Wednesday, March 4, 2009 | 6:09 p.m.
Math teacher Dan Fitzgerald is an expert in counting, but he didn't count on the surprise he received today at Brian and Teri Cram Middle School, where he teaches eighth grade.
Fitzgerald was awarded the inaugural Myra Greenspun Teacher Excellence Award during a celebration luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel.
The award recognizes an exemplary public school teacher who is successful in using innovative teaching strategies and raising student academic achievement. It was created by philanthropist Myra Greenspun, wife of Brian Greenspun, editor of the Las Vegas Sun.
Fitzgerald, chairman of the Cram math department, has been teaching in the Clark County School District for 13 years.
His students achieved a 94.9 percent passing rate for the Algebra I Honors semester exam in June 2008, which was the highest passing rate of all Northeast Region secondary schools.
Principal Lori Lawson-Sarabyn nominated Fitzgerald, writing, "Dan has been instrumental in adding Accelerated Math to the sixth grade course offerings and doubling the number of students enrolled in Algebra I Honors. He chaperones dances; tutors his students and others in math after school; and attends his students' soccer and lacrosse games on the weekends to show his support and to build relationships with them."
Fitzgerald received $3,000 to be used in his classroom or school or for his own professional development. He also received an honorarium of $1,000 and 500 credits to be used at the Public Education Foundation's Teacher Exchange.
The Myra Greenspun Teacher Excellence Award was established late last year by Myra Greenspun, who wanted to recognize public school teachers who transform learning and ensure their students excel.
"It is my hope that this public acknowledgement of excellence in the classroom will demonstrate our community's appreciation for educators and inspire more teachers to be innovative and creative in their teaching methods," she said in a statement.
Teacher nominations may be submitted and more information on the award found by calling the Public Education Foundation at 799-1042.
Jean Reid Norman can be reached at 990-2658 or [email protected].