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Five To Receive Inspirational High School Teaching Award

Michael Cost. Robert LaRock. James Maston. Joseph Zaccardo. Frank Sprow. To many people, these names do not ring a bell. For five graduating Clarkson University students, they are the names of teachers who inspired them to do their best and taught them lessons that proved valuable through high school and college.

For those reasons, these teachers have all been honored with the 1999 Clarkson Award for Inspirational High School Teaching. The awards will be presented in ceremonies on Saturday, May 15, one day before commencement exercises.

He set personal standards for himself that were a little higher than those of most people and tried to teach students how to do the same, said Sharpe. "Mr. Sprow taught what it was to be a leader, to accept responsibility, and to relish the adventure of a challenge. Because of this, I chose to enter the Air Force ROTC at Clarkson, to seek out new leadership roles, and to challenge myself in ROTC. I chose to enter pilot training upon graduation and live a life few people ever have the chance to live."

Michael Cost teaches honors biology, honors chemistry, robotics and engineering at West Genesee Central School in Camillus, N.Y. The Syracuse resident was nominated by former student Nathan F. Sweet, who is double majoring in electrical and mechanical engineering and management information systems at Clarkson.

Mr. Cost has a genuine interest in each of his students, said Sweet, also a resident of Syracuse. "If they are having problems in his class, he will take time out of his day to help. He often stays after school to give students individual help or hold review sessions to prepare for an upcoming exam. The study habits and techniques he taught me are perhaps the most important thing that led to my success at Clarkson."

Robert LaRock of Queensbury, N.Y. teaches seventh graders, twelfth graders and everyone in between at Johnsburg Central School in North Creek, N.Y. Clarkson senior Heather L. Hitchcock of North Creek was one of his students.

At Beekmantown Central School in Plattsburgh, N.Y., courses in American politics and social studies are taught by local resident James Maston. His lessons have left an impression on one of his former students, Jill M. Ward of Plattsburgh, who nominated Maston for the award.

Having dedication, a sincere interest in his students, and genuine enthusiasm for his subject matter are traits that describe Mr. Maston perfectly. He is always accessible outside the classroom and is the type of teacher students turn to when facing hardship in their lives, said Ward, who is a Project Arete student double majoring in marketing and social sciences. "Every day in American history Mr. Maston would brighten up the classroom with some remark, and everyone would become immersed. Whether he was speaking about Booker T. Washington or current goings-on in Washington, D.C., everyone would listen and learn from him."

Amsterdam, N.Y., resident Joseph M. Zaccardo teaches math, statistics and calculus at Bishop Maginn High School in Albany, N.Y. Zaccardo was nominated for his award by one of his former students, Tina M. Walsh, a math major at Clarkson who also resides in the state capital.

The lessons I learned from Mr. Zaccardo go far beyond the subject matter of his field, said Walsh. "He is one of the most inspirational people I know and he has influenced my life like no other person. He always told me to go for what I wanted and to never accept anything less than my best. He is the main reason I am a mathematics major. Without his guidance I would not be where I am today."

Clarkson University is an independent institution located in northern New York, in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. The University has 2,749 graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in programs in its schools of Business, Engineering, Liberal Arts, and Science, and its Interdisciplinary Engineering and Management program.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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