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Three to Receive Clarkson University Inspirational High School Educator Award

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Three teachers, two of them Clarkson alumni and all nominated by Clarkson University seniors, will be honored in May as the 2011 Clarkson University Inspirational High School Educators.

Students process at Clarkson’s 2010 commencementThe award recognizes these educators for their lasting impact on their students and in their fields of education.

Award winner Michael Harnish of Duisburg, Germany, an IB psychology teacher at the International School of Dusseldorf, Germany, was nominated by former student Jennifer N. Roper of Pittsburgh, Pa., who is graduating with bachelor’s degrees in both biology and psychology. Harnish received his bachelor's degree in psychology from Clarkson in 1993.

Leanne Saxby of Norfolk, N.Y., an allied health and new visions instructor at St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES, was nominated by former student Stephanie L. Collins, a senior innovation & entrepreneurship major from Colton, N.Y.

Tresa Wilson of Potsdam, N.Y., a business education teacher at Madrid-Waddington Central School, was nominated by Kenneth G. Yancey, a chemistry major from Lowville, N.Y. Wilson received her bachelor's degree in marketing from Clarkson in 1983.

The educators will be honored on campus at a special awards dinner on May 6 and then again during the commencement ceremony on the following day.

“Clarkson realizes the importance of recognizing those high school educators who played a significant role in the overall education and personal development of their students," said Clarkson University Vice President for University Outreach and Student Affairs Kathryn B. Johnson. “It is gratifying to acknowledge those educators who helped students reach their full potential and live their dreams.”

Each year, Clarkson asks its seniors to nominate the secondary school educators who have significantly affected their lives and helped guide their higher education and career decisions.

“Dr. Harnish’s advice and support have been invaluable resources for me for many years,” said Roper. “As the first in my family to apply to college, Dr. Harnish assisted me with the application process and served as a mentor for career advice in psychology and medicine. He has continued that mentorship for me as a pre-med student at Clarkson, helping me to secure research positions and to become more confident in my academics.

“Dr. Harnish demonstrates the characteristics of an outstanding educator: compassion, commitment, passion and mutual respect. His love of teaching is matched by his genuine concern and care for his students. He was always willing to offer advice, keeping in mind that his students’ interests may not be his own. He has truly helped me achieve my full potential.”

“Ms. Saxby’s course allowed me to participate in a program that was meant for college freshmen as a senior in high school,” said Collins. “It was challenging, and the added responsibility and professionalism that came with her expectations helped me mature to a level I didn’t see in my fellow classmates. If students didn’t leave her class feeling confident and great about themselves, they didn’t try hard enough.

“I truly believe that her class is the reason I came to college so prepared. Aside from being an amazing teacher, Ms. Saxby represents what it means to be a health-care provider, and for that she is a great role model. I am blessed for having had the chance to be one of her students, especially as I move forward into Clarkson’s doctor of physical therapy program next fall.”

“I believe that one of the hallmarks of a great educator is the ability to stand alone in a crowd of people and know exactly what each person’s needs are without them having to be expressed. Mrs. Wilson has this gift with people,” said Yancey. “She also has the unique ability to shape and mold young minds. She uses kind words and shapes the flow of conversation so that her students are set upon a path of self-reflection. This allows them to know themselves and become the best that they can be.

“Mrs. Wilson exhibits the finest qualities of an educator and has made invaluable contributions to my life. Because of her, I have a greater commitment towards the improvement of humanity, I am a wiser and more balanced person and I am living my dream of becoming a research scientist.”

Early in the spring term, graduating seniors submit their reasons for choosing the educators, how the teachers influenced them and actual situations in which the teachers showed themselves to be outstanding educators.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Three teachers, nominated by Clarkson University seniors, will be honored in May as Clarkson University Inspirational High School Educators. Here, students process at the University’s 2010 commencement.

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

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