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Hartnell College Presents Teaching Excellence Awards

May 6, 2005

Seven of the Salinas Valley's best educators - who teach elementary school through college-level classes - were recognized at Hartnell College Friday, May 6, and received the Ercia Harden Teaching Excellence Awards. They each were presented a plaque and a $1,800 check. Thirty-eight teachers had been nominated for the award, which was established in 1989 by the Harden Foundation. The award is named for the wife of Eugene Harden, who was one of the individuals who put the Salinas Valley on the map as an agricultural center. The Hardens died in the mid-1980s.

The Harden awards - administered by the Hartnell College Foundation - recognize teachers on the basis of several criteria, including assistance to students, curriculum development, excellence in instruction, and commitment to activities outside of the classroom, according to Cicely McCreight, executive director of the foundation. On hand to recognize the award recipients were Hartnell President Edward J. Valeau; Joseph Grainger, executive director of the Hartnell Foundation; and Bill Barr, Monterey County superintendent of schools.

Presented at the same time as the Harden Awards was the Hartnell College Gleason Faculty Award, which was established by the late Roy and Phyllis Gleason of King City to recognize teaching excellence. This year's recipient was Eric Bosler, who has taught photography classes at Hartnell for more than 25 years. In addition to his teaching duties, Bosler is active in the campus' annual art auction and gallery exhibits, and is the curator of the Blackstone Winery Gallery in Gonzales.

The 2005 recipients of the Harden Award are:

Tim Amaral, Salinas Adult School (Salinas Union High School District). In his 13 years with the Salinas Adult School, Amaral has played a major role in increasing the number of graduates every year. In his off hours, he has spent time delivering beds, clothing and other items to needy student families.

Natalie Bernasconi, La Paz Middle School (Salinas Union High School District). An 8th grade English teacher, she has been with the Salinas Union High School District for seven years. Last year she spearheaded an initiative to improve the quality of writing at La Paz.

Patrick Brennand, Gonzales High School (Gonzales Unified School District). A social studies teacher, Brennand has been with the Gonzales school district for 26 years. He began the social studies department's scholarship where teachers personally contribute to a yearly scholarship. Brennand also has chaired his department for six years and has been a key member of the school's technology committee since 1997.

Stephanie Coffin, Creekside Elementary School (Alisal Union School District). A 4th grade teacher, Coffin has been with the Alisal district for 17 years and is a founding teacher of Creekside. She is the school's science resource teacher and has represented Creekside in the choice of new science texts and materials.

Kathy Mendelsohn, Hartnell College, teaches business office technology, business administration, and computer science and information systems. A Hartnell instructor for 21 years, Mendelsohn sits on several campus committees and constantly serves as a mentor and role model to her students.

Christina Parker, El Sausal Middle School (Salinas Union High School District). An 8th grade social studies teacher at El Sausal for the last five years, Parker chairs the school's program that is designed to prepare first-generation college students with below average to average achievement levels. Coincidently, she attended El Sausal as a student.

Summer Prather, McKinnon Elementary School (Santa Rita Union District). A bilingual kindergarten teacher at McKinnon for four years, Prather is a critical member of the school's language development committee and has been a key force in attracting many parents to join the PTA and volunteer in the classroom.

For more information on the Harden award winners, call Cicely McCreight at (831) 755-6810.