Friday, Mar. 20, 2009

You Made A Difference Awards

No less than 13 educators, one from each school district, in Licking County were honored with the “You Made A Difference” teaching award as given out by students.

Two among them are Lisa Preisser and Christina Sommerkamp.

Primary kindergarten teacher Lisa has been making a difference in students’ lives for over 20 years.

She said to be both surprised and humbled by it while her boss called the award well-deserved.

“The award is very well-deserved.

She is a wonderful, wonderful teacher with a really unique program.
— Dana Letts, kindergarten center principal

Christina is a fourth-grade teacher who was nomiated by a 10 year old student.

“She’s a great teacher, and she helps me learn a lot.

I couldn’t ask for a better teacher.”
— Christian Rader, 10, student Licking Heights South Elementary School

As a teacher of primary kindergarten in the Southwest Licking district, Lisa Preisser has been making a difference in countless young students’ lives over the past 20 years.

But this year, her good work with young 5-year-olds has received extra recognition.

Preisser is Southwest Licking School District’s recipient of the Coughlin Automotive You Made a Difference award.

“I was very surprised and humbled by this award,” Preisser said.

“The award is very well-deserved,” said kindergarten center principal Dana Letts. “She is a wonderful, wonderful teacher with a really unique program.”

In the Licking Heights district, student Christian Rader nominated fourth-grade teacher Christina Sommerkamp of Licking Heights South Elementary School.

“I was pleased, surprised, puzzled,” Sommerkamp said.

Rader couldn’t have been more pleased.

“She’s a great teacher, and she helps me learn a lot,” the 10-year-old said. “I couldn’t ask for a better teacher.”

It’s the 10th year that the You Made A Difference awards have been given out.

Recipients are chosen by students for making a difference. They write and hand in an essay about their nomination. The best nominations are in turn given to the disctricts’ superintendent.

Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009

Hero Saves Woman; Anonymous Donor Pays His Medical Bill

Dutch information technology executive Filip Lou, 34, was visiting Singapore Sunday when he saw a woman jump into the Singapore River .

Filip didn’t hesitate; he quickly stripped down to his shorts and jumped in after her.

By the time emergency services arrived at the scene he had already brought the woman back to land.

His jump into the water resulted in several cuts on his hands and feet caused by the rough stones at the river’s edge.

After being treated for the superficial wounds at Singapore General Hospital he was then presented with a bill of $90.

After reading about his heroics readers of the newspaper The Straits Times offered to pay the bill on his behalf but they were a bit too late.

Wednesday morning an anonymous donor walked into the hospital and reimbursed Filip Lou for his medical expenses.

The money was later on collected by Filip’s wife as he himself had to attend a business conference.

Filip has been given an award by the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

Friday, Feb. 6, 2009

Hero pilot talks about “pit-of-your-stomach” feeling

Chesley Sullenberger safely landed an airplane in the New York Hudson River in January 2009.

In doing so he kept 155 people on board alive — but also countless others on the ground in the densely populated city.

The airplane had hit a flock of birds and there was no way it was going to stay in the air.

Chesley is a hero, yes? Yes. Sure, sound thinking, long training helped — but who said that doesn’t make you a hero?

But he’s also a regular guy, a common human being who shares those feelings of dread we’re all familiar with.

“It was the worst sickening, pit-of-your-stomach, falling-through-the-floor feeling I’ve ever felt in my life.

I knew immediately it was very bad.

My initial reaction was one of disbelief…

[As for the first responders] Thank you’ seems totally inadequate. I have a debt of gratitude that I fear I may never be able to repay.”
— Chesley Sullenberger, interview CBS

The emergency landing was perfect with Chelsey easing the plane into the river. Had he hit it hard or at the wrong angle, the plane would have broken up, most likely causing human harm, possibly deaths.

Chesley was a honorary guest at President Obama’s inauguration.

Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008

More Than 20 Rescued From Blaze

Indianapolis firefighters rescued no less than 20 people from an apartment building blaze yesterday.

When firefighters arrived amidst the flames and smoke, people were leaning out of their windows on the 6th and 7th floor of the building.

A ladder truck was used to rescue the people who had been trapped.

Meanwhile other firefighters entered the building and used the stairs to bring 20 more to safety.

Two people were treated for slight smoke inhalation.

No firefighters were injured.

Monday, Oct. 20, 2008

Heroic Mine Rescue by Navy Divers

This September 16 miners became trapped in a mine shaft in the Philippines. Hope was given up until 23 navy divers let standard operating procedure be standard operation procedure and instead did what needed to be done.

Although trained and specialized in deep-sea saltwater diving the men ventured below sea level for the first time in their lives.

“It was a do or die mission. What we did was not in the books. It was our first time to dive below sea level.”
Marlon Mansueto, Seaman 1st Quartermaster

Their allowed depth is 120 feet: that day they went 700 feet.

Breathing in the oxygen deprived air in the tunnel they felt their way around. It was hard, difficult, dangerous, and Mansueto was concerned about the safety of his men.

“But the look on the faces of the miners’ families pushed us to go on.”

For heroism and extraordinary service to the public the seamen were awarded the Bronze Cross and the Distinguished Navy Cross.

Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008

98 Year Old Woman Saved by Firefighters

It’s the weekend in which senior citizens escape fire.

Mable Williams, 98, was working in her kitchen, cleaning dishes. Looking up out of the window she saw a house which is really close to hers on fire.

“”I began to get nervous. I just kept seeing the light. I went to the front and turned on my alarm and nothing. I began to look outside and I saw all of this.”
Mable Williams, 98

Her house was judged to be too close to the intense fire and firefighters pulled her to safety.

Williams wasn’t injured; her house is undamaged too.

Wednesday, Sep. 10, 2008

5 Letter Carriers Awarded For Rescue of 100

The 2008 “Hero of the Year” Award of the National Association of Letter Carriers was shared by 5 Oakland, California, letter carriers.

Their heroic efforts started with Alan Girard nearing the end of his route October 6, 2007, when he noticed smoke and an orange glow coming from the 2nd floor of an apartment block.

He rushed inside, pulled the fire alarm and started knocking on doors, yelling for people to get out.

4 Colleagues quickly joined him, arriving on the scene “like a cavalry of white postal vehicles”.

Together they led close to 100 senior citizens to safety that day.

Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2008

Rescued climber calls friend a hero

An Auckland man who survived a 170 metre plunge down a mountain in the Southern Alps, says he owes his life to his mate.

Steffen Poepjes waited in the mountains for two hours while his friend ran for help.

“I thought I was a goner…I was terrified,” says Poepjes from his hospital bed.

The climbing pair videoed their successful climb to the top of Mount Philistine.

But it all went wrong on the way down.

“I was facing the rock, down climbing and just one foothold gave way, and it was over from there,” says Poepjes.

Poepjes is calling his friend, Cameron Walker, a hero.

“He saved my life pretty much. I was pretty sore and pretty cold up the mountain waiting, but if it wasn’t for him, no one would have found me,” he says.

Walker says he feared the worst while climbing down the mountain looking for his friend after seeing him fall.

“I was looking for a blood trail straight away,” he says.

But after finding his friend alive, he was able to raise the alarm.

“I told him to keep his eyes open, and he wasn’t to sleep,” says Walker.

After raising the alert, a rescue chopper was there within an hour and winched Poepjes to safety.

“He secured him in a good little bit of a nook against a rock…he was in a good stable condition,” says Grant Withers, Westpac Rescue Helicopter pilot.

The climbing expedition up Mount Philistine was the finale to a South Island adventure trip, but despite the accident, both say they haven’t been put off climbing.

Police risked their lives in fire rescue

TWO police officers have been praised after they risked their lives and rescued an unconscious man from a burning home.

Constables Colin Leslie and Alex Collins, both based at Culloden police station, were responding to a 999 call when they attended the flat in Ardersier at 6.20pm on Sunday.

There had been reports of a disturbance and when the pair arrived at the High Street property they were faced with flames coming from the door.

They were aware a man was inside the building but attempts to talk him out to safety failed.

A spokeswoman for Northern Constabulary said while the fire brigade were on route to the scene the officers felt any delay in rescuing the man could have resulted in death and further damage to adjoining properties.

Attempts to force the door were made, and with the help of a neighbour, the two officers managed to break the locks and get inside the burning building. They were accompanied by a third police officer, Sergeant Ramsay Aitken.

They used fire extinguishers from the police vehicle to try and fight the flames and a high powered torch enabled them to see through the smoke-filled building.

They eventually found the man, who by this time was unconscious.

He was pulled to safety by the officers and was treated for smoke inhalation by paramedics outside before being taken to Raigmore Hospital.

It is understood a woman had also been in the house but escaped.

Constables Leslie and Collins were also treated by ambulance staff and had to go to hospital.

They were praised yesterday for their professional and selfless actions in fighting the fire and rescuing the man.

Chief Inspector Julian Innes said: “Their actions were both brave and commendable and a credit to Northern Constabulary.”

Fire crews from Inverness and Nairn later arrived on scene.

A spokesman for Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service said firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used two hose reel jets to tackle the fire, which caused damage to the hallway and other parts of the house.

Monday, Jul. 14, 2008

Wrecker driver honored for being a hero

An East County wrecker driver was the last person and only civilian honored for his heroism this week after he and four law enforcement members rescued a man from a burning 18-wheeler after a multi-vehicle pileup on U.S. 59 in November.

The Texas Department of Public Safety presented Timothy “T.J.” Knox with the Director’s Award, signed by DPS Colonel Thomas A. Davis Jr., in New Caney at the office of Precinct 4 Commissioner Ed Rinehart.

Knox was nominated for the award by Trooper Paul Kohleffel, who was also a part of the Nov. 26, 2007 rescue effort. In his letter of nomination, Kohleffel detailed how he and Knox forced open the damaged door of the 18-wheeler and freed the trapped and unconscious driver as flames spread toward the cab of the truck.

“Had it not been for Mr. Knox’s personal disregard for his own safety, I have no doubt that Mr. Bailey would not have survived the accident on that day,” the letter states.

Captain Patrick Mulligan presented the award to Knox, whose children, Dalton and Kaitlyn, and his fiancé, Casey Lawson, looked on.

DPS Sgt. Donald Nance said the award was an excellent opportunity for the agency to recognize a citizen for his assistance.

“(Knox) can’t be repaid by money for his actions, but he’s been recognized by the department and is looked up to as a hero,” Nance said.

DPS Lt. Terry Truitt said the situation was unusual in his experience.

“This is the first incident I’ve been close to when a citizen risked his life in that way,” Truitt said.

He was proud of Knox’s actions and Kohleffel’s, as well.

“We don’t want them to put themselves in unnecessary peril, but sometimes they do in order to get the job done,” Truitt said.

Kohleffel received the DPS Director’s Citation for his heroism.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Rowdy Hayden, Deputy Justin Hamilton and Deputy Duane LeBeau were recognized earlier this month by the Houston/Harris County 100 Club for their role in the rescue.

Woman keeps promise to war hero dad

ANN YORK will soon be making the journey she has always dreamed about – a poignant visit to a Canadian town which has honoured her late father.

She has won the chance to make the trip of a lifetime thanks to a Telegraph competition.

We asked readers to tell us where in the world they would most like to visit and why.

Hundreds of stories came in from across Coventry and Warwickshire, but it was Ann’s moving tale which got the judges’ vote.

The former dinner lady told how she had never been able to see the street named after her father, Frank Woodward, who fought in a famous battle in the Second World War.

Ann, aged 60, of the Hiron, Cheylesmore, Coventry, will now be able to proudly walk down Woodward Crescent in Ajax, Canada.

Her dad was a crew member on the HMS Ajax which, together with HMS Exeter and HMS Achilles, defeated the Graf Spee in the famous Battle of the River Plate in 1939.

The town decided to honour the crews by naming roads after them.

Ann had a letter from the mayor of Ajax six years ago inviting her to attend a tree-planting ceremony in the road.

But she was recovering from cancer at the time and couldn’t make it.

Now she will have that chance thanks to sponsors Birmingham International Airport and its partner airlines and tour operators which will pay for the flights and spending money to cover accommodation and other treats for Ann and a companion.

Ann said she would “jump for joy and probably cry as well” if she won the holiday and that’s exactly what she did.

She added: “I still can’t believe I’ve won – it still feels like a dream.

“I do feel sorry for the other contestants but now I can fulfil the promise to my brother and father which was to walk down that street and pay tribute.

Her father died 17 years ago and mother, Alison, passed away eight years ago. Her brother Howard died three years ago.

Ann said: “Losing my father was like losing my best friend. He meant the world to me and we were so close.

“He would always ask how my children were and see if I was OK and would do anything for me.”

Ann, who is married to Mick and has a son Andrew, 33, will be taking her daughter Alison, 30, on the trip.

Thursday, Jul. 10, 2008

Supercop, Bystander Called Heroes In Bank Robber Chase

An off-duty Cleveland police officer with 35 years on the job chased down a bank robbery suspect with the help of a woman bystander, and now both of them are being called heroes.

The police union said Jim Simone is the most decorated officer in the history of the Cleveland Police Department, a facto that has earned him the title “Supercop.”

“He loves the city of Cleveland, he loves working for the people, and he loves putting bad guys away,” said union President Steve Loomis.

Simone was off-duty when he happened upon a bank robbery on Wednesday, and he once again sprang into action. But at 60 years old, Supercop is no spring chicken, and 35 years on the job has taken its toll.

“He’s been shot, I think he’s been shot twice. He’s been hit by a car a few times just since I’ve been on the job,” said Loomis.

Simone is still recovering after a man allegedly hit him with a car last month.

The robber of the Fulton Road bank had a head start, and when it looked like Simone wouldn’t catch him, another hero swooped in to help.

Police said the woman, identified only as Tina, was driving by when she spotted Simone chasing the suspect and offered him a ride.

Police said Simone was forced to fire on 35-year-old Robert Hackworth, who was reaching into a stolen pickup truck, a sign of danger for police.

Police said Tina gave Simone the backup he needed.

“If he did catch up to him on foot and he was winded it would have been a tragic situation also, so we just can’t say enough for Tina,” Loomis said.

Wednesday, Jul. 9, 2008

Truckie hailed a hero after car crash rescue

Wayne Zappone has been called a hero after he helped resuscitate a man who had a heart attack at the wheel of his car.

AS Warren Zappone watched the car in front of him veer across the road and crash into an embankment yesterday morning, he knew something had gone terribly wrong.

He ran down the ditch off Norman Road, North Rockhampton, dialling triple zero before he reached the car.

When he opened the door to the silver Hyundai, he immediately checked the elderly driver for a pulse. There wasn’t one.

“He wasn’t breathing and I knew he must’ve hit his head or something,” Mr Zappone said.

“Another bloke came over and we pulled him out of the car and started CPR.”

The men worked desperately to revive him until the ambulance arrived minutes after the accident, which happened about 9.30am.

The ambulance officers managed to get his pulse going again before he appeared to go into cardiac arrest again.

The 83-year-old Farnborough man, who is believed to have suffered a major heart attack, remained in a critical condition at Rockhampton Hospital yesterday afternoon.

Mr Zappone is a truck driver for Kele Bros.

He was on his way to Yeppoon for work when the accident happened, and he very nearly had one of his own.

“We went very close to having a three-car pile-up,” he said.

“I had to go off to the side as well.”

He said he was relieved to hear the man had survived.

“I’m still a bit shaky now,” he said just hours after the incident.

“It’s not something you come across every day.”

With enough knowledge of what to do, having dealt with the ambulance service through work, Mr Zappone drew praise from officers on the scene.

“The ambulance officers said it was fantastic that I knew all that I did,” Mr Zappone said.

Police yesterday hailed Mr Zappone a hero, and Central Region traffic co-ordinator Inspector Lyle Mitchell said his efforts had certainly not gone unnoticed.

“I am going to make a recommendation for an award of some sort,” he said.

“His actions no doubt helped save the man’s life.”

Man with Autism Meets Firefighters Who Came to Rescue

Keith Kennedy is getting a chance to meet the firefighters who rescued the 25-year-old man with autism from the Wisconsin woods.

Kennedy was missing for a week in the woods near Grantsburg, Wis. after running away from Trade Lake Camp for the developmentally-disabled on June 15. He was rescued June 22 and taken to Fairview Medical Center at the University of Minnesota for recovery.

Kennedy was discharged from the hospital Monday. He had a kidney transplant in 1995, and had been without his medication since June 15. Searchers feared that his kidneys would shut down.

On the last day of organized search, one of the St. Paul firefighters found Kennedy naked in some brush. He was dehydrated, full of ticks and bug bites and suffering from hypothermia.

Kennedy will meet the firefighters following a ceremony to honor the rescuers at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in St. Paul.

Firefighters rescue children

The Patriots in the Park annual carnival turned into a tense situation for several children stranded on a ride.

Sometime between 4 and 6 p.m. on Friday, six children between the ages of 3 and 8 were stranded for about 25 minutes on the Crazy Bus, a children’s ride that goes in circles for several minutes. An electronic problem caused the malfunction, according to Granite City firefighter/paramedic Craig Sykes.

Sykes was one of nine special responders from the fire department who rescued the children by carrying five of the six down a ladder.A child of about 8 was old enough to climb down the ladder by himself, Sykes said.

The children were stranded a little more than 20 feet off the ground in an upright position while they were rescued by firefighters. The rescue took about 15 minutes. No one was injured, Sykes said.

“The youngest one (about 3 or 4) seemed scared. The others seemed fine,” Sykes said.

“This was the first time we had any problems with any of the rides since I’ve been with the Park District,” said Dave Williams, executive director of the Granite City Park and Recreational District. “We’re thankful no one was hurt.”

Williams, who has been the executive director since 2000, said the ride was shut down for the remaining two days of the carnival.

The rides at the Patriots in the Park carnival are owned and operated by Swyear Amusements Company, of New Athens.

Swyear has been providing rides at the carnival for several years, Williams said.

UK Teacher of the Year 2008 is…

FUN-LOVING Paul Johnson has scooped the title of the Scarborough Evening News Teacher of the Year 2008.
Mr Johnson, of Hinderwell School, was presented with the award after four of his pupils nominated him for the prestigious title.

Evening News editor Ed Asquith presented Mr Johnson with his certificate – and a cheque for £100 yesterday. His class is also set to enjoy a free trip to the Sea Life Centre which includes being picked up by a complimentary Shoreline Suncruisers open-top bus.

The 30-year-old, who lives in Hunmanby, said: “I am just so shocked. I have been nominated for this award for a few years and I never thought I would win it. It is fantastic. It is completely out of the blue.”

Mr Johnson has worked as a Year 5 teacher at the school for seven years. He also works as an advanced skills teacher which involves visiting other schools in the county once a week to offer cross-curricular teaching.

He was chosen as the winner because of his dynamic but educationally engaging approach to teaching, and based on the real way he has demonstrated that every child matters. Each term he picks a theme for his class and the curriculum is based around it. This term they are studying medieval times – and his classroom has a castle in one corner.

He also treated his class to a three-day trip to London earlier this year.

His nominators were Lucy and Emily Desborough, Rachel Laverick and Rebecca Miller. Classmate Callum Macdonald, 10, said: “He is the best teacher in the world and he deserves this. He is brilliant with us and he is just so funny. He tells lots of jokes which always make us laugh.”
Beth Lawty, nine, added: “Our classroom is the best ever. We have really enjoyed being in his class and I will miss him next year.”
See our website for the celebration video.

The Evening News would like to congratulate eight other teachers who made our Roll of Honour. They are:

Mr Smith from Gladstone Road Junior School, Mr Bateson from Snainton School, Miss Morris from Barrowcliff Junior School, Mr Dyer from Gladstone Road Infant School, Mrs Gortzak from Newby and Scalby School, Miss Atkinson from Scalby School, Mrs Elsdon from Raincliffe School and Mr Hobkinson from Newby and Scalby School.

School’s Teacher of Year uses river as a resource

Teacher Jill Wnuk believes middle school is not just about math, science and social studies: It is also about helping them discover what is really important in life.

“At this age,” she explains “the kids are so ‘all over the place.’ They’re growing up. So we really try to not just teach them subject matter, but also teach them about how to take responsibility and how to make a difference.”

So, just before the school year ended Wnuk’s students donned rubber gloves and picked up garbage bags and trekked down to the banks of the nearby Hockanum River which winds its way around the bend behind the school.

The tally after the day-long campaign: 30 bags of trash – cans, cardboard, plastic, bottles, boxes and even some corroded lengths of pipe that looked suspiciously like an old football goal post from back in the day when football captain and quarterback John Larson was helping his EHHS Hornets score touchdowns on the old high school field at what is now the town’s middle school.

“This is our second time cleaning up along the river,” related Wnuk. “It’s part of an environmental project that we started last year sponsored by [non profit] American Rivers. We keep doing it because (students) understand that it’s important to clean up their community.”

Students really “get it,” said East Hartford Middle School’s ‘Teacher of the Year’ for 2008-2009. “We have 100% participation. They all do it.”

From the baseball fields of Labor Field in Mayberry Village down to the Forbes Street bridge, little seemed to escape the determined middle school garbage avengers.

Teacher Wnuk worked to restrain the students’ eagerness for safety reasons. The kids were given gloves and instructed not to pick up anything they could not identify.

“We told them not to pick up glass. Anything questionable, don’t pick it up. Let an adult pick it up,” Wnuk said. “Last year we spent a whole day out here, and collected crazy things” she recalled. “Chairs, a boat, a dead cat, and big rolls of chain link fence – the kids dragged everything out [and] our custodians put everything away in the trash.”

Among other things, the teacher said, kids organized a cell phone recycling drive. They studied articles on global warming and solar energy, and wrote letters to state leaders about the problem. “Nobody answered,” Wnuk observed.

What was important is that the kids responded to the message of social responsibility and civic mindedness, she added.

“When we were on a field trip in Hartford we went to the State Capitol as part of that, and they were mentioning, when we drove down some street, they were like ‘look at all the trash.’ They don’t litter, and when someone drops something they pick it up.”

As for the “Teacher of the Year” award Wnuk said, while it was a surprise and an honor, the title for her is more about representing the school than a personal accolade. “It’s a team effort” she stressed.

EHMS Principal Pietro Cerone pointed out there was a big reason Wnuk was picked. “She’s very involved in school activities. She’s very involved in our school,” he said. “She runs the Student Council as well as the River Cleanup. And there are many other positive programs that she’s involved with. All of these are volunteer programs. We don’t ask her to do it. She’s a team leader.”

Tuesday, Jul. 8, 2008

War Hero Reunited With Troops

U.S. Army Maj. David Underwood was released Monday from Brooke Army Medical Center to be reunited with troops returning from Iraq.

Underwood served as commander in Iraq for 28 months until he lost his arm in an explosion and was taken to BAMC for treatment.

“The explosion hit me … severing my wrist right off the bat,” said Underwood.

Part of Underwood’s leg was also wounded in the blast, but doctors were able to save the limb after a number of surgeries.

On Monday, the 38-year-old father boarded a special flight provided by Veterans Airflight Command to his hometown in Savannah, Ga., where he will welcome home troops who had served under his command.

“Last time these guys saw me, I was in pieces,” said Underwood. “I think they’ll be surprised.”

After his visit, Underwood will be transported to Walter Reed Hospital, where he will receive further treatment and be fitted with a new prosthetic arm.

The wounded hero has inspired many with his strong drive and incredible outlook on life.

He received a Purple Heart and met with President George W. Bush.

“It’s what I loved to do and I would not trade any of it for the last 8 months I had in Iraq,” said Underwood.

Teacher strikes a winning chord

THE world may know only one Carlos Santana — the guitarist and rock musician — but at Mayflower Primary, there are quite a few of him, so to speak.

Thanks to “Project Carlos Santana”, :conceptualised by Mr Melvin Cher, the school’s acting subject head of art and aesthetics, every student is given the opportunity to learn to play the guitar.

For his innovation and passion in developing his students through music and aesthetics, Mr Cher received the Outstanding Youth in Education Award yesterday. He was one of three teachers to receive the National Youth Council award for educators under 30.

:Mr Cher, who joined the school three years ago, said: “What inspires me is being able to give a child the opportunity to grow and to develop. I see that happening in my music class — not so much through just learning an instrument, but the kind of discipline, values and disposition it inculcates.” :

:The school’s modular music programme goes beyond the recorder, keyboard or usual classical string instruments — students are exposed to a variety of world music.

:Mr Cher has also played an integral role in moulding the school’s Primary Five and Six music programmes, which started two years ago.

:Said Principal Zainal Sapari: “He is doing it for the kids, and he is very humble in terms of learning from his peers and his colleagues.”: :

:The other two recipients of the award are Mr Quek Swee Nee from Bukit View Primary and Ms Chua Hwee Pheng from Paris Ris Crest Secondary.

:The award is supported by the Teachers Network and is for educators who go beyond teaching the formal curriculum to nurture their pupils. Winners get a trophy and certificate, and will be fully sponsored to attend an overseas conference to further their professional development. :

:Education Minister Ng Eng Hen, who handed out the honours at the National Institute of Education Teachers’ Investiture Ceremony, said that new programmes will be introduced over the next two years to help teachers upgrade. He encouraged teachers to make the most of the opportunities.:

:These include a part-time Bachelor of Education programme specially customised for non-graduate primary school teachers; and a new Masters programme — the MTeach — which is currently in development and is expected to accept its first intake in 2010.

A total of 1,672 newly-qualified teachers will receive their NIE diplomas this week.

Monday, Jul. 7, 2008

Shark Hero recieves Award

A man who received a bravery award for swimming into the ocean to help a woman being attacked by a shark says he is no hero.

Queensland Governor Quentin Bryce presented seven bravery awards this morning.

When 21-year old Sarah Whiley was being attacked by a shark at Amity Point Beach of Stradbroke Island in January 2006, Josiah Topou swam into the ocean to help her.

He brought her back to the beach and tried to stop the bleeding but Ms Whiley later died in hospital.

Governor Bryce says Mr Topou showed splendid valour to plunge through the water.

But Mr Topou says he did not do anything heroic.

“I think Sarah was the real hero,” he said.

“I think she battled it, she battled the sharks, that’s why her hands were bitten.”

Mr Topou says he did not see the shark as he swam to her aid but thought he could help.

“If it’s a shark then maybe I can divert it a bit because I’ve heard of people kicking and punching sharks,” he said.

Travis Brown, Tim Gurry, Kirk Muir, Evan Winstanly, Donald Smith and Andrew Bartley received awards for helping victims of car accidents.

Heroes rescue neighbour from house fire

TWO hero housemates have told how they pulled their neighbour from a smoke-filled kitchen after a fire in the early hours of the morning.

Rhys Lomax, 29, and Chris Clark, 25, of South Street, Haslingden, charged into the 41-year-old man’s home after they heard his smoke alarm at around 1.55am on Sunday.

Prison officer Mr Lomax said: “I had just picked Chris up from the airport and we were arriving back at our house.

“Then I heard this beeping and at first I thought it was the car because we’d left the headlights on.

“But then I realised it was my neighbour’s house and we could see smoke everywhere.

“We charged into the house and found him collapsed on the oven with black smoke coming from it – I don’t know how he had not burned.

“We dragged him out and put him out on the main road and then called out the fire and ambulance.”

Fire crews from Haslingden and Rawtenstall attended the blaze, which left the kitchen smoke damaged and the oven completely destroyed.

Paramedics attempted to take the 41-year-old to hospital but he refused medical attention.

Mr Lomax added: “If it had been another couple of minutes I think he would have been up in flames. He was a very lucky lad.

“He was also lucky I was bringing Chris back from the airport because otherwise I don’t think we would have heard the alarm.”

Afterwards, fire officers praised the pair, saying they had potentially saved the man’s life.

But Mr Lomax played it down and added: “I am a prison officer so I have dealt with things like that before.

“I didn’t see any flames so I thought I would risk it. It was a bit risky but it is just one of those things – the adrenaline was going.”

And Mr Clark, a shop manager, said: “If there had been flames we might have thought twice but we just covered our mouths and went in.

“We thought he was a goner because he was unconscious on the chair in front of the oven.”

Andy Sas, crew manager at Rawtenstall fire station, said the incident highlighted the importance of fitting smoke detectors.

He said: “It was potentially a very bad fire and the message to be brought home is the importance of smoke alarms.”

Fire officers would be making door-to-door calls in the area to offer home safety checks, he added.

Tuesday, Jun. 10, 2008

Hero loco driver returns to his roots

The longest-serving Toll train driver in New Zealand is finishing his career the way he started, with a nostalgic last shift driving a steam train.

Fred Hamer, 69, made headlines 13 years ago when he had the presence of mind to switch off the engine of a diesel passenger train carrying 400 people to a Martinborough Fair when it burst into flames as the train sped through the eight-kilometre Rimutaka Tunnel.

Mr Hamer kept the motor running till the train nearly reached the high point on the track.

“When I saw the flames encircle the engine I thought, `Bloody hell, this fire will be coming into the cabin’.

“As luck would have it, I managed to get hold of the guard on the RT and asked him to move everyone from the two front carriages further back. I knew if I stopped people would suffocate from the fumes.”

After gliding to the top of the hill, he shut the engine down and the train free-wheeled to Featherston.

The fire chief at the time said the tunnel could have become an inferno and nothing could have been done to save the passengers or train because no tunnel-clearing equipment was available.

The incident prompted authorities to put contingency emergency procedures in place.

Mr Hamer’s final shift, on Saturday, will be driving steam locomotive Ja1271 – which was built one year after he joined the railways in 1955 – on a nostalgic Woodville to Paekakariki trip.

Starting his rail career in Dunedin, he moved to Wellington and rose the ranks through a wide range of positions, including cleaner, fireman, locomotive assistant, locomotive engineer (driver) and instructor.

“There is a wonderful thing peculiar to rail – despite the bantering, there is a special bond. I have made golden friendships with people from Whangarei to the Bluff.

“I will miss the chats.”

Neighbours hailed as heroes by firefighters

FIREFIGHTERS today praised the actions of two hero neighbours who saved people’s lives in separate rescues.
Alan Coates sprung into action to save a family of three after a fire broke out at the side of their home in the early hours.

Wife Brenda spotted the blaze in the garden of the house in Stirling Avenue, Brockley Whins, South Shields.

Mr Coates, 50, raced across the road and banged on the door, waking the sleeping family, as the fire took hold.

Today Lucy Smith, 68, who was in the property with her disabled husband Robert, 73, and their son Alan, 40 thanked her quick-thinking neighbours.

She said: “We just thank him for getting us out in time. When we looked at it, it didn’t seem that much, but it was later when it registered it could have been a lot worse.

“We didn’t even know there was a fire. The first we knew was when someone was banging on the door.

“We had to get my husband down, as he is in a wheelchair. The man asked if he could help, but my son was already getting him ready.”

“We might not have been here today if it wasn’t for him across the road. I was glad he was there.”

The family had been asleep when the blaze broke out at the side of their home at about 3.20am yesterday.

It was spotted by Mrs Coates, 50, as she made a cup of tea in her kitchen after the couple had returned from a friend’s barbecue.

Mrs Coates said today: “I just saw the orange glow through the window, and when I looked out I saw there was a blaze at the side of the house.

“I phoned the fire brigade and told my husband to wake them up.

“The flames were licking the roof of the house. My husband said when he opened the door there was smoke in the house.”

Investigations are continuing into what caused the blaze.

Yesterday afternoon, another fire victim was rescued by his neighbour.

At around 4.05pm a woman jumped into action after hearing her neighbour’s smoke alarm sounding.

After going to investigate she found the back door of the property in Sycamore Avenue, Cleadon Park, South Shields, open, and the kitchen filled with smoke by a pan left on the hob.

Firefighters were called, and inside they discovered a man who had slipped into a diabetic coma.

Paramedics were alerted and managed to bring the man around.

Lee James, crew manager of blue watch at South Shields fire station, today praised both neighbours for their actions.

He said: “In the first incident two alarms had been fitted, but had been taken down.

“Luckily the fire was spotted by a neighbour who banged on the door and managed to wake the family up.

“If it wasn’t for him, it could have easily developed and been a lot worse.

“At the second incident the smoke alarm saved the man’s life because the neighbour heard it and phoned the fire brigade. It could have been a different story.

“Smoke alarms are vitally important as it is the smoke which kills.”

Monday, Jun. 9, 2008

Grandfather Hailed as Hero

A little boy has a grandfather to thank for his life.

Raul Banasco saw a child in the waters of Lake Eola in Downtown Orlando during an event at the park Friday.

“I saw a little girl over on the deck sort of pointing into the water and she was like ‘oh he can’t swim’”, Banasco said. “At this point I saw some other adults on the edge along the line saying ‘look he can’t swim he’s going under’.”

With no regard for his safety or his own life Banasco jumped in and swam out to the little boy

“I didn’t think anything of it,” Banasco said. “I just threw my phones on the grass and jumped in.”

Banasco grabbed the little boy and pulled him in to safety.

“He was relieved,” Banasco said. “He knew he was in trouble and I guess someone grabbed him and that’s all he wanted to know that he was going to be safe”

Somehow the boy got away from his mother in the crowd. It’s believed she was in another part of the park looking for him when she saw the commotion and ran over.

The grandfather most are calling a hero is a supervisor at the Orange County Jail and said he’s trained to respond to emergencies.

Banasco didn’t get the little boy’s name or the name of his mother. He just hopes they can all meet one day under calmer and dryer conditions.

“I’m not a hero I’m a humble kind of person,” Banasco said. “I just did what I hope somebody else would’ve done for my own children or my grandchildren I was just doing what was the right thing to do.”

Always a volunteer, now a hero

DONALD Thompson is apprehensive about the attention he will get from the close-knit Rochester community when his Medal of the Order of Australia is announced this morning.

A long-term local, Mr Thompson received his OAM for services to the Rochester community.

“I’m a bit embarrassed about the whole thing,” he said.

“I don’t do these things for a reason.”

Mr Thompson has spent most of his adult life helping others and has been recognised previously, including the 2004 Australia Day Campaspe Shire Citizen of the Year.

He began voluntary work in the 1950s at Rochester Apex Club, where he worked for 25 years in various roles.

Since then, he has been at the hub of community life in many ways, including operating a 24-7 RACV agency for 14 years employing and training apprentices and providing work for about 30 locals at the garage he has owned for the past 36 years.

Mr Thompson has contributed more than 150 hours of his own time improving the Rochester cemetery and in 1988 was elected chairman of the cemetery trust, a position he still holds.

The father of four and grandfather of six said having a supportive family was vital when people take an active role in their community.

“It makes it easy to do this work when you’ve got an understanding family. Without that, it wouldn’t work.”

Although embarrassed, Mr Thompson is touched by his OAM nomination.

“You know you’re doing quite a service to the community, and the community wouldn’t exist without volunteers.

“Rochester is a wonderful community and a wonderful town.”

Friday, Jun. 6, 2008

Heroes save two from burning

A HERO mum and son pulled an elderly woman and a man from a blazing house in Rhos on Sea.

Janet Hurd and her son David put fears for their own safety behind them when they spotted smoke billowing out of a neighbour’s house on Bodnant Road.

They ran into the smoke logged house to rescue a frail elderly woman and a man who was upstairs near the flames.

Janet said: “I could see something coming out of the window upstairs and I didn’t know if it was smoke or steam.”

She went over and shouted to her neighbours if there was anything wrong.

Then David came to help out.

He thought about using ladders he had but they were too short.

So without fear for his own safety David went into the house, the 81-year-old lady didn’t want to come out at first because she was not clothed properly.

But between them David and Janet persuaded her to come out.

“I went upstairs and the man was just sitting on the floor.

“I could see the smoke pouring off the bed and I was trying not to cough.

“I put a wet cloth over my mouth and went back upstairs and tried to put the fire out with water.

“The man said he was all right, I tried to grab his hand but I couldn’t get him to move.

“Then I could see the flames coming out of the bed I could feel the heat from the stairs and I shouted to everyone to get out of the house.”

Eventually the man, aged in his 50s, came down the stairs.

Firefighters from Colwyn Bay were on the scene soon after and extinguished the blaze, on Sunday morning.

The fire started in an upstairs bedroom and was thought to have been caused by discarded smoking materials shortly before 9am.

Although smoke detectors were fitted they were not working properly.

Janet said: “It just shows it doesn’t matter what you are wearing call the fire brigade out and stay out – you can replace clothes or objects, but not lives.”

Yesterday fire chiefs underlined the importance of having working smoking alarms and the dangers of smoking in bed.

Paul Whybro, North Wales Fire & Rescue Service Group Manager said: “The importance of having working smoke alarms in the home cannot be stressed enough.

“They are an invaluable early warning system against fire. I’m urging every householder in North Wales to ensure that they not only have smoke alarms fitted to their property but they regularly check them to ensure they are working properly and that batteries are fitted to them.”

Yesterday fire chiefs thanked David for his sterling efforts – but warned other people not to go into burning houses and to stay out until the fire brigade arrives.

Mr Whybro said: “It was a quick thinking neighbour who saw thick smoke coming from the property and went to investigate.

“On seeing the smoke coming from the first floor he immediately took action in getting the man and the elderly woman out safely.

“I want to commend him for his excellent work and that of another neighbour who alerted us.”

Wednesday, Jun. 4, 2008

Hero saves children from burning home

Described as a hero, Officer Jeremy Foote raced in a home with a room on fire Wednesday morning and helped bring two girls to safety, officials said.

Unattended candles sparked a blaze about 11:50 p.m. Tuesday at a home in the 2200 block of Southeast Carnation Road, which Foote noticed while on routine patrol, a police report states.

Foote “saw the fire and called it in and got some of the family members out of the house,” St. Lucie County Fire District spokeswoman Catherine Whitaker said.

“Foote was a hero because of his fast action,” Whitaker said. “He did a good deed.”

One bedroom of the single-story home appeared “fully engulfed,” and Foote went to the front door to see whether anyone was inside, a police report states.

That’s when Stanley Dossous, 24, ran out with a fire extinguisher. Dossous said his family remained inside, and Foote raced to the front door and came across 31-year-old Myrlende Guerrier, who said she and her two daughters, one 7 and the other 9, were inside.

The girls ran out of their bedroom and Foote escorted them outside before he and another officer tried to help Dossous contain the blaze.

The fire caused about $5,000 in damage to one room, Whitaker said.

Foote, 34, joined the police department in January 2007, said Officer Robert Vega, police spokesman.

An offer from the Fire District to the victims for Red Cross assistance was turned down, the police report states.

Fire hero dashes into blazing house to save pal

A HERO friend burst into his burning house three times in a desperate attempt to rescue his flatmate.

Terry Collyer, 41, fought back intense smoke and flames after realising Peter Knight, in his 50s, was unconscious in his bedroom.

Mr Collyer, who lives with his 21-year-daughter on the ground floor of the shared home in Broad Street, Dagenham, had to flee downstairs twice during the rescue in the early hours of Monday morning after being overpowered by choking smoke.

He told the Recorder: “We woke one of the guys up and we managed to get him out but the other guy was semi-conscious.

“I stupidly ran upstairs and kicked the door in but there was so much smoke, I couldn’t breathe. I went downstairs twice to get my breath back.

“I just crawled to his bed and dragged him downstairs. Just at that moment the firefighters arrived.”

Fire crews from Dagenham Fire Station have called Mr Collyer a hero after the brave rescue. But the man himself is reluctant to hold that tag.

He said: “I could have killed myself doing it. It’s a normal thing to do, just instinct.

“You don’t think about what could have happened until after the event, I just hope someone would do the same for me.”

Mr Collyer, who is living with his ex-wife while the building is made habitable, said his daughter was the real hero after she smelt the smoke while upstairs and raised the alarm.

The cause of the fire is believed to be accidental, and possibly the result of an electrical fault with a microwave.

Mr Knight remains in hospital recovering from smoke inhalation, while the other man, also called Peter, is living with friends.

Three fire crews from Dagenham and Barking spent about 45 minutes putting out the blaze, with the house left suffering significant smoke and fire damage.

Tuesday, Jun. 3, 2008

Del Mar teacher wins excellence award

Candy Basso is strict, which is understandable because she teaches a class of 30 English Language Development students at Del Mar High School.

Once in a while, though, she will do something spontaneous and fun. When an ELD student asked her what an 8-foot giant was, Basso stood on a stool to demonstrate the height while the students laughed and stood up to compare their height with hers.

More than anything, Basso understands the importance of getting to know her ELD students. All of her students are first-generation immigrants, and many of them share similar problems, such as being separated from family members and having to worry about sending money back home. She makes an effort to know her students’ struggles at home to help her to empathize with them when they are struggling in school.

Basso’s teaching methods are just part of why she received the Excellence in Education award from the Goldin Foundation for Excellence in Education, a nonprofit organization established in 1990.

“We nominated her because she’s the chairman of our ELD program,” said principal Jim Russell. “Our test scores surpass the state standards significantly. Our program has exceeded the state targets for years, and we attribute it to Candy’s leadership, having selected the programs and putting it in place.”

Basso puts extra time and effort into the ELD program by ordering books, programs and new technology and showing teachers how to implement them into their lesson plans.

She also meets with the ELD students and their parents. Despite these efforts, she credits the teachers as the reason Del Mar’s ELD program is doing so well.

“We’re fortunate that we have good teachers and money from the state,” she said.

One of Basso’s most impressive endeavors is the book she co-authored, called Coming to America. The book, which has yet to be published, tells the inspiring stories of some of her immigrant students.

“It acknowledges them, who they are and their culture,” Basso said. “For me as a teacher it makes me more empathetic knowing, for example, that a student didn’t do his homework because he is paying rent. I think other people will learn from the stories.”

Basso wrote the book because she wanted to help other teachers gain a better perspective on ELD students. The book also offers tips for teaching ELD students. The top five tips are: Review vocabulary and pronunciation; use lots of visuals; discipline the bad students; encourage students to participate (some students come from countries where it is considered disrespectful to ask the teacher a question); and ask them to stay after class for help.

“I think she’s cool and the best teacher,” said freshman Jerusalem Bekele, who moved to the United States from Ethiopia nine months ago. “She prepares us for everything we know. She helps us with everything from homework to classwork.”

Saturday, May. 31, 2008

Firehouse serves feast to Silver Star recipient

Heroism was the hot topic around the firehouse kitchen Tuesday night when the headquarters crew hosted Cpl. Moses Cardenas and his family at a firehouse pasta dinner.

The celebration was a homecoming for Cardenas, 21, who grew up in Fullerton before he joined the Marines and earned a silver star for saving his sergeant’s life on an Iraqi battlefield last August.

“I’m a former Marine who served in Central America, and my son is serving with the Marines in Iraq,” Fire Chief Wolfgang Knabe said before dinner. “Once a Marine, always a Marine – and this is our present to Moses and his family.”

After feasting on the firefighters’ spaghetti, salad and bread specialties, Cardenas boarded a hook-and-ladder truck for a six-block ride to City Hall where he was presented special recognition from the City Council – and added honors from the Fullerton Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion Post.

“It’s amazing to have my hometown recognizing me after living here my whole life,” Cardenas said. “I really appreciate the honor.”

Standing nearby, his mother Angelina Martinez, said: “When Moses was very young, he said he wanted to be a Marine, and this is his dream come true. For me, the important thing is he survived.”

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