Friday, June 18, 2021

All-star teachers / baseball fans


Online voting is now under way to pick one of three finalist teachers to represent each of the 28 teams in Major League Baseball at the All-Star game, which takes place on July 15. Voters will pick a representative for each team by June 29.

“Teachers are essential to helping kids reach their full potential, which is why we are proud to celebrate them,” the voting website declares. The voting site is available at, which redirects your browser to a page on The contest is sponsored by Target, People Magazine, and Major League Baseball, and is designed to recognize a few of the many teachers who have had a positive impact on the lives of their students.

For the Baltimore Orioles

Thomas Arentz, Sparrows Point High School, Baltimore, English and Latin. Mr Arentz has sponsored several extracurricular activities (Student Council, Future Educators of America), and even when he goes home, his day isn’t finished. He also teaches evening classes at the Community College of Baltimore County and is a dedicated and supportive fan of his children’s athletic teams, having coached both of his sons’ baseball and soccer teams for many years.

Brian Raska, Minnieville Elementary School, Woodbridge, Va., physical education. Mr Raska taught adapted PE to students with special needs for two years in Arlington, Va., and then moved to his current school, where he has been teaching elementary PE for the past three years. For the last two years, he has served as team leader for the school’s specialists. The 2013 Dale City Teacher of the Year helps his students understand that playing sports isn’t just about winning and losing, but about health and wellness throughout their lives. He once devised a game called “Cholesterol Tag,” which teaches students about heart health.

Catherine Thorson, Georgetown East Elementary School, Annapolis, English for Speakers of Other Languages specialist. Dr Thorson believes in the power of family. And to her, everyone in the community is family. She has spent her 11-year career serving students living in poverty, and her sense of achievement comes from seeing her students rise above challenges to find success and helping them know that they are not bound by what others tell them their limits are. During her career, she procured funding for an outdoor classroom and a sports-and-academic after-school program. She holds two master’s degrees and an Ed.D. in education.

For the Chicago Cubs

Colleen Antas, Schurz High School, Chicago, special education. Ms Antas has translated her experience as an athlete and coach on the field into a teaching career dedicated to turning around the lives of challenged students. She draws upon her experience as a college player and PURPLE peer mentor on the women’s varsity soccer team at Northwestern University and believes that sports can engage students not only physically, but academically. She spearheads the OneGoal program at Schurz and works hard to create a positive, college-bound culture within the school, leading her students to graduate from college at radically higher rates than their peers.

Christopher Della Valle, Cheyenne High School, North Las Vegas, Nev., math. Mr Della Valle’s affiliation with Cheyenne High School began in 1999, when he graduated, but being born on the North Side of Chicago, he says being a Cubs fan is in his DNA. He is actively involved in the Cheyenne community, and you will often find him donating his time announcing sporting events. Football, softball, basketball, and soccer fans have all enjoyed his entertaining calls. His sense of humor and zeal make this Cubs fan a great educator and person. Chris is a co-teacher in mathematics at Cheyenne and exemplifies what it means to teach collaboratively.

Regina Kinasz, St. Emily Catholic School, Mount Prospect, math and science. Ms Kinasz began teaching seventh- and eighth-grade math and science at Our Lady of Victory School and, after raising several children of her own, resumed her career at St Emily in 2004 as a part-time math teacher. She was immediately offered a full-time position at the National Blue Ribbon school. She began the “accelerated algebra” class where record numbers of students were placed into advanced math classes as freshmen in high school. Her seventh-grade mathematics standardized test scores are 36 percent higher than the national average. She has fond memories of Jack Brickhouse calling out “Hey Hey!” and of players such as Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, and Glenn Beckert from the team’s storied past.

For the Chicago White Sox

Garrett Lim, Walnut High School, Walnut, Calif., chemistry. Mr Lim graduated with a degree in chemistry from UCLA but met teachers there who changed his thinking about education. They encouraged him to learn, not just study. After a brief career as a chemist, he later followed his passion for teaching chemistry, which is what he’s been doing for the last eight years. He frequently relates his experiences in the chemistry industry to the classroom to help his students better understand chemistry’s practical uses. He’s the adviser for Walnut High School’s Environmental Care Global Awareness club and received the 2013 University of Chicago Outstanding Educator Award. He said Frank Thomas’s approach to the art of hitting drew him to the White Sox and he’s been a fan ever since.

Brenda Mendoza, Greenman Elementary School, Aurora, English for Speakers of Other Languages specialist. Ms Mendoza experienced the same difficulties when she came to America as many of her current students, which has led her, in her 11-year career, to train other teachers and to create a program designed to get parents involved in the learning process at Greenman and across Illinois. She was nominated for the 2011 Kane County Teacher of the Year Award and won the Distinguished Educator Award in 2011. “I was born on the south side of Chicago; my roots, my history, my identity started there. This is why I’m a Sox fan, because the team represents not only my past but also my present, my future and my heritage,” she said.

Sean Monahan, St. Juliana School, Chicago, language arts. Mr Monahan says he’s a Sox fan because they are his dad’s team. He grew up in the shadows of the steel mills on Chicago’s south side and draws on those experiences to teach kids in his northwest-side Catholic elementary and middle school about literature. He’s an innovative teacher who figures out how to develop each child’s learning on an individual basis. For example, he puts an intense focus on writing and created a website to host students’ own short stories. It’s published as a Word document, “The Diamond,” and it includes, he says, “the next installment from our fabulous seventh-grade authors.”

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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