificant details, for immigrant children means a new discovery of some concept of higher education, distant and blurry but still there." 

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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