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North Country Country Teacher One of Four To Receive Clarkson University's Inspirational High School Educator Award

Potsdam, N.Y. – Clarkson University Senior Erin J. O’Driscoll of Evans Mills, remembers Indian River High School photography and graphics arts teacher J. Thomas Murray of Brownville as a committed artist and instructor who taught students a good deal more than art concepts and how to use a camera.

“He taught us to see the art in everything around us,” she recalls. “He has that rare ability to reach out to every one of his students and instill the joy of having art a part of their lives Mr. Murray worked to model and instill the right values and behaviors in all his students and would continually remind students to be the best they could be and to always find happiness in their work and everyday life.”

O’Driscoll nominated Murray for the 2004 Clarkson University Inspirational High School Educator Award.  Murray is one of five high school educators who will receive the award at Clarkson’s commencement weekend, May 8-9.

“He sparked my interest in graphic arts and media design and took time outside of his classes to teach me graphic arts,” O’Driscoll says  “Because of his support, I enrolled in Clarkson’s Technical Communications program to study graphic arts, education and communications.”

“He taught me the value of learning and also exhibited such a passion for teaching that I want to stay in the education field,” she adds.

For the 15th consecutive year, Clarkson University will recognize those educators who have made an indelible impact on the lives of Clarkson seniors. In early spring, graduating students are invited to nominate one educator whom they feel has shaped their lives and influenced career choices. Winners are chosen from the nominations to receive the award.

“As a university, we are in a unique position to see firsthand the formative and long-lasting influence that dedicated high school educators have on our students,” said Clarkson University President Tony Collins. “It seems fitting, then, to recognize these remarkable individuals who have given so much time and energy to help young people develop the motivation and skills necessary to achieve excellence in all areas of their lives.”

The other recipients of the 2004 Awards are:

  • Heather Fair-Sears of Queensbury, N.Y., a mathematics teacher at Lake George Central Schools in Lake George, N.Y. Nominated by Brittany Speck of Lake George, N.Y., a civil and environmental engineering major.
  • Regan Johnston of Altamont, N.Y., a varsity wresting coach and physical education teacher at Guilderland Central High School in Guilderland, N.Y. Nominated by Scott J. Butler of Schenectady, N.Y., a civil engineering major.
  • Anne Pontbriand of Lewiston, Maine, a religious education teacher at St. Dominic Regional High School in Auburn, Maine. Nominated by Aimee M. Lajoie of Auburn, Maine, a biology and psychology double major.
  • Joseph Wagner of Lyman, Maine, a teacher of American government and strategic investing formerly at Massabesic High School in Waterboro, Maine. Nominated by Kevin J. Roy of Shapleigh, Maine, a mechanical engineering major.

The recipients will receive their awards at a special dinner on the evening of May 8, and will be honored during the commencement ceremonies the following day.

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

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