Teachers of Excellence selected


April 12, 2013


This news release is shared on behalf of BP. Congratulations to the eight ASD educators named Teachers of Excellence.


ANCHORAGE (April 11, 2013) – Ten teachers will be honored as 2013 BP Teachers of Excellence for the Anchorage School District. The 18th Annual BP Teachers of Excellence awards event will be held at Alaska Native Heritage Center on April 25 at
6 p.m.

The Anchorage BP Teachers of Excellence are:
Tatiana Beck, Ursa Major Elementary School
Linda Bender, Trailside Elementary School
Ellen R. Frohlich, Abbott Loop Elementary School
Mary Henry, Chinook Elementary School
Mary Anne Schallert,  Anchorage Waldorf School
Lakhita Banks, Clark Middle School
Ben W. Colson, SAVE High School
Debbie LaRue, Chugiak High School
Donn Liston, Nine Star Education Services
David Nix, King Career Center


The BP Teachersof Excellence program recognizes teachers from throughout Alaska for their dedication to teaching andfor inspiring students. The BP Teachers of Excellence program expanded last year becoming available to all Alaska school districts. Nearly 1,400 nominations were received this year. The ten Anchorage teachers are among more than 30 Alaska educators being honored as 2013 Teachers of Excellence.


Each BP Teacher of Excellence receives a $500 gift card and an award certificate. In addition, the teacher’s school receives a matching $500 grant. One Anchorage teacher will be chosen as BP’s Teacher of the Year to be announced at the April 25 reception. That teacher will receive a $1,500 scholarship for continuing education and a bronze sculpture by Alaska artist Mary Regat.


“Recognizing outstanding Alaska educators is among the most rewarding and important aspects of BP’s investment in Alaska,” said Phil Cochrane, Vice President of External Affairs, BP Exploration (Alaska). “It is an honor to say thank you to these teachers who areinvesting themselves to make sure Alaska’s young people are receiving the best possible education as they head down the path to future success.”


Teachers of Excellence bios:


Tatiana Beck teaches kindergarten at Ursa Major Elementary School. Knowing kindergarten is the foundation of a child’s learning, she strives for a safe and nurturing environment and works to give her students confidence so they know they can achieve. Working in a school on Ft. Richardson, Beck has the additional challenge of teaching children of deployed service members. Beck knows teaching isn’t just in the classroom, and her curriculum includes many field trips involving art and the great Alaska outdoors.


Linda Bender teaches music at Trailside Elementary School. She sets her expectations high and believes music is a subject in which every child can find success. Teaching with humor and love, Bender works to foster a love of arts in all her students. For the past 24 years she has taken her choirs into the community on concert tours where they perform for the elderly, police and firefighters, and at various community events across the city.


Ellen R. Frohlich teaches kindergarten at Abbott Loop Elementary School. She believes success in the classroom comes when the teacher acts as a guide, a child’s natural curiosity is allowed to help direct the learning, and respect for all things and people is promoted. Frolich invites students to help direct the lessons and units of study, finding they are motivated to work harder and master skills necessary to reach their goals. Opening her classroom to high school and college students interested in early childhood education keeps her on her toes and motivates her to keep her teaching fresh.


Mary Henry teaches first grade at Chinook Elementary School. In our technological society, she knows a key to success in the classroom is technology integration, and she teaches using an interactive white board that allows her to continually modify and improve her lessons. She also puts great emphasis on independent reading and word study with a system of points and rewards for students. Believing parents are important partners in learning, she sends home a weekly parent newsletter outlining what is being taught in the classroom.


Mary Anne Schallert is the orchestra director and strings teacher at Anchorage Waldorf School. She believes music is a great medium for self-expression and offers a chance to bring people together. When teaching music, she also incorporates the history and politics from the time a piece was written along with the physics of an instrument. Schallert mentors many local community ensembles and encourages her students and their families to play and appreciate music together.


Lakhita Banks teaches social studies and law at Clark Middle School. She inspires students to learn and achieve by building a positive rapport with each child. Her goal is for students to feel respected, safe to learn, and safe to make mistakes. She makes history and government come alive by having simulated congressional hearings in her classroom and having her students engage with the Mountain View Community Council on issues that impact the neighborhood where they live. Banks also leads an annual cultural extravaganza where students and community members share regalia, food and traditional song/dance.


Ben W. Colson teaches social studies at SAVE High School. The key to educational success in Colson’s classroom is treating each student with respect and acknowledging their individual learning styles. He aims to make each assignment relate to life experiences and promotes the idea that we are all life-long learners. For the past decade he has taken students to Washington, D.C. with the Close Up program, a trip that for many will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see our nation’s capital and government at work. By promoting student involvement in community service efforts he helps build a sense of pride in his students as they integrate themselves into the community where they will become productive members.


Debbie LaRue teaches U.S. history and government at Chugiak High School. Her core values in education include the belief that each student has the potential to be successful and deserves to be treated with respect. She believes showing students you believe in their potential allows them to believe in themselves and feel inspired to learn. In over 20 years of teaching, LaRue has helped design many curricula and programs used for history and government classes in the Anchorage School District. Her students are encouraged and required to compete in World Quest and National History Day and to get involved in their community as an active citizen.


Donn Liston teaches adult basic education at Nine Star Education Services. As the high school completion teacher and GED instructor, Liston works hard to promote and motivate the individual who has returned as an adult to complete a high school education. Being a good role model of lifelong learning and successful living, he demonstrates to his students that education has value and having a high school diploma is crucial for success. After working in journalism, public relations and politics, Liston became a certified teacher at the age of 52 and now works every day to help adults find their own paths to achievement and success.


David Nix teaches automotive maintenance technology at the King Career Center. Nix has an undying belief in the automotive industry as a viable and employable career. Through his curriculum, hands-on training, and speakers from the business world, students are given real life skills and knowledge for a career in automotive repair. He believes any teacher can be successful with the best and brightest students, but the best teachers are the ones who can help the students who struggle in school to become better students and people. Each year some of his students compete in the Ford/AAA Auto Skills Challenge, a nationwide competition of student auto skills.

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