4 Duval Teachers Win Career Teaching Awards

Article excerpt

Four Duval County classroom teachers awoke this morning

enriched by $10,000 awards and the knowledge that their teaching

has inspired students and colleagues.

The first recipients of the Gladys Prior Awards for Career

Teaching Excellence include a teacher who runs, screaming,

around the perimeter of her science classroom to demonstrate

principles of sound waves, and an educator who is credited with

teaching handicapped students to reach goals their parents

thought unattainable.

The teachers are: Mary Alice Fryar, an eighth-grade teacher at

Landon Middle School; Terri Largen, teacher of mentally

handicapped students at Mandarin Oaks Elementary School; Marcia

Rivas, a fifth-grade teacher at Fort Caroline Elementary School

and Mary Helen Solomon, a music and performing arts teacher at

Riverside Presbyterian Day School.

They were nominated by former students and administrators, who

learned of the cash awards created this year by Gilchrist Berg,

the founder of a Jacksonville investment management company.

The awards are believed to be among the most lucrative for

teachers in the nation.

Berg provided $325,000 to reward both public and private school

teachers who have inspired classes for at least a decade. The

program, which includes graduate fellowship awards for teachers

with less experience, is administered by the University of North

Florida.

The recipients, among more than 80 nominees, were selected by a

five-person committee that includes retired school

administrators and professors of education.

Fryar, 54, the daughter of a high school agriculture teacher,

has taught for 32 years in several schools in Duval County,

Gainesville and Hickory, N.C.

For the past four years, Fryar has taught science at Landon,

where she is known for a lessthan-dull approach. She swings

objects over her head, lasso style, to demonstrate centrifugal

force. She races around her room, shrieking, to demonstrate

sound waves.

Fryar, nominated for the award by a former student, plans to

put some of the money back into her school and would like to

challenge a corporation or individual to match her donation.

Like several of the teachers named, she was humbled by her

selection.

"I was absolutely, just shocked," she said. "It was a

tremendous honor. There are so many good teachers. They do it

year after year after year without any recognition. I know a

number of teachers in this district, just in the science

classrooms, who would be deserving of it."

Largen has taught at Mandarin Oaks for nine years and

previously was a teacher at Fort Caroline Elementary School and

in Tennessee and Kentucky. Her students achieve because she has

high expectations of them, said Jo Doty, principal at Mandarin

Oaks.

Her students vary in age and abilities. But Largen is organized

and creative enough to get them working toward a common goal by

providing each with a specific task, Doty said.

"She's just an absolutely phenomenal teacher," Doty said.

"We have parents who would like to have their children

retained, so they can have Terri for another year. …